Interview by Marco Ssj4567@aol.com
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
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
"Too much fantasy looses reality, too much hope may seem somehow
empty" -Akira Toriyama