Friday, 5 September 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 14: Heaven and Earth Review (Akira Toriyama)


I was tempted to just leave it at that - it’s succinct but accurate enough! 

The epic final battle between Son Goku and the Demon King Piccolo, that already began in the final pages of the last book, kicks off this volume at a blistering pace. And it is EPIC - Piccolo is after all a dude who can fire nuke-sized explosions from his hands! 

Both characters go all out against each other but, even though he’s been superpowered, Goku nearly dies defeating Piccolo. No, that’s not a spoiler, the whole damn series is about Goku, he was never going to die! And of course it’s no surprise that the characters who died in the last few books are brought back to life once Piccolo is vanquished. It’s a predictable next move - they all appear in Dragon Ball Z - but still great to see happen. 

All through the Piccolo storyline I’ve been wondering how Akira Toriyama’s going to make Piccolo good (in terms of his alignment), because that’s the way I’ve known the character to be prior to reading these books for the first time. I know Piccolo eventually joins the good guys - but how and why? And in the final moments of their fight, the Demon King reveals exactly how the Piccolo I was expecting came to be. At least, physically - we’ve yet to see him become good. 

I said in the last review that I wouldn’t be surprised by anything else Akira Toriyama throws at me; and then God enters the book! Goku doesn’t die but he decides to take his training to the next level, goes to Heaven(!), and trains with God(!!!). Amazing. It’s kind of God and it kind of isn’t - but the reveal of who God is is pretty damn surprising.

As Goku begins training, Toriyama once again jumps the story ahead 3 years like he did before - and now I get it. The 3 year bumps are what gets Dragon Ball/kid Son Goku to Dragon Ball Z/adult Son Goku, with the Strongest Under the Heavens tournament acting as markers for a new stage in the story. I didn’t realise that before but that’s an ingenious way to show characters’ development in a martial arts story, especially as it seems so obvious! Here they are at the next level of their abilities - let’s see how they’ve changed. 

Adult Son Goku finally makes his appearance in this volume, so the scene with Goku training in Heaven was the last we’ll see of that delightful scamp. It’s exciting and sad at the same time - I loved that lil guy but I’m really looking forward to the adventures an even more superpowered adult Goku is going to have! 

Heaven and Earth is an amazing 14th volume in the Dragon Ball series. It’s got fantastic art as usual, stunning fights, and the story keeps getting better and better. Astonishingly, I haven’t read a bad book in this series yet and it’s easy to see why this series has done as well as it has. So, in summary:


Dragon Ball, Volume 14: Heaven and Earth

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