Dear Toriyama-sensei#

Date: March 19, 2024

Dear Toriyama-sensei,

Is it weird that I’ve been saying that starting phrase to this letter multiple times the last few days? Ever since I heard of your passing, I have been reading people’s comments online, from those of random Internet people, to Oda-sensei and Kishimoto-sensei’s touching eulogies.

I can’t really say I know you that well. I never touched your video game bodies of work, oddly though, I’d just started playing Chrono-Trigger 1 a few weeks ago. I don’t know what made me start playing it. I’d tried several times earlier in my life, but I never went too far.

I guess I wanted to write down what you mean to me. What your work did for me, someone in India, whose entry into Anime was, naturally, Dragonball Z. At least I thought it was.

I grew up watching a show called Captain Majid in Bahrain, which I later discovered was Captain Tsubasa. 2 Perhaps that was my first anime. I was also into Speed Racer, 3 which was also an anime. I cannot recall if I watched Alps no Shoujo, Heidi, 4 before or after Dragonball Z.

But what I do remember is discovering Dragonball Z. As many Indian children who could afford one back then, I owned a bootleg gaming console. 5 It was a famicom/SNES/NES mix that had some weird releases that you didn’t find in other places. Some of the games were the usual ensemble, Super Mario Bros, 6 Contra, 7 Contra Force, 8 TMNT III The Manhatten Project, 9 Mortal Kombat, 10 Street Fighter 11 and Ninja Gaiden 3. 12

The cartridges were sold by toy stores who didn’t know much about them. I frequented one and bought a cartridge which claimed it had a game I saw at a friend’s house called DJ boy. 13 I was excited to come home and play it.

It didn’t. It had 4 games, and 3 of them were something called Dragonball Z. I later discovered that it was a bootleg copy of Super Butouden 2, 14 with the story mode stripped out. I played this game for hours with my friends.

I started playing the game, and all of the text was in Japanese. I didn’t know who the characters were, only that this was a killer fighting game. The color tones were bad, mostly monochrome characters. I picked the coolest looking characters to use. Little did I know that even then I picked Goku and Gohan. I pitted them against Frieza and Cell.

I had no idea what I was doing.

That was the year that Toonami came to India. Dragonball Z started airing in the evenings every week and it caught my attention when I saw my sister watching it one day. How was I to know that casually watching this show would change my life in 2001?

I’d never seen such a brilliant show before! Each episode carried into the next, revealing lore and exposition. I was hooked by the time Raditz was killed. I loved the Special Beam Cannon and Piccolo was quickly my favourite character.

I didn’t know, sensei, what I was getting into.

Cartoon Network only aired 53 episodes, in repetition. 15 I didn’t know what happened after Goku beats Recoome on Namek with one blow. I didn’t know what a Super Saiyan was, something that Vegeta kept going on and on about. I wanted to know more, and that was around the time that the internet became more widely available in India through cyber cafes. I’d go to these cyber cafes, pay an hourly price and read up on what would happen on Dragonball Z via the official website. I was mesmerized by this site, and wanted to have a local copy at home on my computer. It was 2003 and I didn’t have an internet connection back home. So I began downloading images on a floppy disk, and took them home to use as wallpapers or just to save them on my storage drive. I had a friend print out a few to use as “posters”, they were postcard sized and his printer ran out of some colors so they were all mostly monochrome. I didn’t even know what some of them were. I remember them vividly now.

Trunks vs Frieza

Trunks slicing Frieza in half. I didn’t even know who this was when I got this printed!#


The Special Beam Cannon was my most favourite move! Even more than the Kamehameha!#

Piccolo vs Frieza

Piccolo was my most favourite character! I used to think that he would grow into one of the most powerful characters in the show and outshine Goku! I didn’t know he was a villain in Dragon Ball.#

And in 2004, I began getting episodes from friends. I started saving them to my drive, and the collection began. I didn’t have continuous episodes, mind you. I had a few here and there. I think the first set I got was the Android saga. It was the episode where the Androids appear and impale Yamcha, and the next 3 episodes until Goku is about to faint. Then, a gap, and episodes starring Vegeta, who has already revealed he’s a Super Saiyan too, and now he’s attacking the base of Dr. Gero. I had the episodes until the defeat of SSJ Vegeta and the rest of the Z-warriors at the hands of 17 and 18. And then, the cell stuff started with the two time machine mystery.

I had the episodes with Kami and Piccolo fusing, and then the confrontation with Cell for the very first time.

After another gap, I saw Semi-Perfect Cell absorb 18 to become perfect, to pummel Vegeta into the ground, and then embarass Trunks by telling him that his so called powerup was a joke.

Then, after one or two slice-of-life episodes with General Tao and the Memories of Gohan, I had the first few episodes of the Cell Games. I think I had them all until Cell explodes, taking Goku with him. I didn’t have the climactic battle with Cell and Gohan squaring off.

Mind you, I hadn’t seen Goku vs Frieza yet, I hadn’t watched the Trunks saga, or Vegeta transform for the first time. I was watching all of this out of order because this is how my friends and I got them.

One of my oldest friends to date was a stranger back then. He randomly showed up at my door step one day and said “I heard you have the Cell Saga, I have the Buu Saga.” That’s how I met Sumanth, a friend I speak to almost weekly even now, 20 years later!

I don’t remember getting all the episodes of DBZ, but it must have been after I got a broadband connection at home. It was a measly 64kbps, but I remember that it would take 37 minutes to download one anime episode. The episodes were 320p, encoded with rmvb 16 back then. I got them from websites like and The latter would become the first forum I joined online, where I would have heated discussions with people I’d come to call friends. One of them is still in touch with me today. We lovingly call you Bird Mountain Man. Oddly enough, we have still never met.

I watched Dragonball later, mostly to discover what Goku’s beef with Piccolo was. And boy was I shocked! Somehow, with lesser beam struggles, weaker opponents and less visually appealing fights, Dragonball made me more connected to your world. I still bawl when I watch Goku realize that the mysterious masked fighter at Fortune Teller Baba’s tournament is his dead grandfather. That connected with me most because I wish my grandfather would return to life for just one day too.

I watched DB, DBZ and DBGT several times over the next few years. Eventually, I’d go on to watch Super as well, and all the movies of course. But this isn’t a letter where I want to talk about the artistic greatness of your work. There are several, amazing analyses of your work already, and I have nothing to add there. This is something more personal.

I learnt how to use a computer because of you. I wanted a computer just so I could watch episodes, and once I began finding them, I started making Anime Music Videos based off the few episodes I had. I learnt how to use video editing software, how to use image editing software because of the love I had for DBZ. I like to think that if I pursued it, I’d have made a good career there as well. I went a different direction.

I have a career in software because of you, Toriyama-sensei. After spending hours looking through, 17 I wanted to make my own website for the show, where I would have chapter summaries, and even detailed scene descriptions. I wanted to have a novelized Dragonball Z. I began learning web development to do this, and spent every moment I could trying to build a website. I never launched this online since it needed money, but this started my interest in computers.

And the friends I made because of this show, we became closer over other anime, and we went on to share careers in the same domain. I learnt how to use torrents because of your show, and went to understand how to write scripts to download episodes. I learnt how to install mods in games, something I didn’t have any necessity for until I discovered Bid for Power and ESF. 18 You gave me a career that allowed me to go back and buy every volume of Dragonball and Dragonball Z in the last few years.

When I read the official notice of your passing, 19 I was shaken. I felt like I lost a family member. It is odd. These days, I am way more obsessed with One Piece than I am with Dragonball. I joke that the day One Piece ends, I will sit in a corner and cry while laughing because I’ve been reading it for 19 years now.

I didn’t get that with Dragonball. I was too young and the manga wasn’t available here when I was growing up. I read the manga only last year, and was surprised with the differences from the anime. I remarked to my friends that the DB manga was more… fluid compared to the anime.

Toriyama-sensei, thank you. I don’t know how to tell you this, now that you are in the next dimension, but thank you. I genuinely wanted to tell a story as amazing as Dragonball Z, which is what I was trying to do when I was still writing my stories. I wanted to have a book full of power struggles as visual as Goku vs Vegeta. Heck! I loved the idea of fusion so much that I had to have it in my book as well.

I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t encounter your work. I can’t imagine a life where it didn’t lead me to One Piece, to finding my biggest source of a moral compass in life.

I watch anime and every single time I see a DBZ reference now, I tear up. There is no way any mangaka can ignore the influence you have had on the industry. There is not one way where anyone can deny the influence you’ve had on the entertainment industry.

Toriyama-sensei, I hope you are having fun with the Grand Kai. You deserve it. May Shenlong grant you eternal peace. And of course, I hope you get a chance to teach a dinosaur to ride a ball. 20

My Dragon Ball Collection

I’ve started collecting the rest of your work. Arale-chan is hard to find in India, but I’m going to give it my best.#



Chrono Trigger


Captain Tsubasa


Speed Racer - Mach GoGoGo


Heidi, Girl of the Alps


India had several varieties of Famiclones, bootleg clones of the Famicom back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Many people owned one, and back in those days it was the only consoles you could afford unless you were rich and had someone abroad bringing you cartridges and discs. Tracing the Origins of Gaming in India: 8 Bit Cricket, Sega, and Cloning.


Super Mario Bros


This was a bootleg of the NES version of Contra


Contra Force


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project


Mortal Kombat


Street Fighter 2


Ninja Gaiden III : The Ancient Ship of Doom


DJ Boy


The international bootleg rip of the original Dragonball Z Super Butouden 2 didn’t have a story mode, and by the looks of it, repurposed sprites and colors from other games, giving it a strange monochromatic palette for characters. Youtube has several videos on the game, I don’t find anything really noteworthy for others despite it having nostalgic value for me personally. Here’s a useful reddit post about it


Cartoon Network India started airing Dragonball Z in 2000, and the original run was the same as the Ocean Dub (Saban Dub) fiasco of the US. So we only got the cut episodes from the Arrival of Raditz to Goku… a Super-Saiyan?


Because of its low bitrate, and probably because of the presence of the Real Media Player back in the early 2000s, most anime was shared in the RMVB format. I remember going to buy a TV at a store armed with a thumbdrive with some RMVB files, to see if the TV would support it. Panasonic was the only one that supported it all.


Funimation used to run, and for the longest time, this was the only website I’d spend time on. They introduced region locking sometime in the early ’10s, and ever since, the site has been inaccessible in India.


Bid For Power was a Quake III Arena modification that essentially turned Q3 into Budokai Tenkaichi. The melee was bad, but the beam struggles and maps were excellent. I played it for hours. ESF, or Earth’s Special Forces is one of the best mods for Half Life 1 that you can find. Well, at least try to find. It is not done yet, and there’s no point waiting for it, but it was an excellent experience while it lasted, since the melee was really great and I had so much fun playing the 1.2a version until the community seemed to break down after a leak. The models were excellent and I truly believe that even if I didn’t get into programming later in life, I’d have learnt to code just to learn how to write game mods myself.


Akira Toriyama, Mangaka Known for ‘Dragon Ball’ and ‘Dr. Slump’, Dies at 68


The lyrics of the Dragonball Z japanese opening contain a phrase which says “If I find a dinosaur, I will teach it to ride a ball.” This has since become a meme because of its wide popularity thanks to Team Four Star.