Works for Toei Animation. Aside from Dragon Ball, has been involved in other Toriyama works such as Dr. Slump, and acted as series director for the Dragon Ball Super TV series from episode 77 onward. Has also directed movies such as Yes! PreCure5: Great Miraculous Adventure in the Mirror Kingdom!, Yes! PreCure5 Gogo!: Happy Birthday in the Sweets Kingdom, and One Piece Film Z.
Did you receive any requests from Toriyama regarding how he wanted the film to be made?
The only time I spoke with him directly was at the film’s screening number zero (an initial private screening for staff members), so I actually didn’t consult with him at all before starting production on it. So I took his script itself as his message saying, “just do it right.” When I was in charge of the Dr. Slump: Dr. Mashirito and Abale-chan film, I created an animated version that didn’t leave out even a single panel of his original work, and it was my personal mission to use that same method this time around, trying not to change lines or add things if possible. However, realistically speaking, I had to make everything fit into a 100 minute timeframe, so… there were lines like, “Yes, Lord Freeza” where I would cut off the “Yes” and leave it as just “Lord Freeza” (laughs), and I shaved off small bits here and there. It couldn’t be too jam-packed though; it needed room to breathe, and I took care to make sure the overall mood of his script remained, along with leaving his nuances and Toriyama-isms intact as much as possible. That was what I felt was the best way to handle his screenplay, and I went about creating the film with that in mind.
Broli is even featured in the title of the movie, and it will be his first appearance in quite some time; please tell us what you thought when you heard about the premise for this film.
Two of the previous movies that featured Broli (Dragon Ball Z: Burn Up!! A Red-Hot, Raging, Super-Fierce Fight, and Dragon Ball Z: The Dangerous Duo! Super-Warriors Can’t Rest) were directed by my mentor Shigeyasu Yamauchi. He was an incredibly popular character with Yamauchi handling him, so when I heard that Broli would be appearing again, I thought, “this is bad!” (laughs). However, compared to the Broli of the past, who wasn’t written with much of a personality, this time Toriyama added more dimension to his character, including a sense of innocence, and in the end I was feeling really enthusiastic, thinking, “This’ll make Broli’s popularity explode even more!” Still, we did include some homages to the previous movies in the effects and such.
Which scene did you put the most effort into when adapting the script into storyboards?
Usually at the end the enemy gets taken down by a huge attack and the Earth is saved, providing catharsis for the audience, but this time the last Kamehameha doesn’t hit its target! That could be a bit of a letdown for viewers, so I had to make sure that the fights leading up to that moment were truly exhilarating. That’s why the final fight between Gogeta and Broli is so brutal that if it were really happening, they could’ve easily gone down multiple times. To make it gratifying for the audience, they pummel each other and fire off special attacks, then it ends with a Kamehameha!! A normal enemy would’ve died three times from that. (laughs)
Then, since there are such brutal battles playing out, please tell us some details about the fight scenes.
We switched up the scenery for the fights in the second half; the magma scene in particular was added because if the background had remained as never-ending white ice, it would be hard to see the effects on blasts. The scenery needs to be darker in scenes with a lot of blast attacks. Furthermore, if the conditions of the battle stay the same the whole time, the audience will lose interest, so I felt it needed to be changed up somehow. So we did things like have magma spurt out due to the ferocity of their fight, and also had them end up in another dimension at one point. Then at the climax, we created the ideal conditions to see light-based attacks when Shenlong appeared, making the sky turn pitch black. I actually imagined including scenes of them fighting in space, and to make an homage to Broli disappearing into the sun by having them fight on the sun’s surface, or having them fight inside the Earth itself, but in the end there just wasn’t enough runtime! (laughs) Also, I made it my goal to show off Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan in the coolest way possible. I wanted to bestow it with the most befitting visuals and power. The transformation sequence was very carefully constructed as well, and I encourage you all to try imitating it yourselves!
What kind of rapport did you share with the visual team, musicians, and other staff members?
There were fight scenes where the animators were given free rein to do as they pleased, and I would look at their work afterward and think, “Oh? The number of cuts increased?” or “Does this sort of attack exist?” (laughs) The other departments aside from animation were also filled with staff members giving it their all and fully utilizing their own talents, doing whatever they pleased in a good way. My job was to put it all together while marveling to myself, “they’re all incredible!” (laughs) In baseball terms, it was like being a coach. If I said, “hit a homerun,” they’d reply, “okay,” and then knock it out of the park. And the staff room was fun and upbeat. There was a sense of enjoyment from everyone forming friendly rivalries as fellow professionals, rather than working against each other.
Lastly, please give us a message for everyone who has come to see the movie.
It may be trite, but at any rate I just want to say, “please enjoy it.” Of course, since I put a lot of myself into this movie I have a deep emotional attachment to it, so I would like to express that as well, but mostly I want the audience members to watch it with a pure mindset. Dragon Ball… is fun!