BLUE LOCK: THE MOVIE – EPISODE NAGI voice actors Bryson Baugus and Kamen Casey chat the anime prequel film

“That’s a hassle.” That was second-year high schooler Nagi Seishiro’s favourite phrase as he lived his dull life. Until Mikage Reo, a classmate who dreamed of winning the World Cup, discovered Nagi’s hidden skill, inspiring him to play soccer and share his outstanding talent. One day, he receives an invitation to the mysterious BLUE LOCK Project. What awaits him there is an encounter with the finest strikers assembled from across the country. Nagi’s dream of becoming the best, alongside Reo, will take this prodigy to a world he’s never known. A prodigy can only be shaped when someone discovers him….now, striker Nagi Seishiro’s incredible talent and persona will set the soccer world ablaze.

BLUE LOCK: THE MOVIE – EPISODE NAGI is hitting Australian cinemas on June 27, and leading up to the release, Nick L’Barrow got to chat with the film’s English dub lead actors, Bryson Baugus (Nagi) and Kamen Casey (Reo) about finding their characters unique voices, seeing the animation before they record their lines, and the important moments in their careers.

Nick: It’s a pleasure to meet you both! How are you today?

Bryson Baugus: Good! Nice to meet you!

Kamen Casey: Good, how are you?

Nick: I’m great, and nice to meet you both as well! I know you’ve both done lots of interviews already, so I really appreciate you taking the time to chat about the film! And self admittedly, I’m a very casual anime fan. I have a select few I really enjoy, and I have to say, BLUE LOCK wasn’t one I was aware of until I had the opportunity to interview you both. And I have to say – you’ve made a fan out of me. This film is awesome!

Kamen Casey: Yes!

Nick: And I’ve just started the show, so I’m excited to see the journey continue. But, that’s also where I want to start because you’ve had an opportunity to be with the characters of Reo and Nagi now for a few episodes of the show, and expand things about them. What was a key takeaway from what you learnt about these characters on the show, that helped inform decisions you made about them for this film?

Bryson Baugus: I actually felt like it was the perfect opportunity to kind of reestablish and reintroduce these characters to a new audience, such as yourself, and even to older fans of the show. Being able to retread some of the familiar territory from a completely different recontextualization.

One of the things that I love about working on anime, is a lot of the stuff is very fast paced. We tend to get into the studio and it’s just, “Alright. Hey, Bryson. You’re playing this character and go!” Usually we get about a day ahead of time before that to prepare, because production schedules are really fast on anime in particular.

So, one of the things that can result from that is that you’ll get your initial impression of a character, and you’ll set the character up in a certain way, and then maybe as the show goes on, you kind of evolve and go in different directions, or find other aspects and quirks about their personality that you can incorporate as you continue forward.

Every creative is their worst critic! You always wish you could have done it like this in those earlier scenes. But, I feel like this movie gave me the uncommon opportunity to be able to take what I learned in those later episodes of the show, and add those nuances to the performance when we were trying to retread these earlier moments in the film.

Kamen Casey: Yeah, adding to that, it’s also a chance to kind of protect that character now that we have more information about them. What’s their humour like? Would they say that? When they get angry, do they do this little thing? With out amazing director Jonathon Rigg, he allowed us to collaborate with him on a couple of parts as well. It was a blast!

Even in the show, Reo can kind of come of a little bit like he’s riding on the coattails of Nagi. And then in this film, we see he’s the one dragging Nagi along! Like, “Come on! Let’s go and be great!”

Nick: That leads in perfectly to my next question, because I’m intrigued about how the collaboration works in regard to you creating the unique voices for your characters. Obliviously, there is the original Japanese voice actors, who have their own quirks and nuance with the characters too. So, I’m curious to find out whether aspects of their performance help build yours, or do you feel like you have free reign to make these characters your own?

Bryson Baugus: Yeah, there’s a little bit of everything in that bag. For me, I tried my best to match the energy of those original performances, and the energy of the animation, and music, and effects. I try to make sure that whatever I’m doing is fitting what’s presented in the original material, keeping it as true to the original vision as possible.

One of the things with Nagi in particular that was so difficult to pin down and really harness is that cold aloofness that he has where he’s just kind of detached from everything. He’s almost like a ghost wandering around, curious about the humans around him.

There are definitely points in which Nagi has that sort of petulant child… like, “I don’t want to do this. I just want to go home and rest.” But it’s trying to find that balance between being too whiny, and that cold aloofness. Not quite complaining, but just more like, curious.

Kamen Casey: Like Bryson said, it’s kind of a mixed bag where, of course, listening to the original performance, I’m also listening to the range as well. The original actor for Reo is a little bit higher, so I was a little nervous because my speaking voice is a little deeper.

But luckily, I was trusted to find my own version of it with Jonathon. He let me fly! Also, the animation and facial expressions, they tell so much. Anytime Reo is feeling really cocky and confident, you know, it lends to that. He gets real cool and he’s talking shit to different characters!

Nick: Talking about the animation, I feel like as performers, you’re in a unique position that you get to see a lot of the visually finished product before you record your parts. I’m curious to know how that process helps you as actors, and what are those reactions when you get to then see your voices with the animation?

Bryson Baugus: That’s what I love about working on anime in particular – the animation is done! And we’re working with the script side-by-side with the animation. That’s what I love about it versus stage where you don’t get to see the full thing. You’re always seeing the show from your perspective, or when it’s on camera, where you have to wait forever for the finished thing to come out.

In a scene, if other characters and other actors have recorded before me, I can hear how they play off each other, and that might make me want to try new things, or in a different way.

Kamen Casey: And for this project, man, it’s so beautiful! The visuals are beautiful, the music is beautiful, and it gets you right in the zone, whereas maybe some other shows, it feels like the acting is carrying the animation. Then you bump into something like this, where it’s like, I better bring my A game because everything else is 10 out of 10! Man, we got to bring it!

Nick: What goes into bringing that A-game through your voices? Because voice over is unique in the sense that you don’t get to convey emotions on screen with your face or body, so what do you have to enhance with your body to get those emotions even more so through your voice?

Bryson Baugus: I think it really helps to do the physicality, even if you’re in the booth and nobody’s seeing it. They can hear it! So, if your character is running around, and for Nagi, he’s a bit of on outlier where you want to keep that cool, even energy and control, but you still want to hear that breath when he’s in the zone.

You want to do the physicality making too much noise so that it picks up on the mic and stuff, but it really helps to just get a feel for the lines and for the performance as well.

Kamen Casey: I hope they take more video of us because I think I’d look crazy in there! Like, if I’m playing a monster, I might be making all types of movements! Because it lends to the energy of the moment. If it’s an intense or emotional moment, you know, you might just drop everything and live in that emotional weight.

Nick: I’d love to talk about your careers, but more specifically your Nagi moments. Nagi is someone who doesn’t truly discover their passion and talent until he is ultimately forced to pursue soccer. So, I’m curious to know, what was that one project or thing that was a turning point for you? Something where you discovered your love and talent for what you now do, and drove you to pursue it?

Bryson Baugus: I decided I wanted to be an actor when I was 14. And to me that meant voice acting, that meant stage action, that meant whatever kind of action I could do! Voice acting was definitely one of those things that I was most interested in doing because I loved cartoons, I loved video games, I loved anime. And just having the chance to make that happen, honestly, it’s been a dream come true.

There were definitely times, and I can feel it in the messaging of this show, where I did this as an amateur for six years. It felt like I was hitting a brick wall trying to make that next step into being a professional. And there were times that I wanted to give up and rely on whatever day job I could find.

So, I really resonate with a lot of the stories about this kind of stuff. Where it’s just identifying that thing that you really want to do, and really go for it. Because I feel like I did that in my life, and I feel like as long as you keep at it and you don’t let anything hold you back, finding the things about yourself that you need to improve to make that happen, and just go for it! It’s the most rewarding thing in the world. That’s what I love about stories like this.

Kamen Casey: I love that, man! I didn’t know I wanted to do this stuff! There’s no one in my family, there was no one before me, that even attempted this kind of thing! We’re out here in Texas, which seems so far away from Hollywood. Where in California, we’re told is where all the amazing things happens when we don’t have all the knowledge.

And then I took this theatre class in community college and bumped into a teacher by the name of Alice Butler, and she was like Yoda, right?! I performed a monologue for her and she’s like, “You need to be doing this!” And I just start crying! I’m like, “Show me the way! What do I need to do?”

Because of them, I was able to take all of my basics and then transfer to a major university, and from there, just get away from everything. You’ll get away from partying, and the nightlife, and all these other things, and really just hone in your focus in a basement for three years at a Southern Methodist University out in Dallas, Texas and just have the craft beaten in to me!

Thank you so much to Bryson and Kamen for their time, and to Sony Pictures and Crunchy Roll for organising the interview. BLUE LOCK: THE MOVIE – EPISODE NAGI is in Australian cinemas from June 27.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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