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Dragon Ball Super: Broly's Sabat and Rial explain why the film is so huge and the fans are so extra
Dragon Ball Super: Broly has now shattered all expectations on the big screen, having surpassed $25 million in ticket sales already. Even though the Dragon Ball franchise is one of the highest-grossing media franchises and the second-highest rated manga of all time, that's still a monstrous box office performance that not everyone saw coming.
But voice actors Chris Sabat (My Hero Academia, Yuri on Ice) and Monica Rial (gen:LOCK, RWBY) are less surprised, as they are used to seeing Dragon Ball reach ever-higher power levels by now. Sabat has voiced Vegeta, Piccolo, and Yamcha for 20 years, while Rial voices Vegeta's wife Bulma. The pair spoke with SYFY WIRE about the film's success, their favorite scenes in the movies, any Easter eggs you might have missed, and the insanity that is the DBZ fandom.
Warning: There are mild spoilers for Dragon Ball Super: Broly.
Were you surprised that Dragon Ball Super: Broly has done so well so quickly here in the states?
Chris Sabat: On the one hand, yes, but on the other hand I'm never surprised by Dragon Ball anymore. I'm more surprised that I have been these characters for 20 years. To be honest, when I first heard that it was going to be a Broly movie I wasn't overly stoked about it. But once I saw the animatic come in and I saw a script. I understood. This is not just, like, a good idea. This is a great idea.
Monica Rial: It's crazy to think that we were the number one movie for quite a while. Especially for an anime movie in limited release. Dragon Ball fans are legit. They're going and seeing it five, six, seven times!
So many of Dragon Ball fans are adults now. They're even taking their children.
Sabat: Oh yeah. In the earliest of days, we were promoting the show to six-year-olds. The whole concept of Dragon Ball being on Cartoon Network was to make it popular with a TV-Y7 audience because in 1998, the mentality was still that cartoons are for children. So it's fun to re-meet all these folks that I met when they were seven and eight years old who now have kids of their own. It's so much fun to watch people experience that because Dragon Ball sort of evolved with them.
Speaking of the fans. What's the craziest thing that fans have asked you guys to do?
Rial: Now that I've cut my hair off, I'd had a lot of people request that I dye my hair blue and cosplay Bulma, which I'm not sure if I'm ready for it. I don't know if that's opening a door that maybe I don't want to open. And, not Dragon Ball, but anime-related, I've had some really interesting requests. I've had a gentleman come up to me in the autograph line and drop his trousers right in front of me so I could sign his boxer shorts
Sabat: I've gotten so used to the bizarre behavior of extreme fandom that it's not even weird to me anymore. It's just common now. Like I've had fans come up and ask me if I would date their parents. I signed a baby diaper once. The most insane thing, I'm sure Monica is now starting to kind of get used to this as well, is something that Dragon Ball fans are definitely known for. Someone will to come up to you and recite Dragon Ball lines right at you without any warning whatsoever.
Please give us an example.
Sabat: One guy just walked up and even before he handed me anything to sign, yelled: "Hey Vegeta what does your Scouter say about these Power Levels?!!" My reaction was, "We're doing this? Right now?"
Chris, in this movie, you played both Piccolo and Vegeta, who hate each other. Of the two, which is your favorite character?
Sabat: Piccolo is still a bizarre character to me. I've r understood Vegeta all these years. He's pretty easy to wrap your head around. Piccolo? I still don't understand. The most bizarre is the relationship that Piccolo and Bulma have. Because sometimes Piccolo and Bulma look like they're just buddies but then at other times, out of nowhere Bulma will just freak out. Like she's still scared of this guy, which doesn't make any sense, since he basically raised Gohan. He's kind of like a really cheap babysitter right now.
Rial: Yeah, I know! And in the Dragon Ball Fighter Z game, in story mode, Bulma was just yelling at Piccolo the whole time. Very agitated. But now, in the movie, Beerus stole his job, and he's the new babysitter.
You mentioned that you really enjoyed the history of the Saiyans that played out at the beginning of the film. What part did you like best?
Sabat: My favorite part is when Gine, Goku's mom, is talking to Bardock, his dad, and she says, "Why are you trying to take care of Goku all of a sudden? Saiyan men don't usually care about child rearing." (I'm paraphrasing, of course). And he says, "I've just spent my entire life destroying things. I just want to save something for once." That is a different side of Bardock than we've ever seen in any previous story. In the past it was just, Barack was this kind of tough fighter who had these visions that the planet was going to be destroyed and he was fighting for his own, self-preservation.
Up until that moment, we've always just believed that Goku is a hero because he fell on his head and has a brain injury [that took away his aggression]. But, this actually lends some credence to the possibility that maybe his goodness and lightheartedness was sort of passed onto him, almost injected into him as an act of kindness changed the whole course of time.
And that was really profound to me that, that happened, because Goku has always been — I'm sorry — but he's a pretty selfish hero. He wants to fight the strongest fighter and that's it. But, this is the first evidence that makes you believe that like Goku is good for a greater purpose.
Vegeta's fusion dance with Goku was a very funny scene. But if Goku went Ultra Instinct, he wouldn't have had to fuse, Right?
Sabat: Yeah. I think that was basically that scene was created to bring Gogeta into the canon again. Gogeta was never technically canon. I'm happy they did it.
I think they added that just to remind people that Vegeta and Goku just, resent working together, but they are actually at their best when they're working together. I'm actually very impressed that Akira Toriyama is still allowing Vegeta to be as much of a main character as Goku.
Frankly, I think Vegeta's fight was better than Goku's fight in the film. I thought it was the most visceral. By the time it got to Goku, he was doing moves that you've never even seen before, like where he could freeze Broly in place, we've never seen that move. Once he really gets going with Broly, it just gets so crazy it's hard to tell what the heck is even going on. But Vegeta's fight was amazing. You could literally learn martial arts by watching that thing.
Bulma had these great little moments of humor, like the reason why she's been collecting Dragon Balls. It's not to solve world peace, not to erase Yamcha's memories, but for an age-defying facelift.
Rial: It's really a great throwback to the beginning of the series, when she's trying to gather the Dragon Balls to get a boyfriend. So as smart and as intelligent and mature as Bulma can be, she still has that cutesy little girl inside of her that's really concerned about what she looks like.
So Monica, in real life, what would you use the Dragon Balls for?
Rial: Well, for the greater good, it would 100 percent be for world peace. Have a drink together and chill out and everybody's happy. Now, if I were going for something more personal, I'd probably take Bulma's route but would just go the full 10 years. Like, I don't care if people talk.
There are a ton of Easter eggs and callbacks in the film. What were some of the Easter eggs that you were wondering if fans would catch?
Sabat: If you go back and watch it again, notice that Paragus is holding a Sippy Cup while he murders Beets. He's like holding the Sippy Cup in one hand and a gun and the other. And if you look at Broly and Paragus when they're found on this planet, they're wearing the clothes that they pilfered off of the pilots.
I was also a little taken aback by the fact that the soundtrack was rooting for characters throughout the movie. They literally would say like "Go Broly! Go go!" In the music. It was so weird.
Rial: Yeah. It's cool. But it was a little off-putting at first, because [the franchise] has never done that with the music before.
For the person who is not the diehard Dragon Ball fan, can they still get enjoy this movie?
Rial: I think they definitely would get something out of this movie. Um, I've actually had friends that have taken their kids to go watch the movie and then they come back and they're like, holy crap, this is really good. So I'm like, yeah, people have been talking about it for like the last 20 years.
Sabar: Yeah. I think that I believe that the movie could technically stand on its own. I mean it's clearly hard for us to make that assumption because we know so much about it. In fact, if this happens to be the first movie you watch, if for whatever reason they do continue the series after this, this might actually be a good jumping-off point.