Humans, talking animais, androids, dinosaurs, aliens, demons… the list goes on and on.
Have you ever wonder how it was possible to weave so many different characters into one story? Well, Dragon Ball is most definitely the master of this challenge. With innovative scenarios and an amazing world setting, Dragonball was able bring a never before seen world to us. But first, let’s begin with what this manga is all about!
Published by Shuesia in Shonen Jump: 1984-1995
“A boy with a monkey tail will fight powerful aliens in his adventure to find the magical Dragonballs!”
The protagonist, Son Goku is a young boy with a monkey tail, yes a tail! Living alone after his “grandfather” passed away, he is bequeathed a ball with 4 stars on it as a keepsake.
Having to take care of himself, Goku often goes on hunts for own food, proving that he is extremely skillful when it comes survival skills, yet shows incredible levels of naivety.
One day, returning from a hunting trip, Son Goku meets Burma, a girl with a passion for mechanics who is searching for something. Surprised, Goku realizes that she is very different to him, as this monkey boy has never meet a girl, or in fact a human before!
Remembering his grandfather’s teachings to be good to girls, Goku invites Bulma into his home for food and rest. Intrigued by this little boy’s strength, Burma takes Goku up on his offer. The food fast forgotten, Burma identifies a process heirloom in Goku’s possession and the object of her search.
The keepsake handed down to Son Goku, is in fact one of the fabled Dragon Balls! Once joined together, the Dragonballs have the power to summon a magical dragon who grants wishes!
Goku refuses to give Bulma the Dragon Ball, but ever tenacious and determined, Bulma uses Goku’s naivety to her advantage, inviting him to join her on a search of the rest. Reminded once again to be nice to girls, Goku gallantly accepts her offer, on the condition that he keeps all four Dragonballs.
On his mission to locate the magical Dragonballs, Goku will encounter many loyal comrades and battle the most powerful enemies in the land in this epic tale of bravery and friendship.
The main strength in Dragon Ball is it’s very simple story structure; boy is sent on a quest, he battles enemies who are searching for the same prize and repeat. It is a structure that can be used again and again.
However, where Dragon Ball truly shines is the world setting. By creating a group of characters that are all very different, Toriyama is able to present this simple structure in an interesting and entertaining way. Humans, robots, dinosaurs, demons, talking animals, anthropomorphic animals, androids and aliens all make up this entertaining mix, and are expertly crafted to believably co-exist in the same world.
The answer to solve that problem is DETAILS! Yes! It’s all in the details! However there has to have rules.
The character’s body are drawn with clear simple lines and an overall clean look. But when is comes to muscles for instance, particularly in male characters, Toriyama sensei sticks faithfully to anatomical reality.
No matter who the character is, the faces are drawn in a very simple, cartoonish style. Manga is all about the eyes, making this factor important in linking each character to the world they inhabit.
The fourth and final rule is on the clothes and machinery! Toriyama Akira sensei style is definitely top level when it comes to detail, an that is beautifully shown in the effort that he puts in the characters clothes and equipments. This is where he increases the percentage of detail and creating a layered visual world that has never been seen before!
So if your are struggling to create characters that don’t look like they are from the same world, remember you just have to give the same detail level to all !
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