Report From “Akira Toriyama The World of DRAGONBALL” Exhibit
Published by 17 April 2013, 10:14 AM EDT

One of the great benefits of being such a truly-international website is being able to do things like go see the new film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods on opening day, and to also attend the new exhibit, “Akira Toriyama The World of DRAGONBALL”. While the exhibit kicked off in Tokyo at the end of last month, I headed off to its second stop in Osaka today to bring some exclusive details to the Kanzenshuu audience.

After ascending to the eighth floor and paying admission, visitors are greeted at exhibit by a timeline covering the entire history of the series, including events as far back as the existence of Kaiō’s planet “a hundred million years ago or more”. Curiously, it also includes a large number of anime-only events, such as the Garlic Jr. Arc, the Ano-Yo-Ichi Budōkai, the first and fifth Dragon Ball Z movies, the Jump Super Anime Tour special, and all of Dragon Ball GT. Bardock is also described as having been “sent into the distant past” rather than killed outright by Freeza, in an indirect nod to Episode of Bardock.

In addition, and of particular interest to us here at Kanzenshuu, the timeline unambiguously places Battle of Gods in AGE 778, though it also says without a hint of irony that Bulma is celebrating her “38th” birthday, despite listing her birth year as 733 (actually making it her 45th birthday). The timeline also notes that Pan is born in 779 and Bra in 780, further indicating that the “778” birthdate for Bra (one of two birth years given for her in Daizenshuu 7) was merely an oversight. For more details and insight on placing Battle of Gods into the timeline and reconciling it all into something coherent, check out Episode #0327 of our podcast!

After the timeline, visitors arrive at the character wall, showcasing hundreds of characters from the series. Interestingly, it includes not only characters from the original manga, but many anime-only characters designed by the likes of Minoru Maeda, Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, and Tadayoshi Yamamuro in the form of both lineart and stills. It seems an odd choice for an event celebrating the work of Akira Toriyama himself, but then again, we suppose that the world of Dragon Ball has also grown to be far larger than the man who created it, so perhaps it is fitting.

As we anticipated, the exhibit contains lots of original manga pages — both color and black and white — taking up the greatest amount of the exhibit. This includes the entirety of chapters 1 and 519 (though about three pages of chapter 1 were obvious reproductions). For chapter 519, there is also a comparison between his original version of the chapter and the Kanzenban version.

These manuscripts really are a window into the way Toriyama worked: you can see individual strokes in the blacked-in areas, places where he used a bit of white-out to get rid of stray ink or highlight sound-effects or lighter areas, and places where he had pasted over another piece of paper either to correct a mistake (rarely) or photocopied another panel and pasted it on to save time (often). An example of this was the iconic image that also graces the cover of the upcoming Chōgashū: he shortened one of Goku’s locks of hair corresponding to where his hair in its normal style is also shorter. As if to highlight Toriyama’s replication of panels, the event also includes the scene from chapter 480 where even Kuririn notices it, and Toriyama appears to apologize. This too had the pose-panels pasted on.

Another technique that can be observed through these manuscripts is that, whenever Toriyama used tone, he would only cut the tone roughly where it came up against a solid-black area, then blacked in over top of it. This was, no doubt, to save time. Toriyama also inked directly over his pencil illustrations, just as he has claimed in interviews; these were usually completely erased, though some pencil outlines were occasionally still visible.

Moving on from these original manga pages, there is a collection of original color illustrations for things like tankōbon covers, illustrations for Weekly Shōnen Jump, and chapter title pages. At least one title page even had catch-copy penciled in; perhaps Toriyama thought of at least some of these blurbs himself (even though most are deleted in the Kanzenban manga release). Also present in this gallery were Akira Toriyama’s original concept illustrations for Dragon Ball GT, along with his color design sketches for Giru and the ship, complete with notes. An anime gallery follows, showcasing design materials, cels, and a visual progression through the various anime series and movies using posters and official artwork.

In roughly the same area, there is also a “treasure gallery”, which showcases rare and intriguing items: character concept sketches Toriyama drew for the 23rd Tenka’ichi Budōkai (including a version of Tao Pai-pai with a translucent brain-case and a much younger-looking Goku), Dragon Ball merchandise from around the world (including the “Orange Bricks” and several different versions of the Viz-translated manga, with both uncensored early volumes and “Viz Big” omnibuses), postcards and newsletters from Toriyama’s official fan-club (including an early concept illustration for Dragon Ball) and items from Masako Nozawa’s personal collection of memorabilia, with not one, but two signed Goku illustrations, presented to her by Akira Toriyama at different milestones in the series.

The exhibit’s “theater corner” showcases a comparison between the Japanese version of the anime and of several different foreign-language dubs, including FUNimation’s English version, taken from the fight against Vegeta on Earth in Dragon Ball Z. It was truly a surreal sight to see crowds of Japanese people sitting in rapt attention as Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat screamed at each other behind the guise of Goku and Vegeta. This is followed by a talk with Akira Toriyama (off-camera) and Masako Nozawa about the new movie and Goku as a character which unfortunately was a little too quiet to hear clearly without being closer to the front.

An introduction to the new movie Battle of Gods closes out the exhibit with elements from the new film, including storyboards used by director Masahiro Hosoda, character-model sheets by Tadayoshi Yamamuro, and Akira Toriyama’s own artwork for the film. For now, this is the only place where fans will be able to catch a glimpse of Toriyama’s original illustration of Super Saiyan God, as it has not been included in the Official Movie Guide, theatrical program, or the exhibition’s own official program.

Upon exiting the exhibit, there is a Kamehameha photo corner where visitors can capture themselves firing a ki blast, and a gift shop featuring merchandise, much of which (especially products related to Battle of Gods) is exclusive to the exhibit.

As you have come to expect from us at Kanzenshuu, we will continue to bring the English-speaking world this type of exclusive coverage. Please enjoy the information and photos, and look for even more commentary about the exhibit on an upcoming podcast episode!

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  • soulnova says:

    Thank you! This was wonderful!

    How I wish I could go and experience this myself. The Kamehameha photo corner looks amazing!!

  • …after reading that it was there, I was hoping for an image of Toriyama’s Super Saiyan God sketch.
    Too bad. I just hope it doesn’t get “lost” by not receiving a print release somewhere down the line…

  • kakarot88 says:

    Awesome! Thanks for posting!

    [Spoiler Warning about Battle of Gods in Comment Below]

    Do you think that means that GT is part of the official timeline now, despite:
    (1) the Pilaf Gang turning chibi in the movie and being really old in GT
    (2) Gohan being able to use his full power without needing to go Super Saiyan due to Elder Kai in the movie but no longer having his full potential unlocked in GT and still going Super Saiyan?

    Now, I vaguely recall some interview I thought I read on this website that Toriyama tried to explain the initial postings of Gohan for Battle of Gods as a Super Saiyan because Gohan stopped training, but I could be wrong.

    (3) After Battle of Gods, GT seems irreconcilable given the fact Goku’s family would know that in the presence of 5 pure hearted Saiyans Goku could go Super Saiyan God and when Vegeta shows up during Goku’s battle with Omega Shenron they have the requisite number [Pan, Trunks, Goten, Gohan were already there] and do not do that. Now, I know the new movie was obviously conceived of and written long after GT but that’s the point it does not succinctly fit in if GT is not supposed to be a cross dimensional “what if scenario” like how Toriyam view the other movies.

  • Chuquita says:

    That photo where you get to make a kamehameha is great. X3

    What-almost-was character art is really interesting. Tao Pai Pai with a brain case…
    A much younger Goku at the 23rd is real interesting too. I feel like I read something at some point where there was a debate as to if Goku should be allowed to “grow up”.

    Also, so much hoping to eventually get to see Toriyama’s ssjg drawing…

  • Makaioshin says:

    That sounds really fun. I also look forward to seeing Toriyama’s designs.
    I like 778 because it is the 2013 of the Dragon World going by 745 being 1980. That is a fun coincidence.

  • ssj4furanki says:

    I don’t know why, but the idea of casual Japanese fans seeing clips of other language dubs are funny to me.

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