Animation Styles Guide

前田(まえだ) (みのる)

Minoru Maeda

General Information

Birthdate: 24 March 1954
Affiliation: Studio Junio
Work: Chief Animator, Character Designer, Animation Supervisor, Key Animation Artist

Animation Supervisor Credits:
DB: 1, 4, 8-9, 15, 22, 29, 36, 50, 57, 64, 71, 82, 89, 97, 104, 112, 119, 125, 132, 139, 146, 153
DBZ: 7, 14, 21, 28, 34, 41, 48, 70, 77, 90, 95, 107, 112, 117, 124, 142, 154, 164; SP2
Movies: DB: 1, 2, 3; DBZ: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Minoru Maeda was involved with the Dragon Ball franchise from the very first episode, not only as the episode’s animation supervisor, but also as the series’ chief animator. After working as the chief animation director on Dr. Slump – Arale-chan, Maeda had become quite accustomed to Toriyama’s art style, so it is no surprise that he stayed to work on Toriyama’s next great hit: Dragon Ball.

As the Chief Animator for Dragon Ball and the first part of Dragon Ball Z, Maeda oversaw almost every aspect of the series’ animation process. Maeda provided the majority of all the character designs from the beginning of Dragon Ball all the way up through the Cell arc of Dragon Ball Z, including both major Dragon Ball Z TV specials. He would inspect and approve most of the key animation cels, and would sometimes fill in as a key animator when needed. He was also heavily involved in the production of all three Dragon Ball movies and the first seven Dragon Ball Z movies.

Maeda is known for his detailed animation which is typically considered to be more “on model” in comparison to other animators. However, the superior quality of the episodes supervised by Maeda can largely be attributed to the very skilled key animators working under him, though it certainly does not hurt that he was the series’ character designer for so long. His animation style can be described as playfully and simplistically detailed with a slight “roundness” to it. This playful style perfectly fit Toriyama’s earlier drawing style, such as seen in the Dr. Slump and early Dragon Ball manga volumes. However, with Toriyama’s change to a more straight style during the Freeza arc, Maeda’s skills no longer fit the look of the series like they once did. It is speculated that this is the reason why he left the series, allowing those under his supervision with more appropriate skill sets to take over.

Up until his departure from the series in mid-1993, Maeda was also responsible for almost all of the series’ promotional illustrations. He also illustrated all three Dragon Ball Z side stories, the majority of all guide book covers up to that point, and a few of the film comic covers.

Animation Gallery

This gallery serves as a small example of the animation seen in episodes supervised by Minoru Maeda and may not be representative of his entire body of work during his involvement in the series.

Dragon Ball Episodes

Dragon Ball Z Episodes

Character Design Sheets

Animation Team

Although Minoru Maeda was employed by Studio Junio, the majority of his animation team was provided by Toei Animation. That said, the animation team under Maeda’s direction was quite talented, with many of the animators able to take on the role of animation supervisor during his absence. The most talented animator of the group was Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, who would go on to be the character designer for the second part of Dragon Ball Z and the entirety of Dragon Ball GT. Many of them would also remain quite involved in the series even after Minoru Maeda left following Dragon Ball Z episode 199, although he was last credited as an animation supervisor in Dragon Ball Z episode 164. Following his departure, the key animators were split up under other animation supervisors, and many of them would themselves be promoted to the role of animation supervisor.

The main animation team (shown in the table below) stayed relatively unchanged with only minor additions throughout the progression of the series. Sonomi Aramaki, Masayuji Aoki, and Akiko Nakano all carried over into the series after working as key animators with Maeda on Dr. Slump – Arale-chan, although Sonomi Aramaki was the only one that stuck it out longer than a few episodes. Eventually Takeo Ide, Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, Masaki Satō, and Hisashi Eguchi were brought on board, many of which were talented enough to be animation supervisors on their own. In fact, besides Hisashi Eguchi, all of them did at one point fill in as animation supervisors, and Takeo Ide eventually went on to supervise numerous episodes throughout the Dragon Ball GT TV series. Nevertheless, these animators would make up the core of Maeda’s animation team during his involvement in both series.

Main Animation Team General Series Involvement
Sonomi Aramaki (荒牧園美) DB: 1 – 104
Yasuyuki Shimizu (清水保行) DB: 36 – 153
Takeo Ide (井手武生) DB: 50 – 153; DBZ: 1 – 291; GT: 1 – 64
Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru (中鶴勝祥) DB: 50 – 153; DBZ: 1 – 291; GT: 1 – 64
Masaki Satō (佐藤正樹) DB: 89 – 153; DBZ: 1 – 164
Hisashi Eguchi (江口寿志) DB: 104 – 153; DBZ: 1 – 64

Supplementary key animators were eventually enlisted as Dragon Ball Z approached the Freeza arc to help accommodate the work load, especially after Hisashi Eguchi left the series. Following Maeda’s departure many of these animators filled in under other animation supervisors for a short time before eventually leaving the series themselves. Only Akira Inagami and Naoki Miyahara stuck it out for the long haul, with Miyahara even taking a shot at being an animation supervisor for a few episodes. Note that their general involvement listed only applies to their series work under Minoru Maeda, and not necessarily for their entire involvement with the series.

Supplemental Animators General Involvement (Count)
Hideko Okimoto (沖本日出子) DBZ: 48 – 164 (11)
Naoki Miyahara (宮原直樹) DBZ: 48 – 164 (8)
Chikako Uesugi (上杉千佳子) DBZ: 70 – 164 (10)
Kuniko Iwagami (岩上久仁子) DBZ: 70 – 164 (10)
Noriko Ichibashi (市橋則子) DBZ: 70 – 112 (6)
Akira Inagami (稲上 晃) DBZ: 117 – 154 (4)
Tetsuya Numako (沼子哲也) DBZ: 117 – 164 (5)
Takashi Nashizawa (梨沢孝司) DBZ: 142 – 164 (3)