Updated with Episodes 94 to 100 - July 23rd 2017
In most cases, this job falls into the hands of the character designer; who better to ensure the characters look like themselves than the one who designed them? In Super's case, Tadayoshi Yamamuro should be the one with this role. He is strangely absent, however, with Miyako Tsuji and Takeo Ide sharing the load between them, instead. Two different animators with different styles trying to maintain consistency across all of the episodes? Madness. Unfortunately, that's the nature of today's anime industry.
For more details on the animation process, I highly recommend you check out this website's very own aptly named "Animation Process Guide".
The intent of this guide is to provide an easy-to-reference catalogue of each supervisor's style by episode. Within each entry, you can find examples of the supervisor's style, alongside any standout scenes from the key animators or chief supervisor. By covering each episode individually, I hope to illustrate any stylistic evolutions, or devolutions, for that matter.
Learning about animators is an endless process, so there are bound to be discoveries and corrections along the way. Be sure to check in regularly, and I hope you find this helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to post them in this thread or at me on Twitter.
Shimanuki’s signature style was drastically altered by his lengthy stint on One Piece, leading to his earlier Super episodes taking on Oda-traits such as wide and round faces. Fortunately, after a year working on Super, his work is beginning to look more and more like his classic Z art.
Disk Wars: Avengers’ character designs were primarily by Dragon Ball veteran and Super character designer, Tadayoshi Yamamuro. With experience working to Yamamuro’s designs, it’s unsurprising that he landed himself a regular supervisor role on Dragon Ball Super.
Unfortunately, Kitano appears to struggle with not only sticking to the character designs, but producing aesthetically pleasing drawings on the whole.
Ishikawa’s style is very much in-line with Yamamuro’s work, though he tends to favour “cuter” designs – making characters a lot cleaner and younger looking. Though he has yet to show off any impressive animation, his model quality ultimately makes him the most consistent supervisor working on Super next to the likes of Yuichi Karasawa.
This does mean that Yashima’s work often lacks the same level of polish found in fully-staffed episodes. His work is easily identifiable thanks to the unique way he draws noses – from the side and three-quarter views, they’re extremely pointy, and from the front, they’re thin and round.
Animator Info: Beginning as a inbetweener at Seigasha, Naoki Tate was quickly promoted to a key animator role where he worked under Masahiro Shimanuki for Dragon Ball Z, and onward into GT. Despite producing reasonably nice work under the Dragon Ball brand, it wasn't until his work on One Piece that he began to develop his trademark style, and eventually morph into one of Toei's most prolific animators. Heavily inspired by the work of Sushio and Hiroyuki Imaishi on Mamoru Hosoda's One Piece Movie 6, Tate developed a loose and somewhat abstract form of animation; expressions and poses are wildly exaggerated and contorted to hugely emphasise the intended emotion or movement. The results are eye-catching, but have caused controversy among the uninitiated or those fonder of more conservative styles. Regardless, his reputation within the animation industry has landed him a number of high-profile episodes on Dragon Ball Super.
Tate's character designs are often much less daring than what's found within his action animation, and bear more resemblance to his work during Dragon Ball Z. Keep an eye out for thick, arched eyebrows, upturned noses, and rounded ears and faces. Keep in mind that, due to Super's rushed production and the number of cuts Tate does per episode, the overall polish often varies from episode to episode -- his work may seem looser or more polished depending on the episode's circumstances.
Dragon Ball Super is Karasawa’s first stint as an animation supervisor, and despite only joining the series in episode 31, he has shown fans that he is one of the most capable staff on the series. His effects work is hugely reminiscent of Yuya Takahashi, while his character art is a slightly rounder, but more detailed take on Yamamuro’s character designs. He is easily recognisable by his sharp shading, high-positioned ears, and angular eyebrows.
While he worked as an inbetweener on Dragon Ball Z Movie 6 and was an assistant supervisor Path to Power, Dragon Ball Super marks Toma’s first regular position on a Dragon Ball product. His distinctive episode 4, packed to the brim with gorgeous thick line work and expressive characters, brought his work to the attention of many fans. Since then, unfortunately, Toma has seldom been left to his own devices, leaving the remainder of his episodes rather generic so as to keep in with the supervisors he is paired up with.
Though his thick line work has been toned down significantly, his work is still easily recognisable. Keep an eye out for thick eyelashes on female characters, pointy chins, and skinny ears.
Manabe's presence on Super is rather limited, often only appearing for major episodes. Straying far from Yamamuro's character designs, Manabe's work is extremely angular, and unlike any other supervisor.
Animator Info: Perhaps the most well-known animator in Dragon Ball's history, Yamamuro began as an inbetweener in the 80s working on the original adaptation of Dr. Slump. Moving into Dragon Ball, Yamamuro became a key animator, and towards the middle of Z, he would graduate to a supervisor role, alongside providing a number of character designs and promo art through to the series' end. He has ultimately become as much a part of Dragon Ball as Toriyama, to some fan's distaste. He has provided character designs and supervised all of Dragon Ball's modern productions -- including Super.
Despite playing such a large part in Dragon Ball's modern productions, he has been almost entirely absent from Super, only animating some of series' endings, supervising episode 13, and providing key animator for episodes 19 and 39. No explanation has been given for his absence.