Friday, September 18, 2015

"Dragon Ball Z, Vol. 1: The World's Greatest Team" by Akira Toriyama


When I first picked up Dragon Ball Z from the library about a year ago something stirring inside me kept preventing me from reading it or getting absorb into this fantasy world. I grew up with the anime and the video games so I know pretty much 95% what happens in Dragon Ball Z and yet I simply gave up and returned it to the library. Now I rediscovered this series and realized that there is a prequel called Dragon Ball which was the original manga that led to Dragon Ball Z and it deals with Goku's childhood. At that moment I remember glimpses of Goku's past and decided at that instance I will read Dragon Ball from the beginning.

Dragon Ball in of itself was epic and innocent. We got very simple characters, a steady storyline, and it enable me to understand the Dragon Ball universe and all the minor details that I skipped over when watching the anime. I fell in love with Goku and the gang and I felt sad to part ways with Goku of the past and now catch up with the series that made me fall in love with it in the first place with is now Dragon Ball Z.

We are shifted 5 years into the future from the last volume which Dragon Ball, Vol. 16: Goku vs. Piccolo so that means that Goku is 23 years old since he was 18 when this ended. Nothing has happen which is interesting since Piccolo was going to destroy the world in the previous volume and yet nothing bad has happened within those 5 years. Goku got married to Chichi and has a kid named Son Gohan (named after his grandpa) who wears a hat with the 4th Dragon Ball and looks almost exactly like his father even with the tail! He flies on Kintoun with his son and they travel to Kame's house to introduce everyone to his child.

At the same time a new evil comes to play as a space pod crashes on a random farm. This evil goes by the name of Raditz and he is a Saiyan warrior trying to locate his long lost brother Kakarrot whose mission was to destroy all the inhabitants of planet Earth. With his computerized headset Raditz goes on a mission to track his brother and encounters Piccolo along the way. Piccolo cannot believe he has encounter this powerful force believes at first it is Goku but realizes its a bigger threat that can ruin his plan for world domination. Piccolo is weaker when it comes to battling with Raditz but immediately the battle ends since Raditz was able to track Kakarrot.

When he finally arrives to meet his brother lo and behold it is Goku and immediately this family reunion ends badly. Goku is an alien and he was born evil but one day he bumped his head in the forest and almost died but Son Gohan was able to heal him and immediately he changed to being a good person. Raditz needs Goku's help to claim a foreign planet for profit and he refuses. When that happens Raditz beats the living hell out of Goku and steals Gohan as a ploy for Goku to work with him.

Immediately between the illustrations and the storyline, this new series is nothing like is prequels and the tones are way much darker. When looking back at Dragon Ball it all feels like a fairy tale because now we are dealing with death, murder, revenge, and evil that no one has ever seen before. I love that in the original series, Goku was portrayed as Superman as this unstoppable force and now in this series we get to see him come back to earth and in many ways it is like a restart for Goku and the training he will need for the future. Piccolo tracks Raditz down and teams up with Goku at Kame's house to kill Raditz. You may think that Piccolo is good but he is acting on a selfish desire to make sure no one is going to get in the way of killing Goku and this world. 

As Gohan is held captive we get a glimpse at how powerful he is as a child and the theory is if you mix Saiyan blood with that of a human, its DNA blends perfectly creating a super saiyan that has never been seen before which Raditz takes notes at Gohan's chi levels. Goku and Piccolo discover Raditz location and they end up in a battle that will hopefully put an end for Raditz. They believe that together they have a chance to kill him and in the end Piccolo has to kill Goku in order for Raditz to die which feels heartbreaking to see our beloved die at the end. 

When Piccolo kills Goku, Piccolo and the gang mention about the Dragon Balls and resurrecting Goku and Raditz was able to capture it all on film on his headset and send it to his two other brothers who are even more powerful than him. He promises them that they have a year before they arrive and when they do all hell is going to break loose and they are going to die. 

Before I go into how much I really enjoyed this manga and found it to be AWESOME I need to go on a rant on what really pissed me off.I know Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are two separate entities that make up a whole but I seriously wish it could have Dragon Ball Z, Vol. 17 instead of Dragon Ball Z, Vol. 1 because every time the reader is reintroduced to a character or place from Dragon Ball, they make a footnote and interrupt my flow of reading to tell me information I already know and the same message over and over again which is you can learn more if you read the previous Dragon Ball series. 

It goes to show you that they already know that most people are not going to read Dragon Ball so they make a shortcut. In my honest opinion they shouldn't make fu$@ing shortcuts because for (I) the story doesn't make sense if you've never read Dragon Ball, (II) that is absolutely pure laziness and you don't deserve to read Dragon Ball, and (III) if I didn't take any shortcuts to arrive where I am at in this story and neither should. If they didn't include any footnotes or tips I guarantee you it would pissed off people not understanding the manga and then they would start from scratch. 

Dragon Ball is a magnificent and simple read and in the end it is so worth the journey to finally arrive at Dragon Ball Z. I noticed a few people have argued about this topic and I do believe in their statement but I understand why Akira Toriyama did what he did. Dragon Ball in its simplicity never measured the level of a powerful fighter especially since they are above the average fighter and that is what many people loved like how in the Original Star Wars it was simply "The Force" with no explanations or something that could be measured.

These Saiyans with the headset are able to determine a persons power level making it easier to determine if they are a worth opponent or not. It kind of ruins the whole specialty of Dragon Ball but I understand that these people come from a different planet where technology is advanced from our mankind. These Saiyans are so used to this headset that finally meeting Goku and the others, it shows that the device is archaic and how based on their skills and training they power level is carefully measured in combat. 

I cannot get enough of this series and I am really curious as to what is going to happen to Goku, Gohan, and the rest of the cast. Growing up I always loved Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, and Kuririn so it is refreshing to meet these lovable characters again and grown up. More reviews coming your way so until then please stay tuned to another volume of Dragon Ball Z (I have finally been waiting to say that since I always felt like something was missing which is the Z).

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