This is my cut n'paste intro for my end of month indulgence (if I feel like it) as I make my way through all forty-two collected volumes of the enduringly popular and influential manga Dragonball. The series used to be split into the fantasy and whimsy filled Dragonball and the more serious, sci-fi orientated strip it became after sixteen volumes known as Dragonball Z, but now the series is being released under the one "Dragonball" title again; uncut and with a spiffy new translation. The series first ran in the famous anthology magazine "Shonen Jump" from 1984 to 1995 and was written and drawn by Akira Toriyama (It has been translated here by Mari Morimoto and adapted into English by Gerard Jones, the western publisher is Viz Media) and pretty much set the standard for the similar shonen manga and anime that came after like Bleach and Naruto. It follows the adventures of the kindly if somewhat sheltered and simple "Son Goku" as he trains, goes on adventures and enters competitions all with the aim of making himself a stronger and better fighter. Along the way he accrues a colourful cast of friends and rivals in a world where humans live alongside anthropomorphised animals, dinosaurs never died out and tiny capsules can contain vehicles and houses to be easily carried around.
[Note: This manga is "unflipped" so must be read from right to left]
Previously On Dragonball: Goku made it to the final of the Strongest Under Heaven Tournament and after a long and valiant fight against his disguised master he was beaten. Kamesen'in then told him that he had trained him as much as he could and now Goku must blaze his own trail. Goku decides to search for one of the fabled Dragonballs, seven balls that when bought together, summon a dragon who can grant a wish. The Four Star ball belonged to his deceased grandpa and because the balls fly off once the wish is granted he needs to hunt it down, his friend Bulma gives him the Dragon Radar that will help him locate the balls and he flies off on his cloud Kinto'un to start his search. Unfortunately a nefarious organisation called "The Red Ribbon Army" is looking for them as well. Their radar isn't as precise as Goku's though. Goku first tangles with them when he finds the Seven Star ball, and his cloud is blown apart by a rocket launcher. Using a plane he flies to the next location, a snowy village whose mayor has been kidnapped to force the townsfolk into looking for the balls. Goku decides to ascend "Muscle Tower" which has a fight on each floor, to rescue the mayor. We left him in the middle of his battle against the idiotic ninja Sergeant Major Purple. And now the continuation.
Facing off against each other, Goku armed with his Nyoi-Bo a stick that can telescope almost infinitely, Major Purple goes on the attack. And Goku shoves the Nyoi-Bo right up his bum. He yanks it back out and Major Purple rages that he'll pay for that humiliation. But Goku then smashes Major Purple's legendary blade. So Major Purple throws a boomerang shuriken at Goku which knocks him down as it returns.
|Goku vs. Major Purple|
But in a display of the kind of kung fu that saw him nearly beat his master Goku takes them all down bar one who makes his way to a creature in a cage who looks like Frankenstein's Monster. He lets him out calling him "Mechanical Man No. 8". He orders the Mechanical Man to attack Goku, but it says "it's bad to kill. I don't like bad." Major Purple yells at him that the Red Ribbon Army made him so he can't disobey.
|Mechanical Man No.8|
Mechanical man No. 8 says he's happy and thanks Goku. Goku says he should have defended himself, but Mechanical Man No.8 is resolute and admits, "I'm scared to fight". He asks if Goku is here to save the village Mayor and Goku says yes, so he says he'll come with him. Goku decides "Mechanical Man No.8" is too much of a mouthful so renames him "8-Man".
They climb the stairs, passing floor five which has no door to it, they reach floor six and enter the room. It's the control room with General White and the hostage Mayor in it. 8-Man asks him to let the Mayor go.
General White: "So... the treacherous tinker-toy dares to speak does he...? I'll give you one last chance to cooperate!!!"
And he presses a button opening a trap door under them, dropping them into floor five. Looking down General White demands the Dragonballs and the radar he has, but Goku says no. So the wall opens and reveals a huge reptilian blob monster, called "The Jiggler".
|Goku vs. The Jiggler.|
However, Goku remembers how cold it was outside and decides this is the weapon he can use against the Jiggler. He smashes a hole in the wall then jumps inside 8-Man's coat as a freezing wind blows in and ices the Jiggler up. then Goku hits it hard and the Jiggler cracks into many pieces. Then Goku jumps up and crashes through the floor where General White is.
Goku: "Now let that Mayor Guy go!!! Or you're really gonna get it!!!"
Facing off, Goku starts beating General White up. White ends up cowering behind a control panel thinking tha Goku is "some kind of monster."
Then he grabs his gun and holds it to the Mayor's head. 8-Man begs him to "stop doing bad things". The Mayor yells that they can sacrifice him to save the village. But when Goku takes him seriously he adds he'd prefer not to die if it's all the same. So Goku is ordered to show his back to General White who shoots him with the "Hyper Gun".
|Goku takes a bullet.|
They all gather together for a hearty meal, Goku pigging out as usual. Everyone is very grateful to him and 8-Man, and 8-Man reveals he had the Dragonball everyone was after all the time, he'd found it while out walking one day. Sadly it's the two star ball not the four star, but everyone agrees keeping it in the village would be more trouble than it's worth so Goku keeps a hold of it.
The Mayor also invites 8-Man to come live with them, 8-Man says he's just an android but the Mayor tells him "you're a better man than most of the 'real' people I know". 8-Man is overcome with gratitude and he and Goku bed down for the nigt. Goku checks the Dragon Radar ad discovers it got broken in one of the fights, so he's going to have to return to Bulma the teen genius who invented it to get it fixed.
He wonders how he'll get there now that Kinto'Un his flying cloud is gone. But the villagers tell him you can't destroy a Kinto'un and so Goku calls it and it whooshed down to him much to his delight. He bids everyone farewell and they all wave him off as he flies off to the city in the west where he'll find his friend.
Some robbers try and hold him up to take his money, but he beats them senseless. Finally someone advises him to ask a policeman and Goku does so. The policeman searches for Bulma and finds her on his computer. When he realises she's the daughter of the head of Capsule Corporation he is suspicious that Goku might be up to something so he takes Goku there on the back of his bike.
They arrive at Capsule Corp and the cop says she's probably at school, but then Bulma pulls up on her bike and has a happy reunion with Goku. He tells her the radar is broken so she takes him inside to meet her parents. Professor Briefs is her dad, and is a great character simply because he always has a small, wide-eyed black cat hanging onto his shoulder. Inside the huge dome is a big garden for all his pet cats and dogs and dinosaurs.
|Bulma, her dad and her dad's cute cat.|
Elsewhere the Red Ribbon Army leader is checking his radar which only gives a rough idea where the Dragonballs are. A photo of Goku is sent through to them, Commander Red tells his lackeys to have it faxed to all units, "kill him on sight!!! Got that?!" He grumbles that Goku is having more success than they are finding the Dragonballs, and his right hand man says Goku must have a more sophisticated device for finding them.
Back with Goku and Bulma, she fixes up the radar, then she decides as it's the weekend tommorrow, she'll come with him. Goku says she'll just get in the way but she shows him a watch she's invented that shrinks her down to afew inches in height. She demonstrates and gets trodden on by her mum. She tells Goku that Bulma and Yamcha are are fighting right now because Bulma can't stand the fact he's popular with the girls. Bulma puts on her jacket and picks up a box of capsules and shrinks herself down so Goku can carry her on Kinto'un. He calls it down and they speed off. Unfortunately then Professor Briefs realises she picked up his capsules not hers.
While they travel to the ocean for the next ball, they are also going to bump into the sadistic General Blue who is also searching the area. They land on the beach and Bulma gets out her capsules so she can pop out a boat. Sadly it's only her dad's capsule and it's full of porn mags. Goku looks with interest saying "how come they're naked if they're not having baths?" A furious Bulma rips them all up.
|Goku scouts the terrain out.|
Bulma: "You mean those naughty things you aren't even allowed to describe in a comic book, don't you?"
Luckily Goku returns and smashes up their helicopters, saving Bulma. She is somewhat impressed by what he did, even thinking maybe he went overboard a bit.
Goku then says they are not far from his master, Kamesen'nin, he'll probably have a boat they can use, so off they fly. Kame is pleased to see him and even more pleased to see Bulma when she returns to he normal height, him being such and old perve and all. He says he'll loan then a boat but he wants to borrow the shrinking device in return. Bulma says that's a relief, "I thought you were going to ask for something sleazy like you always do!"
|Kame is happy to see Bulma as she grows to normal height|
Then a vehicle approaches, it's Kuririn and Lunch back from a shopping trip which ended in a shoot out when mild mannered Lunch sneezed and turned into her psycho alter-ego. They tell him why they are here and he says they might find pirate treasure down there. Kuririn says it sounds like it'll be fun, so Kame grants his pupil leave to join them in their Dragonball hunt.
They fly off, and Goku realises he left the backpack with two Dragonballs in it back at Kame's place. Kuririn says the invincible old master will protect them. General Blue meanwhile is checking the island out, only Kame, Turtle and Lunch are on it.
Goku and the other two land the hovervehicle onto the sea and then dive under. The radar shows the Dragonball is in a twisty passageway. Goku, wearing scuba gear and with a communication radio swims outside the sub, helping to direct it to the cave entrance. Before returning inside
Meanwhile General Blue has also got in a sub and are following close behind, as Goku's sub reaches the cave, General Blue orders and attack and they fire missiles at them. Goku grumbles that it's the Red Ribbon Army after him and both Bulma and Kuririn freak out at this news:
Kuririn: "Y-you've got to be kidding!!! You're being pesonally targeted by the world's most evil crime organisation!!!"
They manage to get into the cave before their sub is disabled, but the enemy sub is still on their tail. Fortunately the passageway narrows so the larger Red Ribbon Army sub can't get any further. Meanwhile several Red Ribbon Army planes habe converged on Kame's island and they order him to surrender much to his bemusement. And that brings this volume to a close.
|A submarine race to the Dragonball.|