Griffin Burns has been a professional voice actor since about 2010. In that time, he has played numerous iconic roles across anime and video games.
In anime, some of his notable roles include Akira Fudo (Devilman Crybaby), Jintan (Anohana), Metropoliman (Platinum End), and Manabu Sotoin (Pretty Boy Detective Club). He now also voices Childe in the popular open world role-playing game Genshin Impact.
Anime Boston 2022 invited Griffin Burns as a guest and held a press conference for the voice actor. We got the chance to attend and ask him some questions. Read the full interview below!
Location: Anime Boston 2022
Interview Date: 5/28/2022, 10am EST
Griffin Burns: Hey everybody. It’s 7am in my body (laughs). Jet lag is real. Anybody have some questions?
Anime Herald (AH): How does it feel to be connected with so many iconic franchises, notably the Fate and Devilman works?
Griffin Burns: First off, it’s an honor to be part of all those franchises. I will admit I wasn’t an anime fan as a kid and I started learning more about it as a voice actor about six or seven years ago. So oftentimes when I book these projects, I learn after the fact how special they are. Devilman [Crybaby] in particular I didn’t even audition for it, I was just cast. And when I went down to the studio (SDI), they just said “here you go, you’re playing Akira Fudo here.” They played some clips, got into voice, and we knocked all the dialogue out in probably two 3-4 hour sessions. After the fact, I saw the show and realized what a big deal it was, what a cool and unique show, and how special it is to the fanbase. The same thing goes with Fate.
Jotaku Network (JN): I saw a podcast where you said 2021 was going to be a big year for you in video game roles. How did that end up going?
Griffin Burns: Well let’s see… In 2021 I think I did NEO: The World Ends With You, which was a pretty big game. I mean I feel like it’s under the radar a little bit, but from an actor’s perspective I thought it was a juicy role to play Fret which had like 12 sessions involved. It is a little hard for me to remember all the gigs I do in a year, but I believe there were a lot of games. I mean I was still recording Genshin Impact and a few others. And I booked a new game the day I got here, so more games to come!
Anime-Zing Radio (AZR): How have you had to adjust when COVID hit? Did you have to switch from in-studio to in-home recording?
Griffin Burns: Unlike some other voice actors, I had a home studio setup since about 2011. So I had a booth. I was kind of well prepared. Not that I knew COVID was coming, but I was well prepared for it. So I’d say half my sessions were from home anyway, but then when COVID hit all of them were. And I know some of my peers were scrambling to buy vocal booths and new equipment. I did upgrade my equipment a little bit, but I was ready to go pretty much right away. Genshin Impact, for example, all of that was recorded at home. Somebody asked me on a panel yesterday, “what was it like being on set” or something to that effect, and I said “oh no, I didn’t meet any of my fellow actors until we had a picnic a year later after the game was out.”
AH: What would you think was the biggest challenge that came up working and recording during this pandemic era?
Griffin Burns: There’s been some tech issues, especially with dubbing. In the beginning there were some major delays. With dubbing, they’ll play you three beeps and you start your line on the imaginary fourth beep. When they would do playback, the audio you recorded you could’ve done it perfectly, but sometimes the audio wouldn’t match up. And the engineer was trying to figure out “is it on our end, is it on your end, do we need to restart Skype, Zoom, whatever?” And overtime, actually relatively quickly, they got more efficient on it. They started being able to account for delays. Like, we know when using this program there’s a fraction of a second delay so we’re gonna shift it this much. It got smoother overtime, but at first it was like “is this gonna work?” Certainly those early sessions weren’t very efficient. Say you do 30 or 40 loops in an hour, maybe early COVID we were doing 10 or 15 (laughs). And now I would say today it’s just as efficient as going into a studio almost. So I think going forward, if someone’s sick or just can’t go into the studio, there probably will always be the option of recording from home.
AZR: For 2020 iconic roles, was there any role that you did that you were surprised that it took off?
Griffin Burns: Definitely Childe from Genshin. I say this often in the Genshin panels that I do. So many projects we work on, people say “it’s gonna be the next big thing” because everyone wants their project to be the next big thing. And it was the first time where they said that and it happened. So I was shocked to join Tiktok and have 700k followers over the course of twelve months. I never would’ve guessed. I never considered myself a social media guy either, so it’s just a change of pace for me.
AH: How do you manage the expectations of celebrity and parasocial relationships?
Griffin Burns: So how do I deal with my social media presence and sort of having an influence? Well it’s been tricky, there’s certainly been some pitfalls. You are an influence to younger people, older people, fans in general, so you need to be mindful of what you’re putting out there. I particularly like to have fun and kind of push the envelope a little bit with my humor and my posts. But as much as that has gained me followers, it can also be something I have to be careful with because my humor is not for everybody and it can offend sometimes. Yeah, you just need to be vigilant with your posting. And sometimes you just need to take a break, because there’s a new pressure when you have this sudden influx of followers and you’re like “well gosh, now I feel like I need to keep feeding and offering content.” First and foremost, I’m a voice actor. I’m not an influencer, at least I don’t consider myself that. My job is to portray these roles, so that comes first. If I can’t do the social media thing or I need to take a few weeks off I have to allow myself to do that. But it’s been hard because there’s this little voice that says “you haven’t posted, they’re waiting for you” and sometimes you just gotta say no. It’s okay, you can live without Instagram and Twitter.
AZR: How do you decide which projects you work with?
Griffin Burns: I hardly say no to projects, I love to work. And at this point everything I do is through auditions. Well, that’s not true, sometimes I’m auto-cast or if I have a relationship with this studio they’ll hit me up and ask me if I wanna work on something. I feel like the only way I would turn something down is if it was really inappropriate or if I felt really uncomfortable, if it portrayed something I didn’t believe in. But I’ve never run into that so far. Again I like to work most projects. As long as they pay fairly I’m on board.
AH: What would you like to see the voice acting landscape evolve into in 5-10 years?
Griffin Burns: I’m a little worried with technology, you know with text-to-speech and sort of voices like Siri and whatnot. I would hope that there’s enough work for everybody. There are a lot of voice actors out there. Thousands in LA I know, probably a hundred thousand across the country. I don’t really know the numbers, but there’s a lot. So there is a lot of work out there and I would hope that workflow continues and that it doesn’t get outsourced or replaced with some new tech or whatever. It’s a super fun career, I feel very lucky to be involved in it, and I’d love to do this for a long time.
JN: What’s a piece of advice you wish you’d gotten when you first started voice acting?
Griffin Burns: Hmm. Well, I wish I had gotten into anime sooner to be honest. I didn’t realize what a big deal it was and what a fanbase it had and how much fun it could be. It’s also super challenging. I think of all the voice work I do it’s one of the most challenging. You’ve got such a broad range of emotions, it’s incredibly dynamic, you’re matching flaps. So if someone said early in my career like “hey you have a young voice, you should get into this” I wish I had maybe done that a little sooner.
AZR: Has it surprised you how much the world of voice acting has brought in all the new voice actors we’re seeing every year?
Griffin Burns: I’m not surprised, I think it’s a very appealing genre of acting. I think the community is more welcoming than on-camera acting, so you can get celebrities that want to get involved in it. YouTubers, VTubers, like there’s a lot of people that want to get involved now. I’m excited because I feel like it’s hyped up our industry and made it more credible. People, I think more than ever, are actually aware of what a voice actor is. I think growing up I had no idea. I just assumed it was like “oh Howie Mandel, Bobby’s World, he’s a celebrity”. You know, you just assume these people are on-camera talent, I don’t know. You just don’t think about it. I think I answered your question (laughs). I’m a little sleepy.
AH: What is the strangest, most unexpected thing to ever happen to you in the recording booth?
Griffin Burns: I was doing a Six Flags Coca-Cola commercial and I was supposed to be acting like I was riding a rollercoaster. And I got really into it and flipped over my chair, and broke this thing behind me. It was like a baffle for sound, and I broke the wheel off of it. The engineer, I had no idea he was the owner of the studio, and he came rushing in. He said “uh, you okay in there?” I said “I think I broke your thing back here.” He said “…wow you were really into that” (laughs).
AZR: What is one of the most challenging things you’ve had to overcome as a voice actor to portray a character the way you wanted to portray it?
Griffin Burns: Most challenging… I’ll just talk about something as of late, because that’s what I can remember. I did the role of Metropoliman [from Platinum End] recently and I don’t usually play a lower toned voice. I’m typically a protag character. Higher range or even younger, you know. So this guy, Metropoliman, he had like this sort of heroic voice and I felt like it was hard to sustain at times and continually match it. So that was a recent challenge.
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