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‘Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero’ Staff Reveal Production Team Was Unhappy With Decision To Animate Film Solely Using 3D CGI

Toei Animation's turn towards 3D animation is having negative repercussions for their animated takes on 'Dragon Ball'.

The past decade has seen the executives at Toei Animation make a number of questionable business decisions regarding their properties – look no further than their nightmarish treatment of Saint Seya – and it seems that the company’s resulting production woes have finally started to effect arguably their biggest franchise, Dragon Ball.

Commander Red stands tall above the Red Ribbon army in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation
Commander Red stands tall above the Red Ribbon army in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation

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Word of the trouble being caused by the franchise’s burgeoning reliance on 3D animation in its cinematic outings – as seen briefly during Gogeta and Broly’s final fight in Dragon Ball Super: Broly and throughout the entirety of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero – was first noted by the film’s producer, Tomohiro Hayashida, during a December 23rd with Shueisha Online.

Piccolo Orange (Toshio Furukawa) attempts to wrangle an out of control Cell MAX (Norio Wakamoto) in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation
Piccolo Orange (Toshio Furukawa) attempts to wrangle an out of control Cell MAX (Norio Wakamoto) in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation

According to Hayashida, not only were the costs to produce DBSSH in 3D so high that it would have actually been more cost effective to animate everything in 2D, but also that most of the staff at Toei Animation were wholly against the film being animated solely via computer graphics.

Then, during a February 24th panel held during the Japan Expo Sud 2023 in France, DBSSH animation director Chikashi Kubota revealed that despite the animators being unionized and the company operating in the black, things behind-the-scenes weren’t perfectly-tied-up with a bright red ribbon.

Goku
Goku (Masako Nozawa) demands a fight from Beerus (Koichi Yamadera) in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation

Continuing, Kubota explained that one of his conditions for signing on to DBSSH was that Toei Animation allow for some 2D animated sequences to be featured in the movie, which in turn resulted in the beautiful ‘remastered recap’ of relevant events from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z seen at the start of the film.

As per a livetweet of the panel provided by French anime and mangas news website Mangaanimation.net, Kubota first detailed how, like the Toei Animation staff members referenced by Hayashida, he also believed it was a “shame” that DBSSH was completely 3D, particularly as he feels 2D illustrations lend themselves more easily to creative expressive animation.

Kubota panel
Source: Manganimation.net Twitter

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However, after playfully noting that he had already told the aforementioned Hayashida that he should call him if Toei Animation ever gave the greenlight for a full-on Dragon Ball remake, the animation director then admitted that because he had to animate the entire sequence himself and check all the 3D animations one-by-one, the recap’s inclusion led to him regularly cutting it close on his deadlines.

Kid Goku (Masako Nozawa) rides the Flying Nimbus through the Red Ribbon Army's headquarters in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation
Kid Goku (Masako Nozawa) rides the Flying Nimbus through the Red Ribbon Army’s headquarters in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation

Ultimately, Kubota asserted that thanks to the Toei Animation going all-in on 3D animation, DBSSH took a year-and-a-half to produce, additionally noting that the first and last episodes of One-Punch Man’s first season (on which he likewise serves as the series’ animation diector) took a comparatively shorter comparatively  six months and six weeks to respectively produce.

Vegeta (Ryo Horikawa) prepares for battle in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation
Vegeta (Ryo Horikawa) prepares for battle in Dragon Ball Super Super Hero (2022), Toei Animation

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