Ah nostalgia, it’s a wonderful thing. A lens that allows you to return to a series and look upon it with wonder. Of course it certainly helps when the series you’re looking back on is as awesome as Dragon Ball and, what a coincidence, that is exactly what I’m here to talk about. Not the anime mind you, but the manga and in full colour no less. Taking us all the way back to the innocent days before Z was even a suffix, to the story that took what you thought you knew and turned it on its head: the Saiyan Arc.
For the uninitiated, this particular arc takes place five years after the defeat of Demon King Piccolo, a terrifying villain who, as you may know, continues to play a role in the series, but I digress. Taking a quick trip to Roshi’s island, we are re-introduced to a few of the characters who aided Goku on his perilous journey throughout the world. But, as with any first act, the happiness is short lived and a mysterious alien descends on the island, suspiciously bearing a tail exactly like the one Goku possessed as a child. Putting two and two together, and listening to Raditz’s (the alien) helpful explanation, we learn that our lovable hero is in fact dun, dun, dah! An alien. In the world of Dragon Ball, this moment is understandably a major turning point, throwing Goku into a completely new light. It’s also this revelation that see the series depart from its Journey to the West inspiration, replacing mystical elements with those of other worlds. Amazing what one event can do for a series isn’t it? Being that the Saiyan Arc is the instigation of this pivot of lore, it is also completely understandable why this is the first volume released in this full colour series.
If you are coming into the manga from having previously viewed the anime, you may notice that the story seems to happen by at a rather swift pace. I draw this comparison because it makes the variation in the manga’s pace seem even more severe. There isn’t any details left out per say, but the events that occur throughout each chapter seem almost rushed. I know that as the series progressed Raditz fell by the wayside, but that hasn’t happened yet. In the world presented to us in these pages, Raditz is the strongest, and most important, opponent Goku and Co have ever faced. He even forced Goku and Piccolo to join forces. Not to mention the fact that everything takes place after a five year time skip. Gohan’s been born, Yamcha and Tien are off somewhere doing something. A lot of potential content is kinda just hand waved away. the most glaring example of this occurs towards the second half of the volume. In preparation for an upcoming battle, the Z Fighters have a mere year to train. Now whilst I understand that showing a full year of nothing but training would be dull, six months flies by in a single panel. Not even a particularly dramatic panel either. Though I guess the text lampshades this a little by stating “Six months pass (and fast, huh?)…” So I guess that counts as some consolation.
All this considered, one of the volumes greatest attractions are the visuals it puts forth. They even put Full Colour right in the title. So, as I’m sure you can deduce, the manga is beautifully presented entirely in colour. Though the illustrations can, as they have, stand by themselves, there’s just something about adding colour that brings the whole thing to life. Backgrounds are presented as sparse locales that, when inked, add a clean canvas on which the action may take place. Colour is also shifted during said action, drawing even more focus onto one particular attack, be it good or evil. As is typical with manga, immense action is also complimented by textualised sound effects. Retained in their Japanese form, with a handy translation glossary in the back of the volume, they just add that something extra to a panel. To let you know that people herd Raditz’s knee slam into Goku’s stomach. Brutal. Awesome.
Despite my negativity that arose when speaking about pacing, Dragon Ball Full Colour (Manga) Volume 1 is a tremendous release. Though it is indeed difficult to separate nostalgia from my opinion, the release presents an interesting story with the promise of more to come. the visuals themselves are also very clean, allowing you to easily absorb what is happening without being lost in motion blur or explosions. So I say to all Dragon Ballers out there, journey back to your roots. Read the tale of Goku and witness the moment when he transformed from Monkey Boy to Saiyan.
Dragon Ball Full Colour (Manga) Volume 1 can be found in all its revamped glory at Madman.