Friday, 24 October 2014

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 24: The Earth Army's Last Secret Weapon!! Review (Akira Toriyama)


If there’s one thing I didn’t expect towards the end of the Dragon Ball series, it’s all the dancing!

Boo’s going crazy waiting for Trunks and Goten to fight him so he literally destroys 80% of the world’s population. But his big ol’ chub-chub face is so cute, you can’t dislike him! It’s almost comical to read that caption: 80% of the world’s population!? Goku’s training Trunks and Goten to fuse which involves a complex dance sequence before the two literally become an enormously powerful one: Gotenks! Elsewhere on some distant planet, Gohan’s prepping for his battle with Boo but first has to have an old man dance around him for several hours!

Before Goku teaches Trunks and Goten the fusion dance (Safety Dance was playing in my head while I was reading those pages!), he fights Boo single-handedly, revealing what Super Saiyan Level 3 looks like. Super Saiyan Level 1 is the fiery yellow transformation; Level 2 is the same thing but with added lightning; Level 3 is all that plus a giant porcupine hair extension added (and a weird sloping of the brow)! Remember everyone: the bigger the hair, the stronger you get!

Akira Toriyama spends a lot of time on Boo. We see him build a house out of people (not nearly as scary as it sounds) and then restores a blind boy’s vision. Other times Boo comes across as insecure, constantly asking if he’s cool, and getting upset when a woman won’t kiss him, even when he moulds his pudgy mug into that of a movie star’s. Now why wouldn’t that work, I wonder!?

Even more astounding is Hercule’s role in all this. That fraud almost – almost – saves the world with his toadying by ingeniously giving Boo a puppy. Here’s how you turn any villain good: give them a cute puppy to play with. But of course we can’t have a pacified bad guy with two more volumes still to come, so things go tits up for Boo’s happiness – boo!

It’s great seeing Toriyama so confident in his storytelling that he’s spending so much time on other characters besides the Saiyans. Once upon a time this series was all Goku, all the time, but now the focus is as much on the villains as it is the heroes, and even characters who make one or two scene appearances are compelling to read about. You can see how much he’s grown as an artist in the years he’s spent on this series.

There’s the usual virtuoso fight sequences but Volume 24 is a mostly comedy-based book. When Gohan practices with his magic sword and his dad, Goku, picks up a giant rock to throw at him and slice in two, the visual is just too funny. And everything with Boo – I want to hate this dude but I can’t. That is until the end…

Volume 24’s a really good book 'cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, well, they're no friends of mine!

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 24: The Earth Army's Last Secret Weapon!!

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