Translations Archive

Bird Land Press 15 (November 1984)

The Making of Dragon Ball

Learn everything about the astounding new work Dragon Ball! A must-read special story for the superfan!

Once upon a time, there was a production process, from concept to completion… at any rate, Tori-sa‘s new work begins from just such a place…


  • October ’81: Gets engaged to Nachi Mikami-san. Starts being influenced by China around this time.
  • April ’82: The “Tsun Family”, Tori-sa‘s first-ever characters with a Chinese motif, appear in Dr. Slump.
  • December ’82: Around the 150th serialized chapter of Dr. Slump, starts wanting to draw a different comic, particularly a kung-fu one.
  • March ’83: Starts thinking up a rough outline for the first part of Dragon Boy, a Chinese-themed work you could call the root of Dragon Ball.
  • July ’83: Dragon Boy released.
  • November ’83: The Adventure of Tongpoo, a sequel to Dragon Boy, released.
  • January ’84: Comes up with a concept for the new serial. At this stage, it’s intended to be Journey to the West. Around this time, starts pushing to end the serialization of Dr. Slump.
  • April ’84: The new work is set to be a kung-fu story. Goes on a research trip to China.
  • May ’84: Finishes the concept for the new work; submits it to Mashirito.1
  • June ’84: Dr. Slump is set to end in August.
  • August ’84: Finishes up rough sketches, completes the first draft.
  • October ’84: Finishes up the second draft, marking the start in earnest!
  • November ’84: Dragon Ball begins serialization.


First Draft
Up to this point in time, I had decided that if I were to do a new serial, I was going to do Journey to the West! I think you’ll be able to tell just by looking at the characters, it’s more Journey to the West than Dragon Ball. Even Goku is an actual monkey in traditional style. I was planning to make both the characters and the story faithful to Journey to the West, after all.

However, the response from my wife and others wasn’t all that great, so I thought I’d go ahead and revise the characters.

Second Draft
With that in mind, this is the result of my drawing the characters anew. Having come this far, it was almost Dragon Ball!

Although, even at this point in time, I still hadn’t come up with a title. Well, I was busy just coming up with the story, so I didn’t have the time to go so far as think of one… [sheepish laughter] However, I had at least come up with names for the characters. The boy is “Son Goku”, absolutely! The girl is “Pinchi”.

When her name was set as “Pinchi” was also around the time I started thinking of making the work an original story2.


Around the time I finished up the rough sketches for the second draft, my image of it gradually solidified.

That is Dragon Ball.

The Dragon Balls, written “七⿓球”, are about 10 cm in diameter, and each one has stars inscribed in it. These seven gleaming balls are currently scattered across the lands. According to legend, when all seven are brought together and an incantation is said, the Dragon appears and grants a single wish! (To see the Dragon and the Dragon Balls, see the previous page!)

As soon as the wish is granted, the Dragon Balls are fated to scatter once again, and they must be gathered again from the beginning. It is said that there was once someone who gathered the Dragon Balls and became a king. Those are the “Dragon Balls” of the title.

Son Goku:
14 years old. Has a simple, lighthearted personality, but I want to display a really mischievous side to him. Of course, he’s really strong! Had the martial arts drilled into him by his grandfather, a master of hermit wizardry, but lost him two years ago and now lives by himself. Keeps a shining orb as a memento of his grandfather; this is one of the Dragon Balls.

16 years old. A bit selfish and aggressive, but also has a girlish, easily frightened side. A modern-girl type. A genius with machines. Learned of the Dragon Balls from an old scroll, and is currently on an expedition in search of them.

Woo Long:
A lazy pervert who only has eyes for food. Has the ability to transform into anything. Part of Goku’s group.

Yum Cha:
A villain who is after the Dragon Balls after overhearing their secret. The rival for Goku & co. Tries to act all cool and aloof, but he’s really the good-looking comic relief.

Pu Erh:
Yum Cha’s underling. For what it’s worth, he’s a villain, but I want to give him a cute personality. Capable of transforming like Woo Long.

The setting looks Chinese at first glance, but it’s actually an entirely fictional locale. The era is all over the place! And I think that’s fine. That’s because I can draw what I like, and whatever it turns into is fine! In other words, it’s “anything goes”, my specialty. The story is a “science-fiction adventure-comedy + love-comedy + sexy”. As far as I’m concerned, love-comedies… are something that gives me headaches, even now. With this, I’ve lost at least 10 of my precious hairs. P.S.: “Pinchi” is now called “Buruma”. I’ll add in something here to show how her hair and clothes have changed a bit.

To be honest, the serialization for this Dragon Ball ended up starting sooner than I thought, so I started drawing it for the sake of things before I had the chance to really mull over the contents. It was pretty tiring, but I’m having fun drawing it at the moment. “The perverted bits of content are Mashirito’s favorite! I’m drawing them against my will, so please don’t misunderstand.”

And so, though the story for Dragon Ball was set, I still didn’t want to throw away the Journey to the West angle entirely. I like the character of “Son Goku”, and the story of Journey to the West is a good one, after all.

So, I thought I’d go ahead and stick together my original story and Journey to the West, and what came out of it was Dragon Ball.

Beyond using Journey to the West in part of the story, I really wanted to use names from the book in either the title or the characters. As a result, I used the name “Son Goku” for a character, so that one would imagine that if you took Journey to the West and arranged it Toriyama-style, it might end up like this.

I made some minor changes to the characters and machines in the pilot manuscript (altering the designs and such a bit), and at last, it was finished! So the “Woo Long” and “Yum Cha” who appeared in the second draft are slightly different from the ones who will actually appear down the line.

Please consider that one of the things to look forward to.

The story:

Son Goku lived deep in the mountains all alone with his grandfather, so he knows nothing of the wider world. That’s part of the comedy. With the techniques his grandfather trained him in, he’s light on his feet and strong!

One morning, Buruma appears before him. She’s a now-y city girl, two years older than Goku. She’s using her 30 days of summer vacation to go in search of the Dragon Balls! She’s a dreamer who wants to use the Dragon Balls, which can grant any wish, to get a wonderful boyfriend…

It will be a tale filled with laughs, tears, and adventure with the older, spirited Buruma and the younger, mysterious youth Goku! And of course, a little bit of that perverted fan service you all like… “This is your dream story.” Next issue will have news on the new work.

Capsule Bike (Capsule No. 9):
For something that it took me days to design and illustrate, it got destroyed in the first chapter. I like the style and the performance, so I plan on getting them to the city, having them buy a capsule, and having it appear again. If you please…!

Hoipoi Capsules:
Mysterious capsules that anything can come out of. There are 17 types of capsule in all; a motorbike comes out of one in the first chapter, and there’s also a house and such inside them. These convenient capsules are commonsense [items] in the big city.

Dragon Radar:
A radar just for Dragon Balls. Buruma, the mechanical genius, developed it! As long as you’ve got this, you’ll know where the Dragon Balls are at a single glance!

A magnificent staff that extends and retracts freely according to one’s will. It appears along with the “Kinton’un” [sic]3 in Journey to the West. I’m planning on bringing out the Kinton’un later on, too!

The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.

0 NOTE: The three blocks of images on this page are an amalgamation of related images from Bird Land Press, the Dragon Ball: Adventure Special, and Daizenshuu 2: Story Guide columns on this material.
1 Jokingly referring to Toriyama’s original editor, Kazuhiko Torishima, as his fictional Dr. Slump incarnation, Dr. Mashirito.
2 That is to say, rather than simply Journey to the West as-is.
3 Toriyama spells it here as キントン雲 Kinton’un, rather than the final 筋斗雲 Kinto’un.
English Translation: SaiyaJedi