Dragon Ball Full Color Comics: Freeza Arc Vol. 4

Akira Toriyama

We Asked Akira Toriyama
DRAGON BALL Z: BATTLE OF GODS — Scenario

The theatrical feature, Dragon Ball: Battle of Gods [sic], opened in March 2013! For this movie, Toriyama-sensei not only did the character designs, but also tried his hand at the story for the first time. We went directly to the man himself [to ask him about] his preoccupations!

What is Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods?
It’s the first Dragon Ball theatrical feature to be released in 17 years. “God of Destruction” Beerus awakens from his long slumber and attacks Earth! It’s a work that depicts Goku & co.’s super battle against the god who would destroy Earth!

Top-Secret Stories of the Script!

How did you end up writing the story?
When I went to Tokyo, all of a sudden Torishima-san1 told me, “Read this script2. We want to make a movie out of it.” (laughs) When I read it, I thought it might be a bit too complex for kids, and that the story was a bit too serious. For the dialogue as well, there were turns of phrase that only the creator would know, so I sent in a revision, [saying] “How about something like this?” Later, I took a look at the revised script, and as I looked at the dialogue and other parts that bothered me, [it dawned on me that] I had written the entire story without realizing it. (laughs) I felt that the part of a god appearing was the main point of this movie, so I left it in, but the rest had become the story I came up with myself. (laughs wryly)
What did you take care with in making the scenario?
To be frank, it was “not to make people emotional”. It’s just like me to have it come down entirely on the side of pure entertainment. To the point that, since way back, I’ve deliberately drawn it so as not to move people. This time, as well, with Vegeta’s nice scene, I almost wanted to generate some emotion, but I changed it into a lighter direction. Probably, it’s because it’s embarrassing3. The fact that I stake my life on stupid gags in breaks from the action, like “I’m gonna pee myself!”, is also because if I make it serious, I get embarrassed. (laughs)

I was also conscious of allowing people having their first contact with Dragon Ball to understand it without any difficulty. I was cautious not to make it impenetrable to outsiders, but it was hard. The movie’s running-time is limited, so it became a story that assumes a certain degree of knowledge about the work. For someone like me, who’s aiming for something even elementary schoolers will understand, it might be something to reflect on a bit.

I also struggled with the enemy’s background. There are stories where “a good person, through a certain catalyst, gains an evil heart and becomes an enemy”. But if they were originally a good person, even if you fight them and win, there’s no clear sense of resolution. It’s specifically because they were bad from the start that they’re worth defeating. This time, too, I struggled to come up with a way to end things cleanly after fighting against such an incredibly strong opponent as a God of Destruction.

What did you notice in writing the scenario?
The fact that it’s easier to write a work that’s not new, where you know the characters and the world. Although, since I’m the type of person who doesn’t re-read his own work, I had completely forgotten the story. I read a bit of it over again, and I was able to recall the feeling of back when I drew it. (laughs) A manga artist has it easy when he already knows, “This character moves like this”.

This was the first time since putting out the Kanzenban4 that I had properly read through the manga I had drawn. I couldn’t remember the next developments, so as I was reading it, I fretted, “Am I gonna be OK, expanding the story this much?” (laughs) But if I don’t forget what I’ve drawn, the next idea won’t come to me. Perhaps my memory’s capacity is less than other people’s? (laughs)

Character Production Secrets

Tell us a behind-the-scenes story about the characters who appear!
In the initial script, three burglars appear. But since Dragon Ball‘s characters are all appearing together, I thought it would be better if it were a group of three that everyone knew, so I made the Pilaf gang appear. They ought to be getting pretty old, so I wondered what I should do. Then it came to me that, if I made them younger with the Dragon Balls, it would be just right.

The subplot where Trunks comes to like Mai is of a pattern that I rarely ever draw5, “starting to like a girl a little bit”. I thought, [if I’d left it] the way it was, they would simply have been sneak-thieves, and it would have ended with them being immediately driven off, so I put it in. (laughs)

Also, it’s not that Bulma’s birthday party is held every year. Bulma’s the type of person who doesn’t care about her own birthday, so she holds one when she wants to see everyone again after a long time. If she doesn’t prepare fantastic prizes, everyone won’t get together, so she goes all-out. (laughs)

Do you decide firmly on the settings when you create a story?
If it’s not logical in my mind, then it feels bad when I’m drawing it. Even if it’s something that’s not explained within the work, I try to come up with unwritten rules to tie everything together. Well, I don’t take notes, though, so I immediately forget about them. (laughs) I have confidence in keeping things consistent, too. (laughs) This time, as well, I prepared settings for the end that make you anticipate something after. It’s actually something I came up with by chance, but it also brings the characters to life, so I’m glad I went with that setting.
Tell us some points about the designs of Beerus, God of Destruction, and Whis!
I had used up human forms, so for Beerus6, I thought I’d rather make him cat-like. Speaking of cats, there’s Egypt, so I decided on his costume from there. I prefer to have strong characters who don’t look strong at first glance. Simple, by contrast, brings out the fear of their unfathomable true nature better than being too showy. I also like how it’s ominous.

Whis7 is a character I came up with, figuring as you might expect, that I needed to bring out a handsome fella, as well. (laughs) I like his air of obliviousness. He’s constantly eating delicious things, and he lacks a sense of imminent danger to the point that I wondered whether it was really OK. (laughs)

I came up with both of them from the start. If there’s only one [character], you have to either have them talk to themselves or use narration, but if you have two, you can explain things through their conversational interaction, no narration necessary. So, in manga as well, I try to bring them out in pairs8. Even Goku is someone who wouldn’t say anything if Bulma & co. weren’t around. (laughs)

Toriyama-sensei‘s preoccupations

Have Goku & co. changed from before?
Goku absolutely never changes. Now, as before, he’s someone who only thinks about getting stronger. I think the other characters probably haven’t changed that much, either?

What has changed is probably just appearances; hair colors and whatnot. I’m not particular with hair styles and colors, and paint them in however’s convenient at that time9. Everyone normally changes things like hairstyles, right? It’s the same as that. So, I can’t remember the characters’ hair colors, either. (laughs) I am extremely particular about the parts I’m particular about, but the parts I’m not particular about, I’m not particular about at all.

Did you decide on the movie’s sub-title, Sensei?
I did. Gods and aliens are a staple of mine10, after all. (laughs) But, the title being the title, I was careful not to make it philosophical. So I had him do some un-god-like things, such as being obsessed with food. As a rule, I love dumb things like that.

I’m also responsible for setting the timeframe after the Majin Boo arc. I thought a time where the whole cast is together, and Goku & co. are at nearly perfect strength, would be best. That’s where an incredibly strong foe appears.

What is the theme of this movie?
As a rule, there is no such thing as a theme in my work. I want to make it exclusively a piece of “entertainment” that’s easy to understand for anyone who watches. There are a lot of other manga written in a complex style, so I suppose I’d like all the more for it to be pure entertainment. However, it’s wrong to be drawing it in an overly wholesome way, as well. I believe that a manga is over if it gets too wholesome. (laughs)

We Asked Akira Toriyama
Bonus Corner: Akira Toriyama Q&A
There’s so much we want to ask Toriyama-sensei! We had him answer in Q&A format!

If you had to give a name to Beerus’s technique, Sensei, [what would you call it]?
I’m the type of person who looks like he’d give names to techniques, but generally doesn’t. If I took it upon myself to name it…… “Beerus Ball” [Birusu-dama], maybe? (laughs)
Tell us why the hair color of Super Saiyan God is red!
Simply because it’s a strong-looking color. I had already used gold, and blue doesn’t look very strong. Visually-speaking, red really is easy to understand.
What’s your secret to coming up with new ideas?
I generally stay at home, but when I do go out, the going-out itself is fun. Recently, I’ve tagged along with my daughter to a concertT1, and gotten some stimulation. I watched the stands the whole time, [thinking] “So the audience responds like this~”. (laughs) It became a reference for this movie as well; for instance, “it might be interesting if they fight to this sort of intense music”.

(Sea Turtle:) The interview continues in volume 5. Look forward to it!

1Torishima-san: A villain who appeared in Dr. Slump… or rather, his model, [Toriyama-sensei‘s] first editor. His caricature resembled him so uncannily that he became a celebrity overnight.

2Script: A movie script is made by hammering out a story, then refining it any number of times. Toriyama-sensei became involved with the story from the beginning of production.

3It’s embarrassing: Toriyama-sensei is shy by nature, and the more serious a story gets, the more he wants to insert gags into it. Ginyu also came into being for that reason!?

4The Kanzenban: Its official title is Dragon Ball Kanzenban (“Perfect/Complete Edition”). 34 volumes in total were released between December 2002 and April 2004. All the books’ covers were new illustrations by Sensei. The color pages were also faithfully reproduced. In the final chapter, Part 519: “Bye-Bye Dragon World”, the addition of four new pages became the subject of much talk.

5That I rarely ever draw: Since Sensei is shy (!), depictions of romance are also embarrassing, so he’s not good with them. Even Goku, the main character, was easily married in a single panel….

6Beerus: The god who governs “destruction”, tasked with the role of maintaining the balance of this world. He boasts enormous power, capable of destroying a world in an instant. If he loses his temper, it truly means the end of life. Apparently, even the Kaiō and Kaiōshin fear him. Voiced by Kōichi Yamadera.

7Whis: A mysterious man, who appeared together with Beerus on Earth. He refers to Beerus with the honorific “-sama“, so he looks to be an attendant, but his true identity is unknown. Voiced by Masakazu Morita.

8I try to bring them out in pairs: Goku and Bulma, Vegeta and Nappa, Freeza and his men… new characters appear in groups. Understanding the situation through conversation is an excellent method of writing.

9paint them in however’s convenient at that time: Bulma’s ever-changing hairstyle is proof that the characters are alive within that world. Her hair color is mainly purple, but there are times when it occasionally becomes greenish.

10Gods and aliens are a staple of mine: Ever since Dr. Slump — Arale-chan, both gods and aliens have appeared. According to Toriyama-sensei, “I haven’t changed since those days (laughs)”.

The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.

T1 Toriyama is referring to the Maximum the Hormone concert he visited in November 2012; the band’s guitarist and main vocalist, Maximum the Ryō-kun, recounted their meeting in the liner notes of the 2013 album Yoshū Fukushū, specifically mentioning the presence of Toriyama’s daughter. Toriyama would later use the band’s song “F” as the inspiration for the 2015 movie, Revival of ‘F’, where the song itself would be used during the battle.
English Translation: SaiyaJedi
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