Weekly Shounen Jump is celebrating its unbelievable 40th anniversary, and as part of the festivities Shounen Jump has all-new episodes of three of its series. By downloading their own proprietary media player, you can actually watch these episodes subtitled for free until January 2009. One of the titles is One Piece, another is Letter Bee (which I know nothing about). I’ll get to One Piece and Letter Bee’s exclusive episodes another time; this is all about perennial favorite Dragon Ball.
Akira Toriyama’s most famous work is by far the most popular Shounen Jump properties of all time, its worldwide success is rivaled by few other. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that there hasn’t been any new Dragon Ball anime for a long, long time. Even in America the final episodes of GT aired years ago. But some would argue that at some point the Dragon Ball series took a bit of a detour and lost some of its original spirit. Among these critics might be Toriyama himself as this new Dragon Ball anime special feels very much like a return to form, and it’s written by Toriyama too. “Yo! The Return of Son-Goku and Friends!!!” is like a combination of everything that made Dragon Ball popular throughout its incarnations rolled into one.
The story is about Mr. Satan opening up a new hotel to celebrate his victory over Majin Boo and inviting Goku and Friends over for a sumptuous banquet. Some new characters show up, stuff blows up and things get eaten. Really, the story is just a flimsy excuse to get everyone together and for chaos to happen, and it’s the type of chaos which combines the fighting of Z with the humor of the original. Kamesennin is back to wearing his old turtle shell and making lewd comments towards Chi-chi, Goku powers up to Super Saiyan just because, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance but not really. It’s just a single-episode adventure dedicated to the fans and it really shows.
The most notable addition is the introduction of Vegeta’s little brother, Tarble. I’ll let the pun sink in for a second before I move on.
Tarble would be a spoiler except he’s right there on the front page and in the character descriptions, so he’s fair game. Tarble was sent away long ago by King Vegeta because Tarble lacked any sort of fighting prowess. Having avoided much of the events of Dragon Ball, Tarble even still has his tail. With the existence of Tarble now revealed, it just makes me think that every time Vegeta said something like “WE ARE THE LAST SAIYANS IN THE UNIVERSE KAKARROT!” he was murmuring under his breath, “exceptforthatotheronehrmrmrmr.” Well Dragon Ball was never super big on maintaining canon anyway so it’s no big deal. It’s just another way of humanizing Vegeta just a little because you’d have expected him to fly over to Tarble at some point and punch him in the face for being so weak. Then again, Vegeta might respect the fact that Tarble tries to fight even when he sucks at it. I’m thinking too much about this, but how could I not when I now know that Vegeta is also Reinhard Von Lohengramm?
If you’re a Dragon Ball fan, I really don’t have to tell you to go watch this, but go watch this. If you’re not a fan of Dragon Ball, or you’re the kind who complains about powering up taking too long, keep in mind that this is just one 20-something minute episode and there’s no time to waste on powering up excessively and standing around. There isn’t even an deserted area in the middle of nowhere to fight and blow things up in! There’s only Mr. Satan’s hotel.
Poor, poor Mr. Satan.