The setting of Dragon Ball
has a sort of Chinese feel to it, but it’s not necessarily limited to China. For the time period, as well, exactly when it takes place is indeterminate. The overall story is very simple, but I’d like to make up the finer details and the ending as I go along. That way, I can enjoy the suspense of wondering what I should do next, as well as the fact that I can draw anything I want to.
Happy New Year. …Which means that I, who made my debut in comics at my 23rd New Year’s, have now come to my 30th. I’ve thoroughly managed to become a “real” cartoonist. Anyhow, this is a tough business: it seems like, if you’ve got work to do, then you’re so busy that there’s no time for sleep, but if you don’t have any work, then you don’t know what to do with yourself, and there’s nothing to do but sleep. I really hate being busy, but I also don’t like not knowing what to do, so I’m doing my best.
One night about half a year ago, I took in a stray cat. It was a rainy night, so I took pity on it and figured that I would at least let it stay in the house until the rain let up.
But it was a really friendly, cute cat, so we ended up keeping it as part of the family. It’s a jet-black cat, so its name is Koge [“char”]. As a result, my assistant Matsuyama-kun, a major cat-hater, is in a state of terror every time he comes over to work.
These days, I’ve been slacking off on exercise, always doing lazy things like using the car or motorbike even on outings right in the neighborhood. As a result, my stomach has started to bulge out. Thinking, “I’ll be in trouble if it goes on like this!”, I decided I’d at least try and ride my bike to shape up. But my eyes always wander over to the women walking along the street, and I end up riding at a snail’s pace. To be frank, it doesn’t really amount to “exercise”.
I’ve mentioned this lots of times already, but I really don’t like the cold. When you turn on the heat, your head goes into a daze, and when you turn it off, your hands get numb and you can’t hold your pen properly. Because of that, when it gets cold, I stop riding my motorbike and my bicycle almost completely, and use the car all the time instead. Frankly speaking, I’m a sissy of a rider. It’s enough for me to want to hibernate: Come on, spring! Get here soon! Every winter’s day is filled with longing.
These days, the neighborhood where I live has been getting pretty busy, with new shops and roads being built. It’s quite convenient, but I don’t get to see weasels, pheasants, or bush warblers at all any more.
The noise level has increased too. Being a country boy by nature, it seems like a slooow, quiet lifestyle suits me best. It might be pretty inconvenient, but I’d like to live much, much farther out in the country. This is the sort of thing I get to thinking about.
Just recently, my child was born. It’s a boy. At last, even I have become a father. I do think it’s too bad that my wife and I can’t just go off and have fun on a whim as easily as we used to. But once he’s a little older, the three of us can go places together, and more than anything, he’s cute, so I’ll forgive him. Having a child makes a good excuse to go to the toy store, as well. So with that in mind, I’m working while helping out with changing diapers.
On days when I do inking, I get up around noon, eat, and then from 1 p.m., I begin inking with my assistant Matsuyama-kun
; from 7 to 8, I eat dinner, walk my dog, and feed my bird; Matsuyama-kun
goes home at 9, and I continue to work while watching TV; I get in the bath at 11; after that, I stretch out and relax while working; and I go to sleep around 4 a.m. This is the pattern that most of my inking days follow.
My son has now reached the age of five months, and every day, he’s brimming over with energy. However, his elder, my cat (Koge), is not taking it well. She has a rival now. Before my son was born, Koge never wanted much attention, but now, she’s all over us. She’ll go out of her way to sleep on her rival, my son’s, futon, and when I’m fanning my son with an uchiwa
, she’ll lie down with him, as if to say, “fan me, too”. Can’t we just get along?
There’s practically nothing good about being nearsighted. When you go swimming at the pool or the beach, you can’t see any of the gals in their bathing suits! It often happens that I’ll think, “Oh!”, and hurry to put on my glasses, only for it to be an old lady, so I’ll hurry to take my glasses off again. There was even one time where the hot spring I went to had mixed bathing, but I had to swallow my tears because all I could see was a blur. Stupid nearsightedness! Everyone, please take care of your eyes.
This is the first time I’ve put up my photo in this section of a volume. This is me with my son, Sasuke. In putting up a picture of my son like this, it is of course true that I’m quite the doting parent, but it’s also a lifesaver, because it’s a bother always having to draw an illustration for this column. Maybe I’ll start doing this from now on, is my lazy idea. Next time, maybe I’ll use a photo of my cat Koge, or my dog Mato. Hmmm… This is nice and easy…
This is our family cat, “Koge”. You probably can’t tell what’s what since she’s jet-black, but anyway, it’s Koge. We took her in one night three years ago as a kitten, and she’s really nice and friendly. When she gave birth (since she’s female), we were really, really worried, and we made a huge fuss. She gave birth without incident to four healthy little ones. We were just so glad. By the way, the one who named her “Koge” was my wife.
This is our family dog, Matryoshka. We took her name from the traditional Russian dolls. It’s a pain to call her “Matryoshka” all the time, though, so her nickname is “Mato”. Being a Siberian Husky, she’s quite good against the cold, so as someone sensitive to the cold, I absolutely envy her. Even though she’s female, she’s got lots and lots of energy, so my son is always crying from her pushing him around. No matter how busy I am, I play with her every day.
I can almost never go out to the movies anymore. There’s the fact that I’m busy, and also that my wife has to take care of our son, and can’t really go out without a care in the world. (There’s no way a nice guy like me would just leave his wife behind and go out by himself.) Because of that, I watch recent movies exclusively on rental videos, one after another. Even when I’m busy with work, I watch them without hesitation. My TV is on all through the night.
I’m running too low on material, be it illustrations or photos, to put in this space, so I’ve finally been forced to pull out a picture of myself from when I was a kid. Around then, I got these weird lumps, or growths, or something on my head, and ended up looking just like a Kewpie doll. Apparently, I had to get them surgically removed. Even now, the unbecoming scars from the surgery are still clearly visible on my head, so I can’t shave off my hair.
Ta-daa! Would you believe it? I managed to get a whole 20-day vacation!! Awesome! Hey-hey!! And so forth. But just as I was getting carried away in my high spirits, I was laid up with a cold. A few days later, I somehow felt better and went out in the car, but just as I’d gotten back from finishing my errands, I caught my finger in the car door and put a crack in the bone. And while I was groaning in pain, my cold came back again. ……Dear God, thank you very much for my enjoyable vacation……
(text of illustration: “This is the worst!”)
In my case, apart from when Assistant-kun
is here, I almost always work seated under the kotatsu
in a room with a TV. It’s partly because I just can’t seem to get comfortable with a chair and a desk, and it’s partly because it feels lonesome if I’m not [working] while watching TV or a video. However, I mustn’t get fixated. So while I work, I end up watching it while pretending that I’m not. I’m such a good boy!!
I’ve said this many times before, but anyway, I don’t like the cold, and I really hate winter, so much so that I’d like to hibernate like a bear. I often get invited to go skiing and such, and it’s not like I couldn’t, but I just have no desire to go out of my way to go someplace that’s even colder. But as much as I hate winter, I really love the hot summer, and get really excited for it. That’s why, even in my comics, it’s almost always summery. Summer is the greatest! If only there weren’t any mosquitoes…
I, probably just like all of you, love Disneyland. (Though I’ve only been able to go about six times…) More than anything, it’s because you can feel how professional it is, down to the littlest things. Come to think of it, what first got me interested in drawing was when I went to see 101 Dalmatians
at the movie theater when I was in nursery school, and was drawn in by how wonderful the art was. I am grateful.
I have this habit where, if I want something, I’ll keep drawing it until I either get it or lose interest. When I was a kid, I wanted a horse, so every day I drew nothing but horses. Of course, I gave up on a horse, and next, I kept drawing pictures of monkeys. After that, I drew bicycles; just like that, I kept on drawing and drawing. Thanks to that, even though I was a naughty child, I at least got good at making pictures. That habit continues even now that drawing pictures has become my job.
Aaaugh…! The thing I feared most happened again. The cavity that I’d left alone because I hate going to the dentist started to hurt. It was the day of the deadline for my manuscript, but the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t bear it, so I ran to the dentist’s, but I was too late, and had to get it pulled. Then, I was forced to work while dealing with the pain. It may have been my fault, but it was still the worst, most hellish day…
Following on from the toothache, one of three lumps of fat on my left buttock became swollen and painful. It was right at the spot that bears the most weight when I sit, so I went to the hospital to have it removed, but they did it without anesthesia, and it hurt so much I thought I would die! About two weeks later, when that wound was just healing up, I had the other two lumps surgically removed, too. So in the end, for about one month, I was forced to work while sitting only on my right buttock. It was hell…
I am relatively confident about my body’s hardiness, and I hardly ever even get stiff shoulders, but recently, my right arm has started to get stiff, and it’s finally gotten to the point that it’s actually painful. Come to think of it, it’s because I’ve been working without taking much time off for close to 11 years straight, from starting the serialization of Dr. Slump
on to Dragon Ball
now. I suppose I might as well have a doctor get me to stop and take three months or so of vacation…. (Although, it’s started to feel better since yesterday…. Crap…)
(text of illustration: “Ow-ow-ow…”)
At the end of October, I had the honor of becoming a father of two. This time, it’s a girl. Mother and daughter are both in good health, so I am very happy. When her big brother was first born, I swore firmly that I would a strict father, but I turned out to be very doting, losing all faith in myself. I thought that next time, for sure, I would be strict, but there’s no way I can do that with a girl. These days, I’m pushing back against it, [thinking] “What’s wrong with doting on your kids?!!”
I like movies. When I was but a lad, I went to the movies at a pace of about four a week. Even when I was a primary-schooler, I’d often bring a boxed lunch with me, pedaling away on my bike to get to the theater in Nagoya, where I’d immerse myself for the entire day. The many films I watched in this way live on in my job of comics. When I’m coming up with a story or a sequence, it comes up in my head in the style of a cinematic image, which allows me to get my pencil moving. Ah, it sure was nice.
Our family dog has given birth to puppies. Three of them were born, but unfortunately, one of them died, so now there are two. Previously, when our cat gave birth, the mother didn’t do very well, so we did things like cutting the umbilical cords to help out. So for the dog, we took care starting several days in advance, just in case, but she managed to do just fine on her own. We really don’t want to part with the puppies, so we’d like to keep the both of them…
To be honest, all this author has to say is, I’m always stuck for something to write here. When you’re busy working on a weekly serial, it’s not like there’s going to be anything all that special to write about. What’s even more painful is the “author’s comment” blurbs on the table of contents page in the back of Shōnen Jump
. This is a secret, but for at least half of those comments, I let my editor Kondō-san
write them for me. Every week, he asks me, “Anything to talk about?” But I’ve got nothing.
I can’t just sit around and do nothing. I never feel comfortable if I’m not completely absorbed in something. Just like how sharks will die if they stop swimming. Anything is fine, no matter how pointless, but I have to be completely absorbed. Because of this, though, when there isn’t anything I want to do, I get really fidgety and pace around the room… It’d be nice if “work” was one of those things I could absorb myself in, as well…
I really hate mice. I have no problem whatsoever with things like snakes and spiders, but with mice alone I’m no good. But then suddenly, our home has become a house of mice. We’ve caught 14 using sticky sheets alone, but there are still more. I can’t work, I’m in such fear. If there’s even a little bump or rustle, I can’t stay in my workroom. Because of that, my manuscripts these days have been on the late side…
These Dragon Ball
volumes have finally reached number 30. Son Goku, who used to be a child, is now a father through and through. The reason I’m able to keep drawing the comic this long is thanks to the support from so many people. I am truly thankful. Even so, I’m in awe all the more at myself, that a fickle guy like me has managed to keep doing the same thing for over seven years.
At some point, my workroom turned into a storeroom. Magazines, plastic models, model guns, air guns, and other odds and ends keep increasing, and aren’t going to just disappear, so there’s become less and less space to walk around. Now, out of the entire week, I only use this room on the day my assistant Matsuyama-kun
helps me out, and most of the time, I work in the living room with my children getting in the way.
These days, acquaintances who see me for the first time in a while generally say this: “You’ve gained weight, haven’t you?” Yes, I have definitely gained weight. I am 174 cm tall, and yet I am 73 kg. That doesn’t seem like much, but areas like my arms, legs, and chest are the same as they were back when I was thin, so it’s just pathetic. Really, if I don’t get at least a little exercise, I will actually become like the above illustration. And I should diet, too… Augh! I ate too much again.
I think all of you can probably imagine, but a weekly serial is pretty tough work. Between Dr. Slump
and now Dragon Ball
, I’ve been doing a weekly serial for 13 years straight, so naturally, it’s gotten to be tough on me, both physically and mentally. I was never the type who naturally has a lot of willpower, after all. So, for the sake of both myself and my family, I’m starting to think it’s about time I work on something more slowly and carefully.
One of the nicer things about being a cartoonist is that you can determine your days off for yourself. When you’re going to a hot spring, or Disneyland, or some-such, you can avoid the crowds of Saturday and Sunday; it’s possible to just look up the weather, and say, OK! Tomorrow, let’s go on a trip. If it’s a weekday, there are rooms available at the hotels, after all. …But now my son is an elementary-schooler, and suddenly, it has become very difficult to use that sort of trick. The traffic is backed up! The trains are full! Yeeegh~~!!
With this volume, Son Goku has died. I’m not the kind of person who has much affection for the characters he draws, but as you’d expect, I did feel a bit sorry at the death of the main character I’ve been drawing for close to ten years. I thought about doing things some other way, but in the end, I felt that it was best for him to die. I did at least try not to make it too dark, but Son Goku-kun
, I beg your sincere pardon. Please forgive me.
When I got on my bike for the first time in a while, after riding for only a little bit, my legs got so tired they turned to mush. At Disneyland, when I ran around enthusiastically with my children, the next day I was laid up with a fever. When we went to the beach, and, thinking I had a pretty good arm, I showed off my skill at throwing stones, my arm got so sore that I couldn’t even draw. I am completely out of shape. I’ve got to give work a rest, and go play!
If I just hold out for a little longer, the nice, warm spring will be here at last, but now my kid’s gone and said, “Take me skiing!”. As I’ve written before, I am really no good against the cold, so I had been dreading those words more than anything. I can’t believe people go out of their way to go to cold places… Well, it’s not like I hate sports, so I’ll give it my best shot. At the time this book comes out, I bet I’ll have a cold and a fever…
For some reason, since this year started, it’s felt like things are getting even more hectic. On top of the Dragon Ball
serialization, there’s also Famicom work, V-Jump
work, work I’m doing with my friend on plastic models, and in my spare time, thinking up tens of architectural plans for my company, Bird Studio. And then, just as I’m letting out a scream of “Yeeegh!”, the family dog gets sick, and I’ve been taking her to the vet. (Thanks to that, she’s doing better.) I want time to play~!!
In what seems like such a short time, it’s been ten years since I started drawing Dragon Ball. Thinking about it, this number is astounding to a guy like me, who has no self-discipline, and I can only think that I’ve done a pretty good job for myself. This, in spite of the fact that, aside from my hobbies, I am an absolute slacker when it comes to work. Before I knew it, it’s like, “Ah! Crap! I accidentally put effort into something!” It’s about time I take another decade to sit around doing nothing!! Yep, I’m pretty sure I’m not cut out for weekly serials.
Our nearly ten-year-old family dog Mato, whose photo was published in volume 13, has died. She had had kidney problems starting about half a year ago. Since then, I had continued taking her to the vet for her IV treatments, even on the day of my deadline, and even when I was miserable with a cold. Mato put up a good fight too, but in the end, there was really nothing we could do. Our saving grace was the kindly neighborhood vet, who devoted himself with such compassion. Thank you so very much.
As I write this, I have three Dragon Ball
chapters left to draw before it comes to its auspicious conclusion. Thanks to the unfailing support of all you fans, it seems like it will be able to end as popular as always. Thank you!! I’m terribly sorry, but I just felt that I’d rather be able to draw a new comic at my own, somewhat more relaxed, pace. These volumes will end with number 42, which, just like this one, will have lots more pages than usual. Please be sure to pick it up!!
At long last, it’s the final volume! I deliberately made the end low-key, as though the story might still continue; what did you think of it? To all of you read all the way to the end of 42 volumes, thank you for sticking with me for such a long time. I’d also like to express my thanks to those of you who sent me fan-letters and presents. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply at all. But “thank you!!” from the bottom of my heart. Goodbye.