Manga Review: Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater

Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater compiles all three volumes of the series that were released in Japan into one hardcover release that has 626 pages.

Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 7, 2021

Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater is a collection of short stories written by Akira Toriyama that were published between 1978 and 1994, and it serves as both a collection of his early works and a history of his life as a mangaka. In between each story, there is a one page comic that sees Toriyama explaining what was happening or what he was going through at the time he was writing and drawing the various stories.

The collection opens with “Wonder Island,” which is Toriyama’s first published work from 1978. From the art style, you can see the beginnings of the style that Toriyama has come to be known for. The story itself was kind of “meh,” at least to me. The main character is Petty Officer 2nd Class Furusu from the Imperial Japanese Army. He’s been trapped on Wonder Island for years and is insisting on finding a way to fly back home. He has run-ins with some of the local animals and people. It’s full of gags, with only a minimal overarching story to bring the gags together. From the art style and the writing, it’s obviously one of Toriyama’s early works. It’s not bad for what it is, but it’s something that just doesn’t personally grab me.

This is followed by “Wonder Island 2,” which was published in 1979. This one shot sees a detective named Herring, who comes from Los Angilas, California, being sent to Wonder Island to hunt down a suspect. There’s a lot of gags at the police station before Herring ever goes to Wonder Island. Very little time is spent on the island, and at the end, it’s revealed the suspect is actually in New York. The main thing that stood out to me is that the face on one of the characters at the police station looks like an early version of Mister Satan from the Dragon Ball franchise. But like with the previous “Wonder Island” story, it’s more of a gag manga than anything with an overarching story.

Next is “Tomato the Cutesy Gumshoe,” which was published in 1979. In this story, a cute yet ditzy 18-year-old girl named Tomato joins the police force as a detective. Outside of her, the main person from the police force focused on is a cop named Slump. This story doesn’t seem to have any connection to Toriyama’s Dr. Slump series, but I’m guessing he took the name for the character from this one shot. Toriyama’s art doesn’t look quite so rough here, but the character of Slump doesn’t really have the look that I associate with Toriyama’s art. All of the other characters do, though. While this one still has gags involved, there’s at least an attempt to include some kind of overarching story. While I thought this was stronger than either of the Wonder Island stories, I still didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped.

“Pola & Roid” is a story told in 14 acts, and it was published in 1981. This would have been drawn and published during Dr. Slump‘s serialization. When it comes to the art, I can definitely tell that Toriyama had developed his art style to the point that most readers associate with him. Roid works as a taxi driver and lives on the artificial planet Yakandagaya. He only wants to give rides to cute girls, but other people can persuade him for rides with money. Pola is a girl on the planet Congargatta, who wants to be a defender of justice. Her hair made me think of Launch from Dragon Ball, and her outfit looks like what young Chi-Chi wears in Dragon Ball. The story sees Pola calling Roid for a ride, and Roid’s ship being downed when he goes to pick her up. “Pola & Roid” follows the adventures these two have as they go after the Gananboans, who have been terrorizing the planet Congargatta. Of the stories presented in this volume up to this point, it’s the first one to have a real overarching story. It probably helps that this is a longer story than the previous three, though.

“Mad Matic” was published in 1982, and it establishes that a land was beset upon by a ferocious saber-tooth dragon. To put an end to the dragon’s terror, they built a large refrigerator and filled it with sake. The dragon was lured inside the fridge and it was shut inside and locked up. Since then, the people have been tasked over generations to guard this fridge. But over time, the guardians no longer know why they’re guarding it. In the story, a young man, along with his winged dog, are traveling through the desert and the young man desperately wants beer. He comes across the large fridge and thinks there might be some inside. They encounter a couple of girls guarding the fridge, and they are attacked by the Gungun army. Well, let’s just say that the fridge manages to be opened and the dragon escapes. The young man is able to tame it, and the dragon helps to take out the Gungun army. With this story, I can definitely see the style Toriyama was utilizing for Dr. Slump, and this makes a lot of sense since he was still drawing that manga at this point in time.

Next is “Chobit,” a story about a 21-year-old man named Mugifumi who lives with his two younger siblings and is basically the police force for their small village. The crimes, though, are basically laughable. The five-year-old sister serves as the mother of the family, and she seems to have more sense and have more smarts than her 21-year-old brother. With the hairstyle and some of Mugifumi’s facial expressions, I can see some traces of Goku from the Dragon Ball Z era and later. Anyway, Mugifumi comes across a small spaceship which has a small girl inside, and she’s wearing what looks like a genie outfit. I couldn’t help but think of the character Sumomo from Chobits when I saw her, primarily due to the fact that they’re both small and wear genie outfits. Yes, the girl has magical powers, which Mugifumi is able to use to help him with the “permission kidnapping case” that takes place in the third chapter. This story really wasn’t bad for what it was, and at this point in the volume, it was one of the better ones that I read. The three chapters that comprise this story were published in 1983.

There is also “Chobit 2,” which was published in 1983 and is a sequel to the previous story. This one was only one chapter long, but Mugifumi brings his two siblings, as well as the little genie girl, with him to a bigger city to serve on their police force. While this “big city” would still seem small to most readers, the reactions of Mugifumi and his siblings are amusing when they see what this town has to offer, because it’s all a step up from where they came from. Unfortunately, their “small town knowledge” has made them unaware of Wanted posters, so they misunderstand what it means when they see one. Hijinks and misunderstandings occur when someone on a wanted poster comes into town. This was a decent story, and I’m glad that Toriyama didn’t try to stretch it out beyond one chapter, because I think it needed to be this short in order to work.

This is followed by “Today’s Highlight Island,” and it’s, at least to me, one the least memorable stories included in this volume. It’s another one of Toriyama’s early stories, and this one was published in 1979. A kid named Kanta shows up late to school, gets a toothache, and is dragged off to the dentist. There’s quite a few hijinks, but in the end, things work out for Kanta in a surprising twist. Since it’s among Toriyama’s earlier works, it’s not surprising that it’s not quite as strong as his work that would be published just a few years later.

“Escape” was originally published in 1982, and it’s one of the shortest pieces to appear in this compilation. It follows a girl in the year 2070, and the story is being set up to appear to be some kind of major chase going on… but there’s a twist at the end that shows that what the reader thought was happening wasn’t what was actually going on. It’s good for how short this was, and it just wouldn’t have worked if it had been any longer.

“Pink The Rain Jack Story” was originally published in 1982, and it’s set at a time when it hasn’t rained for a year. The Silver Company has been hoarding water and selling it for ridiculously high prices, and a girl named Pink keeps stealing it from them. Sheriff Cobalt Blue is asked to take on the case, and he’s given the vague description of the thief as being a small guy on a floater bike. As Cobalt investigates, he comes across a floater bike at Pink’s home and talks to her. Cobalt isn’t very bright, though, because he doesn’t clue in that Pink had just finished taking a bath even though water is scarce. It takes him a little while to realize he had encountered the thief. Pink decides to go straight to the Silver Company to pull off her biggest heist yet, and what’s discovered and what happens is a nice twist. It was a little disappointing to see that the sheriff had to be portrayed as an idiot in order for this story to work, though.

Next are two chapters for a story called “Dragon Boy,” which were both published in 1983. Right from the title page for the first chapter, it jumped out at me that the boy looks a lot like young Goku, and the girl (who is a princess in this story) looks an awful lot like young Chi-Chi. The boy is training in martial arts under his teacher, Master Roshi (although he looks nothing like the Roshi from the Dragon Ball franchise). Tangtong, the boy, is given a mission to escort the princess of the Land of Blossoms back to her home. When Tangtong encounters the princess, he acts a lot like young Goku did when he encountered Bulma for the first time, because both had never seen a girl before. Tangtong is given a sacred dragon treasure, which will cause a dragon to appear if it’s placed on the ground and the user strikes it with every last but of their ki. That may not quite be the same thing as the Dragon Balls, it still is a similar concept. While on their journey, Tangtong and the princess encounter a shapeshifting creature that bears quite a resemblance to Pu’ar from Dragon Ball. After reading these two chapters, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps this story may have led to the creation of, or at least inspired, Toriyama to create Dragon Ball.

“The Adventure of Tongpoo,” which was also published in 1983, has a lead character who looks a lot like young Goku again. While he may look like Goku, Tongpoo seems to be a little brighter than him. In this story, Tongpoo is on board an experimental spaceship for a reconnaissance mission. He is the only person on board, and he’s in a cryosleep chamber. Seeing the chamber made me think of the pods we see the young Saiyans in on Planet Vegeta. Tongpoo is woken by the ship’s computer so he can evacuate before the ship explodes. His escape craft causes him to land on a planet, and we see him using capsules that have items stored in them. This is very much like the capsules in the Dragon Ball franchise, except for the fact that these ones have to be boiled in water to get the contents out of them, instead of simply pushing a button and throwing them to the ground. As he explores, he comes across a girl who had been part of one of the previous reconnaissance missions and is now trapped on this planet like Tongpoo. Attitude-wise, the girl kind of reminds me of Bulma. After reading this, I suspect that this was another of Toriyama’s works that helped to shape Dragon Ball, especially the use of the capsules and the interactions between Tongpoo and the girl.

This is followed by “Mr. Ho,” which was published in 1986 and makes it the first story Toriyama published after starting the Dragon Ball manga. The series is set in a world where peace has returned after a war between the north and the south. A former northern soldier is visiting a city in the south, and he gets treated rudely and isn’t trusted by most of the inhabitants, because they’ve been dealing with a gang of northern soldiers known as the Chai Gang. After two villagers approach the soldier and ask for help with the Chai Gang, he agrees to give them assistance. The thing that stood out the most to me in this story is the fact that the northern solider has a strong resemblance to Yamucha from the Dragon Ball franchise. It’s not a bad story, and I liked how Toriyama was trying to impart the idea of not judging someone, but I had a hard time getting over the fact that the character I was seeing here wasn’t Yamucha.

“Young Master Ken’nosuke” was published in 1987, and it’s about a boy in kindergarten named Ken’nosuke being asked out on a date by his female classmate. When he asks his mother about going on dates, he learns that a boring man on a date is a total loser. He then asks his friend, a pig named Shinobimaru, about dates. Shinobimaru also gives him the line about not being a total loser, and the pig tries to give advice about dates from television and magazines. Let’s just say that the information and advice is disastrous, and at the end of the chapter, Ken’nosuck ends up being the “total loser” that he didn’t want to be. To me, this wasn’t a forgettable story, but it wasn’t a great story, either. It was just kind of there.

Next is “The Elder,” which was published in 1988. An old man is the village elder, and he goes after people for minor infractions. But when a man (who looks like General Blue from Dragon Ball) drives by and throws a drink can out of his car window, the elder goes after him… and ends up stumbling onto something bigger than littering. I liked how, in the end, no one knows that the village elder had saved the world, and his life just returns to normal. This was a pretty good story, and it was just the right length.

“Little Mamejiro” was published in 1988, and the main character, Mamejiro, looks an awful lot like young Kuririn… except for the fact that he has hair. Six-year-old Mamejiro gets mad because his father takes his ice cream, and he decides he wants to become a delinquent. He asks his friend, Joji, for help. But since they’re both six years old, the ideas Joji keeps coming up with don’t work. When Mamejiro tries to demand money from a man running down the road, it turns out that he catces robber who stole money from the local farming co-op. I found this to be an enjoyable one chapter story, and the ending was perfect.

This is followed by “Karamaru and the Perfect Day,” which was published in 1989. A young ninja named Karamaru has to go to town to sell mushrooms because his grandfather is unable to do so. However, he is advised to not tell anyone that he’s a ninja. On his travel, Karamaru encounters a man who has stolen a car and claims to be a ninja. Of course, he really isn’t, but the young ninja doesn’t let on that he knows the man is a fake. While Karamaru talks with the man, a group of men take his mushrooms, and the young ninja has to try to get them back… but can only manage it when the man is knocked out. This was a neat little one chapter story, and I liked how Karamaru taught the man some important lessons.

“Soldier of Savings Cashman” is a three-chapter story that was published between 1990 and 1991. The premise is that an alien was chasing a duo of wanted murderers, and his ship’s fuel center was damaged. He had to make an emergency landing, and unfortunately he killed an Earthling in the process. The alien takes on this human’s identity, which was a police officer named Chapat. He discovers that the fuel he needs for his ship is known as gold on Earth, and that he needs a lot of money to acquire enough to return home. When he’s Chapat and comes across crimes, he changes into his true form (which looks like one of the forms that Dragon Ball Z‘s Cell has) to take on the identity of Cashman. As Cashman, he serves as a superhero… but will only save people if they pay him. In the long run, this story didn’t do much for me, and it didn’t help that I kept thinking Cashman was Cell.

Next is “Dub & Peter 1,” which is a four-chapter story that was published in 1993. Dub looks like a stereotypical bully. He has a friend named Peter, who is a book smart Black boy who designs a car for Dub. When Dub first gets the car, he likes it so much he names it “Peter 1” after his friend. Unfortunately, when the idea is for Dub to use the car to pick up girls and Peter makes it so it only seats one person, let’s just say that Dub gets mad. Peter fixes that issue, and then adds an onboard ultra computer. The ultra computer has no problem being sassy with Dub, though. Unfortunately, in the long run, the car doesn’t help Dub’s chances with the ladies, because, well… the car isn’t the problem. It’s Dub, but he can’t admit it. This was kind of an interesting story, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the portrayal of Peter. For a kid who’s supposed to be so smart, he keeps doing stupid things like making the car a one-seater instead of a two-seater even though Dub made it very clear why he wanted the car. To be honest, I didn’t find Peter’s various gaffes to be all that funny.

The final story is “Go! Go! Ackman,” which is an 11-chapter story that was published between 1993 and 1994. The main character is Ackman, a demon boy who turns 200 years old and is now expected to start collecting human souls. In the process, he encounters an angel that he knows. When the angel accidentally shoots a human while trying to get Ackman, he ends up helping Ackman acquire a soul. This keeps happening, and the angel becomes wanted as a mass murderer. The angel makes it his mission to kill Ackman, and that’s the running theme for the series. To be honest, this story didn’t do much for me. I felt it ran for too long, and there was a chapter that made me feel uncomfortable (it included a transgender character, with this character being used for a joke).

In the end Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater is very much a mixed bag. It’s a release that I can only truly recommend to readers who are fans of Akira Toriyama’s work who want to be able to read his various one shots and short stories that haven’t been readily available in the West prior to this release. Personally, while I was glad to have the opportunity to see work by Akira Toriyama that wasn’t Dragon Ball-related, I have to admit that I had hoped to enjoy more of the content in this volume than I actually did.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Akira Toriyama, Eiichiro Oda, Takehiko Inoue, Kohei Horikoshi, and Kazue Kato to Judge New English Manga Contest

Japanese company MediBang Inc. and publisher Shueisha have announced that they are launching a special overseas award for the “Tezuka Manga Contest” in order to find new talent from around the world.

The “Tezuka Manga Contest” (Tezuka Shō) is one of the regular contests Shueisha and Weekly Shonen Jump holds each year to look for new talent for shonen manga, and is named after Osamu Tezuka. Shueisha held the first award in 1971, and holds the contest twice a year. The special overseas award is part of the overall 100th iteration of the contest, and is looking for entries in English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and Korean.

The judges for the contest include:

  • Akira Toriyama
  • Eiichiro Oda
  • Kazue Katō
  • Kōhei Horikoshi
  • Takehiko Inoue
  • Tezuka Productions
  • Weekly Shonen Jump magazine’s Editor in Chief
  • Jump SQ. magazine’s Editor in Chief

The same judges are also judging the general 100th award in Japan.

The first prize winner will be published in either the digital or print version of Weekly Shonen Jump, will be invited to the award ceremony in Tokyo, and will receive 2 million yen (about US$18,670). The second prize winner will be published in either the digital or print version of Weekly Shonen Jump, will be invited to the award ceremony in Tokyo, and will receive 1 million yen (about US$9,335). An honorable mention winner will receive 500,000 yen (about US$4,667) and will be invited to the award ceremony in Tokyo.

MediBang and Shueisha will announce the winners in December 2020.

Contest rules and submission information are available in English on the contest’s website.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Two

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Two collects the fourth, fifth, and sixth volumes of the manga that chronicle the story of the Dragon Ball Z portion of the franchise.

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume Two
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 19, 2008

This volume continues where the first volume left off, which was during the battle between Goku and Vegeta. In fact, the entirety of the fourth volume of the Dragon Ball Z portion of the story is focused on this battle, which makes up 177 pages of this release. We then see what happens in the aftermath of this battle, and the decision to go to Planet Namek to acquire the Namekian Dragon Balls.

The story then shifts to Bulma, Kuririn, and Gohan going to Planet Namek. Unfortunately, getting the Namekian Dragon Balls isn’t easy, because both Vegeta and new villain Freeza want the Dragon Balls for themselves so they can wish for immortality. But Freeza isn’t alone… he has powerful henchmen by his side. Goku also decides to set out for Planet Namek after he recovers and using his time in the spaceship to train so he can become even stronger.

For readers who have watched the anime, they already know how long of an arc there is going into the Planet Namek portion of the story. Yes, the anime did add in some filler, but the portion of this arc that appears in this volume isn’t bogged down by filler in the anime. When an anime viewer reaches the end of this volume and realize how much there still is to go for this portion of the story, they know it’s going to have to cover at least one more of the VIZBig omnibus volumes.

Obviously, the Vegeta and Goku fight at the beginning of this volume is one of the highlights. Near the end of the volume, a battle between Vegeta and Zarbon (one of Freeza’s henchmen) gets underway but doesn’t quite finish. Outside of these two big battles, there are some action sequences, but they’re nowhere near as intense as the two battles that bookend the volume. Probably the closest to these two would be the attack that Freeza and his henchmen launch on a Namekian village in order to obtain its Dragon Ball.

I would recommend the manga to readers who are only familiar with the story from the Dragon Ball Z anime, because it allows them to see just how much the anime was stretched out by “filler” and slowing the pacing down. While watching Dragon Ball Z Kai can also help with this, I think it’s better to go to the original source material and see how the author intended the story to be told.

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Manga Review: Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume One

Dragon Ball Z VIZBig Volume One collects the first three volumes of the manga that chronicle the story of the Dragon Ball Z portion of the franchise.

Dragon Ball Z VIZBIG Volume One
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 3, 2008

This volume begins with the arrival of an alien named Raditz, and he’s looking for his brother, Kakarrot. He tracks down his brother, who turns out to be Goku, at Roshi’s place. Also introduced early on in this volume is Gohan, Goku’s young son. Yes, it turns out Goku had a tail in the first series because he wasn’t an Earthling… he’s from a race known as the Saiyans. When Goku refuses to go with Raditz, his older brother defeats him and kidnaps Gohan.

For those who are familiar with the Dragon Ball Z franchise know that this is the beginning of this portion of this franchise. The story continues in this volume with the death of Goku, Gohan displaying that he has latent powers that he’s unaware of, and Piccolo training Gohan. Goku may be dead, but he’s training in the afterworld with Kaio-sama. Goku, Gohan, and the other Z-Fighters are preparing for the arrival of two other Saiyans who will come in one year.

This three-in-one also gets to the arrival of Vegeta and Nappa, the two Saiyans, and the various fights they have with the Z-Fighters. We even see Goku return from the afterworld to start battling the Saiyans. This omnibus volume ends in the middle of Goku’s battle with Vegeta.

Since I saw the anime well before I ever began reading the manga, I was pleasantly surprised by how much quicker the story progresses in this omnibus edition. It really made it clear just how much filler was included, as well as how much some of the scenes were stretched out, in the anime adaptation of this first arc of Dragon Ball Z. As I recall from seeing the early episodes of Dragon Ball Z Kai, the remake anime follows the manga much more closely, so has a similar pacing to what you see when you read these first three volumes of the series.

The manga telling of this story, especially when you look at this omnibus volume, has a good mixture of character building, dialogue, and action that keeps the reader wanting to read more in order to find out what happens next. Even though I was already familiar with the story from watching the anime, I still found myself engrossed while reading this first omnibus edition of Dragon Ball Z. And the deaths of certain characters hit me just as hard as they did when I first saw this story when watching the anime for the first time a little over a decade ago. Oh, and I can’t neglect to mention just how cute and little Gohan was in this early arc of the series.

This omnibus release is worth it for fans of Dragon Ball Z that want to own the manga but don’t want to spend the time or money to chase down the original individual volumes of the series.

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Akira Toriyama and Naoki Urasawa Nominated for the Eisner Hall of Fame

Comic-Con International has announced that the Eisner Awards judges have nominated manga creators Akira Toriyama and Naoki Urasawa for the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame for 2019. They are part of a selection of 16 nominees, four of whom will be selected by vote to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Creative professionals working in the comics or related industries, publishers, editors, retailers (comics store owner or manager), graphic novels librarians, and comics historians/educators can vote online now for four nominees, and the vote will continue until March 15, 2019.

Other nominees for this year include Brian Bolland, Kevin Eastman, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Lynn Johnston, Jenette Kahn, Paul Levitz, Alex Niño, Lily Renée Wilhelm Peters Phillips, Wendy and Richard Pini, P. Craig Russell, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Don and Maggie Thompson. The judges also picked four creators to be automatically inducted: Jim Aparo, June Tarpé Mills, Dave Stevens, and Morrie Turner.

The previous Japanese inductees of the Eisner Hall of Fame were Osamu Tezuka (2002), Kazuo Koike (2004), Goseki Kojima (2004), Katsuhiro Otomo (2012), and Rumiko Takahashi (2018).

Source: ANN

Manga Review: Dragon Ball Full Color Volume Four

Dragon Ball Full Color Volume Four includes the first volume of the Freeza Arc. Unlike the other releases of this manga, this one presents the story with full color in every panel.

Dragon Ball Full Color Volume Four
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 3, 2016

The fourth volume of Dragon Ball Full Color begins with Bulma, Kuririn, and Gohan heading for Planet Namek to try to find the Namekian Dragon Balls in order to bring their companions back to life. But after an injured Vegeta is healed, he begins his journey to Namek to find the Dragon Balls for himself.

This volume also introduces Freeza, the new villain for this story arc. He and Vegeta both have a goal of finding the Dragon Balls and wishing to live for eternity, and they also share a connection in their past. Over the course of this volume, it’s made very clear that Freeza is extremely evil and will do whatever it takes in order to obtain the Dragon Balls. We also get to meet some of the Namekians, and learn that as a race, they’re not evil like King Piccolo had been.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball volume if there weren’t fights of some kind happening. There’s nothing terribly epic here, since Goku isn’t at Namek yet. However, Vegeta manages to get some decent fights, and it was great to see him surprising all of his opponents.

Toriyama told the story in such a way that it keeps the reader interested and makes them want to keep going. I appreciated getting to read the manga version of this story, since it allows me to see how the story was intended to be told. In the anime adaptation, fights tended to be drawn out to ridiculous levels in order for the manga to get far enough ahead for the story to make significant progress. While I understand the necessity for the anime needing to stretch itself out, it can make for frustrating viewing at times. So getting to see the original manga proves that there’s a well-written and tight story that kind of gets lost in the anime adaptation.

When it comes to the art, the colors are vibrant and make the reader take notice. As I read the volume, I noticed that the colors looked rather similar to the shades that were used for the anime adaptation. Sometimes, I found myself thinking that I was looking at stills from the anime that had speech bubbles added to them. Obviously, that’s not the case, but that’s how this full color version felt at times. Not that that’s a bad thing, but as someone who’s seen the anime, I can’t help but think that way.

I would recommend Dragon Ball Full Color Volume Four to fans of the Dragon Ball franchise, especially to those who want to own every version of the various manga volumes. If you’ve already got the original black and white manga versions of these chapters, you might only be interested in this if you’d rather replace them with color versions. If you don’t care whether or not your Dragon Ball manga has color, it may be harder to justify double dipping just to get the same material in color.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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Manga Review: Dragon Ball Omnibus Volume Three

Dragon Ball Omnibus Volume 3 collects the seventh, eighth, and ninth volumes of the series into one volume.

Dragon Ball Omnibus Volume 3
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 3, 2009

This volume continues with Goku, Kuririn, and Bulma trying to outsmart General Blue in order to get the Dragon Ball and the pirate treasure. This portion of the story sees the group trying to overcome traps and being cornered by General Blue. There were definitely some very amusing moments during this portion of the story, which also included Bulma coming to the realization that General Blue is gay when she tries to seduce him. I found it interesting that the manga blatantly says that Blue is gay, because prior to reading this volume, I had watched the anime adaptation. In the anime, the word “gay” is never said outright, but viewers can tell that this is being hinted at with Blue’s reactions. I just found it funny that the anime tried so hard to tiptoe around blatantly using the term, yet the original manga source material had no problem with being blunt about it.

But after the three of them escape and return to Master Roshi’s place, they are pursued by General Blue. This leads to Goku chasing Blue, and the two of them end up in Penguin Village, which is the setting for Akira Toriyama’s Dr. Slump series. This becomes a crossover between Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump, and it was rather unnerving to see the similarity of designs some of the characters in Dr. Slump have to several of the characters in this series. Honestly, I really didn’t enjoy this crossover element at all. I have a feeling that fans of Dr. Slump think it’s great, but having Goku interact with these characters didn’t do anything for me. Personally, I found this crossover to be the low point of Dragon Ball Omnibus Volume 3.

Goku continues his quest for the Dragon Balls and discovers where the next one is. His search takes him to the Karin Sanctuary, where a boy named Upa lives with his father, the protector of the Dragon Ball. Goku comes across them as Colonel Yellow tries to take the Dragon Ball, and he saves the day. Commander Red hires an assassin named TaoPaiPai, who kills Upa’s father. TaoPaiPai also believes that he has killed Goku, but leaves without the Dragon Balls. Goku is still alive, and he promises Upa that he’ll collect all seven Dragon Balls and bring his father back to life. Goku then climbs up the Karin Tower to drink water that is rumored to make people stronger. Goku finds Karin at the top of the tower, and unknowingly trains to become stronger as he tries to get the water.

This section of the manga introduces four new characters, although one is killed rather early on. Even though the reader may not know Upa and his father very long before the father’s death, it’s still easy to feel sad when he’s taken down. I suspect that may be due, in part, to the fact that Upa is just so small and cute. And it’s kind of interesting to see that Karin is a cat who is also rather powerful when it comes to martial arts. We’d met anthropomorphic pigs and cats before, but having one as a powerful martial artist was something new.

When TaoPaiPai returns for the Dragon Balls, he’s surprised to find that Goku is still alive. Goku has become stronger at this point, so after a little bit of a fight, he overwhelms the assassin. From there, Goku goes to take on the entire Red Ribbon Army by himself, and wins. After retrieving the Dragon Balls they have, it’s discovered they’re one short and the Dragon Radar can’t find it. Goku and some of his friends go to see Baba, the All-Seeing Crone, who is able to divine the location of any lost object. But since they don’t have any money, they have to battle five of Baba’s champions before she will render her services. A lot of martial arts action takes place here, which is both exciting and amusing. Goku receives a major surprise after he battles the final opponent. I don’t want to give away the surprise, but I will say that there’s a rather sweet scene right near the end of the omnibus that’s involved with this surprise.

The story progresses very nicely, especially with this being an omnibus with three volumes in one release. There’s a good mixture of action, dialogue, and humor, which helps to make this volume a quicker read than one would think by simply seeing how thick it is. There is also some great action panels included in this omnibus as well.

When it comes to the art, my only real complaint comes in the portion that has the crossover with Dr. Slump. My complaint has to do with Toriyama having such distinct character designs that he seems to use with every series of his that I have had exposure to, so I kept finding myself comparing who the Dr. Slump characters resembled in Dragon Ball. The worst was how similar one of the Dr. Slump characters looks to Yamcha, because I had to constantly remind myself that I wasn’t seeing Yamcha during this portion of the story. But on the plus side, I did enjoy getting some color pages included in this omnibus.

The omnibus releases for Dragon Ball are definitely worth it for fans of the series that want to own it but don’t want to spend the time or money chasing down individual manga volumes.

The reviewer was given a copy of this item as a gift by her husband

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Manga Review: Jaco the Galactic Patrolman

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 11 chapters that were serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, as well as a bonus Dragon Ball story.

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

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, who 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 tells 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 only 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 five-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 11th 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 the 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.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

VIZ Media Opens 2015 With the Release of Akira Toriyama’s Manga Comedy Jaco the Galactic Patrolman

VIZ Media prepares to thrill manga readers and fans of legendary creator Akira Toriyama with the launch of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman in print and digital on January 6, 2015.

The complete-in-one-volume interstellar comedy will be published under the company’s Shonen Jump imprint. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is rated “A” for All Ages and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

A digital version of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman also debuts on January 6, 2015 for $6.99 (USD/CAN) from VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones. The digital volume of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman can also be purchased through the NOOK, Kobo, comiXology, Kindle, iBooks and Google Play stores.

Jaco The Galactic Patrolman is Akira Toriyama’s first new release in over a decade and notably features some must-read Dragon Ball Z content related to the parents of Goku, the hero of his other bestselling manga series,” says Alexis Kirsch, Editor. “Jaco is an alien who is very proud, but also extremely clumsy. Together with the reclusive scientist, Omori, and Tights, a mysterious girl that dreams of becoming a sci-fi novelist, the stage is set for fun and zany adventures. Readers of all ages won’t want to miss this fun new series by one of the greatest names in manga!”

JACO THE GALACTIC PATROLMAN © 2013 by BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA Inc.

VIZ’s Weekly Shonen Jump Adding New Akira Toriyama Manga Series

VIZ’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine announced in its July 1st issue that Akira Toriyama’s new manga series, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman will premiere in the July 15th edition of the publication. This is one of three new manga in the 33rd issue of Sheisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump on July 13, 2013 to mark the 45th anniversary of the magazine in Japan.

Also in its July 15th issue, the English Weekly Shonen Jump will also include “special super-color” chapters of One Piece and Naruto, as well as an all-color version of One-Punch Man.

Source: ANN