Dragon Ball 42

August 23, 2008

Well, there you go.  That’s the end of Dragon Ball.  I’ve got individual issues, I’ve got issues of Shounen Jump, I’ve got big graphic novels, I’ve got the whole thing in small graphic novels.  I may as well just buy the VizBig editions and continue to pitch my money away.  God knows it was worth every penny I spent on it.

The ending was about what you would expect from Dragon Ball.  Of course we got to see Vegerot (and not Gogeta, like I thought), of course Goku and Vegeta wanted to fight separately, of course Boo was still too much so a last-ditch effort had to go in for saving the earth, of course the dragon was summoned again… and of course it all came down to Hercule, who I wound up liking in the end.  He’s got charisma, I guess, and name recognition that not even Goku has.  We saw characters that haven’t appeared since the early volumes of Dragon Ball, we got a ten years later sequence, and… we got the famous no-end.  But really, how could you end this in a satisfactory way?  Blow up the Earth and kill everyone on it except Goku, Hercule, and Dende?  Done.  There’s nothing that can top that.

Mostly this was milked for nostalgia, which I don’t mind.  It took me four or five years to get through the entire thing after starting with the smaller shounen jump graphic novels, but I’ve been reading it in bits and pieces for ten years, a little after the floppy comics started coming out, I think.  I’m glad it went out with so much humor, because I like that about it more than anything.

Even among all the nostalgia, there’s still quite a lot of funny bits.  At one point during the fight with Boo, Vegerot is turned into a candy that still has the power to kick Boo’s ass.  Boo turns him back into a person so it’s not as humiliating.  Also, there’s a great exchange between Goku and Vegeta when Goku has to tempt the old Kaio-shin with the promise of peeking at a woman in order to let them use the dragon balls.  Vegeta overhears Goku’s conversation, and guesses that Bulma is the one that Goku has in mind.  Vegeta objects on the grounds that Bulma is his wife, and suggests in a friendly, Vegeta-like manner that perhaps Goku should let him peek at Chi-chi.  Goku strenuously disagrees, stating that Chi-chi would kill him, and also she’s just not as hot as Bulma.  I almost died laughing, and it only took 3 panels.

I liked that the last chapter’s title page (originally in color) was exactly the same as the cover to the first volume, except Shenlong was more serious-looking and Goku was an adult.  Goku even had the Nyoi-bo, which I haven’t seen in ages.  I thought that was a cool touch.

Yes, this series really does deserve all the hype it gets.  I still like the earlier parts best, and I think that the Boo story is the best in the series, but I don’t think I’d trade out the parts with Cell or Freeza or the Androids, either.  Suffering builds character, and those parts make it Dragon Ball more than any other, I think.

Dragon Ball 41

August 23, 2008

This story arc just gets better and better.  I approve of any attempts to humiliate Piccolo, and there are several in this volume.  To see him as the… voice of reason for Gotenks is great because Gotenks doesn’t understand that what he does is really, really ridiculous.  The entire fight between Boo and Gotenks consists of Gotenks showing off the insane attacks only little kids would think were cool, except he has to pose and yell out the attack names before he does it.  Things like this have been going on the entire series, except taken to the next level like it is here means that your villain sits around and drinks smoothies while you finish going through the motions of your attack.  Toriyama just parodied his own series at the end of said series, which is something you don’t see very often.

Gotenks, for whatever reason, only has attacks named after food, I assume because Trunks was so put out by the cuisine in the room of spirit and time.  During the fight, Piccolo is embarassed for Gotenks as things keep ratcheting up the weirdness scale.  After an assault of exploding ghosts that do things like make faces, talk about how scary they are, and pull pranks on Boo in an attempt to kill him, Piccolo blows up the entrance to the room of Spirit and Time to keep Boo inside.  After a volley of name-calling between Piccolo and Gotenks (Piccolo blew up the door after Gotenks lied about being fully powered-up), Boo blows a hole in the fabric of space and time with his voice after he finds out there’s no snacks in there.

But I’m summarizing in detail, which I try not to do.  Gohan joins up again, and much to my disappointment, the old man’s spell works and he’s had his potential unlocked.  I wanted so badly for that old man to be some sort of joke and just have Gohan fly off anyway without anything useful happening.  He IS a joke, but he pulls through anyway.  He does other cool things too, aside from being an old man, to the point Goku starts razzing the current Kaio-shin for not being nearly so useful.

Things go badly in the fight against Boo after Boo goes Cell on everybody and starts absorbing their powers (which I was hoping would be turned into a joke since this JUST HAPPENED, but no such luck).  As a final gift from the old Kaio-shin, Goku is given a new life and earrings he can use to fuse way better than the fusion dance.  Except the earrings only work one time and you have to stay fused permantly after that.  Of course, he only mentions this after Kaio-shin tries it out and fuses with his assistant, which was very funny (as was the explanation for why the old Kaio-shin looked old).  Goku goes to earth to fight and fuse with Gohan… except after fumbling the earrings, there is no more Gohan.  Only… only Hercule.

I’m still blown away by how much humor has been in this story.  I was worried after Boo got serious that we’d just be getting a straight Cell-like fight, but even with Boo cured of his dopiness, Gotenks more than makes up for it, and I’m still impressed with how funny Goku and Gohan can be.  Plus that old Kaio-shin is a great character.  I wish this kind of thing had been in full force since the Freeza story.  It’s like a merging of the old and new parts of Dragon Ball, and it’s making for a wonderful finale.

Dragon Ball 40

August 23, 2008

I was kind of confused while reading this, because the art is… sort of less than you’d expect from Toriyama in this volume.  Characters look bizarrely off-model at several points, there’s some downright sloppy and bizarre bits of artwork, and at one point, he apologizes for xeroxing an entire page of panels while Goten and Trunks are fusing (more than one page, actually, I think the exact same panels get used three times).  Sloppy art is not something I normally notice, surprisingly, but Toriyama’s art is normally so good in a comical way that it’s hard not to notice.  Then I remembered the thing he wrote in the front about his dog dying of kidney disease and how he’d been taking her to the vet for treatments and stuff.  Then I felt bad for noticing it.

At this point, the story just defeats itself.  Unless I’m forgetting something, the best scene in the book is when Goku meets back up with Gohan, and Gohan shows him the new ultimate sword that Kaio-shin had him pull from the ground.  Goku wants to test it by throwing a boulder and having Gohan cut it, but Kaio-shin says they may as well test it on the hardest substance in the universe, so Goku throws that instead.  The sword breaks, much to everyone’s disappointment.  While they’re lamenting this (Goku not so much), an old man shows up who is apparently the… 15th Kaio-shin?  He says he’s the real treasure inside the sword.  Goku, excited to test him out, fires energy at him and sort of blows him up.  He lives, and chews Goku out, but Goku is no longer impressed.  He says his real power lies in his magic, which calls forth the potential past a warrior’s limits.  Goku, who does this every day, wanders off.  Gohan is open to try his ritual, which is a really ridiculous dance where Gohan has to stand still and not interrupt the man for 30 hours.  Everyone else takes a nap while this goes on, and it takes Gohan out of commission for the rest of the volume.  This scene was absolutely brilliant.

There are other things, too.  Goku’s fusion technique is demonstrated with Piccolo first to show Goten and Trunks, and Piccolo really wants no part of this since it is also a ridiculous dance.  Piccolo also ventures a guess that there is no way in hell Vegeta would do this with him, either.  The two little boys look cute doing it, though.  This part was where the xeroxed panels come in, but it’s easy to overlook given the fact that they keep failing at their fusions and the results are very funny.

Goku, to distract Boo at one point, shows him the different levels of being a saiyan, and powers up to level 3 for the first time.  He doesn’t actually fight in this form, and he isn’t like that for long since it sort of burns off all the time he’s allowed to spend on earth, but still… Super Saiyan 3.  We’ve got it now.  I suspect that Goku will be the only one who will be able to do it.

The only other notable thing that happens is that Hercule and Boo become best buddies and wind up playing with a puppy.  The match of Hercule and Boo was also quite amazing, and I’m sad it had to end with a morphing of Boo into a form which ensures that the final battle will probably be a rather typical, somewhat boring Dragon Ball battle.  Of course, now I’ve got the fusions to look forward to, and whatever it is that Gohan’s going to do, and it’s only going to last for two more volumes, so I plan on enjoying it.

Dragon Ball 39

August 23, 2008

Man, I love this story arc so much because it’s like a big joke.  There can be no other reason for Boo, no other explanation.  He’s a villain who only listens to a weak magician and turns people he wants to kill into candy so he can eat them.  He keeps smiling, and is infuriated when you call him names.  He just pops back out whenever you punch him or tear holes in him or vaporize him.  That’s right: someone was thinking of Stay-Puft Marshmallows when Boo was summoned.  I figure it was Goku.

You can’t even take the dialogue very seriously.  The way that Goten and Trunks act when people are being turned into chocolate… the horrified faces they’re making just don’t match the “NO! NOT CHOCOLATE!” dialogue.  Another really good conversation happens when Kaio-shin takes Gohan to his realm to use the ultimate sword.  I like that after being told that not even the most powerful Gods had been able to remove the sword because it’s so powerful, Gohan just goes “You’re kidding!  Does that mean it’s really sharp?  I’d better be careful.”  I’m only sad because Gohan just stole one of Goku’s lines.  I also like the scene with Kaio-shin’s assistant immediately after that where he starts tearing Gohan apart for not being able to use the sword naturally, then just drops it to the ground because it’s so heavy.

Also, good night, sweet prince.  It’s a shame such a serious event was wasted in the middle of this otherwise hilarious fight.  I believe he’s bit the dust before, but was he resurrected by Porunga or Shenlong?  I think it makes a difference.  Everyone seems to think he’s not coming back, so I assume it was Shenlong.

I’m so ridiculously pumped for next volume, though.  Fusion?  Yes please.  I like how conversationally Goku talks about it, too.  Like “Oh, the real reason I miss Vegeta is because I could fuse with him.  Oh, fusion?  It’s pretty cool.  It’d probably work too, except there’s nobody I can fuse with.”  Just the offhand way he brings up one of the most ridiculous skills in the series… it’s perfect.  I know we get to see Gohan and Trunks do it next time, but do we also get Goku and Gohan now?  Does Vegeta come back on a technicality because, really, he was trying to save the Earth?  Since this seems to be all about whatever it is that I would like to read, I have no doubt Gogeta will make an appearance before all is said and done.

Dragon Ball 38

August 22, 2008

Brilliant!  This stuff is brilliant!  It’s like everything I could’ve possibly wanted in a volume of Dragon Ball!  There’s a new opponent, but he’s not more powerful than the allies, for a change.  In fact, Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan rock-paper-scissors for the chance to beat the usual minions, and they all three do it without being injured.  The big boss and the head minion just watch these fights in a state of dismay.  These defeats are done right, too.  The fighter is hyped up first, and then transported to a place where they will have the advantage.  Then they lose in about three seconds.  It’s just beautiful.

Meanwhile, back at the Budokai, after everyone leaves, the tournament is down to five contestants.  Hercule, No. 18, Goten/Trunks, and two other people.  No. 18 and Goten/Trunks take out the two random people before turning on Hercule, and instead of fighting Hercule, they go right for each other.  No. 18 doesn’t really want to fight the pair, and figures out pretty quick what the deal is with the mystery mask character, so she takes them out in the easiest way possible.  Then… she takes on Hercule.  I was just dying at the parts with the Budokai.  It was very funny.

Then, when all else fails for the bad guys, they turn Vegeta.  You kind of see this coming when the Lord of Lords mentions that Bobbidi can only control people with wicked hearts, and I was actually expecting a serious scenario where he gets ahold of Piccolo and Vegeta.  But it’s just Vegeta.  And really… he didn’t need to “try” to get ahold of Vegeta, nor does he really… “control” him.  But there’s a Goku v. Vegeta fight in Super-Super Saiyan transformation, which I imagine was pretty high up on the editorial staff’s to-do list for Toriyama.  The fight itself is pretty cool, but you only see a few pages of it, and it’s about what you expected.  The fight isn’t really what makes it cool, it’s just the idea.

I should also mention that having the first lines of the volume be something like “…so basically, we have to stop them from resurrecting this Boo?” “Yes, but it will be difficult since Bobbidi uses magic and will be tough like his father Bibbidi” is the right way to start things.  I still can’t get over the novelty of the villain’s names being Bibbidi, Bobbidi, and Boo.  Plus, the fact that they use magic in a world where magic didn’t exist until just now is a bonus.  Later, having Goten and Trunks take the news of “Warlocks and Genies” very seriously and run off excitedly as Super Saiyans was also a nice touch.

I’ve really been into things the past couple volumes.  The Boo story has not disappointed yet.  This was like an entire volume written as a love letter to anyone who thought the long, serious arcs we just got through were too boring.  Plus, in the next volume teaser, they mention something about people being turned into candy.  Sign me up!

Dragon Ball 37

August 20, 2008

More of the Budokai, which is what I want to see.  This volume is almost exclusively the Budokai, which is more than I could have hoped for.  It lasted longer than I thought before it was interrupted.  And I thought the two heavenly beings that showed up would do the interrupting.  They sort of did, but it wasn’t so much their fault.

These mismatched fights just crack me up, which is what they should be doing.  The youth division fights take place first, and aside from Goten and Trunks mopping the floor with a bunch of trash-talking kids, we also get to see Chi-Chi and Bulma get one up on the obnoxious mother of two of the kids.  I don’t mind at all, though that part was a little cheesy.

Number 18 is sort of hilarious in her stoicism.  I’m not sure how Kuririn wound up paired with her, but I like that she doesn’t do anything unless it directly benefits her.  She knows what she wants, and that’s all she’s going for.  Her and Kuririn’s daughter is very cute, though.  Speaking of Kuririn, I’m glad the story points out he’s the strongest human on Earth.  He sort of gets the shaft strength-wise later in the series, but he’s the only full-blooded human who’s stuck around.  Yamcha’s in the stands with Master Roshi, and for some reason, it appears Tenshinhan’s been retconned or something.  That leaves Kuririn, and I’m glad, because he’s my favorite after Goku.

What I don’t get to see, unfortunately, is the public humiliation of Hercule.  He passed off his defeat by Trunks as intentional (letting the young kid win and all that), but I want to see Goku mop the floor good-naturedly with him so badly.  Or even Vegeta, he could do it not-so-good-naturedly.

So now the characters are facing off against Bibbidee, Babbidee, and Boo; a dead warlock, a live warlock, and an evil creature.  The lord of the lords is with them.  I’m ready.

Dragon Ball 36

August 18, 2008

Oh, AWESOME!  I like the new angle the series has taken.  I didn’t think I’d like Gohan as the main character, but putting him in situations where he’s just as dopey and clueless as Goku works well.  I liked pretty much everything about this volume.  I liked that Gohan had to go to school in the city and work to keep nearly everything about his life secret, I like that Hercule is a national hero that has cities named after him after he apparently beat Cell, I like his daughter who isn’t totally clueless, I like little Trunks and Goten, I like all these changes.

I definitely like that Gohan keeps going to Bulma to consult on costumes and stuff to keep his identity a secret, and I like that nobody except Bulma and Gohan think that anything the pair of them do is cool.  The scene where Gohan goes around recruiting all the old characters and they all make fun of his disguise is especially good.

Most of all, I’m very excited about the Budokai.  They’ve set things up so that Hercule’s defeat will be spectacular and public, and I’m excited to see how everything goes down after a number of years have elapsed and the combat isn’t so serious.  I mean, I know that the next enemy will almost certainly show up and wreck the tournament, because that’s how these things go, but I’m excited all the same.

And on one hand, I’m glad to see Goku again, but… it seems like cheating to bring him back for the tournament.  He’s DEAD.  It’s not like I didn’t see that coming either, though.