Studio TRIGGER’s Delicious in Dungeon (Dungeon Meshi / ダンジョン飯) is an fantasy comedy series that takes adventurous cuisine to a whole new world! Based on the manga written by Ryoko Kui, it follows the journey of Laios, Marcille, Chilchuck, and Senshi as they trek their way through the perilous dungeons to rescue a separated party member. With limited funds and resources, they resolve to defeat (and eat) the many creepy crawlies and bizarre creatures infesting the dungeon as they gradually make their way to the lower levels.
We sat down with special guests Kentaro Kumagai, voice of Laios Thorden, and Sayaka Sembongi, the voice of Marcille Donato, at Anime Expo 2023 earlier this summer at an exclusive press event to talk about all things food and more to satiate our cravings.
QUESTIONS & INTERVIEW
Note: Japanese translations have been adapted for readability.
1) For the voice cast selection, can you talk about the casting process for Delicious in Dungeon?
Kumagai-san: When the role of Laios came up, my agency had sent the audio file in first for the audition. From there, the studio selected a few candidates they were interested in. After attending the in-person studio audition, I was picked for the role.
Sembongi-san: Actually this time, it was very interesting! The reason for that is because my character, Marcille, was already decided through a voice sample, along with another character. When they were deciding on the voice for Laios, I ended up doing a chemistry test with Kumagi-san and a few other people, which was a very unique way of casting. Therefore, with the studio casting, we had already met and performed together.
2) How did you prepare for your respective roles in the anime?
Kumagai-san: After the audition and finding out that I got the part for Laios, I was trying to determine how I can better relate to the character. What things do we have in common with this character? My character has a younger sister, and I have two younger brothers. So, I tried to tackle the role from an older brother perspective. That’s how I prepared. Laios is also a strange, unique character, so I approach the role with a more subdued and impassive perspective.
Sembongi-san: The anime is all about eating. First of all, I read the source material of the manga to prepare. Additionally, my character eats a lot of slime. I tried to determine what Japanese food is similar in texture so I can kind of understand that feeling of eating slime. Food such as konjac or jelly came to mind. I ended up eating those to get more perspective on her character.
3) Are there any characters that you would have liked to portray if you weren’t already casted for your current roles? What other characters do you find interesting?
Kumagai-san: As for me, I could only play Laios. When I read the script and the manga, I was looking at the characters and I knew instantly: this character is for me. There’s no other character. I can’t see myself playing any other character. It really was fate. I’m really happy that I was chosen for the role. Say for instance, my face compared to the character of Senshi… It would look too awkward. I’m too young!
Sembongi-san: Marcille is the character that I really wanted to play. She’s so playful. I really liked that part about her. She’s just so girly. As I was doing my audition, I thought to myself, “Ah, it would be so great if I could get this part!” So, I was really honored and happy when I was picked.
4) What do you think are some elements that make this series different from other manga or anime?
Kumagai-san: I really enjoyed the humor. It’s very subtle.
Sembongi-san: Same! I enjoy the humor.
Kumagai-san: Laios doesn’t know that he’s being funny. He’ll eat something and be very serious. Definitely the subtlety of the humor. “Gag humor.” It’s not an outright slapstick joke, but a snicker.
5) How would you like to see your character develop throughout the series?
Kumagai-san: Have you read the manga? I don’t want to take the enjoyment and your first experience of the series away from you. If you haven’t yet, read the manga or watch the show when it comes out. Then you’ll be able to see my character’s growth. I will say one thing: I wished my character Laios would be nicer to his friends and the people around him.
Sembongi-san: First of all, I want you to read the manga. This is your homework!
What you’ll find with my character, Marcille, especially at the beginning, is that she is very food-focused. So, “Food! Food! Food! Food! Food!” But I really hope that my character will be interested in other things and have more personal growth. Not as food-motivated, but become more interested in other things as the story progresses. Remember to read the manga first! You have 12 mangas to read. So, get started!
6) Given that the series is a lot about where the food comes from, has your perspective about food and interest in cooking changed after coming into your roles?
Kumagai-san: “Itadakimasu~” (いただきます). Ever since I was little, my parents would say, “Make sure you say itadakimasu,” which means “thank you for this food I am about to eat.” It’s a big part of Japanese culture, obviously, that almost becomes routine. After doing that for 27 years, it becomes something you do automatically. It’s not something you really think about. You don’t realize the importance and underlining meaning behind it. However, now that I am working as this character in Delicious in Dungeon, the meaning becomes more real. The things they actually kill, they have to eat. So, the act of taking a life, in that aspect, really adds a whole new definition to this phrase that you’ve become so used to. The phrase itadakimasu. It’s really given me a new perspective because of that.
Sembongi-san: Cybister is a species of diving beetle that is native to East Asia and the Amazon. Actually, for me, what really changed was that…The director had brought in these beetles and scorpions. Up until that point in my life, I’ve never eaten anything like that. But after having tasted them, I had a good experience. I thought to myself, “You know what, maybe I should be a little more open to things?” You often have these stereotypes of what something might taste like and you don’t try it. So now, I’m more open to trying things.
Kumagai-san: Yesterday, I ate a lot of steak. One takeaway I had was: don’t leave any leftovers. No one wanted it last night, so I ate a lot of steak and didn’t leave any on the plate. I ate everything! Even if I have anything left over, I’ll take it home to eat.
7) If you could try any one dish from the show or manga, what would you be willing to try?
Kumagai-san: I would eat something that Laios has had, which is the nabe or hot pot. It’s a soul food or comfort food in Japanese culture that brings people together. I would probably eat that. The official name is the “Huge Scorpion and Walking Mushroom Hot Pot”. That’s what I would eawt.
Sembongi-san: I would also really like to try to nabe! However, there are more things that I would rather NOT try. One thing I definitely would not want to touch or anything to do with is the parasites. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
8) What has been your experience of AX so far and American fans? Is this your first time at AX?
Kumagai-san: This is my first time at AX. But, not just AX, this is my first time in America! (Welcome!) It’s given me a fresh perspective. The whole experience has been a new experience.
Since it’s your first time here in America, what would you say has been the biggest shock to your system, good or bad? The steak?
Kumagai-san: Everyone drives on a different side here. Everytime a car turns to the left, I think, “Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh! Wait… No, this is right, this is right.” It still makes me really nervous.
In response to the American fans, I never would have imagined that there would be so much passion for Japanese anime, video games, manga, and cosplaying. This whole thing has been such an incredible experience, especially being part of this industry. To be able to voice an anime that you guys are resonating so positively with, is nothing short of amazing. I can feel it underneath my skin. It has been such an amazing experience and makes me very happy.
Sembongisan: This is my first time at AX! This is also my first time in America. (Welcome!)
The thing that stood out the most to me is the lack of humidity in the air. Those of you that have been to Japan before are probably aware that in Japan the humidity is absolutely crazy. When I got off the plane and left the airport, I was like, “It’s dry here! I’m not sweating!” It doesn’t matter how hot it is. The sun could be beating down on me. It’s always the humidity that does me in. That’s one thing that I’ve really enjoyed while being here.
As far as the AX experience and the American fan experience goes, I feel very similar to Kumagai-san. I was so honored and impressed by the love and support that the American audience and fan base has given me. The fact that I am part of an anime that you are responding to so well is amazing! I would love to sit down one-on-one with fans and ask them questions, instead. “Who do you like? What do you like about this character?” and really dive into it if I could. But, what I’m going to do is take all this experience and the love and support you’ve given me, go back to Japan, and do an even better job… in the HUMIDITY that Japan has! This is going to be fuel for me in the future. I’m very honored. Thank you.
9) During the voice recording session, oftentimes the sound director or the staff may give some feedback on how the character should be portrayed, such as Laios or Marcille. Have you received any feedback on how you should portray those characters? If not, were there any fun moments that you could share during those sessions?
Kumagai-san: Obviously, the first recording session, being the first episode, is extremely important. So you do need to have that synergy, that back and forth, with the director.
Sembongi-san: Before we started the first episode, everyone got together in the lobby area, including members from Studio TRIGGER. We got all together and greeted each other. “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu (よろしくお願いします)… We look forward to working with everyone on this new show.” After that we went into the recording booth.
For the voice acting process, how it’s done in America solo is not how it’s done in Japan with anime. How many of you were there in the first recording?
Kumagai-san: The four main characters were in the studio together. The studio is on one side of the glass, while the director and sound engineer is on one side. As we’re working on the voices, the director would go in. If we had any questions or comments, the director would go into the studio where the actors were and we would have that back and forth. So, that’s mostly how the first episode was done.
Keeping in mind, of course, the original manga and my character, it was extremely important to keep this distance that my character Laios has with the other people. So that was a very big part of my character. I wanted to keep that in mind as I was portraying that.
Sembongi-san: The thing that I really remember the most with my character has already been decided. And then they brought in the other characters. When we were all together as four, the director said he wanted me to bring it down a notch. “A higher voice will make you sound younger. I want you to sound a little more mature.” So that was the direction that stuck with me and stays in my mind. He wanted a little more of a mature image.
10) What do you hope that the audience will experience or feel after watching Delicious in Dungeon for either the characters or the anime?
Kumagai-san: My character, there’s a lot of comical parts. A lot of parts that will make you laugh. There’s also an underlying theme that’s a lot more complicated. I’m looking forward to taking this journey with the viewer as you watch the anime. I want to see his journey as a person, as a human. I’m very excited about watching how he grows as a character, and I’m hoping you will enjoy that as well.
Sembongi-san: Obviously, with my character, the biggest aspect is that she’s very into eating. So, the revelation of taking a life to receive life, the depth that goes with that… The fact that this is a journey of four members, four characters, and how they interact as a group, how they continue to develop and rely on each other as a group, is extremely important. There’s a lot of humor and comedy that you will find, but there’s also these themes, such as you can’t live alone. You need other people in order to live this life. That’s going to be really important. I’m looking forward to seeing that, as well. As they progress forward, how they will rely on each other in that journey is going to be extremely important.
11) If you came to another anime convention, would you consider cosplaying or dressing up as your character?
Sembongi-san: I want to!! YES!!
Kumagai-san: I would love to, but I need to work out a little more first. And then I’ll think about it.
12) During the recording, Is there a particular scene that you find challenging or hard to forget (without giving away any spoilers)?
Kumagai-san: First of all, my character is just DIFFICULT. There was a lot that was really hard for me. There is one episode that comes to mind. It’s the first episode where my character had to eat the huge scorpion. Liaos says “UGHHH.” Gagging reaction. So I had to do that many times. That was the most difficult.
Sembongi-san: With me, it was a lot of the gags and a lot of jokes being told. With me, I had a lot of “YADA! (いや)” Those reactions were really hard because I had to keep in character, as well. I can’t go too high. So, I had to come up with a balance that really works. I had to delve into voices including my natural voice, to come up with a balance for that. That was the most difficult thing.
Special thanks to translator Lisle Wilkerson and our partners at Kadokawa and Netflix.
Yen Press is the official licensor for the manga in North America.
Check out the teaser trailer here:
Kumgai-san has been an active voice actor since 2015. Prior to nabbing the role Laois, he was known for his role as Theo Cornaro from Grancrest Senki and Hideo Akuno from Idol Master Side M.
ABOUT Sayaka Sembongi (千本木 彩花)
Senbogi-san is a seasoned voice actress. Her most notable roles, aside from Marcille, are Kiruko from Tengoku Daimakyou, and Haru from Bearstars!, and Mumei from Koutetsujou no Kabaneri.
DELICIOUS IN DUNGEON
Twitter (EN): https://twitter.com/dun_meshi_en
Twitter (JP): https://twitter.com/dun_meshi_anime