Owners of 1995’s first Daizenshuu (“Complete Illustrations”) or perhaps 2013’s Dragon Ball Chōgashū: Super Art Collection may have come across an illustration of Goku riding a dragon without giving it much thought; after all, Goku rides lots of dragons in these illustrations.
Viz’s English translation of the first Daizenshuu from 2008 notes this illustration as coming from a “Never Ending Special” in Weekly Jump No. 10 (no year given, but noted as 1985 earlier in the book), describing it as: “Feature for a story called ‘Dragons Are Widely Popular in Movies and Comics!'”
Viz’s English translation of the Chōgashū — released in 2019 under the title “Dragon Ball: A Visual History” — updates this description to read: “Neverending Story Special: For the Neverending Story special collection, this piece came with the comment, ‘Dragons are super popular in both movies and manga now!'”
Older Dragon Ball fans may think first to the “Never Ending Story” two-disc soundtrack collection from 1996, but this source pre-dates that by many years and has nothing to do with music!
The illustration in question actually comes from the 1985 No. 10 issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump, originally released in Japan 18 February 1985 featuring chapter 10 of the Dragon Ball manga.
Immediately upon opening the issue, readers are greeted with a giant, five-page feature about the film The NeverEnding Story with splash text proclaiming: “From films to manga, dragons are taking the stage!” and “A Movie to Surpass E.T.: The NeverEnding Story: A Grand Adventure in a Mysterious World!”
Indeed, Toriyama’s illustration of Goku riding a dragon graces the top of the feature’s first page… alongside, lower on the page, a self-portrait (also present in the aforementioned art books) and comment from Toriyama himself!
I’m impressed at how they translated such a difficult-seeming story to screen. It’s a little bit leisurely, but I think that’s perfect for fantasy. I really enjoyed the film!
The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 film (based on a 1979 novel) about a boy who finds a magical book which tells the tale of a young warrior given the task of stopping “the Nothing” from taking over and destroying the world of Fantasia. The story and film were part of a larger multimedia craze of the day surrounding dragons and dinosaurs, and left a lasting impact in popular culture.
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