Manga Review – Dragon Ball Super, Vol. 3 by Akira Toriyama and Toyotaro

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dragon Ball Super, vol. 3 is the third volume in the revived Dragon Ball series from Akira Toriyama. This series finds Toriyama himself taking over the story telling duties on the series for the first time since Dragon Ball Z concluded. With the help of artist Toyotaro, Toriyama is once again telling stories about the characters and in the world of one of the most well-known manga of all time.

The first two volumes of Dragon Ball Super were some of my least favorite Dragon Ball content. It’s not necessarily that the story is bad, it’s just that it’s so clearly retrofitting the plot from the anime in such a small amount of space that it made the whole affair extremely cluttered. There was an incredibly important plot line that was relegated to an off-panel explainer in the manga. It made for some very strange reading as someone who had already watched the anime.

Reading volume three, it’s clear that Toriyama wasn’t all that interested in the first arc of the anime and wanted to get to the Goku Black saga that begins here. Almost all of my complaints from the previous volumes have been rectified. Toriyama now let’s the story breathe a bit more and it reads like a pretty traditional late Dragon Ball Z story. Unlike the first two volumes, I’m enjoying the manga version of the story more than the anime. Now that Toriyama is free to expand where necessary, cut any anime-style filler, and establish the manga as a more separate entity, he’s back in rare form. Toyotaro does a good job of illustrating in what I’d consider the late Dragon Ball house style. It’s a bit less cartoony than Toriyama’s early work on the series, but the style here is practically indistinguishable from what fans of the anime will recognize.

I am knocking the volume a bit because of my personal feelings towards time travel arcs. The original Trunks/Android saga from Z was good, but there is a certain point here where the story starts to become quite convoluted. There’s time travel, alternate timelines, alternate universes, and multiple versions of the same character existing at the same time in spots. It can be pretty confusing. I can’t help wonder what my experience would have been with the material if I hadn’t already watched the corresponding anime and was now experiencing the story for the second time. I’ll note that it was one of my least favorite sagas from the show, so far.

All that being said, it still felt to me like a classic Dragon Ball mix of top notch action and intermingled gags. After putting off reading this volume for a while based on my experience with the first two, I’m happy to report that I’m looking forward to getting back to it more regularly once again.

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