Best known for getting the best voice-acting guests of our favourite dubbed anime series, Supanova Sydney kicked off the convention weekend (June 17-19th) in the greatest way ever — an epic panel with none other than CHRISTOPHER SABAT himself.
For those don’t know, CHRISTOPHER SABAT is an ADR director and line producer at FUNimation who is also the founder and director of audio production company ‘OkraTron5000’. But that’s not even the gist of how awesome Christopher Sabat is. Not only is he the English voice actor behind Dragon Ball’s Vegeta, but he is also the voice of Piccolo, Yamcha, Mr Popo, Kami, and Korin. Other major roles include Kazuma Kuwabara (YuYu Hakusho), Alex Louis Armstrong (Full Metal Alchemist), Kurogane (Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle), and Roronoa Zoro in FUNimation’s re-dubbing of One Piece.
Since we love sharing animation goodness, check out random extracts from the panel below. Enjoy!
Q: Is there going to be another live-action Dragon Ball movie?
A: Not that I know of. The only Dragon Ball movies that exist so far is the live-action movie called ‘Dragon Ball Evolution’ [audience laughs], and the other is a Chinese film called Kung Fu Hustle [audience laughs]. You should definitely check out Kung Fu Hustle movie because that film is the closest to a Dragon Ball movie that you will ever get. Let me go out on a limb here — the actual live-action Dragon Ball movie wasn’t really that good. [audience laughs]
Q: Which series do you prefer more — Dragon Ball or One Piece?
A: I like Dragon Ball series because I’ve worked on it for so long and you simply just can’t let it go. With One Piece, the story is definitely deeper, more interesting, and a bit longer than Dragon Ball. Getting into One Piece is like, you know when you receive a long email from someone you haven’t spoken in awhile and you feel inclined to reply with a long, perfect email, but you keep putting it off until you never actually reply back? One Piece is a lot like that [audience laughs]. I’m just going to wait until I’m retired and watch One Piece every day.
Q: Have you enjoyed the current run of Dragon Ball Super?
A: I’m very excited about Super — I’m still waiting for FUNimation’s official word. I kind of lost my patience and began watching Super up until Episode 40 something BUT now someone else is probably watching it on the plane because I left my laptop behind. I don’t want to spoil this but there is an image of Future Trunks and Mai together. I have mixed emotions about this. I just hope they’re hanging out and solving crimes. But if it is the case that they’re dating, then that means Mai met Trunks in Battle of Gods when she was just 40.
(Guy in crowd: “It’s Japan!”) Yes that’s right, it is Japan and they can do anything they want [audience laughs].
Q: Which do you prefer — Full Metal Alchemist or Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood?
A: I like Brotherhood because there is basically more Armstrong. Actually, no. Three reasons: more Armstrong, Olivier, and the big bro-fest.
Q: What do you think of Dragon Ball Abridged?
A: Dragon Ball Abridged is ridiculously hilarious. I was actually showing Troy Baker Abridged this morning — the Kai episode. The guys behind Dragon Ball Abridged are super funny. I’m proud that they’ve had a lot of success. At first, I was like, “Whoa, he sounds just like me, I’m gonna have to kill someone now.” [audience laughs]
Q: How do you manage voicing so many Dragon Ball characters?
A: We use a method that doesn’t make it complicated. I do one voice first, for instance, Yamcha, because he is a dork. Then I do Vegeta, then Piccolo, then the Dragon’s voice. I have a special day for Korin. And a special day for Bubbles. [audience laughs]
Q: When you were doing Dragon Ball Kai, how did you determine the cast?
A: With some of the roles that I was doing, I gave the roles to other actors, thinking that it would be interesting to see their approach to the series. Then there were others who couldn’t do it due to schedule conflicts and other commitments. Linda Young, also known as the voice of Frieza, was not able to do Kai. Since the lines were so fast in Kai, it was tricky for her to keep up with the pace so we basically had to change a few people around. However, with Kai in general, everything was happening so fast that we used a lot of people from the FUNimation animation haul.
Q: Before you began the show in Canada, you were barely known. How does it feel to be on the other end now, especially now that you’re the recognisable voice of Vegeta?
A: It is certainly a nice transition. When we began dubbing, they couldn’t keep a consistent cast. Goku changed cast at least two times, and it was simply a logistical nightmare. We had to keep casting people close to the original, and it took a lot of actors to achieve what we wanted. Funnily, my Vegeta at that period sounds very different to the current Vegeta.
As we progressed over the years, I’ve done Vegeta as to how I imagine him to be. At one point during a convention many weeks ago, I was sitting at my table and drinking coffee. A fan came to me, and said, “I don’t want to be rude but your Piccolo voice is getting higher and Vegeta is getting low to the point that both voices sound the same.” I’m not sure who that fan was but I’m grateful for that. When you’re working over 120 hours per week, all characters begin to sound the same. It’s really difficult especially when you’re the director directing others but no-one directs you.
Q: Out of the many Dragon Ball series and movies, what is your favourite part of Vegeta’s journey? Which arc stands out the most?
A: It is amazing how Vegeta has changed over the course of the series. A couple of weeks ago at a convention, I had dinner with Vegeta’s Japanese voice actor, Ryō Horikawa, and it was shocking to learn how similar our experiences were.
When he was first approached to do Dragon Ball, he had only done one role at the age of 26 — the same age that I began Dragon Ball. Since the manga was in the process of being published, no-one knew what their fates were. He saw Goku dying in 4 episodes, and he quickly thought Vegeta was going to die soon as well. In terms of my dubbing journey, we didn’t have episodes from Japan or fansubs back then. We didn’t have Internet or Wikipedia so I was also in the dark as to what was going to happen.
It has been one amazing journey for Vegeta. Vegeta dies, Vegeta comes back, Vegeta goes to space, and then he becomes Super Saiyan. However, anything involved with Majin Vegeta was absolutely amazing. The fight between Vegeta and Goku was the best thing fans could ask for, and Vegeta did kind of beat Goku which was so ~awesome.
When Vegeta defended Bulma’s honour in the movie, I was like, “Whoa, so epic!” I got choked up, and wondered to myself, “Is this really happening?” The only thing I wish I didn’t change in the film was that the script said something along the lines of: “How dare you! That’s my my wife”. However, the translation said, “How dare you! That’s my Bulma!” In the series, it was never mentioned that they were married. But after watching Super, it turns out that they were married at some point which I regretted changing in the dubbed version.
Q: What’s it like voicing All Might in My Hero Academia?
A: For those who don’t know, My Hero Academia is FUNimation’s newest show. It probably costed them a lot of money to get the show licensed. Honestly, it is one of the best shows I’ve worked on in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it is going to be the next Naruto and Bleach series.
My Hero Academia is a shonen series where people grow up in a world where superpowers are common. When you’re at a certain age, you get to learn the type of power you will possess. Whether it is shooting flames or x-rays, having superpowers in this world is the norm. Then there is this kid who is a major superhero otaku.
But when it’s his turn to find out his power, the doctor’s like, “Sorry, you have no powers.” This one kid who have always wanted superpowers unfortunately ends up with nothing. Then he meets one of the world’s infamous superheroes called ‘All Might’, and something really cool happens which I can’t tell you. I won’t steer you wrong of this series– My Hero Academia is one of the best. I usually don’t cry because I’ve got a cold heart but I found myself crying in the second episode.
Q: How is your interpretation of Dragon Ball different to Japan’s interpretation of the series?
A: Essentially, the Japanese have their idea of what Dragon Ball is, and then we have our own idea of Dragon Ball. When we began working on Dragon Ball, Sean (Goku) and I treated Goku as the main hero. When you think about it, Goku is very selfish, and he doesn’t necessarily fight for everyone’s sake. He just wants to fight someone extremely strong, and he would often put his friends’ lives at stake over and over again. While Goku is the main character of the show, he’s not exactly the best character that everyone makes him to be. He’s not a great father, nor does he spend time with his children. Piccolo is probably the better father than he is. [audience laughs]