Shortly after the news that Dragon Ball Z Abridged ended, Team Four Star began releasing videos on how exactly they made this fan-favorite fan series.
They first released a 14-minute video about their work on the Saiyan Saga, with DBZA co-creators Lanipator and KaiserNeko explaining how it all went down. Influenced by Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged, they began dabbling in their own abridged series. Even though they lived in different places, the members of Team Four Star worked hard and experimented, and were blown away by their success. They didn’t meet one another in person until Detroit’s Youmacon convention in 2009 (coincidentally, two years before I interviewed them for Otaku USA at Youmacon 2011).
With the first season, as they explain it, they weren’t looking too closely at secondary characters. But Nappa was definitely an exception.
“Nobody really thought about Nappa at the time,” Lanipator said. But as he and DBZA co-creator Takahata101 started going back and forth, they created a version of Nappa that fans on the internet found hilarious. And very quotable.
“Nappa suddenly became the strongest part of season one,” KaiserNeko said. “And that’s kind of crazy to me.”
They also answer questions about what it was like to experience the level of success that they did, and how their methods changed from writing episode one to finishing out the season.
The second video in their behind-the-scenes documentary series takes us through the Freeza Saga.
“We wanted to, like, lean back from some of those oh-so-random jokes and actually try to focus on character and how those characters relate to each other,” said Lanipator.
With Freeza being the big new villain, the writers took a look at how to portray him. In the end they gave him a sense of “campy evil,” harkening him to a character like Stewie Griffin from Family Guy.
“We just made sure that his quips were incredibly dark,” said KaiserNeko.
Originally Lanipator was going to voice Freeza, but the job ended up going to LittleKuriboh of Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged fame. LittleKuriboh had sent an audition trying to get the role of Captain Ginyu, but he voiced both Freeza and Ginyu in the scene.
“His Freeza was perfect,” praised KaiserNeko.
They move on to talk about how they made such a “shock value” change to Guru’s character and the thought process that went into how they portrayed Goku turning into a Super Saiyan.
Their third and final video, which is about the Cell Saga, comes in at a whopping 32 minutes! In it, the guys talk about how long it takes to write an episode, how far out they’ve planned jokes, and their favorite and least favorite moments. It gives a new appreciation to the amount of work they put into the series — after scripting, it could still be about another 80 hours before the episode would be ready!
Danica Davidson, along with Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya, is the author of Manga Art for Intermediates. In addition to showing how to draw manga character types in detail, the book describes how professional Japanese manga creators work, including common techniques and what drawing utensils they use.