While Kara Edwards is best known for being the voice of both Goten and Videl in the Dragon Ball franchise, she’s responsible for bringing other characters to life in such anime as Heaven’s Lost Property, Fairy Tail, Hetalia, A Certain Magical Index, Danganronpa, One Piece, Guilty Crown, High School DxD, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Soul Eater, Yu Yu Hakusho, and more. It’s hard to think of shows that Ms. Edwards hasn’t been a part of, as this voice actress has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
We had the chance to sit down with Ms. Edwards at Anime Boston this year to ask her a few questions regarding her experience on Dragon Ball and how her dubbing projects have impacted her on a personal level. Learn the truth behind some of Goten’s best lines below:
KeenGamer: Right off the bat, describe your experience voicing both Goten and Videl. What has it been like to see these characters grow not just in Dragon Ball Z, but in Dragon Ball Super as well?
Kara Edwards: It’s unbelievable. I’ve been voicing Goten and Videl for 20 years – literally half my life! It’s such a privilege to voice characters for that amount of time, as it’s extremely rare. Typically, at some point in time, voice actors are changed out, but I’ve had an incredible run with Goten and Videl.
Over this period of time, I’ve gotten to grow with them. I find so much of myself in Videl, and I feel a kinship with her. There are so many things about her personality that I’m very drawn to. I see us both as starting out very young, feeling like we both had something to prove. Then when I became an adult, I was pregnant during Battle of Gods. I was hormonal when she announced her pregnancy, so of course, I bawled like a baby. It’s been a very personal experience. Because of this, I’m ready to see her regain some of her spunk in Super. I love that she’s a great mom and puts her family first, but at the same time, things don’t have to slow down. There’s one episode in Super where she’s defending her daughter, and I hope to see more of that in the future. It makes me feel like I just put on my favorite pair of shoes.
As far as Goten is concerned, we’ve been through so many story arcs where he’s been this fun character for me to voice, and then I had a little boy of my own. There was something about having a son that made me realize how little boys really act. I’ve changed the voice slightly, and I rewrote a lot of the scripts to have Goten say things that my son says. When he sees Goku Black for the first time, we changed the script to read “What the what?,” because that was my kid’s favorite thing to say at the time. There are little moments in there that were inspired by him, and I can’t wait to tell him when he’s older.
Aside from this, this show has become so big that I want to leave this legacy for my kiddo. This is now something that he can have and watch. He tells people all the time about how much he watches Dragon Ball. He doesn’t watch it yet though, it’s way too violent.
KeenGamer: With the recent success of Dragon Ball at the box office, what’s your opinion of the franchise’s rise in popularity not just among anime fans, but among mainstream audiences as well?
Kara Edwards: Earlier this morning, I was asked to come to a private meet and greet because the New England Patriots’ defensive line is filled with big Dragon Ball Z fans. It was a surreal moment. I remember when people used to ask me who the most popular character I voiced was. I would say I worked for a show called Dragon Ball Z, and I lot of people would reply they never heard of it. That’s not the case anymore. I was in my yoga class the other day and something came up about my job. People in the class found out that I voiced characters for the show, and then they were asking me for my autograph!
I’ll never forget when the Cleveland Browns did the Fusion Dance in the endzone when they scored a touchdown. The validation is intense! And we were in the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day Parade shortly thereafter! I’m blown away by the way this has evolved. It’s a rare experience as an actor to see a fandom grow, and to have people care about you in ways you didn’t expect. It’s been an amazing experience.
KeenGamer: How were you originally cast in Dragon Ball? Did you audition for Goten and Videl specifically?
Kara Edwards: I was really young when I was hired almost literally off the street by Disney. I was given my own show on Radio Disney alongside a guy called Kyle Hebert, who went by the name Squeege at the time (he’s the voice of Gohan, by the way). Back then, we were flipping through a paper and found an ad for a company in Fort Worth recruiting cartoon voice talent. Dragon Ball was already on the air at the time, so Kyle knew what it was, but I didn’t. He suggested that we go to this open call audition, and at first, I was skeptical. He convinces me eventually, so we head into this bank, up to the third floor, and go to this one little recording booth in a small room. The first character I was cast as was Lime, and then I got cast as Upa in one of the Dragon Ball movies.
From there, Funimation told me they were doing this other audition, and they had me audition for Goten and Videl together. I remember Videl clearly, because I had brown hair, blue eyes, and I was young at the time. I thought that this role was perfect for me, because Videl is me. I was a bit more confused by Goten because I wasn’t aware that girls voiced boys. They really had to direct me into the voice. I think because of my experience with Upa, they saw that I had potential as Goten’s voice. I remember that audition, because we were fish out of water. We had to rely a lot on the directors at first.
KeenGamer: What was it like to play off of yourself in the show?
Kara Edwards: I love the learning to fly episode. We were recording to VHS when we first started recording. We would have to do our tapes, rewind, and then try to line everything up. It was a mess. It was so hard to record in the beginning, before the digital age. Everything before the learning to fly episode, I would go back and forth between Goten and Videl, just because it was so tedious to rewind that VHS tape. When it came to this specific episode, it was just me and a bit of Gohan. I wanted to make sure that the voices were distinct from one another. I didn’t want anyone who heard it to think that it was the same voice actor. I did that separate, so I came in once and recorded Goten entirely, then came back and recorded Videl. I really liked doing that, so I stuck with that routine from then on out. It helps me differentiate the characters more.
In the games especially, it’s very hard to make each character’s sounds feel distinct. As an actor though, it’s also very fun, because it’s such a challenge. This typically isn’t something that happens today, because there are so many actors. Directors also want to preserve the authenticity of the show. It’s really special and an honor to be able to do multiple characters nowadays.
KeenGamer: You played Chihiro in the Danganronpa anime. Did you play the game to prepare for the role?
Kara Edwards: No, I actually knew nothing about it. The show had different actors than the video game, because that was done in Los Angeles. Ironically, it was another show directed by Chris Bevins! He explained everything that was going on and told me this crazy story about all these things that were going to happen. He then added, “By the way, you’re going to die.” I said, “That’s great, but I can live first?”
Danganronpa is the show I wish I could do over again. We can’t know going in how these characters are going to affect people. Chihiro is a character that’s resonated with so many fans, and I would love to revisit her with that knowledge. As an actor, that would be my favorite thing in the world to do.
Dragon Ball Super‘s English dub is currently available on Funimation. Thank you Anime Boston for the wonderful opportunity, and thank you The Cartoon Cipher for help with questions! Check out the channel’s latest April Fools’-themed episode on Ghost Stories here.