Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 12: The Demon King Piccolo Review (Akira Toriyama)

I know it’s a little early to be mentioning the saiyans (nearly at Dragon Ball Z though!) but this volume of Dragon Ball suddenly went super-freakin’-saiyan! 

The epic battle between Son Goku and Tenshinhan for the title of Strongest Under the Heavens is concluded (of course I won’t say who won!) then, without giving the reader a moment to catch their breath, Akira Toriyama kills off a major character! 

Though completely depowered from his fight with Ten, Goku jumps onto Kinto’un (his flying cloud) with the Dragon Ball tracker to hunt down his friend’s killer - and gets thoroughly beaten for his rashness. 

Enter: Piccolo the Demon King. A super-powerful sorcerer, Piccolo has been freed by Reich Pilaf from an enchanted rice cooker (wonderful detail) where he was imprisoned years ago by Master Roshi’s master. Now freed, Piccolo is taking out the world’s most powerful martial artists, so he can never go back to his prison, and hunting down the Dragon Balls to regain his youth. 

One of the many strengths of the series is the way Toriyama introduces new characters at crucial moments and folds them perfectly into the Dragon Ball world. Piccolo showed up at just the right moment to give the series the shot in the arm it needed by being a powerful and evil adversary for Goku, while Lord Yajirobe, a savage who can nonetheless hold his own against Goku, joins the good guys as a much-needed ally. 

Most of the Dragon Ball books have been rated “for everyone” but this is the first one I’ve noticed is rated “for teens”. This is definitely the darkest Dragon Ball book in the series so far, from murdering a series favourite (though I’m sure he’ll be back once Goku collects the Dragon Balls and asks Shenlong the Dragon God to resurrect his pal), to the way Yajirobe defeats his opponents, slicing them in half with his sword. 

Also, a word of caution if you do read this, or any of the Dragon Ball books - do NOT read the contents page as the titles of the chapters give away major plot points ahead of time! 

Vol 12 has the most awesome fight scene in the series so far - it’s not nearly as long or complex as the ones in the Strongest Under the Heavens fights but it is really satisfying because it means something. Goku catches up with his friend’s killer and DESTROYS him in a flurry of incredible moves. I think I read that whole scene without blinking once! 

With the Demon King’s entrance, Dragon Ball has entered its darkest time and most exciting storyline yet. This volume really ramps up the pace of the series! And guess who’s coming back in the next book? The Hermit Meowster - fantastic!!

Dragon Ball, Volume 12: The Demon King Piccolo

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