Japan Expo Sud - February 24-26, 2023
Join us! 83 Days 09 : 56 : 57

Masaki SATO

From key animator to animation director, Masaki SATO has contributed to such iconic series as Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. He is also the chara-designer of Slam Dunk and will be celebrating sports with you at Japan Expo Sud in anticipation of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo!

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Masaki SATO’s career in animation started in the mid-80s when he joined Studio Junio where he was trained with the famous animator Minoru MAEDA (Dr Slump, Touch, Dragon Ball). From 1987, Masaki SATO worked on the anime Dragon Ball as a key animator, and then in 1988 on the movie Dragon Ball: Mytical Adventure. His very first job on the anime was the Tenkaichi Budokai fight scene pitting Krillin against Bacterian. From 1989, he also worked on Dragon Ball Z, as an animator and key animator, and soon as the animation director of the movie Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug. He is also the key animator of the first transformation of Son Goku into a Super Sayan.

Masaki SATO finished with Dragon Ball Z in 1993 when he was entrusted with the chara-design of Slam Dunk, adapted from Takehiko INOUE’s famous manga about basketball. He is the chara-designer of about 20 episodes of the TV series and the animation director of one of the Slam Dunk films. 


After that, as a freelancer, he worked on various titles, on the chara-design and/or as part of the animation direction teams of TV series such as Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick by Osamu DEZAKI; Initial D First Stage in 1998, and then again in the coming decade on other anime adapted from the car racing manga; Project ARMS; Kinnikuman Nisei – Ultimate Muscle; Mermaid’s Forest, from a manga by Rumiko TAKAHASHI; and more recently Grappler Baki.

Masaki SATO also worked on films including Jungle Emperor Leo as a key animator in 1997 (from Osamu TEZUKA’s manga), Interstellar 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem as a chara-designer in 2003, the film blending Leiji MATSUMOTO’s universe with the music of Daft Punk’s album Discovery. Still as a chara-designer, he contributed to three films from the Hokuto no Ken license from 2006 to 2008. 


He now keeps working as an animator or animation director and has been part of the recent film City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes in 2019 and the upcoming Digimon movie, which is still in production and will be released in Japan on Feb. 21. This film allowed him to work again with Katsuyoshi NAKATSURU whom he had met in the Dragon Ball team.

Masaki SATO has also created his own company, Red One, which allows him to develop designs pour for anime and tokusatsu (Japanese SF style), as well as derived products.

From Feb. 28 to March 1st, Japan Expo Sud is delighted to welcome Masaki SATO, a talented animator who is famous for his work on Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, adapted from Akira TORIYAMA’s work. He is also the chara-designer of Slam Dunk, which allows us to honor basketball and sports, the theme of Japan Expo Sud 11th Wave on the occasion of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Attending all three days, he will be meeting you at signings and at a conference including a live drawing.

Selection of works

  • 1987: Chironup no Kitsune (film; inbetweener)
  • 1988-1989: Dragon Ball (films and TV; key animator)
  • 1989-1993: Dragon Ball Z (films and TV; key animator and animation director)
  • 1992-1995: Batman (TV; key animator)
  • 1993-1994: Slam Dunk (TV; chara-designer)
  • 1997: Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick (TV; animation director)
  • 1997: Jungle Emperor Leo (film; key animator)
  • 1998: Initial D First Stage (TV; key animator and animation direction)
  • 2001-2002: Project ARMS (TV; chara-designer)
  • 2002: Kinnikuman Nisei – Ultimate Muscle (TV; chara-designer)
  • 2003: Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (film; chara-designer)
  • 2003: Mermaid’s Forest (TV; chara-designer)
  • 2006-2008: Hokuto no Ken (films; chara-designer)
  • 2012-2013: Initial D Fifth Stage (TV; chara-designer)
  • 2014: Initial D Final Stage (TV; chara-designer)
  • 2018: Baki (TV)
  • 2019: City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes (film; animation direction)

Follow Masaki SATO on twitter.com/miyagido_karate

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