Dragon Quest has always been one of the most successful properties in Japan ever since it began in 1986, and that popularity has also given rise to a close-knit cabal of talented individuals behind the series. We don’t usually get to peek behind that curtain, but the birthday of series composer Sugiyama Koichi on April 11 gave us a chance to do so, as a special illustration from series character designer and Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama was shared on social media.
Ryutaro Ichimura, Dragon Quest series chief producer, posted a picture of Toriyama’s illustration on Twitter last week, saying that he wanted to share this wonderful birthday gift with the world. Check it out below:
— 市村 龍太郎 (@RyutaroIchimura) April 11, 2019
Koichi Sugiyama has served as composer for pretty much all entries in the Dragon Quest series ever since its inception in 1986, crafting many of the series’ iconic musical themes and motifs that have endured up until the present day and the series’ 11th mainline entry, Dragon Quest XI.
Akira Toriyama, while also known around the world for his Shonen Jump manga Dragon Ball and Dr. SLUMP, has also worked on the Dragon Quest series as character designer since the very beginning. The importance of these two creators, along with series creator Yuji Horii, in crafting one of Japan’s most beloved media franchises cannot be understated.
This illustration from Toriyama to Sugiyama is, therefore, a rare glimpse of two absolute legends paying their respects to each other. Toriyama’s respect for Sugiyama as a creator is evident in his illustration of Sugiyama, who seems to be having quite a lot of fun conducting in a thoroughly Dragon Quest-style robe surrounded by music note-shaped Slimes. Coloring the illustration was also a nice touch that no doubt took a fair bit of time.
Reactions to the illustration on social media also show the respect that many fans hold towards Sugiyama and Toriyama as figureheads of the Dragon Quest series. One fan described the illustration as “Too godlike” and that “Gods giving each other presents is… too much!” While that might be a little over the top, I certainly agree with the sentiment.
NB. OTAQUEST does not condone controversial comments made by Koichi Sugiyama on LGBT education or Japanese war crimes but believes that his work can be judged on its own merits.