Tokyo Revengers took the anime world by surprise with its twist on time travel. After being pushed down onto the train tracks, 26-year-old Takemichi Hanagaki finds himself 12 years into the past to his middle school days of being 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 becoming corrupt. While Takemichi is neither the biggest nor strongest of the bunch, he will never give up on his friends, even when all the odds are against him.
With the English dub now airing on Crunchyroll, CBR spoke to voice actor A.J. Beckles about his experience voicing Takemichi Hanagaki, who isn't quite the traditional hero you normally see in shonen anime. Beckles talks about which scene has been his favorite to voice, when he might time travel back to, and what he hopes fans and new viewers will get out of watching Tokyo Revengers.
CBR: What drew you into Tokyo Revengers?
A.J. Beckles: The storytelling is just phenomenal and its take on time travel is really unique. Other than that, it’s really relatable and after starting the manga, I haven’t been able to put it down!
CBR: Takemichi isn’t your typical protagonist -- he’s not as strong, is always getting beaten up, and is even called the Crybaby Hero -- but he does embody an inner strength. What was that experience like to voice a character who goes against traditional masculine strength?
A.J. Beckles: I think it’s really common for people to not like a main character that cries a lot, but I’ve noticed that’s not the case in this story. It almost makes Takemichi even more respectable, since no one is forcing him to take on this newfound mission of his. No one makes him fight, yet he chooses to get beaten up and consequently mentally broken down, 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’s hurting, and there are actual high stakes at play that only we, the viewer, know about. You can’t help but root for him, even if he can't kick really hard or 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 voice so far?
A.J. Beckles: I love the silly bits and the quirky reactions -- they’re awesome for some levity and comedy -- but my FAVORITE scenes are the ones where I get to be really intimate as the character. So far, I felt that the most in Episode 4. I was even telling all my friends that if you’re not hooked after seeing that episode, I’d be surprised! In particular, the rooftop scene at the end of Episode 4 was something I really wanted to make sure I got right. I think it came out great, so I’d say that has been my favorite recording experience so far.
CBR: Takemichi has the ability to time travel; if you had that same ability, when would you time travel back to and why?
A.J. Beckles: GRADE SCHOOL lol. Knowing everything I know now, I’d be a prodigy! I’d still want to be an actor at the end of the day if I had to relive everything, but I’d go back to grade school just to be extra smart.
CBR: Part of Takemichi’s growth is realizing that he can’t keep running away from his problems as he did 12 years ago. What is one thing you’ve learned since you were in middle school?
A.J. Beckles: Life is too short to care what people think. That’s something I actually knew in middle school and maybe even before, but when I got to high school, I became a lot more self-conscious. So I’d probably say I have learned self-confidence and self-assurance, two very important things to hold on to.
CBR: Tokyo Revengers isn’t your typical delinquent anime. What’s one thing that you hope people will get out of watching it?
A.J. Beckles: Hopefully not that being a delinquent is cool! Haha, but more seriously, at the end of the day, only WE can change ourselves. We have to be willing to take responsibility for our best and worst selves. Sometimes growth is scary and you’re going to fall flat on your face just like Takemichi. But real strength is admitting you’re weak and standing up anyway. It's hard, but growth only happens from moving forward. I think fans all over the world will be able to see that being a continuing theme in the story, and I may be biased but… a pretty darn good one too!
Tokyo Revengers streams every Saturday at 12 PM PT on Crunchyroll.