Norihiro Hayashida, the producer at Toei Animation and the two Dragon Ball Super movies, got candid about the current state of the introduction of 3D animation into anime in a recent interview published on Shueisha online.
American studios like Pixar and Disney revolutionized 3D modelling to such a degree that it has become the new norm of animation in recent times. However, Hayashida feels it lacks variety in character modeling, something which is predominant in Japanese-styled animation.
“The biggest advantage is the strength of the characters. I feel that the polygon look, like Pixar’s, lacks variety in character modeling. No matter which studio makes the film, there are always similar characters, so it is difficult to feel emotionally involved in the film. Even in well-known works, when I try to remember the main character’s face, I can’t recall it clearly.“, he remarks.
But he was particularly impressed with Marvel’s computer-animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, saying that the film had a Japanese Anime-esque feel. He concludes that folks overseas too have realized the weakness surrounding the polygon look.
“I was shocked by Spider-Man: Spider-Verse but that film also had a celluloid or comic book look, and Penny Parker had a Japanese anime style look. Perhaps foreign studios also feel the weakness of the polygon look.“, Hayashida comments.
While seeing the response of Spider-Verse, he and Iyoku at the Dragon Ball Room at Shueisha felt there was an increase in demand for 3D animated projects. For Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, he was frank enough to admit that the idea was significantly opposed within Toei Animation but the higher-ups decided to let them give a whirl.
Out of 4 pilot projects for the film, Tetsuro Kodama’s was chosen by Toriyama for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.
Q: How was it to fully incorporate 3D in Super Hero?
A: There was a lot of opposition within Toei Animation to adapting 3D, but several people in upper management who said, “Give it a try,” and we began production of the pilot version in June 2014. Then we showed it for first time to Shueisha’s DB Room & Toriyama around 2016. We made a total of 4 pilots, which he checked each time & gave us the GO sign!
Q: What kind of pilot version did you finally get the OK from Mr. Toriyama?
A: It was the pilot version that Tetsuro Kodama, the director of “DBS: SUPER HERO” worked on. We received an answer along the lines of, “If you develop the movie based on this, we might be able to make a good work.”Source: Twitter
Keep in mind that June 2014 was even before the release of the Dragon Ball Super Anime.
Hayashida confirms that the character models for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero are hand-drawn.
“Actual humans and polygon-look cartoon characters always move slightly due to breathing, etc. But in this work, the characters are hand-drawn. In this work, however, we made the characters stop exactly where they are supposed to stop, just like in hand-drawn animation.“, he explains.
He further says that they did not use motion capture (like the Tintin movie) and stuck to traditional hand-drawn animation in order to keep the movements consistent with “anime” style throughout the entire film, despite it been easy to use motion capture to create precise movements.
Finally, upon asked whether if the character models & background assets used in the film could be used in a future movie or TV series, the producer said that many of these assets can be used in future to lower the cost of production. He does agree with the notion that Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero would have been more expensive to produce if it were completely hand-drawn.
But he does see great potential within the 3D space. As Pixar and Disney 3D Animated movies become more and more crisp and clean, demand for 3D could increase, as pointed out by the interviewer in the following:
Q: I think that the demand for 3D and its creators will increase even more in the future. Toei Animation is a long-established 2D animation company, but you still see great potential in 3D, don’t you?
A: I think it is an area with a lot of potential. This time it took a lot of time and cost, but as the performance of computers and software improves, what we can do will expand, the speed will increase, and the cost will become cheaper, so I have high expectations for this area.
Whether or not we will be able to make many more celluloid films utilizing 3D in the future depends on how Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is judged, but it has received quite good reviews around the world and has received the highest points in the history of Dragon Ball on major movie evaluation sites in various countries. The film has received quite good reviews around the world.
From these results, I feel that Dragon Ball Super Super Hero could be an epoch-making work that has the potential to become a major turning point in animation.
A lot of long term fans of the series have voiced out their opinion on social media that they want the production companies to stick to 2D animation with 3D only being used in few scenes as a means to cut cost.
3D seems to be the new norm for Japanese animation, as they realize the whole world moving towards that direction.
Source: Shueisha Online website