After the success of Goomba VS Koopa and the realization that gag battles would be a perfect fit for Death Battle, I was told to come up with more ideas for hilarious mismatches which would be interesting to watch. One of the first ideas I came up with was Hercule Satan VS Dan Hibiki. We didn’t get around to it until years later, but it was always in the back of my mind.
When it did come together, it was a blast to work on!
I think the voice cast and interpretations of the characters were spot on. After it aired, I did think the episode sort of dragged a bit, which led to an important piece of trivia about Death Battle’s production. After this, I enacted a production rule that script rundown for each character shouldn’t be more than 5 pages. The intention was to create a Death Battle standard where each episode would be between 15 to 20 minutes, depending on amount of information and battle length. This has obviously wavered a lot, but this still set that guideline in motion.
Discovering the in-depth backstories for these characters was actually extremely interesting. Everyone has seen Mr. Satan and Dan in the Dragon Ball Z show and Street Fighter games, but there was so much unseen lore to talk about. I’m curious if many viewers became more sympathetic toward Satan and Dan after watching, because not all of their backstory material was entirely humorful. I know I developed a whole new appreciation for both characters. Like, did you know Sagat is missing an eye because of Dan? Well, specifically Dan’s father... but close enough, right?
Yang VS Tifa was a pretty interesting production. For context, we had not officially merged with Rooster Teeth at the time, nor did we know such a plan was in the works. But thanks to Monty, we had already developed a pretty good relationship with some of the RT staff. Before his passing, Monty and I had already discussed the possibility of bringing a RWBY character into Death Battle. Regardless of who won the match-up, he wanted to see it happen.
Near the end of 2015, Rooster Teeth came to us and proposed doing just that. We made it clear that they would have no say in who won the fight, and it was possible their character would be the one who died. They had no problem with that, and were even willing to let us cast their own actress. The only stipulation we were given was that somewhere in the episode we had to reference that RWBY Season 3 was about to start. I was concerned that, should Yang win, a blunt shout-out might make the whole battle seem like a rigged affair. RT agreed and proposed that we just show the Vytal Festival poster (a recurring advertisement of RWBY Season 3) at some point during the fight. Rooster Teeth as a whole believes in the power of word of mouth. In some cases, just hinting at something rather than drawing attention to it may work out even better.
Unfortunately, having the giant poster drop down right after Yang kills Tifa does give off a somewhat suspicious look. The poster isn’t supposed to be a punchline that the fight was meant to lead up to or anything. This was unfortunately a result of lost time. The original plan was that Yang’s killing blow (which is a really cool use of her unique weapons, by the way) was supposed to happen near a stack of leaflets advertising the Vytal Festival. The leaflets were supposed to get kicked up by the force, blowing around the arena, until one of them smacked into the camera, revealing its printed ad. I wanted to create a cool visual and fulfil our obligation at the same time. But time ran short, and creating the whirlwind of paper would be tough to pull off given our equipment available at the time, so we opted for a giant poster falling down instead.
Frankly, I wasn’t so worried. I was just so blown away that Rooster Teeth would trust us with their character like this. Also, why Yang? Well, I had already learned what happens to Yang at the end of Season 3, so everyone agreed we could take her at her current, well-known potential, which would likely change drastically once she received her robot arm. (Oops! Spoiler!) Since the show was still young and the characters were still improving their own powers they already possessed, it seemed like the best option.
But we haven't forgotten that Ruby VS Maka idea...
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. Do want to see another episode with a RWBY character? What match-up should it be?