8000 Saiyan wrote:I think Hebert does a good job as Gohan. Sure he may sound older than his age, but then again there are a lot of teenagers who sound older than their age. For example, CDB didn't really sound like he was 19 years old as Spider-Man, but he still did an excellent job.
In response to the Spider-Man example, you're taking things out of context and ignoring the differences in the tone of each show as well as the different personalities of these characters. Christopher Barnes was cast in a version of Spider-Man that takes itself very seriously and aims for a more dramatic tone, in that version, the director clearly wanted a voice that matched the tone of the show and cast a lead actor with more gravitas to their voice. Peter Parker was also drawn to look like a young adult rather than a teenager and have more muscular/heroic proportions so the pitch of his voice was appropriate from a visual standpoint too. In contrast to that, more recent cartoon versions of Spider-Man often portray him as a hero that's more silly and cracks more jokes, these versions aim for a less serious, lighthearted and comedic tone so they naturally go for a younger sounding lead actor. Not only does a younger voice fit the tone of those versions of the show and personality of those versions of Spider-Man but it's also more appropriate for the way the character is drawn, with a more childish art style and more slender teenage frame.
As for DBZ/Kai, it's not comparable to 90s Spider-Man. The are plenty of lighthearted and comedic moments so we know the tone of the show isn't one that takes itself too seriously, the Buu arc is even arguably less serious than many of the previous arcs. Gohan's personality in the story isn't that of a serious or cool superhero either, his future counterpart might fit that role somewhat but his Buu arc portrayal is more of an awkward teenager who's capable of cool feats, but is still pretty naive and gentle at heart. It's only at the end of the arc where the story starts to show him in a more serious, heroic and dignified light, but it's clearly not his baseline personality throughout. So you're essentially comparing apples to oranges with that example and it does nothing to justify Gohan sounding the way he does.
I think Kyle's voice only really fit Gohan in terms of his tall appearance but I think we can all understand that a character's voice shouldn't just be cast based on their appearance alone, their personality should also logically factor in. If a character is high spirited and has a good natured, innocent personality then that's going to influence who the director ends up casting, they're going to want someone whose voice naturally conveys as many of those key traits as possible without having to outright say it. Obviously performance does do a lot to help highlight certain personality traits even more but the natural sound of someone's voice will always invoke certain preconceptions that we all immediately recognize, it can go a long way in giving us the right impression of a certain character and invoke the correct emotional response to them whether it be sympathetic, intimidating to "this guy is cool". A good director will recognize this and use those tools to their advantage. We all recognize a heroic voice when we hear it or an innocent/virtuous one and the same goes for age or maturity, some people will just naturally sound younger than their age while others sound older and wiser. I believe Kyle Hebert falls into the latter, he often excels at older male roles and young adults in their 20s, and he's rarely cast as teenagers. When he is cast in a teenage role, it's often because those teenage characters are designed to be cooler, more mature and masculine in relation to the protagonist (such as with Kamina or Ryuji Suguro). If he was truly as effective at voicing regular teenagers then his percentage of teenage roles would be much higher.
I don't find Hebert's Gohan voice that deep. Like I told Nitro, there are a lot of people that sound older than their age. You should know that.
Also, in regards to this real life argument, I don't think it's a valid one when talking about cartoon and anime casting. Just because real life provides us with exceptions to general rules about casting (and people who have voices that don't necessarily match their appearance or personality) doesn't suddenly justify throwing out the rule book and casting anyone in any role. Film and TV productions are highly controlled environments, they use character archetypes and cast voices in a conventional way as shorthand to get the point across quickly and immerse the viewer in the story. If a character sounds jarringly out of place or unfitting in a cartoon it usually breaks your immersion and takes you out of the story, you can get used to a voice over time but that's not an ideal situation for any director. If it's not appropriate for the purpose of storytelling then it's simply got no place in the project. Exceptions in casting do exist but those are usually done with some sort of goal in mind, sometimes a voice breaks convention for comedy reasons, shock value or to contrast with the rest of the cast. Point is, it usually always feels appropriate for what the director wants to convey and isn't just done for random whims like "well, some teenagers sound older than their age so it must be okay". I'd imagine that type of thing only happens if they can't find a better choice of actor and feel the need to justify a less than ideal casting, they might also just have a bias toward using a less fitting actor who brings more star power and name recognition to the project.