TV Anime Guide: Dragon Ball Tenka’ichi Densetsu

Kame-Sen’nin…as voiced by…Hiroshi Masuoka

He was an uninhibited character, so I was able to slip into the role without faltering. (Masuoka)

What were your thoughts when you first saw Kame-Sen’nin?
I heard that the one who played him previously was Kōhei Miyauchi-san, and I thought, “ah, I see”. However, I can’t bring out the same flavor that Miyauchi-san could, and I thought that I shouldn’t simply do an impression of him. Because of that, I imagined how I would play him if I had had the role of Kame-Sen’nin since the very beginning. Actually, my role as Masuo in Sazae-san1, which I’ve played for 30-plus years, I took over from someone else about four-and-a-half years after it started airing2. I had experience from that time as well, so when I took over this role, I thought it would be best if I didn’t concern myself with the previous actor’s performance. Kame-Sen’nin’s personality is the uninhibited sort, where he immediately says what he’s thinking, which was a big help. I can play this sort of character relatively easily, so I was able to slip into the role without faltering.
As the story progressed, were there any changes in the way you played the character?
He suddenly blurts out perverted things, so at the beginning, I wondered, “Is it OK to say this sort of thing?” But once I realized that that kind of liberated behavior was part of Kame-Sen’nin’s charm, I worked to say his lines in a loud voice, without holding back. (laughs) I played him the opposite of his age, more childish than a child.
In your view, Masuoka-san, what is Dragon Ball’s appeal?
It’s how it’s overflowing with energy to the point of bursting, and gives the people watching a sense of freedom. Also, I believe that life is, in many ways, a series of battles; it’s wonderful how that steadfastly unchanging theme, and an illogical fun, can exist simultaneously. I think that Toriyama-sensei, who made this kind of story, is a truly amazing person.
As you see it, Masuoka-san, what sort of character is Son Goku?
I like how he wants to see for himself things he doesn’t understand, and tries doing new things without hesitation. With kids these days, even if they have knowledge, they’re lacking in experiences, don’t you think? I would be positively overjoyed if the children who watch this work were to embrace the same attitude as Goku in that respect.
Did you know of Dragon Ball as a work prior to appearing on it?
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t watch very much TV, so I didn’t know a lot about it… However, I had heard that it was a very energetic work, and that the cast was top-tier.
How was it performing together with Masako Nozawa-san, who played Goku?
I’ve had a respect for Nozawa-san since way back, so it was fun. There are no voice actors with intuition as great as hers. She accurately grasps a role after seeing the character just once. That ability is genius. Also, she laughs a lot. She possesses the emotions of one who looks over every nook and cranny of everything, and derives enjoyment from interesting things several times greater than other people, so that’s probably why she can perform so wonderfully.
Now then, finally, please give us a message for the fans.
The DVDs are going on sale, so by all means, I’d like you to give it another viewing. And, I would be overjoyed if you could feel something from Son Goku’s energetic way of living, and make it into your own source of power. If the opportunity arises, I’d like to play Kame-Sen’nin again3.

(Recorded 5 April 2004)

The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information and were not originally published in the book.

1 Sazae-san, originally a newspaper comic strip by Machiko Hasegawa which ran from 1946 to 1974, spawned an animated adaptation that began airing in 1969 and forgot to stop. It is and has always been the single most popular anime on TV in Japan, despite people outside the country having never heard of it.
2Masuoka took over the role from Shinsuke Chikaishi in 1978, after just shy of nine years, and had only been doing the role for 25-plus years at the time of the interview; he’s still playing the part as of 2013, though, which makes that part true now.
3Masuoka continued to voice Kame-Sen’nin until 2008, for video games and the Jump Super Anime Tour special. From the start of Dragon Ball Kai in 2009, however, he was replaced by Masaharu Satō.
English Translation: Julian
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