The 1986 No. 3 issue of TeLePAL magazine, a television-focused publication not unlike TV Guide in the U.S., features a talk between Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama and fellow cartoonist Rumiko Takahashi regarding the then-upcoming animated adaptations of their latest comics: Dragon Ball for Toriyama, and Maison Ikkoku for Takahashi.
The interview, which provides a glimpse into at Toriyama’s mindset at a critical point in time — after the manga has been running, right before the television series debuts, and just as Dragon Ball really began to explode — finds a unique spin by discussing the original works in the context of their animated adaptations, along with the obligatory insight on Toriyama’s general work habits.
–On the TV program NHK Special Feature, Osamu Tezuka-san said that he doesn’t get any ideas until a deadline draws near; how about you?
Takahashi: Well, I do think there is that aspect. But most of the time, it takes two days to create the story and draw the storyboard (the rough draft), and drawing the manuscript takes about one night, I suppose.
Toriyama: For me, about two days go by with me going, “I need to come up with some kind of story,” but really just pretending to work. And also, inking takes me probably about a day.
–With both of you drawing your comics like that week-in, week-out, don’t you ever reach an impasse?
Toriyama: I do. At times like those, in my case, I make up my mind and go to sleep. (laughs)
–That sort of thing happens even for you, Toriyama-san?
Toriyama: What’s that supposed to mean? (laughs) When I get sleepy, something just goes “pop!!” right into my head; I think it’s done quite well for me. Except, a lot of the time, I just go on to fall asleep. Times like those, I feel really strongly that I’ve lost out. (laughs)
Takahashi: Even if you have to force yourself, you’ve got to draw something, after all… I do it, one way or another. (laughs) I’ll change things up with the depiction of a character’s psyche, for instance….
Toriyama: Back before I made my debut, I had about 500 pages worth of material that got rejected, so I’ve used plenty of things from those. I feel like I’ve probably used a few stories from them, as well….
Takahashi: That sounds like it’s come quite in handy. (laughs)
Toriyama: No joke. (laughs) Back when they were rejected, it was really rough. But it made things easier afterward, so I’ll let it slide.
Takahashi: When I’m stumped for story developments in Urusei, I’ll also do things like introduce a new character in order to give things a breath of fresh air.
The interview is notably conducted by Tsuneo Matsumoto, founder of Toriyama’s official fanclub, and eventual founder of “Caramel Mama,” the company that would go on to help produce a wealth of Dragon Ball information and guide books along with ongoing magazine and web publication and promotion.
This interview has been archived in our “Translations” section. A somewhat-incomplete translation of this interview has previously existed on the Takahashi fansite Rumic World under the mislabel of “Terebaru” (the magazine’s title is stylized in our alphabet as TeLePAL on its cover).