Interview With MasakoX

For fans of abridged anime series’ on YouTube, there are a few big names and series’ around. One of the biggest is TeamFourStar’s Dragonball Z Abridged, the most recent episode of which has had over seven and a half million views at the time of publishing. I was recently able to spend some time talking with one of the series’ star voice actors MasakoX, voice of the series protagonist Goku along with many other voices. We took some time to discuss how he got into voice acting, the process of creating an episode, his future plans and getting to do some of his voices with official voice actors from a series he has helped abridge.

Laura: For any of our readers who don’t know who you are, could you introduce yourself?

Lawrence: Greetings! I am Lawrence Simpson, also known as MasakoX. I am a video editor by day and an internet personality… by day; no difference really! I like to dabble in a little bit of everything creative, such as motion graphics, sound editing as well as voice acting.

Laura: When did you realise voice acting was something you wanted to get into doing?

Lawrence: When I was starting to get cast regularly in fan productions and really getting a good understanding for the medium. I picked things up quickly and realised I had an ability to create voices from the ether. It was like a light had flicked on and it was allowing me to not be afraid of weirding people out (notably my parents) from making these weird voices. It was a cathartic experience and it was something I wished to continue to learn. You never stop learning – you constantly grow and that never-ending pathway is something that entices me.

Laura: How did you first get involved in doing voices with TeamFourStar?

Lawrence: I used to abridge the series Naruto which got me started in making parodies online. I then moved onto working with Lanipator and vegeta3986 on parodying the first two movies of Dragonball Z which met with great acclaim. Then KaiserNeko decided to pursue his desire to abridge the series of Dragonball Z and wished to take all three of us onboard as well as the abridger Takahata101 to become the group now known as TeamFourStar. It was a classic get-together of like-minded individuals with a common love for an iconic series. Hard to imagine this was all back in 2008.

Laura: What is the process of recording the dialogue for an episode of Dragonball Z Abridged like for you from start to finish?

Lawrence: The procedure starts with KaiserNeko providing the script to me ahead of time and I get to grips with the actual content. We schedule a date to meet on Skype and he would direct me in real-time with my recording. By being there (just like in a real recording studio), KaiserNeko would be able to provide immediate suggestions/approval for my lines as I went through them. It’s a far more efficient means to record lines as it not only prevents time lost getting redoes done, but also adds another hint of professionalism to proceedings. Once the lines are recorded, I email them over to him and he carries on the process from there.

Laura: How has your life changed since you first started voice acting?

Lawrence: It’s completely different to when I first started. Back in 2005, I wished merely to be an editor and work in the background. Now, I have made so many friends who are also voice actors and creatives whom I have both professional and personal ties with which I am constantly thankful for. It’s allowed me to travel the world and meet both new friends, fans and people I looked up to when I was a child. It’s been an unforgettable experience and I hope it lasts for a good long while yet. It’s also changed me physically too – I used to weigh twenty-nine stone when I first started, now I’m closer to thirteen. Doing all this acting has given me motivation to do something with my life and I am always busy now because of it!

Laura: Could you tell us a little about your Anifile series?

Lawrence: Anifile is a series which I look at the latest releases from Japan and pick out some notable shows which deserve attention, be it good or bad. I pick six to eight shows and review the first episode and then provide a summary of later episodes to see whether it’s worth sticking with or not. A simple format but with a comedic and critical twist.

Laura: You were recently invited by Kyle Hebert, the voice of Dragon Ball Z’s Gohan and the series’ narrator, to demonstrate several of your Goku battle sounds in a panel he was hosting on voice acting. What was it like as a parody voice actor getting to do those voices for someone who worked on the actual series?

Lawrence: It was a mixed experience. Don’t get me wrong – it was incredible getting to stand by such a successful voice actor and perform my Goku voice in front of him, but I wasn’t nervous at all. You would expect to be scared but I suppose after doing the voice for so long, I felt confident in my own skin enough for me to perform without any shyness. I will say that he was most impressed and didn’t expect it. It shows that online voice acting has come on a lot in the last few years and has potential in the years ahead.

Laura: What are your plans for the future? Do you see yourself branching out into more serious voice work?

Lawrence: I would love to of course, but I know that voice acting for most people, nay nearly everybody, is not something you can live off of. You need a day job and my day job is freelance video editing. I would imagine that I would work for a dubbing company in post-production providing video services whilst also contributing vocal input, sort of like Justin Cook did at Funimation many years ago. Voice acting would be one of my services I would provide.

Laura: You’ve been really good about offering help to fans who are struggling with weight loss in any way you can. Can you tell us a little about your journey with weight loss?

Lawrence: Of course. Obesity is a major problem these days and for my entire childhood, I was obese. As I mentioned previously, I weighed twenty-nine stone; but I was content. I knew no different so why should I worry? Looking back on that though, it was pretty shocking of me to think that but then again, how could I miss something I never had? It reached a point in 2007, when I was flying home from Canada (we had to spend much more money to get bigger seats) that I had to do something about this if I was to see the world. I then saw a programme Jamie Oliver did about healthy eating and got inspired (I literally picked up an apple and ate it – just like Ryuk!). Over the course of eighteen months I undertook a weight loss campaign which included eating less, eating right and doing more activity, not just the gym. Sure enough the weight came off and I reached a good weight for my six foot three frame. I was elated, I could do whatever I wanted! I wished to give everyone that followed me the chance to do the same and made a video about it for people to follow. Since then, quite a few people have told me that they’ve lost stones because of it. It fills me with pride every time I hear that.

Laura: Have you ever had any weird experiences with fans?

Lawrence: Usually fans are respectful about my time, but there was one time when a girl said she hated my work and preferred LittleKuriboh’s YuGiOh Abridged Series and then kissed me on the lips for no reason. It left me stunned and it was actually my first kiss!

Laura: In contrast, have you ever had any particularly memorable positive fan experiences?

Lawrence: Many. Again, these would be times when people tell me they’ve either lost weight or when they say that my work I had made or I had been a part of got them through a difficult time in their lives. There are so many I lose count, but it feels me with warmth to know that what I and my friends are doing touch the hearts of thousands of people around the world.

Laura: What advice do you have for any aspiring voice actors or abridgers reading?

Lawrence: Give it a try. You never know unless you try. Get yourself out there and find a community. Friendship is a strong factor in both voice acting and abridging. Don’t be afraid to go all out vocally and in a writing capacity. You’re here to have fun, not to become famous. I was the same when I began; I did it because I enjoy it and I still do enjoy it – my motivation has not changed one bit. If you do this for fame, then you will be disappointed. Have fun!

Laura: Lastly, do you have any final words for our readers?

Lawrence: Not much to say really but to thank you for reading this interview and for following my work; it means so much to me and as a great android once said, “One is glad to be of service.

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