Lately, I’ve been trying to keep on top of all the garbage that accumulates in my handbag – rubber bands, acorns, paperclips, pens, scraps of paper, lip-gloss, twigs, dried leaves. It don’t always work, hence the brittle, dry, leaves.
But the fun thing about it is that you can always tell the season, the time of day, the day of the week, just by taking a peek inside. In the summer, the leaves are replaced by sand. Sundays I’m usually on Mott or Grand St., so you’ll find packages of instant ramen, fuji apples, red grapes, green papaya, and bitter melon sticking out of my purse. On Tuesdays homework comes home so that fat yellow folder my son drags around finds its way into my bag. As for Wednesdays, well, sometimes Wednesdays are magic.
Most my comics forays are to Forbidden Planet, where today, in addition to picking up a copy of the Diamond Previews, I managed to stuff the Viz Big edition of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball into my purse, along with volume 3 of Fairy Tail.
I’ve already complained about the valley of books that has taken over my apartment, so it can be difficult to rationalize bringing more home. But my son has gone from Fairy Tail, to One Piece, to Dragon Ball in a succession of three short months. And seeing the influences that Toriyama has had on manga creators like Oda and Mashima is like watching this linear progression in shonen manga unfold in simultaneous hyperspeed.
The humor, the sexiness, the parallel realities – these elements entwine themselves fluidly in Toriyama’s world and are lifted for Oda’s pirate adventure and Mashima’s bad-ass wizard’s club. But what I really admire about One Piece and Fairy Tail, is the sense of homage that both pay to Dragon Ball. Toriyama’s influence doesn’t feel like something stolen or capitalized on for profit, but like a thorough recycling. Reading One Piece is a way of studying how fully Eiichiro Oda absorbed Toriyama’s style so that he could use it as his own. People will talk about how manga creators grew up on manga, but actually seeing it (seeing the influence) brings a new depth to those kinds of statements. These guys have grown up on Toriyama, breathed it like it was their air, so that it’s this vital part of them, a reflex. And with each chapter in One Piece and Fairy Tail, they’re flexing their Toriyama muscle.
I haven’t yet showed my son the Viz Big edition – I’m a little worried that he’ll have an 8-year-old’s version of an aneurysm – but given the amount of sleep we’ve been losing from giggling ourselves silly during bed time over all the jokes made in Dragon Ball, I’m pretty sure the Dragon Ball marathon starts after Halloween. I just hope we find a way to laugh ourselves to sleep.