Dragon Ball Super Vol 2 Review

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The second Dragon Ball Super volume covers chapters 10 through 15, with a ton of story covered. The “Champa saga” ends by chapter 13, leaving 14 and 15 to kick off the “Future Trunks saga” (otherwise known as “Goku Black saga”. That habit of naming sagas after the main villain never goes away, huh?

The Dragon Ball Super manga abbreviates the event of the anime somewhat. The first volume skipped past ‘Resurrection F’ altogether, and volume 2 follows a similar fast-forward trend. But thankfully not as drastically as the first volume. It begins with Goku facing Frost, the Universe 6 version of Frieza. Bragging rights are up for grabs between Universe 7/6′  respective Gods of Destruction, brothers Beerus and Champa. Oh, and a wish from the planet-sized Super Dragon Balls.

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The manga and anime productions come from the same brief, provided by series creator Akira Toriyama. Both are being produced in parallel, with plenty of differences between the two. You could say Dragon Ball Super is the anime/manga equivalent to George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. There is no slacking in the print version here however. As a result the manga serves as a nice alternative to the more epic nature of the anime series.

It’s the non-action scenes that are mostly cut from the manga. Don’t expect much in the way of dialogue during the battles, either. This has been the case throughout all the manga Dragon Ball universe. In the case of Super some big pay-off points just don’t have the same effect as the anime. But there are some radical differences that give the manga a unique feel over the anime.

**Spoilers ahead in this section for both the anime and manga – Read at your own risk**

In the anime, Goku combines Super Saiyan Blue with the Kaio-Ken attack from way back. This is to push Universe 6’ top fighter Hit to his limit, before Goku eliminates himself from the tournament. Whereas here in the manga Super Saiyan Blue is the ultimate form, which can only be used in a limited capacity. As a result, Goku uses the red Super Saiyan God from the “Beerus saga” instead. Goku turns Super Saiyan Blue only to pull out the big guns at the end, then eliminates himself. The red Super Saiyan God form isn’t seen in the anime until the more recent “Universal Survival saga”.

**Spoilers end – Normal spoiler-free service is resumed**

Volume 2 ends with the beginning of the aforementioned “Future Trunks saga”. Trunks is flees to the main timeline once again from a foe who seems unstoppable. That foe may have Goku’s face, but Goku he most certainly is not. Once again, brief dialogue explains much of the back story instead of the anime’s more granular approach. Other anime/manga differences come to light during sparring sessions between Trunks and Goku. These serve as a prelude to facing his evil doppelganger, but the outcome is relatively similar. It also leaves the manga finely poised in anticipation for volume 3.

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Once again it is Toriyama’s understudy Toyotarou that provides the art. The results are excellent, with the hectic action captured on clear panels that match Toriyama’s own style and substance. There are obvious visual issues when it comes to the different Super Saiyan transformations in black and white. The shading is subtler, plus a character usually exclaims the fact. Translation-wise it sticks to the usual Viz formula. Mr Satan is Hercule, Buu is Boo, and the Spirit Bomb is the Genki Dama. King Kai is also known to as the Lord of Worlds, which can lead to confusion. But these are certainly forgivable minor issues that don’t affect the overall enjoyment of the series.

Bonus content includes an amusing yet bizarre 2-page joke Pilaf story. It explains how Pilaf and his gang de-aged during Gohan’s attempt to save everyone in the Future Trunks’ timeline. There is also a nice little section with Toyotarou answering fans’ questions which I hope continues in further volumes.

The pacing of volume 2 is much steadier than the first volume. Volume 1 felt like merely a skim over the first 2 story arcs. Given most of volume 2 is the Universe 6 vs Universe 7 tournament it’s more wall to wall action than deep dialogue. It certainly results in a more consistent read. But like the first volume the manga serves as an alternative accompanying dish to the anime’s main course. Anime followers may raise an eyebrow at some of the different uses of Goku’s attributes. But overall, the story follows the Toriyama blueprint, and Toyotarou’s panels are a feast for the eyes. The action is excellent, the art is brilliant, the anticipation for more is high. Dragon Ball Super volume 2 is a great read.

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Retroreflection #3 – Ghost in the Shell (PS1)

Developed by: Exact (now Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan) and Production I.G.

What would have been deemed impossible for both the anime and movie industry 20 years ago, a Hollywood adaption of Ghost in the Shell was released. Masamune Shirow’s original manga of nearly 30 years ago is philosophical, sociological, psychological and essential reading, a feat echoed by the 1995 anime classic. Following its success on both eastern and western shores, and with the Playstation in full flight, Sony released a Shirow-designed video game just 2 years later.

Ghost in the Shell is an action-packed yet simple first/third person shooter and a great entry for fans of the franchise as a whole. Retaining the excellent animation and voice acting from the English dubbing, the highlights of this now-collectable PS1 title are most definitely the original cut-scenes that give the impression of an interactive movie of sorts. You play as the ‘Rookie’, a new recruit to Public Security Section 9 alongside Major Kusanagi, Batou, etc., as a new terrorist threat, the Human Liberation Front, claims to be responsible for the bombing of the Megatech Body Corporation building, but all is not as it seems….

In order to complete the investigation and infiltration, you control a Fuchikoma, a highly-manoeuvrable spider-like mini tank, the result delivering hi-octane 3D action in the form of standard shooting designated targets in order to access the next area type stuff; it can jump, strafe, scale buildings, fire missiles and comes with an unlimited-ammo machine gun by default. Set pieces such as navigating through tight sewer systems and free-falling down a skyscraper are high points in between the glossy mission-brief cut scenes.

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But despite the stunning cut-scenes, top soundtrack, and easy pick up and play access, a full play-through of the game only takes around the same time as it does to watch the movie, with little to no replay value, and is incredibly easy. I remember my first play-through came from an overnight rental, back when rentals were an excellent try-before-you-buy method. This was more tried-and-don’t-need-to-buy, with the game retailing around £34.99 on its release, a little less than the standard £40+ but still a questionable price. Amazingly, it has never been released on PSN in Europe, meaning that original copies are now fetching £60+ on eBay in today’s inflated collectors market.

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Ghost in the Shell is unique in that there are very few titles like it; an original anime production straight from the creators, which is ultimate fan service. 20 years on, it is astonishing that it still stands as the most original anime-based video game ever made. Unfortunately, much like the new movie, it is a disappointingly shallow-yet-fun experience. A must for any fans/completest but nothing more.