Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama doesn't really understand how his beloved series became as popular as it has. In his defense, few could have predicted how big the franchise would become when it first debuted as a serialized manga in the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump back in 1984.
Inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, Toriyama's manga would eventually be adapted into two highly successful animated series (Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z) and be spun off into 19 different animated films, three TV specials, and two animated sequel series (GT and Super). The billions the franchise has accrued in merchandizing sales alone cements its place among the most popular fictional universes ever created. And yet we still can't get a halfway decent live-action adaptation. Go figure.
In a recent sitdown with the manga anthology magazine that started it all, Weekly Shōnen Jump, Toriyama was pretty forthcoming about how baffled he continues to be by his creation's success. Check out the extent of his confusion (with translations provided by Twitter user @Herms98) for yourself below.
That doesn’t make any sense to me, since I think I draw things the wrong way. I guess because it’s too much of a world where anything goes. Once you’ve got that as your setup, you can draw anything and nobody can complain that it’s impossible.
When Toriyama was asked about the significant boost that his Dragon Ball series gave to Jump's sales, he was even more straightforward.
I'm happy to hear that, but...it doesn't really make sense to me. A while ago I reread the series for the first time in ages, and while the Frieza arc was suspenseful enough to grab my interest...I still wondered why it was so popular.
We won't attempt to dive into some deep explanation of why the franchise has become so popular (it's crazy awesome; we'll leave it at that). Instead, we'll simply say that Toriyama's probably being a bit too hard on himself here. The tales of Goku, Vegeta, and the gang have captivated millions for a reason, and their influence is as far reaching as any manga series in history. As to Toriyama's comment that he believes he draws things incorrectly...well, we'll just respectfully disagree and call it a day.
Do you share in Akira Toriyama's confusion regarding the immense popularity of Dragon Ball? Do you think the series may be a bit overrated? Sound off in the comments.