Please tell us your first impression of the character Cell.
When I saw the character design for his first form, I thought maybe he’d say something like “GYAAA” because of his monstrous appearance. The first time I saw Cell, to be honest, I was confused. (laughs)
Did you get any orders or anything from the staff about your performance beforehand?
I didn’t. Only, the character in his first form is ugly, and it would feel unnatural to perform using my natural voice, so there was the difficulty in thinking I had to use a raspy voice. After he changed into his perfect form, though, I was able to perform comfortably.
Did you distinguish your performance for the change from the first form to the second?
The second form is also monstrous, so I took his monster-like voice, breathing, and mannerisms, and performed them more consciously. I formed an image of it while watching the art and the movements.
Does that mean your image of the voice comes into being after seeing the role?
Yes; I think that’s a big part of it. I think there’s not much point in trying to come up with various things about the character in my head. Anime characters are not real people, so they don’t breathe. But I believe that on top of motion, breath also definitely exists in them. So I have to give life to the role while matching that imagined breath.
Out of the three forms, which one was the easiest to perform?
His perfect form. Playing a monster, like his first form, I gave myself a rasp, and couldn’t use my plain voice, so in that respect, I can’t exactly say I enjoyed it, and it would put limitations on my performance, so it was a pain. Relative to that, the perfect form felt good to play, and his appearance is also streamlined and cool, so I like it.
The “bufa” breath when Cell absorbs people is impressive; did you come up with that ad-lib yourself?
Yes, I did. But I do it even better now, though. (laughs) In the profession of acting, if you don’t look back at an old role of yours, and think, “I was bad at it,” there’s no point. Because if you don’t think that, it means you haven’t grown at all.
Was there anything that you gained as a performer in playing Cell?
When it comes to this line of work, rather than gaining, it’s more like spitting it out all the time. (laughs) I’d gain experience or study elsewhere, then spit it back out at work… So there isn’t really anything I’ve absorbed from the characters I’ve played.
How was the atmosphere at the recording studio? Did you have any difficulties in areas like teamwork, having started in the middle of things?
Well, there were a lot of veterans, and there were many performers I’d worked with in the past, so there were no problems whatsoever. The time it took to record was also like that; with a typical animated show, it would take at least three hours, but with Dragon Ball Z, we finished in about two. Recording sessions that finish up that quickly are almost nonexistent.
So it was an environment where you were able to enjoy performing.
Yes, that’s right. It really is no good if it isn’t any fun. That’s because, when it’s fun in the recording studio, a “dream” comes out on the TV screen. If you have nothing but bitter feelings, I don’t think you’d get that “dream”. It’s the best if you’re able to work with “the ultimate playful spirit”.
Finally, a message for Dragon Ball fans!!
I hear that Dragon Ball is the most widely watched work of anime around the world. It’s a rare work indeed among the numerous anime, so please enjoy looking back on it!!
(Recorded 15 April 2004)