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Otakon 2015: Voice Actor and Director Christopher Sabat on “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F”, Broadcast Dubs


christophersabatA true veteran of the voice acting industry, Christopher Sabat is both a prolific actor and an experienced voice director in his own right. In addition to owning the game audio and voice-over production studio Okratron 5000 in Dallas, Texas Mr. Sabat is known for numerous English roles in such Japanese cartoons as One Piece (Roronoa Zoro), Fullmetal Alchemist (Alex Luis Armstrong) and Lupin the Third (Daisuke Jigen). But his greatest impact has surely been upon the evergreen hit Dragon Ball Z, where he has been the voice director for the property and played Vegeta, Piccolo, Yamcha, the wish-granting dragon Shenron and many others.

Now Mr. Sabat is at it again with the new movie Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, the theatrical sequel to the film Battle of Gods that will receive a limited theatrical release in the U.S. from August 4 to August 12 following a red carpet debut for the English version in Los Angeles in April and a screening at Anime Expo in July. The movie is based on original story ideas and a screenplay by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama himself. During the Otakon 2015 convention in Baltimore, MD, Toonzone was able to speak with Mr. Sabat for a few moments about his feelings on Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F,’ the role of Vegeta in the film and his perspective as a voice director on FUNimation’s “broadcast dub” initiative to debut select Japanese cartoons in English just weeks after their Japanese broadcast. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.

DBZResurrectionPosterTOONZONE NEWS: A big project for you lately would obviously be Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F,’ which is hitting theaters in August. From your point of view, what’s the big selling point for this?

CHRISTOPHER SABAT: The cool thing about Resurrection ‘F’ is that whereas Battle of Gods was a nice little reunion piece, some people had some complaints there wasn’t the insane action that they were expecting from a feature film of Dragon Ball. While there were some amazing fight scenes in Battle of Gods, Resurrection ‘F’ takes where that left off and it’s one long fight through the whole thing. It’s incredibly good, and I’m really excited because the animation looks great. Another thing is that whereas Battle of Gods had some fight scenes in it, the emphasis wasn’t necessarily on the fighting. I went to dinner with some of the animation directors of Resurrection ‘F,’ and they spent a long time really focusing on making sure the martial arts were accurately portrayed. So as opposed to rapid-fire kind of stuff, you get to see a lot of really specific martial arts moves you didn’t get to see in anything else.

TZN: There’s been impressions and chatter that Vegeta, one of your very big roles, has a different part to play in this film, compared to the prior film Battle of Gods. How would you characterize his role in Resurrection ‘F’?

CHRISTOPHER SABAT: Yeah, Vegeta was kind of a clown in Battle of Gods to some degree.

DBZResurrectionF_8TZN: “Bingo!”

CHRISTOPHER SABAT: Yeah, but I personally loved that. I don’t know if everybody has the same love for the character that I do, but I love it when they take Vegeta’s angry, hemorrhoid-ridden jackass character and put him in awkward and fun situations. That’s just really fun to me. And I love the last movie because Vegeta for the first time really had a moment with Bulma, where he showed genuine care for his wife. And in this movie, I think Vegeta has the best parts. Some may disagree because of what happens to him in the story, but no one will disagree that he has the coolest moments in this particular film. You’re gonna love it a lot.

TZN: I wanted to get your opinion on this: something that’s come up in the last year is FUNimation’s broadcast dub initiative where some things come out in English weeks after the Japanese broadcast. I’m wondering how you compare that to the way things used to be done. Are things more hurried and rushed, or not so much so because of a better relationship with the license holders? And how would you compare it to television, because I know you used to do Dragon Ball Z for Cartoon Network.

CHRISTOPHER SABAT: Yeah, it’s a world different. Before we used to fight to get materials and we didn’t know exactly what we were doing to be dealing with where that was concerned. But now – it’s a combination of things. Yes, it’s rushed, but I wouldn’t use that as a negative term. There’s an emphasis on getting it done quickly, as opposed to dragging your feet on it and waiting. I think there’s a lot of pressure on the directors to up their game a lot, and I’ve found it’s been an exhilarating and fun thing to work on. I feel like broadcast dubs DBZResurrectionF_1are more like what real TV is. With episodes of South Park, they’re racing to get episodes done every week. It’s kind of what it feels like to get the shows recorded on a week by week basis, and it’s frankly quite fun. The only interesting challenge is that when you’re dealing with a broadcast show you can cast people, and you don’t know if they’re going to be dead in the next episode or if they’ll last to the end of the series or if they’ll be a main character. You don’t know what the entire story arc is going to be, because the Japanese don’t always tell you that information. So sometimes we’re in the dark about what’s happening, and we’re as clueless as anybody who’s watching it is. I think it’s a fun way of giving people an opportunity to experience shows very quickly after they’re released in Japan, as opposed to getting impatient and watching a bad fansub and calling it a day. I’m excited about the future of these broadcast dubs.

TZN: Is there anything coming up you’re excited for that you’d like people to know about?

CHRISTOPHER SABAT: I’m very excited about Resurrection ‘F’, I’m loving the work I’m doing on Show By Rock. We’re [Okratron 5000] working on a lot of stuff on the video game front with games like Smite and the new Battleborn game with Gearbox. Okratron is working on that now, and we’re excited to be working on that.

Toonzone News would like to thank Mr. Sabat for taking the time for this brief interview in his busy schedule and the assistance of the Otakon staff in arranging it. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ will be shown in theaters throughout the United States from August 4 to August 12. Fans can look up participating theaters and purchase advance tickets on FUNimation’s official Dragon Ball Z website.