He has muscles upon muscles … a rage beyond reason … flaming green hair … and a desire to smash. The longer he fights, the more powerful he becomes. The Incredible Hulk? Not in the Dragon Ball universe. This is Broly, the legendary Super Saiyan from Planet Vegeta. Woe to those who get in front of his fists.
But this time, in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, he is shown to be more than just a killing machine. Dragon Ball’s creator, Akira Toriyama, has endowed him with a back story that helps justify why he’s a threat to our Saiyan heroes, Goku and Vegeta.
In Japan, Broly is voiced by Bin Shimada. In America, Broly’s English voice comes from the multi-talented Vic Mignogna (pronounced “Mig-yon-a”), perhaps best known for his live action performances as Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek: Continues (2013-2017). But a look at his listings from IMDb.com and My Anime List reveals hundreds of voiceover roles, including Shogo Yahagi from Megazone 23 (ADV dub), Hikaru Ichijo from Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (ADV dub), Shigeru Aoba from Neon Genesis Evangelion (2004 Director’s Cut), Hiroki Takasugi from Princess Nine, Dune and Folken Fanel from Escaflowne: The Movie (Funimation dub) and what he regards as his signature role, Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. For Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Mignogna’s reprising a role he began 15 years earlier in Dragon Ball Z: Broly—The Legendary Super Saiyan, followed by two movies (three including the new one) and 16 video games.
On December 12th, a day before Broly’s Hollywood premiere, Mignogna discussed his role during a roundtable discussion at the W Hollywood Hotel, along with Joshua Sexton of Geek Impulse.
Joshua Sexton: What is the biggest take away for this film for you?
Vic Mignogna: My biggest take away is going to be the same one that the fans are going to take away, and that is, that this is such a wonderful take on the character of Broly. From what I understand, the original Broly was not Toriyama’s Broly. He didn’t have anything to do with those movies. So, my understanding is that this Broly is Toriyama’s vision for the character and I gotta tell ya, from the moment that I watched it, I loved the added depth and the added dimension to the character that did not ever exist.
Broly is a favorite fan villain, but he has such limited back story. He had no real development at all. So, that was one thing that I always wished were there and this movie scratches that itch very well. So, I think the people that were always fans of Broly are going to love this Broly even more because he’s got more dimension. I think you’ll actually feel for him, for why he is the way he is and what he does. And the fans that may not have been Broly fans will really enjoy him too.
JS: So with that being said—without giving away the movie obviously, unless you want to give the story away?
VM: No, I don’t want to do that. You don’t want to get killed before the movie comes out.
JS: Of course. Is it just because of Toriyama’s take on it, or, does Broly’s character develop into the years?
VM: Well, I mean, the character of Broly to this point in time is basically just a killing machine, a fighting machine.
VM: He just wants to fight, fight, fight, destroy, destroy, kill, kill, “Kakarot,” “Kakarot,” “Kakarot,” right? And while there might be some fun entertainment value to that, it does leave you wondering, “What’s this guy’s story?”
JS: Is there more?
VM: Why? Why is he the way he is and what drives him? Where’s he from? Something more than, “Oh, there was a baby crying in a cradle next to him.” Remember that? I mean, that’s a little lame. So, as much as I love him and was honored to play him, there wasn’t much more than that, and that was always something the fans would say to me. So, I think that the extra dimension and depth that they give him of his background and his history is going to be incredibly moving and compelling. You know, I think the fans are just going to love him and feel for him in a way that they never would have before because there was no backstory really before.
JS: You kind of touched on it a little bit, but how do you really feel personally the fact that Broly is going to be a part of the main story?
VM: I’m thrilled beyond words. When they contacted me 15 years ago to play Broly. I was excited to be a part of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball is iconic. Probably one of the few anime series that was responsible for bringing anime into the mainstream. I was honored and humbled to get to play anybody. My one regret was that he wasn’t part of the real canon of the show and you know, that there wasn’t much story to him and he wasn’t part of the prime universe. So, now that this movie is coming out, I am thrilled that he isn’t just some shallow, big muscle-bound oaf who wants to fight, but a character you will actually feel for and connect with.
Bob Miller: What anecdotes can you share about your recording sessions?
VM: Oh, wow. Many years ago, I was doing an event appearance in New York and I’m pretty sure Caitlin Glass and Laura Bailey and Colleen Clinkenbeard—all Fullmetal Alchemist actresses—we were all there signing. Had a big long table and a girl came up to the table who had a prosthetic limb. She had lost her leg in an accident and she just started sobbing and telling me how much Fullmetal meant to her because she discovered it at the time she lost her leg. The same thing had happened to Ed and he kept moving forward.
It moved me so deeply … and that was the first time. There’ve now been at least two or three other people over the years that came to see me at an autograph signing who had a prosthetic limb. All of which, you know, had a great love for Fullmetal Alchemist because of what it meant to them. And I mean, you can’t buy that kind of an experience, you know what I mean? There’s no dollar value that you could ascribe to that, to that kind of privilege to be a part of something that moves people.
I’ve a room in my house that’s full, literally, of thousands of drawings and paintings and sculptures and stories that are all gifts from fans. And every time somebody hands me something that they drew or painted or sculpted I look at it for a minute, and I look at them, and I imagine them sitting in their room, for hours at a time drawing this thing or painting this thing with the expectation that they’re going to give it to me and this is that moment. They probably anticipated this moment for all the months it took them to do that thing—and I’m so humbled by that.
I know what other people in my life have done to influence me. Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, things that somebody somewhere wrote or created or acted in that inspired me and it never occurred to me that I might get the chance to be one of those people who would go on to inspire others in some way. Inspire them to try acting, inspire them to push through a sickness or a loss, overcome a relationship or an illness or a hardship. Inspire them to paint or draw or sing or write. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that, I don’t think, and I don’t want to ever take that for granted. I want to make sure that every single person who comes up to meet me at an event knows that I’m just as grateful for their kindness as I was 15 years ago when I met somebody then. I hope it never gets old. I don’t think it will.
Forbes magazine reports that in Japan, Dragon Ball Super: Broly earned the equivalent of $18 million in its first 11 days of release. Broly is slated to have its U.S. theatrical release this week, on Wednesday January 16th.
Thanks to Steven Kunz and Jennifer Cruz of Rogers & Cowan for Funimation.