DUBAI: Masaki Sato is a veteran Japanese animator who is famously known for his work on Dragon Ball/ Dragon Ball Z series, Initial D, Slam Dunk & more.
Speaking to Arab News Japan, Sato shared his inspiration for Japanese anime and manga saying: “I saw ‘Mazinger Z vs. Dark General’ at Toei Cartoon Festival and I was shocked that the invincible Mazinger Z was defeated. Nobutaka Nishizawa’s directing of the movie was wonderful, and later I was inspired to propose an animation of Slam Dunk where the late Nobutaka Nishizawa was the series director of the anime series.”
“I generally like stories and characters made by Go Nagai. Karate Master (Karate Baka Ichidai) also had a great influence on my childhood,” he added.
About the establishment of his career in the animation industry, Sato said: “When I was in high school, I was immersed in independent movies and didn’t want to get a job at a general company. I studied animation at a vocational school. At that time, I was influenced by ‘Kagaku Sentai Dynaman’ and ‘Dengeki Sentai Changeman’ series.”
“Seiji Mizushima was in the same year as me at school, who later became famous as an episode director and director. Mizushima gave up on drawing after seeing my drawing skill. There were other students who gave up on drawing in the same way. Also, the original hero design that I was creating by doodles at the time was well received”.
“Masakatsu Iijima, a well-known director and director, was my instructor at the Tokyo Designer Academy. Iijima took the picture I drew at that time to Studio Z, and my picture was highly evaluated, and I was invited to Studio Z, but I didn’t join. But at this point I had no intention of becoming an animator. I ended up joining Studio Junio”.
“My first animation project was Sangokushi ‘Records of the Three Kingdoms’ (1985),” he added.
Sato was inspired by the animation work of the late veteran Japanese animator and animation director Kazuo Komatsubara (Tiger Mask, Devilman, UFO Robo Grendizer, Space Pirate Captain Harlock) where he was conscious of Komatsubara’s style during his work on ‘INTERSTELLA 5555’ for the French electronic music duo ‘Daft Punk’ and the late legendary manga artist Leiji Matsumoto.
Sato is known for his work on Dragon Ball/ Dragon Ball Z anime series & movies, he told Arab News Japan the story and experience working on the franchise: “I was involved in this work from the original drawings, but in the end, due to problems such as the length not matching, I was allowed to do everything from the storyboards, the original drawings, and the animation. In addition, I also experienced the process of production progress. I was in charge of the first Goku warm-up scene.”
“Due to the situation described above, as a result, the characters moved well and the complex fighting scenes were lively. At that time, I was a newcomer, but the animation director almost never retakes my drawings.”
Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, who was six years older than me and I were working separately at the time, but I used his drawings as a reference. Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru later became famous as a creator who could perfectly draw Akira Toriyama’s character style.”
“At the time, I was reading the original work and wanted to cherish the feeling I had when I first read the story on Shonen Jump magazine. I cherished the frame division of the original, and arranged the stop pictures and panning,” he added.
Speaking of his favorite moments working on Dragon Ball/ Dragon Ball Z anime series & movies, Sato said: “After Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru left the Dragon Ball team for a year, I began to draw important scenes that he was responsible for (After the Tenkaichi Budokai, from around the Piccolo Daimao arc).
“I was particularly impressed with Goku and Piccolo scenes. I have good memories of being featured in Animage magazine at the time with an interview,” he added.
Masaki Sato is also known for his work as a character designer for Slam Dunk TV and the first movie, he told Arab News Japan the story and experience working on the anime series: “My younger brother was influenced by Slam Dunk, I found it interesting to read the original book and I later proposed to make it into an anime.”
“The original author Takehiko Inoue was also in the process of growing up and the design of the original had changed, so the original character design could not be used in the anime later on. I drew all the drawings for the opening and ending. The expression of muscles and wrinkles was researched in basketball magazines and gave a realistic feeling. The face was drawn to resemble the original, but the body was drawn as a different thing, a human body,” he added.
Sato was invited to the Middle East last year, but he couldn’t travel due to his busy schedule. He is very interested to visit the region one day in the near future.