Dragon Ball: Akira Toriyama's "Ask Me Anything" Corner!, also known as Ask Akira Toriyama, is a Q&A session between Akira Toriyama and Japanese Dragon Ball readers featured in each of the first twelve original Dragon Ball volumes.
Q. My son who is a first grader is a big Goku fan. He is anxiously awaiting your response. He wrote, "How can I become one of Goku's friends?"
A. Asataro, thank you for all the hard work you put into writing a letter to me. How can you become one of Goku's friends…? Hmm… Uh… Maybe your mother should explain this to you. (I guess I weaseled out of answering the question…)
Q. Back in Volume 5 you mentioned that Dragon Ball would last for 10 volumes. Could you maybe make it last for at least 13 volumes?
A. Because of all the fan support, it looks like I will not be able to end the series at Volume 10. I am having such a great time doing this manga that I think it will last for more than 13 volumes.
Q. I like Kuririn. I like Goku too, but I think that Kuririn is cuter. Please have Kuririn be more involved in the stories.
A. Kuririn is a major part of the story in the 22nd Tenkaichi Budōkai martial arts competition. That story is told in Volumes 10-12 of the graphic novels.
Q. Um, Toriyama-sensei… Pilaf has a ninja dog working for him, right? What is its name? In volume 2 he is called Soba, but in Volume 10 he is called Shū. Which is it?
A. My apologies. This was a mistake. When the anime came out in Japan they asked me to name Pilaf's two underlings. I had completely forgotten that I had already named one of them "Soba." So I told the anime people to call him "Shū." When I realized my mistake it was too late, the show had already aired and his name was "Shū." So I then decided to change his name to "Shū" to be like the anime.[Notes 1] By the way, the girl underling's name is "Mai."
Q. Hello. I am a big fan. I am a 12 year old boy. I have a 21 year old sister. She's a fan of yours too. The characters in Dragon Quest 2 [Notes 2] are cool.
A. Dragon Quest 2 is really cool, isn't it!? I designed the characters for that game. They're really cool, aren't they? Well, anyway, I get really involved when playing this game. But I don't want it to affect my work, so I try to keep it in moderation. Just a little bit more to go, though!
Q. Hello Toriyama-sensei! I used to think that Kuririn was just some weird character, but now I think he is really cool! I used to just kind of quickly read through the parts with Kuririn in them, but on a second read, he's pretty cute! He's short and bald and has those cute eyebrows!
A. I also used to write Kuririn so that he was just some weird minor character who appeared in the story, but now he's matured to become an indispensable member of the cast. I'm really surprised at how many fans he has now! It's the same with Kame Sennin, the Turtle Hermit; when I originally created him, I just intended him to be some crazy old man. (So now you know how whimsical I was when I created Dragon Ball.)
Q. I really enjoy reading Dragon Ball. I am also trying to draw my own manga. I can see the drawings in my head, but the problem is that I can't actually draw them on paper the way that I imagine them. I'm having a really hard time. Your artwork impresses me because it has a feeling of depth even though you don't use much screentone.
A. Even as a professional manga artist, sometimes I still can't draw things exactly how I imagine them. I guess the only thing you can do is draw a lot and keep studying the art of drawing. And the real reason I don't use screentone very much is because it's a lot of work.
Q. When you write Dragon Ball, do you ever have trouble coming up with the story or the personalities of your characters?
A. I have to spend quite a bit of effort to come up with the stories and the personalities of the characters. Sometimes I have to think about it so hard that I get a headache. At times like this, when I can't come up with any ideas, I just go to sleep or I go do something else. If the ideas aren't coming it's important to take a break to get a new perspective.
Q. I've thought up a new character: Kuririn's younger brother Tekurin. He trained under Hebi-Sennin (the Snake Hermit) and his special attack is the Alo-ha (Aloha Wave Attack). Please use him in Dragon Ball.
A. Hmm… I don't know about that character… but the "Alo-ha" attack is so silly, I just might be able to use it.
Q. I am such a big fan, I want to read your stuff every day! Please increase the number of pages you do every week.
A. Thank you for your words of support. Currently, I am drawing about 15 pages a week and I think that's my limit. If I increased my output, I might stop enjoying the process of creating manga. If I really push it I can do about 19 pages, but I'd rather have some time to relax and draw the manga. Actually, I think it would be great if I could do about 13 pages… Well anyway, I hope you will be satisfied with 15 pages a week.
Q. I know it's a bit late, but congratulations on the birth of Sasuke. I heard that you do a lot of work for him such as changing his diapers and feeding him milk. You sound like a good father and I am jealous of your wife.
A. Thank you very much. I recently did a one-shot story for Weekly Shonen Jump so I was very very busy. And even though we were all in the same house, I hardly had any time to be with Sasuke. When I was awake, Sasuke would be asleep. When Sasuke was awake, I would be asleep or be busy working. Well, this continued for so long, I think Sasuke forgot his own father's face! I went up to him and made a funny face and he started crying! So now I am careful to show him my face often and tell him "This is your father, this is your father's face." So you see, recently I haven't been a very good father. And I regret this very much.
Q. Please answer the following questions:
(1) How many watts is the brightness of Kuririn's head?
(2) How long does Goku's nyoibō get?
(3) On page 87 of Volume 4 Kuririn flings a booger, but does he even have a nose?
A. (1) Hmmm… difficult question. I wonder how bright it is? Uh… basically it only gets bright when it reflects sunlight. (2) This is another difficult question. The nyoibō once stretched out to the moon, so that means that it can stretch out to at least 380,000 kilometers. (3) Actually a lot of people asked this question. I think we got about a thousand postcards about this. I really couldn't think of a good response to the question, so I just ignored it for a while. Sorry everybody!
Q. The motorcycles, cars and clothes that appear in your manga look very cool. I think you have a very good sense of style.
Tokyo Metropolitan Area
A. Thank you. I'm not sure about my sense of style, but I do enjoy thinking about motorcycles, cars and clothes.
Q. When I heard that you actually went to China to observe things over there, I was amazed at how much went into the creation of this manga.
A. Well, actually, I'd always been fascinated with China and my wife and I just went there for a vacation. However, it is true that that trip greatly inﬂuenced Dragon Ball. It is important for manga artists to have some leisure time.
Q. Please answer these questions.
(1) How long does it take you to create one episode?
(2) How old are Kuririn, Oolong, Puar and Yamcha?
(3) Please keep up the good work.
A. (1) Hmm… it varies depending on the episode, but when I'm having a hard time, a good plot won't come to me even after two or three days of brainstorming. If I'm on a roll, though, sometimes it only takes about five minutes to think one up. To actually put it on paper only takes about 30 minutes a page. (2) Uhh, how old were they…? I'm pretty sure Kuririn stated his age at the last Tenkaichi Budōkai, so please calculate it using that as your reference. Oolong and Puar are… I don't know. Yamcha is… about 20 right now, I think. (3) Thank you very much.
Q. Sometimes when I get tired of work, I take your graphic novels off my children's bookshelf and read them with gusto. It is the best thing for a change of pace. However, recently the story's just been about Goku, and I feel that you aren't making the most of the personality—rich supporting characters.
—A 45 Year—Old Geezer Fan
A. Thank you very much for your support and your advice. It is always heartening to receive such letters from older folks. I promise I'll strive to draw well, so I hope you'll keep reading it with gusto. You go too, dad!
Q. Kame Sennin is very fashionable, isn't he? I am always being criticized by my friends as uncool for wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
—Name Withheld By Request
A. On your postcard, you also drew a full-body picture of yourself, but I realized that if I printed it your identity might be revealed, so I didn't (I'm thinking, aren't I?). Going by your drawing alone, I'd have to agree, you really aren't fashionable at all, are you? However, to be frank, it suits you well! This is really the only style to wear with a shaved head! Often at the supermarket and so forth, I see brash youth who think they're being fashionable, but don't you think your way is more refreshing? That's how you should be!
Q. How can I get better at drawing?
A. I get tons of questions about drawing, but it's really hard to decide how to answer, so I don't really know what to tell you. In any case, as you can probably guess, I think you just have to keep drawing constantly. Not just people, but landscapes and animals, all sorts of things — observe them closely and try drawing them. To practice inking, again, I feel that you just need to keep drawing until you get better. But if you keep trying and trying and you still can't draw well, then I wouldn't quit your day job.
Q. Dear Toriyama-sensei, I'm a big fan of not only Dragonball, but all your work. Manga these days seems to only be about "love", or "sports" or "fighting" or "legends"… But you're different!
A. Gosh, I'm flattered. Dragon Ball is going to go for quite a bit longer, but when I do finish it, I plan on creating even better and more entertaining manga. I look forward to your support then also!
Q. Exams have finally invaded my life. I'd really appreciate it (it'd be like a wish granted by Shenron!) if you could hold off on the publication of Dragon Quest 3 until after my exams are finished.
A. I see, the exams must be really tough. I'm an adult now, so exams no longer affect my life. Bet you're jealous! But even though they are a major pain, keep up the good work! Also, Dragon Quest 3 is insanely fun! Why don't you play it after you finish your exams?
Q. I have been doing push—ups and sit—ups in an effort to be able to use the kamehameha, but I still haven't been able to produce it. Is that skill really possible?
A. Hmm, I am very impressed. An "A" for effort! Still, it looks like you haven't been able to produce the kamehameha, so I guess you still need more training. The fastest way may be to go to the Turtle Hermit (Kame Sennin) with a dirty magazine in hand and ask him to take you as his disciple. Even if you are denied entry as his disciple, the muscle you gain from your physical training will most definitely be useful later. You must continue to persevere!
Q. Dear Toriyama-sensei, your art is incredibly clean, even your backgrounds. Even though your backgrounds are so detailed, everything is really easy to read. I was wondering if you could create a Dragon Quest story, even if it’s just a one-shot.
A. Thank you very much. The real reason my art is so "clean" is because it's a pain in the butt to draw tons of detail. I hate things which are a pain. Unfortunately, making a Dragon Quest story would also be a huge pain, because there are so many characters, so I really don't want to do one, I'm sorry.
A. Thank you very much. I hope you will cheer me on in the future too. I hope you are well too!
Q. Sensei, your work is almost always set in a country setting, but I think it really fits the image of your manga and I like it very much.
A. Thank you very much. The reason I use a country setting so much is, not only is it easy for me to draw, but also because I am a total country bumpkin and I don't like the city very much. By the way, your address places you in the next town over from me.
Q. I think it's fabulous that you take care of your child and do work at the same time. Also, the character "Tanton" that appeared in the manga Dragon Boy from the Shonen Jump Special was really similar to Goku, and I thought he was a lot of fun.
A. Thank you, thank you. Actually, I don't necessarily take care of the kids and work at the same time; my wife does most of it. I pretty much do stuff like playing with the kid when I feel like it, and occasionally changing the diapers and feeding him, so it's really nothing much. I do most of my plotting and thinking after the baby is in bed, so it really isn't that much trouble. Anyway, Dragon Boy is in Volume 2 of my Toriyama Akira Maru-saku Gekijo ("Akira Toriyama's Insert—Adjective—Here Theater").[Notes 3] Because of the popularity of the story, it ended up becoming the catalyst for Dragon Ball. That's Why Goku is Tanton with a few modiﬁcations, and why they look so much alike.
Q. Please don't stop Dragon Ball even after Piccolo is defeated! Please continue the manga for at least another three years! During that time, I will study like mad to get into college, and afterwards get a job at Shueisha and become your editor.
A. When Goku was fighting Great Demon King Piccolo, there were a number of "It's going to end, isn't it?" rumors going around, but I have no intention of ending it at all. The idea of going for another three years does kind of freak me out, but I do plan on continuing it for a little longer. By the way, if you become my editor, I hope you will be kind and not reject any of my stories. I look forward to the day when this will become a reality.
Q, Dear Toriyama-sensei, thank you for making a great read every time. Please take care of yourself, and keep your spirits up. (I know that manga artists are very busy, so please don't worry about replying to this letter.)
A. You are the best! I have been moved by your consideration in telling me that it is unnecessary to reply, so instead I have printed it in this graphic novel. Please don't ever lose your considerate and kind nature.
Q. My entire family is a big fan of yours. Morn only reads manga if you wrote it. My younger brother tapes your anime on video and watches it.
A. Thank you very much. You must be blessed to have such a wonderful mother! Make sure you are nice to her. Please give my regards to your younger brother too!
- ↑ However, we kept it as "Soba" in the English version, to be true to Toriyama's original intentions—Ed.
- ↑ the 1987 Famicom/NES game released in America as Dragon Warrior 2—Ed.
- ↑ Unfortunately this book has not been translated into English—Ed.
- It was also noted that Toriyama was too busy to do sessions such as questionnaires for fans (likely due to his work with the Dragon Ball series, among other things).
- At the end of the English tankōbon version of Volume 12, it features questions asked by Japanese Dragon Ball readers answered by Akira Toriyama from the original Dragon Ball Volumes 7 to 12.