Just before broadcast starts on the Dragon Ball and Maison Ikkoku anime!
The popular anime Dr. Slump and Urusei Yatsura, which have continued for many years, will end this spring. But don’t fret: the aforementioned anime from the same creators will start right after. With that in mind, we interviewed the two of them in the midst of their busy schedules and got them to do a talk for this magazine.
Born 10 October 1957 in Niigata prefecture. Served as president of Japan Women’s University’s Manga Study Society, and made her debut with Urusei Yatsura in Shōnen Sunday in June 1978 while still a student. Since then, she has continued drawing Urusei up to the present. Apart from that, she is also serialized in Big Comic Spirits with Maison Ikkoku.
Born 5 April 1955 in Aichi prefecture. After working as a designer at an advertising agency, he made his Shōnen Jump debut in November 1978 with Wonder Island. He started serialization in December 19790 with Dr. Slump, which lasted until 1984. Dragon Ball started serialization in the same magazine in 1984, and is still going.
■ “We create the comics as we’re drawing them”
We had two of the most popular Japanese cartoonists in history, Akira Toriyama and Rumiko Takahashi, who typically don’t take interviews that often, talk to each other about their comics and animation. Let’s start by asking them about stories from their new anime, Dragon Ball (currently serialized in Shueisha’s Jump) and Maison Ikkoku (currently serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits)!
Takahashi: Well, after all, if you don’t change the tempo, there’s really no point in changing to a different work, is there? There are times that that sort of thing is the very reason I’m able to do it.
Toriyama: If you don’t make a change, it’s a pain for the one drawing it, as well….
Toriyama: I’ve also used things that happened to me in the past as material.
Takahashi: Now that you mention it, one time about two or three years after Maison started in serialization, I went back home to the countryside, and, for whatever reason, I looked at my diary from when I was in high school and reeeally got that sense. I knew that the person who wrote this diary was the same one who wrote Maison. So I felt that that’s just how it is.
Toriyama: In my case, I wanted to draw Goku as a mischievous and earnest boy, so I’ve tried to express the mischievous part through his hair, and the earnest aspect through his face and eyes. His eyes in particular, I made the same as a supporting character. So I’m trying not to bring out any particular uniqueness in the supporting cast.1
Toriyama: I’m virtually the same as you, Takahashi-san. I’m flying by the seat of my pants, never creating with a thought to what’s up ahead!!
Takahashi: If you’ve committed to too many things, the characters will no longer have a life of their own, after all.2
Toriyama: I’m the sort of person who doesn’t get too particular about things, so at first I took Dragon Ball‘s settings from China, and lately, I’ve gone from Bali, to Siberia, to Old West-type locales, changing them up according to my mood. If you go with a vast continent, you’re pretty free with what you can do, after all.3
■ “In rough times, rejected manuscripts come in handy, and introducing new characters helps you get through them.”
Toriyama: For me, about two days go by with me going, “I need to come up with some kind of story,” but really just pretending to work. And also, inking takes me probably about a day.
Takahashi: Even if you have to force yourself, you’ve got to draw something, after all… I do it, one way or another. (laughs) I’ll change things up with the depiction of a character’s psyche, for instance….
Toriyama: Back before I made my debut, I had about 500 pages worth of material that got rejected, so I’ve used plenty of things from those. I feel like I’ve probably used a few stories from them, as well….
Takahashi: That sounds like it’s come quite in handy. (laughs)
Toriyama: No joke. (laughs) Back when they were rejected, it was really rough. But it made things easier afterward, so I’ll let it slide.
Takahashi: When I’m stumped for story developments in Urusei, I’ll also do things like introduce a new character in order to give things a breath of fresh air.
Toriyama: That’s right; your first editor’s opinions really stick in your head. For me, it’s “draw comics so they’re easy to understand”.
Takahashi: Right? I’ve got love triangles ingrained into my very being.
Toriyama: And I created the story of Dragon Ball, talking to my editor about raising the target age group with it, but because of that “easy to understand” caveat, it ended up being the same as Slump.
■ “In comics, [use of] ‘space’ makes things more interesting, but in animation, you have to keep things moving”
Toriyama: I don’t watch it much. I don’t read much comics, either. I do know that they’d be fun to read, though. Perhaps I go out of my way not to watch.
Takahashi: I even record every episode, although it’s on SLP5. I don’t have many opportunities to watch, but there are episodes among them that I actually like quite a bit, and those times I’ll use a special tape. Then I’ll watch furtively in the middle of the night. (laughs) I do things like that.
Takahashi: It seems like that’s pretty often the case. With Urusei, for instance, it’s really flashy. In the comic’s case, there are things I couldn’t draw for any number of reasons, such as there not being enough space, but I’m pleased when I can get them to do it with some interesting direction in the animation.
Takahashi: That’s right. Though there are times when they go too wild with it, and you can no longer see how things got the way they are; that sort of thing can pose a problem. The key is the enthusiasm of those who are animating it. That really comes out on screen.
Toriyama: In my case, I’m really shy, so I’ve never watched it at a movie theater. I mean, it’s embarrassing.
Takahashi: It isn’t really, for me.
Toriyama: If I remember correctly, you had a short video that came out. Didn’t you, Takahashi-san?
Takahashi: Yes. It’s called Fire Tripper!!
Toriyama: How deeply were you involved?
Takahashi: I just did the original story. I didn’t think they’d make it very faithful to the original story, so to be honest, I was pleased. I was thankful that they took it seriously, and that made me happy. Their work was so convincing that, if there’s anything bad to say about it, it’s the creator’s — my — fault.
Takahashi: I like watching animation, but making it is a completely different kind of work. I prefer drawing static illustrations.
Takahashi: For me, I think the success of animation comes down to the voice actors. About 50 percent of it. I’ve worked with the director, Kazuo Yamazaki-san, since Urusei. Between the two, I feel like he’s better suited to Maison, so it probably wouldn’t make a difference, no matter what someone like me told him. I’ll leave things up to him.
Toriyama: As long as it’s interesting, I don’t mind if they tweak things, even to the point of completely ignoring the comic.
Toriyama: It might be hard to understand when taken an episode at a time6, but I think you’ll begin to get the sense of speed and the tempo of it if you continue to watch, so by all means, please check it out!! And also, the collected volumes are also selling like hotcakes, so please give those a look as well.
Minoru Maeda (chief animation supervisor): Dragon‘s characters are all nicely proportioned, unlike Arale’s stubby-looking characters, which I’m struggling with. And also, there are large differences in heights, which makes it hard to contain on screen. As long as it isn’t unnatural, I plan on changing up the heights freely. I’d also like to show some sexiness in the art that wasn’t in Slump, so I’d really like the director not to cut those parts. (laughs)
Yūji Moriyama (character designs): I was able to do my work this time with out any major problems. Among the various series I’ve worked on, this was one of the faster ones to complete. This time, I’ve only participated with the character designs, but the director, Kazuo Yamazaki-san, is trying to make a Maison Ikkoku that’s just a bit different from the original comic, my expectations for it are high.
Planning/Organization: TeLePAL Editorial Department
Interview/Text: Tsuneo Matsumoto7
Staff interviews/Text: Hiroshi Yamaguchi (Studio Hard)
Photography: Takahisa Hayashi
This talk has been arranged for the purposes of the magazine.