Dragon Ball has existed in some form or another for the last 30 years, but Akira Toriyama didn't always have an easy time producing chapters for the series despite its popularity (which he has gone on record saying he doesn't quite understand).
Toriyama had his share of struggles throughout Dragon Ball's run, and in an 2014 interview in Men's No-No magazine, his shared some of his worries.
It started in the beginning after he initially ended Dr. Slump and felt a bit of a backlash when debuting his new series, "It wasn’t received well. At the very beginning, there were something like “anticipation votes” in connection with [my work on] Dr. Slump, but right away, my ranking in the reader surveys went toward the lower end. However, I knew that it would probably be popular if I increased the fight scenes..So, I started the Tenka’ichi Budōkai and shifted toward fighting, and it started to gain in popularity. Once it actually started to get a good reception, I got feedback even as I drew, which was nice."
But increasing the fight scenes only increased his troubles as he soon lost track of where he wanted to take the series stating that "[he] was definitely working from chapter to chapter every time...with a sense of, “what should [he] do next?” and even Toriyama could not tell where the story was going.
He even began to shift things around on the fly due to reader feedback, "Even with the Tenka’ichi Budōkai, I was drawing it without knowing who would win. At first, even I thought it might be Goku after all, but along the way, there was a survey [in Jump] about “who will win?”, and the result was overwhelmingly 'Goku.' Since I’m a contrarian, I don’t want to go along with what everyone else thinks...I was desperately thinking up ideas about how not to have Goku win the championship."
But the most reflective statement is Toriyama admitting that he wrote much of the series without a clear path and eventually hit a road block, "I was truly drawing without thinking about that sort of thing, but when I got to the Majin Boo arc, I felt that there wasn’t anywhere to go beyond it."
While most fans felt that Toriyama was "making up" the series as he went along, it's strange to read confirmation of it. While it's not an entirely believable statement considering how some of the series' final arc resulted in great written moments, it does explain how it felt that Toriyama ran out of steam toward the series end as he hit the ceiling of his gradually more abrasive escalation problem.
Dragon Ball Super airs on Crunchyroll Saturday evenings at 7:15 p.m. CST. Adult Swim airs the English dub during its Toonami block Saturday evenings at 9:30 p.m, and is now available to stream on FunimationNOW and Amazon Video.
If you want to catch up with the English dub, the first 39 episodes of Dragon Ball Super are now available to stream on FunimationNOW, Crunchyroll's VRV service, and available to purchase on Amazon Video. The 39 episodes span the full range of what has aired in the North America and covers the "Battle of Gods" arc, "Revival of F" arc, and the most recently ended "Universe 6" arc.
Funimation has previously announced the rest of the series will soon be available on the service as well. Releasing in 13 episode batches two weeks after the last episode airs on Cartoon Network, fans of Dragon Ball Super's English dub without a cable connection will soon have a way to experience the series.
There is also currently a new Dragon Ball film in the works for 2018. The film will focus on the Saiyans, the "origins of Goku's power," and potentially the story of the very first Super Saiyan God.Not only does it aim to be the best film in the series, original creator Akira Toriyama will be contributing to the film's script and new character designs.