Dragon Ball is a time-defying, classic manga series that ran for over ten years and continues to be a multimedia goldmine to this day. As a formative work for so many anime fans of its time, entire books have been written diving into Akira Toriyama’s work. Analyses of Dragon Ball, including its use of history and folklore from various cultures, the impressive three-dimensional spacing in the art, and yes, even narrative philosophical readings, remain popular today. So it may come as a surprise that Kazuhiko Torishima, Akira Toriyama’s Shonen Jump editor and driving force behind much of the series’ direction, seems to think “there’s nothing in it to analyze.”
This information comes from Derek Padula, author of a multi-book philosophical analysis of Dragon Ball and website called The Dao of Dragon Ball. He translated an alleged exchange between Torishima and Cyberconnect2 CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama. Matsuyama has written of these exchanges in the past on his blog, but this interview isn’t published anywhere officially. Padula stated it originated from “a reputable source in the Japanese pop culture industry.”
The interview is fascinating, as while the headline up there is certainly eye-catching, it’s actually some great insight into how an editor at a huge publication might operate. They’re responsible for molding artists’ work into a profitable product, and at least in Torishima’s case, not as creatively minded.
Inspired by the success of Fist of the North Star, the interview alleged Torishima didn’t like Hokuto‘s preachy storytelling, but found a lot of appeal in its creative presentation. So, leveraging Toriyama’s uncanny knack for illustrating physical space, Torishima endeavored to “make Dragon Ball a work without substance.”