The past decade has seen the executives at Toei Animation make a number of questionable business decisions regarding their properties – look no further than their nightmarish treatment of Saint Seya – and it seems that the company’s resulting production woes have finally started to effect arguably their biggest franchise, Dragon Ball.
Word of the trouble being caused by the franchise’s burgeoning reliance on 3D animation in its cinematic outings – as seen briefly during Gogeta and Broly’s final fight in Dragon Ball Super: Broly and throughout the entirety of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero – was first noted by the film’s producer, Tomohiro Hayashida, during a December 23rd with Shueisha Online.
According to Hayashida, not only were the costs to produce DBSSH in 3D so high that it would have actually been more cost effective to animate everything in 2D, but also that most of the staff at Toei Animation were wholly against the film being animated solely via computer graphics.
Then, during a February 24th panel held during the Japan Expo Sud 2023 in France, DBSSH animation director Chikashi Kubota revealed that despite the animators being unionized and the company operating in the black, things behind-the-scenes weren’t perfectly-tied-up with a bright red ribbon.
Continuing, Kubota explained that one of his conditions for signing on to DBSSH was that Toei Animation allow for some 2D animated sequences to be featured in the movie, which in turn resulted in the beautiful ‘remastered recap’ of relevant events from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z seen at the start of the film.
As per a livetweet of the panel provided by French anime and mangas news website Mangaanimation.net, Kubota first detailed how, like the Toei Animation staff members referenced by Hayashida, he also believed it was a “shame” that DBSSH was completely 3D, particularly as he feels 2D illustrations lend themselves more easily to creative expressive animation.
However, after playfully noting that he had already told the aforementioned Hayashida that he should call him if Toei Animation ever gave the greenlight for a full-on Dragon Ball remake, the animation director then admitted that because he had to animate the entire sequence himself and check all the 3D animations one-by-one, the recap’s inclusion led to him regularly cutting it close on his deadlines.
Ultimately, Kubota asserted that thanks to the Toei Animation going all-in on 3D animation, DBSSH took a year-and-a-half to produce, additionally noting that the first and last episodes of One-Punch Man’s first season (on which he likewise serves as the series’ animation diector) took a comparatively shorter comparatively six months and six weeks to respectively produce.