Akira Toriyama takes our questions — about dragons, cats, and the epic Dragon Ball
After working on Dragon Quest, Dragon Ball and Blue Dragon, do you feel a special connection to the word “dragon”?
It’s just a coincidence. Dragon Ball is the only title that I came up with. [Dragon Quest and Blue Dragon are not his creations. –Ed.]1
Do you like dragons? If you can have a dragon as a pet, would you like an Asian dragon or a European dragon? Why? And what would you name it?
Definitely a European dragon. There is no awkwardness in the design of European dragons, and I really like the balance of its features. If small dragons existed, I really would like to have one as a pet. I’d probably name it Gon.2
Did you have in mind that you were going to draw basically an epic drama of different generations? I mean, we see Goku as a kid and he grows up strong and gets married, has a family. We even see his son grow up and fight alongside his father. Is there any message you wanted to convey to the readers?
Unfortunately, I never imagined it. My style in working on a serialized manga is this: in order to keep the sense of suspenseful tension, I worked without thinking about the next episode. The author himself was wondering who would win the battle.
When we last interviewed you, at Jump Festa,3 you told us that the idea of Nekomajin came from your pet cat. Is one of your cats as fat and lazy as Nekomajin Z? Could you tell us more about how you came to draw Nekomajin Z?
Our household cat is a Cornish Rex.4 So the cat is rather skinny. Nekomajin was inspired by how its face looks when it sleeps. Karin-sama from Dragon Ball was also inspired in the same manner. I wanted to draw a silly gag manga as a repercussion after the long period of drawing a story-heavy manga.
Is the appearance of Majin Boo inspired by the Arabian-style majin, or “genie”? His clothes seem to have a sort of Arabian fairy-tale style. Or were you thinking of a different kind of “majin”?
Right. I saw The Arabian Nights when I was a kid, so I have this set image of what a majin, or genie, should look like. So that’s how I came to put him in that costume.
Next month: The interview with Toriyama-sensei continues! What’s his favorite kung fu movie? Why are his female characters so strong? What question has he never been asked before?!?! Plus, tips on doing the Kamehamehah [sic] pose. For real!
The following historical notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information and were not originally published in the book.
Toriyama worked with Yuji Horii and the team at Enix on the character designs for the Dragon Quest
series of role-playing games, a job he continues to this day. Toriyama collaborated again with Hironobu Sakaguchi (following their work, incidentally also with Horii, on 1995’s Chrono Trigger
for the Super Famicom) and his team at Mistwalker on Blue Dragon
, 2006 a role-playing game for the Xbox 360.
Likely a reference to the titular character of Masashi Tanaka’s manga series
about a diminutive dinosaur.
Published in the March 2003 issue
of Viz’s Shonen Jump
The same cat would serve as the inspiration for Toriyama’s redesign of Beerus, the God of Destruction, for the 2013 theatrical film Battle of Gods