My Hero Academia has entered its “My Villain Academia” arc, which gives a new focus on the baddies of the popular anime series. Not only are key members of the League of Villains spotlighted, such as the leader Tomura Shigaraki, Himiko Toga, and Dabi, but a new villain is introduced in the form of Re-Destro, who leads the Meta Liberation Army.
“The League of Villains is dead broke and getting nowhere fast,” says the official synopsis. “All For One’s enormous bodyguard Gigantomachia arrives to pulverize them into shape. But before they’re back on their feet, the sinister Meta Liberation Army, led by Re-Destro, comes out of the woodwork to destroy the League and anyone who tries to regulate Quirks. This multi-episode arc is dedicated to the bad guys, old and new, of My Hero Academia and will be an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, including Himiko Toga in a bloody showdown and new insights into Tomura Shigaraki’s tortured past.”
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese caught up with My Hero Academia English dub voice actors Jason Liebrecht (Dabi) and Leah Clark (Himiko Toga) to discuss the joy of playing a villain, voicing such layered characters, and the support they get from the passionate fans.
Tyler Treese: Jason, Dabi has been this very mysterious character. He’s going by an alias. Considering how much depth and backstory My Hero Academia tends to give its characters, how exciting is it to get to play this enigma?
Jason Liebrecht: Oh, man. It’s exceptionally gratifying. It’s like every actor’s dream frankly to have a character with such depth with so many layers, so complicated, and to be gradually revealed like this. Man, it’s awesome.
Leah, one of the most interesting things about Himiko is that she’s about the same age as the university kids, while a lot of the other villains are much older. Can you speak to that unique element and the kind of shared experience she has, where she’s also kind of learning and coming into her own, although she’s on the villain side,
Leah Clark: I think that it feeds her need to be Uraraka and Deku whenever she attacks them with her quirk a little bit more because I feel like her need is to belong. I think it just triggers her more seeing a bunch of other kids her age on the side of good when she’s over here on the side of “bad.” Yeah, I definitely think it makes her want to be them a little bit more so maybe it makes it a little bit more villainous and go after them more.
Jason, Dabi has this great sarcastic side, and he’s very blunt. How fun is it to have that personality and to get to deliver some really great one-liners as well?
Liebrecht: Oh, man. It’s, again, incredibly gratifying as an actor to be that guy. It’s just awesome. I mean, I actually will use my voice occasionally in real life if I really need to get something that I want, like a dinner reservation. I find that it works pretty well. I mean, I don’t announce whose voice I’m using, but you put that on the phone and it’s like, doors open. It’s interesting.
That’s amazing. Leah, the transformation quirk that Toga has allows her to be such a great source of reconnaissance and it also adds another layer of complexity to her. When you think about her quirk and her ability, how does that impact your approach to playing her?
Clark: It affects everything because I think it is who she is as far as desperately wanting be something that she’s not. I’ve chosen kind of like a deep love and need to be accepted and to belong as kind of like my base of portrayal for her. And that definitely comes from her quirk of, of attacking these people that are, you know, mostly that are good, that she wishes she could be like, so that’s, to me, I see that as intense desperation to live your life. So yeah, it definitely, um, colors, everything that I do as far as voicing her,
Jason, Dabi was very inspired by the Hero Killer and he initially clashes with Tomura personality-wise before joining the League of Villains. How do you feel that Dabi really fits into that circle? Because there’s always been that kind of differing in philosophy.
Liebrecht: I feel like I don’t know that he actually feels like he’s a full member of the group because there’s a bit of a lone wolf to his personality. Would you agree?
Liebrecht: I mean, even from the very beginning, he separates himself. He’s part of it, but he definitely he’s on his own path and we still don’t know what the motivations are or what that stems from. Most of us anyway, and yeah, I just can’t wait to figure that out personally.
Leah, Toga is such a fan favorite. She’s so charismatic and that comes down to a lot of your performance and she’s also quite flirty a lot of the time and I imagine that’s a lot of fun to play. Can you speak to that aspect of your performance?
Clark: Flirtiness, it’s just another intensity. You take the intensity of being angry and villainous and you turn it into a flirtation. It’s just another tactic to desperately get at something or somebody. So it is exactly the same intensity, but it’s fun. I do lean a lot on our director, Colleen, for which way we’re going with it. So, because you could choose either one, you can choose the extremely flirtatious or you can choose to cut someone up and be crazy. So either way, you want something, the exact same thing.
Liebrecht: Six of one, half dozen of the other.
Jason, there’s a lot of fire quirks in the series, but what I like about Dabi is his is so powerful that it’s blue. So he kind of has even more potential and more power. I’d love to get your thoughts on just his quirk.
Liebrecht: I mean, it’s physics, right? I mean, blue flames are the hottest flames. Again, it’s, it’s just something that I’m super stoked about. I feel like his potential is almost limitless. I guess we shall see what happens in the long run, but I think he could rival some pretty powerful pro heroes for certain.
Leah, Toga has become such a fan favorite. How has just the support been from fans?
Clark: It’s been overwhelming and so surprising and amazing. I did not expect that. I don’t know that I have ever had a character that is as loved as her so far. I mean, I think I have some that come close, but, yeah, it’s definitely given me a good look at who’s watching and how loved these characters are, and how supported this entire show is. I’m very fortunate to be a part of that and to get to experience it first-hand. So it’s been awesome.
Jason, you’re part of so many huge shows right now. Attack on Titan, My Hero, Black Clover, and they all have such a passionate fan base. As a voice actor, just how exciting is this part of your career? I mean, it has to feel like all this work is really paying off.
Liebrecht: Yeah. It definitely is. I’ve been at it a long time, almost two decades doing voice work. Again, I hate to overuse this word, but it’s been exceptionally gratifying to have both Attack on Titan and My Hero, specifically my characters in these what I call tentpole anime properties, start to kind of be… their motivations on both of these characters are being revealed almost concurrently. It’s just a crazy moment. I am quite happy about it and hope that things get revealed continuously in perpetuity.
Leah, I would love to hear what your favorite scene is with Toga so far.
Clark: My favorite scene is probably the scene in a forest with Tsuyu, where she decides that she really loves her name and she wants to be friends with her while pinning her to a tree. I don’t know. I just really enjoyed recording it and I liked those characters. So that was my favorite so far.