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Akira Toriyama, the father of the “manga boom” | Culture

by News Room
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Back in the early 90s, the world of comics in Spain was kicking off what would be called “the manga boom.” Specialized bookstores, which had become spaces dedicated primarily to American comics, were beginning to give more and more space to Japanese series that seemed destined to completely dominate the market, a prediction that came true thirty years later.

However, looking back it seems evident that that tsunami was much more specific than was supposed: that first step on the irresistible trajectory towards manga success had a first and last name: Akira Toriyama. The passion that the comic unleashed Dragon Ball in 1992 it was just the corollary of the overwhelming success that the anime which had premiered in 1989 on regional television.

Son Goku and the characters that accompanied this particular pop and shameless revision of the legend of the Monkey King became objects of desire for fans, who sold and exchanged drawings and photocopies of the series like authentic jewels. Initially published in an inappropriate format comic-bookthe so-called “white series” of Dragon Ball (also published in Catalan) had stratospheric sales figures, which only followed the reality of a worldwide phenomenon of millionaire numbers, opening the doors to what would later be called culture. otaku and which today is fully consolidated in publications, platforms, festivals and all types of avidly devoured offerings, and which has decisively influenced hundreds of authors.

In the image, a salon attendee with the Son Goku cosplay at the 27th edition of the Barcelona Manga Fair, October 30, 2021.Albert Garcia (THE COUNTRY)

The self-confidence of the Japanese cartoonist was as fun as it was magnetic, the ease with which he connected with childish naivety and that innate playful touch attracted many future artists who today are recognized for their work. In fact, it can be said that the push for alternative publishing that Spanish comics experienced in the 90s had a lot to do with it, not only because of the direct inspiration, but because one of the publishers that was the bastion of that innovation, Camaleón Ediciones, was able to publish dozens of young artists thanks to the spectacular success of the parody Dragon Fall made by Nacho Fernández and Álvaro López starting in 1993. Forty years after its original publication, there is no doubt that Dragon Ball marked the path of what is today the overwhelming success of manga throughout the world, a fundamental milestone that should not make us forget that Toriyama’s legacy goes far beyond having been key in all subsequent Japanese production.

Transgenerational phenomenon

Even today, after several manga and TV series and dozens of movies, Toriyama’s characters are still alive not only in the imagination, but as a very profitable franchise that easily competes in the top sales positions with One Piece, Gundam o Naruto. The series of anime It is continually replenished on the platforms while movies constantly appear and even Toriyama himself was involved in the last saga of the series, Dragon Ball Superdynamiting with each new installment the sales records in any country in the world where it is released, becoming a transgenerational phenomenon: the animes and Son Goku mangas that fathers and mothers liked continue to be liked equally by the little ones, demonstrating that Toriyama’s humor and wit were a timeless talent that could connect with anyone, despite the many controversies that have always surrounded the series due to violence or machismo.

A success that should not make us forget that other monument to the most delirious surrealism that is Dr. Slump, his other great creation, perhaps not as well known as Goku’s, but he managed to make the most iconoclastic spirit a reference and make poop adorable characters that today form an unavoidable part of the emoticons we use. It is not risky to say that Toriyama has been one of the most influential authors in the modern history of comics, mainly responsible for the passion that exists today for Japanese culture.

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