Goku has been apart of anime fans lives since the series first began in the 1980’s, with the franchises fourth series in Dragon Ball Super, now underway. With the new series rating well in Japan, the English dub has begun and as a result, Goku’s English voice actor Sean Schemmel has spoken about the difficulties of voicing Dragon Ball fans favorite hero.
There are many difficulties that may come to mind, such as Goku being a very physical character or even voicing his transformations would be a strain. In an interview conducted by the Los Angeles Times, Schemmel said when asked how he coped with Goku’s powering up, “I’ve always been a loud talker and a bit of a yeller when I get upset. Having played a brass instrument for 20 years, as well as being a vocal minor and a singer, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on breath and breathing techniques. It’s all about breath support.”
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In the interview Schemmel went further, describing how he coped with voicing such a physical character such as Goku. “I don’t move a lot in the booth, but when Goku is powering up, I find I rise up on my toes. I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but when I’m doing a very serious power-up, I just feel this energy come through me. I’m a scientific man by nature, but I think there’s a spiritual element to it, channeling an enormous amount of energy. It feels almost like “Highlander” when they’re getting the quickening: There’s this power vibrating through you,” continued Schemmel.
However, Schemmel isn’t only the voice actor of Goku, he is also the man behind King Kai’s voice, another regular character in the series. There are many scenes where the two are together and so Schemmel spoke about how that can sometimes be a struggle as well.
“I hyperfocus when I’m recording. There’s an episode of “Super” where Goku is powering up in an arc and King Kai running across the planet, screaming in an arc: One character is powering up and one’s freaking out — there’s a dichotomy.”
“When they play it back, I’m a very hard critic on myself. If I don’t sell it in a real way, the kids won’t buy it. I want them to feel as excited as the kids in Japan did when they first saw ‘Dragon Ball’,” said Schemmel.
Schemmel who has been the English voice behind Goku for over 18 years, had never planned to become a voice actor. Schemmel instead was convinced by a friend to audition for a minor character role in Dragon Ball, however, he managed to land the most important role of the series instead. Despite the difficulties voicing Goku brings him, Schemmel has now become one of the most iconic voices in anime history and has enjoyed it immensely.