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Hello everyone, I have embarked on an epic quest: to absorb the entirety of the DB franchise by the end of this year. Planning to read manga before anime before movies, I have started with the humble page 1 of volume 1 of Dragon Ball.
Let me say that the first volume really nails it with the characters. All the characters seem really well done, despite some of them only first appearing in the latter half. Bulma is an adventurous teen who has a bit of an angry streak, but she's really nice at heart. Oolong is well...a little perverted, but his antics have (thankfully) all ended in hilarious failure, and I am sure some character development will get rid of his inappropriateness around Bulma. Goku is naive and as innocent as a little kid despite his 14 years of age, and though he is firmly established as a badass from the first few pages, his non-violent interactions with other people have more than enough meat to prevent him from becoming the team's "fight man".
As for plot, what can I say? I'm going into a serial work, and many plot developments are just being introduced. So far, Goku has met Bulma, who wants to find the seven wish granting dragon balls. He agrees to help. However, the rapidity of the acquisition of the balls disturbs me. In 1 volume, they went from having 2 to having 5. Considering we have only two left to go, something will slow them down enormously, considering the length of the series.
This is not a complaint, merely an observation: the universe is built quite strangely: why does Goku have a tail and superpowers? Why do people like Bulma have houses in a pill (sure beats hamburger in a pill, huh Jetsons?) yet there are pre-industrial era villages? Magical items and creatures are introduced with little explanation, and some characters come at you straight out of nowhere. PS Those are rhetorical questions; don't spoil the answers for me in the comments.
One scene I really liked the first confrontation with Yamcha. By that point, everything Goku had punched exploded. Even bullets merely hurt. With the magical flying cloud, hs movement was unimpeded. He had dished out two Curbstomp Battles, one to a generic Giant Mook and another to Oolong. He was dangerously veering into Boring Invincible Hero, but the fight with Yamcha proved that he was fallible.
41 more volumes to go...
It would be a stretch to say some of those things were "answered", because Toriyama clearly made things up as he went along. According to the letters page in volume 5, he wasn't even sure if the series would last past ten volumes (He said he wanted it to be "short, but sweet". Granted, hindsight is 20-20).
Short indeed. A panel of the manga is the page image for Series Fauxnale, and the honest trailer for Dragonball Evolution mentions the franchise has 42 volumes of comics, 18 movies, and 15 seasons of television. Not including video games, traffic safety PS As, and merchandise.
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