From Kaggy to CyYu, Alejandro Saab’s fingerprints are all over online fandom

From Kaggy to CyYu, Alejandro Saab’s fingerprints are all over online fandom

Alejandro Saab’s journey through content creation is a whirlwind of different faces and paths. But the voice actor and VTuber has remained true to himself through it all, forging a unique identity from any other online creator.

Alejandro Saab. KaggyFilms. CyYu. Those are just a few of the names the energetic voice actor, content creator, and now VTuber goes by.

All of those names represent an era of his very storied life. There’s hardly a thing in the creative fields he hasn’t done. He’s got his fingerprints all over the anime you watch, the streams you throw on in the background, and the early days of YouTube you reminisce about.

It all spurs from one nagging voice in the back of his head, wanting to “play pretend” and make others laugh as a result.

“My [voice acting] teacher, Richard Horvitz… described it [in a] way that made me realize ‘oh this is the thing I want to do’ and it’s just playing pretend so well you get paid,” he explained to Dexerto. “And I was like ‘Wow, I kind of love that actually.’”

And while the early days were very heavy on the roleplay element, as time has gone on, Saab has opened up to share more parts of himself. It’s now less about playing pretend all the time ⁠— he has his characters ⁠— but being genuine to the audience who has followed him for more than a decade.

No matter the identity you know him by, Saab has likely had an effect on your internet life. And he was candid in sharing how they all lead to one uniform identity he holds today.

From Kaggy to CyYu, Alejandro Saab’s fingerprints are all over online fandom

CyYu may be his most recent form, but Alejandro Saab has been a mainstay of online content creation for nearly 15 years.

KaggyFilms, the YouTuber

Let’s start back in 2010. Kaggy, as he was begrudgingly known (the full name was Kagmast3r, the shortened version took some time to get used to), was a high schooler with a dream.

He was making machinima, a staple of early content creation online using video games to make short films. It was popularized by the likes of Rooster Teeth with their Red vs Blue series in Halo in the 2000s (which Kaggy also dabbled in), but its roots are set in even earlier titles like Quake. The format continues to this day through films set in Minecraft and Fortnite.


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After a few months producing under the KaggyFilms moniker, he got the opportunity to join the official Machinima network, then one of the behemoths of YouTube. As a 14-year-old, it was one hell of a way to earn some pocket money.

“They were like ‘Do you want to upload on our channel? We will give you money!’ And I was like sure. It was depending on the views obviously, but they had this subsidiary called MachinimaRealm which was where all the fantasy stuff went up.”

Things really took off when commentary was looped into his content. It eventually overtook everything he did. KaggyFilms became a place for Dragonball Z reactions, and whatever flavor of the month games or anime took his interest.

It wasn’t a surefire success, given how back then reaction content was seen with more ire than it is even nowadays.

But literally overnight, Kaggy’s popularity skyrocketed. He went from 1,000 YouTube subs to 10,000, no small feat in the platform’s early days. It was more than just pocket change for him too ⁠— those early YouTube payouts were giving him a couple thousand dollars a month. Instead of having to work a fast food or retail job, he could make these fun films and random reactions.

“A buddy of mine was like ‘Have you tried doing commentary?’ At the time there was a stigma to doing commentary if you were also making Machinima, like ‘that’s the lazy content!’ You know, the stigma people have to reaction content.

“Then one day I did it for fun, I think it was parkouring in Minecraft, and people really liked it.”

This was creatively liberating for Kaggy, and the values are something he’s carried with him throughout his journey through voice acting, VTubing, and beyond.

“I’m the kind of guy who is like ‘This seems like fun, I’m going to try it out!’ I get so many people being like ‘How do I get into voice acting? How do I get into VTubing? How do I get into content creation?’ And I’m like ‘Just try it.’ Because that’s what I do,” he explained.

“I’ve gone through different eras of trying stuff, and if I don’t like it then I don’t do it. If I love it, I keep doing it and I push for it. I started off with Machinima because I liked the idea and I was like ‘Oh this gives me a creative idea to do this.’ The commentaries I was a little against, but I tried it and I liked it. Same with reactions, same with streaming.

“There was even a time where ⁠— I love animated stories on YouTube. Like JaidenAnimation, TheOdd1sOut, Let Me Explain Studios. And I was like ‘I have stories to tell, let me try and use this failed animation degree I never got.’ I did enjoy it. The problem was I didn’t have the time.”

That’s not to say everything he did on YouTube tickled his fancy. He tried puppeteering, which while he enjoyed it, the content matter of promoting dubbed anime didn’t really click. He also tried putting the news anchor hat on, and while he could pull off the voice, it was soul-draining.

“There was a time period where I was reporting on Dragonball news like ‘this just in, they just announced a new Dragonball movie! What could it be? We don’t know!’ And I felt like ‘This just isn’t me.’ I was clearly trying to play the algorithm.”

But this era of Saab’s life, as Kaggy, is one filled with nostalgia. Content creation was simpler, especially before the YouTube ‘adpocalpyse’. While he’s not rushing to turn back the clock ⁠— the new era of content online has been a boon for him personally and professional ⁠— there is a twinge in his voice highlighting a certain innocence he misses.

“It was such a different time,” he continued. “I had this conversation with people that now a lot of bigger YouTubers ⁠— MrBeast, Ludwig, even CDawg ⁠— they make these bombastic shows, it’s almost like TV.

“MrBeast right, It’s like ‘welcome to my crib’ but times 20. Ludwig with his Chessboxing, CDawg with his auctioning stuff, and that’s not even to include all the VTubers. There’s a lot of tournaments with money involved, and I’m like ‘Wow, YouTube and Twitch has just become television, independent television.’ There are sponsors, but it’s crazy how different it is.”

Alejandro Saab, the VA

Animation wasn’t just a passion for Saab. It was his purpose in life. So it was a shock to him when he slowly fell out of love with the creation of animation.

“I have always been a sucker for animation. As a kid, I was a fan of Looney Tunes, Fairly OddParents, Spongebob, TMNT, so all these different cartoons and even anime. For the longest time, I thought I wanted to make the cartoons.

“Up until college I was studying animation, and on the side in high school I got into acting and I was like ‘I really like this too.’ And after a year of going to Savannah College of Art and Design, which is a really good animation school, I didn’t have fun.

“For me, when it comes to something I want to do with my life, if I’m not having fun then I don’t want to do it. So after a year of essentially animating a sack of flour and getting a B-, I was like ‘I didn’t have fun at all doing that’ so I dropped out.”

It was perhaps the best decision he ever made. Kaggy didn’t die the moment Saab went to animation school, but what sprouted was perhaps the thing he is most known for ⁠— voice acting. He could still “play pretend” in those animated universes, but use his booming voice instead.

Saab’s credits are some of the most illustrious in English voice acting, especially in the anime dubbing sphere. My Hero Academia, Haikyuu, Tokyo Ghoul, Demon Slayer, Boruto, and Vinland Saga are just some of the anime he’s lent his voice to.

Games-wise, you’ve heard him in Granblue Fantasy, Borderlands, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Fire Emblem, God of War: Ragnarok, and the Persona series.

But there’s a few gigs that stand out above the rest for Saab.

“Emotionally, I have a lot of projects that I’ve had the honor of working on.

“Horimiya [where he plays Izumi Miyamura], to this day, is one of my dear favorite ones because it means so much to me,” he said.

“It’s about this high school kid falling in love and at the time I was recording the show, I was at the point in my life where I was about to propose to my now-married spouse [Hayden Daviau]. In the show they essentially propose and I was like ‘Oh, I’m in that part of my life!’”

Then there’s Genshin Impact. In the online sphere, this was probably the gig that catapulted Saab to true stardom.

“Genshin made people realize ‘Oh I’ve been hearing this guy for years,’” he explained. “I’ve had so many people come up to me at conventions, or on Twitter or my stream, and they’re like ‘Wait you voiced all these characters?’

“The crazy part is voicing Cyno has made people realize ‘Oh he’s voiced my childhood’ or ‘he’s voiced like 50 bajillion things I’ve watched but it didn’t register.’”

It’s no secret before he got the invite to become the rather blunt General Mahamatra, Saab was a massive Genshin fan. He was playing the game on stream, talking about it online.

And in the background, he was desperately trying to get his voice into the game.

He had read lines for Aether, Diluc, Kaeya, Ayato, and Zhongli, but “none of them stuck”. This leads us to one very serendipitous audition story, where sometimes just showing up is all you need to do because life has a way.

“I was at a convention… I remember I got those auditions, my voice wasn’t up to snuff, and I had to do it in the hotel room because they were due that weekend. This was in May 2022, I hear nothing.

“August comes around, Cyno is supposed to come out second week of September. I get a phone call, it’s the director. He’s like ‘Hey, we’re trying to cast this character. We’ve been having a bit of trouble. And we’re looking for someone who is Middle Eastern as well.’ And I’m okay, cool, that’s me. And they’re like ‘Cool, we’re going to have a callback for you next week.’”

The callback went well, leading to “the longest week” of Saab’s life.

“It was the last week of August, Friday morning, I get an email. And they were like ‘Hey, congratulations, we want you as Cyno. We need you all of next week from 10AM to 2PM every day.’ I remember when I read that email, I started crying. I really wanted this character and I really wanted to be in Genshin.

“The moment we finished recording, the following days, they announced I was voicing Cyno, and they announced he was coming out the week after. And I had so many people go like ‘Oh my god, how did you not tell me? You’re the best at keeping secrets!’ And I was like ‘keeping secrets? I found out a week ago!”

However while Genshin Impact (and Honkai: Star Rail, where he voices Jing Yuan) have gained him online cred, it’s Hell’s Paradise which is giving him the chance to meet fans at conventions.

“When I was recording it, I was trying to get back to my partner because I was doing a lot of traveling and they were stuck in one place and I was like ‘Oh man, this is life imitating art,’” he explained about the show’s sentimentality to him.

“I love this show, and it can be a bigger title, but people don’t know that it has an anime or even a dub.

“Look at Jujutsu Kaisen or Demon Slayer. When the Infinity Train saga came out, way more people talked about it than they did the first season. Same with My Hero Academia. It’s a trend I’ve noticed while working in the dub space and at conventions, usually when it comes to their first seasons, folks don’t even realize it because folks are just waiting for more episodes so they can binge it.”

The evolution of English voice acting

This led us down a tangent on the voice-acting space and how it’s evolved since Cyyu got his break in 2015. He’s seen trends come and go, opinions evolve.

So let’s get one of the more contentious ones out of the way: dubs versus subs. There are many purists who believe Japanese is the only language you can listen to anime (or anime-style content) in. Never mind the fact the medium has taken hold in China, Korea, and other nations.

Early on in English-speaking anime fandom, dubs were cast aside. Even classic quality examples like YuYu Hakusho or Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood were neglected. However, audiences have slowly warmed up to them over time.

“Folks will complain but it’s contradicting how they all feel differently. Some people will be like ‘This guy’s voice is too deep, this guy’s voice is too goofy, it should be deeper’ ⁠— all talking about the same character.”

“One of my buddies had to switch the Dragonball dub to Japanese. It wasn’t because the dub was bad, but it was because he said ‘I’m sick and tired of hearing the same fighting line in loop every time.’ And I was like ‘interesting.’ Because you can’t understand it, even though they’re saying the same thing identically, it’s fine.”

That’s where simuldubs ⁠— dubbed shows dropping at the same time as their original language release ⁠— come into play. Saab recounts one specific conversation he had with a director about why there was a big push towards making sure there were “same-day dubs.”

“He told me it was all about first impressions. Because the first voice you hear out of a character, whether it’s Japanese or English, that’s the blueprint for that character.

“There are people who prefer the Japanese or the English ⁠— hell some people will watch the Spanish dub, they’ll still see the English subtitles. I don’t think there is a wrong answer. You can watch it in any language, because it’s your preference.”

From Kaggy to CyYu, Alejandro Saab’s fingerprints are all over online fandom

If you want to get into dubbed anime, Saab recommends giving FMA a whirl.

This brought us to diversity in voice acting. Saab comes from a Middle Eastern background, something which has led him to be cast in roles like Cyno. But he’s not been specifically pigeonholed to his identity.

“One thing I’m not a fan of is how folks are like ‘Oh this is just a diversity cast for the sake of wokeness.’ And I’m like ‘shut the f**k up.’ If they’re the best for the job, they’re the best for the job, but you have to put some respect on their culture and the character.”

This issue is especially prevalent for LGBT ⁠(and even more specifically transgender) voice actors. It is notoriously hard in entertainment to be cast in a role that affirms your identity. More often, trans voice actors get typecast too.

But the thing about diversity in voice acting isn’t that more actors can be involved ⁠— it’s that anyone can play any character.

“The end goal wasn’t that we limit actors to these specific generalizations. The point was everybody gets equal opportunity. Doesn’t matter what your background is, everybody does. I know a lot of folks are like ‘the best person is the one for the job’, that should be it, but it can’t be it if not everyone gets the same opportunity.”

We ended on AI in voice acting, something Saab has used his platform numerous times to condemn: “I don’t believe AI has a place in the arts.

“As a tool? Yes. But creating stuff, stealing from artists or voice actors or sculptors… if it’s stealing it’s not right. If it’s used as a tool [it’s fine], like in animation with tweening where you place one thing here and then there, and then it’ll automatically do the movement animation.”

That’s not to say all voice acting is bad ⁠— CyYu cited an example with Ironmouse creating a text-to-speech program with Connor ‘CDawg’ Colquhoun which was “consensual”. But it gets murky in the case of James Earl Jones.

“He consented to AI being used for Darth Vader for the Kenobi show. And I understand the reason is probably because he got millions in a buyout and he’s giving that back to his family ⁠— that’s my headcanon. But you took the moment of passing the torch to a newer actor… it’s a double edged sword because depending on who you ask, someone is selfish.

“Unfortunately in the future, it’s going to be a bigger issue, but there’s so much sh*t that’s not cool. A lot of illegal sh*t. Taking people’s voices, faces, art, their hard work. Hell, Despicable Me made fun of it! That was the funniest thing. So I’m just like ‘bro, get your sh*t together.’”

CyYu, the VTuber

Now let’s flash forward to 2021. Saab is wanting to branch out creatively yet again, and here appears VTubers. He fires off a rogue tweet asking whether he should get involved, and the aforementioned Ironmouse finds him and eggs him on.

While his mind was already semi-made up by the time he sent the tweet, the encouragement was a very wanted push. What came next was building the plane while it was flying. What would he use as his design? What did he need to set things up?

Well it started with his cover band We.B. He had the CyYu character mascot as a frontman, and so why not turn it into a moving character like the dozens he’s dubbed before?

“Worst case scenario I don’t like VTubing and I have a mascot for the cover band. Best case scenario, I have a VTuber and a mascot for the cover band,” he laughed.

“It stemmed from there, and then I really enjoyed it ⁠— a lot more than I thought I would. I’ve been doing this for almost three years, and in these three years, I’ve found way more success VTubing than anything I did with IRL content creation.”

CyYu gave him the creative freedom he chased since he was 14 making those machinima back in 2010. No longer was his content tied to the algorithm game, CyYu could do what he wanted and people would be there for him.

“I enjoy it a lot more because a good amount of my audience doesn’t care what I play or what I talk about, they’re like ‘I’m here for you because you’re funny’ and I appreciate that. With Kaggy, it was either Dragonball, reactions, or nothing.

“I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m not who I am. People knew right away ‘oh this is Alejandro, this is Kaggy.’ Some people didn’t, some people still don’t know which is funny.

“But apart from all of that, I feel like I can play and do whatever and people will listen rather than just ‘oh it’s not Dragonball? I’m out of here. Or he’s not reacting to so-and-so? I’m out of here.’ People actually want to get to know me, funnily enough.”

CyYu, as a character, also gave him the chance to branch out and build new relationships.

“I’ve started collabing with different groups of people because my older friends ⁠— and we still talk ⁠— they’re all in the Dragonball space and Yu-Gi-Oh. I definitely collab with VTubers, but the main group I collab with is Monarch, Jowol, and MissShadowLovely.

“The benefit of that group with Liz, Jowol, Ama is I’ve known them before VTubing. I’ve known Ama for years, Liz I’ve known for less than that, and while Jowol is definitely the newest we talked a lot prior and we’ve hung out a few times so I’m used to him.

“I can’t remember who wrangled us together, but we all clicked and it was super fun.”

How three threads connect into a unified identity

Whenever CyYu goes to a convention now, he can date his fans by the way they introduce themselves to him.

“I’ve had people who will recognize me as CyYu. Some will know me as both CyYu and the voice actor, but some just know me as the voice actor and they had no idea I was a VTuber. Then there are some people who are like ‘Oh I loved you as Kaggy, I remember back in the day…’ and I’m like ‘damn you’ll bring back the past.’

“There are a small group of people ⁠— well, a good amount of people will always be embarrassed to bring it up ⁠— but they’ll be like ‘yeah I knew you from your dark days’ and what the hell are those? But I used to voice this character named Jean from the Aphmau series.

“Aphmau is this YouTuber and she’s very popular and she used to do essentially Machinima, roleplays of these Minecraft stories she’d write. They’re like ‘I loved you as Jean, he was so mean’ and yeah he was kind of a d*ck and I loved it.

“But it’s very interesting that after all these years it’s come clashing into ‘Oh, you’re all the same person? That’s really cool, I didn’t know I was a fan of you for so long until I came up to the table and realized.’”

Not only are his own personal worlds colliding, the industries he works in are as well. With the rise of TikTok, voice actors have hopped onto short-form content. What was once frowned upon within the community is now seen as a necessity.

To CyYu, this a funny reversal: “This is going to be the most boomer-sounding talk ever ⁠— when I was starting out in voice-over, there was a stigma towards being a content creator when you’re a voice actor.

“It still happens. I got that because of Persona 3 Reload, where they’re like ‘Oh they got rid of so-and-so for a YouTuber?’ Or it happened to YongYea for being the voice of Kiriyu. I used to get it from certain peers where they’re like ‘Oh you do YouTube? Okay, that’s whatever I guess.’

“I do find it ironic because now voice actors are wanting to get into content creation or VTubing because it’s like ‘Oh I could make money from home and then I will be free to be scheduled.’ I’ll get messages about ‘how do I start in VTubing’ and I’m like ‘Just don’t spend $10,000 at once.’

“I’ve even had fans ask me ‘to be a voice actor, do I have to make content on YouTube?’ No you don’t have to do that. Do it if you want to, but you don’t have to.”

With all his lived experience, CyYu is now using his platform to share his insights on the industry ⁠— much like he did above on the hot topics in voice acting.

“There are times where I want to treat this as an escape from the real world because the real world can be a bit scary, especially with the current climate.

“But I try to educate them on the industry and once you get the ball rolling, how busy it is. I would stream for longer hours if I had the time, but my day goes from usually 9AM until 6PM. Recently I had to go from 10AM to 10PM just doing voice-over.”

If you ask CyYu now whether he would travel the same path he did, or whether he would just insert himself into one identity and finesse that, the choice is simple.

“I feel like if I didn’t do the KaggyFilms stuff, I could not have done the voice-over stuff. I wouldn’t have had the means to do the voice-over. And if I didn’t do the voice-over stuff, then my VTubing stuff wouldn’t have taken off as much as it has.”

And although he wears many hats and is known by many names, just don’t call him a Peppa Pig fan.

“So many folks give me Peppa Pig garbage and they know it will upset me,” he laughed. “One of them gave me a heart-shaped bouquet with a Peppa Pig in the center.

“I enjoy the meme. If I didn’t, I would not be a good sport about it. But so many folks give me Peppa Pig stuff that I’m like… I can’t be mad. I continue to tell the stories online. This is on me.”

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