Spanish fandom website Misión Tokyo posted a fan Q&A from the Salón del Manga convention in Barcelona this weekend featuring Kimitoshi Chioka (first series director on Dragon Ball Super) and Hiroyuki Sakurada (current producer on Dragon Ball Super). A follow-up private interview was also conducted which supposedly resulted in what could be considered exciting or at least semi-important news. A bit of translation-related confusion may have led to some initial overeager reporting externally, though a few interesting tidbits are at least hinted at if not flat-out dropped entirely.
NOTE: The following analysis and summary is based on the answers in their original Japanese form. While the Spanish translations to and fro have also been reviewed, we are not considering them in what you read below beyond confirmation on the questions being asked.
Interview #1 (Video)
The production team discusses previous ventures and what factors are involved in deciding whether a series continues on; ratings and merchandise sales are important factors in whether sponsors continue to support a show, so as long as these remain healthy, there is no issue with continuing. Dragon Ball Kai is cited as an example where ratings were fine, but merchandise was not selling; after all, the material was limited to the original series, which was already available and had been selling well for decades.
As for Dragon Ball Super specifically, the production team are asked about the relationship between the anime and manga versions of the series; both are based on Toriyama’s story suggestions and the main characters are designed by Toriyama himself, though Toyotarō’s involvement has also recently extended to some supporting characters. They cannot say whether or not Dragon Ball Super will link up with the original ending to the manga/anime, as Toriyama has not yet decided how it is going to end.
A question regarding a rumor about a new theatrical film for 2018 is proposed (and how it may relate to the television series), to which the producers simply remain coy and ask everyone to please look forward to an announcement of some kind.
Dragon Ball GT is cited as an example where Toei Animation continued the series beyond Toriyama’s original vision, and whether or not something like this could happen again. The production team responds without a clear answer, but does note that Toriyama is nowhere near his limits in terms of the larger Dragon Ball story, so please look forward to it and wait patiently.
The current Tournament of Power is discussed, specifically with regard to the sheer number of characters; it is fun, but also difficult to keep track of everyone, but the format gives a new kind of excitement not previously experienced, having Goku fight in the middle of it all. The interviewers ask about certain aspects, such as Gohan’s involvement and Boo’s thin-then-fat-then-out storyline, if characters like Yajirobe could appear again, and later on in the interview if Cell could possibly come back, if Goten and Trunks could become important again, why Yamcha is so comical now, if there will be any more tail-based transformations… to which the production team explains that they are simply following Toriyama’s draft that is delivered to them (a response that pops up several times over in the course of the interview).
The interviewers question whether the team considers an international audience watching the show while it’s primarily aimed at grade-schoolers in Japan; they are mainly focused on their target audience, which is unchanged from when the series originally began. A later question goes into more detail about a possible tonal shift, but the directors do not see it as any more “adult” than before; if anything, it is simply more “Z”-like. Later on, they discuss how they are aware that depending on the country, certain scenes may get cut due to different standards, but they believe it is all right so long as the fun of Dragon Ball remains intact.
The group also discusses whether Toei has the power to have Toriyama change the story, to which they amusingly explain they can ask him little things here and there, but they cannot force him. On a day-to-day basis, a director will give suggestions regarding the scenario and storyboard, check in on the animation that comes in, etc. with lots of team-based collaboration; there are roughly 21 people involved in the direction on an episode-level. From script to completion, an episode takes roughly six months of production (four alone for the animation). As already known, the show is produced digitally using specialized software, though the original drawings and keyframes are still done by hand.
With regard to Trunks’ blue hair, after a bit of confusion over who is and is not Super Saiyan Blue, the team simply answers that Toriyama gave instructions for the colors.
As to whether or not there could be additional crossovers (such as with One Piece), more hour-long specials, or even a spin-off for characters like Jaco, the team responds that anything is possible, but there is nothing concrete to report right now.
Interview #2 (Audio)
In a separate, private interview conducted earlier — which the group subsequently provided an audio recording of — the group dives into a few more specifics, with the production team commenting on the forthcoming Q&A session. They explain that incorporating the theatrical films Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’ into the new television series was Toriyama’s idea, and was part of introducing the characters Beerus and Whis, who the producers deemed essential to the story, to children who may not have already seen the movies. They stated that they cannot say when the series will end, as the Universe Survival arc is only just now heating up. Least and favorite parts of the production are discussed, with the overall stress of such a project being the least favorite. They move to a discussion regarding Toyotarō’s involvement; as we already know, Toriyama does the story suggestions, while Toyotarō does the manga based on that along with some secondary character designs. The discussion then turns to what the interviewers suggest is a shift to a more “adult” tone over the course of the series, but the interviewees do not agree–it has always been grade-school oriented, but of course it can be enjoyed by all ages; rather, it has just become more Dragon Ball-like. When questioned on the director shift in Dragon Ball Super, they respond that it is simply Toei’s way, allowing them to change up the taste of the show.
The interviewers ask point-blank about a “new movie” — making the assumption that one is happening, without one actually having been announced — to which the production team responds that they cannot announce whether there will be a new movie, and to please be patient. They do say that with regards to future developments in Dragon Ball Super, we will find out “soon” — then specifically say “at the end of the year” — but do not commit to it being a movie in any way. It is questioned whether the current arc is the last; the production team answers that the current arc will last until March, but Toriyama naturally has something in mind for the story of the Dragon World.
By way of these interviews, certain individuals initially reported variations on the series ending or possibly ending in March. From our standpoint, we do not believe this is necessarily a correct interpretation of the answer(s). Rather, it fits the pattern for starting to release new information on a new story arc several months before it debuts. Talk of an announcement for later this year combined with forthcoming new story developments lines up well with Jump Festa 2018 this December, which is always a key point in time for new series developments and early previews — see last year’s Universe Survival arc preview as a prime example.
As far as key takeaways from these interviews, most concretely for Dragon Ball Super, the production team specifically says:
- They cannot say when Dragon Ball Super is going to end (as the Universe Survival arc is just heating up)
- They cannot say whether or not Dragon Ball Super will link up with the original ending to the manga/anime, as Toriyama has not yet decided how it (i.e., Dragon Ball Super) is going to end
- The Universe Survival arc itself appears to be slated to run through to March 2018
- Toriyama certainly has something in mind for a continued story
- There is nothing to announce right now regarding the future potential for things like additional crossovers, television specials, or theatrical films
- Additional announcements will come in due time, starting later this year