Naruto and Dragon Ball’s Goku are two of most famous manga heroes ever, and a fun piece of art from the series’ creators swapped the two.
There should be little doubt that Naruto and Dragon Ball’s Goku are the two most famous manga heroes of all time. Though the two heroes do have their similarities, they come from very different worlds and have very different creators, which is why it’s so thrilling to see Akira Toriyama and Masashi Kishimoto draw their signature characters in each other’s world.
It’s no understatement to say that Dragon Ball is one of the most influential manga ever created. Already a popular mangaka well known for his comedy manga, Akira Toriyama decided to branch out to a martial arts adventure when he first crafted Dragon Ball in 1984. The series would only grow in popularity with the anime adaptation of adult Goku’s adventures, Dragon Ball Z. Influenced by the work of Toriyama, Masashi Kishimoto created Naruto in 1999. Kishimoto’s creation proved almost as popular as its predecessor and both still maintain devoted fanbases to this day. Given that Naruto took such heavy influence from Dragon Ball, it was only inevitable that Toriyama and Kishimoto would collaborate on something together.
To celebrate Naruto’s 10th anniversary in 2009, a supplementary book titled Naruto Secret: Scroll of Everyone Official Fanbook. The book contained a series of art pieces by notable mangaka, depicting Naruto and his friends in their signature style. Eiichiro Oda, Hirohika Araki, and of course Akira Toriyama all contributed to the book. Though Toriyama had a plain black and white drawing of Naruto, he also contributed to the book’s true centerpiece, a full-color double-page spread where Kishimoto drew Naruto in Goku’s clothes riding atop Shenron and Toriyama drew young Goku in Naruto’s Sage-Mode clothes standing atop Gamabunta. The image is truly something to behold.
The artwork from both mangaka is undeniably fun. What makes the moment truly heartwarming though is the mutual respect each artwork radiates. Kishimoto obviously respects Toriyama as Dragon Ball was a huge influence on Naruto, but it’s also obvious that Toriyama respects Kishimoto as well. Goku is doing a pitch-perfect cosplay of Naruto, and Toriyama’s affinity for big goofy animals is clearly on display with his faithful recreation on Gamabunta. No slouch himself, Kishimoto’s depiction of Naruto riding Shenron is impressive, with the future Hokage himself evidently having the time of his life. A nice touch is that Naruto also has Goku’s power pole on his back, calling back to Dragon Ball’s earlier chapters.
Overall, this double-page spread shows both mangaka at the height of their artistic capabilities. More than just well drawn though, they show a mutual respect and admiration between two of the most important mangaka ever. While fans might debate whether Naruto or Dragon Ball’s Goku is the better character, this artwork reminds fans that both have their place in manga history.
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