Ever since Dragon Ball Z aired on TV in the late ’90s and early 2000’s the character of Gohan has been a fan favourite.
Be it his rage headbutt against Raditz to his dominating Majin Buu in the mystic form. Gohan has delivered to fans what they always wanted: A Badass Fight!!
And now the success of the recently released Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero movie & Gohan taking the centre stage once again after several decades has tingled nostalgia sense among fans.
Not only that, it has again given rise to the ever-growing controversy of who is the strongest character in the Dragon Ball universe.
To talk about all such topics and also the in-depth working of the voice acting industry in the USA, we interviewed the ever-amazing voice actor of Gohan from Dragon Ball Z, Mr Kyle Hebert!
Without any further delay let us know what Kyle-san has to say about the industry, Gohan and various other things.
How does it feel knowing that DBS Super Hero is the 4th highest-grossing anime movie of all time in the US?
It’s pretty amazing, first of all, being a part of such an iconic franchise for the past 23 years of my life. Dragonball was my first big voiceover role, and it opened up so many wonderful experiences and opportunities. I was already blown away to see it be number one at the North American box office upon theatrical release. I am so grateful to be a part of it.
The film is unique in terms of establishing the potential of 3D CG Animation. However, there were differing opinions on the animation style in certain sections of the fandom and the industry. As a long-time fan of the series, do you think it was the right approach for them to move toward the 3D sphere?
I was sceptical when I saw the first teaser trailer, but upon seeing the finished product, I think the style works very effectively and smoothly. It helps establish the grand scale of epic battles and see a grander view of that world. It’s one that you wouldn’t get on a TV show.
Gohan fans worldwide were pretty happy seeing him have the spotlight in a feature film. How did it change for you, specifically, from being one of the side characters to a main character? What were the challenges faced while voicing over Gohan this time while comparing many years ago during the Buu saga?
I’ve been waiting for at least two decades for Gohan to be great again. He’s been on the sidelines for so long, but I’ve always heard from fans at cons and online that Gohan has always been their favourite, even though his potential was squandered. I don’t feel like the movie is focused on him by any means. There are so many great moments for multiple characters to shine, and I am very proud of the work of the English cast and production team. Gohan had relatively little screen time, but what was there was very impactful. I’ll never forget the rush of seeing the movie in IMAX in a sold-out theatre and the fans cheering for him.
Power scaling is a huge deal in the Dragon Ball franchise, fans are always seen comparing various anime characters with Dragon Ball characters in terms of power. Do you think after Dragon Ball Super Super Hero, Gohan has become the strongest character at least amongst the Z fighters?
Personally, I do think Beast Gohan is a whole different thing than Super Saiyan fill-in-the-blank. I’ve read Akira Toriyama confirm Gohan as the most powerful in that universe, and I’d like to think one can trust the creator.
Stepping outside Dragon Ball for a bit and getting into your other roles, you play Aizen in Bleach. Bleach is back after decades. How does it feel getting into the shoes of the character once again? Was it all according to Aizen’s plan?
I feel like 2022 was a banner year, coming full circle for several of my characters. The fans have been waiting so long, and even though he hasn’t had a huge presence yet, it feels great to once again slip into his devious shoes. And yes, all is according to plan, for sure!
Your voice acting portfolio is vast and versatile, to say the least. While playing these roles, what do you keep in mind to make sure to hit each character’s psyche as accurately as the source material? Were the Japanese Voice Actors of all the characters you played an influence on your work?
I think the key is working with the director and absorbing context efficiently during the recording. There’s no rehearsal, no watching of episodes, just bullet points focused on our particular scenes. My job is to give a performance that the director and/or client is looking for.
We certainly preview each line in Japanese to hear how the lines are delivered, and what sort of emotional foundation they are coming from, and that does inform the performance. But hopefully, at the end of the day, we can bring a faithful interpretation that can stand on its own to an English-speaking audience.
Voice acting in America has grown significantly since the 2000s. How has the industry evolved since then? Do new talents get easily placed? What would be your word of advice to them?
I’ve been a part of the industry long enough to see entire studios go under due to piracy, streaming overtaking physical media sales, conventions blossoming, and remote recording has become much more standardized, birthed from the pandemic. I think voice acting continues to be a fiercely competitive field, so everyone that wants to get into it needs to understand they have to hone their skills and bring their A-game. It’s simply not enough to just be a fan, or do a few good impressions. Voice acting IS acting…acting with just your voice. Acting coaches teach the craft over Zoom and Skype; their knowledge is available to anyone worldwide with an internet connection, passion, and serious commitment. There are no shortcuts.
Looking for fast or free will end in disappointment. Anything worth having is something you work for. Put proverbial blood, sweat, and tears into it. It’s a lot of risks and no guarantee of reward. But even if you take all the classes and gain access to hundreds of auditions, there is still a very real possibility that none of them will land. But taking the risk will give you experiences you will learn and grow from, even if they don’t work out the way you hoped they would.
What is your opinion on Unionization in the voice acting industry? Do you think institutions like Crunchyroll are supporting the idea of voice actor unions?
I think there are perks, seeing as a union would have your back in any legal entanglements, work collectively to provide contracts with a fair wage and aim to get you a pension and health insurance coverage. Texas is a “right to work” state, and there isn’t a real incentive for voice talent or projects to go union. A handful of union contracts tend to be limited to national commercial campaigns. It really boils down to a personal decision for the actor.
Do they want to work in a market like Los Angeles, where there is a world of union opportunities in animation, games, commercials, etc? Or just focus on their own personal goals and keeping a roof over their head (but at the risk of inconsistent pay, no legal protection, etc). I don’t like the political side of the industry. I just want to make a living doing something I love. I want everyone to win.
Dragon Ball Z and Naruto have a huge fan following in India. The fan base is so big that they are airing episodes of Dragon Ball Z Kai and Naruto on national TV in local languages now. Did you have a chance to check out the work of your Indian voice-acting counterparts?
I have not. In fact, I didn’t know there was an Indian dub of those shows! That’s really cool. I know that dubs make anime more accessible for those who don’t prefer reading subtitles (or who perhaps can’t).
Any message for your Indian Fans?
Thank you for all your gracious support and hospitality throughout the years! It means the world to this middle-aged geek, hahaha!
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