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The Dragon Ball manga has gone through several editions, but which one is the best?

As befits one of the most famous manga series of all time, Dragon Ball has been the subject of a slew of publications over the years. The English release alone has four distinct physical versions, and each of them is quite different from the other.

So it can be difficult for casual fans to know which version of the original manga to choose. So what are the strengths and weaknesses of each version, and what is the best Dragon Ball version yet?

The original manga version – often referred to as “tankobons” in fan circles due to its Japanese name – is the best place to start. Viz Media’s English release divides Dragon Ball into two separate series: Dragon Ball for the first 16 volumes and Dragon Ball Z for the last 26, unlike in Japan where the entire 42-volume series is simply called Dragon Ball.

A point in favor of tankobons is their affordability, if purchased as a box set. All 16 volumes of Dragon Ball have been compiled into one collector’s box set, and all 26 volumes of Dragon Ball Z have been compiled into another, and although the box sets cost over $100 each, this method is much cheaper than the collector’s box. purchasing each volume individually.

If there’s one thing that gets in the way of tankobons, it’s that they’re all black and white. When Dragon Ball was originally released in Shonen Jump, some pages were presented in color, but tankobon printing is entirely grayscale, and color pages end up looking smudged and less detailed.

The release of the Dragon Ball manga

Released in 2010, the VizBigs were Viz’s attempt to provide a more collector-oriented edition of Dragon Ball. This edition, which contains three volumes per book out of 14 books, prides itself on having higher quality paper than the others, and keeping the original Shonen Jump color pages intact. To reflect this premium format, VizBigs are the most expensive of the various Dragon Ball editions. For diehards who want to own the series in the best possible format, that’s no obstacle, but for the less picky, the VizBigs may lack appeal.

What holds VizBigs back is that they feature abundant censorship: profanity is toned down and guns are replaced with more cartoonish designs. Thankfully, the level of violence is unaffected, so the show’s fight scenes remain 100% intact, but this decision is still baffling given that every other aspect of the release is aimed at the most die-hard fans.

Three-in-ones are cheap but lacking in quality

Like the VizBigs, the Three-in-Ones collects three volumes per book out of fourteen books, but unlike the VizBigs, this edition is aimed more at casual readers. The printing and paper quality of these books are lower than other editions, which means they are unlikely to appeal to fans who want to own Dragon Ball and admire manga author Akira’s art. Toriyama in the best possible format.

Nevertheless, these volumes are less censored than the VizBig, and it is also the least expensive version, with the exception of tankobon boxes. Additionally, they don’t split the series into Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, making it the first English release to stick with Japanese nomenclature.

The color editions are impressive but incomplete

Finally, there’s the Full Color version, which digitally colors between the lines of the manga to turn Dragon Ball into a full-color comic. Although some fans may be skeptical of the tampering with Toriyama’s original work, this version manages to breathe new life into the manga, standing alongside the original version as a worthy companion rather than a pure and simple replacement.

The biggest downside is that Viz has only released two arcs in this format so far – the “Saiyan” and “Frieza” arcs. In Japan, every bow received the Full Color treatment, so it’s unfortunate that only two bows were transposed. Viz’s last release in this format was in January 2017, so it seems increasingly unlikely that the Full Color version of Dragon Ball will ever be released fully in English.

What is the best Dragon Ball manga?

Dragon Ball Z fighters lined up next to each other
The answer to the question of which is the best Dragon Ball manga version varies depending on whether the reader prioritizes quality or price. Overall, despite the censorship, the VizBigs version is the highest quality yet, and the one serious collectors should choose if they want to experience Dragon Ball in the best possible format. If the Full Color version was complete, it would definitely give VizBigs a hard time.

Despite the release of more than four formats, the perfect version of Dragon Ball does not yet exist in English. Viz might be reluctant to offer other versions of Dragon Ball in English.