Sunday, 7 September 2014

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 1: A Never Before Seen Terror Review (Akira Toriyama)


Saiyan…

Dragon Ball was an incredible series and I’m so glad to have finally read it. But I wanted to read Son Goku’s childhood stories before I got into what I really REALLY wanted to read: Dragon Ball Z. Specifically for the Saiyans, and the other adventures I know of vaguely from having caught random episodes of the TV show years ago. And it doesn’t disappoint - Dragon Ball Z Volume 1 is AWESOME! 

Five years have passed since the events of Dragon Ball Volume 16 and not an awful lot has happened - probably why Akira Toriyama chose to skip them and jump straight into the now. The big news is that Son Goku is now a dad with an adorable boy called Son Gohan (named after Goku’s grandpa) who also has a hat with the soshinkyu (four star Dragon Ball) in it. 

But a powerful new enemy has landed on Earth: a being called Raditz who calls himself a Saiyan warrior (insanely strong aliens). And he has big news for Goku - he’s his long lost brother, and together they are destined to destroy the planet! 

The last Dragon Ball book felt very Superman-y and I mentioned in my review that Goku had essentially become Superman at that point. But this volume in particular draws even more comparisons to Superman. Goku finds out he’s a Saiyan warrior sent to Earth as a baby from a dying home planet (he’s banged his head when he was little and suffered amnesia so he didn’t know until now). Sound familiar? 

And then three Saiyan warriors - the only three remaining, besides Goku and Gohan - are on their way to Earth. Sounds like Chris Reeve’s Superman with Zod, Ursa, and Non, doesn’t it? Those are just things I noticed - I’m not saying these are negatives in any way, but it’s just interesting to me, as a Superman fan, to see Toriyama doing a Japanese version of that character. 

What was the worst thing about the Star Wars prequels (besides the fact that they exist)? Arguably it was the midi-chlorian scene. That was the scene where Qui-Gon explained to Anakin that the Force was a blood disease or something retarded. The Force could now be measured in some lab. Ugh. Well, sad to say Toriyama did something similar in this book. 

The Saiyans have these headset dealios that tell them how much power beings have. So when Raditz faces Goku and Piccolo (who team up), we learn their power levels are 320 and 310 and the kamehameha is 910 and so on. It’s not enough to wreck the book for me but I really wished Toriyama hadn’t put numbers to their power or moves - this ain’t Top Trumps, dammit! 

The Saiyans themselves are a bit odd. Their job, so to speak, is wiping out planets of their inhabitants and then selling the planet - they’re kinda like a psychotic Rentokil! And really, what do these guys need money for? They can do just about anything - if they can wipe out a planet, they can take whatever they need, so what use is money? Are they saving up for something - what?

I’m starting to see why Dragon Ball Z is 26 volumes and Dragon Ball was 16 - this first volume is 130-ish pages while the volumes in Dragon Ball were 190-ish. If all the Z volumes are going to be this short, no wonder it’s ten volumes longer than the last series! 

And yet - none of these criticisms made me dislike this book any less than I did. I ate this one up in one and am hungry for 25 more! Toriyama’s not the best writer - there are some info dumps in the first act, just to get it out of the way and get to the main Saiyan storyline - but he’s good enough and his stories are totally compelling. His art is fantastic - the way he draws perspective is amazing, and there’s a strong sense of motion in the action scenes. 

And I just love this new setup - the characters are a bit older, Goku’s facing a vastly superior foe, with more on the way, and the story immediately drew me in. I can’t wait for more. As if I didn’t already expect it, Toriyama’s crafted another superb book in Dragon Ball Z Volume 1!

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 1: A Never Before Seen Terror

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