Words by Luke Kalamar, Photos by DJ Chapman
Dragon Ball Z is back in a big way. Yes, even though we’ve had multiple games over the years, nothing quite compares to brand new animated adventures. We’re finally getting that now with Dragon Ball Super in Japan and the brand new film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. The film is what is currently generating the most buzz internationally. This is the nineteenth animated feature and the second after Battle of Gods in 2013, which came a full ten years after the seventeenth film’s release. Already Resurrection ‘F’ is getting great reviews, so more material on screen is basically guaranteed by this point. Clearly several decades of history has not stopped this entertainment institution from losing steam. The public still loves the adventures of Goku and his fellow Z-warriors.
That love was especially prevalent at the August 3rd red carpet event for Resurrection ‘F’. Celebrating the film’s release, main stars Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat were on hand to chat with excited fans. You may not recognize them on the street, but their voices are permanently etched in the minds of millions. Schemmel voices the always cheerful Goku and his regular ally King Kai, among many others, while Sabat runs a massive gamut of roles. As he said himself, he voiced so many characters he was “basically the Frieza Saga.” Of course, he’s best known for the villains-turned-allies Piccolo and Vegeta. Together these men have contributed greatly to DBZ’s success overseas.
At the red carpet, they gladly spoke with me regarding the new film, DBZ’s future with Super, why certain characters never connected, and why I could never become a Super Saiyan.
How has it been returning to Dragon Ball Z with brand new, cinematic adventures after a decade?
Christopher Sabat: Well, fortunately we’ve been lucky enough to be together on things like video games and Kai, some of the remastered stuff on the boxsets, so we’ve never been too far apart, but this is the first time we’ve ever come together on new material and it’s really exciting. The new material is good. You’re about to see it and it’s freaking awesome. I’m not just hyping. It’s a genuinely good movie. I’ve seen it five times in the theater now and I love it.
Sean Schemmel: I was never away from the character more than a year at a time. What was exciting about Battle of Gods and this movie was the new animation style and the new story, more importantly. Akira Toriyama has proven, twice, that he has not lost it at all. He’s totally at the top of his game. I’m super impressed with how the movies have turned out as a Dragon Ball Z fan and as the guy who’s been playing this character in America for 16 years. I’m very thrilled with it. If it sucked, I would have just said, “Go see it!” I wouldn’t be bragging about it this much. I don’t like to do hype.
Sean, when you first became Goku, did you have any idea that, several years down the line in 2015, you would still be promoting new films with the same character?
SS:It’s really strange. I never thought about it. Yet when Battle of Gods came out and this came out, it also felt really natural. On one hand I never thought about it, and on the one hand I’m surprised, but at the same time I also have the mixed feeling of like, “Well duh! Why wouldn’t it? It’s Dragon Ball Z!” I think it’s because the growth and evolution of the popularity of the show, and these movies come out, is very similar to a Dragon Ball Z series of episodes where things just get bigger and bigger. When you think it’s over, there’s more. I guess I wasn’t surprised for that reason. Unconsciously, I guess.
I was surprised at Resurrection ‘F’ and bringing back Frieza. I didn’t think we would do another feature film so soon after Battle of Gods. Granted, we were behind dubbing Battle of Gods so it squeezed them together. In Japan they were released several years apart, but we just did Battle of Gods last year and Resurrection ‘F’ right after the fact. That’s why it was such a one-two punch. The momentum is building and everybody’s going crazy, and now it’s all mainstream. Ronda Rousey is kicking the shit out of people with her Vegeta t-shirts and stuff. I’m thrilled that it’s permeated other cultures and we had a part in it.
The big sell is Frieza coming back.Is there any other villain that you’d wish to come back in the future if that was an option?
SS: Dragon Ball Z villains always have a copout. I would like to see a new villain. I thought the Android saga, when Yamcha got his heart ripped out, shit just got real. That was messed up. That’s when it got really cool for me. That doesn’t mean I like people’s hearts getting ripped out! A new villain would be interesting. I’ve always missed King Cold, believe it or not, because he was all “What’s a Goku?” (Laughs). I feel like once a villain is gone, they’re gone, unless there’s a new twist as to why they’re back. There is a new twist with Frieza that’s already been revealed on the internet, the Gold Form. How he gets the Gold Form is interesting and that ends up being a fatal flaw.
Chris, Vegeta and Goku both reach the new Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan form in this movie. Vegeta’s entire history has been chasing after Goku, so now that he’s reached that point with him, what’s next?
CS: Just take it one step farther, obviously. Vegeta and Goku will never be satisfied. They won’t be satisfied unless one of them is dead, and they have to avenge the death of the other person. The very last lines in the movie are pretty telling, it’s a great picture of what Goku and Vegeta are all about. They’re never going to truly get along and I think that’s what makes them so amazing as a couple. They’re like Scully and Mulder. If they were to ever be best friends, I think the show would be over.
Two of your biggest characters, Vegeta and Piccolo, have a similar history with Goku. Why have they never bonded on that?
CS: I think because they’re both too much of an asshole to be friends with anyone. Unfortunately Piccolo’s been reduced to a babysitter now, he’s hardly a force in this movie, and I’m wondering if that’s the direction of Piccolo in general. Vegeta, he’s got other worries. He just wants to make sure he’s better than Goku and he doesn’t care about anything else.
Sean, I need to ask this one. From my own personal experience, no matter how many times I screamed in my bedroom, my hair wouldn’t turn gold and I couldn’t shoot energy beams. Why?
SS: That’s because Dragon Ball Z is a fictional show (laughs) created by someone’s imagination and I would recommend seeing a doctor (laughs). No, I’m kidding, I’m totally messing with you. I get it! I get that feeling. When I was a kid, I remember thinking, “Someday I’m getting a lightsaber and I’m going to learn how to fly and use the force” and that has not happened. I was really into the whole Jedi thing in the ’70s and ’80s, I was the first generation to see Star Wars, before it got ruined. Did I say that outloud? Hopefully JJ Abrams will fix that (laughs). I have a lot of faith in that guy because he’s pretty amazing.
I don’t know why your hair didn’t turn blonde, I would recommend peroxide, but now it’s going blue so I don’t know if people are going to be much into blue hair. I’m just very excited about the God Mode and how that’s going to play out in Dragon Ball Super if indeed it does. And what’s beyond God Mode? You take over Beerus’s job?
Speaking of Super, Chris, what can you tell me about the possibility of it coming overseas?
CS: I can tell you that it’s a possibility of it coming overseas (laughs) and I can tell you that I will absolutely be involved with it if it is. If I’m not voicing Vegeta in Dragon Ball Super I will explode. I will destroy buildings. They know that now, so anyone has been warned.
is currently airing with a limited release until August 12th. It’s doing exceptionally well so you better get your tickets fast. As for Super, I think we can take this success and the two main actor’s words that this series is definitely breaking Japanese borders in the (hopefully) near future.