Saturday, 23 August 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 9: Test of the All-Seeing Crone Review (Akira Toriyama)


Can you get addicted to a comic? I think I might have a Dragon Ball addiction. I’ve mentioned it in other reviews but I actually felt sad, like that yawning in the pit of your stomach when you feel something bad’s going to happen, when I finished Vol 8 and realised I’d have to wait 5 days until I could read Vol 9. And now? I’m not just stockpiling Dragon Ball books like a wealthy junkie going into a wild weekend, I’m also jumping ahead to Dragon Ball Z - which is even longer, at 26 books! - and stockpiling those so I never have to go 5 days without my fix again. 

It’s sounds demented - because it is. I won’t talk about my addiction again, I’m just going to happily use until it’s all gone. 

Anyway! 

So, in the last book after Goku’s trained himself up, taken out the Red Ribbon Army single-handedly, and collected 6 of the 7 Dragon Balls, he now can’t find the 7th he needs to resurrect his friend Upa’s dead father (killed by Taopaipai in the last book). The Dragon Ball tracker’s broken and even Bulma can’t fix it but luckily Master Roshi knows someone who can find anything: the All-Seeing Crone. Goku, along with Kuririn, Yamcha, Pu’ar and Upa, must battle five of the Crone’s champions to get her to tell him where the final Dragon Ball is. 

It’s Dragon Ball - so why didn’t I love this? Well, the five champions of the Crone spoiled it for me as they’re pretty terrible. Besides the last one (who’s brilliant), they’re generic “bad guys”. Count Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, and the Devil. Aside from the Devil, it’s basically the Universal monsters lineup, and I hate that because it’s so lazy! The fights themselves aren’t bad but it’s not nearly like the Strongest Under the Heavens where all of the contestants were Akira Toriyama originals. These guys? Lame rip-offs we’ve seen a hundred times before elsewhere. 

And I really don’t like that the whole book is so that Goku can get the Crone to tell him where the last Dragon Ball is - it just feels like filler and a wasted opportunity to move the story forward to the next phase. 

But the final fight against the mysterious final champion saves the book from being a total waste. It was tense, exciting, fun, and the reveal of who was beneath the mask was really sweet, especially when Goku broke down and cried. Also I’m glad that the rest of the cast are reunited with Goku again - he’s fine on his solo adventures but the books are at their best when the cast are all assembled together. 

Toriyama tries to recapture the magic that was the Strongest Under the Heavens tournament and unfortunately fails. It’s not a terrible book as it has Toriyama’s usual high quality artwork/writing, but the new characters felt derivative and this doesn’t measure up to the better volumes in the series. That said, the adorable villain Reich Pilaf is back and the dragon ball quest is nearing its conclusion (for the second time) so things are looking up for volume 10!

Dragon Ball, Volume 9: Test of the All-Seeing Crone

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