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Monochrome Talk

The man that Eiichiro Oda-sensei, creator of charming characters and a world full of dreams and adventure, does not cease to admire is Akira Toriyama-sensei. This is a dream cross-talk which came to life from Oda-sensei's fervent request. Both of them come from different places and have an age difference, but using their passion for manga and for illustrations as a common point, their talk really got exciting!!

I had thought, "This is better than Disney!" -Oda

-- First of all, Oda-sensei, can you tell us your feelings towards Toriyama-sensei?
O: Of course, he's god! He's in a completely different dimension. In any case, he's just too good at drawing!
T: I kinda feel out of place here... (LAUGH)
O: To tell the truth, I never read Arale-chan*1 at all. How I met Toriyama-sensei's manga was in the second episode of Dragon Ball*2, but I fell in love at first sight. I thought, "He's too good!" Back then, I loved Disney, but I had thought, "This is better than Disney!" Do you remember that character named Ranfan*A during the Tenkaichi Budokai?
T: Oh yeah, there was her!
O: It's strange for me to ask if you remamber, but it seems as though you've forgotten quite a bit of characters... (laugh) Anyway, you know how Ranfan took her clothes off, right? Her armpits during that scene were really drawn well. I had thought that you were the first person to properly draw someone's armpit that well. Back then, all I drew were people's armpits. That, and Taopaipai's*B hands.
For me, Toriyama-sensei is a being like god. He's in a completely different dimension!!
- Eiichiro Oda

T: Taopaipai...? You're getting to the more subtle charactrers.
O: What!? Taopaipai is one of the tremendously major characters!
T: The one with the braid?
O: Yes, yes. The assassin. The one that throws a pillar into the sky and rides it himself.
T: Oh yeah, I drew that, I did....
O: His hands when he posed was really drawn well. During that time, the only thing I drew were hands. Those two were my two big shocks during Dragon Ball... armpits and hands.
T: But, Dragon Ball grew to have more and more muscular characters. I somewhat regret thinking about studying (muscle modeling) back then, but I still haven't gotten around to it...
O: Toriyama-sensei, how your characters put on muscle was really, really stunning! I had been a reader of Kinniku-man*3 and I thought, "Amazing!" (laugh)
T: I had thought too much about how they looked, so I think it's complete nonsense when you really look at it as muscles, though.
O: No, no, it's perfect. Sensei, the girls you draw are rather muscular as well. That in turn makes them a bit sexy.
T: That's just because I'm not good at drawing girls. (dry laugh)

For mecha designs, I do think about how it propels itself as well. -Toriyama

O: That's right... Toriyama-sensei, your mecha illustrations are really amazing.
T: They're all made-up as well, for the most part. But there is something like a blueprint just for inside my head of a sort, like how it propels itself, and where the fuel tanks are.
O: That's what is amazing. You usually wouldn't think of things like that. I have no idea about machines at all, so I can't draw them.
T: The logic behind them all are all bogus, but even for strangely shaped mechas, I do think about things like "How would I get onto this thing?" and such.
O: Well, the shapes really don't have to be useful in real life.
T: 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 many times. It really proves to be a pain. If I go all-out to draw something, it comes back to strangle my neck later on.
O: True, it's a completely different matter when you have to move it around. That reminds me, you know how in Dragon Ball, the Pilaf entourage was aboard a mecha that combined*C, right?
T: ????
O: They did. I was thrilled that the three mechas combined into one! Like, "Amazing!" And, when only two combine, it turns into an ostrich form.
T: Oh? It was for transportation?
O: Yeah.
T: A robot?
O: Yeah.
T: Oh... I think I drew something like that.
O: You even thought about their transformations.
T: I thought that far...?
O: Yes, you did think that far. (laugh)

Now that I think about it, why was it this one? -Toriyama

-- What are your illustrations that you each think that it was your most favorite piece, of all that you can remember?
T: My favorite piece?
O: I know. Toriyama-sensei probably doesn't remember... but I remember seeing a comment of that sort.
T: Really?
O: You mentioned something of the sort in some interview.
T: This one*D? (pointing at the illustration)
O: You're correct. (laugh) You mentioned that it was the only one you liked.... I had thought, well what about all the others?
T: That's right, yes, yes, I said it, I did say that this was my favorite! But then, looking at it now, I wonder why I said this one was the one I chose.
T: Maybe I liked it because the green-yellow in the background was so pretty?
O: Comments from back then said that you really liked the overall balance of the mecha.
T: I guess I had thought back then that it went over really well?
O: If the actual artist doesn't know, nobody knows. (laugh)
T: What about your favorite piece, Oda-kun?
O: My favorite one.... has to be that one. The huge poster for Jump that was the first time I drew all five of them together (pp.82-83 in ColorWalk1). There's an illustration where Luffy's entourage of five is on top of a polar bear. I drew that one illustration really large.
T: What, did you draw it at actual size!?
O: I drew it by getting as close to the original size as possible. I taped up two manuscript papers together and drew to the borders.
T: What, you taped up two sheetss!?
O: In the beginning, I really drew spread pages by taping up pages together. I later realized that I just had to draw on A3-sized paper.
T: Oh my, you really are serious. (laugh) But that's basically how it is, because you really don't know how to draw manga.
O: (laugh) Well, you really don't know.
T: In the beginning, I used to draw sound effects like "BOOM" using a ruler, too. (laugh)

It's amazing that it's moving, but it's still calm. -Oda

-- What is Toriyama-sensei's best illustration in your opinion, Oda-sensei?
O: The cover for the second volume of the comics*E was one of my favorites. It's got a nice earthy feeling in its color, and looks really cool.
T: This one, I drew on colored paper. I was saying, "I can't afford to draw on white paper!" It was one of five consecutive weeks of color pages*4.
O: You're kidding!! Five consecutive weeks of color pages!?
T: I was forced to do it! By Torishima-san*5. He really makes you do completely outrageous things!! (laugh)
O: Five consecutive weeks is tough! I'm already got my hands tied up with just two.
T: Why do you like this piece?
O: It's moving, but it's still calm. I think that's what I like about it. The overall atmosphere from the illustration as a whole is just really cool.

It's tough when you draw things that exist in real life. -Toriyama

-- Both of you have drawn many illustrations in your career, but is there any piece that you had a lot of trouble with?
T: Let's see... i thought that it's really tough when you draw tanks or cars that actually exist in real life. Because you can't screw anything up. When I'm too lazy to think of things (such as designs) I end up using things in real life, but it proves to be a bigger hassle.
O: That's why I think people who draw a series about present life has a really hard time.
T: That I do think as well. This illustration*F was a really big pain. Because this bike exists in real life. It really isn't good to draw something that exists in rea life.
O: It's not that it's bad.... (dry laugh)
T: What piece did you have trouble with, Oda-kun?
O: I end up liking everything when I finish drawing. It's fun to draw illustrations. I'll be drawing right up to the deadline, and when the editorial staff takes it away, I think, "I don't want to let go of it yet!"
T: You're so great! That's where you're completely different from me. If that was the case, I'm sure it would be fun.

It's cliché that bad guys become good, but it's a good feeling. -Toriyama

-- From here, we'll start talking about characters. Can you tell us each of your favorite character from your mangas?
T: Mine would be Piccolo*G, I would think. He was the first character in my manga that made me think, "He has a scary face, but he's so cool!" It really is cliché that bad guys turn into good guys, but it really does feel good drawing it!
O: You're right. It makes the readers happy as well. There's a part of you that still gets happy despite the fact that you knew it was going to happen.
T: Yup, yup. Oda-kun, which of your manga characters do you like?
O: Me..? Of course, I like Luffy. But, the character that I like the most is Gaimon*H. I can't easily think of anything that tops him. A man who has been stuck in a treasure box for 20 years. I think that was an amazing setting myself.
T: How did you think of his setting in the first place?
O: In the beginning, he was in a barrel. But how it evolved, I have no idea now. (laugh)
T: Oda-kun, do you put weight on the character settings when creating characters?
O: No, I go with the flow. I cherish what grooves I get into. First, I draw really rough sketches of the new characters. When I do that, I always write down a line or two with it. It happens naturally, without me really thinking about it. The first thing that character says usually helps in the long run to build his character.
T: Yeah... I see where you're getting at.
O: The character builds up from where I think, "This guy might say something like this!"
T: I hear you, I hear you!! We both have different ways to get into it, but how we initially think things up is similar!
O: Really!? (beams) I-I'm so glad!!
T: So, all that creativity that just makes your readers really happy just come out naturally? Or are you trying to cater to the readers?
O: Both.
T: For instance, if you drew something without going for a punch line, does it change in the middle?
O: It might change. But then, I like the fact in itself of having everyone be happy with what they see.
T: Yeah, you're like me in that aspect as well.
O: OH! From when I was very little, I had decided that I would become a manga artist. So, I had thought of "things that I would draw when I become a manga artist" from my readership days. I still have a huge stockpile of those ideas, and so I still have lots of data as readers in my head. So, there is a part of me that thinks that drawing something would make them (the readers) really happy. Unfortunately, how I perceive things now is different from how boys perceive things, but I draw keeping in mind of "what I would be happy to see if I read it when I was young".
T: That's really important. You really turn yourself back into how you were when you were young deliberately.
O: Yes. So, I really can't trust others when they tell me the data says this-and-that. But, if I can think that I would be happy to have read this when I was a child, I can be proud of bringing the work out into the world.
-- What did you think about when you created Luffy?
O: Manliness. Dragon Ball has done everything that a child could possibly be happy about. (laugh) So, I used that as the axis from which to work on so I don't go head-to-head against it.
I really understood why everyone was raving so much over ONE PIECE!!
- Akira Toriyama
Profile: Born 4/5/1955 in Nagoya. After working in an ad design agency, he debuted as a manga artist in Weekly Jump. He has created many mega-hit series such as Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball.

T: But, you really make your readers read an adventure series. It's really hard to pull off an on-the-road genre, too. That feeling of "a man's world" really is nice.
O: That's right. Everyone is a little shy of a masculine world, but I think everyone likes it in the end.
T: Me too. Though, I always think, "So cliché!!" when I'm drawing it.
O: But, if readers are happy with it.
T: You just end up drawing that way, right?

I'm happy if you just keep drawing, sensei. -Oda

-- Finally, can I ask you to offer encouraging words to each other?
O: Please, be free and do whatever you feel like! No matter what you do, I will be happy if you kept drawing illustrations, Toriyama-sensei. Though, I'm sure the editorial staff would say something like "Draw a series!"... (laugh)
T: I would like you to keep drawing in the ultra-mainstream, Oda-kun. There's nothing for me to really say! My child also reads ONE PIECE really fervently, too. So, I sat down and read it too... and I really understood why everyone was raving ONE PIECE this, ONE PIECE that! So, just keep doing your best from now on!!

*1 - in other words, Dr.Slump. Toriyama-sensei's first series.
*2 - Toriyama-sensei's flagship title, which ran in Weekly Jump from 1984 to 1995. It was an adventure/action series about "dragon balls", which are strange spheres that grant your wish if you gather them all.
*A - A female martial artist who appears in Dragon Ball. During the Tenkaichi Budoukai, she performed a strange tactic where she enticed her opponent by undressing during her bout.
*B - A first-rate assassin that appears in Dragon Ball. He had been proud of his bar-none strength, but he was defeated by Gokuu, the main character.
*3 - A popular fighting/wrestling manga that had been running in Weekly Jump.
*C - This is another episode from Dragon Ball. Gokuu's rival Pilaf and his two friends were each aboard a mecha, which then combines into one giant robot.
*D - An illustration for a Weekly Jump pinup poster. Back then, Toriyama-sensei commented that "This piece is the one I like the most."
*E - The splash page color illustration for episode 19 of Dragon Ball. It was also used as the dustjacket image for volume 2.
*4 - Weekly Jump has color pages and monochrome pages. Toriyama-sensei, amazingly enough, pulled off the superhuman feat of drawing color illustrations five weeks in a row.
*5 - Mr. Kazuhiko Torishima. He was the first editor for Toriyama-sensei, and is currently the editor-in-chief of Weekly Jump. There is a rumor that he was the model for Piccolo....
*F - An illustration drawn especially for the catalog of "Akira Toriyama's World Fair" which was held in museums all over Japan. The overall piece is bound together by earthy tones.
*G - A character in Dragon Ball. He used to be one that was called an evil lord, but through his battles with Gokuu and company, he changes for the better.
*H - He gets stuck in a treasure box that was at the bottom of a cliff when he fell from the top. Since then, he's been stuck inside the treasure box for 20 years.

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