CBR interviews AJ Beckles, English voice actor Takemichi Hanagaki of the Tokyo Revengers, about his character growth throughout the series.
Tokyo Avengers took the anime world by surprise with its twist on time travel. After being pushed onto the railroad tracks, 26-year-old Takemichi Hanagaki finds himself 12 years in the past from his college days as a gangster. Knowing that his ex-girlfriend, Hinata Tachibana, is killed in the future, Takemichi must complete the impossible task of preventing the Tokyo Manji Gang from corrupting itself. Although Takemichi is neither the biggest nor the strongest of the bunch, he will never give up on his friends, even when the odds are stacked against him.
With the English dub now airing on Crunchyroll, CBR spoke to voice actor AJ Beckles about his experience with Takemichi Hanagaki, who isn’t quite the traditional hero you normally see in the shonen anime. Beckles talks about the scene he preferred to voice, when he could step back in time, and what he hopes fans and new viewers will take away from watching Tokyo Avengers.
CBR: What attracted you The Tokyo Avengers?
AJ Beckles: The storytelling is simply phenomenal and his take on time travel is truly unique. Other than that, it’s really relatable and after starting the manga, I couldn’t let go!
CBR: Takemichi isn’t your typical protagonist – he’s not as strong, is always beaten, and even calls himself the Crybaby Hero – but he embodies an inner strength. What was that experience like of expressing a character that goes against traditional male strength?
AJ Beckles: I think it’s very common for people to dislike a main character who cries a lot, but I’ve noticed that’s not the case in this story. This almost makes Takemichi even more respectable, since no one is forcing him to take on this new mission of his.. NOTo He is made to fight, but he chooses to be beaten and therefore mentally broken over and over again. It makes him so much fun to breathe life into because there are so many layers of character in him. He cries because he is in pain, and there are big issues at stake that only we, the viewer, know. You can’t help but support him, even though he can’t hit hard or he doesn’t have a tattoo. His personality IS his character, which means I definitely have my work cut out for me! Haha.
CBR: What has been your favorite scene to express so far?
AJ Beckles: I love silly passages and quirky reactions – they’re great for a bit of lightness and comedy – but my FAVORITE scenes are the ones where I’m really intimate as a character. So far this is what I felt the most in episode 4. I was even telling all my friends that if you are not addicted after watching this episode I would be surprised! In particular, the rooftop scene at the end of Episode 4 was something I really wanted to make sure I was right. I think it came out really well so I would say it’s my favorite recording experience so far.
CBR: Takemichi has the ability to travel through time; if you had this same ability, when would you go back in time and why?
AJ Beckles: UNIVERSAL SCHOOL lol. Knowing everything I know now, I would be a prodigy! I would still like to be an actor at the end of the day if I had to relive it all, but I would go back to elementary school just to be smarter.
CBR: Part of Takemichi’s growth is realizing that he can’t continue to run away from his problems like he did 12 years ago. What thing have you learned since you were in college?
AJ Beckles: Life is too short to care what people think. This is something I actually knew in college and maybe even before, but when I got to high school I got a lot more embarrassed. So I would probably say that I learned self-confidence and self-confidence, two very important things to hold onto..
CBR: Tokyo Avengers is not your typical delinquent anime. What’s the one thing you hope people will get away from watching it?
AJ Beckles: Hope its not cool to be a delinquent! Haha, but more seriously, at the end of the day, only WE can change. We have to be prepared to take responsibility for our best selves and our worst selves. Sometimes the growth is scary and you will fall prone like Takemichi. But the real strength is admitting that you are weak and standing up anyway. It’s difficult, but growth only happens as you move forward. I think fans all over the world will be able to see that this is an ongoing theme in the story, and I might be biased but… a damn good theme too!
Tokyo Avengers airs Saturdays at 12:00 p.m. PT on Crunchyroll.
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