Monday, 18 August 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 8: Taopaipai and Master Karin Review (Akira Toriyama)

Oh yeah, the love is back! I was worried with the last book that it would mark the beginning of a slide into mediocrity for the series but Akira Toriyama turns the ship back around into quality waters (terrible metaphor, I know!). 

It’s like he knew the audience was sick of General Blue and immediately at the start of the book has a new character called Taopaipai, the world’s deadliest assassin, murder him with his tongue. You read that right - with his tongue! Just that detail alone made me realise Toriyama had returned with a vengeance! The martial arts cool is what makes Dragon Ball stand out and we get oodles of that in this volume. 

Taopaipai heads to Karin Sanctuary where Son Goku and the Dragon Balls are - and defeats him! Goku must receive training from the Hermit Master in order to beat Taopaipai, get back the Dragon Balls and destroy the Red Ribbon Army once and for all! 

Taopaipai is a great villain. He’s arrogant, he’s deadly, and Toriyama comes up with a really inventive way for him to get around - he cuts down a building pillar, hurls it in the direction he needs to be, jumps on top of it, and allows the motion to carry him along! He’s also a real combat challenge for Goku, unlike Blue who relied a bit too much on lame trickery. 

The Hermit Master was a cat character who made cat-puns that were genuinely funny because of how silly they were and the expressions he made as he said them. Who can’t laugh at a cat smiling as he calls himself the “Hermit Meowster”? I also loved that there was a totem pole that went so damn high up into the sky and this cat dude lived at the top of it - it’s that mythological aspect that exists alongside the modern world, and both are real, that makes Dragon Ball so special. 

Once Goku’s training is complete, it’s a non-stop action fest straight through to the end as he goes for a rematch against Taopaipai and then - single-handedly - storms the Red Ribbon Army’s HQ! It’s like Toriyama’s making up for the overly cutesiness of the last volume by making this one extra-violent - and it’s so good! 

Dragon Ball Vol 8 sees the title regain the high quality storytelling that made it so awesome to start with. As if you didn’t think Son Goku was a badass before, this volume shows you just how powerful he’s getting. Wonderful stuff.

Dragon Ball, Volume 8: Taopaipai and Master Karin

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