Akira Toriyama Dishes on Designing Characters for “Dragon Quest”

Akira Toriyama, author of such smash-hit manga as Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball Z, recently wrote in the Dragon Quest 30th ~ And Now Towards a New Legend ~ TV special with a message for fans that shares anecdotes about his experience working on the long-running JRPG series. The TV special was broadcast on NHK on December 29, 2016.





Hello, this is Akira Toriyama.

I’m terribly sorry that I can’t appear in person, because public exposure is NG (no good) for me.


It was very easy to convince me to take on the job of character designer for Dragon Quest.

“What the heck is a role-playing game?”, I thought.

That was the sort of time it was.



Really, if I had known that it would still be going on after 30 years,

I don’t think I would have taken the job!

Honestly, if I had known how long it would last, I would have politely declined.

I’m not good at doing the same thing over and over again.


Designing characters for Dragon Quest

is fun but difficult work.

Nowadays, there are a lot of people working on the series,

and all of the ones responsible for designing characters are good and serious people,

so I don’t have to do as many designs. 

I’m personally not terribly interested in designing wholesome characters,

so I don’t have many variations to offer.



Also, because the series is a fantasy, there is a certain established time period and setting

that you can’t remove for your design work.

Every time we return to that period, it gets harder and harder,

and it becomes a situation where we have to use every trick in the book.


To have such a highly specific design setting limits your artistic options,

and since I like to create fanciful designs every once in a while, 

I created tons of designs that were rejected,

back in the old days, but I got to paint countless small-fry monsters

which is what I love to do do,

And sometimes I get nostalgic for that.



But don’t worry.

I’ve undertaken this work with the full principle of my being,

and so this time with Dragon Quest 11,

I’m also endeavoring to design with all of my might.


It will be a little while still before it’s ready to be released into the world,

But please look forward to it.


Akira Toriyama.


Thanks for your candid words and your many years of service, Toriyama-san.




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Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.