What was your first impression of Bulma?
No matter who looks at her, [they can tell] she’s strong-willed and has a big ego… right? (laughs) I hadn’t done many energetic roles like this one up until then. So I really wanted to do it!
Did your impression of “strong-willed with a big ego” stay the same all the way to the end?
It didn’t change very much, no~. However, at the beginning, Bulma was completely self-centered, but I was conscious of her growing older. Becoming an adult, and having children… she mellowed out a bit. She became a proper mother, so she couldn’t do all those crazy things like before. (laughs).
What did you think about her getting old? (laughs)
With the other characters, their appearance doesn’t change very much, so it was a bit lonesome being the only one aging. (laughs) In the TV special, a future Bulma appears; even at the recording, I thought, “don’t let your hair go like that~!” I felt from up close that even Bulma had reached middle age, getting more and more wrinkles. (laughs)
Where do you think Bulma’s appeal lies?
From the perspective of fans of Goku, it seems they thought of her as an “unpleasant girl,” with her always saying selfish things. But, I thought, it can’t be helped; this is who Bulma is. Seeming well-grounded, yet also having points that are lacking. Like, flashing [Kame-Sen’nin] without any panties on. (laughs) She’s a character I just love!
Were there any characters that you voiced, apart from Bulma?
Other than Bulma, I actually did Trunks’ voice, too, when he was a baby. Although it was just crying. (laughs) I don’t think I appeared in the credits. Also, I did Bulma’s daughter Bra, as well.
Are there any scenes that left an impression on you?
Definitely the part where she’s not wearing any panties. (laughs) That, and the first episode, where she first met Goku.
Was Bulma conscious of Goku as a man? [In other words, did she think of him in romantic terms?]
In Bulma’s case, she had Yamcha, so I think she was conscious of him more as a friend than as a man. So didn’t love him as a man, but a dear friend. [i.e. it was a platonic, rather than romantic, love.]
How did you feel about her not marrying Yamcha, and suddenly marrying Vegeta?
The marriage to Vegeta was a surprise. (laughs) The other cast members thought Yamcha and Bulma would get married, too. So everyone was taken aback! Even Furuya-san, who plays Yamcha, and Horikawa-san, who plays Vegeta, went “Whaaa—?!” (laughs)
Did your impressions regarding Bulma change after she married Vegeta?
As far as I’m concerned, she got with Vegeta before she was emotionally prepared for it. So I played her with the feeling of, “What is it you like about Vegeta?” or “What happened, Bulma?” (laughs) Even now, I still don’t know what she saw in Vegeta. (laughs)
Are there any memorable scenes for you involving Vegeta?
I cried at the part where Vegeta died, and he told Trunks, “Take good care of your mother”… Especially since there were no scenes at all where the two of them tell of their love for each other… But I understood that looking out for Bulma was also a part of Vegeta, so I cried when I saw that scene in the broadcast. It felt like, at long last, his feelings reached Bulma’s, or rather, my, heart.
Where do you think the appeal of the Dragon Ball series lies?
I think it definitely has everything to do with the character of Goku. It would be nice if there were a guy like that in real life. I personally like the time period where he’s a pure child.
What episodes do you like out of the series?
I liked the times when they did the Tenka’ichi Budōkai! However, I recently watched all the episodes of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, in one go. I didn’t appear very much in Z, so there were episodes that I missed, but in watching it again, I was moved at “how amazingly fun it is”! (laughs)
What enemies do you like or dislike?
Cell… I hate. (laughs) He was really, really strong. Boo is cute… right? The part where he’s living with Satan is a particular favorite of mine.
How was it performing alongside Masako Nozawa-san?
It was really fun! Masako Nozawa-san is a veteran [of the profession]. And yet, I had the privilege of working in combination with her. I was incredibly happy about that! The studio had nothing but veterans, which you can hardly imagine today, so I really learned a lot. That, and thanks to Nozawa-san’s attentiveness to people’s needs, the studio was always in a state of harmony. Nozawa-san really is a cute person. Although it’s rude to call such a veteran “cute”. (laughs)
Nozawa-san had the triple-role of Goku, Gohan, and Goten by herself.
That was a highlight! It’s something I absolutely can’t imitate. She’s really able to get the most out of performing three people at once, so it’s a real surprise. I don’t think it’s something that’s easily done.
We’ve also heard that the time it took to record Dragon Ball was short.
For other shows, you’d rehearse a number of times, but with Dragon Ball, we’d always rehearse just once before doing the actual recording. At the very beginning, we very scrupulously did a number of rehearsals in order to grasp the characters’ personalities, but once we got a feel for them, the flow of the work really was quick. Plus, at the time of recording, we already had completed, full-color shots; I think that was also a big part of it.
So it’s easier to perform when there are moving pictures, then?
At events and such, people tell me, “do Bulma’s voice”… but I can’t do it well; in fact, I’m really bad at it. (laughs) It’s definitely difficult without moving images.
Dragon Ball often plays in repeats; what is your impression on seeing your old performances?
I often watch repeats; my impression is, “so young!” (laughs) However, I get absorbed in the story rather than my own performance.
Did you do any ad-libs in the Dragon Ball series?
Maybe there were in some jokey scenes? But I probably just changed the sentence-endings as it suited me. I think both Shigeru Chiba-san, who played Pilaf, and Jōji Yanami-san, who did the narration, had a lot of ad-libs.
What sort of feeling did you approach the final Dragon Ball episode with?
It felt sad and lonesome, like, “I wonder if it’s really going to end”. We did the recording on the same day every week, so it had been a part of our lives. For a work that went on as long as the Dragon Ball series, the last episode really is sad. But within me, I still have the feeling that Dragon Ball is still continuing. It ended, but it’s not over; even now, when all the cast members get together, we can get right back into our characters from that time!
Now, then, finally, please give us a few words for the fans.
Dragon Ball is a really amazing and interesting work. There are a lot of battles, but if you can sense the message that’s there in them, I’ll be happy. Also, please be partial to Bulma!
(Recorded 6 May 2004)