Jaco is an alien who wishes his reputation preceded him; as it stands, his creator, Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame, is the one with a reputation. Jaco cruises the galaxy under the impression that he is an elite agent of justice, when in actuality, he seems to have watched too many superhero shows and memorized their poses. But that’s okay: his strength and technology far surpass anything on Earth, so when Jaco crash-lands on a remote island in need of help, he’s in a position to play hero and look good doing it. However, the people he encounters have no idea whether he’s serious or just some clown in a purple and white suit.
The island is home to Omori, a grizzled old engineer working on a time machine in hopes of undoing a mistake he regrets to this day. He agrees to help Jaco repair his spaceship, which serves as a MacGuffin while the reader enjoys Omori’s reactions to Jaco’s over-the-top personality. Early on, Jaco knocks out a comically massive shark that terrorizes the island, enabling Omori’s boat to travel out at night. Omori’s lone wolf nature then comes in handy as Jaco tries to maintain a low profile on the mainland. That’s where the two cross paths with Tights, a brilliant woman entangled in a pop star’s publicity stunt that involves riding a rocket into space. At first, Tights seems like another intelligent foil to gasp and wonder at Jaco’s antics, but she ultimately also contributes funds and expertise to repair Jaco’s ship. When the stunt rocket goes rogue, Tights’ generosity pays off, as Jaco’s partially-repaired ship enables her rescue.
The plot, while straightforward, provides ample opportunity to showcase Jaco’s oddball personality traits. He is the sort of showy superhero who will neatly fold his disguise before boldly declaring, “I shall teach you a lesson for the good of the galaxy!” On Omori’s island, he spends his free time getting pop songs stuck in his head and practicing superhuman exercises, like chucking boulders and blasting them to smithereens with his high-powered pistol. His actions usually stem from a lack of self-awareness, a trait that makes him a hero in an emergency but a laughingstock among his fellow officers. When humans ask him about his body and abilities, he is very literal, demonstrating urination by spraying a small amount of pee from his head onto Tights, who abruptly shoves him off a cliff.
These antics look beautiful under the expertise of Akira Toriyama’s pen. While a prequel of sorts to his massively successful Dragon Ball, this one-shot manga also has plenty in common with Toriyama’s Cowa, with its lighthearted gags and sharp scenery. Forests, cities, seas, and space are all laid out clearly on the page, with smooth and fluid direction during scenes of high-flying action. Jaco starts out as a goofy fish out of water, but quickly becomes endearing and practically begs for a longer series. In fact, the Dragon Ball cameos, bonus epilogue chapter leading into Dragon Ball, and suggestive lines of dialog seem to hint at Jaco’s possible reappearance in a future Dragon Ball Z project.
Otherwise, Jaco will have to settle for being star of this show, which comes fully recommended for any library’s manga collection. This is a small adventure with a big personality, sure to win over readers of all ages—especially those who want a peek at Goku’s parents, Vegeta and Nappa hanging out before the events of Dragon Ball, or the arrival of baby Goku on Earth.
Jaco the Galactic Patrolman
by Akira Toriyama
Publisher Age Rating: A (All ages)