Akira Toriyama

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Template:Anime and manga

Template:Nihongo is a Japanese manga artist and game artist. He is best known for his manga series Dr. Slump (1980–1984) and Dragon Ball (1984–1995), as well as for being the character designer for the Dragon Quest series of video games. Toriyama is regarded as one of the artists that changed the history of manga, as his works are highly influential and popular, particularly Dragon Ball, which many manga artists cite as a source of inspiration.

He earned the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga with Dr. Slump, and it went on to sell over 35 million copies in Japan. It was adapted into a successful anime series, with a second anime created in 1997, 13 years after the manga ended. His next series, Dragon Ball, would become one of the most popular and successful manga in the world. Having sold more than 230 million copies worldwide, it is the second best-selling manga of all time and is considered to be one of the main reasons for the "Golden Age of Jump," the period between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s when manga circulation was at its highest. Overseas, Dragon Ball's anime adaptations have been more successful than the manga and are credited with boosting Japanese animation's popularity in the Western world.

Early life

Akira Toriyama recalls that when he was in elementary school all of his classmates drew, imitating anime and manga, as a result of not having many forms of entertainment.[1] He believes that he began to advance above everyone else when he started drawing pictures of his friends, and after winning a prize at the local art studio for a picture of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, began to think "art was fun".[1] Toriyama has a love of cars and motorcycles, something he inherited from his father who used to race motorbikes and operated an auto repair business for a brief time.[2]


Early work and success 1978–2000

Before becoming a manga artist, he worked at an advertising agency in Nagoya designing posters for three years.[3] After quitting his previous job, Toriyama entered the manga industry by submitting a work to an amateur contest in a Jump magazine in order to win the prize money.[4] While it did not win, Kazuhiko Torishima, who would later become his editor, contacted him and gave him encouragement.[5] His debut came later in 1978 with the story Wonder Island, which was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. However, he did not rise to popularity until the comedy series Dr. Slump, which was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1980 to 1984. It follows the adventures of a perverted professor and his small but super-strong robot Arale.[6] He began the series at age 25 while living at home with his parents, but when the series ended in 1984 he was a "manga superstar".[6] In 1981, Dr. Slump earned him the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga series of the year.[7] A very successful anime adaptation aired on TV from 1981 to 1986, with a remake series airing from 1997 to 1999. By 2008, the manga had sold over 35 million copies in Japan.[8]

In 1984, Weekly Shōnen Jump began serializing Toriyama's Dragon Ball, which became an instant hit. To date it has sold over 156 million copies in Japan alone, making it Shueisha's second best-selling manga of all time.[9] It began as an adventure/gag manga but later turned into a martial arts fighting series, considered by many to be the "most influential shōnen manga".[6] Dragon Ball was one of the main reasons for the "Golden Age of Jump," when the magazine's circulation was at a record high of 6.53 million copies (1995).[10][11] The series' success encouraged Toriyama to continue working on it from 1984 to 1995. At the series' end, Toriyama said that he asked everyone involved to let him end the manga, so he could "take some new steps in life".[12] During that 11-year period, he produced 519 chapters that were collected into 42 volumes. Moreover, the success of the manga led to three anime adaptations, several animated movies, numerous video games, and mega-merchandising. The third anime adaptation, Dragon Ball GT, was not based on his manga; however, Toriyama was still involved in coming up with the name and designing the main cast.[13] Aside from its popularity in Japan, Dragon Ball was successful internationally as well, including in Europe and North America, with a total of 230 million copies of the manga sold worldwide.[14]

Toriyama's design sense led to a position designing characters for the popular Dragon Quest series of role-playing video games (formerly called Dragon Warrior in North America). He has also served as the character designer for the Super Famicom RPG Chrono Trigger and for the fighting games Tobal No. 1 and Tobal 2 for the PlayStation.

Toriyama's own studio is called Bird Studio, which is a play on his name; Template:Nihongo meaning "bird". Toriyama does nearly all of the work at Bird Studio himself, and even when he employed an assistant (until 1995, and only one at a time, which is itself rare for manga artists), the assistant did mostly backgrounds. The studio has produced occasional one-shots, or stand-alone manga that are not serialized, and some other design work. Toriyama's manga after Dragon Ball tend to be short (100–200-page) stories, including Cowa!, Kajika, and Sand Land.


On December 6, 2002, Toriyama made his only promotional appearance in the United States at the launch of Weekly Shōnen Jump's North American counterpart, Shonen Jump, in New York City.[15] Toriyama's Dragon Ball and Sand Land were published in the magazine in the first issue, which also included an in-depth interview with him.[16]

On March 27, 2005, CQ Motors began selling an electric car designed by Toriyama.[17] The one-person QVOLT is part of the company's Choro-Q series of small electric cars, with only 9 being produced. It costs 1,990,000 yen (about $19,000 US), has a top speed of 30 km/h (18 mph) and is available in 5 colors.[17] Designed to look like an American street rod, the QVOLT has a top and a door that are both opened by pulling a cord. Toriyama stated that the car took over a year to design, "but due to my genius mini-model construction skills, I finally arrived at the end of what was a very emotional journey."[17]

He worked on a 2006 one-shot called Cross Epoch, in cooperation with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda. The story is a short crossover that presents characters from both Dragon Ball and One Piece. Toriyama was the character designer and artist for the 2006 Mistwalker Xbox 360 exclusive RPG Blue Dragon, working with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu, both of whom he had previously worked with on Chrono Trigger.[18] He announced that his help with the making of the Blue Dragon anime might very well be his final work in anime. In his own words, he said:

The offer to direct an animated version of Blue Dragon came in February of last year [2006]. Studio Pierrot approached me regarding it. I knew that Sakaguchi had been working on assembling staff to produce a game, although at the time Blue Dragon hadn't yet been formally announced. According to the materials, it was to be a fantasy world like Lord of the Rings, with a detailed world view and story. This may be my final anime, I'm a little worried (about it). There's incredible pressure, but at the same time, there's a sense of accomplishment – that it's worth doing. Blue Dragon will be a masterpiece, not simply because I'm working hard on it, but because the staff is expecting nothing less.[19]

In 2008, he collaborated with Masakazu Katsura, his good friend and creator of I"s and Zetman, for the Jump SQ one-shot Sachie-chan Gū!!.[20][21] It was published in North America in the free SJ Alpha Yearbook 2013, which was mailed out to annual subscribers of the digital manga magazine Shonen Jump Alpha in December 2012. The two worked together again in 2009, for the three-chapter one-shot Jiya in Weekly Young Jump.[22]

Avex Trax commissioned Toriyama to draw a portrait of pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki; it was printed on the CD of her 2009 single "Rule/Sparkle", which was used as the theme song to the American live-action Dragonball Evolution film.[23] Also in 2009, Toriyama drew a manga titled Delicious Island's Mr. U for Anjō's Rural Society Project, a nonprofit environmental organization that teaches the importance of agriculture and nature to young children.[24] They originally asked him to do the illustrations for a pamphlet, but Toriyama liked the project and decided to expand it into a story. It is included in a booklet about environmental awareness that is distributed by the Anjō city government.[24]

He collaborated with Shōnen Jump to create a video to raise awareness and support for those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.[25] Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the series' first theatrical film in 17 years, opened on March 30, 2013 and marks the first time Toriyama has been deeply involved in an animation, in this case as early as the screenwriting stages.[26] A special "dual ticket" that can be used to see both Battle of Gods and One Piece Film: Z was created with new art by both Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda, creator of One Piece.[27]

His one-shot Kintoki, originally published in 2010, was released in North America's online manga anthology Weekly Shonen Jump on January 28, 2013.[28] On March 27, the "Akira Toriyama: The World of Dragon Ball" exhibit opened at the Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi, garnering 72,000 visitors in its first nineteen days.[29][30] The exhibit is separated into seven areas. The first provides a look at the series' history, the second shows the 400-plus characters from the series, the third displays Toriyama's manga manuscripts from memorable scenes, the fourth shows special color illustrations, the fifth displays rare Dragon Ball-related materials, the sixth includes design sketches and animation cels from the anime, and the seventh screens Dragon Ball-related videos.[29] It was there until April 15, when it moved to Osaka from April 17 to 23, and ended in Toriyama's native Nagoya from July 27 to September 1.[29] To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Jump, Toriyama launched a new series in its July 13 issue titled Jaco the Galactic Patrolman.[31] Viz Media began serializing it in English in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, beginning just two days later.[32]

Style, influence and accolades

Toriyama admires Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy and was impressed by Walt Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which he remembers for its high-quality animation.[5][33] Jackie Chan's early movies also had a noticeable influence on his stories, particularly Chan's martial arts comedy film Drunken Master.[5][34] Toriyama stated he was influenced by animator Toyoo Ashida and the TV anime adaptation of his own Dragon Ball; from which he learned that separating colors instead of blending them makes the art cleaner and coloring illustrations easier.[33] It was Toriyama's sound effects in Mysterious Rain Jack that caught the eye of Kazuhiko Torishima, who explained that usually they are written in katakana, but Toriyama used the alphabet which he found refreshing.[35] In his opinion, Torishima stated that Toriyama excels in black and white, utilizing black areas, as a result of not having had the money to buy screen tone when he started drawing manga.[35]

Dr. Slump was mainly a comedy series, filled with puns, toilet humor and sexual innuendos. But it also contained many science fiction elements; aliens, anthropomorphic characters, time travel, and parodies of works such as Godzilla, Star Wars and Star Trek.[6] Toriyama also included many real-life people in the series, such as his assistants, wife and colleagues (such as Masakazu Katsura), but most notably his editor Kazuhiko Torishima as the series' main antagonist, Dr. Mashirito.[6][36]

When Dragon Ball began, it was loosely based on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West,[37][38] with Goku being Sun Wukong and Bulma Xuanzang. Toriyama continued to use his characteristic comedic style in the beginning, but over the course of time this slowly changed, with him turning the series into a "nearly-pure fighting manga" later on.[6] He didn't plan out in advance what would happen in the series, instead choosing to draw as he went. This, coupled with him simply forgetting things he had already drawn, caused him to find himself in situations that he had to write himself out of.[6] In a rare 2013 interview, commenting on Dragon Ball's global success, Toriyama admitted, "Frankly, I don't quite understand why it happened. While the manga was being serialized, the only thing I wanted as I kept drawing was to make Japanese boys happy."[39] Speaking of his manga in general, he said, "The role of my manga is to be a work of entertainment through and through. I dare say I don't care even if [my works] have left nothing behind, as long as they have entertained their readers."[39]

Toriyama was commissioned to illustrate the characters and monsters for the first Dragon Quest video game (1986) in order to separate it from other role-playing games of the time.[40] He has since worked on every title in the series. For each game Yuji Horii first sends rough sketches of the characters with their background information to Toriyama, who then re-draws them. Lastly, Horii approves the finished work.[41][42] Toriyama explained that for video games, because the sprites are so small, as long as they have a distinguishing feature so people can tell which character it is, he can make complex designs without concern of having to reproduce it like he usually would in manga.[43] Besides the character and monster designs, Toriyama also does the games' packaging art and, for Dragon Quest VIII, the boats and ships.[42] The series' Slime character, which has become a sort of mascot for the franchise, is considered to be one of the most recognizable figures in gaming.[44]

Jason Thompson declared Toriyama's art influential, saying that his "extremely personal and recognizable style" was a reason for Dragon Ball's popularity.[6] He points out that the popular shōnen manga of the late 1980s and early 1990s had "manly" heroes, such as City Hunter and Fist of the North Star, whereas Dragon Ball starred the cartoonish and small Goku, thus starting a trend that Thompson says continues to this day.[6] Toriyama himself said he went against the normal convention that the strongest characters should be the largest in terms of physical size, designing many of the series' most powerful characters with small statures.[45] Thompson concluded his analysis by saying that only Akira Toriyama drew like this at the time and that Dragon Ball is "an action manga drawn by a gag manga artist."[6] However, James S. Yadao, author of The Rough Guide to Manga, points out that an art shift does occur in the series, as the characters gradually "lose the rounded, innocent look that [Toriyama] established in Dr. Slump and gain sharper angles that leap off the page with their energy and intensity."[46]

Many manga artists have named Toriyama and Dragon Ball as influences, including One Piece author Eiichiro Oda,[47] Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto,[48] Hiro Mashima of Rave and Fairy Tail fame,[49] Venus Versus Virus author Atsushi Suzumi,[50] Bleach creator Tite Kubo, Black Cat author Kentaro Yabuki, and Mr. Fullswing author Shinya Suzuki.[51] In 2008, Oricon conducted a poll of people's favorite manga artists, with Toriyama coming in second. However, he was number one among male respondents and among those over 30 years of age.[52] They held a poll on the Mangaka that Changed the History of Manga in 2010, mangaka being the Japanese word for a manga artist. Toriyama came in second, after only Osamu Tezuka, due to his works being highly influential and popular worldwide.[53] Toriyama won the Special 40th Anniversary Festival Award at the 2013 Angoulême International Comics Festival, honoring his years in cartooning.[54][55] He actually received the most votes for the festival's Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême award that year; however, the selection committee chose Willem as the recipient.[56] Due to his video game design work, IGN named Toriyama number 74 on their list of the Top 100 Game Creators of All Time.[57]



Name Year Notes
Template:Nihongo 1977 Unpublished, submission for Monthly Young Jump Award. Printed in 1983 in Toriyama's fan club newsletter, Bird Land Press # 5 & 6.
Mysterious Rain Jack 1978 Unpublished, submission for Monthly Young Jump Award. Printed in 1982 in Toriyama's fan club newsletter, Bird Land Press # 3 & 4.
Wonder Island 1978–1979 2 One-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Today's Highlight Island 1979 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Tomato, Girl Detective 1979 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Dr. Slump 1980–1984 18 Tankōbon, reassembled into 9 aizoban in 1990, 9 bunkoban in 1995 and 15 kanzenban in 2006
Pola & Roid 1981 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Escape 1981 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Mad Matic 1982 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Pink 1982 One-shot in Fresh Jump
Hetappi Manga Kenkyūjo 1982–1984 1 Tankōbon, drawing lesson co-authored with Akira Sakuma
Chobit 1983 2 One-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump & Fresh Jump
Dragon Boy 1983 2 One-shots in Fresh Jump
The Adventures of Tongpoo 1983 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.1 1983 1 Tankōbon
Dragon Ball 1984–1995 42 Tankōbon, reassembled into 34 kanzenban in 2002 with an altered ending
Mr. Ho 1986 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Lady Red 1987 One-shot in Super Jump
Template:Nihongo 1987 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Sonchoh 1987 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Template:Nihongo 1988 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.2 1988 1 tankōbon
Template:Nihongo 1989 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Rocky 1989 One-shot in Template:Nihongo, a collection of works by different artists.
Wolf 1990 One-shot, published in the art book Akira Toriyama: The World
Template:Nihongo 1990–1991 3 One-shots in V Jump; rebooted as an ongoing series by Takao Koyama and Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, with 1 tankōbon in 1998
Dub & Peter 1 1992–1993 4 One-shots in V Jump
Go! Go! Ackman 1993–1994 11 One-shots in V Jump
Template:Nihongo 1996 Two-chapter serial in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Tokimecha 1997 Three-part serial in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1997 #3/4, 5/6, 7
Template:Nihongo 1997 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.3 1997 1 Tankōbon
Cowa! 1997–1998 1 Tankōbon
Kajika 1998 1 Tankōbon
Template:Nihongo 1999 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Neko Majin 1999–2005 5 One-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump & Monthly Shōnen Jump, 1 tankōbon/kanzenban
Template:Nihongo 2000 One-shot drawn entirely on a computer for E-Jump, a special edition of Weekly Shōnen Jump focusing on electronics.
Sand Land 2000 1 Tankōbon
Template:Nihongo 2006 1 chapter of Template:Nihongo, Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo and Dragon Ball crossover with Osamu Akimoto for 30th anniversary of Kochikame.
Cross Epoch 2006 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump, Dragon Ball and One Piece crossover with Eiichiro Oda
Template:Nihongo 2007 One-shot in Monthly Shōnen Jump; made into an animated theatrical short accompanying One Piece: The Desert Princess and the Pirates — Adventures in Alabasta
Template:Nihongo 2008 One-shot in Jump SQ, art by Masakazu Katsura
Template:Nihongo 2009 One-shot in the pamphlet Template:Nihongo for 2030 Magazine
Template:Nihongo 2009–2010 3 chapters in Weekly Young Jump, art by Masakazu Katsura
Kintoki 2010 One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump
Template:Nihongo 2013 1 Tankōbon, part of the 45th anniversary celebration of Weekly Shōnen Jump.


  • Dr. Slump – Arale-chan (TV anime, 1981–1986) – original concept, based on his manga Dr. Slump
  • Crusher Joe (1983 film) – space station design
  • Dragon Ball (TV anime, 1986–1989) – original concept, based on the first half of his manga Dragon Ball
  • Template:Nihongo – direction, script and character designs
  • Dragon Quest (TV anime, 1989–1991) – original character designs
  • Dragon Ball Z (TV anime, 1989–1996) – original concept, based on the second half of Dragon Ball, title
  • Template:Nihongo – original concept, based on his one-shot manga Pink
  • Template:Nihongo – original concept, based on his one-shot manga of the same name
  • Go! Go! Ackman (1994 film) – original concept, based on his manga of the same name
  • Imagination Science World Gulliver Boy (TV anime, 1995) – mechanical designs
  • Dragon Ball GT (TV anime, 1996–1997) – character designs, title and logo
  • Doctor Slump (TV anime, 1997–1999) – original concept, based on his manga Dr. Slump
  • Blue Dragon (TV anime, 2007–2008) – character designs

Video game designs

Art books

Other work

  • Fuel Album (George Tokoro album, 1981) - insert illustration
  • Template:Nihongo – album cover
  • Polkadot Magic (Mami Koyama album, 1984) – album cover
  • Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens (1984) – designed the logo for the zoo's koala exhibit
  • Template:Nihongo – character designs
  • Fine Molds (1991) – designed the model maker's mascot
  • Super Sense Story (Honda road safety brochure, 1991) – character designs
  • V Jump (1994) – designed the magazine's Template:Nihongo character
  • Fine Molds (1994) – designed several of their World Fighter Collection line of models
  • Bitch's Life (art book, 2001) – 1 illustration
  • Toccio the Angel (children's book, 2003) – wrote and illustrated the book
  • QVOLT (electric car, 2005) – designed the automobile
  • Jump Shop (2005) – designed Weekly Shōnen Jump's online shop's Template:Nihongo character
  • "Rule/Sparkle" (Ayumi Hamasaki single, 2006) – an illustration of Ayumi Hamasaki as Son Goku printed on the single's CD and DVD
  • Weekly Shōnen Jump (2009) – designed the magazine's website's Template:Nihongo character
  • Invade (Jealkb album, 2011) – album cover


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  46. Yadao, James S. The Rough Guide to Manga. Penguin Books, 2009-10-01. p. 116-117. ISBN 1-4053-8423-9, 9781405384230. Available on Google Books.
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Further reading
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External links

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