Akira Toriyama

I guess it’s no surprise regarding what I would write about today. Of course, I’m writing about Akira Toriyama as he has recently passed. Now there really isn’t anything that I can say that hasn’t already been said before. It was a very impactful series. Often times we like to throw the term masterpiece around in the medium but we don’t really use it the correct way. For me, in order to be a masterpiece you need to help define the genre. With that logic, there probably isn’t any masterpiece in the medium of manga greater than Dragon Ball. Toriyama set the standard for what the genre is still trying to do today with stories like Boku No Hero Academia, Jujutsu Kaisen, Black Clover and so much more. But like I said, everything that has been said has been said. I’ll try to write about it from my personal bias about my experience with Akira Toriyama’s work.

When he passed, I had a few friends reach out to me in regards to the news. I had more people reach out to me about his death, than I’ve ever had with someone passing in my personal life. It’s almost like he was family to me as I grew up with his stories. Which by the way, is an exaggeration but I definitely grew up with his stories. To suggest that this blog wouldn’t exist without him is not an understatement. Dragon Ball may have been my first love. I used to tell kids in the 1st grade that I was actually a saiyan in disguise. You guys were playing Cowboys and ****, while I was playing Goku vs Vegeta. When I was 8 years old, I felt pride because at one point in the series Gohan was also 8 years old, therefore I should be strong like Gohan. Dragon Ball might be the first manga and anime that I’ve ever read or watched. That’s not even a bold claim because I feel it’s the same for many fans of the genre and those who aren’t fans either. That’s how big of an influence the series has. We talk about Jujutsu Kaisen, Naruto, and Shingeki No Kyojin but realistically, they don’t touch Dragon Ball in culture. Whether it’s pro sports, tv/film references, or impact on media – none of those stories really hold a candle to the influence of Dragon Ball.

As an adult I look back at the series and I think about the significance of this story for children. What better series is there for a child to learn about death, respect, love, and earnestness. As an adult, what better series to look back on with innocence. To be honest, I don’t know anything about Toriyama. He could’ve been a really mean person or a saint – I wouldn’t know. But in my dream world, I’d like to believe that the innocence and the heart of gold that he wrote in Goku, is somehow reflective of the person that he is. That he really did believe that friendship, compassion, and love are the most important things in the world. Even to this today, as those around me are talking about money, watching over their shoulders, and having to get theirs- I still in my heart think like Goku. I romanticize the idea of adventure, the power of friendship, and the continuous improvement in my life fulfilling me. How he wrote Goku, Yamcha, Tien, Krillin, Piccolo, Gohan, and Vegeta – such hard men with such hearts of gold is beyond me. I’d like to think that however he felt on the inside, he let us see a little bit of it too in his stories.

I don’t know if there will ever be another series like Dragon Ball, that can just define the genre as it is. I don’t know if Toriyama set the standard and just left it here for everyone to admire, but what I do know is that I just appreciate the man for everything that he’s ever done for our childhoods. Shoot, even my mother was a big Dr. Slump fan when she was younger and that woman is in her 60s. Dr. Slump, Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest, Sandman, Chrono Trigger, Blue Dragon – I was lucky to have his presence in my life even though he was never there. And if you’ve ever liked me or thought of me as an interesting person, you can find a direct line between his work and who I am today. If there’s no Toriyama, there is no Goku, and there is no me. It’s strange, I haven’t really thought about him and his work for awhile but since he’s passed, his significance is all that’s been on my mind lately. We need to remember to give these heroes of ours their flowers before it’s too late. Rest in peace Akira Toriyama, a man who doesn’t need Shenron in order to be granted eternal life. You now exist beyond the Budokai Tenkaichi.

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