Manga Review: “Jaco the Galactic Patrolman”

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is a manga by Akira Toriyama, and it was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2015. This volume is rated “A,” which means it is suitable for readers of all ages.

Jaco the Galactic Patrolam
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 6, 2015

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman was Akira Toriyama’s first serial in 13 years, and it has ties with his most popular work, the Dragon Ball franchise. This volume collects all eleven chapters that were serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, as well as a bonus Dragon Ball story.

The main character of the series is Jaco, an alien Galactic Patrolman who has a strong sense of justice. He’s been sent to Earth with a mission to intercept a projectile that has an alien in it and defeat the alien. I have to admit that when I saw Jaco doing his posing as he introduces himself, it reminded me so much of the Great Saiyaman in Dragon Ball Z.

When Jaco crash lands on Earth, he comes across an island with only one inhabitant: a former scientist named Omori. Omori lost his wife in an accident on the island; while the experiment he was working on was terminated, he stays alone on the island in order to be by his wife’s grave. Omori also hates humans, which is another reason why he lives such an isolated life. When Omori first meets Jaco, he thinks that he’s some weird guy in a mask; but after he realizes Jaco is really an alien, Omori reluctantly decides to try to help Jaco repair his ship. I have to admit that when I saw Omori in this volume, I couldn’t help but think that his face looked very similar in design to King Piccolo from Dragon Ball.

Jaco and Omori end up becoming friends when Katayude from the government police arrives on the island and telld Omori that he has to leave so it can become a resort facility for politicians. Omori is given a week to move. So now not is Omori under pressure to try to fix Jaco’s spaceship, he also has to figure out how he can stay on the island.

When the two go to the capital, Jaco rescues a girl named Tights; in the process, he accidentally assaults a couple of police officers. Jaco becomes a wanted criminal, and he receives help from both Omori and Tights. It turns out that Tights is an aspiring science fiction writer, and that she is the older sister of Bulma Briefs from the Dragon Ball franchise.

My favorite part of this volume is when 5-year-old Bulma comes to visit Omori’s island with her parents, and how she manages to show up both Omori and her father when it comes to figuring out Jaco’s spaceship. And right at the end of the eleventh chapter, the ties between Jaco the Galactic Patrolman and the Dragon Ball franchise are cemented by insinuating that she makes a visit to Omori right before the point the audience first meets Bulma in Dragon Ball.

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman may not be an action-packed story like Dragon Ball, but it’s an enjoyable enough read with its humor and its story of friendship. In some respects, the humor reminds me very much of the type of humor that was seen in early part of the Dragon Ball franchise that takes place when Goku is a little boy. I believe that fans of Toriyama’s work, especially the early part of the story in the Dragon Ball franchise, will enjoy reading Jaco the Patrolman. However, I should add that you don’t have to be knowledgeable about Dragon Ball to get enjoyment out of this story; while elements and references are made to Dragon Ball, they’re included in a way where knowledge of that franchise isn’t necessary to understand what’s going on. But their inclusion in the story will definitely appeal to Dragon Ball fans.

I originally read the bonus Dragon Ball story when it was included in the April 7, 2014 issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. My thoughts on this story haven’t really changed in the intervening time, so I’ll just include what I originally wrote after I read this in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Goku’s father, Burdock, is out fighting a battle, only to be told that Freeza has ordered all the Saiyans to return to Planet Vegeta. When Burdock returns, he learns through various conversations that one of Freeza’s men was asking around about a Super Saiyan. Then, we see Freeza declare that since the Saiyans are a bit too proud to truly be loyal to him, it’s time to wipe them and their planet out; he decides to carry his plan out in a month’s time. We get to see a young Vegeta and a young Raditz, as well as Burdock’s wife, Gine. We learn that Kakarrot (aka Goku) has been in an incubator for three years. After seeing Kakarrot, Burdock decides he’s going to steal a space pod at night and launch him to a different planet for Kakarrot’s safety, because Burdock senses that Freeza’s up to something. Burdock programs the pod to head to a place called Earth. Then we see that Jaco the Patrolman has been sent to find the projectile from Planet Vegeta after it lands on Earth.

Now, wait a minute here… doesn’t this conflict with what was presented in Dragon Ball Z? From what was stated in the main series, Kakarrot was sent to Earth on a mission to take it over… but this one-shot is now saying that it was his parents who sent him to Earth. While it was neat to finally see Goku’s mom, I wish the story didn’t present such a contradiction! While it’s a good story, I have a hard time buying it since it contradicts already established facts. The only way I can truly enjoy this is to think of it as some kind of alternate timeline story.

When it comes to the art, some of the characters have similar looks to characters from the Dragon Ball franchise, such as Omori’s face looking similar to King Piccolo’s. But I’ve come to expect this, though, since Toriyama has developed a particular art style; as soon as you see it, you know it’s something that was drawn by Toriyama.

But in the end, I overall enjoyed reading Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. For me personally, the main weakness of the volume was the bonus Dragon Ball story, simply due to the fact that I’m used to the origin story that was presented in the Dragon Ball Z anime series. Readers who aren’t familiar with the anime shouldn’t have the problems reading the bonus Dragon Ball story that I did. I’d recommend this volume to readers who are interested in becoming familiar with Toriyama’s work but don’t want to commit to a long-running series like the Dragon Ball franchise.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

2 comments

  1. twosugarsfairlystrong · January 6, 2015

    I read the first chapter a while ago but could never find the remaining chapters.. May I ask where you get/buy your manga from? Thanks

    • Lesley Aeschliman · January 6, 2015

      In the case of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, it was sent to me by VIZ Media as a review copy. I tend to check out manga from the library more often than purchasing copies right now. But when I do buy manga, I either buy it from online retailer Right Stuf or I’ll buy it at Barnes & Noble.

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