In 1984, Mangaka legend Akira Toriyama debuted the first chapter of what would become arguably the most popular anime in the world, Dragon Ball, in the pages of popular manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump.

Since the very first moment the world was introduced to the curious Son Goku and the intelligent and beautiful Bulma, Toriyama continued to put pen to paper and bring the universe and characters to life in his unique visual style.

Dragon Ball – A Visual History is a beautiful and expansive collection of Akira Toriyama’s various Dragon Ball related artwork between 1984 and 2013 by Viz Media that gives Toriyama’s work the appropriate book treatment, highlighting the artistic details of each piece and collecting even the most obscure of Dragon Ball illustrations.

The collection organizes Toriyama’s pieces chronologically by year, featuring pieces ranging from Weekly Shonen Jump title pages, to fold-out posters and graphic novel/Tankōbon covers.

Most impressively, the book extracts and collects every Dragon Ball related image featured on Weekly Shonen Jumps noisy covers, no matter how small. Each piece is presented in the beautiful, original colors (unless otherwise intended by Toriyama) on glossy paper which highlights Toriyama’s inkwork.

As this collection is centered on the miscellaneous and promotional drawings drawn by Toriyama for Dragon Ball, one should not expect to find images of moments taken from the manga, though this plays to the books advantage as it allows for each piece to have its own space to stand out and capture ones attention.

Beside every cover for every collected form of the Dragon Ball manga, A Visual History also includes Toriyama’s work on the more obscure and controversial materials in the Dragon Ball universe, such as Neko Majin Z and Dragon Ball GT.

The collection is far from complete, however, as it ends with production materials made for Battle of Gods. This is not a detriment to the collection, as it would have taken up quite a bit of real estate. It makes sense, from a collection standpoint, to cut the collection off at Dragon Ball Super and save those materials for further collections once the series has had time to culminate a further storied history.

Most impressively, outside of the beautiful golden embossed slipcover that houses the collection is the collection’s Index, which chronicles and commentates on each image throughout the collection, adding commentary and pointing out obscure bits of trivia (for example, did you know an illustration for a Weekly Shonen Jump planner is the only depiction of Goku with a school bag? Or that the fold-out poster for Chapter 229 mistakenly spells the series as ‘Dagon Ball’?)

These extra bits of info show the extensive care put into the collection and inject a further element of character into Toriyama’s vibrant characters.

The Verdict

Overall, this collection is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of not only Dragon Ball fans, but fans of art and manga in general. Not only is it an incredible documentation of Dragon Balls visual evolution and sheer amount of media, but it is a careful and respectful treatment of Toriyama’s original artwork.

A review copy of this collection was provided by Viz Media.

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Dragon Ball – A Visual History: Is This A History Worthy of a Dragon Ball Wish?
PROS:
  • Beautiful, accurate reproductions
  • Collects even the most obscure of DB artworks
  • Translations and commentary add more character to Toriyama's work
CONS:
  • Only archives up to 2013, and thus does not feature Dragon Ball Super content.
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  • About The Author

    Spencer is a contributing reporter for Bounding Into Comics. Unabashed anime fan, life-long comic book reader, avid video game player, and in need of a separate house for all of his figures. Trying to sift through the noise to bring the readers the facts.

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