Translations Archive

ITmedia Business Online (05 December 2019)

Unite Tokyo: Dragon Ball Video Game Development Interview Part 2

“Sorry, but would you mind throwing this away?” – The truth about the merciless rejection given by a legendary Jump editor-in-chief to a Dragon Ball game project where hundreds of millions of yen had already been spent.

On the 26th of September, Unite Tokyo 2019 was held at Grand Nikkō Tokyo, organized by the Unite Tokyo 2019 management. Today, we’ll be bringing you one of its sessions, titled “Why don’t publishing houses and game development companies see eye-to-eye? The story of how a Dragon Ball game adaptation became a huge pain in the… I mean, a great learning opportunity.”

The main star of this lecture is the legendary Weekly Shōnen Jump editor and chairman of Hakusensha, Mr. Kazuhiko Torishima, also known as “Dr. Mashirito”.1 Mr. Torishima, who was the editor in charge of the ultra-popular manga Dragon Ball, is said to have once given the producer of a video game adaptation of that property, which was in development at Bandai at the time (now Bandai Namco Entertainment), such harsh criticism that it caused the suspension of a project with a budget of several hundred million yen. Why was that? And where did the viewpoints of the game developer and the publishing house diverge? In this lecture, we plan to once again look back on these matters with the people involved.

In addition to the perpetrator of such harsh criticism, Mr. Torishima, coming to the stage today will be the victims of that harsh criticism, Bandai Namco Entertainment board of directors member, Mr. Daisuke Uchiyama, and Bandai Namco Holdings Strategic IP Headquarters advisor, Mr. Shin Unozawa. In addition to Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Z 2, and Dragon Ball Z 32, Mr. Uchiyama is known for also having been the producer of huge hits such as the .hack and Narultimate Hero3 series. Mr. Unozawa is known as the producer of the TV animated series Mobile Police Patlabor and also for his tenure as CEO of Bandai Namco Games.

Moderating the discussion will be the manager of gaming website Den Faminico Gamer and CEO of Mare Corporation, Mr. Shin’ichi Taira.

We have already published the first part of this talk, titled “Jump’s Legendary Editor-in-Chief Breaks “‘the Vicious Cycle That Creates Lousy Games’ During Development of a Dragon Ball Game Adaptation“, so in this second part of three, we will be bringing you the complete truth and details about the time when a Dragon Ball game project that Bandai Namco was developing, a project that had a budget of several hundred million yen, was once completely ‘rejected’.

Kazuhiko Torishima is the chairman of the Hakusensha board of directors. He joined Shūeisha in 1976 and was assigned to the editorial department. As an editor, he nurtured a lot of manga artists such as Akira Toriyama and Masakazu Katsura. He was in charge of projects such as the Jump Broadcasting Station4 and Famicom Shinken5, and founded V-Jump in 1993. Famed as “The Demon Editor” who would mercilessly reject drafts, he would often be referenced as a model for characters appearing in Jump serializations, such as Dr. Slump‘s Dr. Mashirito and Tottemo! Luckyman’s Torishiman. (Photo by: Hiroki Yamamoto)

Shin Unozawa is an advisor at Bandai Namco Holdings’ Strategic IP Headquarters. He is also a former CEO of Bandai Namco Games (currently Bandai Namco Entertainment). He entered Bandai in 1981 and was involved with the planning and sales of toys such as Xabungle and Gunpla6 in the Hobby department. In 1983, he entered the Frontier division, and ever since then, he has been working as a producer for a number of movies and animated television series, such as the Mobile Police Patlabor franchise (television series and OVAs).

Daisuke Uchiyama is a member of the Bandai Namco Entertainment board of directors and Senior Executive Manager at the Computer Entertainment division. As a video game producer, in addition to games based on existing properties such as Dragon Ball and Naruto, he also took part in the planning of several other video games. He created the cross-media project .hack and served as the first producer in charge of the series. He is currently serving as manager of Consumer Projects and consolidates the entirety of its operations.

The game with a budget of several hundred million yen that was rejected with a single sentence: “Sorry, but would you mind throwing this away?”

Mr. Taira: So, I think we’ve managed to roughly explain the kinds of exchanges that go on between publishing houses and game developers (in the first part of this talk, “Jump’s Legendary Editor-in-Chief Breaks ‘the Vicious Cycle That Creates Lousy Games’ During Development of a Dragon Ball Game Adaptation”), so getting right down to business, I was thinking about asking Uchiyama-san about the kinds of exchanges that he experienced at the time by recalling an actual example that he experienced first-hand.

Uchiyama-san, could you please read the following slide and comment?

The slide shown that day, The Legend of Dr. Mashirito (all documentation below provided by Mare)

Mr. Uchiyama: This was in 20037, so about 16 years ago. I was allowed to do a fighting game called Dragon Ball Z for the PlayStation 2. This was back in ’03, so it was at a time when the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT television series and the manga serialization in Jump had all ended.

Dragon Ball Z for the PlayStation 2: a fighting game that lets you enjoy a reenactment of the battles of the Dragon Ball Z story. The game was released for the PlayStation 2 in February of 2003 and for the Gamecube in November of that same year8. Due to its good reception, it became a series and got two sequels, Dragon Ball Z 2 and Dragon Ball Z 3 (image: Sony website)

When making a product related to a popular series, normally you would do it so you could sell it to children at the exact same time as the anime is airing. Looking at it from that angle, it wasn’t exactly the perfect time to develop Dragon Ball Z.

However, I was allowed to do a Dragon Ball game right after entering the company, and just before that, I had developed a Fist of the North Star video game for the PlayStation (PS1), and it sold very well as a product of nostalgia. So I thought “there’s also a lot of nostalgia for Dragon Ball Z, so wouldn’t it also sell well?”

Hokuto no Ken: Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu9 – An action game released in October 2000 for the first PlayStation. In addition to the standard Story Mode, it also came with the “End of the Century Theatre.” In this mode, you could take the lines present in demo movies based on the original work and then swap them with other characters’ lines. This way, you could enjoy very surreal conversations, so the mode attracted a lot of attention. (image: Sony website)

So I talked to Unozawa and we started developing this fighting game. But at the time, I thought people would like it as long as I made something interesting, so I didn’t explain things properly to the folks at the Jump Editorial Department. If I saw the Daisuke Uchiyama from that time right in front of me, I would outright grab him and give him an earful, but at the time, I was extremely carefree and just thought “well, this looks nice, doesn’t it?”

However, it seems there were rumors reaching all the way to the Jump Editorial Department that “the Bandai kid hasn’t talked to the Editorial Department at all and is just making the Dragon Ball game however he damn well pleases.” And because of that, they summoned me and Unozawa…

What was the result of Mashirito’s summons…?

In a battleground, surrounded by ten people.

In the middle of the Editorial Department, there was a table, and I sat there with Unozawa, but right in front of us was Torishima-san. And around Torishima-san, there were about ten editors-in-chief and deputy editors-in-chief, all lined up. It felt like they were all surrounding me and saying, “you’re not getting out of this one.” (laughs)

And so, they told me: “show us what you’ve been making.” I flipped through the project proposal, but Torishima-san did not read it. I even brought some footage, but he didn’t even watch it. He grabbed the proposal in front of him and told Unozawa: “Sorry, but would you mind throwing this away?”

That is to say: “The project you are all working on right now is effectively suspended.” No matter how much the development costs increase, no matter how much work has been poured into it, no matter how much it will sell, none of that matters.

He told us: “Right from the start, this project didn’t even understand these characters at all.” While not even looking at the proposal or the footage we brought.

Anyway, Torishima-san had made his verdict while the nearby editors-in-chief and deputy editors-in-chief looked on. I thought: “oh, so this is what the famous ‘rejected!’ from the manga is like.” But the real ‘rejected!’ is actually pretty hard to hear, isn’t it? That’s what I felt. I could see it clearly.

Mr. Torishima: Well, I will say that Uchiyama-san‘s memories and my own are slightly different, but I did see the footage. And Bandai’s project proposals are completely devoid of content, so there’s no point in even looking at them. (laughs)

As soon as I saw the footage, I immediately thought “this is no good.” As for why it was no good, that is easy to explain. Supervisors can tell with just once glance whether the characters look like themselves or not.

The kids are fans of the original work, so if the characters diverge from that, they are fakes. As a member of the Editorial Department, I just could not approve fakes. That is why, as soon as I saw it, I thought: “these are fakes.” Those would not do.

“Sorry, but would you mind throwing this away?” – with this simple sentence, the entire project got ‘rejected’.
(All slides below provided by Mare)

“They had already spent around 300 million yen, but… (Slide courtesy of Mare)

It’s also written in the slide, but I think it was Unozawa-san who said at the time that “several hundred million yen have already been spent.” So then I told them the annual income of Akira Toriyama-san. At the time, I think it was around a few billion yen. So I said “Do you think I can just go up to that person with a project worth a few hundred million yen and say ‘please let us sell a fake product!'” I think that that’s why I said: “Sorry, but please just throw this away.”
Mr. Unozawa: I remember as well. I also said: “You let us do a One Piece game, and that sold very well.” And Torishima-san just replied “Oh, it’s nice that we’re turning a profit from One Piece. Could you please throw this away?” (laughs)
Mr. Uchiyama: To a lowly producer such as myself, this was really bad. There were dozens of people in the development team and questions such as “what is Bandai going to do about the development costs we’ve already incurred?” were also thrown around.

But since the project had been rejected, we had no choice but to shift course, change the project like we were instructed to and give it our all. Both me and Unozawa. So we asked them to give us a second chance, and they told us: “if you manage to bring something, then bring something that will be impossible for us not to look at.” So I think the next time we brought something to them was about three months later.

Torishima-san never gave us a detailed explanation about why the characters were bad, or why it was not a good Dragon Ball project. He just said “sorry, but could you please throw this away?”

So from then onward, we desperately thought about what we were told and spoke at length to the development team. Obviously, the release date had been delayed, the budget had increased, and there was a storm of apologies to the development team. But there was no way we were going to stop now, so we wondered how we should proceed moving forward, and yeah, it was pretty rough. And Unozawa chewed me off so much that I felt like one of those bubble gums that you chew on for so long that they’ve long lost all flavor and you don’t know why you’re even chewing on them anymore.10 (laughs) It really was rough around that time.

Mr. Uchiyama slumped in his chair as he recalled the hardships he suffered back then.

The “bootleg” the original author wasn’t being informed of

Mr. Unozawa: Well, it is true that, around that time, Uchiyama was pretty caught up in the success of the Fist of the North Star game. (laughs) But it is also true that if you strike gold once, just like in pachinko, a “probability change”11 starts creeping in to a certain degree so that you’ll start striking gold a lot more frequently.

I think anyone with employees under their wing will understand, but a guy that made a big hit will also make his next project a big hit, and an even bigger one than before. That said, if you manage to do about five hits in a row, the “hit” energy will disappear, but for most people, later it will come back. But if all goes well, you might even be able to make it to the board of directors, like Uchiyama. So in that sense, if you make a big hit, I think it’s also very important to move forward with confidence.

Mr. Torishima: I just remembered that Bandai really just up and thought “Fist of the North Star sold well because of its nostalgic characters, so let’s do Dragon Ball next.” It really does show how incompetent they are. (Conference hall bursts into laughter)

Anyway, at the time, Dragon Ball wasn’t airing on TV and the manga serialization was also over, meaning that, since they were “finished characters,” Bandai just thought “we will do the work for you”.” “As long as we just make it, it will sell, right?” That was their mindset when they brought the project to us.

And because of that, from just one look at what they showed us during that meeting, I could see that they didn’t do any of their homework, like reading the original work or figuring out how to build the characters.

Not to mention that to not talk to the editorial department of Jump, the publisher of the original work, is just something you cannot do in the first place. If you don’t get approval from the editorial department, that is the same as trying to sell something with no input from the original author. I will just say it outright, for us at the editorial department, doing that is the same as a releasing a bootleg. Because if we were to be asked “please let us release a bootleg,” there’s no way we’d approve it.

Mr. Uchiyama: Um, that whole “bootleg” thing is going to come up later in the conversation. (laughs)

“Mashirito” was not content with sentiments such as “As long as we just make it, it will sell, right?”

Bandai might be the ones selling the actual product, but the Jump editorial department will be the one getting all the claims from the kids

Mr. Unozawa: To put it simply, the Fist of the North Star game was made for the first PlayStation. So we managed to keep the costs down. But Dragon Ball Z was made for the PS2.

When you make games for the PS2, the development costs suddenly get really big, so 500 million yen isn’t going to cut it. But at Bandai, a development cost of 500 million yen was something unheard of. We were not going to be able to turn a profit with just the domestic sales. So we started thinking about what kind of series would also sell well overseas and realized that Dragon Ball was also popular abroad. It aired in countries like France. So when we realized that, we started thinking about making a Dragon Ball game.

Thus, we chose Dimps (located in Toyonaka, Osaka prefecture) as the developer. They had people that worked on Street Fighter for Capcom and Fatal Fury for SNK, so they were already pretty good with fighting games. We had confidence that if we actually asked a company like that, a good game could come out.

But when Bandai becomes the sponsor of an anime, we just pay an advertising agency. Having done that, in Dragon Ball‘s case, Toei Animation is the point of contact, so the Toei Animation licensing department is the one in charge of supervising the project.

But in a game, characters move and speak just like in anime, don’t they? So considering that, having to have them look over everything is pretty hard work, isn’t it? But still, what we had to do, and we did it all by the book from there on out, was that, every time we talked something over with Toei Animation, we also talked about it with the Jump editorial department. And there was no other way to go about it than to explain things the same way to both of them and have both of them give their approval. So by being very particular about the whole process, we managed to keep holding on to the license to sell the game.

Mr. Uchiyama: And that is why, just like it says in the slide that is being displayed right now, we conducted our conversations about the game very seriously. When issues like “the characters don’t look like themselves” came, obviously, we went to the 3D models to see what the problem was, but we also focused a lot on issues like if the animations or the silhouettes matched their respective characters with the development team.

In 2002, Bandai suddenly had a really big problem (Slide courtesy of Mare)

We remade the models almost from scratch. And we didn’t check just the face, we made sure that the entirety of the character felt like itself. Having done that, we once again brought footage of some scenes to Torishima-san.

I thought he was going to say stuff like “this is no good” and “that’s also no good,” so I brought him the footage with my expectations clearly in check, but in reality, as soon as he saw it, he said “oh, this is much better” and “this is what I was talking about” and gave his approval immediately.

What I thought back then was that, if we got the approval this quickly, it wasn’t just because the CG models matched the characters or not. To get here, we and the development team faced the work known as Dragon Ball earnestly, we faced Goku and Vegeta, and we managed to make something that was actually alive. I wonder if Torishima-san also saw the seriousness and the resolve we poured into the product we showed him.

Sixteen years ago that’s what I thought, but today is the first time I wondered if that was actually the case. (laughs)

Giving a swift approval in case everything is OK is the “Mashirito Style”

The editor represents the original author

Mr. Torishima: Like Uchiyama-san said, it was truly back-breaking work to make just one game. It was also back-breaking work to make Dragon Ball, where, from the moment the serialization started until we built protagonist Son Goku’s character in the Tenka’ichi Budōkai, it ranked low in the popularity polls (related: How did this legendary Jump editor conceive of Dragon Ball?); and when it came to the animated series, there was also no one at the company to give any advice, so until I got to this point, I had to fight a lot of lonely battles.

Ever since his twenties, “Mashirito” has been paving the way in the fields of manga, anime and games, in what he calls his “lonely battles”

Anyway, just because the original manga’s serialization and the anime were both over, if we released something half-baked (like we had up until that point), then we would destroy the brand. To the kids, Dragon Ball will always be the story of their beloved Goku, right? So it wouldn’t be correct to release something that deviates from that. Their internal image would just be destroyed in one fell swoop. Even if Bandai were the ones selling the actual product, it would be the Jump editorial department that would be getting all the claims. We would get calls from kids even after 3:00 p.m., saying things like “the characters in this game don’t look like the ones in Dragon Ball.” That’s why us editors really must do things well. Not only are we representing the original author, we also get final say.

But on the other hand, since Bandai was the sponsor of the anime adaptations of not just Dragon Ball but also various other Jump properties, we also had to make sure to have a good work relationship with them.

The truth is, and this is something that I didn’t tell Uchiyama-san, but the plan to release it in August ended up being rejected, so the next period Bandai would mention was the extremely competitive Holiday season around November and December. There was no way we could tell them not to release it around then, so there was nothing to do but to approve the new schedule. Hence why I thought we’d be in trouble if Bandai had yet again brought us something that wasn’t up to snuff.

Also, since Shueisha would be releasing the Dragon Ball Kanzenban in December, there were various campaigns already in the pipeline. So if Bandai launched the game in December, Shueisha could, in a way, lend it a hand. So we approved it.

The Dragon Ball Kanzenban: as opposed to the regular Jump Comics format, this edition faithfully reproduces the original serialization’s color pages in A5-sized paper. All 34 volumes currently on sale. (Source: Shueisha website)

Mr. Uchiyama: So in the end, it wasn’t just the game, a lot of different Dragon Ball products like the Kanzenban comics and the DVD box sets were also coinciding, so the timing was perfect, almost like it was done on purpose. It really was God-like timing, and thanks to that, the game sold really well.

In the end, from the perfect timing that arose from that initial rejection and the seriousness in the way that we created the game, all the way to the most recent Dragon Ball games, we were able to deliver millions of copies to customers all over the world, every single year.

Mr. Torishima: But back then, you ended up not being able to produce enough, right? If I recall correctly, it went out of stock pretty quickly?
Mr. Uchiyama: That’s correct. I also remember this very well. We produced the Sūshinchū (one of the Dragon Balls) as a pre-order bonus. Things were going well, and at first, we got orders for 180,000 copies.

So when we went to Torishima-san and announced that we had orders for 180,000 copies, his instructions to us were: “At the very least, make 500,000 copies. You guys at Bandai really don’t know what you’re doing.” (laughs) And when launch day came, we sold around 550,000 copies domestically. We sold precisely the number that Torishima-san had indicated, but it did indeed sell out. Sorry about that.

What was the “true nature” that “Mashirito” saw?

Complete suspension of work under new oversight: the state of emergency that gave rise to Dragon Ball Kai

Mr. Taira: So those hardships are connected to Dragon Ball‘s current successes. But now I think I want to talk about another of the countless memorable episodes related to Torishima-san that you have seen, Uchiyama-san.

This time, I asked you about this matter in advance and compiled it all in the following slide. Firstly, the title “The Complete Suspension of Work on Dragon Ball” is pretty scary, isn’t it?

The complete suspension of work on Dragon Ball under the supervision of Torishima (slide provided by Mare)

Mr. Uchiyama: This already came up in the conversation before, but when we get new people, we also start getting new rules for what is accepted and what isn’t, so every few years, we get to a point when things start becoming a little too lax. So when those times come, Torishima-san tells us: “I’m suspending all work on Dragon Ball products. Not just Bandai, Bandai Namco and Banpresto as well; I’m suspending all groups.” Which is quite an intense thing to say. (laughs)

This is something that happens about every five years. That is to say, every five years, there’s some problem that slowly piled up. And when that happens, it’s pretty bad. All the groups are thrown into chaos. But when that happens, that’s when you can “tighten the screws,” you know? You can look at these characters with renewed seriousness. And as a result, quality goes up.

A major incident was unfolding across all divisions of Bandai.

Mr. Torishima: Uchiyama-san’s understanding of these events is also insufficient, so allow me to complement. (laughs)

At first, Bandai’s Dragon Ball card game, Data Carddass, was selling very well, but when Konami’s Yū-Gi-Oh cards came along, the Dragon Ball cards stopped selling. The reason was simple: this was Bandai’s specialty and they were pretty good at delivering something with a big scope, but they failed when it came to the depth. They hit the ground running, but had no stamina left to finish it. The cards were easy to understand, but there was no strategy behind them.

So I mentioned the Yū-Gi-Oh example and told them “I want you to plan the card game properly,” but they didn’t take it seriously. So I had no choice but to bring in the big guns. I temporarily suspended all work and didn’t let them release a single product. Then, I told them to think about some counter-proposals and then come back to me.

That said, I did leave them a hint. Bandai started by releasing something that connected cards and arcade cabinets. At the time, Bandai Namco had just been formed, so I told them they clearly had the technology. They also should still have the designers that came up with the rules of the card game, so I told them “create a proper Dragon Ball card game as a group.” I wasn’t going to allow any more half-baked excuses, so that’s why I put a stop to it.

They were asked how carefully they were handling Dragon Ball

Mr. Uchiyama: So, what do you think? It was pretty bad, right? (laughs) But hearing about it now, it was completely reasonable. And in reality, the next time we brought something, we did manage to move forward, didn’t we?
Mr. Torishima: The person in charge at the time was a person called Furusawa-kun (Mr. Keisuke Furusawa) and what I was really impressed with was how well thought out his suggestions for improvements were. He would say that when you bring new cards, it’s impossible to respond immediately, and even if you use Bandai Namco’s technology, it’ll still take some time. But then, he would counter that by saying: “In the meantime, let me handle it like this.” His suggestions were really interesting.

At the time, Dragon Ball wasn’t airing on TV, so it was hard to sell the products. Then, Furusawa-kun brought along this suggestion: the Dragon Ball anime was always on the verge of catching up to the serialization, so it forcefully stretched out what were ultimately just a few pages’ worth of content, and because of that, the pacing was pretty bad. So he said: “In that case, why don’t we just cut out all the filler parts and make a more faithful anime? Then, we could just remaster it and have it air on TV.” When this was suggested to a Toei Animation producer called Kōzō Morishita (currently chairman of the board at Toei), he replied with “That’s interesting.” And that’s what ultimately led to Dragon Ball Kai.

Dragon Ball Kai: just as stated above, it was a re-edit of the old Dragon Ball Z anime, which was then converted into a 16:9 high-definition format and broadcast on television. After having aired from April 2009 to March 2011, a second season aired from April 2014 to June 2015 (From the Toei Animation website).

So because of that, we got the kids to watch the Dragon Ball anime one more time. And after a while, the Dragon Ball card game was relaunched, this time with proper planning and with a coordinated strategy between all groups, and the cards started selling again.12 And that’s how things happened.

Under his supervision, “Mashirito” suspended all work to make the teams think hard about their suggestions and didn’t let them release a single product.

120 billion yen worth of sales in Dragon Ball-related merchandise

Mr. Unozawa: So we had Torishima-san saying “Let’s actually do Dragon Ball one more time.” The reason being that the One Piece anime was on its tenth year and things were starting to lose a little steam. To be perfectly honest, we were just releasing the games out of pure force of habit. So then, Torishima-san told me: “Since the One Piece anime is reaching its tenth anniversary, make a good One Piece game, Shin Unozawa-kun, and really put your heart into it. In exchange, I’m also going to make both the manga and the anime pick up some steam. And so, the animated theatrical film One Piece Film: Strong World, which original author Eiichirō Oda-sensei personally wrote the story to, was produced, and it was the reason why excitement about the franchise went up all of a sudden.

One Piece Film Strong World (From the Toei Video website)

In the same way, Dragon Ball was also at the perfect time for us to do something. There was no Dragon Ball anime, so I really did want to do something. But even if we aired the old anime, the aspect ratio was 4:3. If we converted it to high definition and then cut out all of the original scenes that weren’t in the manga and had really bad pacing, it could kind of be considered a violent way of doing things, but that was one of the triggers that led to the revival of Dragon Ball. After that, Torishima-san talked to Akira Toriyama-sensei and managed to get a new theatrical animated movie made.13

The truth is, last year (2018), Dragon Ball was the highest-selling franchise for the Bandai Namco group, with about 120 billion yen worth of sales. That’s even higher than Mobile Suit Gundam, you know. The reason it got to that point, just like I said before, was because of Torishima-san‘s sense of responsibility. I mean, at the time, Torishima-san was Shueisha’s Senior Managing Director. The Senior Managing Director checks everything, from every single individual project to even figure design. Sometimes I wonder why he’s even supervising in the first place, but having Torishima-san possess absolute authority actually made things progress more easily, you know?

Mr. Torishima: Umm… regarding the new Dragon Ball anime, I actually had no intention of making it. It was Toei Animation’s Morishita-san, the one I talked about before. Right now, he is chairman of the board at Toei, but he really did help me quite a lot with revamping the Dragon Ball anime, so I’m very thankful to him.

Back then, Morishita-san got very sick and was admitted to the hospital. To be honest, I didn’t think he was going to get better and be discharged. (laughs) The day before he was admitted, a very sickly Morishita-san came to me and asked me: “Torishima-san, if by any chance I manage to get better, would you agree to cooperate in doing a new Dragon Ball anime?” Since I didn’t think he was going to come back, I said “okay.” (laughs) It was a miraculous recovery, so I just told myself that now I had no choice.

The venue was sold out

So, how do you want to do it?

Mr. Taira: Next, were going to talk about the “bootleg” thing that came up in the conversation before.
Mr. Uchiyama: This was the same thing that happened to me back then. Torishima-san told him “Do you know what we call the things you are doing? Since it doesn’t seem like you do, I’m going to tell you. We call what you’re doing a ‘bootleg’.” The person he told that to suddenly started to take things very seriously after that. (laughs)

“What you’re doing is a ‘bootleg'” (Slide provided by Mare))

Mr. Taira: What about “Speedreading through the proposal”?

“So, what do you want to do?” (Slide provided by Mare)

Mr. Uchiyama: We want to go through the proposal the right way, from beginning to end. However, right around the moment I said “I will start with the outline,” Torishima-san started flipping through the pages randomly and then told me: “You take way too long to explain, so I already read through the whole thing. So, what do you want to do?”

At this point, I had a story prepared, and after that, I would move on and explain what I wanted to do. To be asked “what do you want to do?” and have to skip over all of that is pretty hard. Thanks to that, I became more disciplined.

Mr. Taira: What did Bandai Namco, or even you personally, Uchiyama-san, learn from that exchange with Torishima-san?
Mr. Uchiyama: At Bandai Namco, we call it “IP,” but the people at the Jump editorial department call them “characters.” Whether it be Goku, Luffy, or Naruto, in the end, they are characters, and those characters are alive.

Right now, the folks at the Shueisha editorial department are letting us handle those “living characters” together with them. They are letting us build a high-level relationship with them, where, just like they have done by themselves for many years, we figure out what kind of service we want to provide for the fans all over the world, starting all the way back before even the planning stages right until we can create a story.

In fact, there are quite a lot of things that the company as a whole, the group as a whole, but also me, personally, as well, learned from hearing those “rejected” exclamations from Torishima-san; extremely obvious things, like what the characters are and how seriously we should look at them.

Mr. Taira: These are Uchiyama-san‘s thoughts, but what do you think, Torishima-san?
Mr. Torishima: That’s simple. At work, people are always saying that I’m “strict,” but the kids that buy our products are even stricter. I know what it’s like to pay for that kind of content, to pay for those kinds of products with a measly 100-yen coin from my allowance, so I can’t think like an adult and give my approval to just any old thing.

I always answer with a child’s point of view and on their behalf. Please don’t think that I’m the one talking, think that I’m just relaying what the millions of kids that I am representing allowed me to say. That’s how I’ve been thinking all this time.

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

1 “Mashirito” (マシリト) is an anagram of “Torishima” (鳥嶋); Akira Toriyama’s original editor at Shueisha, who served as the inspirational basis for Dr. Mashirito as well as Demon King Piccolo.
2 Known under the “Budokai” series name internationally.
3 Known under the “Naruto: Ultimate Ninja” series name internationally.
4 A reader submission corner included in Weekly Shōnen Jump from October 1982 to December 1995.
5 A series of articles about video games published at irregular intervals in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1985 to 1988.
6 Short for “Gundam Plastic Models”.
7 Uchiyama is almost certainly misremembering, considering that the game came out in November 2002 in the West.
8 January 2004 in the United States.
9 “Fist of the North Star: Legend of the Savior of the End of the Century”
10 Literally “He wrung me out so much that I felt like one of those wet house cloths that had been wrung so much, not a single drop of water would come out of it anymore”. The verb 絞る (shiboru) has a literal meaning of “wring,” but a more colloquial use of “to reprimand” or “to chew out.” Uchiyama is playing with both meanings here.
11 The following footnote was originally provided in-line alongside the original article text; we have extracted and translated it as a footnote to maintain the flow of conversation in text: A “probability change” (確率変動 kakuhendō) is a mechanic in most pachinko machines whereby if you hit the jackpot under the standard conditions, the probability of hitting another one thereafter increases.
12 The follow-up to the Carddass series in arcades, Dragon Ball Heroes, launched in late 2010 and continues to receive updates through to today.
13 We know through additional interviews with Torishima, by way of Kazé in France (for their Dragon Ball Kai home video release), that Akira Toriyama declined working on a new series around this time. Instead, the 2008 Jump Super Anime Tour special — “Heya! Son Goku and Friends Return!!” — wound up being produced, leading to a gradual build-up of additional productions resulting in 2013’s Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods kicking off a new resurgeance.
English Translation: Zénpai