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The Important Lesson Naruto Creator Masashi Kishimoto Learned From Dragon Ball

Regarding the highly popular anime and manga "Naruto," it's common knowledge that the series' author Masashi Kishimoto drew inspiration from the pioneer anime/manga "Dragon Ball" by Akira Toriyama. Though the "Naruto" franchise has carved out its own identity and fanbase, the series is known to make references to "Dragon Ball." For instance, the series' main character Naruto Uzumaki (Junko Takeuchi) sports orange garb as an obvious homage to Son Goku (Masako Nozawa). One of Naruto's major senseis is Jiraiya (Hōchū Ōtsuka), who calls himself a Toad Hermit, while Goku's teacher is Roshi (Kohei Miyauchi), who calls himself the Turtle Hermit. There are a few other parallels, such as the antiheroic bestie in Sasuke Uchiha (Noriaki Sugiyama) and Vegeta (Ryō Horikawa).

Besides Naruto's orange uniform, the other parallels can be explained away as typical shonen tropes. However, there is one reference that's almost undeniable and it's the Four-Tailed Beast Son Goku, a giant ape creature, a nod to the Saiyan's Great Ape transformation (via "Dragon Ball Z" Chapter 38). Though the character is an allusion to the Chinese tale "Journey to the West," from which "Dragon Ball" itself took inspiration, the beast's four tails could also be a reference to the four-starred Dragon Ball, the ball that Goku retains as a keepsake from Grandpa Gohan. Lastly, Son Goku's Jinchūriki is named Roshi (via "Naruto Shippuden" Chapter 572), a reference to Goku's teacher. It's something that upon discovery, many fans point to as one of the significant nods to "Dragon Ball."

Overall, anime fans enjoy the tributes to "Dragon Ball," but it seems that it's not all just Easter eggs and knowledge flexes. Kishimoto learned a lot more from Toriyama's "Dragon Ball" and it's essential to what makes "Naruto" so popular today.

Naruto creator learned how to captivate an audience from Dragon Ball

In the fall of 2015, Masashi Kishimoto visited New York City to attend the New York Comic-Con. Prior to his panel, Kishimoto sat down with Anime News Network for an interview where he was asked about his artistic influences, Akira Toriyama's "Dragon Ball" among them, and what he managed to take from them. Though Kishimoto confirmed that he gleaned different things from each of his influences, it was "Dragon Ball" that helped him to enthrall readers. "...What 'Dragon Ball' taught me is what was fun about manga, what makes a fun story in manga," he explained. "In fact, I was reading it as it was coming out in weekly installments in Weekly Shonen Jump, so it really taught me what entertainment is and how to keep an audience captivated—and of course, the art influenced me as well."

And as Kishimoto says, in addition to learning about entertaining storytelling, he was also greatly influenced by Toriyama's art style. In fact, it was Toriyama's art that inspired him to be a manga artist. Speaking with VIZ Media in 2012, Kishimoto explained that, as a child, his admiration for Toriyama's characters and art is what led him to want to write and illustrate manga. "At some point between second and fourth grade, I got into Akira Toriyama Sensei's 'Dr. Slump' anime and 'Dragon Ball' manga," he said. "I loved his characters. I was especially attached to 'Dr. Slump's' Arale and 'Dragon Ball's' Goku. Also, his art really appealed to me. There was something about his cartoony drawing style that felt right, more so than realistic drawings. I thought to myself, I want to become like Toriyama Sensei."

Great art inspires more great art. It's a continuous circle of art that we hope never ends.