24, 25, 26, 27, 28… that’s the order of ages of the guys here where we make Naruto. The youngest assistant is 24, I’m the oldest fogey at 28, and we’re each one year apart. I’m always giving them directions like this: “Make the surface in the background of this panel like the ground on Planet Namek”. This gets it across to everyone. This is our common ground, something that greatly remains in our hearts… Dragon Ball.
The anticipation we once all shared in common, “What on Earth is gonna happen?” When I read the words Eiichirō Oda-sensei recounted in the first round of “Dragon Ball Children”, I involuntarily responded, “Yes! Yes! We said that! We said that!!”
All week long, everyone would wait eagerly for Dragon Ball, and it would always become a shared topic of discussion. From punk yankī2 to girls, and even up to the teachers, a wide range of people had Dragon Ball on their lips. Has there ever been something that’s become such a source of enjoyment to absolutely everyone, young and old, man and woman alike?! This explosive popularity was probably not just limited to our surroundings, but something that occurred everywhere.
With Dragon Ball having become such a shared joy for everyone, a certain “unspoken rule” came about. The fool who broke that rule would receive a punishment equivalent to getting a beating, or possibly even being ostracized from his friends. That “unspoken rule” was… “Those who read Dragon Ball in Jump first that week must not talk about its contents to those who have not yet read it!” In other words, the fool who steals everyone’s enjoyment must naturally receive a comparable punishment. Nevertheless, after reading it, you’d immediately want to talk about it so badly that you couldn’t help it. Even I broke that unspoken rule a number of times and ended up in a bad way, but Dragon Ball was something that people just looked forward to that much.
Recently, I’ve sometimes thought offhand, “Goku was like a magical being, who could attract people to him.” Now, when people hear the ring of “Son Goku”, the first thing that pops into everyone’s heads is no longer the Monkey King of Journey to the West, but this nigh-magical being, Son Goku from Dragon Ball, is it not?