For many years, voice actor Vic Mignogna has entertained audiences worldwide with his many roles in popular anime. From Keldeo in Pokémon: Kyurem and the Sword of Justice to Tamaki in Ouran High School Host Club to Qrow Branwen in RWBY to Broly in the Dragon Ball franchise, and, of course, his most famous role of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Mignogna has risen to become one of the most popular English dub voice actors in the business. But lately, his habits of being a bit too personal with his female fans has landed him in a lot of hot water.
As a disclaimer, this post will have many embedded tweets from Twitter, so I apologize in advance for any loading errors.
Now, there have been rumblings and accusations for the greater part of a decade. Many fangirls show up at anime conventions to get autographs from Mignogna or run into him in the halls, where he would get very touchy-feely with girls, often underage, whether they really wanted to or not. There were other incidents, such as when Mignogna made a tasteless Holocaust joke at a convention panel and went on a tirade about yaoi, but the major complaints against him were being extremely rude to convention staff during his attendance and often hugging and/or kissing his various female fans.
Things started off with a tweet that seemed to be shouting into the void:
This ended up getting noticed by anime review YouTuber Kaylyn “MarzGurl” Saucedo, who brought the issue to the forefront with the hashtag #KickVic, imploring Funimation to stop hiring him for any future projects.
This isn’t the first time Saucedo has tackled this kind of thing, being one of the spearheads of the #ChangeTheChannel movement that resulted in the mass exodus of producers from the Channel Awesome website. Among the allegations there were various incidents of sexual harassment or sexist behavior, as well as the eventual revelation that former beloved producer Justin “JewWario” Carmichael was a sexual predator.
A lot of people were shocked at these allegations, but more and more started popping up, and the #KickVic hashtag started gaining ground as many people began to retweet the notices, calling for Mignogna to be dropped from Funimation’s future projects. As always happens with cases like this, virulent defenders of Mignogna started harassing those who accused him, with the usual “I never saw it myself” and “He’s always been kind to me!” and “They asked for it” defenses. The two sides began to argue, which ended up becoming very ugly, as you can no doubt imagine happens a lot with not only these kinds of debates, but ones on Twitter to boot.
Eventually, the furor grew so much that the man himself was forced to respond:
However, this apology rang hollow for a lot of people, as it seemed to dismiss the accusers entirely.
But things reached a fever pitch a few days later when Jessie Pridemore, a professional cosplayer who is a fixture at the con circuit, weighed in with an incident she experienced with Mignogna many years ago.
In the post, she tells of her meeting with another voice actor (she didn’t name names to protect herself) and getting so drunk that she woke up half-naked in his hotel room. When she met up with this voice actor again, he disparaged her and bragged about the encounter, shaming her. During another con, she ran into Mignogna in one of the halls, where he touched her inappropriately and told her that because of her encounter with the other voice actor, she was an easy mark and heavily implied that she would have sex with him. Luckily, one of her friends was nearby and pulled her away, and she told the anime company she was working with that she was never to be allowed near him ever again.
Of course, when a woman makes such an accusation of a well-loved male celebrity like that, you can imagine the responses. While many people came to Pridemore’s defense, many more came to Mignogna’s and attacked her, calling her degrading names and argued she was making it up to get attention. In particular, the most virulent defenders of him were the Risembool Rangers.
What are the Risembool Rangers? It’s Vic Mignogna’s fan club. Named after the city where the first few episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist take place in, the group started as a LiveJournal and Yahoo! Club community that was all about Vic, before eventually moving onto Discord and Facebook. They are obsessed with Vic and even call him their “Leader” or “Fuhrer” (another reference to Fullmetal Alchemist). Many of the members, even to this day, are young women, usually underage, who join because they have a massive crush on the man. It should be noted that to even join the Rangers, you need to provide not only your real name, but your home address as well. When everything went down, Vic turned to his fans and pleaded with them to defend his honor against people making undue claims against him, in particular using the hashtag #IStandWithVic.
Among the members of the Risembool Rangers is actually Mignogna’s own mother, who not only condones his behavior, but actively instructs the members to e-mail her with any evidence they find on the Internet of people disparaging her son.
The incidents were becoming more and more public. So much so that both Polygon and Anime News Network addressed it in articles of their own. I highly encourage reading the ANN article in particular, as it provides a LOT of details on the early aspects of this saga that I couldn’t put any better.
Things started to get more heated when voice actor Todd Haberkorn (Ling in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Natsu in Fairy Tail, Shikadai in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations) injected himself into the fray as a response to Jessie Pridemore’s Facebook post. He wrote his own Facebook post, revealing that he was the voice actor who drunkenly had sex with Pridemore.
This caused his friend Adam Sheehan, who works as a Director of Events over at Crunchyroll and is married to Charlene Ingram, one of the higher ups at Viz Media, to make his own thread on Twitter, giving his own first-hand account of the incident. He says that neither Pridemore nor Haberkorn were in any mental state to offer actual consent and regrets not breaking them up right then and there.
It should be noted that Sheehan is not the only one to weigh in. Several voice actors who have worked with Mignogna quite often, such as Sean Schemmel (Goku in the Dragon Ball franchise), Brina Palencia (Chopper in One Piece), Chris Ayres (Freeza in Dragon Ball Z Kai and Super), and Jamie Marchi (Rias in High School DxD), among many others, have either liked or retweeted articles and posts calling Mignogna out on his behavior, especially the ANN article. Others have been slightly more open, though still slightly dodgey so as to not get blacklisted from Funimation.
Voice actors often tend to defend each other against unjust attacks and will rally around each other at a moment’s notice. To see so many pledging support against Mignogna, whether directly or indirectly, says a lot. There are very few in professional circles that are supporting the voice actor, though it’s entirely possible they don’t want to be embroiled in the controversy and lose their acting gigs, as it’s been implied that several higher ups at Funimation are very good friends with Mignogna and willingly dismiss or ignore complaints or accusations against him in order to justify putting him in more high-profile roles.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Vic Mignogna. Neither Funimation nor Viz Media have made a statement one way or the other whether they will continue to employ him. Other companies, such as Sega (Mignogna is set to voice E-123 Omega in Sonic Team Racing), have not given statements either. Several anime conventions, such as AnimeNYC and Emerald City Comic Con, however, have cancelled appearances by Mignogna and more are facing pressure to cancel as well. Anime Matsuri has come out in staunch defense of Mignogna, which has caused several fans to cancel their attendance of the convention.
UPDATE: Since the original writing, both Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi have come out with their own accusations of Mignogna, while another story has come out from long before he started his anime career. In the meantime, Rooster Teeth has dropped him from RWBY while Funimation has recasted his role on The Morose Mononokean and officially severed all ties with him.
UPDATE x2: Mignogna has come out with a few Twitter posts over the past few days.
Just to note: It is perfectly fine to separate the person from the product. Enjoying Dragon Ball Super: Broly or Fullmetal Alchemist does not mean you condone Mignogna’s actions in any way.