An Akira Toriyama interview! The world famous creator of Dragon Ball Z recently gave an interview which was featured in popular Japanese magazine V-Jump, answering questions on Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the latest movie in the storied franchise. Saiyan Island fan Elizabeth Bonis Murayama was kind enough to take the time to translate what Toriyama-sensei had to say using a scan from the magazine, which you can see at the bottom of this page.
Question: Why did you name the movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods?
Akira Toriyama: Because my idea was that there would be two gods fighting – a god of destruction and a Saiyan god
Could you go into more detail?
Akira Toriyama: There was no specific, concrete reason. Using gods and space aliens was natural for me. I’ve been using these type of characters since Dr. Slump.
That’s true. Why was Bills made to look like a cat?
Akira Toriyama: Actually I created a lot of gods. I thought a god like him was more interesting than a humanoid. The cat god is from ancient Egypt, so I got the idea from those gods.
The god is really divine and relentless at the same time, isn’t it?
Akira Toriyama: Yeah, it’s uncanny and doesn’t look strong at all, but I like it, and actually the characters I make are really strange. For example, I created characters that look very strong, but in actuality they are not so strong. Like Nappa, for example.
What are you talking about, Nappa was strong enough? By the way, Bills has a friend with him, why did you create that character?
Akira Toriyama: Era (time) made me create it.
Akira Toriyama: I thought I had to create cool guys under pressure (Saiyan Island: chill and relaxed, but confident), so I created Whis. He’s a cool guy, however, he’s absent-minded, but I like Whiss, and those Gods are my favorite characters now. The tendency in Dragon Ball Z is showing a group of two people or more.
Yeah I know, I remember, like Vegeta and Nappa, Kibito and Supreme Kai, that’s tendency of DBZ, isn’t it?
Akira Toriyama: Yes, that’s right. If I create a set of two characters, its really easy to explain which position they are. One character explains the other automatically. I don’t want to put a lot of narration into manga, that’s why I create a set of two people. First set of two were Goku and Bulma.
Yeah, thats right.
Akira Toriyama: When Goku was a small boy, he didn’t know anything. Without Bulma, he could have been a character that didn’t speak at all.
I understand, that’s why you brought that idea to this movie, and the new set of people, which is Bills and Whis took over that connection.
Akira Toriyama: Bills woke up from a 39 year sleep and Whis explains it.
Why did you chose to make this story after the Majin Buu saga?
Akira Toriyama: I wanted to use all of the characters, and I wondered which saga was the best, so I decided that it would be several years after Majin Buu showed up, and everyone was in their strongest condition at that time. Do you remember Uub? when I created Uub, Bulma and Krillin were really old, so I thought it would be difficult to adjust the story.
I understand, and I agree with you, because the character status changed after the Majin Buu arc, and I was really surprised at Krillen and Videl’s hair style.
Akira Toriyama: Usually women change their hair color and hair style dramatically. Actually I didn’t know what Bulma’s real hair color was (laughs).
What?! I thought her hair was blue? (laughs). Which part do you want everyone to focus on?
Akira Toriyama: My point hasn’t changed at all because Dragon Ball started from a boys Jump comic. So I tried to make the story as simple as I could. So I made this movie so everyone could enjoy it.
You wanted Pilaf and his allies to show up too, right?
Akira Toriyama: Like I said, I wanted to use all of the characters, that’s why. Some of the characters from Pilaf’s side will fall in love with somebody, so expect it, even though I don’t create a love story.
By the way in this movie, there are many expressions of love and love expression. Did you do this on purpose?
Akira Toriyama: I’m not good at making a touching story (laughs). I’m good at making a less non-touching story. Honestly, I don’t know why.
Including Dragon Ball manga, there are some scenes that shows the characters care about each other romantically, however, those scenes are really plain and simple, aren’t they?
Akira Toriyama: That’s right. I’m so ashamed of creating those scenes, that’s why I make those scenes awkward. First, there are touching scenes in this movie, but I changed some scenes because there are good creators who make people cry, so I didn’t want to copy them. That’s why I made this movie simple and entertaining, after all that was my style.
I’m sorry to change the subject, but in this movie, there are a lot of background stories, like in the beginning of this movie, Bills castle is shown and King Kai’s planet was really small. Could you tell me about those things?
Akira Toriyama: I really enjoyed creating Bills castle and I wanted the story to coincide with the Dragon Ball “world.” It’s really strange that the God of Destruction showed up suddenly, that’s why I sorted the story out. I tried to make the story coincide with the Dragon Ball world.
Does Bulma have a birthday party every year?
Akira Toriyama: I don’t think so. In this movie Bulma just wanted to have a reason to see everyone. Bulma had a special prize for the Bingo game (laughs). Bulma knew if she had a special prize, everyone would get together.
One of the prizes was a castle.
Akira Toriyama: The prize is huge, that’s why everyone gets together, however, I didn’t think that the castle was in the warehouse. (laughs).
Do you write things down when you come up with those ideas and background stories?
Akira Toriyama: No, I don’t, that’s why I forget a lot. If I don’t forget those ideas, then I won’t need to come up with new ideas. Do you remember Super Saiyan 3?
Yes, I remember, Goku grows his hair long.
Akira Toriyama: That’s right, but actually I forgot about it and I thought that was Super Saiyan 2, even though I created those characters.
OK then, how did you come up with Super Saiyan God?
Akira Toriyama: Whis also mentions Super Saiyan God, and I had to reread all of the comics again, then I was able to come up with the idea. I made Super Saiyan God look simple because that’s the Saiyan God.
What do you think about the movie after watching it, especially having participated in making it?
Akira Toriyama: I really, really enjoyed participating in the creation of this movie because I didn’t have to draw everything myself. What I did was create the story. (translation note: what he means is, he didn’t have to draw everything like in the manga, in which case he had to draw every panel. He did, however, create the character models in this movie). When I created the original manga, I had to finish everything alone, but if I leave Battle of the Gods up to the staff, then they could create more than I expect. There are a lot of possibilities that the movie could be better than what I originally imagined. The battle scenes were the best and I don’t care that others added something extra to Dragon Ball. The other way around, I’m really glad that Dragon Ball is getting more and more interesting with other people’s ideas even though some fans don’t like other creators interfering. (laughs).
Thanks so much Elizabeth Bonis Murayama for taking the time and effort to translate the Akira Toriyama Interview!
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Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is the 18th movie in the Dragon Ball anime series. It will take place between Dragon Ball manga chapters 517 and 518, in the 10 year timeskip after Goku defeats Buu, but before the 28th World Martial Arts Tournament. Akira Toriyama along with Toei Animation, Fox International Productions Japan, Shueisha, Fuji TV, Bandai, and Namco Bandai Games are all involved. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is set to release in Japanese theaters March 30, 2013. There is no word on a North American or European release date at this time for either.