Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

[Interview] Sean Chiplock talks about Trails of Cold Steel and Genshin Impact

By Richard Heaton Jan 16, 2024

Sean Chiplock has been lending his voice to anime and gaming characters for more than a decade. A few of his biggest and best gaming roles include Diluc in Genshin Impact, Rean Schwarzer in The Legend of Heroes, Revali in Breath of the Wild, and Yuuki Mishima in Persona 5, among many others.

Let’s start things off with a few simple questions. What were some big inspirations when you were first getting into the industry?

One big example of a niche game I thoroughly enjoyed that not many people know about is called Jade Cocoon 2 for the PlayStation 2. I was very enthralled with what I would call the Saturday morning cartoon archetype. That was kind of what inspired me, it wasn’t so much the people behind the voices but the character archetypes themselves. I would imitate the performance of the professor, try to parrot the vocal affectations that I could pick out from the members of each class. When I started getting more serious into voice acting, I tried to find a couple inspirations that I could mold into a single entity that I could embody. 

For example, very early on I would tell people that I wanted Kari Wahlgren’s range, Liam O’Brien’s intensity, and Steve Blum’s humility and I felt like if I could combine all of these at once, I could become an exemplary model of a voice actor. I’m always looking for interesting performances where I can go oooh, I never thought of doing a voice or playing a character that way. 

You definitely went on to play many different kinds of characters, are there any specific types that you really enjoy?

If you were to ask me that question ten years ago, it would have been way more obvious but nowadays it’s all over the place. I feel like I developed an appreciation for the craft that makes me want to portray any character that I feel I can have fun with. In Path of the Midnight Suns, I voice a character named Cristoph and he’s this very religious individual. I think it’s really fun because he’s this really devout guy but he also carries a lot of himbo energy and I think that’s very fun.

In anime, I love Subaru Natsuki because he’s this very analytical character who’s not free of personal flaws but he’s very emotionally driven and there’s a lot to admire about the suffering he’s been through. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite type of role to play anymore because I’ve gotten better at finding things I enjoy about every role. I also don’t want to limit myself to specific roles. 

Now let’s talk about a few specific gaming roles. One that a lot of people know and love is Rean in Trails of Cold Steel and Trails into Reverie. One of the greatest strengths of the Legend of Heroes series is it’s ability to tell long stories over the course of many years that are interconnected and coherent. Were there any challenges in constantly jumping back to Rean over the course of a decade?

There was definitely a unique challenge, but it almost made it easier because a lot of people know that over the course of the games there’s a slight but distinct change to Rean’s voice every time. In game one he’s very youthful and optimistic. In game 2 he still sounds younger but there’s this sorrow in his voice because he’s very panicked and unsure of his future. In game 3 he has to take up more of a mentor role. In game 4 it’s almost the most monstrous because of his power coming to the surface and what has happened to the world and how responsible he feels.

It was challenging to come up with how he changes but I didn’t have to worry about perfectly matching his voice all those years. It was a unique situation and I appreciated being able to tackle it.

With most anime and shows in general, there’s usually a consistent workflow with a yearly release schedule. Games are obviously different for many reasons. Can you give us a rundown of what the workflow was like for you?

It changes for each game. With Reverie, I think I had around three sessions of three to four hours each, I could be wrong. But each game is different, there are so many different factors that happen across each one that affects our involvement. The first Cold Steel game would have been one of the shortest but then Xseed had that special expansion where they were able to get a lot more voice lines than the original. Two was a shorter game in comparison to one but it featured a lot more of Rean because it was about him going around and finding everyone that had been separated. For three and four, even though they’re longer games, the time was split between an increasingly larger cast of characters.

Now let’s move on to a character that’s even bigger than Rean. Even though you’ve played Rean for a decade which is a great achievement itself, Genshin Impact has become one of the biggest gaming phenomena of all time and in that, you voice Diluc. How does it feel being one of the original cast members in something that grew to be so big?

Oh I have all kinds of emotions about that, it’s both a blessing and a curse really. I’m obviously incredibly grateful that they entrusted me with such a powerful and sought after character and I’m so grateful for how passionate the community has been. I don’t think he’s the strongest Pyro anymore based on what I’ve been told but he still seems very relevant to both the game itself and the fanbase. But it also creates a sense of worry because his popularity has eclipsed every other character that I have in my portfolio.

He’s a big driving force in my career but it causes worry because there hasn’t been anything that I’ve booked since that compares to his lasting power. I’m worried that when the community moves on from Diluc, if they ever do, my own marketability may dry up as well. I’m not saying this from a sense of greed, but it can become a rolling snowball if people aren’t interested in my stuff anymore and there’s a lot of people who would be affected if that does happen, not just me. 

Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you’d like to say?

I let my body of work speak for itself. I never want to give off the air that I’m someone you should be familiar with but if you like what I do, then I hope you check me out and I hope to keep giving you reasons to look forward to seeing my name in stuff.

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