Dragon Ball Manga Review
Recently I finished the manga Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball’s manga encompasses the entire Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z anime series. Of course I found that there are many fillers in the anime versus the manga, but the anime rarely leaves anything out from the manga. This makes the anime very faithful to the manga which is sometimes hard to find. The manga was created by Akira Toriyama and ran from 1984 to 1995.
Note: I will be using the American names while reviewing this manga. There are major and minor SPOILERS
Dragon Ball Plot
I am sure everyone knows the plot of the series, but I will go over it anyways. The first 194 chapters follows a young boy named Goku. He meets up with a young girl named Bulma which only wants the glass ball that Goku’s grandfather (Gohan) left him. What he does not know is that there are six more of these dragon balls and when gathered they grant any one wish you desire. So they begin to search for them. A lot happens throughout these chapters and alot of characters are introduced.
The last half of the manga ( chapters 195-519) follows Goku as an adult. Now he has a child and several of his friends. The story no longer focuses on the journey of finding the dragon balls but instead on Goku and his fellow friends saving the Earth multiple times.
I have a lot of problems with the last part of the manga. The first part actually focuses on a set journey and destination (not that the last part does not). It seems to be more focused on the story and the fun of writing/drawing the manga. The characters all play an important part and Goku seems to grow as a person as well. The last part, however, seems rushed and just attempting to get a story out there for the fans. Goku does not grow as a person at all. The other characters play a part, but nothing really special.
Dragon Ball Characters
There are a lot of characters throughout the series. Some show only a few times, while others appear often. Due to this I only want to go over a select few characters. Basically the ones that play a big part.
Goku being the main character should grow. Like I said, in the first part he does grow as a character. He is a young child so it would be weird if he did not develop as he grew older. He is naive and a happy person. What you would see in any shonen manga. He eats a lot, laughs at serious moments, and always saves someone at the last minute. As the manga goes on and you begin to get the Dragon Ball Z arc of the manga, his development stops. He seems to be the same person and just becomes annoying. *SPOILER* At the end of the manga he comes to fight at the Tenka’ichi Budōkai. He really only shows up to find Boo’s reincarnation (Uub) and take off with him, leaving his family alone AGAIN *SPOILER END* That was another thing that annoyed me about Goku. He seems to really only care about himself and fighting. Even at this point Vegeta would rather stay with his family, that is just sad.
Which brings me to my next point, Vegeta. Vegeta is one of my favorite characters. He grows as a character (enormously) and becomes a great constant rival for Goku. I really have no problems with his character. He seems to be more ruthless in the manga than in the anime more towards the Saiyan and Namek arcs. *MAJOR SPOILER* I though that his true colors showed when he committed suicide trying to kill Boo. It really showed how his character developed from wanting to destroy the Earth to saving it *END SPOILER* He has one goal in mind, to get stronger than Goku.
Of course, Dragon Ball would never have the story without Bulma. Bulma is the person who prompted Goku to find the Dragon Balls and is a driving force throughout the series. She is a genius and filthy rich due to her parents and the creation of capsules (which her father created). She is just like any other teenage girl, hates the outdoors, wants to be pampered, and is looking for the perfect guy. Even her character grows more than Goku’s. She starts as a snobby girl that wants her way and runs from any danger. Towards the end she calms down alot and even goes to the fighting sites of many of their enemies.
I wanted to talk about the children of Goku at once. Gohan is not that big of a disappointment in the manga… well except for Great Saiyaman. That was a fail for me. Gohan does not seem to be that whiny in the manga. Goten on the other hand was a little annoying. I could see the importance of his character, but he was nothing serious to me.
Trunks is a different story. Future Trunks is another favorite character of mine. He was similar to the Cell arc Gohan and therefore I liked him a lot. He is compassionate, but knows when he must fight. He is basically the same in the anime. The actual timeline Trunks was even just as good. In the anime he annoyed me a little, well a lot. I am not sure why though. In the manga he was not so annoying.
Krillin, Master Roshi, Yamcha, Tien, and Piccolo all play an important part as side characters. Krillin is just as annoying as he is in the anime and dies just as often. He never catches a break. Master Roshi is extremely perverted. Yamcha surprised me even more in the manga than in the anime. He really trains hard and tries to catch up even though he can not. But hey, at least he tries and that is more than some people can say. Tien shows up a lot in the first part of the manga, but he seems to take a back seat in the last part, especially the Boo arc (which he is shown like one time). Piccolo grows as a character basically along the same lines as Vegeta. They both just develop way more than the first character.
The other characters throughout the series all play important parts, but like I said there are so many to go over. Even the villains are hard to go over, so I want to just sum them up together. Basically all the villains have one goal, World or Universal dominance. They are all ‘really strong’ until Goku comes out of left field and throws a wrench in their plans. Many times it is not even intentional like the Red Ribbon Army. The villains in the first part are more of a joke than those in the second part. The Dragon Ball villains consist of humans and then eventually Piccolo. The last part of the manga has villains that are from other planets so they are more serious in their conquest.
Dragon Ball Artwork
Akira Toriyama was pretty consistent with his artwork throughout the series. The first part is a little more sloppy in some ares, but it is still very well drawn out. The paneling selection works out for this manga as well. Mostly the manga is filled with action scenes due to the genre type. In most mangas I read that have many fight scenes, the artwork begins to get sloppy and you start to jumble things up. It gets annoying, but Toriyama seems to keep his clean and this helps with the enjoying the manga a lot more. He seems to like to draw out the characters and takes time in their wardrobes. A good example is Bulma. He hair changes often as well as her outfits, making her character more believable as a typical girl.
Dragon Ball Overall
Overall I did enjoy the Dragon Ball manga. I did get a little bored when I began the DBZ arc, but that is only because I have watched almost all of the anime. Like I mentioned earlier, the anime follows the manga panel to scene almost (except when fillers come along). Even though I enjoyed the manga, I would recommend people to read the Dragon Ball arc, but actually watch the Dragon Ball Z arc. You will get more enjoyment out of it that way.
There are many things this manga can teach you, mainly perseverance. There were many times that everyone was sure to die or fail, but they kept pushing to get to the end. It may have been a fun journey at first, but it becomes more life threatening towards the end.
Overall Grade: 7/10