The September 2021 issue of Shueisha’s Saikyō Jump magazine kicked off a “Dragon Ball Super Gallery” series in commemoration of the Dragon Ball franchise’s upcoming 40th anniversary. The celebration aims to have different artists all contribute their own spin on the original 42 tankōbon covers, with the images and an accompanying comment published as the magazine’s back cover.
Following the previous twenty-five entries, this month’s October 2023 issue brings us Shuichi Aso (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.) and their take on the series’ 37th volume cover:
My friends used to bring all 42 volumes to our secret base and we’d go around reading them until it got dark outside. Whenever I bought a Carddass booster pack, I’d quickly flip through all the common cards, but then burst into dance if I got a foiled Gohan card. In Super Butōden, I’d quickly press all the buttons at random and then unexpectedly launch a secret move. I’d line up with my parents under the blistering heat to go and see the Toei Anime Fair. I’d draw Super Trunks on the blackboard in the back of class and get praised by my teacher. If I think back on my childhood days, the one constant running through all of it is definitely Dragon Ball. Congratulations on its 40th anniversary!!
Aso’s comments on the blackboard refers to the fact that many Japanese classrooms have two blackboards: the regular one in front of the class, and then a smaller one on the back, which is frequently used by students for doodling (like Asō did here). One prominent example in popular culture would be the classroom of the main character in Persona 5, where students would also frequently draw doodles related to the Phantom Thieves.
Aso also shared news of the drawing on Twitter, saying they wish they could tell their childhood self about it:
I drew the Dragon Ball illustration included in the back cover of this month’s Saikyō Jump! I’m so happy ☺️ I wish I could go back in time to tell myself as a child…! If you see it on store shelves, I’d be really happy if you checked it out for yourselves!
Saikyō Jump is currently a monthly magazine published in Japan by Shueisha under the “Jump” line of magazines. The magazine began as a quarterly publication in 2012, went monthly in 2013, went bimonthly in late-2014, and returned to a monthly format in 2021 (including a digital release for the first time). The magazine’s focus is spin-off and supplementary manga series aimed at a young audience, while also including game promotions, news coverage, and more. The magazine currently serializes content such as Yoshitaka Nagayama’s Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultra God Mission!!!! manga series and Yūji Kasai’s Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Avatars!! manga series. For calendar year 2019, Shueisha reported Saikyō Jump‘s circulation down at 130,000, with readership as 58.5% upper elementary school, 28% lower middle school, 11% middle school, and 2.5% high school or older.