HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | A Smorgasbord of Tales from Akira Toriyama

MANGA REVIEW | A Smorgasbord of Tales from Akira Toriyama

MANGA REVIEW | A Smorgasbord of Tales from Akira Toriyama

Without Akira Toriyama, just how popular would anime and manga be? His Dragon Ball is considered the ultimate gateway series, where even the biggest of jocks would profess their love for it. But before he became a manga icon, Toriyama was just like every other struggling manga artist out there, doing his best to find his voice. Thus, he had created a plethora of stories before striking gold with Goku & Vegeta, with these tales collected into the massive compilation known as Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater!

As Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater is a collection of 18 short stories, we will be ranking them in three categories. "Super Saiyan Gods" are the great shorts, some of which perhaps deserved to be expanded on more. "The Slumps" is reserved for those with some good ideas, but not enough execution to implement them strongly. Lastly, there’s "Home For Infinite Losers", which I don’t think I need to explain the level of stories this place would hold.

Thus, let us begin our journey into this giant book of tales by Akira Toriyama!

Super Saiyan Gods:

Tomato the Cutesy Gumshoe

Tomato the Cutesy Gumshoe

It’s hard not to look at the titular character and not see Bulma. With that being said, Tomato the Cutesy Gumshoe has a Naked Gun charm to it that makes it thoroughly entertaining. From Tomato’s tardy entrance to how she catches a wanted man, every gag in this short surprisingly hits its mark with great stride. Alas, like Police Squad, Tomato the Cutesy Gumshoe was just too ahead of its time, and would make only this one-off appearance.

Pola & Roid

On one hand, it’s easy to see why this is a one-off, as it tells a complete story. However, Pola & Roid takes the romantic buddy comedy route, and takes its viewers on one hell of an intergalactic journey! The banter, the slapstick, and even the characters tropes are presented with a great dose of humor on every page. It even has a rather interesting cameo towards the end, with the character fitting perfectly well with their wacky surroundings.


I can’t fathom why Chobit failed to find an audience! The story of a cop and his siblings befriending a tiny alien genie has a plethora of charm and originality throughout its two massive chapters. When the genie Chobit starts helping the cop Mugifuni with his beat — both in his home turf and the Wild West the family moves to in the second chapter — the level of cleverness and silliness that’s on display is too good for words! Maybe in an alternate universe, Chobit became a runaway hit, but sadly here, all we have is a bad case of the what-ifs.



A young warrior goes out to steal the water from a criminal organization hoarding it. What follows is an exciting tale that calls back to Mad Max, albeit with a little more fan-service. While it is a one-and-done story, Pink’s characters have enough depth that it could’ve easily lead to more adventures. Unfortunately, Toriyama was only able to give Pink this one mission to partake in, but at least it’s incredibly satisfying!

Dragon Boy

One look at Dragon Boy, and you can easily see Toriyama slowly figuring out the formula to make one of the greatest manga ever. There’s a Master Roshi, a dragon ball, a Chichi-like female interest, and even other characters that would be tinkered for his biggest hit. These two chapters are fun and funny, and could’ve easily been serialized. But once Toriyama removed the reason why Tangtong’s called “Dragon Boy”, well, it’s hard wondering just how different the anime scene would be without the Goku we know now.

The Adventure of Tongpoo

Like Dragon Boy, a lot of The Adventure of Tongpoo would be implemented into Dragon Ball. A Bulma and Goku-like duo find themselves stuck on a weird planet, and wish to get back to Earth. It’s filled with a lot of futuristic silliness, naughtiness, and even some great over-the-top action. But it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi, hence why Tongpoo and Tangtong were perhaps combined into a single Saiyan warrior.

Karamaru and the Perfect Day

Karamaru and the Perfect Day

Here’s one that could’ve easily been a serialized hit. The story of a four year-old ninja prodigy and the older washed-up ninja has the makings a full-fledged action comedy. Its gags, fights, and overall sweet tone are all meshed together to make a story that’s both fun and satisfying in every way. Considering that Dragon Ball was still being serialized when Toriyama ran it, it’s sadly understandable why Karamaru’s fate was sealed into one-shot world.

Go! Go! Ackman

Go! Go! Ackman follows a demon boy attempting to collect souls, while dealing with rival demons and a troublesome angel. Lasting eleven chapters, the story is ripe with humor, action, and very cute character designs. It’s understandable why it didn’t last longer, as Toriyama tells a complete story with all of them. Thankfully, Go! Go! Ackman is entertaining from start-to-finish, with some punchlines that will cross any line to get a good laugh.

The Slumps:

Wonder Island

Toriyama’s 1978 two-parter at first looks like a fun story-in-the-making. A Larry David-like pilot does his best to get off Wonder Island and get home to Japan. There are laughs, but narrative-wise, it doesn’t make much sense. Even more baffling is the second part, which practically has nothing to do with the first part save for the last couple of pages. Wonder Island is an interesting effort, but as Toriyama found out, it couldn’t fly high towards success.

Wonder Island

Mad Matic

The tale of a dragon kept captive in a fridge is a very funny premise. And once that dragon is let loose, the insanity that follows is truly entertaining. Alas, the moments when Mad Matic doesn’t have a giant chaotic lizard in it are pretty dull, even if the character designs are on point. Although this series failed to be picked up, we should at least be glad that Toriyama tried again to do a story revolved around a dragon…


The level of detail Toriyama placed in this five-paged story is some of his very best. However, even with its beautiful visuals, the story in Escape is far-too simple to be carried over as anything but a one-shot. Perhaps that was the point, as one can’t create a full narrative over a single joke that’s more cute than funny. Nevertheless, you can’t deny just how good Escape looks!

Young Master Ken’nosuke

A little samurai boy sets out to prepare for his first date with a classmate, learning all of the ins and outs of how not to be a “total loser”. Young Master Ken’nosuke is a one-shot that feels like a filler episode of something grander. Perhaps this is why it feels like context is missing from its storyline, as there’s not enough here to grab hold of the reader’s attention. It’s cute, but one can understand why it didn’t get the green light to be serialized.

Mad Matic

Little Mamejiro

An ice-cream loving boy seeks to learn how to be a delinquent. It’s a silly premise, filled with naughty children trying to do naughty things. Even the scene where the boy and the dad fight over the last ice cream is pretty funny. But it suffers from being too much like its Showa era comedy brethren, which is why Little Mamejiro might have been tossed aside after a single chapter.

Dub & Peter 1

Perhaps influenced by Knight Rider, Toriyama’s Dub & Peter 1 takes a talking car and pairs it up with a fat horn dog. Some laughs ensue as Dub seeks out a girlfriend in his new wheels, leading towards a race for a woman’s heart. The story is decent at best, but the things Peter 1 can do as a vehicle are pretty cool. If only it wasn’t paired up with a lemon like Dub, it might’ve found a bit more success.

Home For Infinite Losers:

Today’s Highlight Island

A full-fledged gag manga, Today’s Highlight Island follows the young boy Kanta as he deals with a toothache. What follows is a wacky bunch of scenarios as he and the dentist try to pull it out. Sadly, both its execution and presentation is lacking, and it’s easy to see why it failed to gain an audience. It has a laugh or two, but overall, Today’s Highlight Island is pretty forgettable.

Dragon Boy

Mr. Ho

Mr. Ho’s got a good dose of action. Unfortunately, it lacks everything else that’s needed to make a memorable story. The character designs are cute, but other than that, Mr. Ho is as throwaway as you can get with a one-shot.

The Elder

If you ever wondered why Master Roshi never got his own spinoff series, then The Elder is probably the reason. Here’s a character that has all of the qualities of Master Roshi, albeit with more of a squeaky clean soul than a perverted one. Alas, even with its explosive action, The Elder is a couple cups of prune juice shy of squirting out a solid story.

Solider of Savings Cashman

Heroes-for-profit isn’t a far-fetched idea, but Toriyama’s Cashman takes the idea and executes it poorly. There isn’t enough heart placed in both the story and its characters, with some of them looking like future Dragon Ball key players. Soldier of Savings Cashman is the worst kind of dull, where you want to forget its boring existence but just can’t! Thankfully, the world was only tortured with three chapters instead of a horrid serialization.

The Adventure of Tongpoo


Overall, Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater is an impressive display of stories. Some are hints of the greatness that he’d create in the future (Dragon Boy, The Adventure of Tongpoo), and others should’ve easily been surefire hits but sadly weren’t (Chobit, Karamaru and the Perfect Day). Yes, there are some so-so ones and a couple of stinkers, but in the end, Akira Toriyama’s Manga Theater displays the many strengths (and few weaknesses) of one of the most iconic manga authors out there.


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)