Dragon Ball Volume 4

This review contains spoilers.

“There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless.” – W. Somerset Maugham.

At nearly 40 episodes, this is by far the largest collection of the original Dragon Ball series. Despite this, it only contains two arcs.

The first of these, the Tien Shinhan Saga, sees Son Goku and his friends returning to the Tenkaichi Martial Arts tournament. Goku, Kuririn and Yamucha are all taking part, as well as Muten Roshi the Turtle Hermit under the disguise of Jackie Chun once again. But this time they have some extra competition. Amongst the other competitors are two guys trained by the Turtle Hermit’s bitterest rival, the Crane Hermit. These are the three-eyed Tenshinhan and the small, white-faced Chaozu. Once more Goku and his friends each try their best to become the champion, but this is made harder when the Crane students learn that Goku has in the past taken down another one of their students. Thus they are out for revenge.

After the tournament is concluded, disaster strikes. Kuririn returns to the arena to fetch Goku’s Dragon Ball. But Goku suspects that something terrible is happening. He runs to the arena, but it is too late. The Dragon Ball has been stolen by a terrible monster, who not only has also taken a list of all those competing in the Tenkaichi tournament, but has done something totally unspeakable to Kuririn.

Goku goes off to find the villain, but Muten Roshi meanwhile has been able to figure out the cause: someone has set free the dreaded king of the demons, Piccolo. Piccolo is an evil monster who caused chaos and destruction to the world years ago, but Muten Roshi’s master was able to seal him inside a Denshi jar and dump him at sea. But now he has been freed by Goku’s old enemy Pilaf, who is hoping that once Piccolo takes over the world that he might give a piece to him. Piccolo has other things on his mind. He plans to use the Dragon Balls to wish for eternal youth to help him try to take over the world once more. While Goku tries to think of a way to make himself stronger, Muten Roshi and his allies try to collect the rest of the Dragon Balls in the hope to wish away Piccolo forever.

There is certainly a lot to get through with this collection. The Tien Shinhan saga, which is 18 episodes split across two discs (9 on each), is pretty much the same as the first tournament saga that occurred, only that this time the fight sequences are getting bigger and more fearsome. With the added element of the rivalry between the Turtle School and the Crane School, we get to see some big action, as well as the odd comic moment, mainly from Muten Roshi / Jackie Chun, as well as from the side characters like Lunch.

The King Piccolo saga, 21 episodes long across four discs (5 on the first three, 6 on the last) is rather interesting due to the way the plot plays out. It is not a straightforward bunch of fights. There are ups and downs, victories and losses, old characters revisited, and even some tragic deaths. When it comes to the fights involving Piccolo, there tends to be a slight hint of unpredictability as to whether he will win his battles or not. He is not a comic character like Pilaf. Piccolo is scary, deadly and not afraid to show his powers to his enemies and to the whole world. Piccolo is possibly one of the fearsome villains in anime.

With regards to extras, once again the only things you will find are character profiles and trailers of other series. There are some slight issues with the subtitling. For example, when there is a quote, they seem to only use the opening quotation marks and not the closing ones.

While there are some problems with the production, and perhaps it would be better to spread out the collection a little bit more, the story itself is strong and entertaining. It makes for great viewing, ultimately leading to the final part of the original Dragon Ball series.

8 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. His debut book, CLAMPdown, about the manga collective CLAMP, is available now. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

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