I spent most of Gen Con feeling a bit lost at sea, riding the wave of whimsy and imagination flooding through the Indiana Convention Center.
Friday evening’s panel discussion with voiceover actress Amanda Miller summed up my overall experience at the convention. I went in with very little knowledge and came out enlightened and enthusiastic.
I walked into the panel room based solely on my vague familiarity with the show in which Miller stars — the anime action-adventure series, Sailor Moon. Miller is the voice of Sailor Jupiter, a superhuman soldier sworn to protect the solar system from supernatural forces of evil.
Until I listened to Miller speak about it, I always imagined voice acting being a bit of a boring, lonely profession. However, as she described it, Miller’s life is anything but boring. She seems like a sitcom character — a quirky, comical voice actress whose neighbors think she is a nutcase based on the strange sounds she makes late at night when she’s recording.
“I have to talk to my neighbors and say like, ‘Hey, if I sound like I’m being mauled by a bear, don’t call the cops,’” she said. “If I actually am getting murdered in my apartment one of these days, none of my neighbors are going to help me. I’ll be like the girl who cried wolf.”
Miller doesn’t worry too much about sounding weird though. Like Gen Con attendees, she gravitates toward everything that’s otherworldly and alien. Her voiceover work revolves around sci-fi and fantasy storytelling.
“I like making fighting noises, like the sound of getting punched in the stomach by a robot,” she said. “I like those guttural sounds. I think it’s because you don’t make those noises in your everyday life. If you did, somebody would probably call the cops.”
Miller has an infectious sense of humor about her work, often acknowledging the outlandish absurdity of it all.
“When you take them out of context, all these little effort noises I make for shows and videogames — the grunts, the reactions — either sound like someone pooping or having sex,” she said to an eruption of laughter.
Although she pokes fun at her work, Miller also embraces it with childlike exuberance. Working on Sailor Moon is a longtime dream come true for her. She’s been a hardcore fan of the show since she was a little girl back in the '90s.
At 28 years old, Miller isn’t far removed from the fans she speaks to at conventions. The attendees of Friday’s panel seemed to look up to her with hope that they could do what she does, becoming participants in the fantasy shows they loved as children. That’s what conventions like this are all about — taking part in something larger-than-life, mixing the ordinary and the otherworldly.
I’m not a gamer or an anime-watcher. I recognized little to none of the merchandise on display at the convention. But I felt right at home, which is how the best conventions make you feel. Thanks to Miller, her fans and the horde of pop culture fanatics outside the panel room, I was eager to explore more fantasy worlds. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on me as I squeezed through the costumed crowd not ready to go home.