Monday, 20 March 2017

Dr Slump, Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama Review

It’s weird that I’ve never read anything else by Akira Toriyama considering Dragon Ball might be my favourite comic ever. So I picked up the first volume of Dr Slump, the series he did before Dragon Ball, annnnddd… it’s ok but definitely not of the same quality.

Dr Senbei Norimaki creates a realistic robot girl called Arale and the two have adventures. The Doc creates wacky gadgets, they time-travel, slapstick (sometimes strangely bawdy) comedy abounds; it’s readable but nothing inspired. 

As a huge Dragon Ball fan, it’s interesting to see the genesis of a lot of that series here. Arale, an innocent young child with super-strength, is clearly a proto-Son Goku, as well as looking like a tiny Bulma; Dr Slump and his inventions (like the Shrink Ray) is part Dr Briefs and part Kame-Sennin; and Penguin Village, with its anthropomorphic animals, is much like Dragon Ball’s fantastical world. I also enjoyed seeing Toriyama’s cute art style again – everyone’s chibi in this series! 

But I wasn’t grabbed by the episodic, meandering stories and would’ve preferred a more focused, longer narrative instead. It’s a fine lil’ kiddie manga but not a patch on the brilliance of Dragon Ball so I’ll leave the title here. Some creators are one-hit wonders but sometimes one is all they need, especially when it’s a mega-hit!

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