New Interview Translations: Akira Toriyama & Special Talks
Published by 27 March 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

With a series like Dragon Ball, comments from author Akira Toriyama hold a lot of weight. The man traditionally hides behind-the-scenes, and though he was trotted out for Q&As more than ever before during the Battle of Gods promotional circuit, he still remained as elusively off-camera as ever before, choosing to provide prepared text answers.

One of the things we at Kanzenshuu love doing is diving into the archives while simultaneously keeping up with newer material. It can be fascinating to compare answers and viewpoints that Toriyama provides over a period of decades. We feel that it provides a deeper understanding of Dragon Ball and of Akira Toriyama himself.

With that being said, we are excited to provide translations of two in-depth and surprisingly-candid Akira Toriyama interviews.

The first new interview translation comes from the January 1997 issue (“Issue 3.01”) of the initial Japanese edition of WIRED magazine, which ran for a little less than four years from 1994 to 1998; it now exists as a special quarterly issue of the Japanese edition of GQ, relaunched in 2011. In addition to translations of articles from its American equivalent, it also had Japan-original material, and for their second-anniversary issue (published 21 November 1996), they had a special two-page interview with the man himself. This is notable principally for two things: being published during the time that Dragon Ball GT was still on the air, and Toriyama’s comments on Goku’s personality, which he repeated nearly verbatim 17 years later in the run-up to Battle of Gods (see below).

There’s how, basically, Son Goku from Dragon Ball doesn’t fight for the sake of others, but because he wants to fight against strong guys. So once Dragon Ball got animated, at any rate, I’ve always been dissatisfied with the “righteous hero”-type portrayal they gave him. I guess I couldn’t quite get them to grasp the elements of “poison” that slip in and out of sight among the shadows.

Read the full interview in our “Translations” section.


The second new interview translation we have added to the website is the “Akira Toriyama & Masako Nozawa Special Talk” which exclusively aired as a part of a special exhibit in Japan, “The World of Akira Toriyama”. While the special talk was previewed on Mezamashi TV, the actual video footage in its entirety could only be seen at the exhibit itself. Friend of the site “Peking Duck” visited the exhibit in Nagoya and studiously transcribed the talk in its entirety; with his permission, we have translated said talk.

In the special talk, Masako Nozawa reveals how she was given the role of Gohan with no audition and no warning prior to coming in to record, while Toriyama reiterates his feelings on Goku’s personality and motivations that he discussed in the WIRED interview so many years earlier.

At any rate, I wanted him to have the sense of being that rare guy who seeks only “to become stronger than before”, so much so that it feels like “there’s no one as pure as this person”. And while he does end up saving everyone as a result of that, he himself at least has a very pure sincerity about “wanting to become stronger”. What I wanted to depict the most was the sense that he might not be a good guy at all, although he does do good things as a result.

Read the full interview in our “Translations” section.


Please enjoy these new additions!

Share This Post


  • jrdemr says:

    This here is just fascinating.

    People usually badmouth Toriyama for having a terrible memory, and while it’s true to an extent, the fact that he described his main character almost the exact same way 17 years apart shows that, while he might not be great on details, he truly understands this world and its characters. And in my opinion, he’s the only one who does.

    Though I do think he’s selling Goku short. While it’s true that the whole “righteous hero” isn’t his thing at all, Goku does have genuine care for others, as shown countless times in the manga. He just doesn’t let that come into conflict with his own personal goals. I truly feel Goku is a good guy, albeit a selfish, foolishly-pure one.

    Which is what we all love about him.

  • “Poison”, huh? That seems an unusually harsh analysis of a Goku who takes on a military tower purely from oppression (he arrives for the DB, but he doesn’t know the mayor has it), then goes onto find his heart’s desire (Gohan’s DB) and give it up for Bora’s life to be restored. Throws himself on the figurative grenade that is Raditz, not knowing there’s an awesome power up waiting for him in Other World but doing it purely to save his son (who Toriyama claims he doesn’t care for) and the humans who Raditz has assured him he’ll kill (who Toriyama also seems to claim he doesn’t care for).

    Yeah, Goku wants to fight strong guys above all else… but not necessarily at the expense of others. “But he lets Piccolo Jr live!”… right, to save Kami. He had no qualms about killing Daimao when he didn’t know of the connection. “But he lets Vegeta live!” no, Kuririn does. Goku asks for it, but it’s Kuririn’s call. Goku even explains why he wants Vegeta to live and admits it’s shitty. But it’s Kuririn who decides, against logic, that putting his faith in Goku is worth it. Goku has earned the indulgence. And with Freeza, Goku actively objects to kill him on the grounds of he doesn’t want to take his life.

    So I think you’ll find the problem, Toriyama, is that you didn’t actually write the character you’re describing. You definitely wrote a guy who doesn’t always do things for the most morally pure reason, and acts often from his desire to be the best… but that’s what makes him, to quote Vegeta here, “Numba one!”

    • Herms says:

      Remember, he doesn’t simply say “poison”, he says “elements of ‘poison’ that slip in and out of sight among the shadows”. It’s supposed to be something there in the back, not always visible. Toriyama’s not saying Goku is pure evil, or never does anything good or selfless. He’s saying that deep down Goku is motivated by the desire to fight strong opponents more than anything else.

    • DerekPadula says:

      I agree with your comments, but I didn’t interpret Toriyama’s comments that way, so I’m not sure I understand your starting point for mentioning it.

      I believe the “poison” he speaks of is the moral, ethical, or meaningful content that storytellers are apt to include in a series. Toriyama doesn’t want his stories to be meaningful or dramatic in the sense of teaching a lesson to the readers. He just wants it to be “pure entertainment” for young Japanese boys.

      The irony is that he achieved the opposite reaction in the minds of hundreds of millions of fans across the world, who see Goku as a hero. Even the writers at Toei were apt to take Goku in this direction, which is why Toriyama had to protest against it and “warn them,” as he says in another interview.

      I’d love to here Toriyama’s reaction to FUNimation’s “I am the hope of the universe” speech. He probably facepalmed and shook his head.

      In any case, these interviews provide a rare insight into both Toriyama and Nozawa-san’s minds, and I appreciate that you guys put them up. Thank you for doing so.

  • exdubbie369 says:

    It is kinda funny how he basically says that Toei got his character wrong, and now 17 years later he goes around and gets Toei’s own Dragon Ball character (namely, Bardock) wrong.

  • ea575 says:

    Nozawa really hates Freeza lol

  • wobbuffet says:

    It’s kinda funny.
    The mangaka who became really famous and aclaimed when he just wanted to get money from his work created a character who became really strong and a word savior when he just wanted to get a good fight.
    Toriyama and Goku are really like each other.

Write a Reply or Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.