Friday, February 5, 2021


Story by: Akira Toriyama | Art by: Toyotarou

The next installment of DRAGON BALL SUPER opens with something I don't believe had ever been seen in the DB/Z saga up to this point -- a battle in outer space. But since Saiyans can't survive in the vacuum (a fact firmly established during the Freeza Saga, if it didn't already go without saying), it is the Kaioshin in Boo's body who challenges Moro in orbit over Namek. And while the Kaioshin-Boo puts up a decent showing, he isn't enough. He's weaker than Moro, and, as he discovers during their skirmish, hig "god power" is gone -- taken by the evil Kid Boo when Majin Boo split into his good and evil halves during the climax of the original DBZ era.

But Merus comes to the rescue in his spacesuit, saving Kaioshin-Boo and distracting Moro long enough for Boo to transport Moro back to Namek with the instant transmission technique. Goku and Vegeta arrive a split second later thanks to Goku's own use of that power, and the two brag that they're about to finish Moro -- which is when he reveals the third wish he made to the dragon Porunga: that all the inmates at the Galactic Prison would go free.

Following a brief flashback to the moment Moro made his wish, which shows the prisoners exiting their cells and stealing a ship, we jump back to the present as they arrive on Namek and attack. At the same time, Moro begins draining Goku's and Vegeta's energies, reducing them both to their base forms. Merus and Jaco step in to help, but the heroes are outnumbered. Kaioshin transports himself and the sole surviving Namekian child to Galactic Patrol HQ, while Goku does the same for himself, Jaco, and Merus. But Vegeta spurns Goku's assistance to leave, and instead flies aboard Merus's and Jaco's ship, ordering the pilot to set course for planet Yardrat.
At this point the story goes into that staple of most DRAGON BALL sagas, what you might call "downtime mode" -- the part where our heroes lick their wounds, regroup, and train to better themselves for their next encounter with the enemy. In general, this is one of my favorite parts of any DB storyline (the filler episodes just before the Cell Games, where Goku goes around in his bomber jacket collecting the Dragon Balls, are pretty much my all-time favorite non-canon DBZ installments), and what we have here is no exception. While Moro and his men travel the galaxy, with teams of convicts dispatched as scouts to find planets for Moro to devour (thus restoring Moro at last to his full strength), Goku and Vegeta start training.

At Galactic Patrol headquarters, Boo has reverted to himself and fallen asleep, so Goku takes Merus's measure, believing there's more to the elite patrolman than meets the eye. Sure enough, in Merus, Goku sees the possibility of moving closer to a mastery of autonomous ultra instinct, so the pair begins training together on another planet, where Merus reveals a Room of Spirit and Time to Goku and says that inside, he will unleash his full power to train our hero. The idea that there are other Rooms of Spirit and Time elsewhere in the universe is pretty cool -- like, why do they exist? Are they artifacts of some ancient, galaxy-spanning civilization? It's the sort of world-building you don't see all that often in DRAGON BALL.

Meanwhile, Vegeta arrives on Yardrat, where he finds that in addition to instant transmission, the denizens of that world know a number of unusual techniques, all achieved by mastering control of their ki -- so Vegeta asks to learn how to do so.

With Merus, Goku, and Vegeta all occupied, the Galactic Patrol is in need of some powerful recruits. Jaco is sent to Earth to bring Piccolo, Tien, and Krillin in the fold. But shortly before he arrives, one of Moro's scout parties, the Maceroni Gang, show up. Piccolo easily dispatches the aliens, and then banishes them from Earth. But as they fly away, Jaco warns Bulma and Dende, who in turn warn Piccolo. He stops the Gang from escaping, but too late -- they have issued a call to Moro, who orders more powerful scouts sent to Earth to test it further ahead of his arrival.
There's an interesting development during this volume: at one point Vegeta notes that "gimmicky techniques", such as Kaioshin Boo's attempt to steal Moro's magic, never work, and brute force is the only way to win the day. Which is unfortuantely true. Even dating back to the original Dragon Ball, techniques like the Mafuba attack never actually worked. They would always fail, leaving it to Goku to win the day by impaling/dismembering/disintegrating/all of the above/etc. the bad guy. I must admit, it would be nice, at least once, to see DRAGON BALL embrace an alternative to straight-up clobbering the villain. I mean, I know it's an action manga, but that doesn't mean there can't be more creative outcomes at least once in a while!

But what's notable is that it appears the story might be going in that direction. Despite Vegeta's firm belief that sheer power is the only way to win, he swallows his pride and heads off to Yardrat to try and learn a new technique which might give him the upper hand on Moro. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this technique, whatever it may be, will actually make a difference -- but including it as such an overt plot point makes me think that it will somehow play into the next battle against Moro.

The other bit I like in this one is that Earth is about to come under attack without Goku and Vegeta present to defend it. Yes, this happened in RESURRECTION "F", but the manga notoriously skipped that integral arc, so this will be the first time we see it happen in these pages. It'll be fun to see how Piccolo and the rest fare against Moro's forces without their most powerful warriors. This being DRAGON BALL, of course, they will easily fall before Moro himself -- but hopefully they'll put up a decent showing before that happens when his next scouting party arrives.
Lastly, I just want to note that there's some weirdness going on with Bulma here. In the previous volume, she ordered Jaco to send a ship to Earth so she could head into space to find Goku and Vegeta and lay her eyes on Moro. But here, a full week later, she's still on Earth, warning Dende and Piccolo about Moro's impending arrival. It seems like plans for her changed at some point between chapters, but this oddity is never addressed in-story.

And that's it for DRAGON BALL SUPER -- for now. The twelfth volume is due to release in just a couple months, so I may pick it up when it comes out and do a post about it over the summer. I believe the Moro saga just recently ended in the chapters SHONEN JUMP has been posting online, so at this point I'm thinking perhaps I read volume 12, then dig into the JUMP site to read through the rest of the saga there, thus closing the book of Moro all before the year is up.

Next Friday, I'll post an announcement of what to expect here for the next couple months!


  1. The Moro Saga ended in November, with an epilog in December. And just in case you've not used the Jump site for manga ever, only the last three chapters are available for free, the remainder requires a subscription, with new chapters going up around the 20th of the month.

    While I have some problems with how the saga turns out, I will admit, it nails, in a lot of ways, the structure of the DBZ sagas. The basics of every arc in Z is "Initial Conflict, People Get Stronger, Conflict Resumes, Waiting For Goku, Final Battle." The details change-sometimes the heroes actively train, sometimes the get stronger part happens in battle such as Vegeta, Kirillin, and Gohan on Namek-but those are the basic beats. You can even apply it to Super, with both the Future Arc and even the Tournament of Power, if you start that from the initial preview tournament, and turn "Waiting For Goku" into "Waiting for Goku to master Ultra Instinct." Got to wonder how much of that here in the manga is Toriyama going for the familiar or Toyotaru going for the familiar. My gut wants to say the latter.

    And yeah, that Bulma thing. Anyone that explains that gets a no-prize from Whis.

    1. Urk! No, I didn't realize they only keep the three most recent chapters up. Hmm... now I may change my plans. Not sure I want to subscribe to Viz's site just to finish the Moro storyline... even though it would probably cost me less to do so than to buy the next few digital volumes when they're eventually released. I'm weird that way.

      Anyway -- you're right, so far this storyline follows the DBZ "formula" to a tee. That might be why I like it a lot so far, as it feels the closest to classic DBZ.

      It just occurred to me that the formula made its first appearance even earlier than the "Z" era, I think in the Demon King Piccolo storyline! That one had Goku fight Piccolo and his henchmen and lose (Initial Conflict), then train with Korin (Gets Stronger), then Roshi and Tien both fought Piccolo and lost (Conflict Resumes/Waiting for Goku), then Goku arrived to save the day.

      Of course the rest of pre-Z DRAGON BALL was a bit less formulaic (and the formula itself was brand new at that point), which is probably why I love it so much. I mean, I always say that I like DBZ a lot, and I really, really love the early Androids Saga -- the stuff where they're trying to find the androids, learning about Cell, etc., up to the point where Cell becomes perfect and the story becomes repetitious -- but I absolutely adore DRAGON BALL over nearly all of Z.

    2. Yeah when I read that about following the manga I went "I better ask if he knows its a subscription service." I just manage to remember to check out the new chapters before they go away.

      Indeed, there are some proto-types of Z styled plotting in DB. Watching Toriyama figure out the formula-since here in the US Dragonball was watching Z for a longgggg time before the original series was dubbed-was one of my favorite parts of finally seeing DB.