The Participants (from left):
Toshio Furukawa (Piccolo)
Mayumi Tanaka (Kuririn, Yajirobe)
Ryō Horikawa (Vegeta)
Masako Nozawa (Goku, Gohan, Goten)
Tōru Furuya (Yamcha)
Hiromi Tsuru (Bulma)
Hirotaka Suzuoki (Tenshinhan)
Tsuru: So was I.
Horikawa: I was just told, “do it”.
Furuya: I didn’t audition.
Nozawa: Lucky you. (laughs)
Furuya: That’s because it’s a supporting role. (laughs)
Horikawa: It’s because Vegeta appears partway through. Maybe that’s why there wasn’t an audition?
Furuya: The show didn’t have very many auditions. The reason is because they used nothing but veteran voice talent.
All: Ohh… (laughter)
Tsuru: I was new. (laughs)
Furuya: You may have been new, but you were good; that’s different. (laughs)
Nozawa: Even so, there truly were a lot [of industry veterans] in the studio.
Tsuru: At the very beginning, I was paired with Mako-san, and I was always nervous…. But my saving grace was Mako-san’s unadorned personality. Up to that point, I had had mostly well-behaved roles, but Bulma was closer to earth (laughs), so she was easy to play.
Suzuoki: Tenshinhan appears partway through; you really feel pressure when you start participating in a series that’s already in-progress. But with Dragon Ball, I was able to to relax and insinuate myself smoothly, in a good way. You know, he started out as an enemy.
Nozawa: That’s right. He was so despicable. (laughs)
Suzuoki: So, in the studio, Mako-san would say things to me like, “what a loathsome jerk”. (laughs) Tenshinhan is different from ordinary humans, but his interactions with Chiaotzu showed his humanity, so I wasn’t very conscious of him not being an earthling.
Furuya: At first, Yamcha was cool. Like a lone wolf in the wilderness. He wasn’t good with women, yet he fell for Bulma, and before you knew it, he became a ladies’ man. (laughs)
Furukawa: Becoming easier and easier to play. (laughs)
Suzuoki: The scenario writer matched him to you, Tōru2. (laughs)
Nozawa: Vegeta took Bulma away from him, though, didn’t he?
Furuya: Even though Yamcha was dead-set on Bulma. (laughs)
Furukawa: I’ve always been full of goodwill towards Mako-san…
Furuya: Full love?
Furukawa: Full of goodwill!3 (laughs) So I was incredibly happy to be able to work together with her. We hadn’t performed together very much prior to that. Mako-san approaches people kindly, even if she only sees them once in a while, so I was able to relax. Only, Piccolo was difficult to do.
Horikawa: The first time I performed together with Mako-san was in Dragon Ball. She was someone I had always admired, so the first time I saw her, I felt like, “Ah! Nozawa-san is here!” With regards to Vegeta, just when I thought he was a fierce-fighting enemy role, he awakened to his humanity, and before you could say, “look at that!” he had a child, and I wondered what would become of him. (laughs)
Tanaka: During the test prior to the actual recording, Mako-san or Jōji Yanami-san would joke around. They were very funny, but at the beginning, I didn’t understand, and I thought, “maybe they’re upset”.
Furuya: It does make you wonder if something’s up. (laughs)
Suzuoki: It’s a pretty strange Nagoya dialect, though. (laughs)
Furukawa: That also left an impression on me.
Nozawa: It really seemed as though [Piccolo] was picking on him. But I like how he idolized Piccolo as his teacher. Goten is a cute kid, isn’t he? He’s not a goody two-shoes, but he’s cheerful, and seems like he might live in your neighborhood.
Furuya: That’s probably something only Mako-san can do. If it were me, I’d hate it. (laughs)
Tanaka: We don’t record separately.
Furukawa: That’s because the lines are close together. If they were further apart, we could do it, though. Normally, we can’t.
Furuya: I know, right?!
Tsuru: I don’t get the romantic process for that part. (laughs)
Nozawa: That’s right; Goku was out of the blue, as well.
Furuya: Really, the second generation needed to be strong, so the child of Yamcha and Bulma just wouldn’t cut it. (laughs)
Tsuru: One day, all of a sudden, she married Vegeta and gave birth to Trunks… “Huh? What just happened here?” is how it felt. (laughs)
Horikawa: There wasn’t even any sort of foreshadowing.
Furuya: At that time, I just wanted to leave the studio and go home. (laughs)
Tsuru: However, after that, I tried to bring myself to love Vegeta, but… it was a struggle. (laughs)
Suzuoki: The process of Tenshinhan becoming a good guy along the way was fun. In the second half, he doesn’t have many appearances… he’s weak. (laughs) He would fight, at least, but he’d lose immediately, and go back to not showing up. The intervals got wider… like the Olympics.
Furuya: Just participating has significance. (laughs) Yamcha was that way, too. And on top of that, in the end, he says, “I’m not going,” and stops participating. (laughs) Once upon a time, there was a cool Yamcha, training together with Kuririn, but….
Tanaka: It was only training. (laughs)
Furuya: Yes, he didn’t have any real battles. To be honest, I asked the director, Yamauchi-san, “Make Yamcha cool”. Maybe he threw that in there for me. (laughs)
Furukawa: For Piccolo, it begins and ends with his training scenes with Gohan. It got an incredible reaction from the fans, as well. And also, what made an impression on me because it’s not like Piccolo was the scene where he made a pun.
Nozawa: Yes, that’s right; that was unexpected. (laughs)
Furukawa: He goes to get a driver’s license, and his driving is lousy. (laughs) I also strained my voice in an episode, about half of which was constant fighting. That’s because everyone’s energy level was amazing. Also, in fighting scenes, it would look as though he had multiple hands, and when I tried to match my voice to that, it was rough.
Furuya: You have to leave the appropriate amount of space. (laughs)
Horikawa: What left an impression on me with Vegeta was Goku’s line to him, “You must feel a terrible regret,” when he was killed by Freeza. He was highly conscious of his elite status, and yet he made a tearful plea to Goku. I felt a sort of sorrow. And also, the scene towards the end, where he whispers to Goku, “You’re number one.”
Nozawa: But the scene where he embraces Trunks was good, too.
Horikawa: Ah, that part was good, too. “Take good care of Bulma—of your mother.”
Tsuru: I wasn’t there at the time, but I heard about it afterwards, and I was moved.
Horikawa: [Vegeta] expressing his love for Bulma with that sort of line is something that’s hard for Toriyama-sensei to do.
Tanaka: To be honest, as far as I’m concerned, Kuririn suddenly growing hair is something that doesn’t sit well with me. (laughs) I thought he’d had that look because of religious reasons, after all…. Maybe he did it because #18 called him an old, bald midget, but I think I’d really like an episode where he ends up growing his hair out….
Suzuoki: “Hair” this, “hair” that; say that it’s the hair on his head, already!6 (laughs)
Tanaka: (laughs) …Anyway, Kuririn having grown out the hair on his head was the thing that left the deepest impression on me.
Nozawa: Really, when it comes to Kuririn, he’s [got to be] bald.
Tanaka: And also, it was a shock when Kuririn died for the first time. Tenshinhan won the championship at the Tenka’ichi Budōkai, and Kuririn went back to get something Goku forgot….
Nozawa: It was so sudden, and in the middle of a gentle mood.
Tsuru: That’s because you didn’t think he’d come back to life time and time again. (laughs)
Tanaka: Dragon Ball is amazing. Even when you die, you show up again with a halo. (laughs)
Horikawa: Yūji Mitsuya-san really cracked up at that one. (laughs)
Tanaka: What made me laugh the most was Suzuoki-san’s “squeaky shoe incident”. A noise was getting into the recording, so there was a big fuss over what the sound might be. (laughs)
Suzuoki: I didn’t even realize it, myself. There was a, squeak-squeak, whenever I walked, but I had no idea that it was me.
Horikawa: Are they those shoes little kids wear?
Suzuoki: No, no; just regular shoes.
Furuya: They don’t look like the kind of shoes that would make noise.
Suzuoki: For a while, Yanami-san would say to me, “Those shoes wouldn’t make noise, would they”. (laughs)
Furukawa: Come to mention it, it was really funny when Junpei Takiguchi-san read “Son” as “Mago”.7 (laughs)
Horikawa: But if you did that, Suzuoki-san, we’d immediately know that you were looking for a laugh.8 (laughs)
Furukawa: It was right there just as he turned the page, so it caught him by surprise. (laughs)
Nozawa: The scene early on where Piccolo laid an egg was disgusting.
Furuya: Also, Takeshi Aono-san is good at those disgusting things.
Tsuru: It felt like, “Don’t ever lay another one!” (laughs)
Furuya: This isn’t really about the recording, but a while back, I told a boy in elementary school, “I play Yamcha in Dragon Ball,” and he said, “Really? Yamcha?…”9 (laughs)
Tanaka: That’s because little kids like strong characters. Even I will say things like, “Kuririn and Yamcha are the strongest earthlings. The rest of them are all aliens.” (laughs)
Nozawa: The other day, I was at an izakaya10. And the university student sitting next to me made a big fuss, saying, “It’s Goku’s voice, Masako Nozawa!” He told me, “I’ve been a fan since I was in elementary school.” But we really have been doing it for that long, haven’t we? (laughs)
Horikawa: Way back, a woman with dyed-brown hair, who looked like she was in a motorcycle gang, called out to me. Just when I thought she was going to deck me, she said, “Vegeta-san, please shake my hand”. (laughs)
Tanaka: There was an anime-original story where Kuririn likes this girl named Maron; at that time, we received a lot of letters: “Why does Kuririn like that girl?!”
Nozawa: When Goku got married, as well, we got letters saying, “Why?”
Furukawa: While I was appearing in Dragon Ball, the elementary school I graduated from had its 100th anniversary; I was asked to do a speech, so I went. I signed something like 500 autographs for the kids, so it was rough, but at that time, they had a commemorative tree-planting, and a sign saying “Piccolo’s Tree” was hanging from it.
Nozawa: Wow, that’s really nice.
Furuya: Even now, I feel as though he’ll just show up in the studio all of a sudden.
2 Suzuoki deliberately refers to him here by his given name and without an honorific, emphasizing the backhanded compliment he’s giving him.
3 The pun here in Japanese is 好意 (kōi; “goodwill”) vs. 恋 (koi, “love”).
4 A sentence-ending typical of northern Kantō and Tōhoku, with the meaning of Standard Japanese “~darō”.
5 “What’re you talkin’ aboot?”, akin to Standard “Nani itte ‘ru n da?” and not from the same part of Japan as the previous phrase.
6 The word Tanaka uses means “hair” in general, such as body hair, as well as fur, and Suzuoki is needling her for it.
7 “Grandson”; an alternative reading of the Chinese character for Goku’s surname. This mistake was apparently hilarious enough to those present that they passed it on to castmembers who were not around to witness it; Yūko Minaguchi (voice of Videl and Pan) recounted the incident in a blog post mourning Takiguchi’s death in 2011.
8 Suzuoki also played the announcer at the Tenka’ichi Budōkai, who made a similar mistake in the story the first time Goku entered, although the character’s voice at the time was Kenji Utsumi, rather than Suzuoki.
9 I’m not sure if the disappointment gets through in translation, but that’s what he’s trying to say.
10 A sort of Japanese-style bar and grill, with plentiful food and drink. Popular among people going out for the evening with friends.
11 Presumably the franchise’s 10th anniversary movie (“The Path to Ultimate Strength”), which was recorded earlier that year, and had a larger role for the character which was filled by Kin’ya Aikawa.