Akira Toriyama Had One Rule For Dragon Ball Super's Broly Redesign

"Dragon Ball Super: Broly" was a big deal for Shonen fans during its initial release in 2018. Up to that point, Broly, a fan-favorite "Dragon Ball" character, existed outside the franchise canon. Any movies or specials the character appeared in did not affect the mainline "Dragon Ball" series. That didn't stop him from becoming popular, with the character receiving his own trilogy of "Dragon Ball Z" films. The character's design was part of his popularity, with the Saiyan being larger in appearance and sporting green hair. His brutality, strength, and size difference compared to characters like Goku made him an entertaining fighter, albeit one that would never bear any weight on the ongoing anime.

However, when "Dragon Ball" returned with a new manga and anime adaptation titled  "Dragon Ball Super," Broly's right to a proper place in the "Dragon Ball" canon would come to fruition. The movie "Dragon Ball Super: Broly" served as both a celebration of the character and a re-introduction for audiences old and new. The rebooted Broly would resemble the one from the original movies, with a new design from Naohiro Shintani, an animation supervisor working on the film. 

But when it came to a classic character like Broly, there was one rule on the redesign that "Dragon Ball" creator Akira Toriyama wanted those working on the film to follow.

An overly macho Saiyan

In an interview found in a promotional program for the "Dragon Ball Super: Broly" movie translated by Kanzenshuu, animation supervisor Naohiro Shintani spoke about the process of redesigning such a popular character:

"Broly was a different story, though. The only designs I received were up to him wearing his armor, giving off a very different impression than the Broly of the past. Personally, I had a very strong image of Broly based on the previous movies, so I created my design for him at Full Power from scratch. I just had the urge to see him lose his shirt and run wild at the end. Toriyama had stated that he didn't want him to be overly macho, so I aimed to make him look as huge as possible, yet still within the confines of not going overboard with it."

Toriyama wanting to tone down the sheer size of Broly is understandable. In the older out-of-continuity "Dragon Ball Z" films of the past, Broly was basically the Saiyan version of the Incredible Hulk, green hair and all. While Broly would maintain some of his massive size and still be bigger than most characters in "Dragon Ball Super," there was more restraint to his character design this time around.

Creating a more empathetic Broly

However, these Broly redesigns didn't stop at the surface-level appearance of the character. The nature of the character was changed, too, with Naohrio Shintani elaborating on what makes this Broly different from previous incarnations:

"In the past, Broly was nothing but a dangerous guy (laughs). But this time, there are scenes that humanize him. This Broly is different from his previous incarnation, and I hope he becomes popular in his own right."

The "overly macho" rule Toriyama gave to those redesigning Broly wasn't just an aesthetic choice; instead, this rule should be seen as Toriyama's understanding that characters (that aren't Goku) need to have some sort of vulnerability to ground their character in humanity. That is the case in "Dragon Ball Super: Broly," which provided a successful reimagining of the brutish Saiyan. The pre-conceived notion from his previous iterations were flipped on its head with this new take on the character. Broly was given a tragic origin story, making him a character with the potential to be good, and now with his new place in the "Dragon Ball: Super" canon, the possibilities are endless.