Saiyan Showdown Documentary

goku and vegeta saiyan showdown dbzIn 2005, Dragon Ball was still enjoying great success in the United States. The series was airing on Cartoon Network and FUNimation had established itself as a super power in the American anime industry.

The “Saiyan Showdown” documentary was made during the time when Dragon Ball Z was entrenched in the minds of fans.

FUNimation had decided to redub the first 67 episodes of Dragon Ball Z with the current FUNimation cast, to replace the original Ocean Group dub from 1996. The new versions were going to be called The Ultimate Uncut Editions, and the Saiyan Showdown was a bonus video that came with the first disc of the series.

The Saiyan Showdown documentary consists of interviews with Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Christopher Sabat (Vegeta), as well as two experts in the anime industry, Milton Griepp, the President from ICV2, and Robert Bricken, former Editor of Anime Insider Magazine.

Dragon Ball fans from an anime convention are also asked questions about their favorite character, and why Dragon Ball is an important show for them.

A YouTube user was nice enough to post the videos online, and I found them during my research for the book. I mined them for some quotes and decided to share them on the blog.

Many of the quotes provide excellent insights and perspectives, and plenty of food for thought.

Here are the videos in their entirety, followed by notable quotes from this DBZ documentary. The length is 26 minutes and 57 seconds long.

Saiyan Showdown Videos

Sean Schemmel

sean schemmel goku dbz“Goku was my first audition ever, for anything, except for puppet shows at the theater, that I did in Dallas.”

“I have a deep affinity for Goku in particular. That will always have a core place in my heart. And I think there’s no better place I could have started.”

“Absolutely life changing. Absolutely. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

“We went to New Orleans, and they had us on this whirlwind autograph tour at these schools, and they had a lot of security there, and we had to leave early, and the kids set the school on fire because they didn’t get Goku’s autograph! [laughter].”

“I think Goku believes that everybody can be good. Absolutely. Because he can see. He sees through all the things that make people covered, evil, cloudy. He looks through that. That’s part of what makes it dangerous for him, because, and I’ve been guilty of this in my life, I’m just like, “I like you, and you like me, and you’re not going to hurt me!””

“Goku is not ever selfish. He’s never like, there was a line that made him sound really selfish, “Oh, I hope I don’t get killed if I do this,” or something like that. I was like, “No. He doesn’t, he’s not worried about it. He’s worried about saving other people. He’s not worried about saving himself.””

“He’s just, enlightened. He’s so in the moment with his training, and everything is so positive that he’s unsinkable.”

“Goku is just simply more talented. Vegeta has the training, he’s got the money. He’s the rich Harvard kid [who] doesn’t have to try. Goku’s the punk from Texas. Goku is the Lance Armstrong to the guy who had all the… . Here’s a kid from Texas who is going to go win the Tour De France 5 or 6 times.”

“Vegeta and Goku come together because there are things that Vegeta has to learn, and Goku is a compelling enough force to make him learn those things. And vice versa. That’s why people come together, I think.”

“He’s got short man syndrome [laughter]. Vegeta.”

Christopher Sabat

christopher sabat vegeta dbz“I love Vegeta! And I don’t know if I like Vegeta because I always was meant to like Vegeta, or playing Vegeta made me like Vegeta.”

“What made Dragon Ball Z a huge success is that it has the most incredible, epic story. The story just, once you get into it, it’s like animated crack.”

“When all of a sudden you are walking around, going out to eat, and the person walking in front of you has a Vegeta shirt on. Or when you start seeing kids blasting with their hands at the mall, you start realizing that the thing you are working on has bled into the culture.”

“I don’t think I can ever get tired of it. I thought there was a point where I’d be tired of it, but I think that anyone who has been on the DBZ series knows that … it changed everyone’s lives who worked on it. This isn’t some sort of weird, spiritual thing. It’s weird to look, you’re in the grocery store, and you see a magazine that has anime on it, and you see your face in it. I don’t even know where I’d be right now… there’s a good chance I’d still be reading a [too quiet to hear] spot or something like that, the ‘Fall Men’s Collection.’”

“The first battle between Goku and Vegeta is extremely important, because it’s the first fight that everyone really wanted to see.”

“Vegeta, at least the way I saw Vegeta, he was probably the single most bitter, angry man alive.”

“But at the same time, Vegeta cannot exist without Goku.”

Milton Griepp, President of ICV2 Trade Publications

milton griepp icv2 dragon ball z“I remember I was in a store in France, and American comics were very popular in the rest of Europe and in France then, and X-Men was the most popular American comic. I was talking to this retailer and he said, “This comic here is selling better than X-Men in my store.” And it was Dragon Ball Z.”

“Dragon Ball Z just had a special look about it. That carried onto retail, from 1999 to 2000. It just had such a stylish appearance that stood out among all the other anime products.”

Dragon Ball Fans at Anime Convention

dragon ball z group cast goku“The style of it. The beauty of it. The action. The relationships. The whole story line. It’s perfect.”

“The best thing I like about the show is the action. And Goku. He’s my favorite character. He sets it off for me. When he powers up to Super Saiyan, it’s on!”

“They’re not just normal humans, walking around talking. They have abilities that nobody else has. They can fly, they can shoot energy balls, they can go forever in fighting.”

“It has the drama. It has the romance. It has your goofiness. It has high action fights. What more could you ask for, really?”

“I watched Dragon Ball Z with my brother a lot. He passed away a few years ago, but that’s something that he and I would always watch. We were big fans of Dragon Ball Z in the beginning. We went on to GT, and then back to the original Dragon Ball series itself. We really liked it a lot. It was part of a bond. I know it doesn’t really sound all that great, but it was something that we watched a lot together, and looked forward to watching together. Even now it’s a big part of our relationship, even though he isn’t here.”

Robert Bricken, former Managing Editor of Anime Insider Magazine

anime insider magazine dragon ball goku“Without Goku and Vegeta there is no Dragon Ball Z. Goku is the superhero, the Superman, if you will. He’s the happy go lucky hero that every great story really needs.”

“Vegeta is the one that Goku needs to balance him. The one who is dark, who is mad, everything like that. They show the two polar aspects of humanity. Especially Vegeta at the beginning of the Saiyan Saga, when he is pure evil. It’s a perfect polar opposite.”

“It’s safe to say that without the two of them, and their rivalry, the series would not have continued on. And that was all based on the original fight between Goku and Vegeta on earth.”

“It is that rivalry that drives them forward, both those characters and the series forward as they go on their adventures. And Vegeta can always turn to Goku and say “You can’t fight him because I’m going to.” Things like that.”

“We did rank the top 10 anime battles of all time, and while there were other Dragon Ball Z fights on there, the original fight between Goku and Vegeta was number 1 in all of anime-dom. It’s such a visceral fight that even the later Cell and Majin Buu fights don’t come close to matching, they’re so bloody and beaten, and Goku is practically dead by the end of it. It’s the fight that all other Dragon Ball Z fights would be judged by.”

“I think Dragon Ball Z is the greatest action anime of all time. It really set the tone for all other anime action. It was the most popular in Japan, and the most popular over here. The whole core of the action, the fight that raised the bar for the action in the entire 200 plus episodes, was the Goku vs. Vegeta fight. And then later on when Vegeta turns into Majin Vegeta in the Majin Buu saga, the early stages, that is probably, for me, the most emotionally satisfying moment there, because Vegeta and Goku had this history together. None of it would have been possible without that fight. Not the popularity of the series, not the incredible action, not the emotional resonance that I think has made Dragon Ball Z so popular throughout the world.”

Your Thoughts

How do you feel about the quotes above? Did any of them strike a chord?

I found the perspectives of Sean Schemmel and Christoper Sabat very interesting. But the most memorable quote to me is from the young man who used to watch DBZ with his brother, who then passed away. Very touching.

I’m glad that this resource was made available to provide a glimpse into a special moment of time for DBZ fans.

Let us know how you feel!

10 responses to “Saiyan Showdown Documentary”

  1. Cob says:

    This was my first time watching any sort of in-depth interviews with the actors from the show. They’re clearly very humble and personable guys. I was surprised to see how much they reflect their characters’ personalities. I guess that’s what happens when you spend so much time working on it.

    Also "You must get all the ladies" "Yeah, and they’re all too young!" cracked me up

    • Derek Padula says:

      Haha, yeah, that was funny.

      I agree that they seemed very humble and personable. When they’re talking at conventions they have a different personality, which is a type of big-audience entertainer, but here they are more relatable. Honestly, I like them more after having watched this.

      What struck me was when Sean said that he was naturally very much like Goku when he got the role, but as he continued to play the part he gradually became more mature and experienced, just like Goku. And then Christopher said that after acting in the booth as Vegeta for 4 hours he was a more negative person.

      The emotions and psychology of acting are fascinating, especially when you play the same character for years and years. I wonder if the Japanese actors feel the same way. Some of them have been playing their roles for more than 25 years.

  2. Cob says:

    It would stand to reason that they do. Just as we as an audience may feel an emotional connection to certain characters, I imagine that anyone who is ensconced so deeply into the role and the personal development of the character would have that personality rub off on them and theirs would show through in the character as well.
    It seems to me as a musician that absorbing the personality of a piece (or character in this case) is a natural tendency of those in the field who are meant to be. As an example, I played a jury-evaluated performance of a Leonard Bernstein piece called "Elegy for Mippy II." Bernstein was notorious for over-simplifying his jazz rhythms so that his very un-hip orchestra could understand his thinking and under-explaining the soulful aspects of the music.

  3. Cob says:

    This is a particular problem when you realize that Mippy II was his brother-in-law’s Dog. While I always mourn the loss of a life, it is exceedingly difficult to dedicate a full semester – 6 or more hours a day of trombone for 180 days – to some guy’s dead dog. The only solution to this problem, especially when you are giving a musical monologue (only the horn and foot tapping, no other instruments), is to dig deep into your soul and find the part of you that understands what the statement of the elegy is and why it matters so critically to the person who wrote it.
    Just like Sean and Chris – and presumably the Japanese voice actors – have dug deep to portray the characters and emotions behind the crises of Dragonball, so have the best musicians contemplated and struggled with their musical scripts in exactly the same manner. You become the character, the situation becomes yours and all the burdens attached to it sit on your shoulders. For me, that song made the semester one of the most emotionally trying times of my short life.

    Haha that was a little more long-winded than I intended but, hopefully someone will enjoy this digressive rant!

    • Derek Padula says:

      Good points. I think that empathy is a very important trait of being human. Without this it becomes difficult to see the suffering of others. You cannot connect with them or relate to them, and there is no opportunity for subtle understandings beyond simple, cold logic. Empathy and mercy are the foundations of compassion.

      It seems to me that if a person has the profession of expressing human emotions, whether it be through music, acting, or another art form, empathy is a must. Otherwise nobody will connect with their work, because the artist made no effort to connect with the receivers’ humanity.

      Who among us doesn’t suffer? That by itself connects us and unites us. We are all born through the womb and experience this life together. So let’s try to uplift and support one another the best we can. The best artists are the ones who experience suffering yet look within, improve their character, and then express their humanity to others in an uplifting way.

      There’s a rant to match to your own! And yours are always appreciated. Thanks, Cob.

  4. javier says:

    haz mas dragon ball porfavor

    • Derek Padula says:

      Translation: Please make more Dragon Ball.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, but I am not actually responsible for the Dragon Ball series, and cannot make more. That would be awesome if I could though. I would love to have creative control over the next Dragon Ball.

  5. Lucy says:

    reading this brought a tear to my eye ..i can honestly say that dbz shaped who i am today theres so much feeling in it i cant live without it , i remember being a little kid and trying to focus my energy to be able to fly like videl did….ah memories (wipes tear away)

  6. kevin says:

    27 years old and i still talk and think and look for dragonball as do many of my friends this is a thing that will never die love it love it love it

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