SandLand by Akira Toriyama (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 17, 2003 by  

An exciting, action-packed short story from Akira Toriyama (the creator of “Dragon Ball” and “Dr. Slump”).  Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2000 by BIRD STUDIO. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: SandLand (サンドランド)

STORY AND ART BY: Akira Toriyama (鳥山 明)



RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on December 17, 2003

In the far future, war has ravaged the entire Earth, leaving only a barren wasteland called Sand Land where the supply of water is controlled by a greedy king.

Sheriff Rao asks the King of the Demons for his help in finding a way to end the drought… What he gets is the King’s son, Beelzebub, his attendant, Thief, and a weird journey through the great desert. After committing “grand theft tank,” Rao and the “Demonic Duo” ride their iron chariot toward an inevitable confrontation with evil!

Akira Toriyama is a mangaka well-known for creating best-selling manga series “Dr. Slump” and the “Dragon Ball”/”Dragon Ball Z” series.  And also for his artwork on video games such as the “Dragon Quest” and “Tobal” series.

But while his longer series is well-know in the United States, for many people, they are unaware of his shorter manga series.

Having created one-shots and shorter stories since the late ’70s, one of Toriyama’s “SandLand” is now being released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media.

In 2000, Toriyama’s “SandLand” was serialized on “Weekly Shonen Jump” during the summer of 2000 and serialized in North America on Shonen Jump for issues 1-11.  And now, “SandLand” will be collected into a single graphic novel.

“SandLand” is a manga series that is set during a time where natural disaster and war has made water one of the most treasured items in the land.  With the river providing water to many villages dried up long ago and humankind (along with demonds) have been living in misery.

The King of the land has fattened his bank account by marking the price of water for one half liter bottle for 900 yen.  So, the young demon prince Beezelbub and his thief followers have robbed the military of its water supplies (as demons need water as humans do).

Meanwhile Beezelbub receives a visitor named Sheriff Rao from a neighboring town.  He explains to Beezelbub that he wants Beezelbub’s help in searching for a phantom lake that is supposed to exist in the south.

He has monitored the water finch birds which feed on Killlifish (small freshwater fish) and seeing the birds migrating north.  And Rao believes the water must exist but the problem is that there are many dangers in the south and needs the help of demons to take on the dangers that normal humans are unable to take on.

With an offering of  the last video game machine to Beezelbub for his assistance, Beezelbub and the elder demon named Thief agree to help Rao find the phantom lake.

But in the south are monsters, violent gangs and the King’s military.  Will Rao along with Beezelbub and Thief be powerful enough to take on their adversaries as they travel south to look for a rumored lake of water?

As a fan of Akira Toriyama’s work, I have not been disappointed in any of his manga series.  The characters have been fun and the storyline have been exciting and featured a lot of humor or action.

But I’m used to Toriyama’s manga where characters are built up overtime and have benefited in a longer series.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a shorter story but after reading “SandLand”,  I can easily say that I’m quite happy with reading this short story.

The storyline primarily focuses on this partnership between Sheriff Rao, Beezelbub and Thief and the three taking on all types of adversaries.  But there are some twists and a good amount of action featured throughout the manga, as one would expect from an Akira Toriyama manga.

The storyline is simple.  A corrupt king with holding water from the people in order to have them buy water at exorbitant prices, while Sheriff Rao, wants to help the villagers who have gone on too long living under the corrupt king, who may be holding out on the water in order to make more money.

While Sheriff Rao is an older man, he does have combat skills and fortunately, he is aided by the powerful Beezelbub and Thief, who can literally steal anything.

And together, the three make their way south, taking on various dangers in order to find proof that water exists, that a phantom lake must exist somewhere in the south.

There are some fascinating revelations that come up mid-way in the graphic novel but for the most part, “SandLand” is a delightful, action packed manga series from Akira Toriyama.

The artwork and storyline is fun to read and for any Akira Toriyama fan, “SandLand” is a film worth recommending!

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