Me and Vegeta Down by the Schoolyard

Sabat has voiced the English-dubbed version of Vegeta for years, and continues to do so in the new feature length film Dragon Ball Z; Resurrection ‘F,’ currently on the big screen via Fathom Events in select markets.  

 

 

For those standing outside the always-expanding circle of rabid Dragon Ball Z fandom, the name Christopher Sabat may not mean a whole heck of a lot. However, if you are a fan of Toei Animation’s adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s long-running and wildly successful franchise, his name will conjure up images of a short, raven-haired Saiyan with a chip on his shoulder named Vegeta. Sabat has voiced the English-dubbed version of Vegeta for years, and continues to do so in the new feature length film Dragon Ball Z; Resurrection ‘F,’ currently on the big screen via Fathom Events in select markets.
I spoke to Mr. Sabat recently from his recording studio, OkraTron 5000, in Richardson, Texas, and was curious if his approach to the character has changed over the years. “Vegeta is someone I understand very well, and I know what he’s all about,” Sabat says in a sedate speaking voice, a universe away from his Vegeta and Piccolo portrayals. “After a while, I started to see his point of view and actually started to feel sympathetic towards him. Sometimes,” he adds, laughing, “I think he deserves to act like the dick he is.” When Funimation licensed DBZ for North America, the voice actors doing the English dubbing simply tried to keep the characters voices somewhat recognizable to fans. “When we started doing this in ’99, our main job was just to keep the voices consistent with what had been there before,” he says. “Now when I open my mouth, I know exactly who he is, and how he needs to sound.”
One of the busiest voice actors in the genre, Sabat also voices characters in Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell, and Ninja Slayer. How did he get into this line of work in the first place? “I was in the right place at the right time,” he relates. “I was going to school, and I knew someone who was starting a small company called Filmation. It was a sweet job with no money!” For years at anime conventions, aspiring voice artists hoping to give life to the next generation of Super Saiyans have asked him for tips and tricks to get into the industry. According to Sabat, there really is no easy answer for getting your foot, or in this case, throat, in the door. “Every voice actor I’ve spoken with has taken a very unique path. It seems like every one of them has had a different way they entered the business.”
As the talk turns to Dragon Ball Z; Resurrection ‘F,’ Sabat doesn’t hold back on his excitement regarding his latest foray into Vegeta-ville. “Well it looks great on the big screen. It’s a continuation of last year’s Battle of Gods, and if there was one criticism of the last one, it’s that fans wished it was 45 minutes longer and had more fighting. For those people that felt that way, they will love this one,” he enthuses. “The first 15 minutes set up the story and the rest is basically one long fight. We get to see all of the characters’ special attacks.” And how does our favorite Napoleonesque Saiyan fare? “To me, Vegeta has the best moments in the film.”
Even though the latest film has done knockout business at the box office (it’s already made $57,383,150 and counting), fans keep asking for a new television series. Is there anything on the horizon? “Not at the moment, but I don’t know if you’ve heard, they’re starting a new series in Japan called Dragon Ball Super,” Sabat says. “I haven’t heard about any plans to bring it to America for an English dub, but I would not be surprised at all if it happened.”
Right now, it seems Resurrection ‘F’ will be reason enough to celebrate for a while. “We’ve all been doing this a long time, and it’s still a great experience. The film is really the culmination of 15 years of work.”| Jim Ousley

 

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