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Translations Archive

Katsura Akira (04 April 2014)

“Premium Talk”

MASAKAZU KATSURA
AKIRA
TORIYAMA

In commemoration of the release of Katsura Akira
A Premium Talk!!

Selling an unbelievable total of over 250 million copies combined!! Why were these collaborations born between these two, who each has continued to run along the forefront of their profession?! Their true feelings behind the mightiest combination, which can be told because the two of them have fought together as cartoonists for over 30 years, is right here!!

■ The mightiest tag-team was born because he didn’t want to draw the art?!

To begin with, how did the two of you end up collaborating?
Toriyama:
It all started back when Jump SQ. was established; I was asked by the editor-in-chief at the time to draw something, and I replied, “If it’s just the story.” Then the talk came to working together with Katsura-kun. And that’s how Sachie-chan GOOD!! was born.

Katsura:
JIYA got started when my editor for Young Jump said he wanted me to do a collaboration like Sachie-chan GOOD!!

Toriyama:
To be honest, when we started drawing Sachie-chan GOOD!!, I had this idea of a “Galactic Patrol series”. I’d even thought of all this background information. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman1, which I had serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 2013, is also a part of that.

Katsura:
But, even though we had originally talked about wanting to something together someday, I had no idea that we would actually end up doing it.

Toriyama:
As far as I’m concerned, If I’m going to work together with someone, there’s no one else but Katsura-kun. I’ve gotten pretty old, too, so the person doing the art would probably defer to me. If that’s the case, then there’s no point in collaborating. Katsura-kun is about the only person who will complain. After he reads the script, he’ll say stuff like “this story’s terrible” without batting an eye. (laughs)

■ Long phone calls, even right before deadlines! What was the result of such escapism?!

Have you known each other for a long time?
Toriyama:
I suppose it’s probably 30 years or more by now. My editor showed me Katsura-kun‘s Gakuen Butai San-Paro-Kan… When we first met, it was in the Jump editorial department, wasn’t it? If I remember correctly, you were wearing your school uniform.

Katsura:
No, that’s all wrong. It was before I made my debut. It was at the awards ceremony when I got second place in the Tezuka Award for Tenkōsei wa Hensōsei!? and I was wearing a blazer, not a school uniform.

Toriyama:
…. In that case, who did I meet…? How old were you, then?

Katsura:
Nineteen. At the time, the Dr. Slump2 anime had already started, and I had my picture taken together with you, but I was really nervous. I think we started calling each other on the phone after I started the serialization of Wing-Man.

Toriyama:
Maaan, we talked on and on about stupid stuff. I generally hate talking on the phone, but with only Katsura-kun or my wife, I wouldn’t care how long it was. That continues even now.

Katsura:
I didn’t think of you as anything more than a funny older guy, either. (laughs) It’d be normal for us to talk for five hours on a single call. During Video Girl Ai4 in particular was the worst. There were times, when things weren’t going well, where I’d call you every day.

Toriyama:
That you did. (laughs)

Katsura:
It must have been an escape from work. We’d talk right until both our deadlines were three hours away. Every single time, in that short span of time, you managed to finish up a chapter of Dragon Ball, didn’t you.

Toriyama:
That I did. (earnestly)

Without once talking about work?
Katsura:
As you’d expect, we would talk about it a bit. (laughs)

Toriyama:
Before Katsura-kun started ZETMAN5, too, I came up with some really good material, but he ignored all of it. (laughs)

Katsura:
If I remember correctly, you told me I should go with a setting where one was a salaryman and the other was a policeman. You went and created this whole drama inside your head, didn’t you, Toriyama-san?

Toriyama:
You told me, “That sounds nice”! (laughs) But when it finally came out, it was completely different.

Katsura:
But I once got in a bad way, thanks to you. When I started DNA²6, you recommended things to me like “make him transform” and “how about turning him blond?”, right? Naturally, I thought it was unwise because it would end up like Dragon Ball, but the creator himself told me forcefully, “They won’t be able to tell!” I was an idiot for believing you. I got all these protest letters from your fans, Toriyama-san. “Don’t rip off Dragon Ball!” they said. But Akira Toriyama himself was the one who told me to do it! (laughs)

■ Katsura, who wants to make things dramatic, vs. Toriyama, who doesn’t. What are their true intentions?!

Did you have meetings for your collaborations by phone?
Katsura:
We did, quite a bit.

Toriyama:
I had no idea you were so stubborn. (laughs)

Katsura:
No, no, no, no. Me, that stubborn?!

Toriyama:
You just can’t help wanting to move people, can you, Katsura-kun? I want to make things as un-dramatic as possible. I like the stupid little interactions in the middle of things. I don’t want to put in any kind of baggage or gloomy stuff.

Katsura:
I told you, that’s wrong! You talk about me like I want to make things dramatic, but I merely voiced my objection to you taking the moving material that was there and dumping it out! In Sachie-chan GOOD!! as well, the plot that I heard initially was an incredibly good story. But the storyboard that came out of it was such a letdown. (laughs) The material was moving stuff; why does this guy go and water it down? I figured the readers would also appreciate it if you fixed that up, and I also felt that as much as my own works are subversive, at least when I’m working with the world-famous Akira Toriyama, I should do things earnestly on the straight-and-narrow.

Toriyama:
We argued for hours about that last scene in Sachie-chan GOOD!! right before the deadline, didn’t we.

Katsura:
In your storyboard, Toriyama-san, the scene where the oasis appears was this one little panel. You really wanted to be nonchalant about the whole thing, didn’t you.8 But no matter what, I wanted to draw it as a two-page spread. In the end, Toriyama-san, you finally threw in the towel, and said “Fine, then. Do the storyboard however you want.” I did the storyboard without getting any sleep.

Toriyama:
But when it was finished, your storyboard was nice, Katsura-kun. I felt that it’s because we butt heads like this that working together is worthwhile. However…

Katsura:
However…?

Toriyama:
What was up with you making me do the coloring? Why do you suppose you would make the scriptwriter color it? (laughs)

Katsura:
Come on; the storyboard came down to the wire, and there was no way I would have made it in time by myself.

■ Their clashes continue with the second work!! But the two of them still haven’t learned their lesson?!

Did you butt heads over JIYA, the second work, as well?
Katsura:
I had heard that it was a “dark hero” piece, but when the script came, it wasn’t dark at all, now was it? (laughs)

Toriyama:
I thought it was plenty dark. (laughs) Also, you got angry that in JIYA there were always a lot of panels.

Katsura:
It was a lot! That was Hell!

Toriyama:
Now that you mention it, there are pages with five rows and such, weren’t there.

Katsura:
Having Kaede panic when the giant flea warning comes on is fine, but why does she have to then go into the bathroom? Just because it’s Young Jump you worked in all this adult material like smoking… what gives, putting ten panels on a single page?!7

Toriyama:
If it were my artistic touch, it wouldn’t be a problem. You really said that a lot, didn’t you: “Do we really need this panel?”

Katsura:
It was that sort of thing on parade. (laughs) You can’t understand what’s going on unless you show their entire body, so the characters would get really small. As in, you couldn’t tell the facial expressions or anything. But I knew that you would absolutely want to have these trifling things in there, Toriyama-san, so regretfully, I drew them. (laughs)

Toriyama:
That’s because I designed the characters so you’d be able to tell who they were even if they were the size of ants.

I’d really love to read the next work of that Katsura Akira; is it possible?
Toriyama:
I couldn’t tell you when, but there are lots of stories I’d like to do together with Katsura-kun.

Katsura:
Lots?!

Toriyama:
Yes. I mean, things that wouldn’t come out with either of us alone and characters I couldn’t draw myself will be born!

Katsura:
If I could have you take me outside my comfort zone again, Toriyama-san, then I’d also like to do it, by all means.

The following footnotes are included in the original book. Additional translator commentary, where present, is noted as such.

1 Toriyama-sensei’s latest work, released simultaneously with Katsura Akira! Both works are a part of the Galactic Patrol series.
2 The two of them met in the early 1980s. Even when Katsura-sensei was a rookie, Dr. Slump had already become a cultural phenomenon.
3 Translator’s note: There is no #3. This is a shame, since it would have been nice to get some background on Katsura’s early one-shots.
4 Back when they deepened their exchange through long phone calls. Such high quality that you wouldn’t think they were trying to escape!!
5 The shocking beginning of ZETMAN. There was the possibility that they could have been a salaryman and a cop?!
6 On the left is the problem transformation scene. The fans couldn’t have known that it came with Akira Toriyama’s approval….
7 Panel layouts that are rare for a Masakazu Katsura work are part of the unique charm of this collaboration.
8 Toriyama-sensei‘s precious storyboard. He has a strong attachment to even the mugicha scene.

English Translation: SaiyaJedi
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