Today marks the day of the official release for the “Full Color Comics”, not only here in Japan, but also for those of you in the United States later in the day, courtesy of Viz. The newly-colored version of the manga is kicking off in both regions with what we would consider the “Z”-portion of the story — Shueisha plans to do print versions through to the Freeza, Cell, and Majin Buu arcs, and possibly doing the first portion of the story digital-only, while Viz has committed (so far) to just a digital release in their Weekly Shonen Jump.
Expect a more formal review for both the Japanese and English releases later this month. In the meantime, with this being the only print version of the new “Full Color Comics”, how does it stack up against prior editions? To get a sense of what is in store for us, let us take a look at volume 1 of the new release.
Chapters are indeed renumbered according to the arc they are in (so chapter 195 is “Saiyan Arc 01″, and so on). They are named at the beginning with the original chapter names (and new numbers), but there is no naming of chapters within the flow of the story itself, so you only know where the chapter divisions are by obvious cliffhangers or repeated scenes (or the presence of extraneous artwork — more on that in a minute).
Pages are glossy and have good contrast, and the coloring appears to have been done thoughtfully and without any glaring problems. At times, the coloring (which was obviously done digitally) seems a little too smooth and free of the texture or stroke-lines you can make out in Toriyama’s hand-colored art, but it is consistent and works well — better than the “Z” anime, in my opinion. There is no obvious censorship (blood is kept, the farmer killed by Raditz still smokes, and Gohan’s genitals are still there when he transforms back into a little boy after his Ōzaru rampage).
In terms of the coloring itself, Bulma’s hair is purple, Piccolo’s arm highlights are brownish-yellow rather than pink, and both Vegeta and Nappa have the proper coloring from the outset (all scouters are green, as well). On the other hand, Gohan’s initial outfit has the same coloring as the anime, and the farmer, birds, and truck at the beginning have their anime-coloring as well. It is hard to tell at this early stage, but it appears that whenever Akira Toriyama’s artwork consistently contradicts the anime, they go with the color-scheme that he used; when Toriyama’s coloring is either nonexistent or inconsistent, however, they go with what the anime uses for consistency’s sake. Chapter 11 (205)’s coloring is almost exactly the same as it was in the original version (which was full-color throughout), save for the recoloring of Gohan’s clothes to match the anime, altering Bulma’s clothes to match how her outfit looked in chapter 02 (196), and a smattering of sound effects.
There is no title page gallery; however, a few of the chapter title pages have been reused on other pages, while original title pages present within the main body have either been omitted or moved elsewhere, such as the inside front flap (chapter 201 / Saiyan Arc 07). Chapter 195 (Saiyan Arc 01) begins with the image of Raditz from the title page of chapter 196, while chapter 196 (Saiyan Arc 02)’s title page borrows the title page illustration originally used with chapter 199. Likewise, chapter 197 (Saiyan Arc 03) uses the title page artwork for chapter 207 (Saiyan Arc 13). The special postcard included with Saiyan Arc vol. 1 is the original title page artwork to chapter 200 (Saiyan Arc 06). No other title pages are present, in their original form or otherwise; however, it should be noted that all replacement title page artwork originally came from chapters found within the volume, so there is at least some deliberate effort going into their (seemingly random) selections.
The first “Enter the DRAGONBALL” section (as it is not a single article for the first volume, but a series that goes across all three Saiyan Arc volumes) is a two-page spread that introduces the characters and story of the first two arcs from the manga (the Dragon Ball search and the 21st Tenka’ichi Budōkai). Images are taken from the manga, and colorized just like the rest of the book — and as it turns out, colored versions of the first 20 tankōbon volumes were released digitally on the same day as these books came out, just as Shueisha had previously hinted.
The final section is a Dragon Ball Q&A with seven questions (called “Dragon Ball Q&A 7″, or “Doragonbōru Mondō Nana”), a recurring feature in each volume. The first six questions are softballs for people just easing into the story (“How old is Goku?” “What is Goku and Piccolo’s connection?” “Wait, Goku had a tail?”, etc.) but the seventh is a question posed to Akira Toriyama himself about the hierarchy among Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz. His answer is that, while Vegeta is royalty and at the top in terms of strength, they were equals in terms of position. The Toriyama-answered questions in volumes 2 and 3 deal with the creature-comforts of Saiyan space-pods, and why Kaiō-sama‘s planet is so small (which includes a nod to the upcoming movie).
Stay tuned later today for our quick look at Viz’s English release of the “Full Color Comics”.