Dragonball, Z, GT Akira Toriyama Interview

Shonen Jump magazine interviews Akira Toriyama...To go back to the other Interviews click here.

Q: What are some of your artistic influences?
A: I was an avid anime watcher until I was about 10, when I moved to manga. I think I am influenced by Osamu Tezuka's and Walt Disney's works which I watched during that time, such as Tetswan Atom ("Astro Boy") and 101 Dalmations.

Q: How did you become a manga artist?
A: I submitted a story to a monthly contest for amateur artists in Weekly Shonen Jump. It didn't win, but afterwards, I was approached by one of the editors [Kzuhiko Torishima, now Weekly Shonen Jump Senior Director], and after I studied for about a year, I became a pro.

Q: You have an incredible ability to draw anything in the world in your own distinct personal style. Do you often use reference material to draw different objects, places, or things?
A: I almost never use reference material for places, but for objects-for example, if there's a particular model of car that I like-I'll use a book as a reference to draw from.

Q: What kind of drawing material did you use on Dragon Ball? What drawing material do you work with today?
A: I'm not sure if these particular brands are available in the USA, but on Dragon Ball I used G-pens [a type of quill pen], Kent paper [A Bristol board-like paper made in Japan], water-proof ink, and color inks for coloring. Today I use a Macintosh for coloring.

Q: I've heard that you are re-coloring, possibly even re-drawing, parts of Dragon Ball for a "Perfect Edition." What is it like to draw Goku and Co. for the first time in a long while?
A: I haven't redrawn any of the actual manga, because then I'd start getting nit-picky about everything. Just new cover art. To draw it again for the first time in so long produced a very complicated mix of emotions, combining nostalgia with the feeling that I don't want to draw Dragon Ball anymore.

Q: Dragon Ball has been translated into many different languages around the world, and seems to have an extremely universal appeal. How do you feel about it being translated into more and more languages?
A: Of course it makes me feel very happy, but I'm still trying to live like I always have, without really thinking about it.

Q: What new projects or manga are you working on currently?
A: Right now, I've taken a step away from manga, and am studying things that I've always wanted to do, such as design and book illustration.

Q: What message would you like to give to your American fans?
A: That people in faraway America are fans of Dragon Ball truly makes me happy. The method of producing comics in Japan is very hectic, but it's also rewarding because it's possibly to do both the story and art all by yourself. In this way, it's possibly to bring out one's individuality. If this idea appeals to you, I call on you to try drawing your own manga. Because the people who can draw manga that Americans will truly love are Americans like you.

Q: From 1984 to 1995 what was your work schedule like on Dragon Ball?
A: The majority of the manga in Japan are drawn in the shukan (weekly) format, so I was drawing one episode every week. [Approximately 14 pages, plus a Title Page-Editor] But for me this pace was very hard, and I really didn't like it.

Q: Dragon Ball developed from a comedy series to an action/fighting series. Do you feel that your art style changed in the process?
A: I wasn't particularly conscious about it, but my art style did change depending on the circumstances. But when It comes down to it, more than anything, I like drawing really silly, absurd comedies.

Q: I've heard that many plot developments in Dragon Ball were influenced by letters from readers, is this true, and if so, can you give us a concrete example?
A: Parts of it were, yes, for example, take Vegeta when he first appeared as a bad guy, but because he became very popular, he stayed in the series from that point on.

Q: Dragon Ball seems to have influenced many video games and manga. Where did you get the idea for the attacks that appear in Dragon Ball, such as the kamehameha and the whole chi power?
A: Chi [Also spelled "Ki"-Editor] has been used in China since ancient times, but it's supposed to be formless and invisible. However, in manga, in order to make it easier for any reader to grasp, it was necessary to give it a shape. For the kamehameha, I myself did a lot of the different poses and chose the one that I thought would work the best.

Q: I have heard that your are a fan of Jackie Chan. Out of all Jackie Chan's movies, which is your favorite.
A: Drunken Master (the first one). If I hadn't seen this movie, I would never have come up with Dragonball.

Q: Are you're a fan of pro wrestling? I ask because in Dragon Ball, there are some wrestling-style characters like Mister Satan.
A: Unfortunately, I'm not really a fan of pro wrestling.

Q: What are your hobbies? How do you spend your spare time?
A: Actually, I have a lot of hobbies, but I've kept up with model-building the longest. In particular, I love military models.

Q: I hear that Dragon Ball was inspired particularly by a trip to China. Out of all the places you've been, which are particularly memorable? Do you do much sketching when you travel?
A: I've been to many places, but Australia, with what I felt was a pleasant balance between its cities and its magnificent natural spaces, moved me very much. I don't sketch anything in particular on my trips.

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