Akira Toriyama the Creator of Dragon Ball Z

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Akira Toriyama

Dragon Ball undoubtedly introduced Japanese manga to the world. The series started it all with its compelling visuals, superhuman yet relatable characters, and interesting storylines that are never boring, even during its entire run. All of this was made possible by its creator, Akira Toriyama, one of Japan’s most celebrated manga artist. Toriyama is a living legend as he remains to be a relevant figure in the anime and manga world.


Rise to stardom

Akira Toriyama was born in 1955 in Nagoya, Japan. He is regarded as the father of modern Shonen comics. Shonen is a term for young boys, usually under the age of 15. Shonen manga or anime thus refers to the demographics and not a genre in the manga. A Shonen series has a young male central character and is often depicts a story of action and adventure.

At a very young age, he was drawn into creating anime and manga with his classmates, saying that they don’t have many things to do back then. But Toriyama was exceptionally talented, having to draw images of his friends.

Before officially becoming a manga artist. Toriyama first worked in an advertising agency designing posters. He then entered the manga industry by submitting an entry to content in Jump Magazine. Toriyama did not win but Kazuhiko Torishima, an editor for Shonen Jump, saw his potential and encouraged him to continue. Finally, his break also came with another manga work entitled Dr. Slumps.

Toriyama started working on Dr. Slumps published by Shonen Jump from 1980 to 1984. It was a comedy series that followed the adventure of a perverted profession and his small but strong robot Arale. Dr. Slumps gained huge popularity and it earned Toriyama the Shogakukan Manga Award for Best Shoen or Shojo manga series of the year. It was later on adapted as a television series that aired on Japanese TV from 1982 to 1987 with a remade from 1997 to 1999. Up until 2008, Sr. Slumos sold over 35 million copies in Japan.

While Dr. Slumps became a huge hit in Japan, it was his series Dragon Ball that put him into the top of the pedestal. When Dragon Ball, a Shonen series, came to life, Toriyama became popular not just in Japan but in the whole world. Dragon Ball was originally meant to end with just two volumes but because of its popularity, the series went on to continue for years.

Aside from doing comics, Toriyama also does character designs in video games. As a matter of fact, when Dragon Ball starter, famous Japanese video game designer Yuji Horii approached Toriyama to work for the character designs of Dragon Quest, the game that first introduced a computerized role-playing game to the Japanese market.



The Dragon Ball legacy

Dragon Ball was created by Toriyama in 1984. Toriyama was already a manga superstar with he created the series but his popularity crossed borders and jumped to a whole new level with it.

Toriyama’s style was evident with the comedic element present in Dragon Ball. This made the series appeal even more to a broader audience.

The original manga began in 1984, and the anime adaptation for TV followed in 1986. The title of the first anime was Dragon Ball without the ‘Z’. Dragon Ball follows the story of a super-powerful alien named Goku who belonged to a clan of planet conquerors set to destroy the earth. Bu Goku was different. He was kind and has a cheerful personality and decided to protect and save the earth.

The sequel, Dragon Ball Z however, tells of the adventures of a grown-up Goku who was already married with a child at that time. Dragon Ball Z was broadcast worldwide and broke records for Japanese anime. The original manga sold over 120 million copies in Japan alone. It became a huge hit in Europe in 1988 and America and Canada in 1996. People from all over the world recognized Goku even though they don’t really want to know the series by heart. The Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z series had a good 11 year run but due to its extreme popularity, everybody involved in the franchise had a hard time letting it go. As a result, Dragon Ball had three anime adaptations and was also adapted into films. There are also Dragon Ball video games as well. Toy shelves were also filled with dragon ball lamps, figures, hats, and more. Dragon Ball villain toys are also popular even at present.


Other works and achievement

After the Dragon Ball series, Toriyama published and produced many manga works under his belt. Another well-known work in Japan is the Sand Land which was published in the year 2000. It follows the story of an elderly man and a demon prince who were in search of spring in the desert. Toriyama definitely has a soft spot for the elderly in his works just like in Dragon Ball with Master Roshi.

In 2013, he published Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, which was somehow connected to the Dragon Ball series. Jaco being the main character, appeared in the adaptation of Dragon Ball Super.

At present, Toriyama is 65 years old and is still very active in the world of manga. He is still involved with Dragon Ball remakes and with Dragon Ball Super: Broly film being the most recent in December 2018.

Toriyama works in his studio called “Bird Studio”, taken from the name ‘Tori’ (Bird). He does all of his works and is deeply involved with his characters’ designs. Most of his assistants would only take care of the background.

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