After a long break thanks to shops not really stocking this series anymore, I’m back into the world of dragons and martial arts. The original series which is, whisper it, better than the incredibly popular Z, bursts into its final arc as one enemy crashes down only for a new menace to pop up. Fists, Kamehameha’s, tournaments and time skips await.
Goku versus Piccolo takes up the first half of volume 14, while the set up for a new Tenka’ichi Budokai tournament takes up the rest. It’s all about fighting in the world of Dragon Ball, all they know really. Goku facing Piccolo is an exciting match with huge single page panels showing off the deadly attacks and the distorted faces to show pain are as satisfying as they’ve ever been, maybe more so when you see Piccolo finally taking the grunt of an attack. It ends without the feeling of abilities being pulled out of thin air and it could have easily signaled the end for the series if it wasn’t for the nasty spawn of Piccolo being birthed.
With the promise of a stronger menace, training takes place once more and the only suitable location for Goku to gain extra strength is in heaven. The idea of Goku having to meet God and train there is an exciting prospect, the crazy locations and feel of the world really help Dragon Ball cement itself as a classic and the simple spiky haired cast had a unique appeal before Akira whored it out to everyone. To keep the brisk pace the series enjoys, the training is glanced over with a time skip, one which has no hype or build up behind it. One chapter we are told he has to train for a few years, the next we see him walking taller and stronger. With the likes of Naruto and One Piece lavishing great detail and volumes dedicating to the preparation of time moving on, it is refreshing to see a series do it at the flick of a page. A refreshing change which took place in 1988.
This tournament is the final moment for Dragon Ball before it moves on to Z (though in Japan it was just a continuation without any extra letter added to the title) and it doesn’t disappoint with returning faces providing some pleasant surprises and the promises of a stronger main cast with abilities waiting to be revealed. These tournaments are always full of fun and anticipation, Akira handles them well as he gives every character a chance to shine. Volume 14 shows Dragon Ball off as being a series which still feels relevant and unique even today. Ten’kaichi Budokai Tournament 23 is going to be a fitting finale to the series of Goku’s younger days.