The official Dragon Ball website’s thirtieth entry in “The Nearly Complete Works of Akira Toriyama” — an on-going series highlighting rare and important pieces of the author’s work over the years — is a fold-out feature from the 1986 No. 12 issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump (released 18 February 1986) entitled “Chasing the 7 Secrets of Anime Dragon Ball!!”, which includes an inside look at the then-upcoming animated series:
While Akira Toriyama did not provide the fold-out feature’s main illustration, which was early promotional art drawn for the animated series, he did draw this issue’s cover and fold-out poster illustrations.
The seven different “secrets” of the Dragon Ball TV series are spread across the backside of this fold-out poster and carry over onto the very first page as well. However, it should be noted that the official website’s image and write-up is missing the left-most section of the feature included on the issue’s first page, which includes part of item #4 and the entirety of items #5 thru #7. We have included those here for the sake of completeness.
#1: Is the animation drawn by Akira Toriyama-sensei?
The number one secret behind the Dragon Ball television series: it is not animated by Akira Toriyama, but rather dozens of animators! The animation is overseen by the animation supervisor, Minoru Maeda, and the background art and designs are developed by the art director, Tadanao Tsuji, both of whom consulted with Toriyama during the series’ planning and development. The animation cels, based on character designs from Minoru Maeda, are placed over the background art to create the animation. An example of this is provided, showing a clear cel of Yamcha swinging his sword before being placed over a stormy backdrop.
#2: What is the difference between an animated series and a comic?
As the second secret reveals, one main difference between animation and manga is that in animation there is sound. The characters have to speak, so voice actors are needed, and there is background music created to add an atmosphere. A scriptwriter is also necessary to write the character’s dialogue, otherwise the voice actors don’t know what to say. However, the main difference is that the manga is created by a single person, while an animated television series is created by bringing together numerous experts of different trades. Toriyama comments that “animation is seriously hard work”, and says he is glad he only has to draw manga.
#3: How many people does it take to make a single animated series?
In the lead-up to the television series’ debut, Akira Toriyama visited Toei Animation and learned what it takes to produce an animated series. Roughly needing 18 images per second, it takes approximately 27,000 cels to create a 25 minute episode. They note that to create this many cels for a single episode it takes on average roughly 16 key animators, 35 in-between animators, 32 finishing touches artists, and 5 photographers. This does not even include all the other staff involved, like assistant directors, production managers and their staff, producers, etc. In total it takes about 150 people to create a single episode.
While at Toei Animation, Akira Toriyama was able to draw his own key frame and watch the process involved in turning it into an animation cel. Toriyama’s finished colored cel of Son Goku is included near the bottom of the fold-out spread.
#4: Who will be performing the [character] voices?
Unlike with manga, where the reader can imagine the voices of the characters, a television series uses voice actors to bring a series’ characters to life with distinct, unique voices. During his visit to Toei Animation, Akira Toriyama was able to listen to the voice actor audition tapes, which included the late Hiromi Tsuru (Bulma), Masako Nozawa (Son Goku), and the late Kōhei Miyauchi (Kame-Sen’nin).
In the “Special Voice-Actor Roundtable” included in the TV Animation Part 3 supplemental Daizenshuu, the voice actors present discuss which of them actually auditioned for their role(s). Both Tōru Furuya (Yamcha) and Ryō Horikawa (Vegeta) note that they did not have to audition, and that outside of the initial auditions held at the beginning of the Dragon Ball series, very few voice actors actually had to audition. Masako Nozawa notes in her Dragon Ball Tenka’ichi Densetsu interview that she remembers her audition and hearing later that Akira Toriyama had listened to her audition tape and chose her, saying, “This person will play Goku.”
#5: What kind of songs will there be, and who is singing them?
The fifth secret unveils the series’ opening and ending theme songs, “Mystical Adventure!” and “I’ll Give You Romance“, respectively. The opening theme sung by Hiroki Takahashi is described as a song having a “cool rock arrangement”, while the ending theme sung by Ushio Hashimoto is described as a song from “Bulma’s heart”.
#6: When and where can I watch Dragon Ball?
With the Dragon Ball television series set to debut in just nearly a week from this issue’s publication date, this secret covers the various regions of Japan and their respective local Fuji TV affiliate stations that will carry the series, as well as stating that the nationwide network television broadcast will begin 26 February 1986.
#7: Where can I send my opinions on the anime?
The mailing addresses for Toei Animation planner Keizō Shichijō and Fuji TV producer Tokizō Tsuchiya are provided so that fans can send letters with their opinions, impressions, or concerns about the TV series.
Akira Toriyama’s corresponding author comment alongside chapter 62 of the manga in this issue referenced his hectic schedule, but also enthusiasm, for the upcoming animated television series debut:
The Dragon Ball television series debuted 32 years ago today, making this feature an appropriate choice for the website’s daily entry.
Was the Key Frame that Toriyama drew ever used in the show itself?
Unfortunately, no. It was only used in the feature itself. As far as we know Toriyama has it hanging on his wall, or Toei still has it. Who knows.