Ukiyoe top

One of the most beloved characters in manga and anime history is now available as an ukiyo-e woodblock print!


We’ve grown so accustomed to thinking of Dragon Ball’s Goku as the big, strong guy who can be relied on to save the universe from the forces of evil that it’s easy to forget that many, many years ago, we first saw him as a cute little boy (although not an ordinary boy for several reasons, the most obvious being the fact that he had a monkey’s tail).

Well, fans are now being treated to that young, innocent version of Goku as an ukiyo-e woodblock print in the traditional Japanese style.

Ukiyoe 1

The prints are the result of a collaboration between the Dragon Ball franchise and the 400 year old art of ukiyo-e in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the series’ TV anime which first aired in February of 1986.

And you can expect the item to be a true work of art, as it will be produced by the finest Japanese artisans. The prints will be printed on Japanese washi paper called “Echizen Kizuki Hosho”, crafted by living national treasure Ichibei Iwano, while the illustration will be carved by renowned ukiyo-e carver Shoichi Kitamura and printed by master printer Mamoru Ichimura, all under the production of Unsodo, a Kyoto-based specialtywood-block printing house with a 125 year history. Plus, there will only be 200 copies printed.

Ukiyoe 5

The blocks for the print will be carved from cherry wood, as the material is very hard and doesn’t distort easily. The carving is a delicate process, as 10 to 20 blocks need to be created for a typical ukiyo-e print, depending on the number of colors used.

Ukiyoe 2

Ukiyoe 4

Once the blocks are completed, the printer will apply the colors carefully to bring the image to life. For a character-themed illustration like this which uses many colors, typically 30 to 50 color applications will be necessary. Fine quality washi paper is used to ensure that material can withstand the numerous printings.

Ukiyoe 3

The print will also with a red seal that reads “Dragon Ball 30th Anniversary” along with details of the paper, carver and printer.

Ukiyoe 7

The prints, measuring 37 cm x 23.5 cm (14 1/2 in x 9 1/4 in), will each cost 45,000 yen (US$440), and advance orders in Japan will start from July 2 on the Hobby Stock online shop for delivery in August, but if you want to order from overseas, you’ll apparently need to go through the Danke Shopper online shipping service. For those of you in the U.S., the prints will also be available at the Anime Expo 2016 that will take place from July 1 to 4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Yes, the prints are pricey, but hey, you have to admit Goku looks super cute, and the quality and craftsmanship should satisfy any Dragon Ball fan!

Source: Hobby Stock Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print Series page, Hobby Stock online shop via Japaaan Magazine
Top image: Hobby Stock Ukiyoe Woodblock Print Series page 
Insert images: Hobby Stock online shop 
©Bird Studio/Shueisha, Toei Animation
Dragon Ball Z and all logos, character names and distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of SHUEISHA, INC.