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Akira Toriyama with his pet cat, Koge (1987)


Nakatsuru's self-portrait

Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru (中鶴勝祥; born on May 22, 1962, in Oita) is a Japanese animator and character designer. He was the later Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Z film character designer, and was also a key-animator for the 1997 remake of Dr. Slump. Nakatsuru is known for being able to closely match Akira Toriyama's art style.[1]


After graduating from high school in 1980, Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru began working for Toei Animation. As he was a fan of Akira Toriyama's Dr. Slump, he volunteered to work on the Dragon Ball anime adaptation when Toei Animation announced the project in 1986.[2] He began working as a key-animator for Dragon Ball under Minoru Maeda, debuting with the episode "Oolong the Terrible" in March, 1986. He then became the main animator and character designer for most Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z movies. After Minoru Maeda left the company in November 1992, at the end of the Perfect Cell Saga of Dragon Ball Z, Nakatsuru shared the role of main character designer with Tadayoshi Yamamuro from the Majin Buu Saga until end of Dragon Ball GT in November 1997.

Nakatsuru was animation director for Dragon Ball Z episode 44, the TV special Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku, the movie Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug, and Dragon Ball Z episode 120. He is also known for being the key animator of the very last scene of Dragon Ball GT, in the episode "Until We Meet Again". Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru is known for his early design of Bardock and his team for the Bardock - The Father of Goku, until Akira Toriyama's final design made it into the TV special. He also worked on Kid Vegeta's design for the movie. Nakatsuru is also the person who designed the Super Saiyan 4 form for Dragon Ball GT.


Cover of the 11th chapter of Nakatsuru and Koyama's Dr. Slump manga

Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru drew cover arts for V-Jump, illustrations for the Dragon Ball GT: Perfect File, cover arts for the first four Dragon Boxes, for Dragon Ball Z Son Goku Densetsu and Tenkaichi Densetsu, for the Budokai games, for the 39 TV Ban Anime Comics Dragon Ball Z volumes, for the 2010 art books Dragon Ball Anime Illustration Collection: The Golden Warrior and Dragon Ball: Extreme Battle Collection. He was also interviewed in The Golden Warrior book, along with the two other character designers for the Dragon Ball franchise: Minoru Maeda and Tadayoshi Yamamuro.


Super Saiyan 4 Goku by Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru

Outside of Dragon Ball, Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru worked on several other anime series, including Beet the Vandel Buster, Digimon, the movie Dr. Slump and Arale-chan: N-cha! Penguin Village is Swelling Then Fair, the movie adaptation of Akira Toriyama's Kennosuke-sama manga, Konjiki no Gash Bell!!, Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom, and One Piece. He also worked with Akira Toriyama on the Dragon Quest video game series (Dragon Quest V, VI, VII, and Dragon Quest Monsters Caravan Heart). With the novelist and screenwriter Takao Koyama, Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru made a Dr. Slump follow-up manga title Dr. Slump Returns, But Only For a Little While. The manga was serialized in V-Jump from 1994 to 1996, and has been collected into four tankōbon volumes. Nakatsuru and Koyama made a second follow-up of one of Akira Toriyama's manga in 1998, titled New Cashman. This second follow-up manga was supervised by Akira Toriyama himself.

List of films[]




  1. Akira Toriyama, Dragon Box GT, February 28, 2005
  2. Animage Issue #5, 1988
  3. TV Anime Guide: Dragon Ball Z Son Goku Densetsu, 2003

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