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Manga review: ‘Dragon Ball’ full color Vol. 1

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On February 4, 2014 manga and anime publisher Viz Media released the first volume of “Dragon Ball” full color, and they provided us with the opportunity to revisit this classic action series with a colorful new look.

“Dragon Ball” is a series created by Akira Toriyama and the full color edition starts off at the beginning of what many know as the “Dragon Ball Z” series. The “Dragon Ball Z” anime is available in North America from FUNimation Entertainment. Fair warning, “Dragon Ball” has been around for a while so I will likely be spoiling some of the “Saiyan Arc” in this review.

The story of “Dragon Ball” follows the journey of Son Goku, a monkey-tailed boy who embarks on a journey with a girl named Bulma, in search of the Dragon Balls, which once collected can summon a dragon to grant one wish. Along his journey, Goku makes many friends and even saves the world from the evil Piccolo, becoming Earth’s greatest warrior.

Fast forward five years, this is where the “Dragon Ball” full color series begins, and Goku is now a father to a monkey-tailed son named Gohan, and Earth is relatively peaceful, with the exception of a not as evil Piccolo running around. The peaceful days of Earth come to a sudden halt however, when an alien named Raditz arrives on Earth looking for Kakarrot.

The Kakarrot that Raditz is looking for is actually Goku, Raditz’s younger brother, and after explaining Goku’s origins, he is now hoping to return to his fellow Saiyans with the fourth and final remaining member of their race, in order to continue conquering worlds. Goku wants no part of his brother’s plans though and after a fairly quick confrontation, Raditz kidnaps Gohan, hoping to ransom Goku’s service in exchange for his son’s life.

With no real plan, and only his much weaker allies, Kuririn and Roshi, to help him, Goku is forced to rely on Piccolo to help him fight Raditz and take back his son. As the three fighters square off, it looks like Raditz is going to win easily, but thanks to an enraged Gohan and a powerful new attack from Piccolo, Raditz is defeated. Sadly, Goku is also killed in the process.

With Raditz’s dying words, he warns Piccolo that his fellow Saiyans will now be heading to Earth and that they are both much more powerful than he was. To prepare for the coming battle, many of Earth’s greatest fighters begin training, as Piccolo takes Gohan to begin training him to harness his ability and Goku begins a journey in the underworld to meet with the “Lord of Worlds”, to begin training for the Saiyan’s arrival and his resurrection.

By now most anime fans are at least partially familiar with “Dragon Ball” and the “Dragon Ball Z” anime. The “Dragon Ball” full color series isn’t going to add anything new to series, it is the same story, but it features a much improved look thanks to color.

As far as action series go, “Dragon Ball” is a classic and it offers plenty of comedy to go along with amazing levels of collateral damage. While this first volume isn’t packed with the action the series is known for, it is the set up point for the series and the “Saiyan Arc”. Many of the characters are introduced and the main villains for this arc are revealed, giving just enough to keep readers interested.

The look of “Dragon Ball” full color is the big draw for readers, while the series doesn’t have a lot of detail, the addition of color throughout is incredible. The manga actually looks just like the anime, maybe even a little bit better, but I am a sucker for full color manga.

The translations are interesting, a lot of the word usage by the Earthlings are things like “aintcha”, y’never” and “’nless”, while Piccolo is just a few jumbled words away from sounding like Yoda. But it still has a nice flow when reading and everything fits nicely in the dialog boxes. Some of the more interesting things about the text in the manga are the little notes, which help to explain some of the back story and even give you details on which volumes of the previous series to look into for more information.

“Dragon Ball” full color isn’t going to wow readers with anything new, but it will definitely still keep fans of the classic happy. The series was great to begin with, so what reason is there to mess with something good, aside from giving it a much improved look.

There are plenty of “Dragon Ball Z” fans out there that may not have experienced the manga yet and this full color edition, which is a little larger than most manga, is a great title to pick up since it begins right where the “Dragon Ball Z” anime does. The series is also one of the few where being familiar with the previous series isn’t a necessity to understand what is happening, although it doesn’t hurt. It is a great jumping off point.

For new readers and old fans, “Dragon Ball” full color is without a doubt a worthwhile addition to your collection. “Dragon Ball” is also a great series to look into if you’re a fan of series like “Bleach” and "One Piece”.

Score

4.5 out of 5

Dragon Ball Full Color (Saiyan Arc) Vol 1.

Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump imprint)
Story and Art: Akira Toriyama
Number of Pages: 248
Age Rating: All Ages
Release Date: February 4, 2014

(A review copy of “Dragon Ball” full color Vol. 1 was provided by Viz Media.)

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