Before Anime California 2019 ended, I sat down with voice actor Michael Sorich thanks to con organizers. We spoke about his latest show “Mob Psycho 100” while also looking back at his career.

We’re almost finished with Anime California and you were at a panel earlier with Kyle about “Mob Psycho 100”. How’s it been going to cons and seeing people carrying around their Dimple plushies?
Michael Sorich: “That’s been really great. Actually there was someone this weekend who was dressed as Reigen and she made herself a suit and everything and her name was Trish and I thought it was so cool. She made herself a little Dimple that she handmade that actually was on a magnet and stick over her shoulder like he was leaning in to whisper into Reigen’s ear. It was really cool. This show has been so exciting. We’re so thrilled with the reactions that we’re getting from all the fans on this and it turned out so well. It’s such a great property. I mean it really is. The stories are very well done. Chris Cason, our voice director, did a fantastic job of directing us. Bang Zoom! Studios has been very supportive of it. Mami Okada and the whole team. So it’s been just wonderful working on this show. I was lucky enough. I feel like blessed. I have a lot of gratitude for the fact that I was cast for such a wonderful role where I get a chance to really be creative and be wild and crazy which is what I tend to do best.

Were there other roles you have that have a bit of freedom to put more of your personality?
MS: Yeah, I think so. There’s another project that I did over for Bang Zoom!. I think it was called “Kill la Kill”. In “Kill la Kill”, I play Barazo Mankanshoku and that character was, he was a lot like me. He’s physically built like me as a portly guy and he’s just really wacky and crazy. It’s always fun to do these characters where they really push the limits of how wild and crazy you can be. You can’t just yell the whole time so you have to bring different levels of energy. Believe it or not, there is sublity in being crazy. Sometimes you almost have to think the unthinkable to make it work because you can’t just yell because people will get worn out. I’ve had a pretty good run in terms of those kind of crazy characters lately. It’s been really a blast doing that kind of stuff and you know, finding out what works and what doesn’t work.

What were some, on the other hand, that gave you a bit more trouble or a challenge that didn’t fit your personality?
MS: That’s an interesting question because I recently did. It wasn’t an anime; it was a live action dub for Netflix. The thing is their philosophy now is on a lot of their new shows because they want to reflect reality. They’re bringing in actors as supposed to people that area seasoned voice actors and it tends to be a new trend. In some cases, it works. Some people are able to do it and in some cases, I think it doesn’t. I was brought in for this very subtle character that I would have never been brought in for anime anime because I’m thought as this loud, boisterous and high energy and this character was very laid back. He was like here the whole time [Sorich slumped on the chair and spoke in a low voice] and people that I worked with were kinda like “Wow! We can’t believe you can do that! It’s kinda amazing.” And I said, “Well, you guys keep in mind one thing. I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years. I’m a voice actor. I’m an actor first.” So it was nice to surprise people with that part of my range that I usually don’t get to tap into because people tend to go with what they know you for. So that was really cool. The name of that show was “Sabora” and I play the head of the mafia. It’s an Italian dubbed into English for Netflix. And this character is named oddly enough Samurai and he’s not a samurai but he’s like the Godfather of the Italian family. It’s like a lot of people will say, “Wait, was that really you?” and it was. So that’s kinda cool. It’s nice to be recognized for something that I don’t usually do.

Photo by Faith Orcino 

Regarding how long you’ve been in the industry, how does it feel being a voice to several generations of anime fans now?
MS: It’s kinda crazy because I was talking to somebody about it the other day, one of my fellow voice actors. I said, “You know, yes, underneath my heading at my signing table, it says ‘broken down horse’.” He said, “No, no, no, no, no! You don’t realize you were there in the 80’s, 90’s and the 2000’s, the 2010’s and now you’re almost at the 2020’s. You need to say ‘legendary’, You’re like a legend!” And I’m like “I’m not exactly a legend. I’m just a guy that tried to keep working.” But it’s been great just in terms of having a career where I’ve been involved with so many creative people. So many compelling projects, great producers. I think that in our group in the voice over community, there is just a high degree of kindness and respect that I don’t think happens everywhere. I feel really blessed that I’ve been able to have a career as long as it has been and really the best part I think is I love voicing stuff but I think it’s great when I get to direct because I get to direct new people or old people, talented people. They’re all talented and it’s so great to be in the room with that and to be able to enjoy it and create a product that the fans love. It’s been wonderful and been a great ride. It’s been a wonderful like and it’s going to continue! I’m not going anywhere. I can play old men and I don’t have to put a voice on them like in the old days [speaking in an old country, elderly voice] I had to put a voice but know I’m actually pretty old.

Going into transitions, how has it been working behind the scenes?
MS: Well, I started directing and adapting stuff back in the 90’s. I was the original director for “Digimon”. I was the series director for “Flint the Time Detective”, “Mon Colle Knights”. I’ve gotten “Jump” which is a little more recent. SO I’ve been blessed that Saban gave me a chance to direct stuff. Like once again, it’s so great ‘cause you can remember seeing people’s careers grow. I was reminded yesterday, 11 years ago I was directing Steve Blum and Yuri Lowerenthal in a project. Now their careers have really taken off. Then also way way back I did a show at Saban called originally “Gatchaman”. I t was an anime from the mid 60’s I believe and we changed the name to “Eagle Riders” and I got to work with a very talented cast. One of the people that I worked with was Bryan Cranston. I got to direct Bryan Cranston and he was such a joy and so talented and so much fun. I wouldn’t be any happier for his wonderful super success. You know I just love to see people I worked with go on to do great things. And most of them are really nice people. I’d say like 99% so it’s fantastic to see that kind of growth not only like “ I knew them when,” but also that I was there and a part of history. Pretty cool.

I didn’t realize you worked on those older shows. I remember watching “Mon Colle Knights” in Fox Kids.
MS: I was actually a voice on “Mon Colle Knights”. I was Tanaka, the guy that yelled at them. He was like the drill sergeant. It was so much fun. Joe Ochman was so good as Prince Eccentro. Oh my God, we had such a pall doing that show because he had these long winded speeches and those days they could manipulate the dialogue a little bit but you gotta have to hit it in those days. These wasn’t a lot of manipulation of the audio. It wasn’t truly digitalized so you really had to have great vocal chops to be able to pull it off. It was great to be there and sadly there’s people that I’ve worked with that have gone on and passed away. Like Bob Papenbrook was in that show and he was just great as the dad of Flint the Time Detective. It was so much fun working with him. He was a really fantastic performer and I’m sorry he’s not around anymore ‘cause gosh, the laughs and the good times we’ve shared over those years. I miss Bobby. I miss Bobby a lot.

It’s just amazing to hear you were there as part of the foundation of others’ careers. Are there any of other projects that you had done where you loved the story?
MS: Oh yeah. Actually it’s interesting, I also been adapting scripts. The way you get into directing is usually, I guess it’s different for everyone, but it started for me when I was acting in things then I began adapting scripts. You know,  adapting for English dubs and then directing them. That’s a good way to do it because then you understand the structure of the script and what will work and what won’t work. What sounds good to the ear and what doesn’t sound good to the ear. What works vocally for the actor and what’s something that you could write and if you don’t say it out loud, you don’t know that “Oh my God, that’s impossible to day.” It looks good written down but if you don’t say it out loud, sometimes “Oh, that’s a real tongue twister. Maybe I need to rework that.”
To get back to your question, there are so many compelling projects. I mean I can remember walking in the room when they first came up with Power Rangers. We were looking at the pre-existing footage which what it was how we’re going to build the show around. Tony Oliver was there obviously who was one of the great producers and still a great director, creative force over at Bang Zoom! and everywhere he goes. I would have to say I looked at it and like “What is this crap? This isn’t crap. This is gonna be great!” I said, “The kids are gonna go nuts for this!” They’re like, “Are you out of your mind? Why? Why do you think they’ll go nuts for it?” I said to them, “Because this generation has never seen Godzilla.” I grew up in the 60’s and when you saw those Godzilla movies, they affected you. There’s no way. There’s monsters that’re big enough to tear apart a whole city, to terrorize a whole nation. It affects you and you’re like, “Wow, I can’t believe that!” These kids , they grow with villains that were life size and all of a sudden monsters that are tearing apart cities and I just knew it was going to be a huge hit and I’d be darned, I was kinda right! It was a huge hit! And I was lucky enough to do the night directing on that.
What would happen is Scott Page-Pagter would direct the actors during the day for the ADR but a lot of them would work all day or they’d be filming that day, so some would have to come in  at night. So I was the evening director for “Power Rangers”, for “Mask Rider”, “Big Bad Beetleborgs” sometimes. So I get to work with all the original cast from “Power Rangers”, Bill and Thuy, Wlater and Austin St. John, Jason Franks all those guys. David Yost, worked will all of them Johnny Bosh. I remember Johnny Bosh when he first started doing looping. Now look at him. He’s a fantastic artist. It ‘s been great, Like I said, to see all that. To be in a garden where it all started as dirt and all these beautiful trees and flowers and everything grew up out of it. Now I’m the old guy sitting on the bench looking around at this beautiful garden of wonderful people and all of the talent and all of the creative forces that they’ve created. It’s amazing to hear all you’ve done in the industry. Well a lot of people don’t know. It’s funny al lot of the people don’t know. But I think a lot of times, I don’t. 

Message to the fans: Let’s see if I can do this. No you know I didn’t have anything written down [there were no paper by his side, just my notebook and equipment] and you know I didn’t have much time to prepare for this, right? I’m gonna try to do a little rap for them. Lemme see what I can come up with, okay?

I’ve been the rappin’ pumpkin
It may not be simple
But now I’m with “Mob Psycho”
Now I am Dimple
I know you may think that I’m cool but I’m hot
When you were young I was doing the voice of Squat!
“Oh wee Princess Rita!”
That’s right my friends
Now let’s have a margarita!

Thanks to all of the fans out there for all of the years and all the appreciation that you’ve given me. I have nothing but gratitude and best wishes for all of you. I look forward to seeing you someday soon, I hope.

You can check out Michael Sorich’s performance as Dimple in the English dub of “Mob Psycho 100”, streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation. The series recently started showing on TV as part of Toonami’s lineup.