Do we really need to sell you on Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball? We’d struggle to think of a manga series more popular or influential than it. It’s like turning to someone and saying, “Hey, have you heard about Super Mario Bros or The Beatles?” Yeah, we have.
While you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t engaged with the anime adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball in some way. But just because someone has seen the anime doesn’t mean they’ve read the manga it’s based on.
You’ve already read the headline of this piece, so let’s cut to the chase. The complete Dragon Ball manga box set is on sale for $154 here, down from the usual price of $220. Truth be told, this series is well worth the cost at full price, but we’ll gladly take a 30% discount on it too.
This set contains the first 16 volumes of the manga series, a collector’s booklet and a double-sided poster. It’s worth noting that this only includes the original Dragon Ball manga, so it ends before the time skip that leads into Dragon Ball Z.
If you love the anime but have never read the manga, or if you’ve only read the DBZ-era stuff, this set is a real treat. It’s back when collecting the titular Dragon Balls was a whole adventure in and of itself, instead of something characters would do off-panel in later DBZ arcs. Back before it was revealed that Goku and Piccolo are both aliens. Back when Yamcha actually did stuff (although he still loses to most characters).
What’s great about reading Dragon Ball from the start is that you get to see it evolve in real-time. While DBZ is noticeably more serious, these early Dragon Ball stories are just a lot of fun. While big fights play more of a role in the series’ later arcs, DB is much more whimsical.
What starts as a fantastical adventure series slowly becomes more focused on high-energy fights as Toriyama improves as a manga artist and storyteller, with his concept of what Dragon Ball is becoming much clearer.
Those earlier chapters are a bit wackier than others, but when Toriyama does his first martial arts tournament arc, you can really see things click as he realises this is what he wants to do. And as far as classic manga goes, you just can’t go past this.