We Interviewed Voice Actor Paul Hikari!

We had the pleasure of chatting with voice actor Paul Hikari all about being an actor! Check it out to learn more!

Paul Hikari What initially inspired you to become a creator, and how has that inspiration evolved throughout your creative journey?

My voice acting endeavors began with a lifelong habit of acting stuff out. My mother tried to get me to break that habit with no success, not for lack of trying on my part either. I didn’t even know what voice acting was until college, but it was at that moment when I realized that if I couldn’t break that habit, I might as well put it to good use. At first, I didn’t consider it a serious career path, but now, here I am, trying to move up, doing what I love doing the most. Along the way, I’ve also kind of…rediscovered other artistic pursuits, including screenwriting and video editing, both of which I picked up during high school as hobbies, but now, I consider them legitimate artistic endeavors too.

Can you share a specific moment or experience that fueled your passion for your current creative project?

The big project I have going right now is my screenplay, King of Blades, which is basically about a girl who goes to compete in a gladiatorial simulation competition after her dad gets paralyzed in a train crash. This began as a web story that I wrote loosely based on a TV show called Deadliest Warrior, which basically pitted different warrior classes against each other in simulated combat. After many years of revisions and submissions, it’s gotten to the point where it’s been placing well in dozens of screenplay competitions, even winning some awards.

What challenges have you encountered as an indie creator, and how have they shaped your approach to your work?

I’ve never been much of a people person, to be honest, and even now, while I am getting better at reaching out and interacting, I’m still slow to actually network, preferring instead to focus on what work I do have and can produce myself. Of course, by reaching out to other people, I’ve learned and improved much more than I could have alone. This has led to a bit of an ongoing theme with my story ideas, about how you can only go so far on your own, so if you really want to go beyond, you’ve gotta know when to ask for others’ help.

Are there any particular creators who have significantly influenced your style or approach? How do you incorporate those influences into your own unique voice?

Among voice actors, my biggest influences are Nobuyuki Hiyama, Toshiyuki Morikawa, and Matt Chapman. You might recognize the first one as the voice of Link in Ocarina of Time, the second as the Japanese voice of Sephiroth, and the third as the entire male cast of Homestar Runner. All of them are known for wide vocal ranges, highly animated energy, and penchants for screaming, traits that pretty much describe my approach to voice acting to a tee.

Among writers, my biggest influences are Peter Jackson, Hayao Miyazaki, Quentin Tarantino, and Mel Brooks. I find that I like writing stories that feature dynamic, diversely crafted characters put into simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary situations, often with epic action sequences and extensive worldbuilding. This evokes Jackson’s penchant for majestic spectacle and action sequences, Miyazaki’s for character writing, Tarantino’s for multiple character perspectives, and Brooks’ for fourth wall humor.

How do you navigate the balance between staying true to your artistic vision and adapting to feedback from your audience or collaborators?

I recognize that my artistic vision can be faulty, but so can some of the feedback I receive. Whatever I think will make the best final result, I try to use, be it my own vision or the visions of others. For example, early drafts of King of Blades featured a long, overly political subplot and much more toxic personalities in the characters, both of which were derided, so I cut them out.

Can you recall a memorable success story or milestone in your indie creator journey that stands out as a turning point for you?

When I began voicing for manga dubs on YouTube, I never would’ve imagined that it would lead to steady work, to the point where I could leave delivery driving behind for good. And while the workload can get grueling, overall, it’s made me realize that I really can and will make it as long as I keep moving forward. And indeed, since then, I’ve gone on to voice in a number of indie games, most notably Garten of BanBan 4 and 6.

What role do setbacks or failures play in your creative process, and how do you overcome them to keep moving forward?

I remember this saying: “Defeat is a lesson. Victory means you’ve learned it.” Every time I fail to get a part or some other work of mine comes up short, I just keep moving forward, thinking about what I can do differently next time.

How do you manage your time and energy to sustain a consistent creative output while juggling other aspects of life?

I just keep creating stuff, and I find that my creative energy goes in multiple directions, sometimes all at once. If I can’t bring myself to do something in one area, I do something in another area. For example, if I can’t bring myself to act, I try writing. If I can’t do that, I go back to acting. Then, there’s dancing, singing, cooking…you get the picture. And when I can’t do any of that, I just decide to do nothing but relax, as that’s sometimes necessary to gain back the energy you could no longer generate.

Have you found any unexpected joys or rewards in the indie creator community, and how has it contributed to your overall experience?

I’ve always held that people would one day be able to make indie productions that could match or even exceed giant studio productions, but I didn’t think the indie community would be this extensive or that I’d be a part of that revolution, and not just with voice actors either. Game developers, writers, filmmakers…the list goes on and on. Suffice to say, to see how far it’s come and how much promise all these people continue to show makes me feel quite validated, although I still know that I have a long way to go.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, what would it be based on your own lessons learned?

You will mess up along your journey. A lot. I know I certainly have, so hey, you’re not alone. What matters is what you do after that. Do you give up? Do you lash out? Or do you take the time to reflect on what you did wrong, how you can do better next time, and then act on that? If you picked the third option, congratulations. You’re that much further along, and as long as you keep improving, you’ll keep moving.

What are your thoughts on All Ages of Geek? What are some things we should change/do? What are some things you enjoy about our website?

Seeing as this is the first time I’ve heard of All Ages of Geek, I don’t have a whole lot to say, but I do appreciate the effort you’re evidently making to put indie creators front and center.

Goals for 2024?

Let’s see…

-Get new demos, both character and commercial
-Voice in a major animation, like an anime
-Sell King of Blades to a studio and see it get produced
-Voice in a AAA video game
-Voice coaching

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