Dr Slump by Akira Toriyama
[Shonen manga] Dr Slump IQ 博士 (1980-1984) – 18 volumes
Do you know the manga Dr Slump ? It was the first big hit for Akira Toriyama, author of “Dragon Ball”. I discovered this manga when I was in Taiwan as a teenager. I only got volume 2 because there was no longer 1 in the store. At the time, I couldn’t read or write Chinese, so my mom read me some dialogues. I found the title very intriguing I.Q 博士 。QI… and 博士 [bó shì] for doctor.
This is the story of Doctor Slump who created a robot, a 13-year-old girl he named Arale. He presents her as his sister to the inhabitants of the Penguin Village. Arale is a mischievous and hyperactive robot, of great naivety, of incredible strength, and one who shows all colors to Dr. Slump and to the people he meets. You will discover a village full of life and… absurdities !
Discovering a totally wacky village
I am a huge fan of this manga. This is a cult and timeless manga. I can read it again as if I discovered it again. I love the comic world, good-natured, full of life. I never get tired of it ! It is a real wonder that reconnects me to my childish soul, so limitless the author’s imagination is, playing on the nonsense, mockery, stupid gags and naive perversity of this doctor.
The Penguin Village includes many characters who each have their own unique personality. It’s a world that I like where animals, insects, all kinds of oddities have their place. Without judgment we accept everyone as they are. In addition, I find the Chinese version even funnier. For example, when my mom had made me read this passage which had marked me a lot: 「屁用」 where there is the word “Prout” associated with the character “Useful” which means together “it’s not worth a nail ”,“ It’s wind ”!
An imaginary world
I really like seeing the daily life of this small village, awakened by this beautiful sun of which I am very much a fan, because it is always so enthusiastic to start its new day. The author is very good at bringing everything around us to life, like this erupting volcano, and this scarecrow that is eating… and many other situations that make me smile !
It is extraordinary this vivid imagination. It makes me want to enjoy life by being more open to all these forces of nature that surround us.
The humor is very good-natured, and it makes me laugh a lot, especially this scene where Dr. Slump is having a boxing match with his barber friend from the village. He cheated and flicked his opponent !! Dr Slump is very much in love with Miss Midori Yamabuki, the village schoolteacher, he magically appears in front of her, handsome and tall, even though he is small and fat… It is to death of laughter! In addition there are sometimes warnings to young readers who follow his adventures !
Once again the author manages to make me laugh with always new gags, always hilarious and extravagant.
What I like a lot is the nonsense in the pages, the author is very strong in anthropomorphism and anachronism. I enjoy seeing how easy it is to draw an absurd situation as if it were natural and without it shocking us, for example, that an animal can talk to a human, on the contrary, it allows us to see a form of humanity in animals by highlighting their personality. Like this alien fly that loves poo, and this pig that sells sausage meat…
The author transports us to a world where the imagination is limitless, he makes his characters travel in the universe, on the Moon, in paradise and in hell, in the clouds, you will find incredible places there ! He really is the king of drawing, everything seems achievable on paper, which is why I have always had this desire to draw. To be able to create my own universe where everything I imagine will be possible !
You can also find revisited superhero characters such as Suppaman (Superman), Parzan (Tarzan), but also Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella etc. Not to mention that the inhabitants of the village are just as eccentric: there is the hairdresser, the invading aliens (yes yes…), Arale’s playmates who are animals, the little girl, her best friend, etc. . The stories are surprising and funny because often putting the hero in a humiliating position but without judgment !
I really like the way the author highlights the weaknesses of these famous figures who inspire admiration, bravery etc. Here they are above all human like us and are therefore not perfect ; like this king of the jungle who has snot hanging from his nose… Like this master monk who is beaten by his very, very fast disciple, and stops training under a false pretext !!
Their daily life
Dr Slump’s daily life is quite hectic, punctuated by the silliness of Arale and Gatchan (a child who hatched from an egg (!)). It makes me laugh to see that Dr Slump doesn’t have a quiet moment and gets pissed off every time ! There is something to crack !
I found myself in this scene a bit with my two daughters in front of my office. Children can make life difficult for us, but they are also a source of happiness. Doctor Slump did his best to help Arale grow up and start a family in this village.
The author’s appearances
We will notice the regular appearance of Akira Toriyama throughout history ! Like his characters, he too does not hesitate to make fun of himself. I love the way he interacts with his characters, seeking to gain their esteem from them. It’s pretty far-fetched.
I am in total admiration of Akira Toriyama’s talent, his characters are very expressive like children, they do not hide their emotion. If they are sad they cry, if they are angry they let it be known etc. I love Dr Slump’s inventions which are really amazing and funny ! I love the author’s curvaceous and minimalist style, his talent for drawing machines, cars, ships in space… He manages to draw EVERYTHING from reality and imagination !
A breath of fresh air
I really like this Penguin Village where everyone coexists in total harmony with nature, animals and human beings. Arale can be friends with anyone, she wants to play all the time, whether it’s with a big gorilla, a dinosaur, a bandit, and the superheroes, with the alien. She is non-judgmental and has no distrust of mankind, what matters is having fun !!
That’s why this manga has always done me so much good, it brings me so much joy throughout my life to this day ! It acts like a breath of fresh air, a window to a carefree life ! The inhabitants of this village are always with me and are a source of inspiration in my drawings.
Then ? Tempted by this manga ??