At the time of its publication (2000) Pojo’s Unofficial Total Dragonball Z was the best DBZ book on the market. Even now, in 2007, it’s not so bad. It’s not quite a book so much as a glorified magazine, but it’s a worth a read if you need to read everything DBZ related. If not, I would recommend the newer version, Pojo’s Unofficial Absolute Dragonball Z, which came out three years later, simply because it’s the fresher fish in the market.
Aside from its own merits, this book serves as a walk down memory lane of the year 2000 in American anime and television based pop culture. It captures the influence that Dragonball had on the American telescape with its success on Cartoon Network’s Toonami and Adult Swim, the release of a Collectible Card Game, VHS and DVD obsessions, and video game imports all the rage.
It starts off with a basic synopsis of what DBZ is, along with the success found on Cartoon Network. In this section we find some actual interviews with CN staff, who agree quite proactively that DBZ is unstoppable and that they had no intention of taking it off the air at any point soon. Afterwards, quite inexplicably, they jump into a hypothetical ‘whom would play whom’ in movie casting, were a DBZ film to ever be developed in the Western world (aka Hollywood). This was par for the course on any self respecting DBZ website. At the time the runaway success of the series had prompted many rumors of a major motion picture, and I imagined it seemed quite fitting back then, or even now seven years later, as DBZ fans continue to wait for their beloved to reach the silver screen.
The rest of the book is quite literally titled ‘Dragonball 101’ and serves as such, consisting of episode listings, succinct summaries, an explanation of the GT series (unseen on TV at the time), some 3D randomness complete with 3D glasses, the basics of the card game and some typical strategies therein.
The main complaint to be found with this book is its lack of depth. It’s as if every page is standing knee deep in the shallow end of the pool and there just is no deep end. If you’re obsessed with DBZ then you’ll be providing your own depth by virtue of recollection to your yesteryears, but this book does not provide such on its own. As I said before, it’s basically a big magazine.
The one area it does excel is in the character bio section. There are 300 characters described in alphabetical order, and while the summaries are succinct they are also informative and trigger the great memories of each character that you had perhaps forgotten about (Bacterian, anybody?). Of course while the section is pretty big, it’s not something you can’t find elsewhere, such as Wikipedia.
Overall it’s a fairly decent book, and one of the better DBZ paperbacks in the American market. It’s nothing stupendous and certainly could be better in a lot of areas, but if you’re just looking to find out what this whole ‘DBZ Thing’ is all about, and prefer to read about it in book form rather than go straight to the source, than this might be right up your alley.
DBZ Book Information:
Editor in Chief – Bill Gill, AKA “Pojo”
Published by Triumph Entertainment (Triumph Books)
Amazon Link: Pojo’s Unofficial Total Dragonball Z