Thursday, 7 August 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 2: Wish Upon a Dragon Review (Akira Toriyama)

Son Goku, Bulma and Oolong are nearing the end of their quest with just a couple of dragon balls left to find. But they have more to worry about than Lord Yamcha and Pu’ar on their tail as Reich Pilaf is after the dragon balls for his own evil plans of world domination!

Dragon Ball is an absolute delight! Thankfully this second volume is a lot less pervy than the first one (though it’s weird seeing a 10 year old, I think, girl in a bikini) but the humour’s still silly – and I love that! It doesn’t take itself too seriously but manages to keep a good balance between drama and comedy.

We learn more about why Kame Senin is such a cool fighter, despite coming off as the biggest perv in the world (the Hawaiian shirts don’t help!), and Son Goku becomes more powerful learning how to hadoken – in fact, we find out just how dangerous this strange little boy is and why he has a tail.

The bad guy Reich Pilaf (a questionable name but then a lot of the characters’ names are questionable. Chi Chi, the name of the 10 year old girl, means both father and breasts in Japanese. Hmm) is probably the cutest bad guy ever. The alien-looking little fella has the gang locked up in his prison, then there’s a panel of him holding his toothbrush and toothpaste as he grins and tells us he’s going to bed early because he wants to be fresh in the morning. Have you ever seen a villain do anything so adorable?

The characters are really fun and Akira Toriyama writes them all so marvellously that they’re a joy to read. His artwork too is outstanding with more and more outlandish characters popping up. Toriyama is clearly enjoying himself, throwing in just about every kind of genre into Dragon Ball: sci-fi, fantasy, action, martial arts, mythology, contemporary culture, comedy, drama, romance – it sounds like a mess but it all gels together so perfectly in a way I can’t explain because I don’t really understand it myself. It just works!

Besides the feeling of perviness that’s unfortunately still in this series, the only aspect of the book I felt was a bit sloppy was how Yamcha and Bulma became a couple. Suddenly Yamcha’s not afraid of girls? It felt a tad contrived.

It’s great how the series so far has built up to this big moment when the Dragon God emerges and how Toriyama totally undermines that with one of the characters – that kind of bait and switch was totally unexpected and brilliant. It also means that the series is now headed in a completely fresh direction full of potential, and I can’t wait to find out where it’ll go next.

Two volumes in and I’m totally hooked. Dragon Ball is aces!

Dragon Ball, Volume 2: Wish Upon a Dragon

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