Anime Expo 17 was held in the Los Angeles Convention Center, July 1st-4th. Here, fans are able to attend many of their favorite anime and anime companies’ panels. Unfortunately, there are so many panels, it is impossible to attend all of them. However, there are some panels some fans believe they can’t miss. One of the biggest and most popular anime held a panel during Anime Expo 17. The Dragon Ball Super Panel: Presented by Funimation & Toei Animation Inc., brought fans the latest news regarding the new Dragon Ball series, questions answered by Sean Schemmel, who voices the English version of Goku, Ryo Horikawa and Christopher Sabat, who voices Vegeta in Japanese and English respectively, and lastly, Jason Douglas, who voices the English version of Beerus. The new Dragon Ball series, Dragon Ball Super, began to air in Japan on June 20, 2015, and the English dub version began to air on January 7, 2017, on Toonami (US). Here are some of the questions and answers from the panel.
All of you minus Jason (Douglas) have been working on this series for quite a while, did you guys think that really you would be working on a completely new series for Dragon Ball?
I am very proud of it and I am very happy as an actor in Japan, because so many fans in the US are willing to see it. Is willing to see the TV program Dragon Ball and it's a very wonderful thing.
That’s beautiful, I totally agree. Yeah, I didn’t expect this either, I wake up everyday and still think it's a dream. 18 years on and then I also realize I have to go to work and scream a lot. Then I dread it a little bit and then I get excited and then I get to work and then I argue with Chris a little bit and then we have a battle and then we record and then we make a show and then we come to Anime Expo, so it's the best job in the world and thank you so much for letting me be a part of it.
I didn't even imagine we would be doing this 4 years after we started, like it's blowing my mind. Every time I was on a panel, people would ask ‘if you could ever have a wish from the dragon, what would it be?’ and they would say it in Yamcha's voice, if you gave a wish from the dragon what would it be. And I always said I’d wish for more Dragon Ball Z episodes. And I need a new wish now. Now it's let Vegeta win once.
When I started doing anime almost 20 years ago, these guys were at the same time starting to do Dragon Ball. And I think I never dreamed I would be a part of it because it was not in my backyard. And when I came up and started working with Chris and these guys and I got invited to be a part of the team, I want to say it was kind of like a dream come true because it's one of the best written and best conceived shows out there and it's just an honor to be a part of it.
Chris you’ve been working on this show as both an ADR director and an actor. And so you have a bit of intimate knowledge of this series and working with all the different characters for not just Dragon Ball Super but previous Dragon Ball franchises. What’s different about working on Super as a director?
Well, if you want to go all the way back to the start, when we were first working on Dragon Ball, we didn’t have a lot of information, we had really archaic tools, we were working on really old computers that worked very slowly, there was no internet to look up facts about characters, we were in a tiny unairconditioned office in Fort Worth; it was not the most luxurious of situations. And all of the actors that were part of the show, including myself, didn’t have a lot of access to Japanese culture, we didn’t have friends that had these discs, they weren’t even discs, they were video cassettes sitting around. But now we are working on the most high tech equipment, in beautiful locations, with actors that have been working on these characters for 18 years. So it’s like working with the ultimate super dream team on something and everyone has been waiting for a show like this to happen. So nobody is walking in going ‘when is this going to be over?’, everyone's really excited because they know how well this show is perceived and no one wants to let anyone down.
So I did mention, Jason here being the newest addition to the Dragon Ball cast. You kind of shared a little bit of your thoughts already, joining this huge international franchise but not only that the role of your character is a very important one and it's really a catalyst for starting this new series. What is that like?
Well you know it's interesting, I was coming in and I had done King Cold for DBZ Kai and then Chris brought me in to do a role for Borderlands 2, and then he brought me in to read for Beerus. And at the time I don't think, at least I didn’t have a clear idea that this was going to be such an important on-going character of the franchise but I just thought it was such an interesting and clever way that he was conceived and drawn and it really gave me I think a lot to work with and then as time went on and it became evident that Beerus was going to play an important role I really started to kind of invest myself because I had a lot of catching up to do, you know? These guys have been working on this for so long and I realized if I'm going to play on theses guys’ level, I really have to ramp up my game. So I think I’m grateful because I feel like it's brought out a better actor out of me just by getting a chance to do this role.
Did Chris, when he offered you the role, I don't know if you knew, if he was like ‘oh it's a great part! it's a great one!’, and then he kind of mumbled under his breath, ‘oh yes, also your vocal chords are gonna bleed, but other than that its great!, it’s going to be great!’.
Yeah, totally. I was used to doing those characters, but it's funny because I seem to recall it was kind of underplayed. Like, ‘yeah we have this character for you, I think it's up your alley, you kind of sound like the guy that does it in the Japanese. I think you can do it, you were pretty good when you did the role for the video games. I would like you to give it a shot, see what you think’.
I remember Jason going like ‘oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, that sounds like a pretty good idea, yeah’.
This is a question for Sean. I feel like that with Super and with the feature length films, that Goku has had more character development in probably this then he has had in all of 291 episodes of Dragon Ball. How do you feel about the progression of Goku in the new series?
Yes and it's only like a 1%. Well it's important to know. I don’t believe that Goku, at least the way I gleam in information from watching it and getting the translation, is not a character that is designed to, he’s always representing the beginner's mind. So he’s not designed necessarily to evolve as a person as much as he is a fighter, so he tends to have this beginner, childlike mind the entire time. But what I thought was fascinating about Super, is all the other facets and aspects of Goku where we see him dealing with a cell phone, and, you know, being a radish farmer, and doing the cabish thing with Piccolo, and I’m like ‘this is fun! And he’s taking his tractor with him, and for some reason he has to fly with his tractor, and then he forgets it and he's gotta figure out how to be a fighter of politics just so he can train with Whis, which he's terrible at. So I guess these could be growth points, but I think these were always things that were inside of Goku that we never got to see. So I think Super will probably go down as the definitive series as time goes on because it has so much of Dragon Ball in it, so much of Dragon ball Z in it, and it's just the perfect amalgam. But for me is Goku just having these little insights, or Goku might damage his ki in that one episode; and then the introduction of Goku Black, who for me is like, ‘oh my God this is great!’. I get to do some really cool evil stuff too and I get to do what he has been having fun doing this whole time (pointing at Chris), he's been having fun doing this the whole time (pointing to Horikawa-sensei) and I don’t have to be happy guy all the time, which is fun, but the choice words are his (pointing at Chris) and his (pointing at Horikawa-sensei), he gets the fun lines. Even Beerus gets the fun lines, but I get to do the power screams and that is painful, but really rewarding and fun once you see it. And I am always trying to make you guys freak the hell out, I just want you to feel the power, you know? thank you.
You’ve been voicing these characters for longer than anyone else, and there has been a lot of change, not only your voice but the characters themselves. How have you changed your performance or approach to voicing Vegeta over the years?
Well, actually, I’m not planning to change the acting myself because I am Vegeta myself. But, maybe it will change from the point of view of fans and for 30 years, you know humans change, they grow older which means, I am human too, so I change and Vegeta has changed too, in a good way or bad way. So however, I like to fight against this job and my role constantly, in a way to not forget the fresh feeling of Dragon Ball. That’s it.
So we are talking about these relationships that Goku and Vegeta and Beerus have had, we have 3 of them. Actually, 4 technically. For Super, it's a little different with their relationship with Beerus. Goku with Vegeta, they have these frenemies relationships throughout the series of Dragon Ball. You encounter an enemy, you beat him up, or he beats you up, and then you become best buds or some sort. I feel like with the introduction of Beerus, it's a little really different; and particularly for Sean and Chris, and Ryo as well, of course; the characters have to train under him at this point. How is that different than the previous bad guys they’ve had to fight?
Well it's different, I mean I definitely want Jason to speak on this too because learning how Jason approached the character and his analysis of it, kind of -even though I’ve watched it-, it opens my mind to more, in the sense that Beerus is a different kind of villain, versus, a malevolent villain who's bent on destruction for some mean reason. Whereas Beerus is what he is. And Goku is used to having trainers, he’s trained under King Kai, he’s trained under Master Roshi. Vegeta is not. Did he train under anybody? or is he used to being a subordinate in that way?
Well all of his trainers are dead. One of his trainers that might have been Frieza, perhaps, killed him once. So he’s had it a little more rough. But it is funny in the way that Vegeta treats the training, because he takes it very seriously and Goku can’t hold his own urine on the trip there.
It is still continuing, so I can’t really decide for what's going on but I hope that as the series goes on, they do have a very good friendship. I hope that happens soon.
The Dragon Ball Super Panel brought many fans of all kinds of ages to celebrate the success of the Dragon Ball franchise. Some fans had the opportunity to have their questions answered, while others were lucky enough to win some cool Dragon Ball Super prizes. Unfortunately, Sean wasn’t up to turn Super Saiyan in front of everyone, but nevertheless, fans left happy having seen the voice actors that made their childhood a great one. If you have never watched any of the Dragon Ball series, it is never too late to start.