My Hero Academia, an anime-inspired by American superhero comics, took the world by storm in 2016, with unique characters, great worldbuilding and enthralling arcs. After five seasons and three movies, the quality of the show and its popularity seemed to only increase with each iteration. After voicing Vegeta from Dragon Ball and Kuwabara from YuYu Hakusho, Christopher Sabat came to FAN EXPO Canada as the voice of All Might.
Despite his illustrious voice acting career, Sabat unequivocally stated that “All Might is by far my favourite character to play.” However, he added that “I don’t like to include Dragon Ball in that because Vegeta is like my angry brother [whom] I love, but he’s really annoying sometimes. He’s family to me so I can’t even compare.”
“I feel like this character was meant to be,” Sabat said about All Might, “and all the other [characters] I’ve played prepared me to play All Might.”
Sabat shared that his favourite My Hero Academia character besides All Might was probably Froppy, but admitted that he used to say it was Mineta as a joke. Mineta is one of the more controversial, even hated, characters in My Hero Academia. Many fans find his groping habit and perversions repulsive. As such, Sabat found out that “not only do people, not like that joke, but they really don’t like that joke at all.” He even had parents complain to him that “this show is great, but I just wish Mineta was not in it because he’s horrible.”
“Clench your buttcheeks and put all your back into it!”
A fan asked about Sabat’s ideal quirk if he could have one. All Might has one of the strongest quirks, One For All, but Sabat chose “to [turn] any flat water [into] sparkling water.’’ At this, the host could not help but point out that his guest was drinking Bubly sparkling water during the Q&A.
Sabat was also asked about his favourite All Might line. ‘‘Clench your buttcheeks and put all your back into it!’’ Sabat said in All Might’s voice, to the fans’ delight.
We asked Sabat about All Might’s transformation in the anime from the all-powerful Symbol of Peace to a normal human by our standards after his fight against All for One, and how the voice actor handled the transition: “It was awesome,” Sabat shared. “I get to play two characters on My Hero Academia; All Might’s buffed out hero form, but [also] a serious, more honest character.”
“All Might was always an altruistic character, but his [hero form] was a costume he was presenting to the universe so that everyone would feel safe,” Sabat added, “but I actually like playing the vulnerable, weak, worried All Might.”
“All Might’s big lines are amazing; I got to do the United States of Smash, which is one the best moments I’ve ever had working in the booth and that I am most proud of,” Sabat admitted, ‘‘but I also really like him sitting around worried about what’s happening to Midoriya. I find it far more interesting.’’
Mental Health and What Girls Want
“I actually found that there are quite a [few] people who really like weakened All Might, especially a certain age group of girls,” Sabat remarked. He often hears girls liking All Might’s weakened form because “he’s just so honest with his feelings.” As such, the voice actor ended his answer by giving some advice to men: “Guys, take note of this. This is what they want. Girls want guys who are emotional.”
In fact, one of his favourite moments on the show came in a recent episode where All Might opened up about his mental health with Aizawa. “That is a serious moment,” Sabat affirmed, “and I think it speaks to a lot of people. It addresses a topic that I think needs to be addressed more often when people are facing difficult challenges and don’t know what to do.”
As a fan of All Might, Sabat also fears what every All Might fan fears at every chapter of the manga: “I will be very sad if I ever pick up a manga and he is dead,” Sabat admitted, “I try not to [read it] because I’m scared.”
A New Era For Anime
With Sabat’s career spanning over two decades, he witnessed the evolution of technology in anime production. With Dragon Ball Z and My Hero Academia separated by 18 years, the voice actor comments about his different experiences between then and now.
“It’s a different experience working on My Hero Academia because, with Dragon Ball, we recorded it sometimes a year before anyone saw it,” Sabat explained. “We’d have to record [the episode], then we’d have to print it on DVD, or maybe it’d [air] on Cartoon Network, but it took a long time.”
Of course, with the advent of digital media and the internet, reviewers can give their input within the day of the episode’s release: “Now, I record something and a week later, I’m hearing fan feedback,” Sabat recounts, “so the pressure is on to do an even better job than [voice actors] ever did before.”
When a fan asked which Dragon Ball character All Might would give One for All to, Sabat had a tough time deciding. “He would probably want to give it to Yamcha,’” Sabat surmised, referring to the character often dying in the show. For similar reasons, the voice actor thought Krillin could also be a potential candidate. Eventually, Sabat settled on Mr Popo as the recipient of One for All.
‘‘I don’t like Goku.’’
Another fan asked Sabat what he would do if he could travel into any anime, he said, “I would go into Dragon Ball and hang out in Yamcha’s apartment in Dragon Ball Super. We’d just chill and I would laugh at how lame he is because I think he’s just such a funny character.” Sabat also added that if he could go into any other anime, he would jump into Pop Team Epic and Ninja Slayer because of their weirdness. While the voice actor didn’t expect many to cheer for the more niche anime, he may have underestimated his audience as clapping ensued.
A fan asked Sabat what his favourite character from Dragon Ball would be besides the ones he had already voiced. Sabat started his answer with “I don’t like Goku.” Explaining further, he added, “I don’t know if it’s because I voiced Vegeta [but] I just don’t like him.” As for his favourite characters, “I love Trunks and I love Hercule (Mr Satan),” Sabat revealed.
In April 2015, a brand new Dragon Ball TV series, Dragon Ball Super, was announced almost 18 years after the last one. A fan asked Sabat about how he felt about the return of Dragon Ball after years of dormancy. “I wasn’t overly surprised that it’s back again,” Sabat stated. “Dragon Ball is one of these shows that I thought I’d work on for six months in 1998 and I’m still working on it.” The voice actor likened each Dragon Ball TV series to the typical villains from the show: “You think it’s dead, but then the smoke clears and Dragon Ball Z is still standing going ‘you haven’t seen my next transformation yet!’”
Gears of War, Borderlands & YuYu Hakusho
Another fan asked whether Sabat ever auditioned for a character he would have liked to play, but didn’t get the role. “All of the characters,” Sabat admitted. “Part of being a voice actor is dealing with rejection.” The voice actor described fans coming to his autograph table asking him how he managed to voice so many cool characters. “Doing it for 22 years is a good start,” Sabat answered somewhat jokingly.
On the same topic, Sabat also shared a story about how he almost became Marcus Fenix from the Gears of War franchise. He didn’t get the role in the end because the production for the game moved from Dallas to Los Angeles. At the time, he didn’t even know what the game was about and only learned about it years later when he recognised the chainsaw guns in Gears of War.
Voice actors are often under strict non-disclosure agreements for upcoming projects. However, Sabat could talk about one of his future projects because it had already been announced. “I am one of the player characters in Tiny Tina’s Wonderland,” Sabat revealed. “Tiny Tina is one of the characters in Borderlands, [which] was a D&D expansion from one of the previous games, but they made it into an entire game.”
Another popular anime that Sabat worked on is YuYu Hakusho as Kuwabara’s voice, of course. Sabat shared that he enjoyed working on YuYu Hakusho because it was a fresh new anime to work on at a time when he had been working on Dragon Ball for a long time.
James Marsters played Zamasu in Dragon Ball Super
Just as the Q&A was about to end, actor, James Marsters, crashed in and grabbed the microphone. Sabat and Marsters, along with the audience, joked about how ‘great’ the notoriously bad Dragon Ball: Evolution was, especially Piccolo. Unbeknownst to many, Marsters played the role of King Piccolo in the live-action. “It sucked!” Marsters exclaimed. “That movie was supposed to be amazing though. It was supposed to be directed by Stephen Chow.” Sabat then proceeded to share the secret story of how James Marsters got the role of Zamasu in Dragon Ball Super under the pseudonym of David Gray.
“There was a moment when Sean Schemmel (Goku’s voice actor) was in a convention with James Marsters,” Sabat said. Sabat coerced Schemmel into talking to Masters about the live-action movie. “So [Schemmel] talks to James, I end up meeting James,” Sabat shares. “It turns out that James Marsters is a massive Dragon Ball Z fan.” According to Sabat, Marsters and his son even spent a lot of time watching Dragon Ball to prepare for the Piccolo role.
According to Sabat, “James Marsters did the entire role of Zamasu in Dragon Ball Super for free as a way to redeem himself with the Dragon Ball Z community.”