I think my favorite part of the clip for today’s Sakuga Espresso has got to be the first 15 seconds of Ryo Onishi’s cut from Dragonball Super: Broly. I find the way Goku moves absolutely captivating, so bouncy and child-like. I remember watching the clip when I was sitting out on my porch, sipping coffee, and the smile that came to my face. The entire spirit of Sakuga Espresso!
What Onishi has achieved is grade-A character acting. There are several elements that are perfectly balanced to bring this moment to life. From the character designs and storyboards, to the actual animation itself – it all comes together as parts of a greater whole.
Examining the animation, Onishi’s timing and sense of weight are fantastic – or you could say that Onishi’s timing is the sense of weight. The speed of ascent and fall on Goku’s jump has a very real pulse that makes his presence on screen feel physically weighted.
A perfect number of frames are spent on the squash and stretch during the closeup of Goku’s feet as he flexes and springs into the air. That squash and stretch is an essential building block of animation to depict mass and rigidity, and here it’s faultless.
But as we zoom out, we see more than just Goku bouncing one foot to the other, his shoulders raise and lower, he whips his head to loosen his neck – he’s preparing for a fight. What pushes this animation over the top for me is that it’s a very ‘Goku thing’ to do; the animation is portraying the personality of a long established character in a way that feels honest and authentic.
Pat of this is owed to the character designs of Naohiro Shintani. The previous designs of Tadayoshi Yamamuro are more detailed and intense, where as Shintani is more rounded, friendly, and playful; more like the original Dragonball look in my opinion. That plays in very well to the actual movement Goku opens with as Broly is powering up, it’s playful and almost childlike.
Another boon of the Shintani designs is that the use of shadow becomes more coded. The more shadow, the more intense the emotion. And in a series like Dragonball, that’s a very effective style. Notice how shaded Broly is compared to Goku, establishing him as the threat in this scene, while Goku remains virtually untouched by shadows, keeping him lively. ☕