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Yuri Lowenthal Admits Fan Threats Made Him Nervous To Voice Naruto's Sasuke

Anime fans are notoriously passionate about their favorite franchises. Most of the time, that's a great thing; every once in a while, it takes a turn for the deranged.

Of course, performers in sci-fi-fantasy media have dealt with fan harassment to varying degrees since always; the proliferation of high-speed internet access has greatly exacerbated the problem, and it's hardly specific to connoisseurs of Japanese animation. Some folks, sadly, lose their minds when escapist fiction doesn't pan out quite the way they initially hoped for. Arguably the biggest anime crossover hit in America since "Pokémon," the sprawling martial arts fantasy saga known as "Naruto" certainly has a fandom that's just as passionate as any other. In some cases, that can make "Naruto" fans difficult to please.

Nowadays, Marvel video game enthusiasts recognize the insanely prolific voice actor Yuri Lowenthal as Peter Parker in the "Spider-Man" series created by Insomniac Games. In addition to working on an astronomical number of other projects, Lowenthal has been the English-language Sasuke Uchiha since "Naruto" anime dubs started airing in the U.S. in the early 2000s. According to his recollection, the gig was a little intimidating initially, partly because of the massive hype and anticipation that surrounded "Naruto" even back then and partly because of unhinged manga fans.

The stakes for the Naruto English dub was life or death, according to some fans

In 2014, Yuri Lowenthal recalled in an interview with Anime Snacktime TV, "At first, it was nerve-wracking right in the very beginning because it had such a huge fan following already, and they were already so vocal on the internet." He continued, "Before the first episode aired, they were all, 'If this isn't good, we're gonna start killing people!' And we're like, 'Oh my God!'"

"We got some crazy emails," added Naruto voice actor Maile Flanagan, who was also on hand for the chat with Anime Snacktime. Lowenthal continued, "But once it started rolling ... it was gratifying to see so many people enjoyed what we were doing because, y'know, dubs can get slaughtered."

Observe the polarized reaction to the Netflix dub of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" if you think Lowenthal's exaggerating. Of course, as far as anyone knows, "Naruto" fans did not cause any major uproar in reaction to the first American dub for the series, nor did they for other English installments in the franchise. 

"You're never going to please everybody," mentioned Tara Platt, Lowenthal's wife, and "Naruto" castmate. "But it is nice to see, as a whole, the fans of the show really do support our dub."