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Patrick Seitz interview: One Piece English dub voice for Franky talks life on the high seas of voice acting [Anime Expo 2019]

Franky in One Piece
Patrick Seitz shares his favorite moments from dubbing the One Piece anime. Pic credit: Toei Animation

Voice actor Patrick Seitz has played a variety of roles including Endeavor in My Hero Academia and Dio Brando in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. He’s also known in the video game world as Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion and Castlevania’s Dracula.

When it comes to anime, Patrick’s biggest (and most larger than life) role has been Franky in the One Piece English dub by FUNimation. Monsters and Critics was given the change to sit down with Patrick during Anime Expo 2019 and chat about a variety of topics, from Franky’s hentai moments to a children’s charity that Patrick helps.

Monsters and Critics: Hello anime fans, this is Patrick Frye with Monsters and Critics. We’re sitting down with Patrick Seitz. He voices Franky in the One Piece anime. 

Patrick: [Grabs the microphone and speaks in a serious tone.] Patrick Seitz. Voice of Franky. That’s a callback to a different interview [about My Hero Academia] we did yesterday. [Laughs]

Monsters and Critics: With Kellen Goff aka Overhaul as Wolf Blitzer. Yeah, Overhaul made a name for himself with that one. So, do you read the One Piece manga and watch the anime?

Patrick: I have not read the manga only because I find with my bookshelves overflowing as they already are. I know I cannot go the manga route on some stuff because it’s going to be so much, so much real estate. As far the anime goes, I’m not caught up.

I’ve watched chunks here and there. I would like to watch the whole thing. I’m also not sure what time I’m going to make it happen short of me creating a little pocket universe outside of time I can hop into and knock out 10-12 episodes.

I know Ian Sinclair, the voice of Brook, did it before he started recording for the show. I don’t when I would, I’d like to, but also now knowing that they have the podcast that’s focused specifically on “here’s how you get caught up” this many episodes per week. We talked about it.

Monsters and Critics: That’s a good idea. Some anime fans– I find the whole thing intimidating because, what are they up to, almost 1,000 episodes?

Patrick: I think they’re like 890. Something like that? It’s up there. [Note: Episode 893 as of July 14, 2019]

Monsters and Critics: Definitely going to set a record. The One Piece English dub is way, way behind the many seasons of the Japanese version, which just entered the Wano Country story arc of the manga series. Since you’ve watched ahead in the anime, are you looking forward to voicing any particular scene in a future episode featuring [the English dub of] Franky?

Patrick: I haven’t read the manga but I have watched some of the show sporadically on and off. Not ahead, just the stuff that’s already been done. So I actually don’t know anything about the current arc [the Wano Country arc] coming up. But they haven’t let us down yet. [Laughs] I’m feeling optimistic. I’m sure, you know, to keep the show running as long as it has and being as good as long it has I’m sure whatever they throw at us is going to be great.

Monsters and Critics: In the opening video [of the new season] Franky is featured as one of the characters who scroll across. He’s definitely front and center. It’s job security. Out of all of Franky’s personality traits, which do you identify the most with and why?

Patrick: I think probably just the fact that he wears his heart on his sleeve. I mean, he’s not very guileful, he’s not sneaky or tricky. You know, you always for better or worse how he feels about things. He’s going to tell you, probably cry about it and play a song on a guitar that just appeared out of nowhere. Probably that aspect of me just… he’s very sincere. Which I like to think of myself also. He definitely does not have a poker face.

Monsters and Critics: If there was one thing you could change about Franky what would it be?

Patrick: Oh, man. I don’t know if I’d change… It’s sort of a cop-out answer. It doesn’t change a thing about Franky but I’d at least have a sort of side ship with the Franky family where they’d follow along and meet up every now and then. I felt bad that he had to leave them behind to join the crew. It would be nice if he just sporadically meet up with them along the way.

Monsters and Critics: That’d make sense as a side story.

Patrick: Yeah, I’d be down with that.

Monsters and Critics: Franky is a self-admitted pervert. Out of the many perverted and oddball things Franky has done, is there one you’ve ever been tempted to do yourself in real life?

Patrick: [Sighs] I am not as bold as Franky. Although, I will say, it must resonate with me on some level, is my desktop wallpaper all these years has been a still shot from when Luffy steals his speedo thinking he can shame [Franky] into joining the crew and [Franky] just runs around living his best life, just bare-assed loving life.

It’s this image of Franky doing the arm pose with waves crashing, splashing behind him, and a little bit of strategically-placed driftwood in the foreground to keep it PG. That’s been my desktop wallpaper for years now.

Monsters and Critics: You know it’s funny that you bring that up because that was literally my next question. I saw you talking about that on your Twitter. So I was thinking, do have any other memorable Franky moments that come to mind?

Patrick: Oh, man. So many. It’s hard to think of specific ones only because when I go to record we’re recording for a day straight or two days straight. There’s so much Franky happening all at once. I remember having a lot of fun with the Thriller Bark Arc just because that whole thing was one big Scooby-Doo adventure.

I remember Franky grabbing those Greek pillars and turning them into giant, oversized nunchucks to fight the giant spider. Franky’s losing his mind over the Celestials and how self-righteous and violent they were. It’s just been a ton of good moments. I mean, that’s One Piece read large: a ton of good moments over and over again and forever.

Monsters and Critics: And ever and ever again if the manga keeps going. Anime fans often ship Franky with Nico Robin [as FroBin]. Who would you ship Franky with?

Patrick: You know what, I would probably go really, really contrary and go just to everyone be like, “Whaaat?!” I don’t remember her name [Note: It’s probably Kokoro.], but she was the older lady with the granddaughter with the rabbit who was always like, “Hey! We’re doing the thing! Okay, this happening!” and everyone’s like, “Okay, old cranky lady!”

Then she turned out to be a mermaid and everyone was like, “Wait! You’re a mermaid! What the hell! We just thought you were the village drunk!” She was always like, “Here’s what’s going to happen with the trains!”

Monsters and Critics: I think that’s an existing ship because I’ve seen it. [Note: I swear I’ve seen fan art shipping Franky x Young Kokoro but for the life of me I couldn’t find it when transcribing this interview.]

Patrick: Just to be contrary I’d pair him up with her. I don’t necessarily need to see that relationship consummated but I think it’d make for a great buddy-cop road trip. You know, a filler arc. [Laughs]

One Piece Anime Kokoro Mermaid Character
The One Piece character Kokoro was fairly beautiful as a young mermaid. Pic credit: Toei Animation

Monsters and Critics: Right. That’d be hilarious. Speaking of hilarity, do you have any funny stories from the recording booth?

Patrick: Oh, man. Again, they all kind of meld together because there’d be so many good ones back to back to back. When it’s like, okay, a day-and-a-half or two days straight of One Piece. Let me tell you, One Piece is a high-energy show so when you’re going in to spend an entire day working on One Piece you get a little loopy. You kinda have to pace yourself.

Just to keep it sort of true to character, I’d go those mornings, I’d buy a Coke. I’d get some cola in my system, and a little bag of Cheez-Its and we’d just record, record, record until we couldn’t record anymore. And then we’d go have lunch, come back, and record some more.

That was the way of it when I was recording with Mike [McFarland, who plays as Buggy, Richie, Helmeppo, Eyelash, Masshikaku, and Yokozuna] and the same thing with Joel McDonald [who plays Louis Arnote, Bartholomew Kuma, Megalo, and Mohkin]. Go, go, go, make sure you pace yourself. A lot of screaming usually so sometimes you go, “Okay, let’s save that one until later. Let’s come back to that particular cue in the afternoon so I still have my voice later.”

It’s just a good time. You’re working with your friends, I’m working with people I know real well on a good show, on a character I love. Usually, just by virtue of the scheduling, usually most of the other folks that have recorded their stuff so I’m getting to hear their performances and play off of that. I enjoy that aspect, as well. When I get to work on One Piece it’s a good time all around.

Monsters and Critics: Since you’re hanging out with the voice actors for the Straw Hat crew who is your go-to buddy? What do you like doing?

Patrick: I feel like just by virtue of our different schedules of catching each other when we catch each other, I feel like of the crew I probably had the most opportunity to hang out with Ian [Sinclair, who plays as Brook, Ian, Itomimizu, Ryuma, Fake Franky] just in life.

Far as us being in the same convention. You know, there was a time or two when I crashed at his place when I was in town. But everybody on that main cast is great. It’s just a matter of finding time in our disparate, busy lives to connect.

Monsters and Critics: Right. That can be quite a problem in this industry, I’m sure. Franky went from being an enemy of the Straw Hats to being a crew member. Did that transition change the way you voiced your character in any way?

Patrick: Didn’t really change the way I voiced him, although a lot of that stuff right out of the gate when he still had that sort of adversarial relationship with the Straw Hats he was just a little jerky about everything but it didn’t really manifest itself so much in the voice.

They are going to be gunning for each other for these first couple episodes before we can have that old trope of changing from an enemy to a friend. I felt like the writing definitely leaned into Franky being an enemy or somebody who’s a little bit obnoxious, but you have to have that because if you don’t have that right off the bat then you really can’t highlight that switch into the other end of the spectrum when it happens.

I don’t feel like it was a real marked difference in the performance. I feel like my voice just has naturally gotten lower over the year from all the yelling and screaming and carrying on. [Patrick switches to his Franky voice.] I feel like, “Putting on the Franky thing is definitely less of a push! Maybe it used to be, but whatever!” It’s easier to get into that voice then perhaps it was 10 years ago, 8 years years ago, whenever One Piece unlimited adventures came out.

Monsters and Critics: Franky’s most recognizable trait would be his catchphrase, “SUPER!” Can I get you to say that line except in a different character’s voice; perhaps Dio Brando from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Endeavor from My Hero Academia or Dullahan from Konosuba?

Patrick: That would just be like, “Hmph. Super… or not so super. Try harder Shoto! SHOTO!” That’d be the progression there [for Endeavor]. As far as Dio he’d be sitting in the dark reading a book. “Oh look, the Jo-Jo’s are being stupid again. Super…” He’d be all quiet and sneery about it. Then the Dullahan from Konosuba would be like, “You people keep blowing up my house! That’s not SUPER! Bah BAH!”

[Note: For readers wanting to hear Patrick Seitz doing those voices, that part starts at the 11:03 mark in the YouTube video.]

Monsters and Critics: Oh, man. You nailed it. Out of the many characters you voice which one do you enjoy acting out the most and why?

Patrick: I’m lucky to have had so many cool characters. I probably couldn’t take it down to one but Franky is definitely up there on the list. [Wolfgang] Grimmer from Monster is on that list. Garrosh Hellscream from World of Warcraft he’s definitely up there. Ragna the Bloodedge from BlazBlue.

I’ve been super lucky to play a lot of whacky, weird characters. They’re usually not the hero, they’re usually the villain or the side guy. A lot of time the hero isn’t as interesting as the villain or the side guys. Saving the world can be a little reactive. Yeah, I can’t narrow it down to one. It’s too tough.

Monsters and Critics: Do you ever find yourself lapsing into a certain character’s voice in real life?

Patrick: Not really. I know that some people do. Nah, not really, because I feel like the voices that are the closest to mine in real life, folks like Ragna from BlazBlue, he’s just plainly irritated by everything a lot of the time or lashing out at people. I’m usually pretty chill in real life.

Monsters and Critics: Pretty chill and relaxed. Definitely. What character’s voice has stressed your larynx out the most?

Patrick: Doing full days of Franky can definitely do that. I remember doing Laxus [Dreyar] right out of the bat in Fairy Tail. In the fighting festival arc, there would times when he would just be powering up in the background for like 30 seconds, 45 seconds, over and over again. Sort of, Kamehameha-ing as Natsu and Makarov were just dropping exposition. That was pretty tough.

Definitely Garrosh Hellscream from World of Warcraft. He’s gotta be the toughest voice because [switches to Garrosh Hellscream’s voice] “it’s this sort of voice for hours and HOURS!” And he’s screaming. But it’s such a cool character. You walk out and you’re wiped out but it’s worth it because they’ve taken such care in creating. I feel like those are the biggies. [Laughs]

Monsters and Critics: Out of the various anime which haven’t received an English dub yet, which anime character do you wish you could voice?

Patrick: You know I’ve stopped wishing. I definitely used to, but I found over the years that it sort of sets yourself up for heartbreak. What’s the show? Is it going to get an English dub? It could be dubbed by– is it going to be done on the west coast? Is it going to be done by FUNimation where it’s simuldubs? [In that case,] it’s probably not worth their time to jump through the hoops to use me because we have to record remotely.

Is it being done by Sentai with whom I really don’t have a working relationship so I wouldn’t get a shot at it? If it’s something I get to audition for am I going to be considered? Am I the right voice for it? Is someone else going to get it?

Like, it’s gotten to the point where it’s easier not to look at the stuff that hasn’t come out yet because if you end up falling in love with it and really liking a character odds are you’re not going to get the character and then you’re like, “Aww man, I didn’t get the character.”

Not that I’m promoting willful ignorance, but at least until it’s something I get the opportunity to audition for I try to not to keep too much of an eye on the horizon because I’m probably just setting myself up for heartbreak.

Monsters and Critics: That makes perfect sense. You’ve also voiced a lot of video game characters, with the most recognizable probably being Scorpion from Mortal Kombat or Dracula in Castlevania. What role did you find most memorable?

Patrick: For video games, definitely the stuff I did for Blizzard. Garrosh Hellscream, Arthas Menethil in World of Warcraft. Artanis in Starcraft. Just because of the care that Blizzard takes with their properties, with their characters, and with their worldbuilding. Those have definitely been memorable.

On Ragna the Bloodedge from BlazBlue I didn’t know there was going to be so many iterations of the game. I didn’t know there was going to be so much story. I had gone in for a fighting game not long before my first BlazBlue [recording] session and it was like 45 minutes, doing the punches and doing the kicks and that’s it. Going for my first BlazBlue session I walked in and there’s a three-ring binder on the music stand like THAT thick.

“This is a fighting game, right?” Yeah, it’s a fighting game. “What the hell is THIS?” Well, come to find out it’s a visual novel fighting game so it’s chock-full of story and character development, ummm… which I was very grateful for.

A lot of times you go in for the game and it’s a one-off; you do the thing and it’s done. Comes out a year-and-a-half later and you’re like, “Oh, right. I did that thing.” Definitely, I feel like the Blizzard characters and Ragna are the ones I’ve had the longest relationship with. Then again, Scorpion [from Mortal Kombat], too, during my run on that. It was a 10-year run, yeah.

Monsters and Critics: It’s nice to be able to go back to some characters, I’m sure. Besides being a voice actor, you’ve also been an ADR director and scriptwriter. Tell us about those experiences.

Patrick: Those are good. It definitely takes more time than acting. I mean, scriptwriting is very labor-intensive because you’re looking at the video for an episode, you’re looking at the translation line, you’re looking at one sentence, playing it over and over again, looking at the translation, looking in the flap trying to come up with something that honors the intent of the Japanese but also fits the flap and sounds natural in English that doesn’t use the words you just used in the lines before.

I like doing it. I kind of compare it to building model planes because I’m not very good at stuff like that. I’m not very dextrous. But working with the intricacies of script adapting almost feels like I’m doing something out of little moving pieces that have to be fit together and glued together.

With the voice directing; same kind of thing. That’s very time-intensive because depending on the length of the project. Oh, it’s a game, it takes a week, two weeks, a couple of months. I worked on a thing once that ran for seven months of recording–which is great, because it’s seven months of work!

And I was working with wonderful people. But that is a long time to also at the same time be trying to not totally, you know, sort of put your own VO career in a coma while you’re doing that seven months of recording. Finding weekends, or early mornings, or late nights, or run away during lunch and come back real quick, just finding ways to not totally bail on your own VO into things.

I like doing all three things. I don’t want to say I’m a worst-case-scenario kind of guy but I feel some people think, “I’m just going to be doing the acting! Come what may I can just crash on a couch if things get lean. I can make it work. Ha ha!”

I’m more like, “No, I want to make sure the bills are paid, the lights are on.” Yeah, I’m a creative person as far as that I act and do these things but I feel like there’s that part of me, too, that wants to have everything taken care of and a be a little more pragmatic. It’s a weird divide sometimes.

Monsters and Critics: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself when you first joined the voice-over industry in 2000 with the Amazing Nurse Nanako OVA, what advice would you give yourself?

Patrick: I think I would tell myself… [Pauses and thinks] I would tell myself not to worry but that’s kind of a BS answer because no one can ever really tell you not to worry and have it mean anything.

Monsters and Critics: If your future self went back and told you that you’d be like, “Why are you telling me not to worry!? What am I not supposed to be worried about!?”

Patrick: What do you know, what are you not telling me! [Laughs] I think I’d tell myself not to worry if I could convince Past Me to listen to Current Me. I think I would tell myself not to work so damn hard because I feel like in my thirties I was definitely of that freelancer mindset where I was like, “Gotta do the thing. Work comes first. Gotta make it all work. Sleep and family and fun and rest and all that comes second. Gotta do the gig. Gotta get to work.”

Then you just get to a point where you’re like, “Okay, I’m probably not going to be sleeping on the street next month. Work, you can never count on work, but short of something really catastrophic happening like–work is covered, now I need to find that work-life balance a little bit better.”

It doesn’t have to be lizard brain, just be like, “Just work, work! Work or you starve! Work or you starve!” I can look in the mirror and be like, “Son, you ain’t starving. Time to unclench and learn how to relax a little bit.”

Monsters and Critics: To live life. Speaking of living life, I saw on Twitter that you are promoting a charity for sick kids. Tell us about that.

Patrick: I’m doing a not-so-SUPER job of streaming me playing video games on Twitch, which I like doing but with my schedule, I’ve not been near as consistent with that as I’d like to be. I’m doing it all on behalf of a charity called Extra Life, which raises money for various children’s hospitals around the country.

I’m doing work for a children’s hospital out in Los Angeles because that’s where I am. They have once a year (it’s in October or November, I forget the dates offhand) the week of the official marathon. Everybody streams for 24 hours or 48 hours.

I’ve always been beholden to work for whether or not I can do it on those dates, so what I try to do is hop on when I can. Do stuff when I can. Put the link out there on Twitch stream and have some folks donate. I’m just not as good at it as I’d like to be. A lot of times I just want to play a video game and chill. When you’re streaming you kind of have to be “on” to a certain degree.

Monsters and Critics: Yeah. Talking and not just enjoying.

Patrick: Yeah, doing the thing. It’s something I like doing when I have the time and wherewithal to do it. I was playing Bloodstained recently and I meant to stream that and I just forgot and then I beat it.

I was like, “Welp! It’s done.” I like using YouTube as a way of showing people games that maybe not everyone is playing. Just as a sort of “try before you buy”. Like, “Hey, this is what it looks like. Here’s the gameplay. You know, if you were on the fence about buying it.”

Monsters and Critics: Any closing thoughts for fans of One Piece?

Patrick: Fans of One Piece, you have definitely picked the winner as far as the show to put your time, your effort, and your emotional investment into. You can go down that rabbit hole as far as you want, which is great. You can be as casual a fan or as diehard a fan.

Far be it from me, I’m never going to get there, but if you ever get to the point where you’ve consumed all of the One Piece media there is to consume you can always go back to the beginning and start again. Like, there’s always going to be more One Piece. More than any one person can devour in their lifetimes. You’ll never get to the end of the Grand Line, as it were. [Laughs]

Monsters and Critics: Let’s just hope it finishes. I like endings. Thank you so much for your time! 

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