We had the honour of interviewing Lawrence Simpson, also known as MasakoX - the voice actor of Goku and Gohan in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Read on to see which Dragon Ball game is his favourite, as well as what he had to say about the upcoming action RPG title, DBZ: Kakarot.
Anime world is undoubtedly very fertile ground for gaming. We have seen countless video game adaptations of popular anime shows throughout the last couple of decades, and Dragon Ball Z is certainly no exception. From the early days of the original NES, also known as Famicom, all the way to modern-day machines, the DBZ universe has treated its loyal fans to some truly fantastic titles.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is Bandai Namco's newest sensation and is easily one of the most highly anticipated DBZ games of all time, as it will allow players to relive Goku's adventures in proper action RPG style. We were very fortunate to talk to Dragon Ball Z community's beloved Lawrence Simpson, more widely known as MasakoX, who does the voices of Goku and Gohan in the online hit show called Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
Being an avid fan of anime and DBZ games himself, MasakoX was happy to share his thoughts on Kakarot, as well as some other games that he's loved and played over the years.
As a now well-established voice actor in the anime community, we are curious to learn where it all began for you. How did you get into voice acting?
Well, I wouldn't say that I was a proper voice actor in the anime community. One thing I always make sure to remind myself is that what I am known for is for an internet parody and that isn't exactly high art. It’s always important to keep yourself grounded like that. However, what got me into voice acting at all was a place called the Voice Acting Alliance back in 2005.
I was inspired by an actress named Kira Buckland (best known as 2B in Nier: Automata these days) and got in touch with her to ask whether she would check out my demo reel. She pointed me towards those forums where I could meet and work with like-minded people. 14 years later, I got to meet Kira in person and personally thank her whilst I was at Anime Expo which was a real pleasure and a capping off of that chapter of my life. Basically if you want to get into voice acting, find people who share your interest and just give it a try!
Your depiction of Goku and Gohan on Dragon Ball Z Abridged with Team Four Star is nothing short of amazing. Is the Saiyan duo your favourite among the Z Fighters, or were there some other factors that influenced your choice as to who to lend your voice to on the show?
Thank you! That being said, it is just one interpretation and mostly for satirical purposes. I don't consider myself in the same league as the likes of Masako Nozawa, Sean Schemmel, Peter Kelamis, Ian Corlett and Kirby Morrow or anything. In fact, I don't compare myself to them at all! However, when it comes to how I crafted the voice I use, it came down to a mixture of three of the actors I previously mentioned.
You take Nozawa-san's childhood innocence and pitch, Kelamis' bouncy delivery and tone and then some of Corlett’s toughness when things get serious. As for Gohan, that was mostly Nozawa-san – plain and simple! My voice tends to lend itself to higher registers and so it came naturally to me.
What would you say has been the most memorable moment of your voice acting career so far?
Probably when I was at a convention in 2018. A father and his daughter came up to me and said that they watched my videos together and made it a regular fixture of their daddy-daughter bonding. It was one of those moments which floored me, not to mention being incredibly humbling. At the end of the day, you are doing this not only for personal pride but also to allow people to indulge in their hobbies and passions.
You have a YouTube channel of your own where you frequently talk about DBZ and other anime games as well. Though surely a difficult question but: what is your favourite DBZ video game of all time?
Yes, I do! You can find it by searching "MasakoX". There I talk about all sorts of different aspects of Dragon Ball. As for the games, I loved Budokai Tenkaichi 2 (Sparking NEO) back in the day and remember levelling Raditz up to level 65 and utterly decimating everybody – it was a real laugh! However, I recently played Dragon Ball Fusions on the 3DS and feel like it's one of the most underrated games of 2016 and certainly within the franchise of Dragon Ball as a whole. It needs to be played. It's well-made, interesting and just crazy. You won't forget it in a hurry.
One of the games that was very eagerly anticipated by all fans of the anime gaming genre was Jump Force, however, some players feel that it ultimately failed to deliver. What's your take on this?
I agree. Jump Force was an OK game, but it was no J-Stars Victory VS from 5 years previously. That game had everything you could want from that type of game but Jump Force felt a little barren and tended to hinge itself on the photorealistic graphics. That game is a prime example that gameplay and mechanics are also important to a game’s overall impression. Also, I don't want to see Freeza with human teeth!
The game that's pretty much all the rage at the moment in the DBZ community is the upcoming action RPG title, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. What are your expectations from this game based on everything you've seen so far?
I actually got to play the first three hours of it recently and I must say that it is pretty special. Bandai Namco Europe graciously me to check it out along with other journalists and creators and we got to play the Saiyan saga which encompasses the overall feel for the game and what to expect for later.
From what I got to test, it feels really fascinating and something that every Dragon Ball fan needs to play. FighterZ had the action aspect, but Kakarot gives you the overall package and plenty of new tidbits to get stuck into; much like Gohan with his apples. Charm – that's what this game has.
Is Kakarot your idea of a perfect DBZ game, or is it something more along the lines of Dragon Ball FighterZ or Xenoverse?
As I mentioned, it is the perfect game for the Dragon Ball devotee, but for those who are casual fans, it might be a little too much. If you are a casual fan, be prepared to learn a lot about the franchise but you will have fun doing so. FighterZ is good for the action enthusiast and Xenoverse is the best for newcomers and younger players as it's not overly complicated to get started with.
Bandai sees Xenoverse, FighterZ and Kakarot as a trilogy of titles each complimenting the other. The fact that you now have Android 21 as DLC in Xenoverse 2 is testimony to that. These games can co-exist.
As someone who is a big Naruto fan and has even created the excellent abridged series of that iconic anime as well, what do you think about the latest Naruto game, Shinobi Striker? Does it manage to capture the feel of living in the Naruto world in your eyes?
I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to play it and I've really fallen behind on my Naruto lore. Maybe I should go back and catch up with it.
What other games do you enjoy playing outside of Dragon Ball Z and the like?
I love racing games. Project Cars 2, F1 2019, Live for Speed are just some of my faves from the genre but I also like games such as Stardew Valley and Raft where you can tune out and just create stuff. I have also dabbled in Minecraft with new patches and find it to be quite zen with friends.
And lastly, the eternal question - PC or console? What's the go-to platform for MasakoX?
Depends what you want to do with the gaming experience that you wish to foster. If you want to experience the best a game can offer and craft some new variations of it with mods, go for PC. If you want something more streamlined and accessible at a pinch, console is the best for that one. There are plus points for both camps and I appreciate both of them for what they are and what they offer gaming as a whole.