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Manga 101: Toriyama the great


What is the point of a Manga 101? If you are into manga you probably already know it, and if you aren’t you probably think it’s all codswallop anyway.

Anyhoo, over at the Del Rey blog, Tricia Narwani explains a fun piece of essential manga history that you can use to amaze your non-Mangatized pals. Why does Hiro Mashima’s FAIRY TAIL remind so many people of Eiichiro Oda’s ONE PIECE? Is it because Mashima was once Oda’s assistant?


Rather, they were both influenced by the great Akira Toriyama, who created Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball Z among other things:

According to Mashima’s publisher, Hiro Mashima was not only never Eiichiro Oda’s assistant–he has never served as an assistant to any artist at all. Mashima has pretty much been a superstar from the beginning–and from a startlingly young age. Born in 1977, Mashima has already crammed several careers of comics creation into a short period: 35 volumes of his first blockbuster, Rave Master, the new sensation Fairy Tail, simultaneous with a new series for Kodansha’s Shonen Rival , Monster Hunter.

As it turns out, there’s a much simpler explanation for the resemblance, and it’s one of the biggest forces in manga ever: Akira Toriyama. Eiichiro Oda and Hiro Mashima are both members of a generation who grew up obsessed with Toriyama and all things Dragon Ball , and whose styles were forged by Toriyama worship. Another reminder that even masters like Mashima and Oda started out as the same thing: fans.

If you read Toriyama you will see what Oda and Mashima got from the master: an exaggeratedly comic style for adventures; likewise adventures that include as much slapstick as action. But even more they all engage in what Scott McCloud calls “World building.” All three create a complete mythos with richness of character and background.

That ends our Manga minute for today.

  1. Speaking of Fairy Tails, X-Men’s Fairy Tails: Issue #1 entitled The Peach Boy (drawn beautifully in manga style) manages to create more mythos, richness of character, complete backgrounds, with intense philosophical meaning in every line and panel. Not only did it contain more information and “World building” then all 12 issues of Alan Moore’s Watchmen but also managed to contain more then 12 volumes then any manga titles I’ve read so. Which leads me to ponder (in my quest to understand and embrace manga) story telling style is the main draw, or the artwork’s look. In my questioning of my students who are manga fans, I have on occasion had them tell me that they wish a title would just wrap up, even though they love the characters and story. I completely understand that these books mainly appeal to younger people (and I’m going to tern 32 this July) and setting up characters as impatient juveniles, with hot tempers is important to their development but (and I say this with no contempt, only a desire to understand) I find myself becoming impatient when said characters are still behaving this way after 10 to 20 volumes. The stories and lives of these people feel stretched so thin after a while and I lose interest because the ideas of beginnings, middles, and ends that I hold so dear don’t seem to apply. It’s an idea that I have a lot of trouble getting my comic and animation students to grasp in their story telling, because they keep referring me back to their manga stories. I have to admit, it concerns me a little (just as I’m sure my dyslexic spelling concerns some) because I feel that grasp loosening in all media more and more, and it’s important. Now, I’m fully hoping to admit at some point that it was there all along and I just wasn’t seeing it. Sometimes I do see hints of it. Masashi Kishimoto seems to grasp the idea, but then lets it go for (and here I am speculating again) the sake of syndication? Getting payed by the page? Volumes? Maybe, this is how they hold their readers for so long. Many American comics buyers DO talk about dropping a title after a story ark is over, but the ever growing popularity of the TPB dose show that readers like a self contained story. I don’t know. This is me thinking in text, so I’m sorry if my ideas offend anyone. I will check out Fairy Tails and One Piece first chance I get, and then maybe (as I probably do more then anyone else I know) change my mind. I hope my library has them, because I’m broke and these things cost $7.95 a volume at the lest.

    Christopher Moonlight fact that will help you disregard everything he says:

    Christopher thinks that Star Wars Episodes I, II, &, III are way better then IV, V, & VI. :)

  2. Toriyama is fantastic. I love his Dragonball series (except for GT, which wasn’t his fault anyway), the Dragonquest games and basically everything else. If you see a Yotaru Vegeta around the internet, that’s me. :)

    I also like the character designs in One Piece as well. I hear that not a lot of people enjoy it (especially Cartoon Network) but I think that they are as odd as they are beautiful.

  3. the animation of Dragonball and all other shows does nothing to show off the great art that is actually in the manga of the same name.

    it is no wonder his artistic influence is popular.

  4. I think Toriyama is great! Oda’s One Piece is wonderful too. Amazing stories and artwork! Like Michael said, get their manga if you want their true artwork.

    If you’re going to read any manga or watch any anime, may I recommend that you get the original translated/subtitled media. Once it’s been “fixed” by American companies it’s a shadow of it’s former shining self. Most all cartoon characters in the U.S. are all thought to be for kids and that’s how they deliver them.

  5. To Christopher Moonlight –
    It’s interesting how you talk about characters staying essentially the same over 20 volumes of a series and feeling frustrated over it. Isn’t Peanuts essentially the same during the time Charles Schulz worked on it? Aren’t TV sitcoms built around a similar premise? I think the difference with American superhero comics is that there’s a frequent turnover of talent so that there’s the illusion of development only it’s really just a new set of creators offering their take on a character.

    As for Toriyama, he is simply amazing. His storytelling is amazing and very easy for Western readers to pick up and enjoy; he doesn’t rely on odd panels to display emotions or to confuse the reader (meaning me). Plus his character designs are really well done. If any shonen manga artist is worthy of further study and discussion it’s Toriyama!

  6. Here’s another little thing.

    Why are so many Shonen manga structured so similarly?

    Because of 1970’s pro-wrestling!

    The Manga of the Dragonball generation were in turn influenced by Kinnikuman, the toys of which were released in the west as M.U.S.C.L.E, a fighting manga built around wrestling tropes with a great deal of bizareness and terrible puns added, including some very loosely based on wrestlers of the day, such Neptuneman being Hulk Hogan and Buffaloman being Bruiser Brody. Some of the concepts in it have become the Ur-template for Shonen manga since then.

  7. Thanks so much for that explanation. It’s funny that I was thinking about this whole deal when I came across the new ‘Fairy Tail’ by Hiro Mashima. My first thoughts were “this art looks like ‘One Piece'”. I literally had to check the names to see that they we’re done by two different artist. Even when that was confirmed I still couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I literally did a search with both names and ended up here. What were the odds that I would find a site explaining the reason. Akira Toriyama is an incredible artist, and even today he’s still redefining his style. As time passes his work gets better and better, always a delight to look at and you can always identify him easily. The columnist also add ‘Naruto’ artist that displays much of ‘Toriyama’s influence. But hey, who better to be influenced by than ‘Toriyama’.

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