HIKAKIN has long been at the forefront of the YouTube world in Japan pursuing his dream of being the No. 1 YouTuber, but has Dragon Ball been the force that's propelled him ever since he was a child?
Even now, the busy creator finds time in his hectic schedule to stay up to date with the Dragon Ball anime and movies, and he makes his love for the series well-known on his social media, so we decided to ask him about his connection with Dragon Ball ourselves.
Why is it that Dragon Ball has been able to break through barriers of language and culture to be known and loved by people all around the world? And what's so intriguing about Vegeta's "humanity"?
We decided to get to the bottom of these questions and more by talking to HIKAKIN himself and hearing his unique perspective as both a fan of the series and as one of Japan's biggest content creators.
*This interview was conducted in 2021 while following all COVID prevention guidelines.
——First off, what was your first experience with Dragon Ball? Did you watch it as a kid?
HIKAKIN: I remember watching Dragon Ball GT on TV with my brother when I was very young.
And there was a Super Famicom game set around the Tenkaichi Budokai (Note: most likely "Dragon Ball Z: Chobutoden"). I was playing it all the time. There was a little trick you could do during the opening that would play an Instant Transmission sound effect that sounded like it came straight from the anime. My brother and I made sure to remember all of the secrets and tricks like that.
——So you came to the series via the anime and games?
HIKAKIN: That's right. There was also a candy store near my house where I would buy these cards that had a sticker layer that you could peel off. I remember there was one where it was a shiny Vegeta that had a different design underneath when you tore off the top layer (some cards were double layered).
——Ahh, so you were in the middle of the Carddass generation (Note: Trading cards with peel-away stickers. The Dragon Ball series first went on sale in 1988). Did you experience Dragon Ball through any other avenues?
HIKAKIN: I don't exactly recall when, but a have a really vivid memory of watching the Janemba movie (Note: "Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn") at a public hall or small movie theater near my house. Actually, that may have been the first movie I ever went to see because there weren't many places that were showing movies when I was growing up.
Oh, and I still make sure to watch the latest episodes of the anime and movies as they come out. I even started watching Dragon Ball Z Kai on TV every Sunday morning. Even when I'm busy with editing, I'll wake up early just to watch it. (laughs)
——So, now that we've established that you're a diehard Dragon Ball fan, what would you say is the most appealing thing about the series?
HIKAKIN: Probably that it's easy to understand. I've personally never been able to keep up with shows that have hints and callbacks everywhere, suddenly jump back and forth between the past and present, or are just overly complicated.
But when it comes to Dragon Ball, no matter what happens, the overall premise is just "fight strong people". I've never been watching the anime or one of the movies and thought, "I don't know what's going on here..." and even if I did, I still think I'd be able to enjoy them. (laughs)
It really feels like Mr. Toriyama created it with this easy-to-understand premise in mind to appeal to people of all ages, no matter what country they're from.
——Given that there are so many fans overseas, there must surely be something there that helps Dragon Ball break down those cultural barriers.
HIKAKIN: If you look at YouTube and all the passion that international creators on there have for the franchise, it really makes you appreciate just how amazing Dragon Ball is.
——I'm sure everyone appreciates that Dragon Ball is easy to understand, but it's not something that's often said out loud. It actually reminds me a lot of your videos, HIKAKIN, and how they can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age or gender. Do you make them with this "easy to understand" philosophy in mind?
HIKAKIN: I do. I'm always thinking, "Let's keep it simple". For example, I like to use on-screen text to more easily convey what I'm saying, and I also try to avoid using overly complicated words too. If I tried to make myself seem more sophisticated or cooler by using difficult words, but no one could follow what I was saying, then it'd just be for my own self-satisfaction.
You can see this in Dragon Ball too. The vocabulary is kept very simple, which is probably why I was able to enjoy it so much as a child.
——I have a couple more things I'd like to ask you regarding your videos and their connection to Dragon Ball if that's alright with you. I noticed that your videos tend to use quite a lot of sound effects. Do you think Dragon Ball and its bevy of iconic sound effects that still strike a chord with fans today had an influence on the sound design of your videos?
HIKAKIN: I wonder... I can't say for sure, but now that you mention it, Dragon Ball is full of sound effects that just feel good, isn't it? I mentioned the Instant Transmission sound before, but there's the sound of a Kamehameha being charged and fired, and even the sound of a simple punch. They're just all so pleasing to the ear. I'd love to meet the person who thought of that pulsating "shwin shwin" sound for the Super Saiyan transformation. (laughs)
——No actual person can really fire a Kamehameha, so all those sounds had to be created from nothing, right?
HIKAKIN: There's also just the overall speed of the action and framing in Dragon Ball. Ever since I started editing my own videos in fine detail, I've been able to appreciate how difficult it is—in a good way!
Because I've been watching these scenes since I was a child, I've just found myself naturally drawn to that style (like I have my own Dragon Ball radar).
——Let's talk about your favorite scenes and characters then. Are there any scenes in particular that stand out to you in the anime or movies, or even in any other Dragon Ball material that you've consumed?
HIKAKIN: This might make some fans of the series go, "What?", but for some reason I've always remembered the scene where Dabura is spitting on everyone. That moment where everyone's hiding from him but he actually knows exactly where they are is honestly pretty frightening. (laughs)
I think the fact that he always had this stern but cool face and would attack by spitting, which was something I'd never seen before, was the reason he became one of my favorite villains.
——What about when it comes to the main cast? Any favorites?
HIKAKIN: I've been saying this for ages, but it's gotta be Vegeta. He's such a prideful person, but there's a sincerity when it comes to his wife (Bulma) because he cares so much for her, and he's also got real courage, like when he's prepared to sacrifice himself to defeat Majin Buu. Not to mention how he's always being surpassed by Goku, who he can never seem to win against. I really like that side of Vegeta because it shows his humanity.
——That was a surprisingly deep answer. (laughs)
HIKAKIN: I think a lot of people can relate to how he's always chasing after Goku, but his ability to persevere even when it seems like there's no limit to Goku's power is what makes him endearing as a character.
——When you put it that way, it is true that Vegeta has struggled a lot more and experienced more anguish than Goku has, which makes him more relatable.
HIKAKIN: Exactly. He's able to stand before any enemy and declare that he's stronger, but when push comes to shove, he can still be stricken with fear when faced with the overwhelming power of Broly or Frieza, and even when he knows that fusing with Goku would mean that they'd win, he still hates the idea. He really feels more human than Saiyan, but I like that about him. (laughs)
——On the other hand, Goku started out being disparaged by Vegeta and other Saiyans as a "low-class warrior" and rose up with all his hard work and training.
HIKAKIN: To be honest, I don't really feel like Goku's had that much of a hard time. (laughs)
HIKAKIN: He likes training and fighting in the first place, so it's not like he's struggling through it.
It's like me with beatboxing (Note: Using vocal organs like the mouth, nose, and throat to create music-like sounds). I love beatboxing, and so I've never felt like it was a chore to practice. I was just doing it because it was fun, and then before I knew it, I was getting better. Now that I think about it, maybe I'm not like Vegeta after all, but instead...
——Like Goku. (laughs) Maybe you have a combination of Vegeta's diligence and Goku's positive attitude towards work?
HIKAKIN: So I'm...Gogeta? (laughs)
——You once tweeted about how you like Vegeta's "lone wolf" kind of style. Do you think that Vegeta's way of going it alone and honing his own specialty to perfection is similar to you and your work?
HIKAKIN: I'd say so, yeah. If there's something I think of as my specialty, I want to be the very best at it and not lose to anyone.
This is a little off-topic, but I think Dragon Ball generally progresses in a way that it ends up being a final 1v1 battle where the one who's truly the strongest comes out on top. There are of course elements of "victory by the power of many" too though, like with the Genki-dama.
Ever since I was young, I've never really been good at working as part of a team towards a shared goal; I always tended to get better results when I worked by myself. So I think Dragon Ball's idea of winning alone at the very end resonates with me particularly.
——That's a good point. I'm sure that Dragon Ball has been able to reassure and inspire kids who don't like team-based work so much.
HIKAKIN: Whether it's the real world or in Dragon Ball, being alone can be worrisome, even when you've managed to win by yourself, because you never know when someone stronger than you is going to pop up.
——I can imagine that many strong new challengers appear in the world of YouTube too.
HIKAKIN: They do. To be honest, when Hajime Syacho was coming up, I started thinking that I was the Vegeta to his Goku. (laughs)
——What do you mean by that?
HIKAKIN: Well, he overtook me in subscribers around 2016 (Note: At the time, Hajime Syacho had the highest subscriber count in Japan). He was like a rocket shooting off into space.
I even tweeted at him the day he overtook me, saying, "Good luck, Hajime Syacho. You're number one!!" like Vegeta. (laughs) He didn't really react though, just like Goku wouldn't, so at that point it was like, "I really am Vegeta... I'll never beat him now..." (laughs)
——I guess you really are more like Vegeta than Goku when you put it that way. (laughs)
HIKAKIN: But then in 2021, Vegeta finally made his comeback—in subscribers, that is. He might overtake me again, though. Like, "Curses, you're going to surpass me again?!" (laughs)
——Maybe having a strong rival is something that serves to make you both stronger together?
HIKAKIN: Honestly, I think Hajime Syacho is the reason that I've been able to keep pushing myself and get this far. He is kind of a rival, but I see him as more of a "fellow warrior".
——Do you think you'll keep going back and forth, overtaking each other?
HIKAKIN: I think so, yeah. If there wasn't someone else in the picture, I don't know how long I would've been able to keep up the motivation to continue making videos. It's because there is someone who I think is great and that I don't think I can beat that I'm able to push on. That's certainly a common thread that runs between Dragon Ball and my own life.
HIKAKIN: Born in 1989 in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. His YouTube career started when he was in high school, and since then he's even collaborated with overseas artists for various video projects, including beatboxing videos. A multi-talented creator, he manages four YouTube Channels, HikakinTV, HikakinGames, HIKAKIN, and HikakinBlog, where he produces a wide variety of content and product reviews.
DRAGON BALL Games Battle Hour 2022 is being held across February 19–20 JST!
Check out the Official Site for more details!
Interview, Article: Kiyoshi Tane
Photography: Kayo Sekiguchi
This site includes machine-translated texts. Please be aware that you might find some unusual expressions that are difficult to understand.
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