What sort of impression did you get when you saw Chi-Chi for the first time?
My impression was, her appearance is cute, but she’s incredibly strong-willed. I tried to perform in a way that preserved that cuteness. Apart from that, I thought I’d just play her naturally. If you over think things, and get stuck on the idea that “this character should have this voice!” from the very beginning, you won’t be able to keep up your performance.
When you started playing Chi-Chi, it was still not long after your debut, correct?
It was back when I’d just started working as a voice actress after leaving the training school. A new show called Dragon Ball was starting, so I did an audition, and got the part of Chi-Chi. And when I went to the studio, there were veterans all around me, starting with Masako Nozawa-san, so I was nervous. I was still a complete amateur, to the point where I’d think, “is it really OK for me to be among them?” (laughs) Anyway, I remember doing things frantically, so as not to be a bother to anyone else.
Chi-Chi has her own unique way of speaking.
Especially in the episode where she first appeared, she had back-and-forth with Goku, so there was a large number of lines… really, seriously a lot. (laughs) In the studio, Kōhei Miyauchi-san (the first Kame-Sen’nin), who’s since passed on, stood at my side and gave me a lot of detailed advice… I will truly never forget that.
At first, Chi-Chi seemed to be a guest-character, but later on, she got married to Goku. (laughs)
That was a surprise! To think she’d marry Goku. (laughs) I never would have thought that little Chi-Chi would grow up and become a wife. I remember this really well, but the series organizer Takao Koyama-san told me, “you’re really lucky, you know”, and I think so, too. I was still new at the time, so if they had known that Chi-Chi was going to marry Goku and become a regular character, this role might not have come to me. (laughs)
What did you think about Chi-Chi having become a mother?
She had suddenly grown up when she appeared again, so I was a bit lost as to how I should play her. But after I did it a few times, I was able to let the tension out of my shoulders, relax, and just perform.
Do you think anything changed about Chi-Chi after she got married?
You can really feel a mother’s strength. She’s always nagging at Gohan to “study!”, but it’s like you can also feel a mother’s kindness in lines like that. She may be harsh towards Gohan, but it also shows a mother-son relationship overflowing with love, and I really liked that. Plus, it felt like it brought him to possess a great inner strength. Since his father Goku was that sort of person (laughs), I suppose his mother had to pick up the slack. (laughs)
Having appeared in Dragon Ball, did you get any reactions from the people around you?
About two years ago, there was a boy from America who was doing a homestay at a house in my neighborhood. When I just casually went over to visit, his host mother introduced me as “a voice actress who appeared in Dragon Ball“, and the boy got all excited, saying, “Really?!” He was incredibly happy about that: “Dragon Ball is also popular in America, and I watch it, too.” I felt [the series’] amazingness even more directly; for something like that to happen, it must be really popular even overseas.
(Recorded 21 April 2004)