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