The official Dragon Ball website’s eighty-first 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 the character design for No. 21 in her untransformed state, originally from the video game Dragon Ball FighterZ released earlier this year:
In the second half of the Dragon Ball Official Site‘s “Artizans” interview with regarding Dragon Ball FighterZ, Bandai Namco producer Tomoko Hiroki and Arc System Works director and technical artist Junya C. Motomura spoke to the creation of No. 21:
Please tell us how the birth of the story’s central focus, Artificial Human No. 21, came about.
Motomura: At first, we were thinking of having an existing character be the one pulling the strings, but in the context of making it fit in with new elements such as the Link System, we thought it might be better to have an original character… except, at that stage, nothing was set, including Toriyama-sensei‘s supervision.
Hiroki: The first time the idea came out was when we went to Shueisha for consultation. With an entirely original character, or an entirely new concept, there might be those among the fans who would find it difficult to accept, so there became talk of wanting to come up with something using existing concepts. Then, starting from the place of, “What about using the Artificial Humans concept?” the thoughts of “Artificial Human No. 16 comes back to life” or “a new Artificial Human appears” arose, and there we had it. I believe that the power of Shueisha’s had a lot to do with No. 21’s birth.
In creating a new character, we imagine you must have struggled quite a bit with the design.
Hiroki: Yeeeeah, we really struggled. (laughs) This was also when we were talking with Shueisha, but in terms of really making a character with a strong image, they wanted us to have them transform. All the most powerful enemies in Dragon Ball — Freeza, Cell, Boo — transform, after all. But when it comes to an artificial human who transforms, there’s already the image of Cell, and when we tried to incorporate female elements, it just wouldn’t quite come together cleanly. And while we were consulting with Arc System Works on the design, we ended up having Toriyama-sensei put it all together.