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Why Cyclops From X-Men '97 Sounds So Familiar

The first trailer for Marvel's "X-Men '97" dropped on February 15, about a month ahead of its premiere on March 20. As both the trailer and its title make clear, the animated show is a direct continuation of the classic "X-Men: The Animated Series" cartoon that ran from 1992 to 1997.

Of course, not everything from the older show carried over to its successor 27 years later. Most immediately apparent, for example, is higher-fidelity animation. And while some voice actors are reprising their characters from "X-Men: The Animated Series" — Cal Dodd is back as Wolverine — other key characters like Cyclops are rocking brand new voices.

In place of previous voice actor Norm Spencer, who died in 2020, Cyclops is now played by Ray Chase. His voice-acting work spans hundreds of titles, mostly including anime and video games. If he sounds familiar, it's likely from one of the following highlights of his extensive body of work.

Ray Chase voices Noctis Lucis Caelum in Final Fantasy XV

One of the defining roles of Ray Chase's career is his part as the English voice of Noctis Lucis Caelum, the protagonist of the video game "Final Fantasy XV." Completing the title takes somewhere in the ballpark of 20 to 30 hours, so anyone who's rolled the credits has heard plenty of Chase's voice throughout their adventure. That said, "Final Fantasy XV" also spawned a multimedia franchise, and Chase is Noctis in virtually every entry dubbed into English. So, while there's no official English version of the short anime "Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV," for example, he's Noctis in the CGI "Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV" film and every DLC add-on to the main game, among plenty of other media.

In an interview with the entertainment blog The Natural Aristocrat, Chase revealed that, after voicing the character in a "Final Fantasy XV" demo, he actually lost his part as the English voice of Noctis because he sounded too close to a key supporting character named Gladio. "I had to reaudition for the role of Noctis," he said. "Thankfully I got it."

Chase is Etrigan in Justice League Dark

Cyclops in "X-Men '97" isn't Ray Chase's first time voicing a classic comic book character. In 2017, the year after he debuted as Noctis Lucis Caelum in "Final Fantasy XV," Chase voiced the demon Etrigan — as well as a man named Jason Blood who serves as his human host — in the animated movie "Justice League Dark."

In DC canon, Blood and Etrigan typically work alongside Batman to investigate supernatural phenomena. In "Justice League Dark," he's a member of the team that provides the film with the title alongside some other dark, paranormal characters like John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan) and Swamp Thing (Roger Cross). Chase then reprised this role in a 2020 animated movie titled "Justice League Dark: Apokolips War" and a follow-up short called "DC Showcase: Constantine – The House of Mystery."

Chase explained in an upfrontNY interview that he was particularly excited to play Etrigan once he found out about a familial connection to the character. "It was a wonderful opportunity to voice a character who my uncle, Stu Chaifetz, colored for DC back in the '90s!" Chase said. "I found out that connection later when I shared the news on Facebook, and I couldn't believe what a small world we live in."

He's Gendo in Netflix's re-dub of Neon Genesis Evangelion

In 2019, Netflix added all-time classic anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion" as well as key sequel films "Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth" and "The End of Evangelion" to its catalog. For a few years beforehand, the implosion of a company called ADV Films that distributed its original English dub — which aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block in the 2000s — meant that there was no official way to watch "Evangelion" in English. Because of its complicated legal status, Netflix opted not to acquire the existing English translation of the series and instead commissioned a brand new English script. Ray Chase plays protagonist Shinji's (Casey Mongillo) father, Gendo Ikari, in this 2019 Netflix dub.

In an interview with Anime Herald, Chase shared that he was a longtime "Evangelion" fan before landing the part. "I watched 'Evangelion' in college," he said. "I took a class 'Japanese Fiction in Film'. The very last things we watched were 'Death and Rebirth' and 'End of Evangelion.'"

Recording his lines as Gendo, he went on to explain, was a laborious process. Of course, the end result was a part in one of the most influential anime of all time.

He's the voice of Gabriel in Malignant

While the majority of Ray Chase's credits consist of Japanese anime or video games, he played a key part in a major live-action blockbuster film as the voice of Gabriel in James Wan's "Malignant" in 2021.

For much of the film, Gabriel's relationship with protagonist Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is a mystery. What viewers know from the start is that Gabriel was once a patient at a psychiatric facility and that he possesses supernatural powers. When Madison becomes unwittingly connected to a string of murders, it's clear Gabriel is involved somehow, and the precise manner through which he commits those murders serves as the film's big plot twist. While another actor plays Gabriel physically, Chase is the one responsible for his voice.

During a Reddit AMA, Chase revealed that he recorded all of his lines for "Malignant" in a single day. "Man, Gabriel we did with James Wan in one 8-hour day straight," he wrote. "My voice was absolutely trashed after that for sure!"

He plays Tengen Uzui in Demon Slayer

The list of popular anime featuring Ray Chase as the voice of an important character is extensive, including titles like "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," "Hunter x Hunter," "Mob Psycho 100," "Berserk," "Bungo Stray Dogs," "Attack on Titan," and "Jujutsu Kaisen," among others. One of his biggest anime roles is the English voice of Tengen Uzui in the modern-day mega-hit "Demon Slayer."

As Chase detailed in an interview with Anime Herald, Tengen is a minor character in Season 1, and it was during this season that he landed the role. "I auditioned for all the Hashira, got Tengen, had like 14 lines in season one," he said. "I was like, 'Oh, this is just some lame character who's just appearing for a second' and [voice actor Aleks Le] kept saying, 'You don't understand, he's like the main guy, just wait, just wait.' And I had to wait two years to work on season two."

Just as Le promised, Tengen is one of the principal players in "Demon Slayer" Season 2, subtitled "Entertainment District Arc." So, just as he earned a spot in the history of a classic anime as the voice of Gendo in "Neon Genesis Evangelion," he became a key player in a modern-day classic as the English voice of Tengen during his major "Demon Slayer" Season 2 storyline.