Nerdbot Interviews: Riley Rose Critchlow of Crunchyroll’s ‘Anime Crimes Division’
Over here at Nerdbot, one of the things we love more than anime or making jokes is media that combines the two together seamlessly. And that’s exactly what happens in Anime Crimes Division, a brilliant collaboration between RocketJump and Crunchyroll. Anime Crimes Division is a parody on the standard Cop Drama, but imposes hilarious anime related crimes within its world, which takes place in the hilariously titled New Otaku City. One half of the comedy duo within the show is actress Riley Rose Critchlow, whose timing, delivery, and acting is seamlessly perfect for a show stuffed with obscure anime references. She was kind enough to meet up with me for a Nerdbot interview, where we indulged in coffee, tea, and a really fun chat.
Hi Riley! Thank you again for giving Nerdbot this interview. So, you’re wearing a lot of hats right now. Would you please break some of your work down for our readers who might only be familiar with pieces of it?
Yeah! I just did Season Two of Anime Crimes Division and the finale debuted this past Friday. I recently shot a short with Corridor Digital, which is another big YouTube channel, and I think that’s coming out in the next couple weeks. It’s sort of a dark horror film which is a little bit of a departure from their usual genre. I also co-host a weekly podcast called Hags, along with Nicole Wyland, which is a comedy-feminist look at the current state of things with fun guests and free-form conversations about culture, politics, history, our childhoods or whatever else pops into our heads. Those are weekly episodes that are released on Tuesdays.
I can also recommend another podcast that debuted last Saturday called I Already Knew That with Psychic Debbie Dorfman. I don’t know if you’re into the True Crime podcast genre, but there was a podcast last year called Done Disappeared by John David Booter. Debbie Dorfman is a character from Done Disappeared and absolutely a real living human being from Davistown, Pennsylvania who now has her own spin-off podcast. So, all of those are happening!
I saw something else you’re working on called Mary-Kate and Ashtray. Please tell me more about that!
Mary-Kate and Ashtray and a comedy duo made up of myself and Daniel Montgomery, who is an incredibly talented and hilarious actor and another person who wears a lot of hats. He runs Creep LA, so if you’re into immersive horror and you’re in the LA area you should definitely check that out. He also has a Goosebumps podcast called Welcome to Deadcast which he and his twin brother Matthew host. It’s incredible if you’re into the Goosebumps books, or honestly even if you aren’t. Daniel and I started out doing a lot of live comedy but we’ve recently started filming our material and posting it. He’s incredible and everything he touches is gold.
Let’s go back Anime Crimes Division, what was the process of getting that gig? Also, do you solely act in that show or are you involved in any of the writing?
I had previously worked with RocketJump’s Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold on a series called Video Game High School; I played Domino Prime in seasons two and three. I also did an episode of RocketJump: The Show and did a short with them called Superhawt about two years ago. So, Freddie just texted me about a year ago and was like “Hey, we’re doing this thing, are you free?” and he sent me the scripts and I was like, yes, sounds great! I’d already worked with them so many times that it was an easy yes for me and they already knew my work, so I was like “Yeah, sign me up!”
I’m involved with it purely from an acting standpoint; I do not have the depth of anime knowledge that the people creating the show have. It just blows my mind. Like even sometimes Freddie will ask “What does this reference, Darnell?” because I think Darnell is a little more of the anime expert on set. Freddie and Darnell are the co-creators of the show, Anthony Burch is the writer, and together they craft this abundance of anime references. It’s incredibly impressive how many they can cram into any given episode.
I know Anime Crimes Division is a co-production with Crunchyroll. Did you make an appearance at Crunchyroll Expo? What was that like for you?
Yes! Freddie and I went to Crunchyroll Expo at the beginning of September. It was fantastic! I’d never been to any sort of Anime Expo or convention before, and Crunchyroll, from start to finish has just been amazing to work with. Everyone on their team has been incredibly supportive and everyone who works for them is super passionate about anime. It’s really nice that a company so dedicated to something so genre specific is also so passionate about it. They were on set the whole time we were filming and they always seemd super excited to be there and be part of the process. Freddie and I got to debut the first episode of season two during Crunchyroll Expo, which was a pretty cool experience because I hadn’t seen it yet. And I got to watch it in this giant ballroom full of people reacting to it live. I was so excited when everyone got the jokes and laughed when we hoped they’d laugh. They really raised the bar for the second season.
We focus a lot on fandom at Nerdbot. Is there anything you consider yourself a fan of?
I feel like I’ve met so many super fans of things that I can’t even hold a torch to anyone. My boyfriend is an anime fan and likes to introduce me to things he enjoys, like Miyazaki and some anime series. There’s actually a series we were watching, which I won’t say the name of, because it was spoiled for me in the final episode of Anime Crimes Division because I hadn’t gotten there yet. There are other series that I want to watch or enjoy watching, but I can’t compare to the fans I met at Crunchyroll Expo who know everything about a given show from the voice actors to the various reboots.
Most of my spare time is actually spent creating my own content. My podcasts, sketch comedy… but when I’m really vegging out, my go-to is reality TV. I think it’s because I’m an actor and I spend so much time in the acting world that its hard for me to watch something without picking it apart or questioning it critically. Reality TV lets me turn that part of my brain off. I’m a huge fan of Survivor and enjoy any competition show, really. I just finished watching Food Network Star and am super pumped about the new season of Shark Tank.
What about music?
I’m definitely a consumer but not an aficionado. I got into underground Hip Hop when I was younger through my brother, who is a DJ and math teacher, because as you know, those two things classically go hand in hand. He introduced me to Aesop Rock, who I love; his writing is incredible and he uses really beautiful, poetic imagery. There was someone who plotted out the vocabularies of various hip hop artists based on their lyrics and Aesop Rock’s didn’t even fit on the graph because it was so much more extensive and diverse. My favorite song of the moment is Aesop Rock’s “Kirby.” It’s about his cat. I also love Eminem, I “Stan” him, if you will. I can’t sing, but if I ever do karaoke, it’s Eminem. I don’t drink, but Eminem rap karaoke is definitely something people should do before they start having drinks for the night.
Where did you grow up? Are you from the Los Angeles area?
I actually grew up on an island in Maine. I moved to LA to go to USC. A bunch of the RocketJump crew went there at the same time, but we never met while we were there, so it was this fortuitous crossing of paths a few years later. So far, living out in LA is fine. Sometimes I miss seasons and weather and all, but I go back to Maine, spend a week in the snow, and after that I’m good. LA definitely has its perks.
Do you have any other acting roles coming up?
I’ll be shooting another horror thriller coming up. It’s not announced yet, but if you stay tuned to my social media, you’ll learn all about it. I’m also on an episode of S.W.A.T. on CBS at the end of October, where I’m playing a criminal. I frequently play criminals, I think ACD was actually my first time being on the right side of the law.
Why do you think you get typecast?
That’s a great question! Honestly, playing criminals is just more fun. When you talk about those small one-off roles on TV like cop shows, some of the smaller parts are either the bad guy or the victim. If given the choice, I’ll always choose to play the bad guy. I have a lot more fun with it, and maybe that sense of fun comes through during the audition process because I’m just enjoying myself more. And I can play a pretty good asshole. Definitely not afraid to go there. I occasionally see actors who get a script and you hear like a swear word come out of their mouth and it just sounds unnatural. Just say it. I very much enjoy the taste of those four-letter words. Maybe it’s just natural instincts. The snark is engrained in me. The New England no-nonsense tell-it-like-it-is just comes out.
Speed round! Are you ready?
Earl Gray tea, sweetened and with cream. I’m such an old lady.
Lobster. I’m truly a Maine girl.
Thai or Chinese food?
Japanese or Korean food?
Japanese. Although I love Vietnamese. When we were at Crunchyroll Expo there was this place nearby called Viet-NOM, which, applause for the pun. I had to try it. They do it Chipotle style where you pick your salad and meat and stuff. I actually ate it three times in the two days we were there.
Mario or Sonic?
Are you playing any video games right now?
I’m what I like to call a “backseat video game player.” I like to tell my boyfriend who to fight and how to play, but if I get my hands on the controller I immediately get stuck in a corner or staring at the sky or totally lost somewhere. I actually loved watching him play Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, things like that. But I’m like your dad playing video games. I grew up playing computer games, so that I can handle a little better, but it’s the joystick that gets me. I just don’t have the muscle dexterity to do the thumb controller and camera at the same time. I’m much more into side scrollers where I don’t have to control the camera, like Inside and Little Nightmares. I went to 2-Bit Circus this past weekend for my birthday and I really loved doing their VR story room.
Best Game of Thrones character?
The dragons and the dire wolves? I love animals, so they’d have to be my favorite characters. But I’m like, four seasons behind in Game of Thrones. We dropped off when they ran out of book material. It’s hard to avoid spoilers, but I never really know pop culture references anyway. I always think something one of my friends says is really smart or clever, then find out it’s a quote from a super well-known movie. Like Citizen Kane or something. Yes… Rosebud.