Dragon Ball: Adventure Special
A Full-Coverage Q&A With Toriyama!!
Is That So?! The Dragon Balls
We asked “Tori-sa”, a.k.a. Akira Toriyama-sensei, a ton of questions about Dragon Ball, about himself, and about manga. Frankly, we probably went overboard! Will the secrets of Dragon Ball now be revealed?!
Dragon Ball Corner
Why does Goku have a tail?
He can’t help it. Maybe it’s an ancestral throwback.
What are the Dragon Balls made out of?
I picture them as like semi-translucent marble.
Why are there seven Dragon Balls?
It’s simply because there’s those eight balls in Hakken-Den1, and I’d hate for it to be exactly the same, so I had there be seven.
Who made the Dragon Balls themselves?
Whoa! Now that you mention it, I thought up something really cool. Who made them, I wonder? It would have to have been God, I guess.
Does the name “Bulma” come from Blue Mountain? Or is it from the bloomers that girls wear?
It’s from the bloomers girls wear.
Why did Bulma cut her hair?
That was to show that three years had passed, and also because I like girls with short hair.
Why doesn’t Kuririn have a nose?
Hmm… (long silence). Kuririn has a physical idiosyncrasy that allows him to breathe through his skin.
Will Arale ever appear again?
Since Oolong can only stay transformed for five minutes before having to rest for a minute, is Pu’er like that as well?
No. Pu’er properly graduated from the Southern Shape-Shifting Kindergarten, so he can transform freely.
If Gyūmaō was Kame-Sen’nin’s #2 disciple, why can’t he use the Kamehameha?
Because Gyūmaō is the type who relies on power more than techniques, and also perhaps because he wasn’t quite good enough [to master it].
Since Goku at first had never seen any humans beside his grandpa Son Gohan, how’d he find out his grandpa was killed by the monster (which was actually Goku himself)?
That’s because Goku’s grandpa had often told him about the monster, so when he found the house all smashed up and his grandpa dead, he figured it must have been the monster.
Why didn’t Goku think of using his wish to Shenlong to bring his grandpa Son Gohan back to life?
Well, I guess since he was able to meet his grandpa again, it was probably OK.
Kame-Sen’nin said Kinto-Un was an important cloud he was awarded by God, but the people in Jingle Village said those clouds were a common sight long ago. Which of them is correct?
Long ago God had a lot of them, but he kept handing them out so they drastically decreased in number.
Does the sea around Kame House’s island not have high tide and low tide?
Hmm… Ah! The island itself is floating! How about that? Oh, but then you could just ask why it doesn’t drift with the tides. Hmm…
When Goku took the Carrotizer Bunny to the moon, why didn’t he turn into an Ōzaru?
That’s because he won’t transform unless it’s a full moon, and at the time it was only a half moon. Even up close, a half moon is still a half moon.
What is that staff Kame-Sen’nin is always holding called?
It’s just a staff.
At the 21st Tenka’ichi Budōkai, at first the announcer is just an announcer, and there’s another guy who serves as the referee. But midway through, for some reason the referee vanishes, and the announcer becomes a referee and starts doing the ten-counts. Why is that?
Now that you mention it, you’re right. Uh, let’s see, maybe it was to save money on labor costs?
Why does General Blue have so many animals as henchmen?
It’s a pain to draw different-looking humans. That’s why so many of the other characters are animals too. It makes it easier.
Since Jackie Chun blew away the moon, what’s happened to the Rabbit Gang?
They’re drifting through space.
It’s apparently been 20 years since Tao Pai-pai became an assassin, but what did he do before that?
Probably, before he was an assassin, he was an office worker. Then he got out of the rat-race and became an assassin.
How many meters high is Karin Tower?
Gee, that’s a tough one. About tall enough to reach into the stratosphere. No, it’s tall enough to take Goku a full day to climb.
Where’d Tsuru-Sen’nin go after he was sent flying?
He’s probably out in the desert or somewhere secretly awaiting his chance for revenge, I guess.
What’s the meaning behind that 楽 (raku; “comfort, ease”) kanji Yamcha wears on his dōgi?
There’s no real meaning behind it; he just enjoys being comfortable.
Does Chiaotzu wear a mask, or is that his real face?
His face really looks like that.
Is there any significance behind that star mark on Pilaf’s hat?
It just signifies that he’s after the Dragon Balls.
Akira Toriyama Corner
What thing do you want most right now?
Rather than a thing, I’d like to move out to an even quieter part of the sticks.
If you hadn’t become a manga artist, what line of work do you think you would have gone into?
Pictures are my only strong point, so it’d have to be something related to pictures.
What would you want to be reincarnated as?
As a human. I’d want to be born once more as myself, but more talented.
If you go to another foreign country, what country would you like to visit next?
I’d like to go to Nepal or someplace like that.
At what age did you first fall in love, and what kind of person was the object of your affection?
It was in preschool, with this girl from my neighborhood named Akemi Kurita. She was really cute.
What kind of woman do you prefer?
I like efficient people. I’m pretty impatient, so I can’t stand people who putter around. Efficient, sexy women are great.
What was it about your wife that made you marry her? (his wife is the manga artist Nachi Mikami-san)
I admired her for her adult personality and her attention to other people’s needs.
How has your wife been since you got married?
Thankfully, she hasn’t changed much. The only thing is, she’ll go out of her way for the people around her, and won’t tell them straight-up how she feels. She doesn’t mince words with me, though.
Would you like to cheat on her?
I’m not that brave. But if I knew I wouldn’t be found out, I’d like to try it just a little bit.
What kind of person do you want your son Sasuke-kun to grow up to be?
I guess it’d be good for him to be cunning, or perhaps mischievous. I don’t care how smart he is. If he’s healthy and strong, that’d be best.
What would you like to have Sasuke-kun call you when he gets older?
“Daddy” [Tō-chan] or “Pops” [Ottō], I guess.
Do you plan on having another child? How many children do you want?
No, one is fine. But I guess it’d be all right to have another one if it’s a girl. A cute one.
Why have you always worked out of Aichi Prefecture?
It’s just too much of a pain [to move]. Plus, I’m a real country boy, and I can’t stand how crowded Tokyo is.
What’s the happiest thing in your life up to now?
I’d have to say when my manga became a hit, and I could finally put food on the table doing manga.
On the flip-side, what was the hardest time for you?
That would also have to be becoming a manga artist. I couldn’t sleep or come up with material; I hadn’t realized it would be such a tough job.
When did your hair start thinning?
About three years ago, I guess. But back in the day, I had such thick hair that they called me “destroyer of hair-clippers”.
If you go completely bald, will you wear a hairpiece?
No, I won’t. I’ll just go bare-headed.
What kind of old-timer do you want to become?
I’d like to be the sort of geezer who pretends to be senile so they can peep on their daughter in the bath.
Why are you always wearing a gas mask in your self-portraits?
Because it’s embarrassing to draw my own face.
Do you watch “Dragon Ball” on TV every week?
Yeah, it’s my own work, so I at least try to watch it.
What do you mainly do on your days off?
I’ll make the supermarket rounds or ride my motorbike, but since my son was born, I haven’t really been able to do that too much, either.
Do you drink alcohol?
No. Even when I do, I’ll only have about a single glass of beer.
Do you smoke?
I do. Nowadays I smoke up to about three packs of Caster cigarettes a day.
Akira Toriyama Complete Data
Birthplace: Aichi Prefecture.
Birthdate and Zodiac Sign: 05 April, Shōwa 30 . Aries.
Height, Weight, Blood Type: 174 cm, 68 kg, A.
School: Aichi Prefectural Okoshi Technical High School, Design Course
Family Composition: My father, my mother, my wife, my son, and me. Then I have a cat (named Koge), a dog, and two birds.
Hobbies: Motorbikes. Cars. Reading (magazines). Building models. Going around to different supermarkets.
Eyesight: 0.1 [20/200 or 6/60; just able to read the largest letters on the eye chart] in both eyes.
Favorite and Least Favorite Colors: I like yellow. I hate purple.
Favorite and Least Favorite Foods: I like pork cutlets and curry, so I guess cutlets with curry is my favorite. I hate pumpkin.
Favorite Sports: I play baseball and table tennis. I watch golf.
Favorite Professional Baseball Team: The Chūnichi Dragons, when they’re in good form.
Favorite and Least Favorite Animals: I hate rats/mice [the same word in Japanese], but I like all other animals.
Favorite Word: Raku [“comfort, ease”; this is incidentally the same kanji Yamcha wears, as discussed above]
Favorite Music: Anything as long as it’s not sung in Japanese.
Motorbike(s) you ride currently A CBR400F and a custom Silk Road [both made by Honda].
Number One Favorite Movie: Witness with John Book [a 1985 film in which Harrison Ford plays a character named “John Book”]
Favorite Animation: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Night on the Galactic Railroad.
Bad Habit: Picking my ears.
Someone You Respect: I occasionally respect myself.
Favorite and Least Favorite Subjects in School: I liked arts and crafts. There wasn’t any particular subject I disliked.
Your Good Points and Bad Points: A good aspect of me is that I’m not too particular about things. A bad aspect is that I’m indecisive.
What manga artist is your favorite?
Rather than being my “favorite”, I think Katsuhiro Ōtomo is incredible.
What’s your number one favorite manga?
Astro Boy. There used to be this magazine called Shōnen, and I liked practically every manga that ran in it. Lately “Oishinbo” and “Bari-Bari Densetsu” have been interesting.
What kind of paper do you draw manga on?
Cheap, ordinary Kent paper.
What kind of pen do you always use?
A G-Pen. Made by Zebra.
If Goku and Arale fought, who do you think would win?
I guess Arale’s probably stronger.
What was your main impression the first time you met your editor, Torishima-san?
I wondered if it was really OK for him to come into work wearing that kind of clothing. I figured that a top editor at Shueisha would have to wear a suit.
What kind of person is Torishima-san?
He’s a guy who doesn’t hide anything. But this also means he’ll tell me whatever he wants to say. I think he suits me. People who hold things in are hard for me to read, so it wouldn’t be any good.
Do you think Torishima-san has his sights on world domination?2
He’s probably not aiming for world domination, but I’d say he’s definitely aiming to dominate something.
If you should become a manga artist in your next incarnation, what kind of editor would you like to have?
Someone who won’t reject my ideas would be nice.
What do you think Dr. Mashirito is doing now?
I think he’s still plotting something. Thinking up some way or other to rule the world even though he’s been reduced to a single bolt3.
Why did you become a manga artist?
At first for the money. I’d quit my job and didn’t have anything to do, and it just so happened that Jump was taking manga submissions, so I tried sending something in. After that it was determination.
At what age did you start drawing manga?
If it’s just doodling you’re talking about, then as far back as preschool. But it wasn’t until I applied to Jump that I first completed an actual work, when I was about 23….
What do you think is most needed to become a manga artist?
Frankly, I think you need good taste. There’s many parts of the job where effort alone can’t get you through. That’s why I think someone who tries hard but hasn’t got taste won’t get as far as someone who’s maybe not as skilled but has good taste.
When do you think up the compositions for your manga?
Typically I don’t think up anything at all, and Torishima-san will call and ask me if I’ve decided on the story yet. When he asks me that, something will pop up in my mind in a flash.
What would you do if your son Sasuke-kun said he wanted to become a manga artist in the future?
It’d probably bug me, but if that’s what he wanted I guess there’d be nothing I could do.
What sort of manga do you want to draw after this?
Let’s see… maybe a five-page serialized manga would be good.
The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.
The Nansō Satomi Hakkenden
is a 19th-century epic novel the author Kyokutei Bakin. It tells of the exploits of eight samurai half-brothers, all descended from a dog. Each of them was born with a crystal orb, which Toriyama is referencing here.
2 This is a reference to Dr. Mashirito, the villainous parody of Akira Toriyama’s first editor Kazuhiko Torishima created for Dr. Slump. Mashirito is obsessed with world domination.
3 After being defeated by Arale and co. numerous times over the course of Dr. Slump, Dr. Mashirito turns himself into a robot. But in a final battle he’s blasted to smithereens, reducing his body to a single nut and bolt.
English Translation: Herms