Dragon Ball (Z) has been around since the mid 80s and to this day I can’t honestly say it has dropped that greatly in popularity. The series/franchise has only ever gotten bigger and better, and despite its age it has continued to be loved by fans worldwide even to this day, what’s funny is that I can’t exactly see that changing anytime soon. While many things inspired the creation of “Dragon Ball” (most notably “Superman”), “Dragon Ball” has also inspired many other Manga and Anime series’ and without the work of Akira Toriyama (the creator of “Dragon Ball”) a great deal of these newer titles wouldn’t be what they are. Over the years “Dragon Ball” has been released and re-released a countless number of times with the latest being the “Dragon Ball: Full Colour – Saiyan Arc Volume 1”, the review you’re reading right now. Some people may look at this as just another unnecessary re-release but the making available of a fully-coloured, compendium-style “Dragon Ball” manga may just be exactly what this generation needs; a chance to revisit the classics, remade, repackaged and re-released.
“Dragon Ball: Full Colour – Saiyan Arc Volume 1” follows the story of Goku five years after the events of the original “Dragon Ball”. The story of volume 1 works as both a character reunion for the series and as a kick-off into a brand-new arc; the “Saiyan Arc” wherein which a strange and powerful Saiyan who introduces himself as Goku’s brother comes to Earth to recruit the young hero into helping the last of his race wipe out another planet’s population in order to sell it to another alien race. Goku being…well…Goku, he respectfully declines his brother’s offer to take part in the genocide of a planet. Noticing Gohan (Goku’s Son), Raditz (Goku’s brother and the antagonist of this volume) makes Goku an offer: Join them or Gohan dies. Goku must now partner up with his old nemesis Piccolo to hunt down and kill Raditz before he can lay a finger on Gohan. Raditz is strong but the pure-blood Saiyan speaks of a powerful evil much greater than he, one that may truly mean the end of Earth.
People tend to abridge the story of “Dragon Ball” these days and in doing so they miss a great deal of the little things within the story that make it great. While the series is essentially just Akira Toriyama’s take on “Superman” and the over-arching storylines are fairly basic, it is all still done extremely well. The Saiyan’s as planet merchants is actually a cool little storyline that people tend to forget. Three men who go from planet to planet destroying civilizations and then selling the previously populated world off to another alien races is enough of a story to create a whole other series but people tend to look past that. I really enjoyed seeing Piccolo and Goku team up to defeat a common enemy and their interactions were actually pretty great, though Piccolo did have an odd speech pattern at times…his dialogue sometimes read odd, almost Yoda-like; “What say you?! Know you not the one to whom you show such insolence?!” was one of his opening pieces of dialogue but what made it even more odd is that they didn’t stick with it the whole way through so either it was a small mistake in translation or he just gets weird around long-haired, scantily-clad, manly, men.
I’m going against myself here because I’m about to say something I didn’t entirely like about the release and it may just kill me to do so because I absolutely love “Dragon Ball” but…well…it seemed rushed. The story I mean, it seemed like the manga was just rushing to a point where it could end with a scene that would get readers excited for the next volume, which it did but there were plenty of chances for Mr. Toriyama to add in a little extra content. Let me lay it down for you: The second half of the manga revolves around the “Z Fighters” (Goku’s team of fighting friends) as they train in anticipation for the upcoming battles. The Saiyans are set to arrive in one year so a year-long training session is in order BUT six months goes by in a matter of panels and it feels like we, the audience, are missing out on a great deal of content. Now, we’re probably not, I can’t imagine they would have taken anything out of the original which leads me to believe this is exactly how the original was released and it is simply rushed. Though, my only real complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more so I don’t think that’s too bad. Everything else, story-wise, is absolutely perfect IF you ignore the fact that, even in the very first chapter, death is already brushed off as nothing too serious which, unfortunately, you have to because as we all know; death in “Dragon Ball” means nothing.
It is one-hundred percent clear that Akira Toriyama’s artistic style is ageless. “Dragon Ball” still looks brilliant, in fact this release of the manga actually runs rings around a lot of the more contemporary Shonen Jump titles which is definitely saying something. There’s no doubt that “Dragon Ball” has always and will always look good but I have to give a great degree of credit to those who actually coloured and touched-up the original manga to make it what it is in this release because it looks absolutely brilliant. Even if you’re not a fan of “Dragon Ball”, even if you’re entirely over the series as a whole, if you love good-looking, full-coloured manga than this is the one to pick up next because…just, wow.
My main thought while reading through my review copy of the release was that it actually seemed like I was watching the anime series but with sharper visuals and vivid colours. I really enjoyed how the re-release kept the original Japanese sound effects to eliminate the problem of page-cluttering that re-drawing them would cause, it even says so at the very back of the manga in the “Sound Effect Glossary” section where they’ve actually provided the English translations to every Japanese sound effect. It’s visually crisp and clean. The colours are bright and beautiful. The whole book looks simply amazing and having the manga in full-colour is well worth another re-release and another purchase.
For the most part the series holds up pretty well in this day and age which actually took me by surprise, usually we romanticize certain things in our minds over a large period of time but, despite a few issues here and there, “Dragon Ball: Full Colour – Saiyan Arc Volume 1” is an absolutely fantastic manga that once again brings to life an all-time classic. For fans of “Dragon Ball” the manga is absolutely perfect, it once again brings to life an old classic, one that has stuck around for many years and one that will stick around for many more to come. It definitely covers its own butt and makes up for the small things it lacks, I feel as though you just have to come at it in a positive way; instead of thinking “Ugh…just another “Dragon Ball” manga. We don’t need it!” think about it like you’re visiting an old friend who’s now more vibrant and pretty, maybe you’ll enjoy them more now! I know I did.