Whether you’ve been watching it as it airs in Japan on Crunchyroll, Daisuki or FunimationNow or watching it Saturday nights in English on Adult Swim, you have to admit that “Dragon Ball Super” — the anime continuation of Akira Toriyama’s legendary “Dragon Ball” franchise — is a heck of a ride. Far superior to the derided “Dragon Ball GT,” “Super” widely expands the cosmic scope of Toriyama’s universe while keeping the action and humor that makes the rest of the franchise so entertaining.
The first volume of the “Dragon Ball Super” manga, written and drawn by Toyotarou from outlines by Toriyama, continues that trend while also cutting a lot of the dead air that crops up when you have to stretch out a story arc across several episodes of a television show (one based on a movie, no less). Toyotarou starts out adapting 2013’s “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” in just four chapters, then skips the fun fanservice of 2015’s “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F'” — which he adapted into a companion manga at the time of the movie’s release that still hasn’t been officially translated at the time of this writing — to head straight into “Super’s” “Warriors From Universe 6!” arc.
The story, set in the decade between the last two chapters of “Z’s” Buu Saga, sees Goku having given up fighting for radish farming, to his regret. An unexpected windfall provided by Mr. Satan (called by his more censor-friendly name of Hercule, as is standard with Viz’s “Dragon Ball” material) gives Goku the opportunity to head back to King Kai’s planet to train. But he winds up unexpectedly running into Beerus, the God of Destruction, who’s arrived in this corner of the galaxy with his servant Whis to investigate a prophetic dream Beerus had about a “Super Saiyan God.”
The biggest hook in this book’s favor is that the manga is serialized monthly in the Japanese magazine “V Jump.” Without a weekly grind to crawl through, Toyotarou can focus on capturing the many idiosyncrasies of Toriyama’s work in his own unique style rather than worry about proper pacing.
Toyotarou knows how to sell both a good gag — as demonstrated by his great facial expressions for Jaco the Galactic Patrolman — and incredible action scenes, whether it’s Goku ascending to Super Saiyan Godhood or him & Vegeta sparring against each other in training. Like Toriyama says in the interview with the two at the back of this book, Toyotarou is more than a match for Toriyama’s unique style.
If you’re a fan of “Super” or poured over or watched Goku’s battles as a kid, this manga is for you. It’s a fine new chapter for one of comics’ greatest heroes and absolutely worth getting lost in.
“Dragon Ball Super Volume 1” is on sale now from Viz Media.