Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

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Attitudefan
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Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby Attitudefan » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:59 pm

Going through some animation clips from this period of time, roughly between the 22nd TB arc until the end of the Saiyan arc. It maintains this really high quality look, with dynamic movement and expression that isn't seen so much after this era. I really like how the keyframes are spaced out and the flow of the in-between animation. Looking back in retrospect, if cleaned up a little, it could easily pass for high grade animation of today. It's quite fantastic that during this period between the 22nd TB to the end of the Saiyan arc that Toei had enough resources and time to animate many episodes with Studio Junio! However, their quality began to take a downturn in the Freeza episode, where you can tell, for example when Goku turns SSJ (though they were the right people to do the episode), it is lacking in it's dynamic angles and smooth movement that was seen prior. I wonder why that is since this would be the peak of Dragon Ball's popularity as an ongoing show on TV!

Anyways, here are some examples of why I think it just looks sexy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG_4epVNeME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azeN_yjGS7c

What I love about it as well is how the characters look; Goku, for example, has that young youthful fierce look on his face yet looks mature, like he does in the Saiyan arc. The line thickness is also just gorgeous to look at. It really looks like Toriyama's manga came to life in colour! I'd say it represents the manga the best, still better than what they do today in terms of design.
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby CashmanX » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:08 am

Episode 64(Masaki Sato, Vegeta vs Reacoom) is in my opinion the best episode of the Maeda era. Top notch directing and gorgeous animation all around.

http://www.kanzenshuu.com/episode/dbz/eps-064/
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby Chuquita » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:13 am

I really do like this art style, and that line thickness. So eye-catching/stylish.
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby DragonBalllKaiHD » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:22 am

The episodes Minoru Maeda supervised on only looked good because of talented key animators working under him. He only key animated a couple of episodes in Dragon Ball TV series. His key animators were so talented that Maeda didn't have to correct much cuts. Most of them have talent to be animation supervisors, with one of them being Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru. Maeda himself isn't a good animator. Give credit where it's due.

The key animators under him were great. I've enjoyed their on-model style a lot. But then their style doesn't suit to Toriyama' evolving art style, and thus suffering quite a bit during the Cell arc. I'm not sure why Maeda left though. Is it because of frustration that he couldn't keep up with Toriyama's style or because he saw the rise of Tadayoshi Yamamuro's talented work? Either way, in the end, Yamamuro became co-character designer along with Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru.
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby JacobYBM » Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:16 am

The Kanzenshuu Animation Styles Guide page for Maeda Minoru.

Maeda Minoru held the role of チーフアニメーター (Chief Animator) for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z Episodes #1-199. For the specials and movies he was credited as 'character design' and 'animation supervisor' until the eighth Dragon Ball Z film when that role moved to Yamamuro Tadayoshi. This was essentially another term for both 'character designer' and 'chief animation supervisor'.

Maeda only ever was credited for key animation for Dragon Ball Episodes #22 and #29. Even then we have to consider that an animation supervisor is sometimes credited for doing key animation as a formality, although for Maeda it was only ever these two episodes that he was credited for key animation so he might have actually done a few cuts for both.

Maeda performed the role of animation supervisor rather regularly, which is something you don't really see in today's industry. Perhaps Dragon Ball simply had a better production schedule or Maeda was quick? We know from Kei that Maeda didn't actually do much in the way of correcting for his episodes due to the key animators he, the episode director, and the production coordinator were able to assemble. Satou Masaki was a member of Studio Junio but otherwise most of the animators Maeda recruited were from Toei Animation. Ide Takeo, Miyahara Naoki, Inagami Akira and Nakatsuru Katsuyoshi were all employees of Toei Animation at the time and all wound up becoming animation supervisors themselves for the series. Freelance animator Eguchi Hisashi also worked under Maeda. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Souki-dan scene in Dragon Ball Episode #139 was Eguchi's work. The layouts Eguchi provided for those cuts were very nice, the best a Maeda episode ever had.

Personally, I've never been a big fan of the Maeda episodes. Most of the time the key animators weren't working with a competent director or had very many drawings nor did they have especially interesting timing. By the time Maeda was supervising episodes during the Artificial Humans arc the 'in-house' episodes were really just not exciting. His last work for the series was acting as animation supervisor for the second television special. I don't think Maeda's touch was ever really felt, if he ever had one to begin with.
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby FortuneSSJ » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:03 pm

Completely agree.
I rewatched DB some months ago and realized his episodes are the best looking, from technical view.

Image
My favourite Goku's shot since i was a kid.

Image
Second favourite Goku's shot from DB. Couldn't find the Gif of this scene but its in the second video you posted.
0:04 - 0:20. He's so well drawn!!

Image
One of the most well animated punches I saw. I can feel the impact of these.
Last edited by FortuneSSJ on Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby Metalwario64 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:42 pm

FortuneSSJ wrote:Image
One of the most well animated punches I saw. I can feel the impact of these.

It's just such a shame that that GIF is so terrible, like most I see these days.

Image
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Re: Studio Junio episodes (Maeda era)

Postby Attitudefan » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:13 pm

I am loving that GIF!! But it does show how those episodes were animated. It is really difficult to find something like that in the Cell arc and beyond, BOG included.

While in my original post, I don't think I credited Maeda himself, I didn't, but it was during his time that I think Studio Junio's episodes were technically better than what we saw later. Those episodes still hold up to modern day standards for Weekly TV anime; even films. Some of Dragonball's best animation are seen in Dragonball's first 3 films, where Studio Junio had probably one of the best cuts of animation in the dubbed film "Mystical Adventure", where Goku fights Tao and Arale.

Completely agree.
I rewatched DB some months ago and realized his episodes are the best looking, from technical view.


Exactly! It has a high rate of keyframes with very detailed art despite the high amount of animation going on. Not only that, but it can exaggerate itself yet still look on model, which also helps it flow better in motion. You can see that in the link I gave where Goku meets Yajirobe when he punches the boulder. Goku's movements are exaggerated when it needs to be and look very on-model when the cuts dictate it. It also has very unique camera movements and angles which just look stunning and never look bland. For example, in the same clip, Goku is just standing there yet they have a neat pan going on where the background is moving slightly, giving a sense of depth.

The key animators under him were great. I've enjoyed their on-model style a lot. But then their style doesn't suit to Toriyama' evolving art style, and thus suffering quite a bit during the Cell arc.

It's still really rare to see animation like in the GIF presented, where there are unique angles, high level of key frames, and very smooth animation and style (such as line thickness, which disappear completely by the Buu arc). The cuts are much more static in the later arcs, especailly in fights, with the zooms and sweeps of the camera and characters. I can really only recall Goku vs Cell, but then their models are quite off, and the key frame rate is still lower than Junio's work.

Personally, I've never been a big fan of the Maeda episodes. Most of the time the key animators weren't working with a competent director or had very many drawings nor did they have especially interesting timing. By the time Maeda was supervising episodes during the Artificial Humans arc the 'in-house' episodes were really just not exciting. His last work for the series was acting as animation supervisor for the second television special. I don't think Maeda's touch was ever really felt, if he ever had one to begin with.

I disagree with you here (which is quite rare). Actually, it was Maeda's episode in the Cell arc, Trunks vs Cell, where the animation shines for probably the last time in the series, however, no where near what it was in '88-'90.

What I love about Junio's work here is the small things as well. For example, when Piccolo Daimao is shocked that Goku arrives, he has this sort of bounce before he talks. It just gives the animation more life, despite being so subtle. Many examples of that are in this studio's episodes during the Maeda era. It's gone by the time when Goku transforms into a SSJ infront of Freeza. Compare Goku arriving to fight Daimao vs the transformation scene. The keyframes are a lot less, with less dynamic movement when the characters speak or move.

I studied animation, and I studied a lot of DBZ animation, watching parts of the series just to see how it was animated (and to understand the art style as well). It's also interesting to note that Junio's work during this period was also the closest to its manga counterpart in terms of style and detail where the Buu arc to present day is furthest from its source. Again, that GIF represents why I love Junio's work at this time; it has so much life, movement, detail, skilful use of angles and animation techniques, that I am shocked they were able to pull off for about 3 years during serialization! It's especially interesting that it became prominent, with animating just as many episodes per studio cycle as the rest of the studios working on Dragonball save for Last House (which animated one extra episode in the cycle). The last, fully detailed episode that happened in the production cycle was Gohan vs Vegeta where Vegeta is hit by the Genki-Dama. After that it became rare for Junio to animate, especially at that high level; there are a few episodes after that which do appear such as Vegeta landing on Namek, Vegeta vs Recoome, Goku vs Freeza where he is fighting a losing battle despite using Kaioken, Trunks slicing Freeza, and Trunks vs Cell. However, a few of the episodes listed here are not done by Junio.

Junio's work was really prominent in the 22nd TB arc, the 23rd TB arc (they were handed unimportant episodes in the Daimao arc for some odd reason where the 23rd arc they animated the most important, oddly enough), and the Saiyan arc. I do think that, despite Junio having less of a role afterwards, the other studios which were decent before became much better such as Seigasha (the Raditz fight is a great example of some of their best work in the series), Shindou (they started to really shine in the Namek arc, most notably the 20x Kaioken Kamehameha episode), Nakatsuru's body of work, Aoshima was always great and was right behind Junio in terms of quality despite leaving in the Saiyan arc, and Studio Cockpit.

I wonder why that level of effort wasn't used after Dragonball peaked in popularity in Japan? I also pose to find something animated like that GIF in the later arcs or even GT (where it is known for having a better animation budget!).

It certainly is interesting.
My favourite art style (and animation) outside Toriyama who worked on Dragon Ball: Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, Masaki Satō, Minoru Maeda, Takeo Ide, Hisashi Eguchi, Katsumi Aoshima, Tomekichi Takeuchi, Masahiro Shimanuki, Kazuya Hisada


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