Welcome to part two of this regular series, coming at you every Thursday. Last week we were all treated to why I want Shadow of Mordor 2, and how it could be a spectacular game if its developers play their cards right. This week I’m going in at a different angle, covering a topic seldom heard of from me – books. Before anyone gets excited, I’m not talking about real books. I’m still an uncultured swine, so I’ll be talking about comic books. More specifically, Akira Toriyama’s books.
We all know and love Toriyama’s main body of work, namely Dragon Ball, and there is an appreciation for his lesser-known long-running comedy series Dr. Slump. But what of his lesser-known work than that? If you’ve heard of Neko Majin, Cowa!, Sand Land or Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, give yourselves a clap – go on, you deserve it. These one-off stories are great fun and well worth a read if you enjoyed Dragon Ball or Dr. Slump at all. Did you realise, however, that Akira Toriyama has written loads of one-off titles, such as Kajika, Go! Go! Ackman and Cashman – Saving Soldier? Wait, there’s more. What of his smaller comics, Dragon Boy, Wonder Island and Tomato, Girl Detective? Toriyama has written loads in a career spanning over 30 years.
Before you rush off to buy any of his work that isn’t Dragon Ball or Dr. Slump, let me remind you: Only Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump, Neko Majin, Cowa!, Sand Land and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman are available in English. Of those too, only Dragon Ball is able to be found in shops. I think it’s time Akira Toriyama’s work got the recognition it deserves in the UK and the USA. Most of his rarer titles are able to purchased in German, Spanish and of course, Japanese, but what about those of us who can’t read in any of these languages? Where does that leave us? Pining for Toriyama’s books to be translated and released in English, I guess.
Akira Toriyama’s comics all share a similar style, and it’s not the bulging muscles and hair of Dragon Ball. They are stupid. Consistently and brilliantly stupid. The earlier Dragon Ball books (and some of the later ones – think Hercule, the Ginyu Force and the Great Saiyaman) are goofy, full of idiotic jokes that make you laugh out loud whilst taking a dump (the natural place for reading). Dr. Slump is this kind of humour turned up to eleven, played as a sketch show that follows some kind of chronology. Cowa! is a little more muted in its approach to humour, and it could be my favourite Toriyama work, it comes highly recommended if you can find a copy anywhere.
I can’t get enough of Toriyama’s wacky humour and playfulness, but I’ve tapped out his content available in the UK (and USA) by now other than a small few Dr. Slump books. I’d love to see the likes of Go! Go! Ackman released in English and I truly hope it happens, not only for my own gains. Akira Toriyama was big in the 1990s and early 2000s in the West. Dragon Ball was a huge deal, and to some extent, thanks to the releases of new movies and video games, it still is big. Dragon Ball’s success ushered in a new era of anime and manga releases worldwide, such as One Piece (heavily inspired by Toriyama’s style), Naruto and Fullmetal Alchemist right up until today, with large (ludicrously expensive) anime sections in big stores such as HMV.
I’d argue that to some extent at least, Akira Toriyama is responsible for your enjoyment of anime and manga today. His impact worldwide with Dragon Ball was huge (helped of course by the likes of Pokémon, Akira and Cowboy Bebop) and I get the feeling that it’s being taken for granted. Toriyama isn’t perceived as the great artist he is, Dragon Ball helped develop the anime scene a big way in the West but these days it’s almost seen as dull, or unoriginal, Toriyama deserves more respect. Where has all the Dragon Ball on the shelves gone? What happened to Dr. Slump? Why can’t you buy it all?
If you haven’t read any Dragon Ball, please, go do so. You’ll find it’s not dull, or unoriginal. You’ll notice it’s high-energy, hilarious sense of humour and be swept away by its stories and characters. Toriyama’s work is quite simply, fun. Don’t you think the world needs more fun right now? The whole planet is currently swept up in waves of uncertainty and a general sense of unease, we need to be taking some time off to be reading stupid jokes and having a good time. So go and hunt down some Akira Toriyama books, enquire about the release of his stuff that has never been seen in English and just pray and hope that one day, you’ll be able to read all of Akira Toriyama’s work in a language you understand. Bring us the likes of his Manga Theatre volumes, Kajika and Go! Go! Ackman – they will help make the Earth great again.