I was down at Mikomicon
this weekend on the CSUN campus and we got a chance to sit down with Guest of Honor Kyle Hebert
(Gurren Lagann, Dragonball Z) and talk with him about some of the projects he has worked on and the panel he was running at Mikomicon, DragonBald which was a roast of the Dragonball Evolution movie. Q: What was your favorite anime project to work on?
A: Well there's different roles for different reasons, Dragonball Z was such a huge thing and I was a fan before I got on the show, in the mid 90's, and then the dub switched from Ocean group in Canada to Texas where I was based at the time and I got to audition and get on it. It was like "woah!" a fan's dream come true, I get to work on this show and it was a huge thing and that is pretty much where my voice acting career started. Out of the recent times, I'd say Kamina from Gurren Lagann that meant a lot. Q: I was reading an interview with Bandai over at Anime Almanac about how they were not even going to do a dub for it [Gurren Laggan]? When did they bring you into that process?
A: That's actually a long and complicated story. Sci-Fi came on board and the original rights holder's were ADV out of Houston and then for whatever reason, some legal entanglement, they lost the rights, they had already recorded an entire volume, the first four episodes with a cast and everything, and then it got yanked from them and I felt terrible because I know a lot of those people. And Bandai said "no, we're not going to use the Texas cast, we're just going to recast it in LA." So I got called in to try out for Kamina and Viral, and the rest is history. Q: Speaking of voice acting, you hosted AX [Anime-Expo] Idol 2009, what was it like to see these fans try their talents out at voice acting and singing?
A: It's a lot of fun, I hadn't hosting anything like that before and I knew about the event for years, I had always been co-hosting masquerade. And I would have been there this year but Bang Zoom got to me first and told me they wanted me to host [AX] Idol. It was like, oh ok, this is cool. A change of venue, change of everything really, just a different thing. It ran so smooth though and there's a lot of really talented folks out there and they deserve a chance. It's definitely cool to see all of that come together. I was a little nervous, just because it was my first time, but it ran really really smooth and I hope I can do it again.
Q: What was it like to take over Ken-Goh on Eureka Seven after Bob Papenbrook passed away?
Kyle Hebert and myself
A: That's kind of bittersweet, I was really happy to get on the show because it was on Cartoon Network and getting a lot of exposure and a lot of buzz from the fans. I'm sad that I had to kinda fall into it, just because, you know, you don't want anyone to die. I'd never known Bob, and a lot of the veteran LA voice talent thought he was a great guy and I wish I had a chance to meet him, unfortunetly I didn't. But I was called in to voice match his character and I carried on for all of season two and then the movie. Q: How did you prepare yourself to take over the roll that he had already established and set that characterization with his voice?
A: Literally it's a technical thing, at first with voice matching, you need to sound as much as possible like the original actor. So we did that and then eventually it drifted away and I kind of made it my own and it sounds more like Ganju on Bleach then Bob Papenbrook's Ken-Goh. But Tony Oliver just said, don't worry about it we just want to establish it at first to try and make it as seamless as possible. Then over time, he's not a huge character. I don't really do any preparation, I don't do any breathing exercises, or any sort of mental thing I just kind of get in the zone, it's like I'm doing what I love, it's time to get serious! I'm locked in, it's like, what's my next line, alright lets do this! Q: For people who haven't seen Eureka Seven, the movie is coming out this week, why should they see the movie if they haven't seen the series yet?
A: Well if they're in a market that's actually showing it on the big screen, this is the chance to see anime on the big screen and that's a rare thing. If you are in a town and it's showing by all means, go check it out. Not only is this a cool show, but it's a movie actually an original adventure unlike other movie that will adapt the show and compress it down. Q: So, people don't necessarily need to have seen the series to enjoy this movie?
A: I think it may help, I dunno if it's as cut and dry as say, Serenity, where it introduced everybody to the Firefly cast without having watched Firefly. It's a fuller, more enriching experience if you have seen it [the TV series] before. Q: You did the Big Bald Broadcast, what inspired you to start it?
A: Around 2005 this buzzword "podcasting" comes out and, that gives the power of radio to anyone with a mic and an Internet connection. Before that you had to go apply for an FCC licence, and beg a program director at a local radio station "hey can I have a show?" you wouldn't hear geek news shows, but now there's hundreds and hundreds of them on the Internet but I think that's great! It lets anyone do a show on the radio (Internet be it), but still audio entertainment, live or canned as an MP3. For people to enjoy, for the whole world to enjoy, not just an FM or AM signal that can only reach 25 miles or something, it actually reaches the whole world. And that's just exciting for me, I love being able to do a show about things that interest me. Q: So, for those who haven't heard your podcast what exactly are you talking about on your show?
A: The Big Bald Broadcast was coined by my friend MC Wilson who used to do a videogame podcast called broadcast gamer. He no longer does that, but I kept the name anyway. It's dedicated to all the geeky news you can use, because whether it's video games, movies, comic books, technology, things that are a common interest among fans. You can go up to any anime fan and say "Oh I like videogames", or "I love comic book movies" or something like that. It's kinda just another niche thing, we're not focused on one geek aspect it's just a little bit of everything we report the news and then give our opinion on it. Q: Where can people listen to your podcast?
A: TheBigbaldbroadcast.com Q: What inspired you to do this Dragonball roast panel?
A: Originally I was not going to see the movie because I knew it was terrible because everyone and their dog said it was terrible, and my reaction was "were you really surprised?" But a convention in San Antonio Texas said you know we're going to invite you out as a guest and we want you to roast the movie. And I thought "Oh! I accept your challenge!" So instead of just sticking it in cold and having a room full of people and all just throwing out jokes left and right I decided to reel in the chaos and do it true MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) style. Where those writers will actually study those god-awful movies, watch it over and over again, line by line and craft jokes around it. So that's what I did, I watched Dragonball Evolution a painful amount of times. I actually have a scripted commentary track. Q: Since you're obviously an MST3K fan, what is your favorite movie of theirs that they roasted?
A: Mine is actually "The Amazing Colossal Man" that one has never come out on video though. There's another one called "Daddy-O" which is not sci-fi or horror or anything, it's just bad. It's like a teenage angsty drama, but I love "Daddy-O" "Amazing Colossal Man", any of the Gamra movies. And I prefer Joel, Mike's great but I miss Joel, Joel was the superior host I think. Q: I'm a big fan of World of WarCraft and saw on your credentials that you did some work with them, what was it like doing voice work for Blizzard?
A: It's just like doing any other gig, honestly, just recording different little characters. I knew I was going to be on something big, and it was World of WarCraft! It was very minuscule though, first thing was Burning Crusade, I said four lines as a blood elf. I couldn't even tell you what he said because it was recorded so long ago and we don't get to keep the scripts. Obviously, it's a nice resume padder, one of the most popular games of all time, getting on there, that felt good. And honestly it had more of an impact on me to get Ryu on Street Fighter  just because I am more of a fighting game kind of guy than RPG stuff.
After we concluded our interview we got to sit down for his panel. It was definitely a treat as I had never seen Dragonball Evolution, but had heard about how bad it was. Thankfully Kyle interjected comments and jokes (some obvious, and some not so obvious) similar to a showing of Mystery Science Theater. While the crowd was a little obnoxious at times, yelling out jokes and whatnot, it is a bit expected at an event like this where we're making fun of a movie. The jokes were all fairly good (and yes there was an over 9000 joke), but I felt like there could have been a bit more. There was a lot of time where Kyle wasn't saying anything and we were having to sit through the horror of the movie with no comic relief. If Kyle got another person or two to help him flesh out his script more, and help with the commentary as well I think it could improve from the fun it was.
As far as recommending seeing it if Kyle is at the next convention you go to, I highly recommend it! If you've never seen the movie this is an enjoyable way to finally see it and Kyle's jokes are definitely something that anime fans can appreciate and enjoy ("try reading the source material!"). The next convention that he is scheduled to show this at is Anime Los Angeles, January 8-10
so I highly recommend going to the show to check out Kyle's roast of Dragonball Evolution. Make sure to check out Eureka 7 tonight if you can as well
(click to purchase tickets)!
Also please let me know in the comments if you'd like an audio version of the interview as well, it'll take a bit of work but if enough people request it I will put it out there. Any constructive critisim would be awesome as well as this was my first interview. Also feel free to email me: djtyrant [@] gmail [dot] com or bug me on Twitter: @DJTyrant