Jump Gold Selection: Dragon Ball Z Anime Special II (06 June 1991)

“Super Anime-jin”

It’s a full-throttle talk, welcoming special guest Akira Toriyama-sensei!!

Super Anime People Roundtable Discussion

Both the original manga and the anime of Dragon Ball enjoy unparalleled popularity!! What do the production staff say is its appeal?! What is the secret to its popularity?! Akira Toriyama-sensei, the super-busy creator with a weekly serial to manage, and the anime staff, who have a crammed schedule of their own with a theatrical release set for the summer, have come together for a super-special meeting!! As they surround Akira Toriyama-sensei, immensely interesting episodes and behind-the-scenes stories come out one after another!!

■ The high-water mark of anime serials?! The mighty cast’s potential

The Dragon Ball anime has now been on the air for nearly six years. During that time it has maintained average ratings of 20 percent or greater; in terms of both length and popularity, it’s a rare feat among animation with an ongoing story.
Toriyama:
I didn’t think it’d continue on this long, though. (laughs)

Shimizu:
There aren’t any other examples among series with continuing stories, are there?

Koyama:
There’s the Taiga Drama1. (laughs)

Nozawa:
Goku used to be so little.

Maeda:
He even has a kid, now. The story probably has something to do with it, but really, it’s the art. Now, when you look at Jump, if you were to liken it to food, Toriyama-san‘s art would be Japanese cuisine.

Toriyama:
Before I knew it, it came to have the cleanest art in Jump. And before, I’d been told things like, my hand-lettering was incredible. (laughs)

Shimizu:
At any rate, the original manga is very enjoyable, for a start. The developments keep getting bigger, and continually exceed our expectations. And then the production side of the anime takes that, and turns it right into an independent entity on film… which is to say, the manga and anime production mesh together well. And that gives rise to a synergy… It’s something that seems like it ought to be the case, and yet it doesn’t happen all that often.

Morishita:
That, and how the original work and the anime are close to simultaneous progression. That’s also an extremely appealing thing, don’t you think? I think the feeling of anticipation at seeing how it’s been done in the anime is big.

Nishio:
Normally, there’d be more space in-between…

Koyama:
You can watch episodes you’ve just read in the original manga almost immediately in the anime. But the staff have to make it in a limited number of production days, so they have to be high-caliber…

The voice cast is top-notch, as well.
Morishita:
A cast as good as this is hard to come by. Even for a single role, they’ll come in, same as a regular. It’s nice.

Koyama:
Things like Chi-Chi’s wedding were certainly unexpected. I didn’t think she’d still be appearing up to this point.

Toriyama:
Neither did I. (laughs) I snagged it somewhere in the back of my mind: “They made a promise, didn’t they.” (laughs)

■ The creator’s plight?! Why can he only see the theatrical releases on video?!

As for the spring theatrical release (Super Saiyan Son Goku), the quality was of course there, but I hear it also performed well.
Morishita:
Thanks to all of you… (laughs) The spring theatrical release had a very good reception, and in terms of the “Toei Anime Fair”, it was popular enough to mark a new record for performance.

Toriyama:
The quality in the theatrical works really is amazing…

Morishita:
The idea you gave us, Sensei — that scene where Gohan whistles — was so amazing that, after the movie ended, there were a lot of kids who came out whistling that tune.

Nozawa:
Wow; is that so? Gohan-chan was really cute there.

Nishio:
Every time we do a movie, the art levels up. That’s because we don’t think about what comes after. (laughs)

Maeda:
It changes after we do a movie. Bit by bit, it gets better.

Koyama:
Well, performers often change greatly after experiencing a major performance, after all.

Nozawa:
Yes, that’s true.

Maeda:
We do have people who first come on for Dragon Ball with a movie, but it’s not like they can immediately follow along in terms of technique.

Have you seen the theatrical releases up to now, Sensei?
Toriyama:
I have watched them, yes. On video, though.

Nozawa:
It really is completely different if you see it up on the big screen in a theater.

Do you mean that people immediately recognize you as Toriyama-sensei if you go to the theater?
Toriyama:
Around where I live, certainly…

Nishio:
Maybe you should wear a mask. (laughs)

Toriyama:
Then I’ll stand out even more. (laughs)

Shimizu:
What about the TV show?

Toriyama:
I watch it in real-time. While my kids get in the way. (laughs) My children interfere, saying things like, “Aren’t there any robots in Dragon Ball?” (laughs)

■ This is the creative process for original concepts — The last scene explodes with three times the power!!

Each movie is an original; but do the initial ideas come from you, Toriyama-sensei…?
Toriyama:
No; prior to that, people including Morishita-san and Koyama-san

Koyama:
We make a rough story that’s neither here nor there, and then have him take a look at it first.

Toriyama:
And then I go “ohhh” in admiration. (laughs)

Koyama:
Then, on top of that, we have him contribute various ideas… Designs for an enemy character who has the sort of power to take on Goku… that’s where we struggle the most.

And then Maeda-san cleans up the characters that Toriyama-sensei designed.
Maeda:
Neither too exactly nor too far off. Actually, I draw them identically to Toriyama-sensei. (laughs)

Toriyama:
Even so, there’s your flavor in there somewhere, Maeda-san. Because sometimes, you draw Goku even more Goku-like than I do. (laughs)

Then the storyboards…
Nishio:
The movie is long, after all. So, as we contemplate how to go about making waves within the overall flow of the story…

Toriyama:
That’s tough to reckon.

Nishio:
So I keep in mind to make things more measured just at the start, so that it doesn’t end too weakly.

Morishita:
I ask them to use about three times the energy in climactic scenes than they do at the beginning.

Nishio:
Plus, we keep in mind to incorporate the flavor of the newest part of the original manga in serialization.

Koyama:
It’s the same with the scenario. The one who’s writing also has to burn through a lot of ki. (laughs)

■ Now she is one in body and mind with Goku & Gohan!! The secret of Nozawa-san, who doesn’t read the original manga

Nozawa-san, you play Goku, and in the Z series, Gohan as well…
Nozawa:
It’s the best. It’s something that hasn’t been done before, right? I’m truly glad to have the honor of playing them.
Do you struggle at all with doing two roles?
Nozawa:
No, not at all. When I see the visuals, I become them just like that.
As Goku grew, his voice also changed…
Nozawa:
Little by little, though… I think one shouldn’t change things too abruptly.

Morishita:
By the way, Nozawa-san, you don’t read the original manga, do you?

Nozawa:
Right, I don’t read parts that are ahead of the anime. I want to read it so badly I just can’t stand it… I do properly read the parts that have already aired, though.

Morishita:
When you record, you see it on-screen for the first time, and you’ll say things like, “So this is what happens to Gohan.”

Nozawa:
I want to be moved deeply when I see it on-screen.

Shimizu:
If you read ahead, it won’t be fresh any more, after all.

You must imagine Goku’s and Gohan’s voices with Nozawa-san‘s voice by now, Sensei.
Toriyama:
Yes, in Nozawa-san‘s voice… They’re shouting from within my heart.

Koyama:
In the scenario, as well, since the lines will be completely different depending whether the voice has been decided or not.

■ The gem that found even Toriyama-sensei moved to tears! The special expanded its world

Goku’s father appeared in the special; where did the concept for that episode come from?
Koyama:
Well, at first, we were talking about whether we could do that for a theatrical movie.

Morishita:
Whether we could do something in the form of Goku vs. Goku’s father.

Koyama:
However, without resorting to time travel or some-such, he wouldn’t be able to fight against Goku… And before long, the conversation shifted to, “In that case, perhaps it would be all right to have a story depicting Goku’s father.”

Toriyama:
That special was good. I cried. How come you can make a story so much better than the original manga? (laughs)

Koyama:
But after that, you made use of the setting from that time in the original manga, and I was truly grateful.

Toriyama:
Well, that’s because I wanted to use it, no matter what…

If you think about it, it’s a story that’s connected to the setting of the original manga as a whole.
Toriyama:
But I really thought, “So that’s how it was.” That last scene was really sad.

Nozawa:
Definitely. It was full of regret.

Koyama:
However, because of that, the series’ world expanded.

Toriyama:
That’s right. Because I myself came around to the idea that I’m drawing a grand drama. (laughs)

Koyama:
By the way, since Kaiō is the Kaiō of the North Galaxy… That means there must be a South, East, and West Galaxy, as well…2

Morishita:
The world just expanded again. (laughs)

Toriyama:
Well…. (laughs)

Maeda:
They could be quadruplets. (laughs)

Toriyama:
Quadruplets! Oh, that’s good. (laughs)

■ I wanted to draw this kind of main character!? Goku’s the number-one ideal male

Nozawa:
By the way, you really succeeded in not giving Goku any time for romance. I’ve gotten letters from fans, where they say that it’s nice how, even though he’s married, there’s no scenes where it’s like they’re living together.

Toriyama:
When I started the serialization, I wanted to make the main character stand out as little as possible. I thought I’d like to bring out his individuality along with developments in the story… Goku wouldn’t talk if he didn’t have anybody with him, you know. So at first, I even thought about not giving him a tail. Although in the end, I took his tail off anyway. (laughs)

Nishio:
The character of Goku himself was set relatively early on, so he’d seem to move on his own — “in this sort of situation, he’d probably do this” — and in that respect, it was easy. Although it was tough up until he got there.

Are there any characters who are difficult to draw?
Toriyama:
If I had to choose, I guess it’d be Freeza for me.

Maeda:
For me, it’s the good-looking characters. (laughs) I suppose Piccolo is the most difficult to draw. The volume of that head of his won’t come out right, and such… I try to consciously bring out a sense of dimension, but… It’s pretty difficult…

■ Perfect lines, unexpected developments — Toriyama works definitely can’t be imitated

With regards to future developments, how much thought do you give to them before you draw them?
Toriyama:
I don’t give them any thought. (laughs) Just what comes next. (laughs)

Shimizu:
But the story always develops in a way that exceeds our expectations.

Toriyama:
I try and see if I can make it interesting by taking the idea of, “normally, you’d think of it this way” and turning it on its ear… Although I also try and make it mesh together with parts that are just as you’d expect. Generally, I originally hadn’t thought of concepts such as Goku being an alien, after all. (laughs)

A work that’s this popular, yet there’s nothing like it… not even imitation works.
Maeda:
It can’t be imitated. Because there are no unnecessary lines. People often tell me this, but, for example, even if you look at the wrinkles in the clothing, if you just draw one necessary line, you can express whether it’s silk, or cotton.

Nishio:
This is true of the art itself as well, but even in the midst of a battle, there’s a near-perfect soundness to it. I think this must exist somewhere apart from the hardness of the action. That you’re able to go expressing this is also amazing.

Maeda:
Whenever someone joins the staff of Dragon Ball, I always hand them the original manga, and tell them, “look at this”…

Toriyama:
In that case, I can’t be careless drawing anything. (laughs)

■ Pay attention to the eyes of Super Saiyan Goku!! The surprising truth is now revealed!!

What sort of work is the next theatrical feature, which will be opening this summer?
Koyama:
It’s called The Incredible Strongest vs. Strongest, and would you believe it, Freeza’s brother, named Coola, appears…

Morishita:
The origin of the name is interesting…

Koyama:
Yes, that’s right. I was talking about how I’d eaten something called “ice-cream manjū” back when I was in Kiryū3, and Morishita-san said he remembered that sort of thing, too. Since Morishita-san is from Shizuoka, I asked him if they say “kuu zura”4 or something in Shizuoka, and he said, “No, we say ‘kuu ra’.” (laughs)

Morishita:
There’s no “zu”. (laughs)

Koyama:
So, Coola! And, we ended up saying, “Let’s just go with that, then”.

Toriyama:
“Coola”, that’s good.

I thought he was Coola (cooler) because he was Freeza (freezer)’s older brother…
Morishita:
Well, that’s caught up in there too, but it’s spelled “ku-u-ra”, not “ku-DASH-ra”.

Koyama:
So, the content of the film is the grand battle between Goku, who has become a Super Saiyan, and Coola…

Toriyama:
Um… this is a minor detail, but if you change the hairstyle on Super Saiyan Goku, he becomes Vegeta as-is. (laughs) Though I don’t know if I should be saying that about something I drew myself. (laughs)

Nozawa:
Wow, really?

Toriyama:
Well, it’s hard to bring out the intensity if I don’t use those eyes. The reason for those piercing eyes is that it would be difficult to express with the eyes Goku’s had up till now.

Maeda:
I’ve had that same issue.

Toriyama:
Right? You worry about things like, “Which way should I bring this line?” Recently in particular, I’ve been going for a more dramatic touch, so it’s hard.

■ Each of them is a Dragon Ball — When all seven gather together, nothing is impossible!?

Toriyama:
Still, though, it’s strange that, even after doing so much Dragon Ball, I don’t want to end it yet. Normally, I’m pretty fickle by nature.

Nozawa:
There’s an incredibly wide variety of people who watch this series. I’d like for Toriyama-sensei to stick it out as well, and make this the longest-running show in Japan. (laughs)

Shimizu:
I also look forward to watching it as an ordinary viewer. I want to see lots of interesting stories, and for as long as possible; it all boils down to that.

Morishita:
I’d like to make it my resolution going forward, to keep it going for even just one episode longer.

Nishio:
While sticking with the original manga. (laughs) I’d like to go on making fully-realized works, one work at a time.

Maeda:
I’m always saying this, but I want to express Toriyama’s works without changing the worldview they possess. I just have to continue on doing that.

Koyama:
My greatest happiness really is having the honor of working on such good series. I want to keep doing my best, fully utilizing my ki.

Toriyama:
I fret about the next story developments. After all, if I don’t power things up even more, you all might not accept it. (laughs) I want to pursue the goal of seeing how cool I can draw Goku, and how much I can keep making use of Gohan.

We hope that you will all work actively so that Dragon Ball continues to be a work that you can take pride in the world over.
The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information and were not originally published in the book.

1 Annual historical dramas aired on NHK originally beginning in 1963.
2 The discussion must have taken place some time between April and early June 1991 (after the debut of Dragon Ball Z Movie 4, but before the debut of Dragon Ball Z Movie 5). The latest this could take place would be early-June 1991. At this point, the manga’s original Weekly Shonen Jump serialization would only just be finishing up the Freeza story arc; the other Kaio would not be introduced for quite some time!
3 Located in Gunma Prefecture
4 Roughly, “let’s eat”; “-zura” is to the area west of Tokyo what “-bē” is to the north and east: a suffix of supposition and/or volition, similar to “darō” and verb suffix “-(y)ō”
English Translation: SaiyaJedi
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