Translations Archive

Kanzenban Official Guide: Dragon Ball Forever

Secrets from the making of Dragon Ball can now be told!!


A full nine years since the end of serialization, valuable episodes that had been held back can now be revealed!!

Then and now, I hate deadlines more than anything…

Now, I’m usually always thinking this: “I wonder if there’s time to build a plastic model.” Truth be told, that hasn’t changed one bit since back then. Well, I guess my lifestyle hasn’t changed that much even after the end of the serialization. However, since I started using a Mac, my method of drawing illustrations has changed. In drawing it, even I think that it’s got no flavor, but without new things like computers, I’d probably have turned against drawing completely. I get the feeling that it’s probably because I discovered how enjoyable it is to express all sorts of things by computer, that I’m still able to keep drawing.

What’s the difference between back during the serialization and now? It hasn’t changed much, but… I’ve gotten fat. Also, my hair’s gotten thinner. (laughs) Inwardly, just the fact that I don’t have a serial now is much easier. I’m no good with having to do something on a set cycle. Even with stuff like the Kanzenban covers, it was nothing much in terms of the amount of work, but when they tell me I absolutely must finish by the 10th of each month……

Weekly, monthly, or whatever, I’m just not good with being told I have to finish up according to a set schedule.

Destroying towns quickly, and Goku gets held up?

Thinking back on when I was doing the serialization… I liked Demon King Piccolo. I had never drawn a truly evil guy like Piccolo before, so it was fun. I always thought this when drawing villains, but the characters in Dr. Slump were all incredible goody-goodies, so I kind of wanted to tear that down. In terms of the scenes as well, I especially like the part where Piccolo destroys the city… and faces off against Goku. Perhaps it’s the influence of the giant-monster movies I watched as a kid… the most exciting parts for me while I was drawing them were those moments when Goku appears, after the villain has been doing incredibly evil things, and Goku has been holding back, holding back, and finally just can’t take it anymore. Because I wanted to draw that, I would make Goku show up late. Like leaving him inside the healing capsule for a long time. When the time for the fight finally came, the pattern would be pretty well set, wouldn’t it? So, rather than the battle itself, it was more important to see how much evil I could make the villains do, and how much of a tight spot I could put Goku’s allies in.

Also, you know how Goku and company gradually stop fighting in town? Always fighting in some wasteland. The truth is, that’s because it was tiring drawing the backgrounds. Fights in town are rough… everyone gradually got stronger, and if they fought in town, they’d have to destroy buildings, right? So, when I drew towns, it was when I planned on destroying them later. I could draw them because it was a given that I’d destroy them. If it took too much time for my kid assistant1, it meant that next time I’d have to draw it myself. So, I’d want to destroy it so soon that I couldn’t help it. (laughs) Central City gets destroyed in about three panels. That’s because I’d decided to immediately destroy places with backgrounds that were a bit of a chore, like the city. Stuff like the Budōkai arena was also a chore. It was nothing but that sort of thing, really. It was a pain for my kid assistant to color Goku’s hair black, so I’d make him a blond (Super Saiyan)… well, it did have impact, though, and I think it turned out well in terms of results.

If I had moved to Tokyo, Dragon Ball would never have been born…?!

Considering how things were at the time, I suppose in a lot of ways, it was good that I was in the countryside. If I had moved to Tokyo, I might even have become a completely different person… although, ever since the start, I’ve never wanted to move to Tokyo. I just can’t handle there being so many people. At the very beginning, times like when I came to Tokyo after being called on by my editor Torishima-san, I especially hated. He even told me, “If you’re late for a deadline, I’ll make you come to Tokyo.” Just because I hated the idea of that, I desperately kept my deadlines. (laughs) Like hell I’d go to Tokyo. Even then, there was one time when I had a close call, and Torishima-san came to my workplace, and stayed next to me the whole time, watching me; it was incredibly difficult to work like that. It’s not like I would actually say it to his face, but just having him be close by was an incredible amount of pressure… I hated that. It might sound strange, but probably, if I had moved to Tokyo, I actually wouldn’t have been able to keep my deadlines.

The secret to creating a setting is making it loose at first?!

I’m good at, or rather, I like, giving names to characters. Putting them into groups… well, with the Ginyu Special-Squad, though, it wasn’t until after deciding that “this time, I’ll go with dairy products” that I came up with the characters. He’d be a cool character, but because was Bulma’s [=”bloomers”] child, I’d give him the name Trunks, and so forth.

I was also relatively fond of coming up with background settings in my own mind, like the construction of Saiyan armor. Although they didn’t exist anywhere but inside my head, and because there weren’t many opportunities during the story’s developments, the rate at which they’re reflected in the work itself isn’t all that high, so much so that more aren’t reflected than are. When I came up with them, I’d enjoy making them from things I’d dug up from the past that were of no importance. Things the readers would probably have forgotten… like the Red Ribbon Army with respect to the Artificial Humans. As if to make the readers think that it actually meant something… the truth is that it didn’t, though. (laughs) Well, I suppose it’s because I think them up a bit loosely at first, that it’s easier to put them to use later. If you work out the developments tightly from the get-go, you won’t be able to make modifications if things go off-track. Even things like the uses of the Nyoibō… I truly did things half-cocked, yet everyone would think, “So that’s how it was!” …I’m terribly sorry, but really, I was thinking of nothing else except that I wanted to get things over with so I could go back to building my plastic models. (laughs)

There were no models for Dragon Ball‘s characters?!

Whenever I draw women, they all end up with rough personalities. I just can’t draw them more bubbly and upbeat. I can’t draw them docile and cute, either. Chi-Chi had a personality I kind of disliked. Maybe it was because Goku was unemployed… they’d have to have be piddling away the Ox Demon King’s fortune to get by, that family. That’s why Chi-Chi’s such a nag.

In the case of men… perhaps with Trunks, there were parts I drew with female fans in mind. Even his silhouette; I mean, he’s got a sword on his back. That’s because Goku stopped using the Nyoibō. There are parts I drew completely with that aim, don’t you think? I did that a bit with Vegeta, too. Although even someone like Piccolo’s popular with women, it seems.

Come to mention it, it seems there’s a rumor that the models for Piccolo, Freeza and Boo are my past editors2, but I don’t really recall consciously doing that… no, they might be, at the root of it; perhaps I reflected them unconsciously. Apart from that, they say that there are a variety of models for the characters, but it’s all lies… or rather, it’s all stories I’d never heard before. (laughs) I didn’t use any models. Although, I did have a bit of a Bruce Lee-esque image in mind, and such. For instance, with the glare on Goku’s game-face, I must have been thinking of Bruce Lee. Like his face when he appears on the scene, enraged. Goku’s usual eyes are hard to draw with a fighting pose. When he becomes a Super Saiyan and there are actual outlines around the whites of his eyes, though, I can draw him with a serious expression. Those times, I had the image of Bruce Lee… in that sense, there were models, but it’s not the case that the people around me became models for the characters. Maybe their personalities… but I wasn’t conscious of it.

If you’re drawing manga, screen tone is unnecessary!!

When I paint in the colors, I’ve used ink diluted from a felt-tip pen. The time it takes is the same as using regular ink, though. I’d squeak out a little bit with the felt-tip pen on the palette, dilute it with water, and use that. That’s telling me I should just buy color ink already, right? (laughs) No, it’s not because I’m cheap; it’s because going out to buy it would be a chore.

Screen tone is a chore, too. Or rather, I don’t like it. I believe it’s not the work of “drawing”, cutting with a knife and pasting on. I don’t go as far as to make it a matter of policy, though… I’m perfectly fine with using a knife when I’m building plastic models. With illustrations, I dislike the idea of cutting and pasting. Although before that, they’re a chore first and foremost. (laughs) I find lots of things bothersome outside of manga, as well… or rather, I just don’t like going out all that much.

When I first started drawing manga, I heard from Torishima-san that first you draw a storyboard, then the draft, then inking, so I told him I didn’t want to draw it three whole times. (laughs) So, I’d immediately go straight into the draft. Although, doing it like that, it would sometimes ultimately be inconsistent. I’d use terribly large panels for completely unimportant things, and then the crucial parts would end up in little ones… (laughs) I’d even think, “I wonder if it’s really OK to deliver the coup de grâce in a panel like this.”

What kind of romance does a creator draw when he’s not good with women?!

Ever since I was little, I’ve shied away from romance. (laughs) It’s not that I dislike women, but I’m not good with them. Back in elementary school, there was a fad of flipping up the girls’ skirts, but… I couldn’t do it. I wanted to be seen as aloof and manly… no, I wanted to do it, but I didn’t have the guts. (laughs) It’s not like I’m especially perverted or anything, just normally… it’s not like I was especially pure, either, you know. Maybe I was just bad with girls in general. Although, with my wife alone, we got along from the beginning. I believe myself to have a personality that appears simple, yet even I don’t understand, so I thought, “maybe someone who’s right for me doesn’t exist?” But my wife alone strangely suited me.

My wife is also a cartoonist, but she even says things to me like, “You don’t have to do another serial any more, do you?” She knows about everything that’s tiring for me; perhaps it’s because she’s been by my side watching this whole time.

I married my wife… back during Dr. Slump’s serialization, was it? I think Senbei-san was first. I remember someone asking me, “Senbei-san should be getting married pretty soon too, shouldn’t he?” and shooting back with, “He already has.” (laughs) This is true of Senbei-san too, but Goku got married in the blink of an eye, didn’t he. I figured it’d be quite the surprise if he suddenly just got married right there. Incidentally, Chi-Chi is not at all like my wife.

I leave the management duties to my wife. Although I do feel a bit sorry for her. Collaborate? That wouldn’t do. There were times when she helped out a bit on Dr. Slump, though.

My reason for living right now is car design!!

My work apart from manga is games. Dragon Quest. Other than that, I’m also doing car design. That’s the most fun. I have a duty to keep it confidential, though, so I can’t say what car from which company.3 It’s something close to concept sketches. Well, I like the area around the engine, so I try to think it through as far as an amateur can, doing it so that people could actually ride in it. Right now, that’s my reason for living. Having said that, it isn’t really that I’m working on it as a project; it’s just one among several thousand design candidates. I’m told my chances are about the same as A Star is Born!.4

Actually, it’s fine with me if that design isn’t made into a car. The act of drawing the car design illustrations itself is fun. I’ve already submitted it, yet I’ve still gone and drawn a few more on my own, as a hobby…

I like drawing original mechs… so I did that a lot in Dragon Ball. Well, they don’t have plans or anything, though. Basically, I’d come up with a rough idea while drawing on a separate sheet of paper, then just do the more detailed parts on the real thing. It takes more time to draw things like automobiles or tanks that actually exist. I figure, people can’t point out anything and say, “this is wrong,” when I drew something I came up with myself.

Picture books where I had to draw even empty spaces and dialogue

Picture-book work is fun, but on the other hand, there are also parts where you build up frustration. With manga, it’s enough to leave some empty spaces and arbitrary lettering, but with picture-books, you have to draw it. There are character-description-type parts, so when I did Toccio the Angel, I thought it was pretty frustrating.

I only did it in the first place because talk of, “Why don’t you try drawing a picture book?” came to me. Really, I think I was a bit too conscious of picture-books in making the characters. There wasn’t much there that was exactly groundbreaking… I do wonder if it would have been better to go with that sort of characters, but it is a book I want little kids to read, after all. If I get the chance, maybe… I’d like to try doing an absurd picture book.

Days spent re-reading Dragon Ball for the covers

As for the work I’m doing now, I suppose designing game characters is most of it? Also, the Kanzenban covers are taking up a lot of weight. It’s pretty tough, finishing up one of them. I had completely forgotten the story, so I’d start by re-reading. I would also decide which characters to draw. At first, I had decided on “drawing the main character of that volume with Goku”, but for the second half, it shifted to a pattern of drawing a scene I’d found impressive while reading it. The time it takes to finish drawing is different depending on what it is. One day is pretty much impossible… some of them even take four days. It takes time, coming up with the layout, and choosing the characters… once I’ve made my decision, I can draw it in a day. For the first four volumes or so, I did it by scanning in something I’d drawn with a pen. After that, I did it all with a Mac, so no manuscripts exist. The sensation is quite different. I suppose the biggest thing is that I can’t tilt it like with paper when I’m drawing angled illustrations. Now, I just tilt myself. (laughs) When I re-read it, right at the beginning, I had an incredibly strong sense of, “Did I really draw something like this?… It’s surprisingly enjoyable.”

Happy but also terribly shy about Dragon Ball‘s second boom

Even nowadays, for there to be fans, and for a variety of things like books and games to be getting made… financially, I suppose you could say I’m happy. (laughs) There’s even talk of it becoming a live-action movie.5 Hmm… well, I am happy, but I’m not overly fond of watching my own works. As long as it doesn’t get too extreme, I have no intention of opening my mouth about the contents of the script or anything… I have no particular requests with regards to the cast, either. I like movies, but my own works are no good; although it’s mostly because I’m so shy. I sometimes think to myself that that aspect is pretty cold for a creator. Though I think I seemed pretty cold during the serialization, as well, with the sense that drawing was my job. When it was made into games, I didn’t touch those much, either.

The next work will be outrageous and absurd?!

As for a theme I want to draw… I don’t have anything in particular. Although I do feel like I’m searching for one. Well, if I’m going to be drawing something, I’m always doing a world that’s absurd, so I think it would be something like that. I have this vague idea that I want to draw something that I too can think of as fun. I like cars, but I absolutely will not draw a manga about cars. I don’t feel like drawing one. Because I like the sort of thing that’s larger-than-life, and outrageously strong. A weekly serial in Jump?6 No… my body probably couldn’t handle a long-term serial, now. I just don’t have that kind of strength anymore. Well, I do think it would be nice if I had it, though.

Even if you’re someone I’m not good with, as long as you’re a reader…

Now, there’s really nothing I can say to you all except thank you for reading. I really am glad that so many different people read it for this long. Even if they’re someone I’m not so good with, if they tell me “I’m reading it”, I think, “ah, they’re actually a decent person”. (laughs)
The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.

1Toriyama’s assistant for Dragon Ball was Takashi Matsuyama, who is actually only two years younger than Toriyama himself.
2These would be Kazuhiko Torishima, Yū Kondō, and Fuyuto Takeda, respectively.
3Toriyama may be talking about what eventually became the QVolt, a small electric car whose appearance he designed, and which went on sale in limited quantities in March 2005 (slightly less than a year after the publication of this book).
4A Star is Born! (スター誕生! Sutā Tanjō!) was a Japanese TV show that ran from 1971 to 1983. It was an audition program that sought to uncover the “stars of tomorrow”, similar to the idea of the American Star Search.
5This would eventually become the movie Dragon Ball Evolution. Although he had intended to take a hands-off approach, Toriyama did not approve of a number of the changes made in the movie’s development, and was actually ignored when he tried to offer advice on how to improve it. His frustration and indignation over his experience with that film seems to have been his primary motivation for becoming so deeply involved with the 2013 animated film, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods.
6 Toriyama would briefly return to weekly serialization in 2013 with Jaco the Galactic Patrolman over the course of several months.
English Translation: SaiyaJedi