Sand Land Review

Sand Land
Sand Land
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Though neither as influential nor popular as Dragon Ball or Dr. Slump, Sand Land is still an important part of the late Toriyama’s legacy – after all, it was his last serialized manga. By the way, the recently launched animation series about it on Disney and Hulu happens to be some of the final creative output he released: Whereas its first six episodes could perhaps just be a re-editing of the full-length film adaptation that released in 2023, but episode seven is a story which was written completely by Toriyama himself and alone makes this anime unmissable. This is a sparklingly done adaptation with truly amazing 3D effects, massive world-building efforts, and intricate concepts serving as underpinning behind an enjoyable post-apocalyptic road trip that screams Toriyama.

Consider it mixing early Dragon Ball with Fallout and Mad Max movies. In this world devastated by wars and natural disasters where humans coexist with demons, water has become a precious resource. Rao one of these people is an old sheriff trying to maintain law in his small town. However, this only adds to the chaos already caused by cruel rulers who ration water supplies at high prices leading Rao to go on a quest for a mythical spring while preventing a brewing human-demon confrontation.

The marketing (or even familiarity with Toriyama) can make you think that the protagonist will be spiky-haired purple demon Prince Beelzebub – he is not; Beelzebub is actually a scene-stealer in Sand Land’s main trio but this tale belongs to Rao instead. With Prince Beelzebub and their elderly adviser Thief, Rao overcomes his past life when he realizes he no longer wants to fight for others or even anyone else aside from all men.

This is what makes up Sand land – A delicate equilibrium between different factors. At face value, it appears as an all-ages comedy-adventure similar to Goku and Bulma’s quest for the Dragon Balls where there is an adventure, weird villains, and cool cars. However, even though Beelzebub is always joking about video games and claiming to be the most evil person in existence (though he has a heart of gold), the story goes deeper than that. There is more to this than just simple fun – it features complexity similar to what Avatar: The Last Airbender and Pluto Anime showed.

You see Rao was once a commander in the king’s Royal Army before he became a sheriff and was responsible for some major atrocities whose impact still weighs heavily on him. Toriyama and scriptwriter Hayashi Mori explore war trauma and genocide as well as how they affect individuals or their entire communities throughout these first six episodes. The narrative integrates business greed and even environmentalism without undermining its primary message.

Despite everything else though, this remains primarily a short, carefully constructed escapade told in 3D animation. Despite the fact that 3D gets bad press, especially within anime circles, Sand Land demonstrates why such formats can be used effectively as storytelling devices when choreographing beautifully executed fights that exhibit Toriyama’s inexhaustible inventiveness. It also contributes to the representation of another prominent character in this tale — a stolen tank that accompanies Rao, Beelzebub, and Thief during their journey all through.

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