Photos taken by Faith Orcino

Aniplex of America hosted a special event kicking off the Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour at L.A.’s California Market Center February 2019. Aniplex released the English version of the Japanese turn-based mobile game back in 2017 and the amount of fans that attended the kick-off proved its impact on localization. Many gathered to see the many items on exhibit but also hear what the special guests have to say about the game. 

I got a chance to briefly talk to Tsuruoka during the pre-night before his first panel.

Thank you for coming here to kick off the Fate/Grand Order U.S. tour. How do you feel being here in L.A. and seeing all the Southern California fans?
Tsuruoka (via translator): I haven’t met anyone just yet. I just came in. But as I was coming into the area, I saw people outside waiting in registration and they all looked very happy and smiling even though it was so cold outside. So I was very moved that they were waiting even despite the weather. After this, I have a stage show to go to and with that, I kinda want to warm everybody’s hearts with my performance up on stage. That’s what I want to do.

You play several Servants in the Fate franchise. You tend to take on many roles with such menacing power whether it’s strength or magic. Is there anything about that aspect that attracts you?
Tsuruoka: (Laughs.) As you can hear, this is what my voice sounds like. It’s very low and so the recording director for FGO, for my voice, they naturally gave me roles, menacing and strong-willed roles. That probably came natural for me.

And out of those characters you play, do you have a favorite one?Tsuruoka: Caster Gilles de Rais. 

Is there anything about him that you like?
Tsuruoka: I started with the Fate franchise in Fate/Zero. And in Zero, I built so much as a character for Gilles. I don’t know if you have seen it but you see how he ended, how he basically died and I thought it was the end of him, end of my relationship with him. But my involvement with FGO, I can play his role once again. I can revisit him again. So that feels very special since I thought that [Zero] was the end and I can do it again. That’s why he’s my favorite.

Do you have another favorite Fate character?
Tsuruoka: J’eann D’arc.

 If you became a Master and needed a Servant, would you pick her or Caster?
Tsuruoka: Aaaaahhh, that’s a hard question. It’ll have to be Caster.

Do you have a message to the fans?
Tsuruoka: Thank you again and thank you to my fans who have been waiting outside in the cold. I kinda crossed paths and saw a few of them outside and again saw smiles.I was very moved by that. I’m excited to spend some of the time with these fans that are eagerly waiting. I’m also nervous about it. I’m also a fan of the Fate series as well, so I’m excited to spare the same time and space as all of the Fate fans out there.

While he mentioned his nervousness in our interview, Tsuruoka definitely did not show it during the panels. He took part in the discussion about “FGO: Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia” the anime along with Atsuhiro Iwakami, Aniplex President and producer of FGO. When asked about turning Chapters Six (Camelot) and Seven (Babylonia) into anime, Iwakami mentioned he wanted to show it in many ways. He mentioned feedback he got from fans back in 2017 that they wanted it to be an anime and also in theaters. Aniplex later revealed that Camelot will be theatrical. Iwakami then spoke that the two projects had different animators and studios and wanted fans to enjoy both. There were many gasps and cheers when they revealed character art, including from Tsuruoka who seemed to share the same amazement as the packed room of fans. Iwakami gave his final thoughts on the panel saying that he hoped to bring the energy of the applause and praises back to the rest of the staff in Japan.

The next panel featured Tsuroka and fellow voice actress Noriko Shitaya. The two mentioned that it was the first time they’re together on stage since their characters do not interact in the franchise. Shitaya elaborated by saying that Caster (Tsuroka) and Sakura(Shistuya) were not in the same stages at the same time. She also said that she personally liked Caster and wanted to meet him. 

When talking about her career in the franchise, she spoke how she started with Fate Stay/Night and almost 10 years (at the time) as Sakura Matou. When asked about her first time, she said it was “just like yesterday” and never forgot about her auditions for both Saber and Sakura. She said she also admired Ayako Kawasumi’s performance as Saber. Shitaya’s impression of Sakura was that she was initially a cute kohei that cooks but was very different in the Heaven’s Feel trilogy. 

For Tsuruoka’s impression of Caster, he said that it was different from what he did before and said that he was worried if he could fulfill it when he got it. He also mentioned that he got notes when he received the job which was to over act. “Giles is Western but I am Eastern.” He looked to Kabuki as an example for his performance.

Shitaya then talked about comparing Sakura in the franchise and spoke about her character’s emotions and how she became “someone you want to protect.” The voice actress also played the servant B.B. and said that she was like Sakura but very forward with her emotions. She called her “the little devil for everyone.”

Tsuruoka talked about his other Fate characters, Berserker of Red in “Apocrypha” and the Archer Arash. He revealed to the fans that there was a drama CD that established more about Arash. He called the character not heroic but more of a neighborhood guy. He then did a performance of Arash’s Noble Phantasm attack.

The two voice actors thanked everyone for being part of the event as their closing messages.

Tsuruoka also took part in the rest of the panels including with FGO Creative Producer Yosuke Shiokawa. The voice actor mentioned in one of the panels that he noticed the love of the fans and wanted to spend more time in the area. Aniplex took over one of the upper floors, displaying many large cutouts of popular servants, a wall of Craft Essence art and even a full size version of Rider Sakata Kinotoki’s motorcycle Golden Bear. Along with some vendors, fans checked out some interactive spots including a game challenge, mascot stage and a blank wall. The wall was for anyone to leave messages and fan art regarding the game, which the guests also left their own.

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As this was the kick-off of the US Tour, Aniplex stopped by several other conventions including Anime Expo and brought along their special displays and guests.

Recently, the game reached 10 million downloads and released a special campaign celebrating the milestone. To learn more about the mobile game, head over to its official website. The Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia wrapped up with a tease for the Final Singularity: Solomon. Fans can watch it on Funimation and Crunchyroll. The game also has tabletop version called “Fate/Grand Order Duel”. As of writing this article, there are seven different collections of servant models and cards. Check out more information on its website.