AnimeNYC 2017: An Interview with the Haikyuu English Dub Cast
A couple of weeks ago, I attended my very first anime convention, AnimeNYC, held at New York City’s Javits Center. There was a lot of great stuff happening that weekend, but by far my favorite was the panel introducing the Haikyuu English dub cast.
Haikyuu, as some of you probably know, is my favorite anime. I am slightly obsessed with it. Even with a list of anime titles to check out, if I have spare time, I often find myself rewatching Haikyuu. I hadn’t even known it was getting a dub until I checked the con panel schedule and saw it listed. I have a weird relationship with dubs – I generally prefer the subs – but I acknowledge that a Haikyuu English dub will bring a new crop of fans to the show, which hopefully means things like more merchandise and eventually more episodes. (We’re still waiting on that season 4 announcement.)
Sentai Filmworks released season 1 of the Haikyuu English dub on November 14, and cast members Bryson Baugus (Hinata) and Scott Gibbs (Kageyama), as well as director Kyle Colby Jones, were on hand at AnimeNYC to promote it. At the panel, in addition to the usual Q&A (featuring a fair few Haikyuu cosplayers), they screened the first episode of the dub. There were also numerous signings during the weekend (I got mine!). Additionally, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the three of them for a brief chat. Check out our interview below!
THE GEEKIARY: The dub is coming out, and there’s already three seasons of the original. It’s ridiculously popular – I don’t know if you guys have seen all the cosplayers –
BRYSON BAUGUS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
SCOTT GIBBS: It’s awesome.
KYLE COLBY JONES: So good to see.
THE GEEKIARY: Is there a lot of pressure to sort of live up to that popularity?
KYLE COLBY JONES: Oh, yeah.
BRYSON BAUGUS: I was saying about how – just the fact that there’s such a huge fanbase and as soon as they announced the dub, they were like, “oh, I hope that they get Hinata sounding good,” and I’m just like, “oh god, I hope that I’m doing good for all those fans that are out there.” I’m proud of what I did. I just hope that they enjoy it.
KYLE COLBY JONES: When it came along – and you see people all dressed up – you know that it’s coming and it’s coming big. And then the people I work with, they’re hard core fans of it as well. They’re like, “Don’t screw this up, Kyle. This is my favorite show in the universe.” So all right, yeah, I’ll do my best. So I get everybody together and we have meetings and talk about characters and names and terminology and stuff. Then when I watch the show I go, “Oh, wow, yeah, this is why everybody loves it so much.” But then it all turns into excitement in the end. All the nerves go away. Once we start working, we’re having fun with it because by then we know it and we know what’s going on. Quite the labor of love.
SCOTT GIBBS: I think at first it was actually like blind ignorance. I didn’t really know. I mean, I did my homework, but there’s not a real way to gauge – from just the internet – what is the true support. Because there’s going to be a forum and there’s going to be a fanbase to any show. But I wasn’t really aware that there was something that was so close to heart, which is so amazing and such a privilege to be a part of. So I feel like I blindly am already in it, but now that I’m here and seeing it, it’s like “yeah”. So if we’re given the chance to jump on the future seasons, certainly it will be something that is taken into account. But I think we’re really proud of the work that we did, and would love to continue to expand the dubbed story.
THE GEEKIARY: How do you guys go about making the characters distinct and your own and not just trying to imitate the original?
KYLE COLBY JONES: The source material of course is the god, and we want it to live and breathe as close as we can to it. The expansion from that, a lot of that has to do with these guys and their explorations and their tastes and their improvisations and things. For me, some of it’s terminology and script wise – trying to take jokes and make them play a little more Americanized. Or just the volleyball terms is one thing we toyed with a little bit. Don’t worry, we didn’t take away “nice receive” and things like that. But we blend in some of the more American terms for things, like digs. And they’re not talking about diggers instead of a libero, so we mix it rather than take away – we don’t take anything away wholly. But we’ll sprinkle in some of the other terms.
BRYSON BAUGUS: For me, I guess my main thing is I just try and see what’s happening on the screen, the action of it. I get a little bit informed because we do hear the original performances in the headphones while we record, as well, but I feel like I don’t have the exact same voice or anything like that. So I try my hardest to use my experiences to figure out what will match the action that’s happening right here. He’s shouting, he’s attacking, he’s doing all different sorts of stuff. So that’s my main thing, is just trying to match the energy and the intent of what I see happening in the animation. That’s pretty much my big thing.
SCOTT GIBBS: Yeah, I don’t know, I think when Kyle brought me in to audition I must have been like in a grumpy mood or something. Because I think the scene that we read for the audition was that first scene with Shoyo of like, “I remember you.”
BRYSON BAUGUS: “You’re stupid.”
SCOTT GIBBS: Kind of squishing him down.
KYLE COLBY JONES: Beginning of episode 2.
SCOTT GIBBS: I promise that’s not me in real life.
KYLE COLBY JONES: Ah, don’t sell yourself short.
SCOTT GIBBS: We were talking about some different similarities in answering some other questions that I think there are some elements to Kageyama that I can relate to – his desire to excel at his chosen career path or, you know, what his thing is, his hobby. He holds himself to a very high standard, so there is some stuff that when you read the line on the paper, it’s coming from somewhere that is authentic, at least for me, as a human being.
THE GEEKIARY: Who’s your favorite rival for your character? Is it each other? Oikawa?
SCOTT GIBBS: Yeah, exactly. You read my mind. But it’s actually really true. Right. Okay. Where we’re at in the story, I don’t look at Shoyo as a rival anymore. I don’t know if I ever did, because even you see in the first couple episodes, he admires Hinata. He’s almost a bit jealous of how he’s got this raw talent, and he actually wants to – but yeah, it’s Oikawa. And we were talking about that earlier. I think Chris [Patton, Oikawa] had already recorded for him when I was there in the booth and so he’s just so slimy and swarmy, and as an actor you can’t help but love the work that he’s doing, so yeah. And then just as a character, the way he’s written in there. He’s just – you just want to grab a hold of him, but you can’t.
THE GEEKIARY: He’s my lock screen.
SCOTT GIBBS: That’s what we’re hearing. You’re not alone.
BRYSON BAUGUS: I think, for me, my favorite is – because I’ve always been a fan of the types of rivals where you’re rivals and you’re competing with each other but you’re also really good friends, and so I feel like one of the first rivals that Hinata gets is with Nekoma – that spiky, gray-haired kid Inuoka. Because they’re constantly going at each other. He’s trying to outrun his block, but then the blocker’s trying to catch up to him with his fast reflexes, and after that game, they’re not mad at each other. They’re just like, “Whoa, you’re so cool, dude, that was so awesome.” And I just love those types of rivalries, where they challenge each other but they’re super cool about it.
SCOTT GIBBS: I think there’s an authentic – when we were recording and that came on the screen, I was like, “Oh, snap!”, and then it goes into the next episode and I was like, “Oh, no”.
KYLE COLBY JONES: My favorite rival is Chris Sabat. He’s not in the show, but you know. He’s got really thick facial hair, and he’s got that voice.
SCOTT GIBBS: The question was not specific just to this show. Good answer.
THE GEEKIARY: Which character do you guys think you would personally get along with the best?
KYLE COLBY JONES: I’m going with Tanaka. He’s just so loud and obnoxious and that was most of my friends growing up. It’s pure enthusiasm. Even his complaints have this energy of improvement behind it. And he’s just such a spaz, and he’s big and loud. Greg Cote does that character very well, and I can’t wait for everybody to hear him. This is kind of his first big role, so I really enjoyed not only the character itself but then just the process of working with him for the first time. So look out for that guy.
BRYSON BAUGUS: I think Tanaka is definitely my favorite character in the show, just because he’s super enthusiastic and full of hot air, but he’s also not big-headed.
KYLE COLBY JONES: He’s a numbskull and fully aware of it.
BRYSON BAUGUS: With that being said, he’s my favorite character, but I think the character I would hang out with the most would probably be Kenma from Nekoma. He likes video games, I like video games. He’s really low-key and chill, and most of the friends that I hang out with on a daily basis are that kind of low-key just kind of chill, talk with for a bit, not super high-energy or anything like that. He’d probably be the one I’d hang out with.
SCOTT GIBBS: I’m siding with Tanaka as well. He resembles – I want a couple of those friends, Bryson, the quiet, chill ones, because mine tend to be big, high-energy. But I do, you appreciate people like that, that can walk around and they just have enthusiasm for everyone else. Every time I would hear one of Greg’s takes it just would make me laugh. He gave that character a great voice.
THE GEEKIARY: One of our writers wrote a blog post recently about how Yuri on Ice made her get interested in actual figure skating. When you guys work on a show, do you experience something similar? Being on this show gets you interested in something that you weren’t necessarily interested in before?
KYLE COLBY JONES: I’ve never wanted to play volleyball so bad in my life.
BRYSON BAUGUS: Same.
KYLE COLBY JONES: I played a little. I had a work team when I was working in advertising, and it was a blast. I loved playing. It was sand, and we were all drinking beer and stuff, but it was so much fun. And then seeing this brings it all back and makes you want to go out there, and I would probably kill myself, but I would have fun doing it.
SCOTT GIBBS: Yeah. Injury on the first play. That would be same for me. It certainly makes it seem appealing. I don’t know how – it would be like expectations versus reality. But one of the last shows we worked on, Food Wars, from the first moment that that came on board, that came through the pipeline, was so excited, and every time we got done recording, I would be so excited to go home and cook. It made it so exciting.
BRYSON BAUGUS: On a side note, relating to Food Wars, I made the mistake of recording for that show without having eaten first.
SCOTT GIBBS: You’ve got to know better than that.
BRYSON BAUGUS: I was never a big sports guy, but watching this show really made me want to be more open to the idea of possibly playing a game with some friends or something. It definitely made me want to get a volleyball, but they’re super expensive – the kind that they use in the show. I would love to just have a volleyball that looks like the one from the show just to have.
SCOTT GIBBS: But when Shoyo’s doing that move of the [sound effects], you know, like bouncing up against the wall, that looks really cool.
Thanks again to the guys from the Haikyuu English dub for taking the time to speak with me. It really made my convention!
The Haikyuu English dub is available from Sentai Filmworks. Season 1 is out now!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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