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San Diego Comic-Con 2011
Conversation with DBZ and YYH Voice Actor Greats

by Bamboo Dong,

There's no better way to start the day at Comic Con than listening to three of the funniest voice actors in the business swap studio stories and shoot the breeze. Actors Christopher Sabat, Justin Cook, and John Burgmeier livened Room 24 at the “Conversation with Dragon Ball Z and Yū Yū Hakusho Voice Actor Greats” panel early Friday morning, delighting a crowd of eager fans with their repartee. The three actors have lent their talents to some of the most recognizable voices in the genre like Dragon Ball Z's Vegeta and Yū Yū Hakusho's Yusuke.

But aside from voicing fan favorites, all three have contributed greatly to other aspects of dub creation—Sabat, famous for voices like Vegeta, Piccolo, and Yamcha, has also served as the ADR Director for series like Gunslinger Girl and Dragon Ball Z. Cook, whom fans will recognize instantly as the voice of Urameshi Yusuke, has also produced upwards of 100 series, including fan favorites like Beck, Dragon Ball Z, and Kodocha. And aside from voicing Dragon Ball Z's Tien and Kodocha's Sagami Rei, Burgmeier has also served as the head writer for a multitude of properties, like Soul Eater, Eden of the East, and the Dragon Ball Z movies.

During their time on the panel, they shared their experiences as both actors and staff members on various Funimation titles, taking a few minutes to also rib on the live-action Dragon Ball Z flop, Dragonball: Evolution. At one point, they joked about placing a bet on how many people would go see the movie in theaters, and later when an audience member asked if they'd ever been tempted to do a RiffTrax-styled commentary track for the movie, Sabat answered enthusiastically, “Would we be interested? Hell yeah! Would we be allowed to? Probably not.”

Overall, the tone of the panel was very light-hearted and the audience was kept laughing the whole time. At some point, a member of the audience asked the three what their inspiration for doing voice work was, and Cook jokingly paraphrased a Hitchcock quote, “When anyone asks, 'what are your motivations?' A paycheck!” He followed this up saying that during recording sessions, at some point, it becomes a matter of getting to a point where one's not doing more than four or five takes. He added, “As a voice actor, I consistently feel like I'm disappointing.”

Sabat, who's been the head ADR Director on many projects, said that they had the privilege of studying the scripts and the DVD extras, in preparation for the dubs. He also said that it was helpful being able to hear how the Japanese seiyuu perform their roles, and use it as a source of inspiration. He then cycled through a few examples of his roles from Dragon Ball Z, in response to his own introspective question, “What part of my voice can make this sound?”

In response to the same question, Burgmeier said that it was a interesting voicing characters who weren't from Earth, adding that there's a different thought process that goes into making someone sound as though they're mystical, and not of this world.

Of course, there were plenty of opportunities to entertain the crowd as well. Cook delighted all the women in the audience when he revealed that his favorite scene in Yū Yū Hakusho was in Yusuke proposes to Keiko, eliciting a long “awwwwwwwww.” But the biggest crowd pleasers came from Sabat, who took a variety of requests from the audience, like singing “Eye of the Tiger” in character, and doing the Vegeta rap.

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