Anjali Bhimani on The Ravening War, Spoilers, and Mangos

Anjali Bhimani with a shocked expression during The Ravening War

With Critical Role’s Matt Mercer serving as DM, the new season of College Humor’s Dimension 20 series — which debuts on the streaming service Dropout on May 10 — brings fans back to the realm of Candia. Inspired in equal measures by Game of Thrones and the board game Candyland, the show’s sixth season embraced the tonal mishmash to produce a funny, heartbreaking, and shocking storyline about faith, family and revenge — all centered around a series of food-based characters.


The Ravening War explores the setting decades before the events of A Crown of Candy, showcasing the bloody conflict alluded to throughout the earlier story. During an interview with CBR ahead of the season premiere for Dimension 20’s new season, The Ravening War, Anjali Bhimani explained what excited her about the self-described “Jessica Rabbit as a mango” role she plays in the fantasy story, finding artistic outlets across different mediums, and what fans can expect from the new season of the RPG series.

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CBR: You’ve been a part of Critical Role in the past, but what convinced you to make the leap to Dimension 20?

Anjali Bhimani: Well, I already knew of them from my friends who were involved with it. Ultimately, it was Matt who hit me up, saying, “Hey, I’m doing this thing. No pressure, but I need to know right away.” I was like you. I [didn’t] know what it was. I was beside myself with excitement. I was so, so excited. I had seen Brennan DM Exandria Unlimited: Calamity. I obviously knew Aabria, I was very excited about it. Then, I — no pun intended — devoured A Crown of Candy.

A Crown of Candy has this great ability to shift from goofy to heartbreaking very easily. On top of that, you and the other players actually get to have an effect on the narrative instead of just enacting it. Does getting to impact the story with your choices affect how you approach a character?

Anjali Bhimani: Well, it doesn’t necessarily change the fact that whether it’s tragedy or comedy, you’re telling your character’s truth. And it’s a lot of times, it is the commitment to the truth, in a very dramatic situation that somehow comes off funny, and the commitment to the truth [can make] a very comedic situation [feel] very tragic. It depends on the [bigger] picture, what you’re playing, and what everybody has created around you. It was amazing.

I mean, getting to be at the table with people that I knew, and people that were incredible storytellers that I love playing with. I mean, I live a very blessed life that I get to work with my friends. My friends are awesome! So I have sort of curated a life where I only want to work with my friends. If I’m going to work, I’m going to have fun. If I’m going to be working all the time, I want to have a fun time. Even when it’s tragic, even when I’m crying on screen, on stage or whatever, I want it to be fun.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lady Amangeaux Epicée du Peche's introduction in Dimension 20 The Ravening War.

What excited you about Lady Amangeaux Épicé du Peche, both as a performer and as a player?

Most of the characters that I had played up into this point have been very capable in the environments that they’re in, even if they’re strange environments. They were very capable people that could handle themselves, and their skills were useful. I wanted to play a character who maybe had lived a life where their skills had been useful, but was possibly going to be put into a world where it was not. When we were doing character creation and developing [their] stories, and I was talking to Matt about it, I wanted her to be sort of woven into the fabric of A Crown of Candy.

At the beginning of this, I knew where the [story] would [start]. We had no idea where we were going to go after that. As a player, you’re like, okay, cool. What do I need for this environment? My characters should be developed in this environment. What happens when someone who is incredibly capable in the environment that they’re in is thrust into something where their skills aren’t useful — what do you do? What do they rely on? How do they handle it? Especially this character of very high status, she’s been the Queen until now. Now, they’re mourning the death of the king. There’s this unknown, not knowing what is going to happen next. That, to me, was very exciting.

As far as the actual food item goes, I love mango. I mean, I’m Indian. So it’s required — like, it’s in our blood. I love mango. I also love the fact that when you take a mango, which is just sweet and throw a little chili pepper on it, it becomes a whole other awesome thing. I feel like Lady Amangeaux is very much like that, in the sense that actually looks like this pretty, Queenly figure. But she’s got some spice. That’s the fun part, when you get to create your own thing and have ave great DMs. They’ll do a session zero with you and talk you through stuff. I think that’s one of the many fun parts about it, as you get to decide the complexities of your character. Inevitably, through the story, the character becomes something completely different.

What would you say has surprised you the most about Lady Amangeaux?

Where she ended up — because of, for the longest time, I think fighting the fact that she was out of a fish out of water, and then finally having to accept it, where she ends up is absolutely nowhere near I thought where she would end up. There’s one particular thing that happens at the end, the choice came to me, the decision came to me in the moment, and I was as surprised as anyone else was. That is juicy. That is fun. As a player, and hopefully, as an audience member.

Despite the rotating characters and settings inherent to Dimension 20, there are certain dynamics. Most of the cast have been playing together for a while. What was it like stepping into those dynamics that exist between the rest of the party?

What’s so lovely about it is that it’s sort of like being a guest star on a television show. You’re walking into an existing cast, they have their relationships. And your experience really does depend on how embracing they are of you, and how smoothly you can assimilate into their world. The only difference here is yes, they’re super embracing, but we’re all at the same table, too. There’s no lead [or] guest star, everybody’s at the table, everybody’s there for the same reason.

Everybody’s there to have fun to tell a great story, to make sure the audience has a great time. We’re all there to support each other. So it was I was definitely, I had nowhere in my head going, ‘I’m gonna mess with them.’ If anything, I just hoped I could keep up. I knew the caliber of players that I was playing with. Having watched A Crown of Candy, [and knowing] how great all of these folks are improvising, I was excited. I was just like, “Come on, gotta eat your Wheaties Anjali, you have to better get ready. You have to bring your A-game.” I was the right kind of intimidated. I think it makes you raise the bar, not the kind that makes you shut down.

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<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Dimension 20 The Ravening War Players

The realm of Candia is such an inherently goofy setting, and it’s not the first time you’ve been tasked with finding some grounded perspectives in bombastic settings. How do you approach a character with that balance in mind?

I think, because I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s just a second nature thing. So much of the job, no matter where what medium I’m working in is knowing the character. Knowing the given circumstances and committing to the story, it’s always such a joy. It’s actually a really great skill, I’ve found that having that skill is fantastic in real life. There are so many times in life where we might be lamenting our circumstances or complaining about them or whatever. If you stop and think of yourself, okay, if I was playing this character, and these were my given circumstances, what would move the play forward? The play is going to move, it’s got to start otherwise the audience is going to start throwing things. So to move on with the play, the character can’t sit there for two and a half hours crying — [you’ve] got to do something.

It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed getting to do over the years, and when you’re you know when you’re doing it with people at this caliber and, and people who are warm, open, and creative human beings, it’s just easy. I think this is going to be one of my next books is all the things that I learned about life from acting, because usually people ask the other way around, like, “Wow, you must have to develop a bunch of skills like toughness and all this stuff to be an actor.” And honestly, I think I developed the toughness from being an actor. I think I learned a lot of self-awareness from being an actor. So highly recommend [getting] yourself into an acting class. Even if you’re not going to be an actor, I highly recommend it.

It’s actually something I’m curious about — you’ve done so much work both on-screen as a voice actor, and the difference between the two has been very much in the news this year. Do you consider them to be the same principal, or is there a shift from voice acting to performing in live-action?

Same story, different language. So the simplest way I can say it, Spanish and French are — once you’ve learned Spanish, French is so much easier. Once you’ve learned French, Spanish is so much easier. They’re completely different languages, though, right? Because they’re different languages, if you tell a story in either one of them, it’s going to be a completely different story. I think the same thing goes for all the different opportunities that we have for telling stories in the entertainment industry or in the world. You can tell a story through song, you can tell a story through dance, you can tell it through TV, you can do film or voice over, all of these things. It’s all just a different set of techniques, and a different set of things that are easier and more challenging.

The technical stuff, that is the stuff that makes the difference, you know? It’s like your changing the gear, but you’re still in there to tell a great story to tell the story of this character in this world. You have to discern between them, but they are ultimately all related. They’re all storytelling. The world has changed a lot in that regard, too. I think everybody’s got a multi-hyphenate in their lives. Right now, I don’t think very many people are just doing one thing, and especially in the entertainment industry. For me, I don’t have the attention span in my heart to be able to choose only one way to have fun and only one way to fulfill my purpose and only one way to feel my passion.

For the longest time, I thought that was a bad thing. Then I realized that diversifying your creativity means you can create more, even when one of those options is cut off, like during lockdown. Even when things are cut off, you have other ways to tell that story. You have other ways to get that out of your system. I can’t imagine it being different. So much of my career I started in theater, and then all of a sudden television became an option. I was like, “I didn’t know I was allowed to do that! Okay, cool.” Then the next thing becomes, “Oh, I didn’t know I was allowed to do an opera!” I didn’t clock that it was an option to do as many things. What I did clock was that I was going to say yes to every chance I got to tell a good story. It’s not up to me to be the person to say no to myself. When it comes to this industry, there are plenty of people who will say no, there are plenty of people that will block off an opportunity, or I won’t get hired for something. I don’t need to be the person to discount it because it’s in a different medium.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Dimension 20 The Ravening War logo with a broccoli themed sword and an orange themed sword.

Speaking of bombastic settings, I’ve got to throw out a Marvel question, because you were so much fun in Ms. Marvel as Ruby! Is there any chance we’ll see her again, maybe in The Marvels?

[Laughing] You’re just going to have to watch. Look, I am allergic to spoilers. The spoilers make me angry because it’s a spoiler for a reason. It spoils the fun. I’m not the guy who’s [going to] fill you in on information that might spoil something.

Given your time now with Dimension 20 and what you’ve done with Critical Role, what would you say is the biggest difference between them?

Honestly, I don’t see a difference. This is because each person at the table brings their own unique sauce. What is different is not the channel, what is different is the unique combination of all these people that you bring into the table telling the story. Yes, it’s a much more absurd location and setting. So there’s that, that was very different. A lot of the oneshots on Critical Role had been kind of absurd, right? I mean, the Doom oneshot was ridiculous. That was the first time I had met Matt as a DM.

I can actually more tell you what is exactly the same, which is that both of these companies are filled with people who care so deeply about what they do and care so deeply about their community, who cares so deeply about the quality of what they share. It is such a joy to be around people who take their fun as seriously as I do. It’s always a joy, because there’s nobody there for any other reason than they absolutely love it.

Dimension 20’s 17th Season, The Ravening War, is available to stream on Dropout.


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