For this third Super Interview, Sensei, I’d like to ask you questions mainly pertaining to the animated television series Dragon Ball (henceforth abbreviated “DB”). First of all, do you watch the DB anime on TV?
Yes. I watch while eating dinner and such, and with my children.
Do you watch, not as the “creator”, but as an ordinary viewer?
I do, actually. But at the very least, even while eating dinner, I still think to myself things like, “so that’s how they did this scene,” so I suppose it really is a bit different from being an ordinary viewer.
The TV anime includes parts that are original to it as well; do they also use some concepts that you yourself came up with, Sensei?
It is partly things that get passed on to Toei Animation through my editor. When other TV-original segments air, it always makes my heart pound. Sort of like, “Ah, this sort of thing is nice, too”.
Do you already have in mind detailed concepts for things that didn’t appear in the original work?
Generally, I had already thought of concepts, where I felt things should be a certain way. For example, when the story suddenly jumps forward to five years later, things like, “During those five years, something like this probably happened…”.
For TV-original characters and such, did you give out any ideas?
For the part where Goku is training at Kaiō-sama’s place, they said they wanted one more character, so I came up with a character named “Gregory” (see p.136).
When DB was set to be animated, did you make any particular demands?
At first, I didn’t say anything specific. I’m not the type to open my mouth much about these things, but after seeing it actually air, I felt that DB should feel a bit more like a fairy tale, so I did mention that bit. Basically, I leave things to [Toei], and only say a little tiny bit when I absolutely have to.
Do you directly participate in any work on the DB anime, Sensei?
There are times when a colored version of a character will appear sooner than in the serialization; times like those, I send my responses and such to Toei Animation through the editorial department. I also listened to the voice actors’ audition tapes, and worked on deciding who would play each role. In deciding Goku’s part, I listened to the voices of five or six people, and chose Masako Nozawa-san from among them.
What was your impression on hearing Goku’s voice in the actual broadcast?
“Ah, so that’s what Goku’s voice sounds like.” After that, while writing the comic, even I would sort of have that voice come up in my head. At those times, Goku’s voice would always be Nozawa-san’s voice, so I thought, “she’s good”. Even now, I can’t separate Goku from Nozawa-san.
Did you pick out [the voices for] other characters as well, Sensei?
I was there for the selection of the major roles. Also, Kuririn’s was the only voice where I specified the actress, Mayumi Tanaka-san, by name. When I saw Night on the Galactic Railroad1, I mentioned, “this voice is really good” in reference to the main character, and a friend knowledgeable about voice actors told me, “that’s Mayumi Tanaka-san“.
Have you ever visited the animation studio or the recording booth?
Two or three years after the start of DB’s serialization, I visited the recording studio. I observed the performances, and my honest opinion was, “that’s tough work”.
Would you like to try your hand at voice acting?
Not at all!! Absolutely not!! (bursts into laughter) In my opinion, it’s absolutely not something I could do!
How do you feel about the “moving illustrations” aspect of animation?
I always think, “the animators are amazing”. They have to be able to draw the spots between one movement and the next, so I think, “they can really time things out”. I can’t really mimic that. Also, I envy the way that they can express sudden movements.
What about attacks and such, which are done with special effects?
The fact that they can use light — I really envy that aspect. With animation, for explosions and such, you can have a flash of light, and then express it with light and sound, but with comics, you have no choice but to write it out in letters, like “KA-“. It lacks a bit of punch. (laughs)
So you also notice the sound side of things, then?
Yes! I especially envy the fact that they can use sound effects for explosions and things, as well as background music (BGM).
When actually drawing the comic, have you ever thought, “this sort of BGM would go well with this scene”?
Actually, I don’t. Although, when I watch the broadcast, I’ll hear the BGM for an exciting scene, and think, “this is good”. In comics, you really just can’t go and write something like “La-da-dee-da-daah~”. (laughs) You’d look like an idiot. (laughs)
Do you have any sort of music that brings to mind Goku for you, Sensei?
I don’t know; I suppose something bright, with an upbeat tempo, but also with a relaxed feel in spite of of the tempo.
While you’re writing a manuscript, do you ever start to say the lines aloud?
I don’t say them aloud, but I’m told that without realizing it, my face takes on the expression of whatever character I’m drawing. (laughs). Both my assistant and my wife tell me that during battle scenes, when a character is making a “guwaa” sort of face, my face also ends up going “guwaa”. (laughs) So afterwards, my whole face is tired. (laughs) I guess it’s because I’m the kind of guy who gets caught up in his own work.
After seeing DB animated, did it have any influence on the original work?
In talking to and seeing illustrations from the animation supervisor Toyo’o Ashida-san, whom I’d worked with once,T1 I thought, “sharp lines really work well for expressing fighting”. Up to that point, I’d always blended colors together, but after that, I came to keep the colors separate, like in animation. If you divide up the colors properly, it should have the same effect as blending them. Not only that, but I was able to achieve a sharp look with cleanly separated colors suitable for a boys’ magazine, and coloring illustrations became easier. So I was influenced both by Ashida-san and the anime.
Have you ever seen overseas broadcasts of the DB TV anime?
I haven’t seen them firsthand, but I have seen clips that were introduced on another program. It felt quite strange, but also like, “well, why not”? Although I did think that having Goku say “Mmm~, c’est bon~!” when he’s eating something really doesn’t suit him. (laughs)
Do you watch any tokusatsu shows?
When I drew the Ginyu Special-Squad, my children were watching, so I watched together with them. Tokusatsu is pretty interesting.
So were the poses of the Ginyu Special-Squad an influence from tokusatsu?
That they were. (laughs)
Did you watch animation when you were little?
I watched shows like “Astro Boy” (Tetsuwan Atom)2 and “Gigantor” (Tetsu-jin #28)3 up until about the fourth grade. In the second half of primary school, I liked live-action shows and giant-monster movies, and then in junior high, I got into regular movies.
Do you remember the first animation you ever saw, Sensei?
I don’t remember the very first animation I saw, but the one that stays deepest in my memory is definitely Astro Boy. I sent away for some kind of sweepstakes or something, and collected Astro Boy stickers and such. After that, I saw One Hundred and One Dalmatians4. I remember that film’s art being just wonderful. Apart from that, I also watched Osomatsu-kun5; everybody was imitating Iyami’s “She—i!” pose.T2 (laughs) I also liked 8-Man6.
So how do you feel about DB boasting a level of popularity that rivals Astro Boy at its height?
Is that so?
Yes, it is! (bursts into laughter) And, now that you’ve made me laugh, I’ll bring this to a close. Thank you so much for your time today.
* Anime-related discussion will continue in Daizenshuu 5.
(5 June 1995 at Toriyama-sensei‘s home)