An accomplished actor and relationship coach, Spike Spencer is best known in the pop culture universe as the English voice of Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, amongst numerous other anime titles. His multiple video game voice credits include League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy IV.
Yes, Spike loves to talk, and he chatted with STACK ahead of his appearance at the Melbourne and Gold Coast Supanova Comic Con and Gaming conventions this March.
STACK: You’re well known for your voice acting, but you’re also an amazing public speaker. Do you ever get the opportunity to impart this skill at conventions and panels?
SPIKE SPENCER: I’m still waiting to find out if I’ll be doing a panel [at Supanova]. I have several different topics that I cover; usually I talk about voice acting, which involves some crazy and fun stories – that’s usually a late night panel with drinking involved [laughs]. I’m a relationship coach so I also talk about ‘Don’t Kill Your Date and Other Cooking Tips.’ I have another couple of topics I’m working on, too, so I’m open.
Shinji has an iconic Neon Genesis Evangelion Easter egg – are there any scenes that you improvise, or is it all by the script?
It’s usually by the script, which has already been translated. But if there’s something we can throw in, we’re always game to do that. That Easter egg was 100 per cent improvised and it was at the end of filming the first round – this was back in 1995. It was a two-year process for us, because scripts had to be sent back and forth by mail, so it went on and on. That was me just letting off a bit of fun steam, we never thought that it would be everywhere!
You’ve voiced Shinji for quite a long time now. Have you ever met fans at conventions that you’ve watched grow up over the years?
I have. It’s interesting because I have met people who have named their children Shinji, and thought ‘wow!’ And I get people who have watched this a long time ago who are now introducing it to their children, and showing them the original, iconic stuff. There’s a lot of heart in there, and we’re very proud of what we did. It’s an honour to have them come up to me and say that Evangelion helped them through tough times and it’s helping their children as well. I think that’s wonderful.
You voice a lot of different characters – which one takes the biggest toll on your vocal chords?
Shinji takes me a bit of time to get in to. Colonel Kled in League of Legends was probably the roughest one that I’ve done; I’m screaming at the top of my lungs for four hours but it was a lot of fun. It’s pretty much my favourite character.
Are there any particular voices fans at conventions request that you do for them?
Sometimes they’ll want me to record a message for somebody, which is kind of iffy because sometimes people will use these recordings and put them out there. I’ll sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for someone. It’s not Shinji; it’s Claude or Snake from Black Butler, or some weird character that I did. I tend to do either effeminate little girly boys who save the world from a biomechanical freakin’ robot, or psychopaths [laughs].
Are there any parts of conventions that you like to attend or sneak into?
I’ve been doing conventions for about 14 years and I love to hang out with the other voice actors, because we really don’t get a chance to hang out. We’re always working or busy doing things and if we get a chance to chill out over a glass of wine, it’s a lot of fun. In my crazier days it was a LOT of wine [laughs], but being married and a father now, I’m a laid back cat.
You voiced a character in the video game series Trauma Centre, which was played by Game Grumps in 2014 and became quite popular. Are there any YouTubers or Internet personalities that you’ve seen interacting with your work?
To be honest, I don’t know YouTube personalities. I’ve just started to broadcast on Twitch and am doing a podcast, so I’m learning about these things. I’m reaching out to some of them as I find them and going, ‘Hey, let’s do a crossover or a chat. I reached out to a lot of anime podcasters and said I’m happy to be a guest, so we’ll see what comes of that…
How are you finding Twitch? Are you enjoying the interaction with fans through that medium?
I really do enjoy it. My handle is SpikeSpencerSpeaks. I’ve started the Mindscrambler podcast, which is designed for our community – video gaming, animation, comics, nerdom, sci-fi and all the good stuff! I’m still learning so I’m a baby – I’m not even a toddler yet, I’m still crawling on the floor, but I’m getting there. I’m finding Twitch to be really nice, but I don’t game.
What technology available today do you wish you had access to when you started your career?
Oh my gosh, ALL of it! [Laughs] When we started with Evangelion and Nadesico and things like that, it was all of us in a booth and we could see the film and when we felt it was the right time to start, we would go. And if we didn’t hit the whole sentence for the scene correctly, they couldn’t really squeeze or move it that much back then, so we’d have to re-do it. If there was a 30-second scene as Shinji and I missed it by two seconds, I had to re-do the whole thing.
Is there anything you’d love to be involved with, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars? What’s your dream voice gig or acting gig?
Every voice actor wants to be in the big things like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and the big mainstream ones. They’re phenomenal and I want to do that, it’s my goal – and possibly to do my own series. Star Wars is my geek-out, and sci-fi stuff in general.