Being a good film director is easy, but to do the same effects in animation is top notch. To be a “good” director you:
1) Make everything interesting to look at.
2) Make each scene have an “intense” moment.
3) The framing and lighting choices should reflect meaning and purpose and be dynamic and interesting.
In this week’s episode of Dragon Ball Super, we see the young and talented Megumi Ishitani direct this episode with the help of animation supervisor Tadayoshi Yamamuro.
Ishitani attended the Tokyo University of the Arts and from that she got accepted into the Gaidai animation course which only about a dozen people take part. This is one of the most prestigious courses you can take as an animator.
Megumi Ishitani has been an assistant director for most of the Tournament of Power (TOP). However, she was granted to direct the finale of the show on her own.
At the start of this fight, Jiren is above them, and the lighting shows him “towering” over them. As Frieza and Android 18 are the weakest of the three fighters, this is only natural. As the fight continues, he slowly loses the power advantage.
The first action scene comes from Mashiro Shimanuki. He is a unique animator because he manages to use the whole fighting stage while maintaining a sense of direction. For example, when Frieza goes in Jiren punches 18 away.
From there it cuts to Android 18 running back into the action genuinely showing how far he has been separated. So when he cuts back into the action, we are not left confused as to where he was.
Ishitani’s direction is apparent here as the background has a dark blue/purple effect as Frieza stands and points a beam at Jiren. This shows Jirens’ isolation and lets him lament on his loneliness. All of this is getting corrected by Yamamuro which gets rid of the stiffness of Shimanuki’s drawings.
We then transition to Jiren obtaining his power back. It’s interesting to note as Jiren starts to overpower Frieza and Android 18 the stage is red, signifying despair and hopelessness but as soon as Goku Arrives: the stage turns blue, this is the antithesis of red, so the blue means the hope that Goku brings to the table.
Kenta Yokoya animates the initiation of Goku and Frieza teaming up. He hasn’t had much impact on the show he did, however, animate Vegeta’s knockout and parts of episode 116.
Then, fan favourite Yuya Takahashi takes over the central part of this fight scene. The reason the fandom loves his animation is it reminds them of Dragon Ball Z’s art style. This is by far his best work in the Dragon Ball Super franchise. One word that sums up his work and that’s perfection; His character models are perfect, and the fluidity of the movements are next level.
The fight has finally concluded and Super Shenlong is awoken. Previously when this happened his size was awkwardly large, however this summoning of him was perfectly executed. He grants the wish of all the destroyed universes to be revived and we get a nice cut of showing each universe getting revived.
An oxymoron effect is used here. At the start of the T.O.P the overall atmosphere is dark and the background is mostly dark or murky. This then changes as we get a nice effect on everyone looking to the heavens with a clear sky. This shows hope and prosperity, and as a viewer, it reminds us that the worst is over and a new beginning is starting.
This is especially impactful with Jiren; him looking into the light is not him realising his universe got destroyed, but it’s him looking into a “new beginning” as he made a bond with someone for the first time. This transitions into Goku looking up which is a good effect because it reminds us that Goku, outside the T.O.P sees Jiren as a friend.
Overall this episode was 10/10; From Megumi Ishitani fantastic direction skills to the tremendous animation by Yuya Takahashi this will go down in the memories of the viewers. When it comes to a “benchmark” episode setting new standards, it’s not as good as episode 130 but is undoubtedly a 10/10 episode. With entirely new animation and unique angles were taken on the fight stage will make me remember this episode forever.