Sunday, 28 September 2014

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 18: The Warrior Who Surpassed Goku Review (Akira Toriyama)

Volume 18 picks up with Son Goku stepping into the ring first with Cell and right away I was thinking that something was up. The guy who goes first never wins, and Son Goku’s the hero of the story, so it was an interesting choice of Akira Toriyama’s to open with the unexpected. 

And, y’know what, Goku’s fight with Cell is awesome. It’s great, it’s exciting, it’s everything readers of this series have come to expect from Toriyama. So why wasn’t I as engaged as I usually am with Dragon Ball Z? 

It comes down to repetition, which is a major factor in this series. It’s a fine line too because some repetition works really well - Cell as the unstoppable villain like Freeza and Vegeta before him, the Strongest Under the Heavens tournament model - but some of the repeated stuff in this book just didn’t click. 

Goku suddenly calling a halt in the middle of the fight because he knows he can’t beat Cell, rather than be shocking, felt inevitable and reminded me of the final battle he had with (I think?) Tenshinhan in the original Dragon Ball series. Of course that’s why he went first. Then Cell unleashes a bunch of mini-Cells to fight the rest of the Dragon Ball cast to keep them busy and that felt a lot like Volume 2 of the series when Vegeta sets loose a bunch of monsters.

And then, of course, Son Goku’s son, Gohan, steps in, and you know what’s going to happen: Gohan’s going to beat Cell. It all seems very rote, predictable, and done-before. It’s not that this book is bad, it’s just that at this point, 34 volumes in, we might’ve come to the extent of Toriyama’s invention - he now can’t do anything new and has to go back and redo everything with different characters. 

So it’s up to Gohan to defeat Cell and… I don’t really care! You know he’s going to, and then Goku will step back and the series focus will shift to Gohan and blah blah blah. I’ll keep reading of course but this whole Cell story arc has been very weak and it might mark the beginning of the downfall of the series - will it pick up after this or is it all downhill from here? Volume 18 is a decent continuation of the series but nothing overly surprising or special.

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 18: The Warrior Who Surpassed Goku

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