PopLurker would like to thank Viz Media for providing us with a review copy of ‘That Time I Got Reincarnated As Yamcha’ by Dragon Garrow Lee. Sorry I didn’t like it, but I still like you and hope we can keep being friends.
This manga fucking sucks.
There, I said it. Now you have the choice whether you want to stay or go.
I feel sorry for the paper it was printed on. I feel sorry for every writer and artist who work their asses off and clamor to have anyone look at their art when books like this are published. But to everyone who feels like their art sucks, worry you not– this book proves you have a chance of being out there in the wide, wide world.
I don’t know what Shonen Jump was thinking when they published That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha. This book reads like a fan comic gone wrong. Like if Viz wanted to publish it on their website as a fun Dragon Ball universe spin off joke, I would completely get behind that. Yamcha is basic bitch, so it only makes sense that the manga about him is, too. But they want people to spend money on this. And not just money– but $9.99.
This fucking thing costs $10.
And it’s slim.
I wondered for a minute if maybe I was the dumbass in this tale. Perhaps I’m a complete piece of Lurker scum who isn’t up on her Dragon Ball lore. Is Yamcha just ‘the guy’ that everyone hates, so nothing could be worse than being reborn as him? Is there some sort of leftover something from the series that segues into this book? To answer these questions, I did a little investigative research. Even casual fans know that Yamcha is a desert bandit, originally an antagonist, who switches sides and turns good. He wants to help wherever he’s needed and the only thing he’s afraid of is women.
But first, from the back of the book:
A Dragon Ball fan’s greatest dream is getting to live in the Dragon Ball universe and fight alongside Goku and his friends! One particular fan thinks he’s living the dream when he suddenly dies and is reborn in the Dragon Ball world, but he’s in for a rude awakening when he realizes he’s been reincarnated as everyone’s favorite punching bag, Yamcha!
This premise sounds hilarious and it’s an excellent draw. The book even starts off strong, where we have a teenage boy who loves Dragon Ball. The way he dies? He sees a girl wearing a skirt that’s just a little too short. While straining to be the winning of a riveting round of ‘peekaboo pussy’, he overreaches his entire body and takes a murderous head dive down a flight of stairs.
It’s ridiculous and funny– it matches the decorum of Dragon Ball. I’ll take it.
My biggest problem with this manga is that it’s just so…rigid and stiff. The boy wakes up, reincarnated as Yamcha and just…how do I put it…comments on everything.
‘Can I do this?’
‘I remember this from the show! I wonder if this person knows I’m not Yamcha…’
‘Bulma! It’s really her! She’s even cuter in person!’
‘Maybe if I change my hair and clothing, I’ll be able to advance!’
‘Oh, this part! I remember when this happened to Yamcha in the show, he…’
I can’t stand the art in this thing. Really, it’s fuck-stupid. I had so many amazing friends in Jr. High who drew Dragon Ball characters until their fingers bled. And while it’s hard to reach the majesty that is Akira Toriyama (I love his artwork quite very much), this book has very few money shots. Some of the action looks okay and there are some reasonable poses. But for the most part, it doesn’t read like manga to me. It looks like someone paused the TV and used tracing paper to sketch over the legit DBZ characters.
What prevents Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha from being an engaging book is honestly the fact that its humor is so reserved. It reads like an awkward book written by a reserved and awkward person who thinks they’re funny. Again, this can be twisted and used to your advantage if you’re self aware, but this book just isn’t. It just doesn’t pull you in and the narrative is sloppy. I couldn’t even finish.
And coming from a person who always finishes, that’s saying a lot.
Now I’m all backed up.
I give Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated As Yamcha 2/7 Dragon Balls and Zero Cha-La-Head-Cha-La’s.