Akira Toriyama Interview

Akira Toriyama Interview

Interview by Marco

On April 5th, 1955, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, a new life was brought into the world. A boy. A boy who would grow to be a man who would then grow to be famous around the world. His name, none other then Akira Toriyama. As a boy, if Akira-san ever wanted something really badly, he would doodle it over and over again until he got it. He was also greatly inspired by Disney's 101 Dalmations. In elementry school, he started to draw manga, and that is where he traces his origins as an artist to. "My first memory of a staisfactory drawing was that of a horse," he says "I still remember it. I got the joints right." "I've always liked to draw, when I was little, we did not have many forms of entertainment like we do today, so we were all drawing pictures. In elementry school, we were all drawing manga or animation characters and showing them to eachother." "Perhaps," he says "I just kept on drawing. We all start out with about the same drawing skills don't we? I started to do portraits of friends and whatnot, and I started to think drawing was fun." " I don't remember the very first animation show I saw, but the one of which I have the foundest memories is I used to send out coupons to collect Atom stickers. (A popular animation)" When I was a child, there was a drawing class in the neighborhood, the kids would go there and draw pictures. I remember drawing 101 Dalmations and getting a prize. That must of gotten into my head and made me what I am today." he laughs. In 1974, at the age of 19, he graduated from the design department of the prefectural industrial highschool, and started his first work as an advertising designer. But in 1977, Akira-san left his advertising company for close to three years.

In 1978 after a number of attempts, he debuted in the weekly comics periodical, Shuukan Shonen Jump with, "Wonder Island," and it was after that in 1980 when he would be known all over Japan when he created one of his first mangas ever "Dr.Slump." A story about a clumsy genius scientist who creates an android daughter. It continued until 1984, 100 volumes were made. In 1981 to 1986, the FUJI t.v. network started to air the animated serial Dr.Slump.

In the winter of 1984, a new creation of Akira-san's that started out to be based on the chinese legend "The Journey West" took the place of Dr.Slump. Little did Toriyama know, it would spawn 3 animated series, 17 movies, and 3 specials. Fine I'll cut to the chase, DRAGON BALL.

Before Dragon Ball was created, Akira-san conferred his editor many times for ideas about his next serial (manga). "I had always liked Jackie Chan and had seen his 'Drunken Master 2' many times. Torishima encouraged me to draw a Kung-Fu manga if I liked it that much. That was the one-shot Dragon Boy I drew. The readers liked it, so I decided my next serial would be in this vein." But Dragon Ball wasn't all it was cracked up to be when it first came out in Shonen Jump, at least to the fans anyway. According to Toriyama, Dragonball was not that popular before the Tenka-Ichi Budokai. Toriyama says, "Torishima told me one time: 'your main character is too quiet. Thats why it's not so popular.' I wanted to win readers with the story this time around, and I had even made the effort to come up with a normally dressed main character, so I was peeved, and I told him, 'I'll do some 'crowd-pleaser material' , then. In the Dr.Slump days, event and tournament stories like the Penquin Village Grand Prix were popular." "So I decided to go with a simple tournament. Thats how the Tenka-Ichi tournament came to be. All the characters except Goku got pulled out, Kame Sen'nin (the turtle hermit) came back, and the new character Kuririn showed up. Immediatly, popularity went up."

In Feburary, 1986, Dragonball took Dr.Slump's place, and at the end of the year in December, the first Dragonball movie aired, " The Legend of Shenlon." Two other movies were also released. Sadly, Dragonball ended in the April of 1989, but the week after, a new series unfolded, something which would even be more popular then Dragonball, and would be responsible for 291 episodes, 2 specials, and 13 movies. DRAGONBALL Z.

Akira-san remembers watching Dragonball and Dragonball Z while eating dinner or together with his own young son, he and his son enjoyed the show ,but largely kept his own input to the show to a minimum.

Dragonball Z ended in 1996, and a new series called "Dragonball GT," started to air. Suprisingly, Toriyama had no part in the series, and was only an art consultant for some time. After he left, the character designs were crappy mostly. But in the begining, GT was not that popular, and there was no fighting, fans had fell in love with the fighting style of Dragonball Z , thus, the show got horrible ratings. Eventually, the GT crew got their act together, and GT became a lot more popular.

GT ended in 1997, and that was the END of 3 series consisting of exactly 508 episodes, 15,240 hours. So thats the story of Akira Toriyama's life, who knows if he will draw another manga which will start another animated saga of brilliance.

"Too much fantasy looses reality, too much hope may seem somehow empty" -Akira Toriyama


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