The 20th Dragon Ball film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is set to release in North America early next year on January 16. Overseen by series creator Akira Toriyama, the movie sees the titular villain finally become canon within the overarching Dragon Ball universe. Indeed, Goku, Vegeta, and Broly will clash once more on the big screen, undoubtably sending tons of hardcore action anime fans into a nostalgic frenzy.
We had the chance to sit down and talk with the English cast of the film to hear their opinions on Broly's return and what fans can expect outside of the franchise's staple fight sequences. Read what Sean Schemmel (Goku), Chris Sabat (Vegeta), Vic Mignogna (Broly), Jason Douglas (Beerus), Monica Rial (Bulma), Ian Sinclair (Whis), and Sonny Strait (Bardock and Krillin) have to say below. Be warned that the following includes some light spoilers for Broly.
PART 1: Sean Schemmel (Goku), Chris Sabat (Vegeta), and Jason Douglas (Beerus)
How do you feel about the Broly movie from 1993?
Chris Sabat: To be honest, I actually haven’t seen the film since then.
Sean Schemmel: We were told that we were rebooting Broly entirely so we should just forget about that. That’s what came from Japan anyway. Akira Toriyama did not create the character, but he liked the idea of him. They tweaked him for the movie, and they were very specific to us about that. In fact, Goku and Vegeta in the new film are meeting Broly for the first time. They never heard of him beforehand.
CS: An interesting thing to note about the new movie is that we are seeing Goku and Vegeta at the end of Dragon Ball Super. These are much more finely honed warriors than they were back during Dragon Ball Z. Comparing the two movies is like comparing an old Batman movie to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Chris, you’re directing this movie. How did you approach the voice casting for this?
CS: The role of directing the film was actually pretty easy for me because it was basically like assembling a crew of highly trained mercenaries who know their characters inside and out. The fun part for me was casting new people and deciding who would be suited for the characters on screen. The hardest part is that everyone in the universe wants to be part of a Dragon Ball movie, but it’s important to always consider new people.
There’s a new character called Cheelai who’s played by Erica Lindbeck. I loved her audition because she didn’t sound like Videl or Bulma. She sounded like a new, fun, interesting character. Lemo is another great example of a character that comes alive with the richness of Bruce Carey’s voice. He had to do a lot of work to try and get the character right. Casting Goku’s mother, Gine, was also important. The Gine and Bardock scene is possibly the most interesting part of the film. People will be discussing whether or not Goku is an altruistic character only because he got hit in the head with a rock. It’s possible that he may have just inherited this goodness in a way that’s somewhat unexpected.
What’s it like having all these old characters from the Dragon Ball franchise interact with all these new characters from Super?
CS: The film does a really good job of saying Dragon Ball Super existed, but barely touches on the details of that series. A lot of it is historically based and the rest of it takes place in what would be four hours in real-time.
SS: In the middle of the movie, there’s a montage sequence that shows people where they are in the timeline.
CS: There isn’t a lot of overlap of Super characters in Broly.
SS: A lot of the new characters are new Frieza minions. A lot of characters from Super are simply not in the movie.
CS: The cool thing is that you get to hear someone like Jason play King Cold, which is a really exciting thing.
SS: I am so excited about that!
Jason Douglas: It was a fun callback for me, since my first interaction with this universe was through Dragon Ball Z Kai.
Gogeta was revealed in a recent trailer. Did you do two different recordings for that?
SS: I never really cared much for Gogeta or Vegito in the Dragon Ball Z lore, only because it feels a little contrived to me. It never really interested me to play Goku as part of someone else. However, with all this being said, I am a Gogeta fan after this movie. I want a Gogeta action figure now. As far as the recording goes, I record Goku first when we’re doing Gogeta, and Chris records Vegeta first when we’re doing Vegito. I try to hint at a Vegeta accent because they’re mixing.
CS: When we were working on Dragon Ball Z, Sean and I would record the characters separately and then we’d merge them together. Over the years though, Sean and I have changed the style. Now, Sean changes his voice slightly to be a little more like Vegeta and I change my voice slightly to be more like Goku. We match each other’s inflections as perfectly as possible. When I was first directing Dragon Ball Z, I thought maybe their own characters would come out within that one character. You’d still hear Vegeta’s attitude and Goku’s silliness. But what I ended up finding out over time is that this just made the whole thing sound dissonant and you couldn’t hear the inflections very well. Now we’ve stacked and married our inflections perfectly. You’re going to hear a different sound than you’re used to. It’s really highly focused.
SS: It lends itself to how they redesigned Gogeta. You can clearly see Goku and Vegeta’s personalities come out in their fighting styles, and Gogeta incorporates both in an unique way. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when the fusion yells “Kamehameha!” The whole sequence, including the comedic build-up to how Goku and Vegeta fuse to become Gogeta, is extraordinarily epic. I’m a bonafide Gogeta fan now.
CS: People who feel like they’ve been spoiled have nothing to worry about. The feeling you get when Gogeta is actually reintroduced is such a good feeling.
SS: What they show you is only a sliver of what you get. This is the movie that OG Dragon Ball fans have been waiting for their entire lives. New fans are going to have their minds blown on another level. You can take that to the bank.
You mentioned before that you were previously working with a rough unfinished cut of the final film while recording. This is very rarely done when it comes to anime dubbing, so what was the experience like and were there any things that you needed to re-do once you received a more completed version of the film?
CS: It was very nerve-wracking for me going in, since he couldn’t see all the details. Despite that, we were very grateful that Toei was able to get us the materials faster than we thought. We didn’t have to record as many temporary elements as we thought we did. It was very cool to see the unfinished version. I almost wish fans could see it.
SS: I always want to make sure that my performance isn’t going to be messed up due to some production error that can’t be fixed. It didn’t happen on this movie at all.
The window between Broly’s premiere in Japan and the film’s release here in the States is pretty small. Can you compare and contrast the dubbing process between this film and previous Dragon Ball movies like Battle of Gods and Resurrection F?
CS: To be honest, it was essentially the same. The only change was that we didn’t have enough time to record everyone at my studio, so Justin Cook, who’s the producer, handled Vic Mignogna’s recording at a different Funimation location.
Is this the perfect introduction for fans who haven’t seen Dragon Ball yet?
SS: Yes and no. Someone I work with at Funimation said that they were able to understand the film, but my recommendation would be to start with Battle of Gods, then watch Resurrection F, and finally watch Broly. It sets up Beerus and all the support characters.
CS: I actually think you can watch this movie first and then go back to watch Battle of Gods and Resurrection F. It doesn’t really spoil anything that goes on in those movies. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s a historical piece that anyone could relate to, but also features the best fight sequences that Dragon Ball has ever seen.
SS: What really caught my eye about the animation was that Toei went to the extreme with close-ups that are very cinematic. When it comes to Frieza, you kind of literally see how gross of a character he really is. It’s cool because you can feel the villain’s sliminess. Chris Ayres’ performance in this is even better than it was in Resurrection F.
CS: It should be noted that the guy was only on 20 percent lung capacity. He had to use oxygen tanks in the booth, yet he still killed it. He wouldn’t have allowed us to go on without him.
In the original Broly movies, the titular character was pretty one-dimensional. Does this film explore his emotions more?
CS: You’re definitely going to see a side of Broly that you’ve never seen before.
SS: The ending makes it very clear that Goku would like to explore a relationship with Broly.
PART 2: Vic Mignogna (Broly), Monica Rial (Bulma), Ian Sinclair (Whis) and Sonny Strait (Bardock)
Vic, what was it like to voice Broly again?
Vic Mignogna: It was a thrill man! Ever since I did it all those years ago, I have always been hoping that maybe someday Broly would be canon. I was so happy when I found out they were bringing him back. It’s definitely a new and improved Broly. He’s a much more developed character than the original version. This is Akira Toriyama’s vision of the character, and I’m extremely honored to be part of this franchise again.
Did you ever look back at your old performances?
VM: No, and it’s probably for the best. The one idea that kept coming up was that this character is not the Broly that we’re used to. When I got ready to record the film with Justin Cook and Chris Sabat, we talked about the character. The consensus was that it needed to be more natural. Because of this, the film actually wasn’t as difficult vocally. I appreciate that I didn’t have to portray Broly like I did in the past.
Sonny Strait: That was the same approach we had with Bardock. His voice is at a much more natural place in this film. I thought it was a great decision because Bardock is Goku’s dad, so he should have a voice that’s similar to Sean’s.
People reportedly cried during the film. What can you tell us about the emotional impact that Broly will leave us with? Did your perception of the series’ characters change now that their backstories are much more visceral to us? How will you approach the cast going forward?
Monica Rial: Well we hope the franchise goes forward! (laughs) But when I watched it, I teared up. There are some really heartfelt, touching moments. Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty of action and a lot of stuff that hardcore Dragon Ball fans want to see, but at the same time there are quite a few sweet moments.
VM: If someone would have told me that we would tear up over Broly, I would have laughed. But as Monica said, there are a couple of scenes that I really enjoyed doing because they add so much more color and depth to a character that didn’t have it before.
SS: It’s one of the most well-rounded Dragon Ball films. In a lot of films, we just wanted to see two characters duke it out. We still get to see an amazing fight in Broly, but the story, character development, and interpersonal relationships have real emotion behind them. It’s not just a rock ‘em sock ‘em battle for an hour and a half.
There’s a lot of buzz about the film’s wardrobe choices. Which character has the best fashion sense in Broly?
MR: Bulma! Have you seen her new outfit? I love it! I will say that Gogeta is a close second though.
VM: Broly doesn’t win any fashion awards, but I will say that there’s a piece of his clothing that’s very significant. I thought it was so wonderful to include.
Which characters in the film are you excited for fans to see interact?
SS: I’m anxious for fans to see Bardock interact with his woman! (laughs)
VM: I’m anxious for fans to see Broly interact with Goku and Vegeta because there’s some dialogue that shows some really interesting insight on Goku and Vegeta’s take on Broly. It adds more color and depth to what would otherwise be a big brawl, and I really love that.
MR: I’m excited for fans to see the new characters in the film, because they’re really fun. There’s an interaction at the end of Broly, too, that’s very touching. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised.