Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Z (1989-1995)

All right! So, after my review of the original Dragon Ball series I promised I’ll make one (well, two, actually, otherwise this post would’ve been waaaay to long) for Dragon Ball Z. And here it is! 😀

It was a delightful ride, and I loved every minute of it (eeh, maybe not every minute of the Androids/Cell arc, but whatever ;)). While Toriyama’s manga was my first foray into the genre, after reading a few more shonen titles (such as Naruto, One Punch Man [bleeeh!], Fullmetal Alchemist) and other non-shonen mangas like Yotsuba&! I can say with certainty that the whole 42-volume run of original Dragon Ball (i.e. containing both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z) will forever remain one of my absolute favorites.

What can I say that I haven’t already said in my previous review? Only two things: one, Dragon Ball opened up for me a whole new cultural experience, and I jumped into it with willful, joyous abandon. I traced the origins of the Monkey King to Hindu Hanuman, linked his exploits to other tricksters around the world, and generally immersed myself in the Japanese culture and history. And I’m far from finished ;). And the second, that DB rekindled my interest in martial arts and its philosophy, and that i’s also a thoroughly fascinating topic.

Now, ad rem.

Below, you can read the first part of my highly emotional, whimsical reviews of Dragon Ball Z, as they appeared on GR. Beware, lots of exclamation marks! 😉

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Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball (1985 – 1989)

Confession time: as a kid, I was never into manga. Sure, I watched an the odd anime episode, from Tōshō Daimos to Captain Tsubasa (though the last was hard to endure, watching that football roll through the whole episode was sleep-inducing and I don’t think I ever watched a whole episode, really ;)), but I hadn’t taken to it at all. If all you had to judge Japanese art was Sailor Moon, well – I’m pretty sure you can understand my total lack of interest back then.

But fast forward to 2021, and voila! In April and May have devoured all 42 volumes of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z and was so happy with it that now I’m looking for a nice edition to buy myself a treat 😀 And because I reviewed all the DB volumes on GR, I decided to take inspiration from Lashaan and post them here on the blog as well. What’s so cool about DB, I hear you ask? Well, a whole lot of stuff, really: the whimsy, the humour, the fantastical imagination of the author, the absolute mastery of simplicity in art (which, man, I have read some other mangas since DB, and none of them come close to Toriyama’s art), and, of course, the main protagonist Goku. While the whole idea for DB and its little hero is rooted in the Chinese legends of Monkey King (and you can check out my review of Liu’s take on this mischievous trickster here), Toriyama took it in such fantastic, unexpected directions, deftly mixing Western and Eastern popculture with mythology and martial arts ethos. And that last element was what surprised me the most, I must say: Toriyama’s depiction of martial arts, and martial artists’ ethos, is amazingly deep, even if delivered in an offhand, funny way. I actually think it’s the best that I had read. Hats off!

Continue reading “Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball (1985 – 1989)”

Gogeta

Gogeta © S. Gruszczyk

Those of you on Goodreads already know I’ve been bingeing on the Dragon Ball manga lately 😉 I absolutely love the early volumes with kid Goku and Kuririn, the trainings and the Strongest Under the Heavens tournaments, Tenka’ichi Budôkai!

I’m not the only fan of Goku in the family, though – here’s a portrait of Gogeta done by an 11-year-old :D.

Yuki Urushibara, Mushishi (1999-2008)

Wow, it’s only a second appearance of manga on Re-enchantment… After Yotsuba&!, it’s time for Mushishi, another of my favourite series. Created by Yuki Urushibara and published for ten years in serialized form in Japan, now it’s available both in English and Polish, collected in 10 volumes.

Mushishi 1

This is the only manga I own a whole set of. Well, this and Azumanga Daioh, but the other is just one 700 pages omnibus. Also highly recommended, from an author that later gave us previously mentioned Yotsuba&!, but that’s not for today.

Mushishi is a story about Ginko, a wandering mushi-shi, occult specialist protecting people from mushi, ethereal, supernatural beings not perceived by regular humans, but capable of influencing their lives in usually pretty dangerous ways. Partly a shaman, even more a scientist, Ginko uses his knowledge of the supernatural to help people as he travels through Urushibara’s version of XIX-century rural Japan of the late Edo period.

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Yotsuba. Cuteness and innocence in our sick, sad world

For a long time I hoped to write a sort of introduction to manga and follow it with some reviews and recommendations. I don’t feel up to the task. It’s a topic books were written on, and a great number of excellent blog posts. Having given up on this, I’m free to mention some specific mangas every now and then and treat them like just another comics.

Which is risky. Manga is an emanation of a specific culture and it takes time for a European reader to familiarise himself with different tropes and structures. Not to mention the fact that manga is drawn from right to left, like Japanese scripture, and this is usually preserved in English editions. And sensivities of Japanese readers are often… hard to understand. The amount of fanservice and sillines in otherwise serious and thoroughly researched and realistic mangas… the prevailing sexism of some of even the latest series… sometimes I read an excellent story for 10 volumes only for the immersion and enjoyment to be destroyed in a moment by something dumb or distasteful. Maybe I’ll elaborate on that some time in the future, but let me start today with something safe and unapologetically nice 🙂

So, I’ll just point to tvtropes for some basic information and introduce our heroine of the day: Yotsuba Kowai.

Yotsuba_vol1_cover

A Japanese comic about little girl? Wait, don’t call the police, it’s ok, it’s a series my 3(almost) yo niece safely enjoys. And so do I, partially because both the fictional and the real-life brats are similarly adorable. Continue reading “Yotsuba. Cuteness and innocence in our sick, sad world”