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Goku Voice Actress Masako Nozawa Reveals Catchphrase in Dragon Ball Anime Started as Ad Lib

Viewers of the original Japanese version of the Dragon Ball anime know Goku’s “Ossu! Ora Goku!” catchphrase. Many viewers also know Masako Nozawa voices Goku, Gohan, and Goten in the franchise’s anime and games. Thanks to a variety program, we now know from Nozawa herself that Goku’s catchphrase began as a sort of ad lib.

In the anime, Goku often says, “Ossu! Ora Goku!,” which literally means something like “Yo! I’m Goku!” The phrase also has a deeper meaning that references Goku’s charming simple-mindedness and martial arts background. For a full explanation, read Derek Padula’s 2013 blog post here.

Nozawa appeared as a guest on Fuji TV‘s Downtown Now talk variety show on Friday. In the episode, Piccolo voice actor Toshio Furukawa made a video appearance to discuss Nozawa’s work on Dragon Ball. Furukawa recalled an anecdote in which the anime’s director questioned Nozawa about a line in the so-called “Goku language” that Nozawa has helped craft for Goku over the years. Nozawa replied that if she spoke the line in standard Japanese that it would no longer be Goku. The director apparently relented and let Nozawa use the “Goku language” form of the line.

Nozawa seems to have a penchant for ad libbing. She confirmed on the variety show that she inadvertently created the “Ossu! Ora Goku!” catchphrase through a kind of ad lib incident years ago.

The voice actress explained that she stood in front of a microphone and said Goku’s now famous catchphrase as a joke. The staff positioned behind her in an apparent recording session remarked that the line was amusing. Even though Toei has gotten the credit for inventing the phrase, Nozawa revealed that it was in fact this incident that created “Ossu! Ora Goku!”

With talent as legendary as Nozawa’s it comes as no surprise that she has been instrumental in shaping the character of Goku over the decades. Furukawa also mentioned on the program that, rather than record each character individually in separate takes, Nozawa can record a conversation between Goku, Gohan, and Goten in one take. Furukawa said that Nozawa can record such a scene for 15 minutes of a 30-minute anime, and he believes “there is no one else who can do that.”

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