Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball series is a cherished classic with fans of all ages around the world. Toriyama’s epic battle scenes, memorable characters, and distinct, pun-based humor make Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z necessary additions to any library’s core manga collection.
Volume one of the Saiyan Arc—the beginning of Dragon Ball Z—starts after a five-year time lapse. When Goku meets up with the gang at Master Roshi’s house, everyone is shocked to discover that he has become a father; he is accompanied by his son Gohan, a small boy with a tail. While the group is reminiscing, a spaceship crashes nearby and a powerful alien warrior emerges. Raditz is one of only four surviving members of the Saiyan race. He is searching for his brother Kakarot, who was sent to conquer Earth as a baby, and Raditz is angered to find that Earth is still intact. After a brief encounter with Piccolo, Raditz makes his way to Master Roshi’s, interrupting Goku’s reunion.
Goku is confused when Raditz calls him Kakarot and angered when Raditz claims that Goku was sent to Earth as a killer. Despite this newfound knowledge of his past, Goku refuses to join forces with his brother, and as a result, Raditz takes Gohan hostage until Goku complies. Goku finds an unexpected ally in Piccolo, and a fierce battle ensues in which Gohan’s immense hidden power is exposed. In a last-ditch effort to kill Raditz, Goku sacrifices his own life—but it may not be enough. In one year’s time, two Saiyan warriors more powerful than Raditz will arrive to eradicate all life on Earth. At the end of volume one, a now-dead Goku trains with King Kai; Gohan works with Piccolo to harness his uncontrollable power; and the rest of the Z warriors prepare for the forthcoming arrival of Saiyans Vegeta and Nappa.
Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z were first released in the U.S. in 1998 as short comics and subsequently published in collected volumes in 2000. Viz has since reissued the manga multiple times and this latest incarnation is in a larger, full-color format. This version covers the first 17 chapters with no obvious text alterations from the previously published volume one. The only thing missing is Toriyama’s original chapter title artwork, and other than a translation of sound effects, there are no extras included.
Toriyama’s exceptional artwork is enhanced by the vivid and accurate digital coloring. The paper quality and overall packaging are excellent. However, the full-color manga is more than twice the cost of its black-and-white counterpart. It is unnecessary for libraries to invest in a complete Dragon Ball Full Color collection at this price point, though the series’ many fans will appreciate at least one full-color volume, and they would also make great prizes for anime programs. Three volumes are currently available for purchase.
Dragon Ball Full Color: Saiyan Arc, vol. 1
by Akira Toriyama
Publisher Age Rating: A (All Ages)