Out of the scripts for all 64 episodes of GT, Atsushi Maekawa wrote the most, with a total of 28 episodes plus the TV special. We hit him up with all sorts of questions!
Except, with a “mightiest Goku who can do anything”, who had already gone as far as he could possibly go, the balls would all be gathered together in a cinch. That’s where we came up with the idea of, “if we deliberately turn Goku back into a child and give him various limitations, it’ll open up the adventure even more”. As a result of that idea having come up, we ended up deliberately turning Goku back into a child.
For instance, in Gohan’s case, there was apparently so much as an “Ultimate Gohan” concept in Dragon Ball Z, where he was a super-warrior with might surpassing Goku, but in GT, he’s a scholar who’s given up fighting almost entirely. But for someone who had given up fighting like that to return to the front lines, I thought that naturally there needed to be quite a bit of drama involved.
Around the Super 17 arc in the animation, he came back as a super-warrior all of a sudden, but actually, I personally wanted to put in a heroic episode telling the reason he started fighting again. For instance, people he loved, like Videl, had been hurt, and when in the depths of anguish, he happened to open up his wardrobe, inside was his dōgi from fondly-remembered times. Together with the line, “To think there’d come a day I’d wear this again…”, he brushes off Chi-Chi, who in tears is trying to stop him, and makes a shocking, lightning entrance on the battlefield. Considering the status of the character, I wanted to spend one or two episodes showing that level of resolve, and I recall having even written the plot for it. But it’s a subplot that diverges from the main story, I guess you could say, so due to various circumstances, it never came to fruition, and it ended up stopping at the level of, he takes off his glasses, and takes on the eyes of a warrior. (laughs)
I can’t tell everything, but including both things that made it to animation and things that were shelved, I believe that GT is the crystallization of all the ideas that were spun together like that in that atmosphere of freedom.
In that way, Pan was decided upon very smoothly, but with regards to the selection of the other character, I remember even the staff being really conflicted about it. That is to say, it wouldn’t work if the chosen character was just “strong”. That’s because they would be taking up the great struggle of being the one to hold back the easygoing Goku and the impetuous Pan. (laughs) And so there were a variety of opinions, such as maybe Trunks would be good, or no, wouldn’t Gohan or Goten be better? Ultimately, the greatest deciding factor in going with Trunks was not just his strong sense of responsibility, but because he combines it with the almighty facet of, “Having someone close to Capsule Corp., they’ll be able to respond to any situation!” In short, we had Trunks shoulder the aspect of, “Having the elements of Bulma that are impossible for Pan”.
If you think about it that way, even though she herself didn’t stand out very much in the series, Bulma was a surprisingly large presence with regards to GT.
Except, stepping into their minds as I tried to write that sort of original story, Goku is the kind of person who there’s just no messing with. Goku is always the Goku that everyone can picture in their minds, and to the viewers, that’s something that will never change. But on the other hand, looking back on Vegeta, the Goku he sees has mysteriously changed. In other words, it’s a change in his own mental state. To put it another way, it’s not because Goku’s changed, but because Vegeta has changed more and more that he sees him this way. The prideful man who had always continued to refuse Goku gradually came to accept him, and the sense of distance between them shrank. In order to develop their drama in original material, it was necessary to investigate the change in Vegeta’s mental state even further. The result of that is Vegeta’s suggestion that they fuse, and also in a separate scene, his line declaring, “I am an Earthling with the pride of the Saiya!”
Naturally, you’d expect opinions on this to be split, so to actually go so far as to have Vegeta say that was a decision that took quite a bit of courage. (laughs)
So, based on the concept that “the Evil Dragons were corruptions born as the price of the wishes granted up till now”, we’d have the people who gave rise to those corruptions take responsibility for them one by one, not by relying on the Dragon Balls, but by their own strength. That’s the kind of story we went with.
In the end, by taking responsibility for all seven, the Dragon Balls are purified, and Goku & co. bring back all the people who have died up to that point, as they’e always done; but normally, the cities are restored at the same time that the people are revived. This time, however, what’s conclusively different from usual is that only the people are revived, and the deep scars in the cityscape remain. In other words, the people have to restore the broken city, not with the power of the Dragon Balls, but with their own hands. I wrote that scene with that sort of desire in mind.
The Dragon Balls are clearly a tool like something out of a dream. However, what’s needed to achieve a dream that lies past predicaments to get out of, is ultimately “the strength of people”. The entire theme of the series up to this point was in that. It’s because we wanted people to perceive that intention that we made the Dragon Balls the final “enemy”.
It might be that he died there, or it might be that he became something else entirely. I’ll leave that decision to the imaginations of everyone who watched. However, the Goku up to that point that everyone knows clearly does not appear after that.
In the world of Dragon Ball, Goku had already died multiple times, and up till then, each time he appeared with a halo over his head. However, I didn’t want to go with the usual concept of, “even when he dies, he comes right back to life”. I wanted the viewers to picture “death” in that way, and feel a sadness close to it in reality. So I had a “change” come over Goku.
And then after that, once he defeats Yi Xing Long and grants the final wish, Goku goes right off with Shenlong and the Dragon Balls, to somewhere that people definitely can’t get to. While wishing that people will be able to get by on their own strength in a world without the Dragon Balls. And Vegeta is the only one who notices where he’s headed.
Except, I personally go ahead and imagine… that Goku might unexpectedly show up, just at Chi-Chi’s, from time to time. Yes, unexpectedly….
The line “Shenlong’s back… it sure is warm…”, which Goku says at the very end, is apparently something that was suggested at a much earlier stage and then thawed out for the final episode.
We asked this person!
Atsushi Maekawa (scenario)
Scriptwriter. Born 07 July 1964. Made his debut in the Majin Boo arc during the second half of Dragon Ball Z (penning a total of 13 episodes). The most notable works he has participated in are Dragon Ball GT, Digimon Adventure, and The Prince of Tennis, among many others.