Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dragon Ball, Volume 16: Goku vs Piccolo Review (Akira Toriyama)

This is it: the final Dragon Ball book (before the 26 volume-long Dragon Ball Z series begins)! It marks the end of Son Goku’s childhood (even though he’s been an adult now for 3 books - but let’s just go with this idea anyway) and his transformation from martial arts supremo into, basically, Superman! 

Piccolo’s match against Kami-Sama, the guy who created the Dragon Balls, and a match that was essentially God vs the Devil, ends almost as soon as it begins as Piccolo Jr reveals just how powerful he’s gotten. Which means the final of the third Strongest Under the Heavens tournament is Piccolo Jr vs three-time finalist Son Goku. 

The fight quickly casts off any pretense of a martial arts match as these two super-powered beings start throwing fireballs at each other as they fight in the sky! This is where it really looked like a Superman comic with Goku saving innocent bystanders from Piccolo’s attacks while realising that he can’t kill his enemy. And then, like most Superman comics, the battle soon becomes about the fate of the planet - if the hero loses, the villainous monster will kill everyone! 

Their fight, like most of Goku’s fights, has lots of little surprises thrown in. They’re never just about two characters punching and kicking one another; magic, trickery, and comedy are all mixed in as well as a few other surprises. It’s a fantastic fight though and thoroughly enjoyable to read. 

So Goku finally wins a Strongest Under the Heavens tournament and alls well that ends well. But what I loved most about the ending was that Goku and Chi-Chi were offered godhood in Heaven and Goku’s reaction was basically “no way, Heaven’s too boring!”, pulled a face - at GOD! - then yelled for Kinto’un and he and Chi-Chi flew off. “Now, GO!!”

That’s the most perfect ending to a series I’ve ever read. 

Dragon Ball has been an absolutely incredible series from start to finish. There were two or three average volumes in the sixteen but not a single bad one, and that’s a helluva score sheet! Without question it’s been, not just one of the best comics I’ve read all year, but one of the best comics I’ve ever read. It’s easy to see just how influential and popular it became when the quality of Toriyama’s writing, art, and storytelling vision was so unbelievably high. If you’ve never read it and you’re at all curious, I highly recommend checking out the series from the start - it’s well worth the journey.

Now, GO - onto Dragon Ball Z!!

Dragon Ball, Volume 16: Goku vs Piccolo

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