If Osamu Tezuka
is the father of Manga
(and a good number of genres therein), then Akira Toriyama is the father of modern Shōnen
Akira Toriyama is one of the most famous manga-ka out there, and also does work on character designs in video games.
He started off in 1979 with the story Wonder Island
published by Shonen Jump
and gained popularity in Japan for his Breakthrough Hit
gag manga Dr. Slump
, but became world-famous for his Dragon Ball
series. Ironically, it was meant to only be about two volumes, but we know how that ended up
Around the same time as his Dragon Ball
series was taking off in Japan, Yuji Horii approached him to work on Toriyama's most influential and famous work, the character designs and art for Dragon Quest
, the game that would introduce computerized role playing games to the mainstream Japanese market and set the standard for all console RPGs to follow. He has continued to do every single piece of artwork, monster and character design alongside the same 3 person team (Yuji Horii (story) and Koichi Sugiyama (music) ) for every single Dragon Quest game
since then, including each and every spinoff.
Other known hits where he has worked on the video game side include the critically acclaimed Chrono Trigger
(with Chrono Cross
departing from his artwork) and the Cliché Storm
that is Blue Dragon
that managed to double into The Anime of the Game
On the comics side of things, after Dragon Ball
he went on to do Sandland, Neko Majin Z
, as well as several one shots — although he has not put out an omnibus style tankoubon since Neko Majin Z
in 2005. With his rather infamous trouble with editors and his income from the Dragon Quest
series, it is unlikely that he will ever do another manga series similar to Dragon Ball
, almost all of his recent works have been short one shots.
Toriyama is known largely for his art style; while Toriyama suffers heavily from being able to draw Only Six Faces
, his artwork is very
stylized, and thus is hard to imitate without lots of careful study and practice.
Notably, a lot of the Mangaka that first started in The Nineties
were inspired by him, including Yoshihiro Togashi
, Hunter × Hunter
, Level E
), Masashi Kishimoto
), Hiro Mashima
), and even Eiichiro Oda
). In fact, Akira Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda worked together on a Manga in 2006 called Cross Epoch
, a crossover that contains Dragon Ball
and One Piece
characters. Considering that some of these Mangaka have already started to inspire others to join the Shonen industry, you could call him the God of Shonen manganote
Akira Toriyama is associated with the following:
- Achievements in Ignorance: The elements of his early work that got him hailed as "groundbreaking" and "genius" were largely a result of his lack of background in comics. He didn't know what the usual conventions or expectations were, so he just did whatever.
- Art Evolution: Went from round and super-cartoony to angular and more streamlined, with his coloring shifting from a smoother effect to the harder lines of animation (inspired by the Dragon Ball anime, as well as his collaboration with Toyo'o Ashida on an original anime in 1988). He later went through another shift as he left pen and paper behind to do everything by computer starting in 2003. His art since then has taken on a rounder (yet even leaner and more streamlined) appearance, with finer-grained shading and some CG effects. His famously-sparse use of screen tone has also increased in what little manga he does, presumably because it no longer involves having to actually paste it onto the page.
- Author Appeal: Cool Cars, Cool Planes, or anything else mechanical, thanks to his background in graphic design and love of plastic models. Also, poop jokes.
- Author Avatar: A few in Dr Slump, a notable one being a bird, as a pun on his name ("Tori" means "bird" in Japanese).
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Claims to have spent much of his time during the Dragon Ball days watching TV and building plastic models, with only the last two days before any given deadline given over entirely to storyboarding, drawing, inking, and submitting a chapter of the manga. He considers it proof that he's a lazy bum, while those around him are awed by the work ethic, even genius required to pump out a week's worth of material in about a day and a half. We'll split the difference and call it brilliance inspired by sloth.
- Canon Welding: Of Dr Slump and Dragon Ball, though it was likely just a one-off that was never intended to be taken seriously (among many other things, Dr Slump is contemporaneous to when it was written and uses the Gregorian calendar, while Dragon Ball has its own, completely-fictional "Age" calendar). Fans, on the other hand...
- Edible Theme Naming: The most common form of Theme Naming he uses, which reached its peak in Dragon Ball.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Is apparently afraid of them. An infestation at one point made it hard (well, harder than usual) for him to work, because he was too scared to go into his workroom.
- Executive Meddling: His editors frequently made him change ideas that they felt were unwise or simply didn't like. It's the reason why, in Dragon Ball Z, the Androids Trunks came back to fight were #19 and 20, then, no, actually they were #17 and 18, and then Cell appeared, and then he had several transformations.... In each case, it was Toriyama's editor (Yū Kondō in this example) going, "Yeah, no. Try something else." His editor for the Buu arc was comparatively lenient, which is perhaps why the story in that part is Denser and Wackier, as well as all over the place from a narrative standpoint. On the other hand, he did insist that Toriyama give up on his plan for Gohan to replace Goku as the main character (the ending of the Cell arc was meant to be a Passing the Torch moment).
- Forgetful Jones: Has become one of his defining trademarks to the fandom, as he cannot remember the details (or much of the big picture) of the things he's written. He once famously asked One Piece author Eiichiro Oda who "Tao Pai Pai" was, and that's not so atypical for him. He's gotten a bit better since he re-read Dragon Ball in 2002-03 and again in 2011-12, but he still does things like confuse Super Saiyan 2 and 3, which is pretty hard to do.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Frequently. To name just one example, the three girls abducted by Oolong in an early Dragon Ball episode are named after the model "Hedgehog" and "Lee" tanks he happened to have near his desk at the time.
- A number of characters in Kajika are named after fish, for the sole reason that Toriyama had multiple tanks full of tropical fish in his workroom at the time he was drawing it.
- Motivational Lie: Seems to have been on the receiving end of more than a few by his first editor, Kazuhiko Torishima. Like that one about the series he could draw for 10 weeks and then be allowed to end it... which turned into Dr Slump. Torishima seemed to understand that the only way to get Toriyama's creativity to triumph over his laziness was to lie to him about how much work he'd be required to do.
- Nature Lover: Wishes he could live in the middle of nowhere so he could enjoy hearing and seeing wild animals, and has a veritable stable of pets that includes (or has included) cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, fish, and birds. One thing he does hate, though, is mice.
- Only Six Faces: Which he mocks in Dr Slump
- Reclusive Artist: He's "not good with people", and prefers the company of his family and pets to others. To understand why, you need look no further than this 1983 interview on Tetsuko's Room shortly after he got married: the awkward silence is amazing. Initially, he (grudgingly) allowed himself to be photographed, and even portrayed himself as something of a character in his own right, but he evidently became so overwhelmed by his fame during Dragon Ball that he stopped showing his face in photographs and only rarely makes public appearances. The one good photo we have of him from the past two decades is from 2002, when he went to New York for the launch of the North American Shonen Jump magazine. He goes out in public so rarely that he's occasionally rumored dead by fans panicked at his (deliberate) lack of statements or creative output.
- 2013–14 is a rare exception for him in that he's given a plethora of interviews (at least 10) in connection with Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Jaco The Galactic Patrolman, but he's still as unwilling to show his face as ever.
- Self-Deprecation: When his Author Avatar went to the future in Dr. Slump, it turned out that his future self has changed his profession to beggar.
- Shrug of God: A lot of his tidbits and answers to questions from interviewers regarding elements of the Dragon Ball Universe are notoriously noncommittal and speculative, unknowingly driving fans up the wall.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Artist Masakazu Katsura, just look at their interview on their joint projects (Sachie-chan and Jiya) and notice how they nag each other to death.
- In Dr. Slump, Katsura makes a quick appearance, and is portrayed as a sort of country bumpkin...
- Each has used the argument over which of them came up with "Fusion" in Dragon Ball as an excuse to take a few verbal jabs at each other in interviews.
- World Building: In Dragon Ball especially, though much of it seems to have come together accidentally rather than planned from the outset; he claims never to have been thinking further ahead than the next week's chapter.
- Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Which actually works.