With Dragon Ball Z (or “Dragonball Z”) hitting the top of the anime series charts, many anime fans have asked what it was that inspired the artist to create this truly exciting series. Dragon Ball Z has taken the world by storm and there is no question that Japanese manga artist, Akira Toriyama created an anime series that has been pure pleasure for fans throughout the world. The Dragon Ball series has sparked the creation of dozens of best-selling video fighting games, popular the world over. Not only can you buy the Dragon Ball video games, including Dragon Ball GT, there are also myriad sites to obtain cheats and walk-throughs for all the games.
But what inspired this incredible mixture of fantasy and imagination? What has taken Dragon Ball beyond others for anime fans and placed it at the top of the ranks? What are its roots?
As a child, Akira avidly watched anime, a style of Japanese video cartoon animation. When he was 10 years old, he moved into manga, which is the Japanese word for comics. He assimilated his inspiration from other sources as well. Growing up as a Jackie Chan fan, a key stimulus for Dragon Ball was Jackie Chan’s first movie, Drunken Master.
How did he come to make it in the manga world? It all started with submitting a story to a monthly contest for amateur artists, and although he didn’t win, the editor later hired him. After a year of hard work, he became a pro. Doing manga, he feels, can bring out his individuality since he creates both the story and the art.
The incredibly illustrated attacks that come to fruition in Dragon Ball Z were inspired by an ancient art in China, Chi (also spelled Ki), which means Universal Life Energy. Chi is usually formless and invisible, but in manga art, Toriyama gave it form so it is easily grasped. In Dragon Ball, another well-known attack is called kamehameha, for which our anime artist did many poses himself and chose the best.
Plot developments and characters were often inspired by letters from readers, such as one character, Vegeta. Toriyama found that he was often inspired by the feedback of his fans and used the advantage to spark the imagination in his anime series.
Influenced by Walt Disney’s works such as 101 Dalmatians, and the work of another manga artist writer and illustrator, Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy and known as the “Walt Disney of Japan”), he made his creations come alive in Dragon Ball, perhaps inspired by the aforementioned, but truly the creativity of his own mind. The Dragon Ball anime series has likely been the inspiration of other manga artists in its own right.
When asked what materials he uses in creating his art, he responds that he used to use quill pens and color inks, but today uses a Macintosh. And who can question the efficiency in modern equipment in exceptional anime and manga.
And with a new re-mastered Dragon Ball Z Season One (the first 39 episodes restored) coming in as the best selling series to date, Japanese artist, Akira Toriyama will most certainly be known as the most inspired manga artist of his time.
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