This was a moderated discussion between Akira Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda, author of the outrageously popular One Piece. This was contained within the One Piece artbook, Color Walk 1. I bought the book, not knowing that this was inside, and you can only imagine the pure delight that I experienced when I realized that the current "the man" of the manga world, was having a discussion with "the man" himself. Although I wish I could say I was the first to translate this interview, alas I am not. The first person, at least that I'm aware of, who made this discussion available in English is Rika of Destination: Paradise, an excellent One Piece site for general information on the series and indepth data you'll find it hard to locate elsewhere...in English at least ^0^
So anyway, this is my translation of the interview. I don't think it is any better than Rika's, it is simply my take on it. The differences are....minimal and in some cases I liked Rika's words so I used them about five or six times. They are identified by '...' these marks. I've added some clarifications in brackets. Anything in brackets was not written in the original document. I also have added some notes. They were also not stated originally. Allrighty then! Enjoy!
Q: Let us begin, Oda sensei, please explain how you feel about Toriyama sensei?
Oda: Of course, he's god! He is in an entirely different dimension. All in all, he's just too good at drawing!
Toriyama: This is kinda an awkward position... (LAUGH)
Oda: To tell the truth, I never read Arale chan. (Note: Although Dr. Slump is the name of the manga, many Japanese people refer to it as "Arale chan") How I first encountered Toriyama sensei's manga was the second episode of Dragon Ball, regardless [of when it was] I fell in love at first sight. I thought, "He's too good!" At that time, I loved Disney, but I was thinking, "This is even better than Disney stuff!" Do you remember that character named Ranfan from the [21st] Tenkaichi Budokai?
Toriyama: Oh yeah, she was there!
Oda: It feels kind of weird to ask if you remember, but it seems as though you have forgotten a good amount of characters... (laugh) Anyway, you know how Ranfan took her clothes off, right? Her armpits during that scene were really drawn well. I thought that you were the first person to accurately draw someone's armpit that well. Back then, I always drew people's armpits. Those, and Taopaipai's hands.
Toriyama: Taopaipai...? You're getting to some of the less important charactrers.
Oda: What!? Taopaipai is a HUGE major character!
Toriyama: The guy with the braid?
Oda: Yeah yeah. The assassin. The guy that throws a pillar into the sky and rides it himself.
Toriyama: Oh yeah, I did draw that didn't I.
Oda: When he posed his hands were so well drawn. During that time, the only thing I drew were hands. Those two things were what shocked me the most in Dragon Ball... armpits and hands.
Toriyama: But, Dragon Ball grew to have more and more muscular characters. I actually regret not having studied muscle models back then, but I still haven't gotten around to it...
Oda: Toriyama-sensei, how your characters bulked up was really very stunning! I am even a reader of Kinnikuman* and I thought, "Amazing!" (laugh)
Toriyama: I thought too much about how the muscles looked [stylistically], so if you look at them as real muscles, it isn't accurate.
Oda: No, no, it's perfect. Sensei, even the girls you draw are fairly muscular. I think that makes them a bit sexy.
Toriyama: That's just because I'm not good at drawing girls. (dry laugh)
Oda: Oh that's right... Toriyama-sensei, your mecha illustrations are really amazing.
Toriyama: The majority of those are all made-up as well. But there were blueprints inside my head that determined how it would propel itself and like where the fuel tanks are located.
Oda: That is why it is amazing. You don't usually think of ideas like that. I don't know a thing about machines at all, so I can't draw them.
Toriyama: The logic behind them all are all fake, but even so, for odd-shaped mecha, I do think about things like, "How would I get onto this thing?" etc.
Oda: Well, the shape [of the entire mecha] do not have to be pratical in real life.
Toriyama: But you know, it's all right to draw them in an illustration; but when you draw it in manga, you have to make it reappear [in different scenes] many times. It turns out to be a pain. If I go to my limit to draw something, it comes back to strangle me later on.
Oda: True, it is a completely different matter when you have to make it move it around. That reminds me, you know how in Dragon Ball, the Pilaf crew was aboard a mecha that combined, right?
Oda: They were. I was so happy that the three mechas combined into one! I was like, "Amazing!" And, when only two combine, it turned into an ostrich form. (Note: They do this again in the first episode of Dragon Ball GT)
Toriyama: Oh? It was for transportation?
Toriyama: A robot?
Toriyama: Oh... I think I did draw something like that. (Note: Greg falls over *GAN!*)
Oda: You even thought about its transformations.
Toriyama: I thought that far ahead...?
Oda: Yes, you did think that far ahead. (laugh)
Q: Of all your illustrations that you can remember, what do you think were your favorites?
Toriyama: My favorite piece of artwork?
Oda: I know. Toriyama-sensei probably doesn't remember... but I remember seeing a comment of his on that.
Oda: You mentioned something of the sort in some interview. (Note:This interview was the Toriyama interview from Daizenshyuu 1)
Toriyama: This one? (points at the illustration)
Oda: Absolutely. (laugh) You said that it was the only one you liked.... I was thinking, "Well what about all the others?"
Toriyama: That's right, yeah, yeah, I said it, I did say that this was my favorite! But actually, looking at it now, I wonder why I chose this one.
Oda: (Big Laugh)
Toriyama: Maybe I liked it because the green-yellow in the background was so pretty?
Oda: Well in your comments from back then, you said that you really liked the overall balance of the mecha.
Toriyama: I guess I had thought at the time that it went together really well?
Oda: If the actual artist doesn't know, nobody knows. (laugh)
Toriyama: What about your favorite piece, Oda kun?
Oda: My favorite one.... has to be that one. The huge poster for Jump which was the first time I drew all five of them together (pp.82-83 in Color Walk 1). There is an illustration where Luffy's crew of five is on top of a polar bear. I drew that one illustration really large.
Toriyama: What, did you draw it at actual size!?
Oda: I drew it by getting as close to the actual size as possible. I taped up two manuscript papers together and drew to the borders.
Toriyama: What, you taped up two sheets!?
Oda: In the beginning, I actually drew spread pages by taping up pages together. Later on I realized that I just had to draw on A3-sized paper.
Toriyama: Oh wow, you take this seriously. (laugh) But that's basically how it is, because you really just don't know how to draw manga.
Oda: (laugh) Well, you really don't know.
Toriyama: In the beginning, I used to draw sound effects like "BOOM" using a ruler, too. (laugh)
Q: What is Toriyama-sensei's best illustration in your opinion, Oda-sensei?
Oda: The cover for Volume 2 [of the manga collection] was one of my favorites. It has a nice 'earthy' feeling color, and looks very cool.
Toriyama: This one, I drew on colored paper. I said, "I can't afford to draw on white paper!" That's because it was one of five consecutive weeks of color pages.
Oda: You must be joking!! Five straight weeks of color pages!?
Toriyama: I was forced to do it! By Torishima san. He makes you do completely unbelievable things!! (laugh)
Oda: Five straight weeks is tough! I already have my hands tied up with just two.
Toriyama: Why do you like this piece?
Oda: It's moving, but it's calm. I think that is what I like about it. As a whole, the atmosphere from the illustration is just really cool.
Q: Both of you have drawn many illustrations in your career, but is there any piece that you had a lot of trouble with?
Toriyama: Uh let me see... I think that it is really difficult when you draw tanks or cars that exist in real life. That is because you can't screw anything up. When I'm feeling too lazy to think of designs, I end up using things from the real world, and that just proves to be a bigger hassle.
Oda: That's why I think people who drawing a series about present life must have a really hard time.
Toriyama: Yeah I think so too. This illustration was a really nuisance. That is because this bike exists in real life. It isn't good to draw something that exists in reality.
Oda: Well not that it's bad.... (dry laugh)
Toriyama: What piece did you have trouble with, Oda kun?
Oda: I end up liking everything when I finish drawing. It's fun to draw illustrations. Up to the deadline I'll be drawing, and when the editorial staff takes it away, I think, "I don't want to let go of it yet!"
Toriyama: You're just great! That's how you are completely different from me. If that was the case [for me], I'm sure it would be fun.
Q: From here, we'll start talking about characters. Can you tell us each of your favorite character from your manga?
Toriyama: I believe mine would be Piccolo. He was the first character in my manga where I was like, "He has a scary face, but he's so cool!" It really is cliché when bad guys turn into good guys, but it just feels great drawing it!
Oda: That's right. It makes the readers happy as well. There is a part of you that gets happy even though you knew it was going to happen.
Toriyama: Yep, yep. Oda kun, which of your manga characters do you like?
Oda: Me..? Of course, I like Luffy. But, the character that I like the most is Gaimon. It's hard to think of anyone better than him. Just a man who has been stuck in a treasure box for 20 years. I think that was an amazing setup myself.
Toriyama: How did you think of his orientation in the first place?
Oda: In the beginning, he was in a barrel. But I have no idea how it evolved. (laugh)
Toriyama: Oda kun, do you put weight on the character orientation when creating characters?
Oda: No, I go with the 'flow'. I cherish what 'grooves' I get into. First, I draw really rough sketches of the new characters. When doing that, I always write down a line or two with them. It just happens naturally, I don't even think about it. The first thing the character says usually helps in the long run to build his personality.
Toriyama: Yeah... I see what you mean there.
Oda: The character develops based upon what I'm thinking, "This guy might say something like this!"
Toriyama: I gotcha, I gotcha!! We both go about it differently, but how we begin to imagine things is similar!
Oda: Really!? (beaming) I-I'm so glad!!
Toriyama: So, all of that creativity which makes your readers really happy just comes out naturally? Or are you trying to suck-up to the readers?
Toriyama: Allright, well say you drew something without going for a 'punch line, does it change in the middle?'
Oda: It might change. But then, I like the fact in itself of having everyone be happy with what they see.
Toriyama: Yeah, you're the same as me in that regard as well.
Oda: OH! From when I was very little, I had decided that I would become a manga artist. So, I thought up, "things that I would draw when I become a manga artist" from my readership days. I still have a large supply of those ideas, and so I still have lots of data from as a reader, in my head. So, there is like a part of me that thinks drawing something would make the readers happy. Unfortunately, how I perceive things now is different from how [modern] boys perceive things, but when I draw I keep in mind of, "What I would be happy to see if I read it when I was young?".
Toriyama: That is so important. You turn yourself into a young reader again on purpose.
Oda: Yes. So, I really can't trust others when they tell me the info should go like this way or that way. But, if I think that I would be happy to have read this when I was a child, I can be proud of bringing my work into the world.
Q: What did you think about when you created Luffy?
Oda: Manliness. Dragon Ball has already done all the things that a child could possibly be happy about. (laugh) So, I used that as the basis to start from so I didn't go against it.
Toriyama: But, you really make your fans read an adventure series. That is really hard to do with formulaic genre too. The feeling of "a man's world" really is nice.
Oda: That's right. Everyone is a little shy of a 'masculine world', but I think everyone likes it in the end.
Toriyama: Me too. Though, I always think, "So typical!!", when I'm drawing it.
Oda: But, if readers are happy with it.
Toriyama: You simply end up drawing it that way, right?
Q: In conclusion, can I ask you to offer encouraging words to each other?
Oda: Please, be free and do whatever you want to! No matter what you do, I will be happy so long as you keep drawing illustrations, Toriyama sensei. However, I'm sure the editorial staff will say something like "Draw a series!"... (laugh)
Toriyama: I would like you to keep drawing in the 'ultra-mainstream', Oda kun. There's nothing else for me to say! My own child also reads One Piece really voraciously, too. So, I also read it... and I really understood why everyone was crazy about One Piece! So, just keep doing your best from now on!!
*Kinnikuman is a very popular manga starring the muscular hero...Kinnikuman, which means *shock!* Muscle Man!