One thing that I’ve doing without even thinking about it recently is reading older manga. It started with me reading parts one through three of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and the next thing I know, I’ve finished Dr. Slump, started reading Dragon Ball, and even started reading Astro Boy when a few volumes of the manga went on sale a while ago. I’ve been reading these on top of One Piece, so I’ve been taking my time through them. I just like the fact that I have access to some manga that I can continually read and enjoy. I’m so glad that Dr. Slump was there, because otherwise I would have never gotten around to it. I’ve always been curious about it because of the Arale cameos on Dragon Ball. If only Shonen Jump would release other older manga like Fist of the North Star or Saint Seiya or something to their SJ+ service. That would be the best thing ever.
Encase you are wondering or didn’t know about it, Dr. Slump is a manga (and an anime series) that pushed Akira Toriyama to fame first. Before Dragon Ball even existed, he wrote a weekly comedy manga series. It centered on the daily adventures of robot girl Arale created by the inventor Dr. Senbei Norimaki in a far away place called Penguin Village. At first, the comedy adventures were simple and involved hiding what the completely super powered Arale was in a normal school environment. Then it moved with different characters and story arcs trying to rule the world or just win a race. All of that happened through the meta sort of comedy where villains have read the manga or different people from society were given a spot light in ways they didn’t expect. There is also a lot of meta humor in the manga to the point where even the author himself is a character or you can go back in time to previous chapters. It’s just a lot of fun to read.
The meta element with Akira Toriyama is what I am here to explore with this post. It’s really easy to write a post that says “Dr. Slump is good” and talk more about the jokes and story lines to the point where I ruin them. I don’t want to do that. If you’ve watched any filler episode of DBZ anywhere, you know what Toriyama’s humor is like and how good it is. Well, besides that pervy element that won’t leave shonen jump now. Looking at you, Master Roshi and Senbei Norimaki. But no, as the chapters went on and on, I feel like Akira Toriyama became another reason why I read Doctor Slump. Not just the author that appeared on the page and blatantly told the person reading it that he was running out of ideas in the form of a joke. I was beginning to understand the early 1980’s Akira Toriyama by this aspect and the fact that his after chapter pages shared more and more of himself. A parasocial relationship.
If you don’t know what a parasocial relationship is, it’s a relationship that is heavily one sided. One person, a vlogger/blogger/youtuber/whatever, puts all their energy and work into revealing some aspects of their lives to an audience in an open forum like situation. The other party takes in the content by reading/watching/stalking/whatever while the first person doesn’t know anything about them. This might not have been as common in the 1980’s, but parasocial relationships are everywhere in this age of the internet. I know that I am apart of many of them myself. There are youtube channels and podcasts that I follow because of the personality and the knowledge of the people behind them. Yet, they know nothing about me. I suppose blogging can go into this too because maybe I formed this relationship with some of you even if my audience is vastly smaller? Whole magnitudes smaller. So while these are common now, please don’t be creepy or forget they don’t know you. Be normal humans, ok?
Dr. Slump does an interesting job of telling who Akira Toriyama is as a person when he was just famous. Not super, duper famous which came from Dragon Ball. He was just a mangaka for SJ that was married and had some hobbies and interests beyond just drawing manga with his own brand of humor. Akira Toriyama was obviously an otaku that loved things beyond just shonen jump stuff. The content in his manga referenced Godzilla, Gamara, Ultraman, Tetusjin-28, Astro Boy, Superman, and even Star Wars. Akira Toriyama also built Star Wars model kits late into the night despite his wife and SJ producer not being happy with him for it. Can you imagine writing, drawing, and inking all day, then using those same hands to put together model kits with a lot of tiny parts and glue together? That’s dedication.
Of course, those aren’t the only pictures of Akira Toriyama are in the after-chapter parts of Dr. Slump. There is a lot of information in pictures that comes from it all. Sometimes there is a little too much information. There was a shot of Akira Toriyama on the toilet which is not something you want to see honestly. Though, you can see the very place/location where Mr. Toriyama draws and writes all the time. The general lay out of his 1980’s apartment looked pretty small from what the places that we know of in the United States. You know, besides Studio apartments and such. We also see him make fun of himself from a lackluster and relatable sleeping schedule that I am not sure is actually true, but still relatable in a lot of ways. I too wish I could sleep in to however I want on a work day.
The best part was that before the manga ended, his editoral staff members got a page dedicated to them. Maybe not any pictures because Toriyama is the star, but their names and things they’ve learned from working on the manga for a number of years is immortalized in this manga that is still running around selling copies and being a main stay on SJ+ manga service. I know this is time capsule stuff now, but can you imagine reading this weekly? Slowly diving into the mind of Akira Toriyama himself from the writing and humor and then getting to know more about him from the after chapter special parts? How weird is it for a kid or someone to know that the person behind the manga is an actual person? I kind of find it mind blowing. This feels like a baby’s first parasocial relationship in the making and I don’t think that’s a bad thing considering how the world is structured now. This was a small glimpse into what the world became in the early 1980’s.
I didn’t have anywhere to fit this in this post until now, but a lot of where Dragon Ball will go in Z appear in this manga too. Dr. Slump just has a lot to decipher when it comes to who Akira Toriyama is, where his mind goes, and what might appear later. It is a manga with a literal goldmine of things to read into, explore, and think about. Some legitimate ones though. Not like that biblecode sort of crap where people just try to find things inside of it and say “look how smart we are”. It’s just so much fun and everything.