TORIYAMA AKIRA SUPER INTERVIEW
From Coffee Table Books Vol. 5, Daizenshuu: TV Animation Part 2.

Challenging the Possibilities

Toriyama Akira has funneled his abilities into such varied genres as manga, anime, and video games. However, what is Toriyama Akira - who is presently recharging - thinking, and what does he want to do? He has an admiration towards animation, which holds many possibilities. And, he has a dream, that tries to convey this passion which he tries to nurture with his own hands. Perhaps it will come true; Toriyama Akira's dream has taken its first step forward….


Interviewer: After Dragon Ball became an animated show, did you perceive any change in its fan base?

Toriyama Akira: I didn't feel any strong changes. What 'changed a little' was the development of voice actor fans and the increase in the number of female fans.

I: Do you read fan mail?

TA: Not all, but I do read them.

I: What kind of content do you find in most of the mail?

TA: Girls basically tend to write about themselves. Something like, 'I'm X years old, my sign is…' Also, there's an excessive number of 'heart' marks*. (laughter) Boys tend to be rather direct, as in, 'please introduce an enemy character like this.'

I: So, have such opinions from fans been brought to life in the manga?

TA: In terms of betraying the fans' expectations, yes. For example, if there are a lot of people saying, 'don't kill Vegeta,' then I deliberately kill him. (laughter)

I: I would like to ask some questions about the TV animation Dragon Ball Z. The story has reached its later half, but is there anything that has left a deep impression on you?

TA: Upon hearing from my editor that in scenes in which Goku, Gohan, and Goten all appear at once, 'Nozawa Masako-san does all three roles by herself,' I thought, 'incredible!' Of course, she can't do parts where all three voices overlap, but in places where there is a moment between talking, she instantaneously changes her voice and records the part. Furthermore, when I heard that Nozawa-san differentiated the voices of young Gohan and Goten, I was even more surprised. I had thought that after Gohan became a teenager, she would use a teen voice for him and use Gohan's old voice to act out Goten's voice, but instead, she uses a completely different one.

I: In that case, Goku's old voice is probably different from Gohan's voice when he was young, and Goten's voice now.

TA: That's probably true. I'd think that Goku's old voice would be more wild and energetic.

I: In your mind, were the voices of Gohan and Goten to be acted out by Nozawa-san also?

TA: No, I was wondering, 'what are they going to do [for their voices]?' Later, when Nozawa-san carried on and did their parts, I felt that 'yeah, Gohan and Goten's voices should be Nozawa-san after all.'

I: In the same manner, I understand that Kusao Takeshi-san has done teenage Trunks and young Trunks.

TA: Deciding on young Trunks' voice was difficult. Toei Animation's producer was consulting with the editing staff, 'maybe we should go ahead and change the voice actor.' At that point, we weren't sure of how the manga story would end; young Trunks might end up growing up and the story might have continued to the same time period when teenage Trunks returned to the future. Then, it would be weird if the voices had changed. So, we settled on Kusao-san to be the voice actor. After listening 2 or 3 times, we felt that this was the right choice.

I: After the appearance of Goten and young Trunks, there appears to be more slapstick scenes inbetween the battles.

TA: There is something called 'tere-kakushi' [hiding one's embarrassment or laughing it off]. (laughter) Personally, I don't like it when I become too earnest and there is a serious story line; it seems as though my blood pressure gets too high. I believe that manga should be 'complete entertainment.'

I: And so, 'fusion' is an example of that philosophy?

TA: I had an enjoyable time drawing fusion. It had been a while since I drew something light-hearted like that.

I: Did you yourself actually practice fusion?

TA: Yes, I did! (laughter) I couldn't figure out things like arm movements, so I practiced secretly by myself, 'like this?' or 'how many steps to walk?' (laughter) When you actually go through the motions of fusion, you find out, you really do walk three steps.

I: Did your children do it at home too?

TA: Yes, they did. It seemed like they had fun with fusion.

I: When your children watch TV, do they say anything about the show?

TA: He (Toriyama Akira's son [Sasuke]) seems to understand that I draw Dragon Ball, but he seems to be mystified by the fact that I don't draw for the TV show (ie., cels). He remarks, 'Dad, you draw Dragon Ball, but I've never seen you draw these scenes.' Thus, I explain to him, 'these are drawn by people at a different company.' Lately, though, he seems to be getting it.

I: Incidentally, do you play video games?

TA: I play a little. Recently, I played Tekken on Play Station at Katsura-kun's* house. But, I'm really bad at it. I won't tell you the results. (laughter) I don't care much for battle games.

I: What kind of games do you like?

TA: In the past, I would often play role playing games, but when you begin an RPG, they take a long time. So, I like simple action-type games. Recently, I was playing Super Donkey Kong with my kids, and I said, 'shoot, I can't make it to the end.' When Katsura-kun came over to my house to play, he declared, 'I'll make it to the end for you.' He's a video game store. (major laughter)

I: You seem to be good friends with Katsura-sensei.

TA: We've been together ever since he was wearing a school uniform. Yup, we're good friends.

I: Instead of the medium of 'manga,' is there anything you would like to do with the medium of 'anime?'

TA: Because I believe 'anime' can do pretty much anything, the yearning to create an original story and have it animated is in my head fairly often.

I: I've heard that you like toys.

TA: Yeah, I like them. In fact, I go to the toy store all the time. I have a room that's filled with puramoderu [plastic models].

I: Those that aren't built yet?

TA: With puramoderu, if you don't buy 'em quickly enough, you find out that they've stopped producing a particular model. Thus, on the thought that 'if I want to build it later, I'll be in trouble,' I keep buying and that's how I ended up with so many unbuilt models.

I: What do you think of your characters being three dimensionalized?

TA: There's a difference between making a three dimensional model of a chara and making a model of an actual human being. With that, reality problems like 'there aren't nostrils like that in reality' bothers me. For example, with mecha, a while back I designed an airplane called the 'Lady Bee' for Gulliver Boy. I was able to design it logically, so when it was rendered three dimensionally, you could see how to get into it or where the lights would turn on.

I: How about mecha being able to move in anime?

TA: As a medium of expression, I like the way anime can make a 'mecha move.' It's especially adept in showing scenes that have a lot of motion, and since there are limits to that in manga, I'm very envious.

I: Is creating character designs for video games completely different from designing characters for manga or anime?

TA: Yes, there's a significant contrast.

I: With Dragon Quest, the chara for the TV show and those for the game are very distinct.

TA: When they are finally used in a game, the pictures of the chara are small, therefore, you have to make the 'image design' relatively complex. Since you're not introducing them in a manga or drawing them in an anime, you don't have to worry about, 'oh, I shouldn't do this.' Even though they are small, you want to create character designs that give them characteristics that will make them instantly recognizable. I guess this is similar to anime. For example, a black person, a brown person, or more radically, a purple person. For chara in my manga, I normally avoid using screen tone* because it's bothersome, but I try to use it for anime chara in order to give them a distinguishable characteristic.

I: Such as a person covered with beta [black ink]?

TA: Like a person covered with beta. (laughter) A game chara might have clothes that I would think would be complicated to draw repeatedly in manga. Therefore, with anime, so that I don't give undue pressure on animators, I strike a compromise between manga and game drawing.

I: When you think up chara, do you imagine them in color?

TA: Basically, I think of them in monochrome. After I decide on the character, the general color scheme materializes in my head. However, when I actually get down to coloring them in, I sometimes end up changing the color.

I: In the parts where there is no color in the manga, do the animation staff ask about the coloration?

TA: Yes. There weren't many inquiries towards the end of Dragon Ball, but between the Cell Games and the Buu episodes, there wasn't any color, so they consulted me. There was an exchange where I had them use the colors they liked and I edited what they brought me.

I: To wrap up, the broadcasting of the continuation of Dragon Ball has been approved*; what are your feelings about that?

TA: I haven't been involved in the story process, so I'm excited that I can enjoy the show as a general viewer! I hope you all can look forward to this show also!!

(June 5, 1995, at Toriyama Akira's residence)


*heart mark: I guess you can call it a type of "emoticon." They literally look like hearts and serve to add emphasis/emotion to informal writing as does : ) or : ( or :P does in e-mail (or ^_^ or ^_^; for that matter). Girls tend to use it when they write letters. BACK

* Katsura Masakazu: He is a manga artist known for Video Girl Ai (Denkei Shoujo), DNA2, and Shadow Lady. He has known Toriyama Akira for 17 years and they are, as the interview indicates, great friends. He calls himself "K2RMAN" and when he draws himself, he renders himself into a character that looks like Batman. BACK

*screen tone: These are plastic sheets that are printed with various shades of gray and various patterns. Graphic artists and manga artists use them to add gray scale or certain patterns to their work. For example in manga, they are used for shadows, the sky, bodies of water, patterns for clothes, areas that are gray, etc. The screen tone sheet is held over the place that is to be filled in and the user rubs the pattern on to the paper. They give art work a "printed feel" without even going to a print shop. Toriyama Akira claims he doesn't use much screen tone because he feels "lazy," but the fact that he can create clear, easy to recognize character designs and background scenes without such shading, I think, is incredible. BACK

*Dragon Ball GT, of course! BACK



Buu