In a rare media interview, "Dragon Ball" creator Akira Toriyama admitted he was at a loss to explain the tremendous global success of the battle-action manga series and its anime adaptations.
"Frankly, I don't quite understand why it happened," Toriyama told The Asahi Shimbun in a written response on March 26, ahead of a related exhibition and the release of a new anime film adaptation.
"While the manga was being serialized, the only thing I wanted as I kept drawing was to make Japanese boys happy."
"Dragon Ball" was published in the Shonen Jump weekly manga magazine in serial form from 1984 through 1995. Globally, 230 million copies have been published in book form, and its TV anime adaptations have been aired in more than 40 countries. It is considered one of the landmark works of Japan's pop culture.
Toriyama said he has never intended to be didactic in his works.
"The role of my manga is to be a work of entertainment through and through," he said. "I dare say I don't care even if (my works) have left nothing behind, as long as they have entertained their readers."
He added, "There are other manga artists concerned about conveying didactic messages and making impressions."
Toriyama said that in the world of manga, where money and connections mean nothing, merit and ability are all that count.
"I believe the works of different genres that have passed the tests of the seasoned eyes of Japan's manga and anime lovers have achieved an extremely advanced level as works of mass entertainment," Toriyama said. "It may, in a certain sense, be only natural that those selected works are being well received all over the world."
A feature anime film adaptation, "Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods," will hit screens around Japan on March 30. Toriyama was involved in the moviemaking for the first time from the screenwriting stage.
He said he was not completely satisfied with an earlier, live-action film adaptation by Hollywood.
"It was partly because I wanted to show my backbone by presenting a worldview and a story that only the original author can create," Toriyama said.
An exhibition presenting the history and charms of "Dragon Ball," hosted by The Asahi Shimbun Co., opened on March 27 and runs through April 15 in the Takashimaya department store's Nihonbashi outlet in Tokyo.
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