Before being acquired by Funimation, there was a time when fans were left in limbo with the Dragon Ball series as the only material that had really been translated into English for the anime was everything up to the middle of the Freeza Saga. Obviously, this isn't the case today as everything Dragon Ball is translated faster than you can fire off a Kamehameha, but we managed to chat with the English voice of Goku himself, Sean Schemmel, to ask him about his stance on certain translations and how they approach translating certain dialogue from the Dragon Ball series from the original Japanese version.
Sean Schemmel: "What will happen, especially because of back in the early days of Funimation, they were really heavily adapting the scripts for American audiences and when we got to Kai, they were like, "Let's just do this pure Japanese," and that's when I really fell in love with the show and I'm like, "Oh, it's pure! Now I understand the power of it." And so, when I steward this character and play this character right, with all the respect to all the fans out there and I love them all. I'm only concerned about making one person happy, and that's Akira Toriyama-sensei. So, if he came out and said, "Sean, you suck at it!" Well then, I'm like, I gotta change it. But he's like, you're great but he's never gonna say that."
"Oh, translations! So, on Kai and on Super, especially when you know a character, and I'm only allowed to do this because my producer allows it and he would kinda remind me, but I'll see a line that looks out of character and not canonical because the adapter has added some flavor or meaning to it, that to me is inconsistent with the set of rules I have for playing Goku, which are based on as pure Japanese as possible. And so, I will take a hard stance, there was one, I'll do it one or two times an episode, where it'll look like something like, Goku's being very egoic or very Vegeta-like, and I'm like, no, he's very pure of heart, he doesn't go, "We're gonna show them who's number one."
"Like, there was a scene where they had written that in, he's talking to Goten, and 'cause he had his finger up and I looked at the original translation. He doesn't say that at all. And I'm like, he would not go, "We're gonna pwn these guys 'cause we can ." He's not like that, you know? So I will take a hard stance on that, and I'm allowed to do that. I mean, if my producer was like, no, you gotta do that and then I have to, but my producer is very supportive of me trying to play this character as purely as possible, so."
What do you think of Schemmel's thoughts here on translations and his playing of the role of Son Goku? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and Dragon Ball!