Iconic mangaka Akira Toriyama turned 66 this month, and to celebrate, we’re diving into why he matters. While we dig deep into the creative process and how the Dragon Ball franchise came to be, we also map out how Akira Toriyama actually played a big role in some of the games you love. We talk about our love of his work, the critiques some of it has received, and how his character design style came to be the standard for 90s shonen and well, Japanese RPGs. From Dragon Quest to Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball, we discuss it all! And we even talk about that time he designed a car, all with the help of Alex Paterno from Frightday.com.
If you’re unfamiliar, Akira Toriyama a Japanese mangaka (creator, writer, and artist) and character designer. He first achieved mainstream recognition for his highly successful manga series Dr. Slump, before going on to create Dragon Ball —which would quickly become his best-known work — and acting as a character designer for several popular video games such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger and Blue Dragon. Akira Toriyama is regarded as one of the artists that changed the history of manga, as his works came to define the entirety of Shonen storytelling.
He earned the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shounen or shoujo 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 250–300 million copies worldwide, it is the third best-selling manga of all time and is considered to be one of the main reasons for the period when manga circulation was at its highest in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s.
Oh, annnnd we talk about Dragon Ball GT, because we kind of have to.