Masako Nozawa is a prolific voice actress who has been acting since the 1950s in such Japanese animation classics like Gegege no Kitarō and Galaxy Express 999. To Western fans, however, she’s probably more famous as the Japanese voice of Goku–in fact, she’s been voicing the character since the Dragon Ball anime premiered in 1986 and has even been voicing the character nonstop in video games since 1993.
And Goku’s not the only character she plays in the show; she also plays Goku’s sons Gohan and Goten, his father Bardock, and now in the currently-airing Dragon Ball Super anime, the mysterious Goku Black. With so many characters to voice at once, you’d think it’d be hard to keep up with them all during the recording for the anime. And at her Guinness World Records induction ceremony this past Tuesday, Nozawa admitted that, in fact, it really is.
“I’m fighting alone, after all! Goku and [Goku] Black appear to fight, don’t they? So despite there being plenty of people in the recording studio, I’m fighting alone, going ‘Wah!’ and ‘Bah!’ and all that,” she explained, “The images are so moving so fast, so all I can see are these lines flying across the screen. And when that happens, I can’t tell who’s flying around! So I have to ask: ‘Who’s the character who just went from here to here? Is it Goku? Or [Goku] Black? I have to ask. They move so fast! Zam, zoom, zoom! They’re fighting, and I have to express that with my voice.”
While voice actors in Japan can sit alone in a recording booth and take their time to do their lines when recording for a video game, animation is different–with animation, voice actors are forced to keep up with the images on screen and work off of the other actors around them. According to Nozawa, however, the images they prepare for the recording of Dragon Ball Super can be a little confusing.
“…I apologize to anyone from Toei in the room, but the footage we’re given to go off of are lines. The pictures aren’t completed,” she said, “We all put our voices to the lines.”
But that doesn’t make video game recording as her characters a cakewalk either–with so many characters to record for, including Goku, Gohan, Goten, Bardock, Goku Black, and even Dragon Ball Z movie villain Turles, the amount of lines she has to take during a session is ‘staggering.’ To make things even more difficult, because every line is separate from the next, she’s not allowed to ride on a single emotion–every single line must be acted out differently. She admitted that even compared to recording for animation, recording for games is a more difficult job for her.
Although she was still in her fifties when she began recording as Goku, Nozawa is now in her eighties and is still going strong as the character.
“It feels like I’m living as one with Goku at this point. I really think I am Goku,” she smiled, “After all, once I’m in the recording studio, I’m Goku.”
But to be able to play a variety of such energetic characters, surely she must have some kind of secret for good health? Kiyoshi Hikawa (seen right in the photo above), the enka singer who will be performing the theme song “Genkai Toppa x Survivor” (lit. Limit Break x Survivor; cover seen below) for the new arc of Dragon Ball Super, asked her what gives her so much vigor.
“My secret for good health is to live without a care in the world,” she told Hikawa, who she has been a personal fan of since his debut, “Actually, I’ve never mulled over anything in my life. I live my life with the thought that everything will end up fine in the end as long as I’m alive.”
“But do you do jogging or exercise or anything?” he replied.
“I don’t. I hate [exercise],” she answered, “And you know, I walk in my normal everyday life. That’s exercise. Or at least, that’s what I think. I think everyone should do the same.”
When asked for some information before the newest arc of Dragon Ball Super–the Universe Survival Saga–Nozawa explained that she makes sure she doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the story before it happens so that she can stay in the same mindset as Goku.
“If I ended up taking a peek, I think I would start preparing for what is to come. I don’t want that. I want to be in the recording booth with the same feelings as Goku,” she told reporters, “So yes, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m looking forward to it! Very much so.”
Nozawa’s been voicing Goku in video games for thirty years, and we can’t wait to see her continue to do so in the years to come.