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album: Dragon Ball Universal (Panini)

stickers: 204 (1-180, H1-H24) + 6 cards limited edition
starter pack: album + 5 packets + 2 cards limited 3,90€
box: 24 packets (5 stickers per packet) 0,80€ each
blister: 5 packets + 1 card limited random 3,90€
hard cover: album + 5 packets + 2 cards limited 19,90€

Dragon Ball forever! There is no other manga or anime that has had such a continuous and massive presence on newsstands, in the form of stickers or cards. Panini but also Edibas, Diramix (still) and other publishers. A mainstream that knows no decline in popularity, although the manga and cartoons, the first ones, are already about 25 years old since they first arrived in Italy.

Let’s dispel a doubt: this album is not linked to the premature death of Akira Toriyama which left a deep veil of sadness in all of us, the gestation of a Panini album has months of preparation. On the contrary, it was time for a product to be created that brought together the entire saga.

The album is very interesting, fun, colourful, inevitably also evocative, worth collecting. But it also makes us think of a missed opportunity: in recent months Panini has retraced its steps by re-proposing a special formula for us, recently seen with Tex and Mickey Mouse, with the paperback album, rich in content, non-trivial stickers and cards to be kept inside. The target is certainly the adult one which also covers the wide (fortunately) world of comic collectors, is the gigantic manga audience perhaps less accustomed to this type of proposal? Who knows, but for some characters an attempt could also be made… Dragon Ball, One Piece, Captain Tsubasa, Slam Dunk and perhaps re-presenting the great characters of the past, starting with the big robots.

In reality and in this case perhaps it couldn’t have been achieved anyway. The lack of cards (not considering the limited ones) is probably not due to an act of kindness on Panini’s part but due to the simple fact that there is another publisher, Diramix, which for years has held the rights to create collections of cards, albeit laminated and albeit with a good number of gaps, in our humble opinion.

Commercial choice or necessity for distribution rights, this makes the album much more usable, economical and lighter than, for example, the latest ones dedicated to Naruto and One Piece, where the useless cards find space in the equally useless boxes. It’s true, there are 6 limited cards, but no one is obliged to collect them and they are not in fact part, in the strictest sense of the term, of the collection.

6 limited cards which, honestly, could have been avoided by offering two in the hardback. The other four pairs are found in the starter pack, the last two are random in the blister packs. On the other hand, they are all products that can also be purchased in comic shops; if it seems that for a good part of the newsstands the fate is unfortunately sealed, that at least, in our little world, comic shops are always taken into consideration. Other two are not distributed in Italy.

Returning to the idea of a different album, precisely to pay homage to the great mangaka who passed away, a collection could be created with the name, for example, “The art of Akira Toriyama” which not only refers to anime or OVAs but also to comics from which they take inspiration, not only Dragon Ball, but also Arale and everything else. Indeed, it could be a good formula for many other artists of the ninth art, Japanese, European or from the American continent.

The collection is however simple and direct, which is why it is appreciable. The album is equally divided into four large chapters, with a logical and also chronological path. To the delight of the nostalgic, we will always start with the first legendary series of Goku as a child. Stories that we know by heart and from which the subsequent series took inspiration.

The captions are successful and effective, they are the right combination of the text, the stickers and the images printed on the album. If you have read the manga or more likely you have seen the cartoons, let yourself be carried away by the pleasure and the good feeling of already knowing what will happen on the next page.

Clearly it wasn’t possible to mention the whole world of Dragon Ball, whoever made the album certainly knows the character, it seems that the key moments are almost all there. Dragon Ball, for example, is very focused on the different editions of the World Martial Arts Tournament.

Following Dragon Ball Z, the format continues without knowing a moment of respite, as do the subsequent Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super, where it is, inevitably, the division between the various sagas that takes over. It is also an opportunity to recognize and remember many cartoon protagonists, if in fact the texts tell the stories, the stickers often show the characters. Not only Goku, Vegeta, Junior… but also many others.

The central poster is well done. In general the album paper is of good quality, not excellent but improved compared to what we have seen recently (someone said “the Spider-Man Miles Morales album?”), here there is no risk of the annoying and unacceptable problem of detachment of the central page. The poster, which can be opened, so it is not necessary to detach it, is a perfect lifesaver.

In addition to being really guessed, the page with the Dragon and the seven spheres. The older ones among us may have very different memories of the pleasure of opening central posters inside magazines, but Dragon Ball remains something far above… many other situations!

Stickers on which important specific work has been done to make them new, some could only refer to something already seen but in general it seems to us that Panini have not limited themselves to making a copy and paste of what has already been produced previously. Well-made, effective, interesting album, which we believe will not disappoint, not even parents who for once can not faint over their children’s collection. The frantic search for innovative and alternative products is not always necessary, here you can breathe 60 years of Panini and the air you breathe is really good.


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