Graphic Novel Review: Nicholas Kawaguchi

The graphic novel I read was entitled Dragon Ball Super which was written by Akira Toriyama and illustrated by Toyotaro. I read the third volume of the series that contains chapters 16 through 20 out of the current total of 51 chapters. The series as a whole describes the adventures of a character named Goku and those along with him as to take on threats from earth and, now expanding across other universes. This series is considered to be an action-oriented manga with human-like beings that possess otherworldly abilities taking part in monumental fights. These 5 chapters take place in the middle of a plot arc about a warrior from the future traveling back to Goku’s time to get help in defeating a foe that is destroying the warrior’s world. This future warrior already appeared once before to Goku’s timeline to save their reality from becoming a dystopia like his and managed to succeed. This time, the future warrior’s reality is now threatened by a warrior who identically matches the looks of Goku, calling himself Goku Black and has laid waste, again, to most of the warrior’s world. These chapters specifically unravel the mystery behind Goku Black’s true identity and the fight between Goku Black and Goku’s team. This particular arc entails a lot of time traveling and thus creates a bit of confusion at first, but even without a full, in-depth understanding of its definition of time travel, the manga can still be appreciated in its entirety. 

Dragon Ball Super Volume 3, Akira Toriyama & Toyotaro, Page 66

The iconography and drawing style is very much Japan oriented as Dragon Ball was and remains to be one of the most well known and main spearheads of the anime and manga industry. Especially in this series, characters adopt features such as exaggerated expressions, sometimes flamboyant hairstyles, larger eyes that express more emotion, and the list goes on. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this particular set of chapters has many action scenes and thus makes ample use of, as McCloud analyzes, motion blur and lines. Many of the panels incorporate swift movements over short periods shown through the closure of action-to-action and in turn all the punching, kicking, and energy blasts have those lines that give them movement. Going along those concepts, the use of linguistics is also keen. As far as I know, the concept of incorporating sound effects, through both aural and visual, occurs frequently in manga and anime, especially in scenes of humor. Take for instance a casual scene that acts as a filler between tense, chaotic scenes. This go-cart sequence can obviously be seen as a go-cart scene, but with the sound effects echo some of the visuals in the scene and adds to the overall scene with some effects being written out taking up more than half a panel. 

“Long-Term Relationship” by Eroyn Franklin

Turning to the examples of webcomics that we read for class, it felt like a similar experience to that of going through smaller artists’ work on Instagram or going through meme pages on Instagram too. The digital format in most of the comics we read were restricted to viewing one panel at a time and it makes the reader scrolls through each panel. Like this, many artists use Instagram to feature their arts and works and the majority that I view are similarly featured in that way where the reader has to scroll through a single panel rather than viewing the entire thing. Another unique aspect is that webcomics have the opportunity to include some animation within the work. One is Eroyn Franklin’s “Long Term Relationship” where the first three panels are all animated gifs that tell 5 panels’ stories within one single moving one, such as the first where it depicts, possibly, her going through the creative process and stressing out in the midst of it and resulting in her pulling her hair out. In a sense, looking at that same moving image, the hair is drawn in such a way that has lines that are much more grown out, and shaggy looking, and that could just be how she views her hair, but it could help in adding to the overall sense of anxiety and stress of her creative process.

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