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Production Guide

General Credits Overview


In both the Episode Guide and Movie Guide you will find full opening and ending credits as translated directly from each specific episode or movie. This is something that we have always strived to do and it really has become a staple of the site. This general overview page is broken up into three sections; Japanese names, staff hierarchy, and the credit structure itself. Each section details a specific topic relevant to understanding how this guide and the credits themselves work.

Japanese Names

To fully understand how the credits are translated and where certain names come from, it may be helpful if you are aware of how Japanese names are structured. A traditional Japanese name is typically comprised of a family name, followed by the person’s given name. This is opposite of Western cultures, where the given name is written first, followed by the family name. In addition, Western names typically include a middle name, whereas in Japanese they are rarely used. So for example, Toriyama’s full name in proper Japanese would be written as “Toriyama Akira”, where Toriyama is his family name and Akira is his given name.

Japanese names are generally written in kanji, which are characters borrowed from the Chinese language with Japanese pronunciations. Believe it or not, someone’s name can be one of the hardest things to translate, as the kanji used in names may have more than one common pronunciation and only one of which is correct for any given individual. This is what makes the pronunciation and romanization of Japanese names very difficult. In some instances people do decide to use hiragana in their names rather than the typical kanji, which leaves no room for error as to how to pronounce their name. However, these hiragana characters do not necessarily bear any meaning in contrast to given names expressed in kanji. If a name is fully written in kanji, there will sometimes be hiragana provided above the characters, known as furigana, to show the reader how the kanji should be pronounced.

Since most credits are written in kanji without the proper pronunciations provided, we are often left guessing. However, in cases like this we typically use the most common associated pronunciation with the name. Given names are typically the hardest part of the name to translate as they are often much more diverse in pronunciation and character usage than family names. As you peruse the guide you will also notice many family names that are repeated quite often, such as Satō (佐藤), Suzuki (鈴木), Takahashi (高橋), Yamamoto (山本), and Inoue (井上), just to name a few. It should be noted that in contrast to most of the minor staff credits, the proper pronunciations for the majority of the main staff are known as they are properly documented in official interviews and guidebooks.

A good example of a name that for a long time was often mispronounced was veteran animator Tadayoshi Yamamuro (山室直儀). For years his name was improperly translated as “Naoyoshi Yamamuro”, which actually became so confusing that he had two separate encyclopedia entries on Anime News Network. The issue is not so much that translators were getting it wrong, as both pronunciations are legitimate for this set of kanji, but rather that his name was never written with furigana until the early-2000s when numerous interviews with Yamamuro were published. More often than not his given name is translated as “Naoyoshi” because the kanji “直” is typically pronounced “nao”, and many translators simply leave it as-is in the name as “Naoyoshi”. If it were not for these interviews and his more significant involvement in the franchise, this irregular pronunciation may never have been caught.

Fortunately most cases are not quite as complicated as that, but here are a couple good tidbits about Japanese names that might come in handy:

  • The majority of all family names are comprised of one, two, or three kanji characters.
  • Female given names often end in the syllable ko, written with the kanji meaning “child” (子).
  • Male names are typically never written in hiragana, as it is seen as feminine; in medieval Japan, women generally were not taught kanji and wrote exclusively in hiragana.
  • Occasionally you will see a given name written in katakana, a writing system typically used for foreign words in Japanese. Hironobu Kageyama (影山ヒロノブ), the main vocalist for many of the themes used in Dragon Ball Z, is a good example of this.
  • In Japan, names written in kanji are governed by the government’s rules on kanji use which designate certain characters as acceptable to be used in Japanese names.

Staff Hierarchy

The animation process is handled by four main divisions or departments; the production department, animation department, art department, and post-production department. The following is a basic break-down of these departments, including who exactly works in each one and their respective responsibilities. Although there were some additional credits included throughout the series, the credits listed below are those only of the consistent main credits used. The main series staff members of each department are in bold and highlighted in orange, while the main episode staff members are italicized and highlighted in grey.

Credit Structure

While some credit titles were added and removed over the years, the main credit structure has remained relatively the same for all of the series, TV specials, and movies. That is to say that all had both opening and ending credits, which is still the norm of today. However, some recent series such as One Piece have begun to show all of the credits before the episode begins.

The credit structure used in Dragon Ball is actually quite simple; the opening credits were designated for series credits and the ending credits were designated for episode specific credits. Staff involved in the production of the entire series as a whole were credited in the opening credits and staff involved with just that specific episode were credited in the ending credits. This is why you will always see the main episode staff (art director, animation supervisor, and episode director) credited at the very end of the episode. Here is a rundown of the structure almost every episode follows:

Opening Credit Structure

(Series Credits)

Main Series Production Staff
Background Music Composer
Main Series Animation Staff
Theme Songs
Series Director
Production Companies

Ending Credit Structure

(Episode Credits)

Episode Script Writer
Voice Actors
Animation & Art Staff
Post-Production Staff & Companies
Main Episode Staff

It should be noted that you will notice throughout the site that we give fairly literal translations of credits. This is particularly relevant to the “art director” and “episode director”, which are actually credited in each episode as “art” and “director”, respectively. While these could be expanded upon, we feel that maintaining accuracy is more important.