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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/20/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Dr. Slump, Vol. 1"

Dr. Slump, Vol. 1
by Akira Toriyama
Published by: VIZ

Review by Tom Good

Before creating the hit series Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama became well known for the manga called Dr. Slump. This story takes place in Penguin Village, a location also featured in Dragon Ball. The doctor, whose real name is Dr. Noriyaki Senbei (a pun on the name of a type of rice cracker), begins the story by inventing a robot girl called Arale. She has superhuman strength, but despite being a robot she has to wear glasses, because Dr. Slump did not do a very good job with her eyes. Arale is convincing enough that the rest of Penguin Village thinks she is a real girl, but her inexperience with the human world, combined with Dr. Slump's wacky inventions, lead the pair into a variety of slapstick adventures.

The doctor always looks a bit disheveled, but most other characters are drawn with an intensely cute, playful style and childlike appearance. Though I suppose some readers looking for a more serious "adult" manga might be put off by the cuteness, from the moment I opened this book I loved the artwork, and found that it often made me smile. The drawing style, as well as the themes of robots and fanciful inventions, reminded me of the classic manga Doraemon.

Though the artistic style may suggest that Dr. Slump is aimed at young children, actually the content is more adult-oriented than one might expect. For example, one episode revolves around the fact that Dr. Slump did not make Arale fully anatomically correct, due to his lack of any experience concerning the parts in question. To gather more data, he invents a set of high-tech goggles that can see through clothing. Obviously there is a lewd slant to some of the humor, but it is accomplished through innuendo rather than anything very graphic.

Some of Dr. Slump's other inventions include a robot dog, a cyborg bear, a time machine, a camera that can take pictures of the future, and a "Big-Small Ray Gun" that can shrink and expand the things it shoots. Of course, his creations never quite work as expected, and often wind up causing more trouble. In a way, Dr. Slump is like a smarter Homer Simpson, and Arale is sort of like a robotic Bart/Lisa. And like The Simpsons, Dr. Slump is full of funny pop-culture references -- when a man offers to buy Arale anything she wants, she asks for Gamera. Dr. Slump is a fun, lighthearted manga with very amusing art, and I would recommend it if you are in the mood for a story that does not take itself too seriously.

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