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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/16/2006 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Dr. Slump, Vol. 5"

Dr. Slump, Vol. 5
by Akira Toriyama

Review by Tom Good

After logging more than 50 hours in DragonQuest VIII, I've become more of a fan of Toriyama than before. His character designs for the game have lasting appeal, and combine cuteness with a quirkiness that makes them more than generic adventure game stereotypes. One of his simplest but most effective creations was the smiling slime monster in the DragonQuest series. In this manga, the inventor Dr. Slump and his robot-girl creation Arale live in Penguin Village and have a variety of silly, slapstick adventures involving vampires, aliens, assassins, animals, and of course wacky inventions.

This book mixes childlike visuals and jokes with themes that might seem more suitable for older readers, at least by American standards. For example, in one story Slump outfits Arale with a video camera in her glasses, then tries to use the device to capture nude pictures of Arale's gorgeous teacher in the bath. Another single-page comic between chapters tells the story of Toriyama's embarrassment at being recognized by a manga fan while browsing pornographic magazines in a bookstore. This sort of thing may surprise some American readers, but is not especially unusual in Japanese comics.

The episodes are short and self-contained, so the book lends itself to being read in short bursts rather than all in one sitting. In the best chapter, "Goodbye Gatchan," aliens return to Penguin Village to claim their lost child. Here Toriyama deftly points the reader's expectations in one direction, only to set up a clever joke in the surprising ending. I also enjoyed the cute and funny visuals throughout the book, such as a hippopotamus-drawn carriage, or Arale in a giant mecha. Though uneven compared to Vol. 1, this is still a fun manga.

See also:
Review of Dr. Slump, Vol. 1
Akira Toriyama entry at Wikipedia

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