Heritage, upbringing, and becoming your own person
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is set to hit North American Theatres next month, and with its release comes a much-needed reboot of the fan-favorite character. Broly first appeared in the film Dragon Ball Z: Broly the Legendary Super Saiyan, which spawned two lackluster sequels that, in a sense, made the character perfect for a revamping. The film will follow the titular Saiyan as he clashes with Goku and Vegeta, their stories intertwining in both the past and the present.
Ahead of the film’s premiere and wide release, I had to the opportunity to sit down with members of the cast for a series of roundtable interviews.
I first sat down with Vic Mignogna, voice of the film’s eponymous character, and talked with him about the rebooted version of Broly and what he thought about the most interesting aspect of the character—that he doesn’t want to fight in the world of Dragon Ball, which is all about fighting.
Sean Aitchison: This version of Broly doesn’t want to or like to fight, yet we know he will be fighting a lot in the film, what are your thoughts on this dichotomy?
Vic Mignogna: “I think one of the things that Dragon Ball is known for is fighting, battling and tournaments and competition, so you expect that, and the action in this film is certainly worthy of Dragon Ball. But what you don’t always expect is a deeper story, a sympathetic story for a character that, on the surface may seem pretty menacing, but when you find out more about his background, you actually develop a—I don’t want to say sympathy—but, your heart goes out to him, and that just makes it more powerful.”
SA: What would you say Broly is a product of, King Vegeta’s action, Saiyan culture in general, or his father?
VM: “I think he’s a product of his father. If Broly’s father is his singular, main influence—just like you or me, your dad has a great deal to do with the person you are by the time you’re 12 or 13 years old, right? Some of those habits are hard to break, because they’re so deeply ingrained, and I think that it’s Broly’s dad that is largely responsible for who he is.”
Later, when Goku’s longtime English dub voice actor, Sean Schemmel, sat down with our table, we discussed the themes of upbringing in the film in relation to Goku, Saiyan culture and how he is different from Broly.
SA: Saiyan history and culture plays a big part in this movie, how does this relate to Goku and did it affect your approach to the character?
Sean Schemmel: “I’ve always been very resistant to do the whole ‘proud Saiyan warrior’ thing because Goku looks at himself as an Earthling and was raised by a human and I can relate to that as a guy who’s been half-adopted myself. As far as those elements [heritage, upbringing, etc.] go, at the very end of the film, the very last line I have kind of answers that question.”
Schemmel couldn’t reveal much more about this, but he did talk a bit more in depth about Broly and Goku—how their different upbringings come into play in the film and who Broly is underneath his power and his father’s agenda.
SS: “There’s a scene in the movie, spoiler alert, where Goku holds Broly in position using some kind of Jedi mind trick and looks kind of into his soul and basically says, ‘We fought a lot of bad guys who were really bad, my gut tells me you’re not one of those guys.’ Then at the end of the movie, more spoilers, he’s like ‘I wanna come back and visit and maybe train you, and maybe I can learn some things from you also.’ So Goku’s attitude towards Broly is radically different—he’s not an evil guy like Cell or Frieza, and Goku doesn’t look at him that way, Goku senses something about him he can relate to.
He’s kind of like ‘Oh wow, this [Broly] is my history and my heritage,’ cuz he’s been on Earth since he was kid, since before he could probably talk, so for Goku it’s kind of like an awakening of his Saiyan heritage.”
The voice actor behind Vegeta and King Vegeta, Christopher Sabat, provided more details on Dragon Ball Super: Broly’s themes.
SA: King Vegeta plays an important role in the film, what are your thoughts on the character, and would you say that he is the root of the entire plot, since his treatment of Broly put everything in motion?
Chris Sabat: “You are led to believe that, but the decision is a little more nuanced than you might expect, and I think you’ll see that even Paragus comes to understand that. It’s not clear at first, it’s basically the difference between your dad being a real dick to you and not explaining himself properly, and then your dad being a dick to you and then going like ‘Oh, but lemme explain why we’re doing this and you may not understand it now, but it’s important later.’”
“You could actually back it up a little farther and say, “Is this King Cold’s fault? Is this Frieza’s fault?” Because remember, the Saiyans, as brutal as they were, you will have a strong reminder [in the film] as to what their condition was back in those days, they weren’t necessarily a free people.”
From these bits and pieces of the plot—the cast was very careful not to reveal too much about the film before its January release—it seems the major themes in Dragon Ball Super: Broly will be all about upbringings and origins. Broly, Vegeta, and Goku all have ties to the same culture, but experience it in radically different ways. For fans curious about the in-universe cultural and social aspects of Dragon Ball, the film’s exploration of this territory should provide some interesting glimpses behind the scenes of the franchise’s dramatic conflicts.