I have never actually read a direct translation manga before, so this is a first for me. I have read some of the Star Wars mangas, but those have been reordered and flipped so that they are similar to the western style of reading, from left to right. However, in a traditional manga the writing is from right to left, so you are essentially reading the book backwards (from an English speaker’s point of view). Very different from what I am used to. Luckily the back page of the manga, which would be the front page of a normal English book, shows you how to appropriately read the manga.
Writer: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Viz Media
The story within the manga doesn’t follow the TV series exactly. Within the English dubbed episodes of the TV series, they have currently aired episodes 1-16, which incorporates all of the Battle of Gods saga and the first 2 episodes of the Resurrection F saga (which in total will be episodes 17-27). Within the manga, the story is broken into nine “episodes”, where the first four episodes are from the Battle of Gods saga. The last five episodes actually skip the Resurrection F saga and continue on to the Universe 6 saga (Episodes 28-46), the saga that takes place after Resurrection F. And it actually doesn’t even encompass the entirety of the Universe 6 saga, only the first five and a half episodes or so.
So if you are only watching the English dubbed episodes and do not want to be spoiled for future episodes, do not read the entire manga! I would recommend not reading any of it until you are done with the Universe 6 saga because they sprinkle little bits of upcoming episodes throughout the Battle of Gods saga portion.
The first thing that I noticed are the names of the characters. Whoever translated this manga went with, for some reason, a very old translation of Mr. Satan’s name. Typically the characters are fairly straightforward when translated, however a long time ago the character “Mr. Satan” was translated into English as “Hercule” because someone was afraid of the name “Satan”. In the current English dub of the show, however he is retains his moniker of Mr. Satan, as he has been for a very long time in the English dubs. But in this manga they went back to Hercule. What?!
One thing I find interesting is that there are snippets here and there that didn’t appear in the TV show. Like when Goku was training at the very beginning of the series, the manga shows him mentally battling his former enemies like Freeza, Cell, and Buu, none of which was shown in the show.
Also we get a brief snippet of Mr. Satan trying to give the money to Vegeta, which he mentioned in the show but we never actually saw. There is also a subplot involving a god named Champa who shows up in the Universe 6 saga also involving the Supreme Kais, none of which we saw in the TV series. They actually manage to incorporate them into the manga, showing a lot of “behind the scenes” events that were mentioned in the series but never show. Really cool!
The writer of the manga also seems to be familiar with the movie Battle of Gods because the manga is incorporating elements not only from the TV series, but also the movie and speeding the TV series up as well. There is even an editor’s note that calls out the movie to see Bulma’s birthday party to its fullest, even though the birthday party wasn’t on a boat in the movie.
When I get to the switch over from one story arc to the other, that gap between the two stories is jarring. The author of the manga doesn’t even try to bring together the disparate pieces. At the end of one manga episode (4) they are going to call Freeza and at the beginning of the next one Freeza isn’t mentioned, Goku and Vegeta are somehow on Beerus’ planet training to defeat him, and their uniforms are completely different. It takes several pages before you get one panel with the extremely brief explanation of what had happened. If you don’t watch the show or even just aren’t up to that point in the series, this is a major WTF moment.
The artwork itself is spot on. The action scenes flow very well through the comic and I can easily get a sense of what is going on. It makes the manga more dynamic than I thought it could be. However, they chose to skip over a lot of the “talky” scenes in the TV show to emphasize the fighting scenes in the book. This makes the book flow a lot faster but I feel as a reader of the manga and viewer of the TV series, I’m missing some of the important things. I think they would have been better off to expand the story plots and make a manga out of each story arc, that way you have a complete story wrapped up in each book without this weird cliffhanger they have left us off at.
Overall, not a bad book. If you are fully caught up on the original Japanese subtitled episodes of Dragon Ball Super (not the dubbed versions) I think you would get a kick out this. It provides a lot of extra scenes not shown in the series and it kicks the series into high gear, skipping the slow parts and emphasizing the fighting parts. If you are not caught up on the series or don’t watch it at all I don’t think this is for you. I feel that too many parts are glossed over or completely skipped for the reader to get the full story from. They even say in the story that if you want the full story, go to the movie.