'Total nerd' Trina Nishimura ready to talk about anime career with hometown audience at Yellow City con

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Amarillo native and anime voice-over star Trina Nishimura

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

"Excuse my coughing. I've spent my morning screaming."

That's an occupational hazard for Amarillo native Trina Nishimura, one of the anime world's most in-demand voice-over actors and winner of a 2015 award for best female lead vocal performance for her role as Mikasa in Attack on Titan.

Whatever role has her screaming now, she can't divulge — "It's a movie I'm not allowed to talk about yet ... (but) it's a crazy character that screams a lot," she said — but she's happy to talk about her excitement about coming home as a featured celebrity at Yellow City Comic Con, which runs Friday through Sunday in the Amarillo Civic Center Complex, 401 S. Buchanan St.

"It's such a cool thing," said the Dallas-based Nishimura. "I'm really excited to come back to Amarillo."

"Attack on Titan"

Nishimura, a 2001 Amarillo High School graduate and former Amarillo College student, graduated from the University of North Texas in 2005, shortly after beginning work as a voice-over artist for Funimation, the American distributor for such shows as Dragon Ball Z and other popular anime series and movies.

As a child, she acted in several Amarillo Little Theatre productions, including its staging of Once on This Island, but she didn't expect to continue working as an actor as a professional. In fact, she planned on going to law school and focusing on maritime law.

"Growing up in Amarillo, you're basically on an island surrounded by dirt," Nishimura said. "I was a wide-eyed Amarillo girl who wanted to travel and see everything, and with maritime law, you're rarely in court. You mostly talk to companies in these amazing port cities around the world. ... In my 18-year-old mind, that made perfect sense."

But reality intervened.

"I was super-duper broke in college, and a friend of mine from Plainview knew I had done a lot of acting and told me about an audition at Funimation," Nishimura said. "I said ... I don't have time for this. He said it pays, and I said what time?"

Soon, she became a regular with the studio and other animation outlets.

"I think at this point, I've done over 100-something shows," Nishimura said. "I've stopped counting. I've done a lot of cartoons and video games and other things I'd like to talk about but can't.

"None of us took it seriously (when Funimation was getting off the ground). I was just there to make a little scratch and make cartoons," she said. "Then it turned into this business. You blink, and you have a career."

Attending cons like Amarillo's is very much an important part of that career and an outlet she said she wishes she had as a child here.

Trina Nishimura on "Attack on Titan" panel

"When I was a kid, I was a total nerd. To grow up in a small West Texas city, as you well know, if you're not into football and cheerleading, you're not part of the crew," Nishimura said. "I think conventions have really opened this gateway into geek culture.

"The cool thing about conventions that I adore and wish I had or my friends had when we were younger is that it gives people a safe space for two or three or four days," she said. "I think it's so cool that's available now in a small West Texas city where there used to be three of us who debated DC vs. Marvel on a Friday night."

Nishimura will appear on a panel at a 5 p.m. Friday event for convention VIPs, then at 3 p.m. Saturday with fellow Funimation star Mike McFarland. While she's here, she said she plans on eating plenty of Taco Villa and attend ALT's performance of Hairspray, about which she has high expectations.

"It's disappointing when you leave the safety of ALT and go to another city and go to a community theater show," she said. "I'll tell people about ALT, and they'll say, 'That's adorable.' 'No, no, no, you don't understand.' I'll whip out my phone and show them pics of sets and different stuff, and they'll say, 'That's not community theater.'

"Well, that's what community theater is in Amarillo, Texas, and it doesn't happen anywhere else like that."

Tickets are $15 for Friday's early access and dance or for a pass for Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5 for children ages 5 to 12 (or free for those 4 and younger) or $10 for active fire, police and military (with IDs). VIP packages are $100, including early access to celebrity guests, prime seating in panels and more. A VIP pass for Friday, plus weekend-long regular access, is $30.

For information, visit www.yellowcitycon.com.


Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at Chip.Chandler@actx.edu, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/chipchandlerwriter on Facebook.

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