Spy x Family’s Mother and Daughter on Hitting the Big Time with Code: White

Spy x Family’s Mother and Daughter on Hitting the Big Time with Code: White

The delightfully zany Spy x Family has captured hearts in anime form since it blew up in 2022. While the Forgers won’t be back on your TV for a while, they’re coming to the silver screen with Spy x Family Code: White.

Opening stateside this week after hitting Japanese theaters last December, the movie takes the Forgers on a weekend trip that naturally leads them stumbling into a plot that threatens world peace. Like many a first movie for a popular anime, the movie is a slick-looking (and charming) highlight reel of what makes the source material so beloved to begin with, a lot of which can be owed to its cast.

Ahead of Code: White’s theatrical run, io9 got the chance to speak with dub actors Natalie Van Sistine and Megan Shipman, who reprise their respective roles of Yor and Anya from the anime. In addition to insight on how they play their characters, the duo opened up on coming back to the movie, their initial experience with Spy x Family, and if there’s a real limit on how ludicrous the Forgers’ adventures can get.

Justin Carter, io9: SxF’s anime came out two years ago, and it immediately exploded in popularity. How surprised were you to see audiences gravitate toward it?

Natalie Van Sistine: For me, I had some suspicions; I’d heard of the manga before I went in to do auditions for the show, which doesn’t normally happen. I knew it’d be a bigger title and figured it’d be a major opportunity, but I didn’t think it’d reach this level of scope. Having read the manga and seen the show now, a part of me is “Obviously, the show’s so good, why wouldn’t they love it?” I’m biased, but I think it’s really great!

I read the first volume to prepare for the audition, and found myself going, “Oh nooooo, I like this book a lot! If I don’t get to be a part of this, I’ll be sad!”

Megan Shipman: See, I did the opposite—I auditioned at two in the morning, and when I found out I got the part, I went to buy every volume available. It was time to read and do some homework! [laughs]

When you first start recording for a show, you never know how much attention it’s going to get. You can maybe anticipate it’ll be a big thing, but you never really know until it’s out there. We love the show regardless, but once it aired and [we saw] how much people enjoyed and loved it, it made everything else even cooler. You’ve got this whole group of people you can relate to about this one show, and we loved getting to be part of a project that became so big.

Image: Wit Studio/CloverWorks

io9: So then at what point did you know you’d be doing VO for Code: White? Was it during recording a particular season, or did they just spring it on you?

Shipman: We’d heard about the movie getting announced in Japan, but we hadn’t heard an official word if we were doing a dub version. We’re the last to find anything out, so when people would ask us about it, we’d just have to say, “We hope so!” In our heads, we figured there was a strong chance of us doing this, because we’d seen how successful season one was, and we were about to start recording season two.

There was a convention we did in February right before they said the dub was coming, so we couldn’t tell the people there we’d already been recording the movie. We had people going, “The movie! The movie!,” and all we could do is say—

Van Sistine: “It’s gonna be great! Whenever it happens!”

Shipman: We tend to find out things along with the fans, which can be fun and exciting. Since we’re already last in the process, I personally don’t care when I know something, but when we finally found out we’d be dubbing it, getting to tell people was a nice sigh of relief.

io9: You’ve both played your characters for two years now—I’m curious how you ended up finding the voices for Anya and Yor, especially since the Forgers all bounce between being the straight man and comedic relief.

Shipman: When I auditioned for Anya, I had to base it on trailers that were already out and featured a lot of her and Loid. From those, I could see that she was very cute and funny and clearly the comedic one. The memes and videos of her [Japanese dub] going around also gave me extra pieces to work with. During my audition, I made her as over the top as possible; in the lines, she was funny and also crying (as she always does).

There were big emotions all over the spectrum for her, so I decided to make them as big as possible, because that’s clearly what Anya is: a larger-than-life child. The biggest thing for me was understanding her personality, so I added more… not stupidness, but childlike immaturity to her. In the show, she’s got stream of consciousness thought and no filter, like actual kids do. After I’d been cast, and we got into sessions, we were able to fine tune what her vocal tics are and what that would consistently sound like.

Image: Wit Studio/CloverWorks

Van Sistine: For me, the biggest “a-ha!” moment was reading the manga. When the audition came in, I watched all the trailers, and Yor wasn’t in any of them, so I didn’t have any idea what she’d sound like. But I knew from what was available that she was an assassin, so I figured she’d be a female counterpoint to Loid: straightforward, confident, and cool. As I was reading the audition lines and trying to figure out how to capture that, it mentioned that she was a little nervous and I couldn’t entirely rectify how that worked with the cool assassin type.

I sat down to read the first volume of the manga, and I immediately related to how Yor has anxiety, but when it’s go time, she gets in the zone and freaks out later. It’s like being an actor, actually: it’s game time, you get in the booth, then have a breakdown about it in the car afterwards. I still incorporated the calm assassin type when Yor’s on the job or using her work skills, but then I allowed her voice to creep up, get breathier, and have a little more tension whenever she’s anxious.

io9: At the same time Spy x Family was on, Natalie, you voiced Miorine in Mobile SuitGundam: The Witch from Mercury. Do you feel like playing her helped get a handle on either of Yor’s personas?

Van Sistine: I’d say it was a mix of that and the manga. I’ve had experiences with anxiety where it was easy to go, “I know where this lives in my brain!” Do I have an active inner monologue life? Absolutely! But that’s what I love about Yor, because it makes her someone who’s more whole and rounded. Sometimes in anime, characters can feel so cool, but have a degree of separation between you and them, particularly female characters. In the anime and movie, Yor gets to be cool, but you’ve got that humanizing aspect of her that makes her more accessible that makes her relatable. It’s an extra little layer of icing on top of an already phenomenal cake.

Image: Wit Studio/CloverWorks

io9: Spy x Family is just so ridiculous, all the time, and the movie amps that up even further. Performance-wise, do you think you’ve hit a limit on how over the top you can go?

Shipman: Honestly, with Anya, I don’t know. They could write something even more ridiculous and I’d be like, “Oh, we’re going there now?” I don’t think there’s really a ceiling, because the show and manga are so well-written, you have these moments where you think, “How are they ever going to top this?” Then the next arc comes along, you think, “How will they top this?,” and so on. I never feel like I hit a ceiling, because there’s so many crazy things we could still do, and I hope we get to them. Just this movie is like a season of the anime but on steroids, and I love it.

Van Sistine: Like Megan said, I think it’ll just keep ramping up. Where the natural emotional arc of the story is going, I can’t imagine we don’t [get to] continue off that momentum. Even if SxF is still ongoing and we don’t know the endgame, I have a lot of faith in where things are heading and how well things are being told. It’s going to keep sucking us in and give us more of what we’re already so excited for. And the more we get attached to these characters, the more the stakes are going to really hit.

Spy x Family Code: White hits theaters this Friday.

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