Toriyama Akira Complete Illustrations Book #4 Interview

Translated by Ian Kelley
In the back of the new "Perfect Collection" series of coffee table books, there are interviews with Toriyama Akira, the creator of Dragon Ball, about his series. I am working on translating these interviews and are putting them here. This is the interview in the back of book 4, the "World Guide."

Interviewer (IN): The fourth book of the Perfect collection is the World Guide, so I think I'ld like to ask your opions about the world. To start with, the world in Dragon Ball is different from the real world, isn't it?

Toriyama Akira (TA): Yes, all the manga I've written until now are worlds that don't exist. That's the way it's been from the first work I ever drew. In Penguin Village too, they call the world "Earth," but it's some Earth in some place where we don't know....Cashman [sp?] (Published in Bui Jump) is kind of on the real world, but it takes place in a nonexistant country.

IN: Why do you choose to use nonexistant worlds?

TA: Because it's really much easier that way. It's because I choose the fundamentally easiest standard. If I chose to use the real world, I'd have to look at real-world things before I drew anything. Like buildings and vehicles and the like. If I change it a little bit, people could complain.

IN: I would think that just thinking about real-world things and drawing that be a bit easier, though, wouldn't it?

TA: Do you think so? Even if you don't look at real things, you can be free to create whatever you want and draw that, that's why I choose to use nonexistant worlds.

IN: Don't you even look at real things when drawing the landscapes?

TA: Normally I don't. At first I used to look at Chinese buildings and the like, though. When I first started getting Dragon Ball published, I wanted to completely change the image I used with Dr. Slump. Because I felt that Dr. Slump was American/Western-like, I wanted to make this one more Eastern. At that time, my wife was really interested in China, and I drew stuff like I had seen in some photos of China she had bought. After that, I drew pretty much everything from stuff I thought up, including the Tenkaichi-Budokai's fighting stage. Before I started getting it published, I went to Bali Island with my family and assistant. I modeled the island the Tenkaichi-Budokai was on, Papaya Island, on Bali Island. I thought up the types of buildings and the like from looking at pictures I had taken on trips. But it was really difficult. (Smiles) And afterwards I used the Tenkaichi-Budokai's fighting stage several times. I really had to go on that trip. (Smiles)

IN: Did you use any other landscapes you'd seen before?

TA: Hmm...After that, not really...Oh, that's right, I patterned the land that Babidi's spaceship was in after some photos I had seen of Africa. I thought that there were some really great fields, and I arranged that to draw. In the latter half, there was nothing but fields, so it was really tough. That is, it was tough to get through drawing.

IN: When I think about it, fields are a totally different landscape aren't they.

TA: That's right. I decided to make a different landscape than I have ever used. I changed from using rocky areas, from using high mountains and the like. I really thought hard about that place. I had to figure out a type of place that I hadn't used before, because I thought if I used a place like I always had before, it would be boring.

IN: You use lots of places like fields, where nobody lives, don't you?

TA: If I had Goku and the others fight in towns, it would really be difficult. I'd have to draw all the people who lived in the town, and buildings being destroyed and the like. Therefore, I always have them fight in places like unpopulated fields. (Smile) Or else I have them zoom and use Bukujutsu to fly to a place like it. Come to think about it, since all of Goku's friends learn Bukujutsu and come to be able to fly, it makes it a lot easier to advance the story.

IN: What do you mean?

TA: Well, because anyone can fly to any place they need to quickly. It makes it easier to think of plot advancement, and the story can proceed speedily, plus in terms of pictures, I can use birds-eye-view angles and the like to draw the scenery. That's the main reason I brought Kintoun in in the beginning. Having to use vehicles like cars and planes all the time gets tedious.

IN: I suppose you used the Shunkanido for the same reasons.

TA: Right, right. Since I needed to have people go all the way to Kaio-sei and New Nameck-sei. Since he learned to use the Shunkanido, the way Goku fights got lots more variation.

IN: When I think about battle scenes, I'd think they'd be difficult all the time, wouldn't they?

TA: Yes. As you might expect, that's because I can't make the fights be the same every time. At the beginning when Goku was little, it was pretty good, but in the second half where there began to be more and more fights, I really had to think up some amazing techniques and the like. It was really fun to draw the fight between Majn-Buu and Gotenks. I thought up special attacks in gag-manga style. (Smile)

IN: How do you think up the names for special attacks?

TA: Actually, I don't like thinking up names for special attacks that much. In a real life-and-death fight you wouldn't say the names of your attacks, would you? While you're sitting there saying the name of your attack you're liable to get killed. (Smile) But it's said that it's good to give them names. My wife is the one who named the Kamehameha. Because I was worrying and saying "Kamesennin's special attack sould be called something-ha, something-ha..." my wife said "Why not Kamehameha?" That was great, it sounded really silly, and it just sounded right for Kamesennin. I thought of all the other technique names other than Kamehameha, though. Usually I make a name that the chararacter who uses the technique is likely to choose. Like wouldn't Vegita be likely to name his techniques in English? (Smile.) And Piccolo would use techniques in Kanji.

IN: When you first created Piccolo, did you plan from the beginning that he would be an alien from Nameck-sei?

TA: I didn't think of it at all, of course. (Smile) Same thing with the Saiyajins. When I gave Goku a tail, I was thinking about him being a big monkey; I didn't plan on Goku being an alien at all. Same thing goes for Piccolo. I was thinking about him being like Kami-sama when I created him. I tried to think the stuff I thought up afterwards consistently. For example, Nameck-sei's Saichoro was sitting in a chair. It was exactly the same as the chair we saw Piccolo-Daimao sitting in when he first appeared. The only difference was that they were sitting in differen t chairs.

IN: Really! Naw that you mention it, they looked the same.

TA: I'm sure that Piccolo still had a few memories left of Nameck-sei and created that chair. Also, I patterned the Nameck-sei buildings and spaceship after the design of Piccolo-Daimao's chair. I was told that it was a mistake to put space in a Shonen Manga when I made the part about going. So I really had to think to make Nameck-sei be consistent with what I did before.

IN: You make the story to go to places other than Earth, like Nameck-sei, afterwards, and Anoyo. [the afterworld] How did you think up the way that Anoyo would be?

TA: I felt it should look kind of like Kami-sama's palace, and sort of mysterious too, and I wanted to make it look totally different than the real world. Therefore, I made Enma-sama and the Onis guys in a suit like a Salaryman. I think that if you read in this book as it's printed the map of the entire world, you'll be able to see how Heaven is just some floating place. I made it so that everyone who goes to heaven gets there by plane. I was asked by the anime people to draw this map, but I didn't currently have a place in the picture to fit in Kaioshinkai, so I had to fit it in too. Actually, I had to make this map so it would fit in the story. (Smile) Usually, I think of the place beforehand, and write the story so it fits in with the place. I think most manga writers do the same; they decide the places first and then write the story to fit in with the place. That way, they don't have to think too much. But I had a vague image of it before I wrote the story. (Smile)

IN: Normal people can make a story consistent, but it's not very often. From listening to you, you've given us the opportunity to look into your mind a little bit. Thank you very much.