Dragon Ball Animator Explains How Japanese Theater Inspired Super Saiyan 4

The Dragon Ball franchise has reached a pivotal crossroads now that the Dragon Ball Super anime has been put on haitus. The manga has continued to evolve the Dragon Ball Super mythology after the anime's run, and the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie both retconned major events of the past, and set up an exciting new future. After Broly, a lot of Dragon Ball fans have been speaking up about other non-canon (but beloved) elements of the series they want to see retconned, and Super Saiyan 4 is no doubt one of the most consistent requests. In a recent interview, famous Dragon Ball animator spoke about SSJ4, and how it was in part inspired by Japanese Kabuki theater!

Here's the translation of the quote by Nakatsuru Katuyoshi, the famous Dragon Ball animator who worked on Dragon Ball GT, as well as a lot of the early Dragon Ball movies (Bardock - Father of Goku, Curse of the Blood Rubies, Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan).

  • "Nakatsuru on Super Saiyan 4: He was troubled on how to present a form that looked visually stronger than 3, before hitting upon the idea of the berserker state represented by the Oozaru transformation. Having the form be shirtless was another way to convey this strength.
  • The hair and eye outlines were designed with kabuki actors in mind. He hadn't thought of how to handle the form with closed eyes until later either." --@Cipher_db

It actually makes a whole lot of sense when hear the actual design inspirations for Goku and Vegeta's Super Saiyan 4 designs. Japanese Kabuki theater has been one of the richest sources of that culture's most enduring iconography - especially in media/entertainment. The effects on various iconic anime characters (pretty much anyone in a mask/robe costume) is obvious - and even J-horror films like The Grudge or The Ring draw their creep factor from Kabuki performers.

Now that we know why SSJ4 is Goku's most glam and dramatic-looking form, when can we see it debut in official canon? Dragon Ball Super: Broly found a clever way to bring the Super Saiyan 4 power into Dragon Ball Super, so let's just build on it!

The Japanese-language and English dub releases of Dragon Ball Super are now complete and available to stream with FunimationNOW and Crunchyroll. Viz Media is releasing new chapters of the manga at a monthly rate that can be read entirely for free through the Shonen Jump digital library, and Dragon Ball Super's big movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Fans in Japan are also able to enjoy fresh non-canon adventures from the franchises with new episodes of Super Dragon Ball Heroes' promotional anime series.