“Dragon Ball” is returning to theaters with the new movie, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.” To celebrate, Crunchyroll Expo gave G33k-HQ, along with AnimeUshi.com, the chance to sit down with three of the film’s voice actors: Kyle Hebert (Son Gohan, and also the iconic “Dragon Ball Z” narrator), Aleks Le (Gamma 1), and Zeno Robinson (Gamma 2). There, we discussed what we can expect from “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero,” the cast’s own memories of the series, and more.
Becoming a part of the “Dragon Ball” world
While Kyle Hebert is a returning veteran of the franchise (having voiced Gohan for 22 years), Zeno and Aleks are both making their “Dragon Ball” debuts.
“When we found out [we were cast], I think Zeno was overjoyed, and I was very anxious,” Aleks recounted. So anxious, in fact, that even though the casting director told him he was in, he still kept checking his email just so he could see it for himself.
“I was very overjoyed to learn that I would be a part of this franchise,” Zeno said. “It’s very foundational to me – I grew up with it, and I have so much merchandise from over the years.” (Including a “Dragon Ball” clock that would play an instrumental version of the opening theme every time the alarm went off.)
He’s not the only one with the merch. “The first ever online purchase I made was a Goku figurine,” Aleks said, before adding to Kyle, “We also both had a ton of Gohan merch.”
The impact of the series
Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that the actors are also fans of the series – it’s one of the biggest and most well-known anime out there. Kyle, too, was a fan of the series before he was cast in it.
“I started as a fan when the Canadian English dub started airing in the 90’s, then it switched to Dallas where I was from originally,” he said. “Getting that audition gave me the opportunity to be a part of something I was already a fan of. Plus, ever since I was little, I wanted to get into voice over for animation, so I got to tick two marks there.”
“[Dragon Ball] changed my life. I’ve gotten to travel the world and meet fans of this franchise and hear stories from fans – how it’s inspired them or how it’s helped them, and that’s amazing. It literally changed my life.”– Kyle Hebert
“I grew up in Asia, so I was surrounded by ‘Dragon Ball’ all the time,” Aleks said. “Coming to America and being introduced to the anime was really, really cool. How I learned English was actually through absorbing media, so I would watch a lot of cartoons and video games. And Dragon Ball has a very special place in my heart, because that was the box set that my grandfather got me before he passed. So to finally get to jump in after basically being a fan my entire life is just insane. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve fully processed it yet.”
“Very similar to Aleks and Kyle, I grew up with ‘Dragon Ball.’ It’s one of the first anime I watched before I knew it was called anime, back when it was on Cartoon Network,” Zeno recalled. “I was that kid practicing kame-hame-has during recess with my friends. I had every ‘Budokai’ game, I had ‘Legacy of Goku’ 1 and 2 – they had these collectible figures that you’d have to order, and my mom would over every single one. I had every Goku toy, every Gohan toy, every Uub toy (Uub’s my favorite). So just being able to join the franchise, a franchise that’s still going strong today, in such a capacity in a new piece of canon with Akira Toriyama’s direct involvement is pretty wild to me. It’s a very full-circle moment in my career to be a part of something that was very foundational to me.”
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
The new movie is a departure from other “Dragon Ball” anime, using cell-shaded CGI animation rather then the traditional 2D style anime normally uses. While this will provide a new and at least a little different experience for the viewers, it didn’t impact the dubbing process.
“For any sort of animation, or even live action, you’re watching the mouth flaps and your script, and you have this little balancing act of doing your character voice, giving the right performance, and making sure that it fits the flaps,” said Kyle. “So I didn’t really notice any difference, and I think the animation in this movie is just drop-dead gorgeous.”
“I think, if anything, because this movie is CGI, there’s a little more detail in the finer lines of things,” Zeno added. “The mouth flaps might be a bit more specific than general animated mouth flaps, but there hasn’t been that much of a difference, honestly.”
Of course, whether it’s traditionally animated or CGI, “Dragon Ball” is still known for a few things: big action scenes, lots of shouting, ridiculously high power levels, and nonstop fun. So to see all that on the big screen is always a treat. Plus, as the actors add, seeing it in theaters is nothing but good for the anime industry.
“This is yet another opportunity to see Dragon Ball in a theater and send a very clear message to Hollywood that anime is here to stay,” Kyle said. “And this is also the first time that Dragon Ball will be presented in North America in IMAX theaters, so if you have one near you, I’d suggest that to see it as big and loud as possible.”
“Go watch the film,” Zeno agreed. “It’s a great new chapter in the canon, and it covers another section of the world, being more focused on Gohan and Piccolo. I’m really excited to see what they do with the character of Gohan, because for me, growing up and watching the Cell Saga, getting to see Gohan in the spotlight again is really refreshing.”
“I think this is a great time for new fans to jump on. This movie is very fun, it’ll be a great opportunity for friends or family who want to get into Dragon Ball – it’s a great entry point.”Aleks Le
So what can we expect from “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero?”
“Big hair, gorgeous animation, amazing sound design and mix,” Kyle answered. “Hats off to the director, Chris Sabat, on our English dub. And of course, kudos to those going to watch it in Japanese, because we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those original seiyuu who brought ‘Dragon Ball’ into the world. It’s amazing.”
“Cool costumes, cool poses, it’s a fun ride. Expect big spectacle.”Zeno Robinson
Thanks once again to Kyle, Aleks, and Zeno for taking the time to speak with us, to Crunchyroll Expo for the opportunity, and to AnimeUshi.com for co-interviewing with us. “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” will be in theaters on August 19th, and you can go book your tickets today on Fandango or at your local movie theater.