OKStars Interview, Vol. 246: Anime Director

Masahiro Hosoda

For OKStars Vol.246, we bring you an interview with the director of the new movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Masahiro Hosoda!

Please tell us how you came to be involved with this work.
I was first contacted at the stage when the scenario outline was done on the planning side. My name had apparently come up beforehand, as well, but I had no idea, so I was quite surprised. (laughs) I was on the staff of the Dragon Ball Z TV anime (aired 1989–1996), so it had been an extremely long time since I had been involved with this work. Dragon Ball‘s art and world are distinctive, so it seems the decision on the planning side was that a staff member who had been involved with the TV anime, who was used to it, would be best. The one who contacted me was Kōzō Morishita-san, who was a producer for the Dragon Ball TV anime series. He was originally a director of anime, and about 30 years ago, when I had just been hired by Toei Animation, he was also my mentor. In the industry at the time, [the mindset of] “the apprentice learns by watching from behind the master” was the norm, and he truly was like that. Except, apart from simple mistakes, he never yelled at me for mistakes with regards to a work’s content. I’m [physically] small compared to the young staff members, so I’m the kind who tends to get angry, so now I see just how big-hearted a person he is. Being an offer from such a respected mentor, I was purely overjoyed.
It’s the first Dragon Ball work in a long time. What did you tackle first?
Even though it’s a work I know, a lot of time had passed, so started by reviewing [the series], re-reading Akira Toriyama-sensei‘s original work from the first volume. In reading it, I felt all the more that it was a work that had the worldview and individuality of each character worked into it. Goku of course, his friends, and the enemy characters…… no matter which one you pick, each has their own story, and the character is well-established, so there’s no need to re-do things as to what sort of character Piccolo or Kuririn is. In that sense, it was easy to make. And also, none of the villainous characters who appear in Toriyama-sensei‘s world are utterly evil; they have a playful side. (laughs) I felt all the more that that is what the fans have loved about them for so long.
This movie is a story set in between Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT1; how did you want to do [the film]?
At the end of Dragon Ball Z‘s “Majin Boo arc” (aired 1993–1996), Goku had become so strong that you wondered how he could possibly get any stronger. So I think that’s why, in this movie, Akira Toriyama-sensei designed a new enemy character, “Beerus, God of Destruction”, as a being surpassing Freeza, Cell, and Majin Boo. Having said that, bringing out a character who’s merely strong is simplistic and uninteresting. Also, in having Toriyama-sensei supervising the scenario that scriptwriter Yūsuke Watanabe-san wrote, we saw that Beerus-sama possessed a multifaceted personality, so I tried to emphasize the overwhelmingly-powerful Beerus-sama‘s playful side right from his first scene. In terms of the work overall, we worked to bring out its “Toriyama taste”, so while there are exceptionally flashy battle-scenes, it’s been finished up as a work that includes gags as well.
Goku becomes excited when a strong opponent appears; did you yourself become excited over anything as the director of this work?
This is true of Goku as well, but actually, Beerus-sama also has a personality where he becomes happy and excited when a strong opponent appears before him. At first, he gives himself a handicap against Goku, and fights him easily, but as a vastly powered-up Goku appears before him, his fighting style changes. When drawing that exhilarating feeling Beerus-sama has, I also grew more energetic and excited as I drew in the facial expressions I thought he’d have.
What sort of interactions did you have with the voice-actors?
As 17 years had passed since Dragon Ball Z‘s broadcast, the voice-actors who played the main characters had all become “elder statesman”-class. Everyone was incredibly busy, so I’m afraid we weren’t able to record with everyone together [at once], but thanks to the forceful initial performance of Goku by Masako Nozawa-san, who plays Son Goku, Gohan, and Goten, the other cast members worked hard, as though they were carried along by the energy of the chairwoman (Nozawa-san)’s recording. As for Ryō Horikawa-san, who plays Vegeta, in the scene where Vegeta lets out a long scream, I was overwhelmed at how, from the first time, he shouted for about twice as long as we had imagined. As it had been a long time for the other voice-actors as well, the energy level in the studio was incredibly high. (laughs) I felt that there would be no problems with the voices, so from the recording, I came to see that, once we firmed up the character of enemies Beerus and Whis, and also worked hard on the art, we’d succeed with it.
Please tell us your favorite character within this work.
It’s Whis, who acts together with Beerus-sama. Actually, at the key animation stage, he was a character with a bit rougher of an image, but I had him altered into a more elegant feeling. Just looking at the lines, he’s a bit of a queen, but if we made him into one outright, he would become a type of character that’s all too common. So I thought I’d add some androgynous elements to Whis. We had Masakazu Morita-san handle the voice, and at the first recording session, he did umpteen takes, but when I listened to it over and over again, I thought the first take really was the best. (laughs) I think Morita-san had quite a hard time matching it to the image on this end, but he gave an extremely good performance, so I’m grateful for that. He was a character we really spent time on giving personality like that, so he’s the number-one favorite in my mind.
When you collect the seven Dragon Balls, Shenlong will grant one wish; if he were to appear, what would you wish for?
I made this work believing that it is imbued with Toriyama-sensei‘s message, “Earth may have a variety of conflicts, it is a beautiful planet where there are many people with good souls”. So if Shenlong were to grant me one wish, “everyone getting along in world peace” would be good. I might have made a different wish when I was younger, but I’m getting to an age where the need to satisfy my own desires has faded away. (laughs)
Please give us a message for the fans who are looking forward to this work.
To Dragon Ball fans, I’d like you to watch it while focused on your favorite characters; to those having their first experience with Dragon Ball, I’ll be happy if you find a character you like in this work. It was also Akira Toriyama-sensei‘s desire to make it a family-oriented movie that fans from that time [when the TV show was on the air] could go to see with their children, so I would be very happy if you could get yourselves to the theater, parents and children together. If the parents can answer about a variety of things when their children ask, “who’s that?” the stock the children place in them might go up. (laughs)
The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.

1 This is somewhat of a simplification of the movie’s time frame. Marketing and production statements leading up to its release have placed it precisely between Chapter 517 and 518 of the original manga, during the ten-year time period between the defeat of Majin Boo and the 28th Tenka’ichi Budōkai, all of which is in the series-proper and prior to Dragon Ball GT.
English Translation: SaiyaJedi
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