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by Allen Divers,

Dragon Ball (manga)

Graphic Novel vol 5

Dragon Ball GN 5
Goku, fresh from his training with Kame Sen'nin (Master Roshi, for those only familiar with Dragonball Z), continues to prove that he is no ordinary boy. Now in the finals at the "Strongest Under the Heavens" martial arts tournament Goku meets up with a worthy adversary, Jackie Chun. Of course, the crowd gets more than they expected when Goku gets an eyeful of the moon! Just as things start returning to normal, Goku is off again looking for his Grandpa's Dragon Ball. Standing in his way is the mysterious Red Ribbon Army and Muscle Tower!
Dragon Ball Volume 5 collects the comics presented in the monthly Dragon Ball comic. The level of sight gags, bad puns and overall humor is at a much higher level than the later evolution of the series which concentrates more on epic battles. For those familiar only with Dragon Ball Z its fun to see how each of the characters originally met and watch as they grow into the characters we now know and love.

With Dragon Ball, the reader feels that Akira Toriyama is still feeling out his characters and their various quirks. Scripting and storyline tend to move pretty quickly with a concentration more on humor and sight gags. There is a hint of the epic battles to come in many of the fight scenes, but most battles are handled rather quickly. It should also be noted that around the time this issue was originally printed in Japan, Dragon Ball began airing on television. Those who have seen the episodes that retell these stories will notice a lot of filler material in the anime. This was done so that the anime didn't move ahead of the manga.

The translation by Viz is one of the better translations of Dragon Ball that exist. Character names remain as true to the original as possible, with the exception of Bloomer. They decided to go with the more popular Bulma. (Besides, it's written all over her clothes.) The humor and jokes also remain loyal to the Japanese version with editor's notes often filling the empty space to explain phrases. This is much more preferable than the Funimation habit of throwing in useless dialogue in the anime.

Viz has taken a different stance with the reprints of Dragon Ball than it does with other manga. Instead of flipping the pages to fit the American "left to right" standard, the pages are left in the Japanese style of "right to left." For those not familiar with this style, it basically means the reader is starting at the back of the book and working her way forward.

One of Viz's reasons behind leaving the pages in the un-flipped format is to leave the manga in as close to the original Artist's vision as possible. There's also an old artist trick, where, when checking the image, the artist flips the page over and looks through the paper at the outline. Doing this, the artist can often notice mistakes in the artwork. (It's been said that Mr. Toriyama didn't want people to notice his mistakes.)

It takes a little while to get used to, but soon the reader adjusts to reading from right to left. (It's like watching a letterboxed movie on television, after a while the bars at the top and bottom don't bother the viewer.)

Unlike the first 3 volumes of the graphic novels, volume 5 carries the "for 13 Up" logo on the cover. Due to overwhelming demand by the readers, Viz will no longer be "censoring" the Dragon Ball pages in the collected novels. The novels were originally being targeted towards a younger audience, so it was edited to clean up much of the potty humor and occasional nudity that appeared in the early Dragon Ball.

The humor and story of Volume 5 is at an all time high. Mr. Toriyama does a good job of conveying the personalities of all the characters as the story continues. At its heart, Dragon Ball is a quest story. After the conclusion of the Martial Arts Tournament, Goku decides to find his grandpa's Dragon Ball. New villains, the Red Ribbon Army, will stand in his way, giving a bit of a more serious tone. Don't worry, the humor continues and Goku is still as naïve as ever! Kudos again to Viz on the translation, which leaves as much of the original humor in as possible
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Art : B

+ Humor abounds! The translation remains true to the original intent
Fans of the Anime may feel something is missing

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Akira Toriyama
Licensed by: Viz Media

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