There has been some confusion among fans regarding Akira Toriyama’s involvement in the Dragon Ball Super Manga. We know that Toyotarō is the one drawing the Manga panel by panel but, is it all his work or does the original author have a say in it? In a recent interview, Toyotarō sheds light on Toriyama’s involvement in Dragon Ball Super’s latest arc – Granolah the Survivor.
On August 9th, 2021, the Dragon Ball official site uploaded a special interview with none other than Dragon Ball Super Manga’s author: Toyotarō-sensei. The interview was part of a special episode of Weekly Dragon Ball News (WDBN) hosted by Victory Uchida. The two spent roughly 15 minutes talking about the origins of Granolah’s story, the inner workings of the design process, and everything that happens behind the scenes.
While Twitter is abuzz with the interview’s power-scaling elements, let’s draw our attention to some character designs and Toriyama’s role in the making of the story.
The Dragon Ball Mangaka is 66 years old. Even if his mind wants to, his body doesn’t allow him to do whatever he did in his prime. He doesn’t draw any Manga panels. The last time he did everything on his own was in 2013 when he drew Jaco: The Galactic Patrolman. Nonetheless, despite his advanced age, being very active in the upcoming movie – Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, planning the story for the Manga with Toyotarō, mentoring him and overseeing everything related to the franchise, is very admirable.
To this day, his status as the original author is so highly regarded that if Toei, Shueisha, or anyone else wants to release any merchandise, games, or products, they must first go through Toriyama.
Toyotarō is in charge of the Manga but, Toriyama has the final word on whatever goes in it. In fact, Toyotarō and Toriyama don’t always converse with each other directly. All instructions by Toriyama are sent via E-mail. And it’s up to Toyotarō to decipher its message and come up with the flow of the story. Now he doesn’t do this all alone. Victory Uchida, the editor of V-Jump magazine and the Dragon Ball Super Manga, aids and supervises Toyotarō. The hierarchy goes as follows:
All ideas and suggestions by Toyotarō are first reviewed by Uchida. When he gives the green signal, he and Toyotarō write the basic plot idea and submit it to Toriyama as a proposal. They can only proceed with the story only if Toriyama approves it. When that happens, the original author expands on the idea and creates a full-fledged story. This was the case for the Granolah arc. Then, all three of them sit to discuss how the story can progress.
Note that Toriyama doesn’t visit Shueisha’s office for these meetings. Everything happens via calls, letters and E-mails.
Toyotarō, given his position, doesn’t have the authority to add major plot points or make changes in the established lore. Only and ONLY Toriyama can do such things. He and his apprentice can later discuss them and see whether it all fits well.
Victory Uchida is the editor of the Manga. But we don’t exactly know how much he contributes to the actual story. But by looking at previous interviews, we get a sense of his involvement:
1. “Power balance” of story meetings: Toriyama: 100 million; Toyotaro: 10 million: Uchida: -100
2. A second meeting metaphor: Toriyama: Goku; Toyotaro: Vegeta; Uchida: Yamcha
Now coming back to the Granolah arc, as I mentioned in a news article, Toyotarō was the one who came up with Granolah the character. He and Uchida wrote a basic outline of the plot and sent it to Toriyama. He took their idea and expanded on it, creating new characters like the Heeters, the Sugarians and Monaito. Toyotarō mentions in the interview that his mentor shared loads of hidden Dragon Ball truths with him and he reveals them chapter by chapter.
In a previous interview during Jan 2021, Toyotarō shared the highlights of the arc:
Toriyama-sensei composed the plot based on a scenario he refined overtime, and I think it resulted in a truly fantastic story. There are some facts and background information that only the original creator (Toriyama) knows, so I think you’ll be thrilled! And obviously another highlight will be the sort of exhilarating battles you expect from Dragon Ball!Toyotarō, Q&A from V-Jump, Jan 2020
Granolah was created by Toyotarō whereas the others like Heeters, Sugarians and Monaito were born from Toriyama’s mind. Let’s look at them in certain detail based on the recent interview.
Sketching the Heeters
While looking at the plot proposal, Toriyama came up with the Heeters. Toyotarō says that the design of Elec, the leader of the gang, really displays his cunning nature.
There’s an interesting tit-bit behind their creation. Toyotarō sent Toriyama some designs but they were rejected 3-4 times. So he gave up and begged his mentor to come up with his own designs. And that’s how these outlines (as shown in the image above) were finalized.
Toyotarō also mentions that they’ve been depending on Oil and Macki for comedic relief. We saw how the gags were made in the way of Macki kissing Zuno on the cheek.
Because Zuno was into feisty girls, he allowed Macki to ask 10 questions. The extra pages of Volume 16 added another small detail that Zuno was willing to answer another set of 10 questions if Macki kissed him again. But the Heeter, with an angry expression, said that she didn’t have any more questions to ask.
Along with Granolah, Toyotarō’s favorite character in the arc is Elec.
The mind behind the Sugarians’ adorable looks
Again, Toriyama was the architect behind the Sugarians’ creation and art.
And just like for the Heeters, Toyotarō gave his attempt at sketching the characters. Unfortunately for him, he failed to satisfy his mentor twice. He kept getting comments back that the “eyes look weird”, so ultimately Toriyama handled them.
Toyotarō says they serve as background characters, so not all of them have names. He was taken aback by how adorable they appeared and said “How does Toriyama-sensei do it? How is it possible to create such adorable characters with such a simple design?” Uchida adds his thoughts on the art, saying that they look Dragon Ball-ish and that their eyes are similar to Popo’s.
Monaito’s earlier name conflicted with another character’s
This particular info was not mentioned in the interview but in Volume 16 of the Manga.
According to this, Toriyama was indeed the one who concocted the character. However, Toriyama’s original name for Monaito was “Slug”. It was later changed to avoid confusing the readers with the movie villain of the same name.
More tit-bits about the Granolah arc’s behind-the-scenes
- The inclusion to the Namekian lore that they were not from planet Namek and the creation of new Dragon Balls were Toriyama’s ideas. Toyotarō wasn’t allowed to make such big changes in the established lore, given his position at Shueisha.
- It was Toriyama’s idea to include Zuno in this arc. But the comedic touch was done by Toyotarō.
- Toyotarō said that Toriyama’s expansion on his idea made it 100x better than he (Toyotarō) envisioned.
- Toyotarō says that the dynamic between the Saiyans and Granolah is going to get more and more interesting from here. So he’d love it for everyone to play close attention to it. He further adds that they already pre-planned the story’s conclusion and the inter-play of the Saiyans and Cerealians.
- Victory Uchida feels that the best of Dragon Ball Super has to offer is yet to come in this arc. Toyotarō closes the interview by saying that the battles will just get bigger and bigger from here and gets more exciting.
From what I’ve seen in the interview, I think I can safely say that Akira Toriyama wrote the major portion of Granolah the Survivor arc’s story. It was Toyotarō’s idea, but Toriyama fleshed it out and brought it to life. Toyotarō then organizes these plot points, “hidden truths” and characters into monthly chapters.
The apprentice draws the panels and writes the dialogues & I think the fight scenes are all done by him as well. All of this, of course, has to be based on Toriyama’s ideas because I think he oversees the final draft of the chapter when it comes out every month.
Furthermore, all character designs, plot ideas, and suggestions must be approved by Toriyama. He then either approves it and advises on how to proceed, or he rejects it. He’s the final word on the Dragon Ball Super Manga. So yeah, he’s more involved here than in the Moro arc.
In honor of the release of Volume 16 of the “Dragon Ball Super” manga series, the manga’s editor, Victory Uchida, sat down with Toyotarō to discuss the “Granolah The Survivor Arc” featured in the new volume. Look into our Dragon Ball column or more articles and engaging theories on this exciting new arc!
Interview source: Dragon Ball Official Site