Monday, 11 August 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 5: The Red Ribbon Army Review (Akira Toriyama)


I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to get to Dragon Ball because it’s so damn good! Seriously, I just want to have all 42 volumes with me right now so I can just read this and nothing else until I’ve finished! 

Volume 5 rounds out the Strongest Under the Heavens tournament with Son Goku squaring off against Jackie Chun (Master Roshi in disguise) in the final, and it might be the best superhero fight I’ve ever read in comics. It’s so unpredictable, it’s like Akira Toriyama didn’t know himself who he was going to let win! One minute Goku’s winning, then it’s Chun, then THIS happens, then THAT happens, and it’s this whirlwind of energy and tension, and before you know it, half the book’s gone! 

Even at half a book’s length, the fight doesn’t feel overlong because so much happens in it. It’s an epic fight between master and disciple, especially given how Goku’s abilities keep getting more and more unpredictably powerful. 

The second half sees Goku leaving the rest of the cast behind to go on a new adventure. With Goku clearly having learned all he can from Master Roshi, he and Kinto’un (his magic flying cloud) head off to once more find Dragon Balls. His search takes him to snowier climes and into the path of the Red Ribbon Army who’re also after the Dragon Balls. They’ve enlisted the help of a nearby town’s men, against their will, and it’s up to Goku to liberate them and grab his grandpa’s Dragon Ball too. 

Looking at the way the stories are structured - Goku fights one opponent after another after another etc. - they should be much less interesting to read than they are, and yet the colourful world, inventive characters, and brilliant execution of the action makes them utterly irresistible reads. And they’re very light-hearted which adds to its charm too - that final sequence with the dumb ninja trying to outwit Goku was hilarious! 

I would recommend this series to all comics readers, not just manga fans, as these are truly outstanding books. This series has been excellent so far and this book is awesome too - Toriyama is killing it with the art and the writing. I’m totally gutted that I don’t have the next few volumes to hand because I would devour them if I did! Gotta catch ‘em all, Dragon Balls and the books alike!

Dragon Ball, Volume 5: The Red Ribbon Army

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