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Reviews Comments: A series that lost its way over time. Dragon Ball whole series review by RWB 2

Dragonball was great. It had several loveable characters, charm, humor and a sense of adventure. It also never took itself too seriously. Each arc got darker, but the series kept it's staples. Eventually we got to Piccolo. Piccolo, the best villain in the series. He took everything that was a possible threat to him out, he acted in a way that could frighten you... he essentially built himself up as an excellent final villain, dark and demonic in a series otherwise full of childlike charm. His rebirth as Young Piccolo just built on this- even if defeated, he could just keep respawning. Finishing the first part of the series with a callback to the power of friendship that was so clear in the early series was brilliant. The perfect ending.

...But it turned out it was not the end. Instead we were introduced to the aliens on a bigger scale. And in the process, the series lost the charm, the humor, and the sense of adventure died. The magic was dead, the Deus Ex Machina that was the Dragonballs killed any sense of sadness when characters died. And Characters, we lost so many of them in different ways. They were forgotten, or relegated to non-factors. The Buu Saga seemed to try to reinvigorate the series(back to it's magical roots, more humor), but compared to the pre-Raditz stories, it just seemed weak(Still best arc in the Z series).

Some would cite fight sequences as a point in Z's favor, but... the fights in Z were boring beam spam fiestas most of the time, while the old Dragonball was full of witty and silly tricks.

GT tried to combine the space route with the magical take... and in better hands it may have worked. Sadly the writers were not up to the task, as most races were uncreative, and our heroes came across as aggravating instead of charming.

I would say the series started out great, but lost it's charm, then tried to regain it far too late.

I would much recommend fans of the pre-Raditz Dragonball to read Dr. Slump, by the same author, instead. It's a far better work than Z ever managed to become.


  • ManwiththePlan
  • 25th Jan 12
I'm going to have to disagree that Z was bad and the Buu saga was the best arc (it was easily the weakest of the Z series, hands down). I agree that the set up with Piccolo was the first clear "ending" we got and it could've very well been the perfect end to the series, but so much in the Saiyans, Freeza, and Cell sagas that followed were just as exciting as Piccolo or moreso IMHO. And the alien angle was welcome because it actually explained alot about Goku that hadn't been answered until that point.

Alot of the "charm, humor, and sense of adventure" from the old sagas was gone in Z because Goku was grown up, married, and had a son now. A whimsical tone wouldn't work as well when the protagonist is a grown adult, no matter how childish he may still be. Toriyama wanted badly to write him out as the main character and have Gohan take that role instead but each and every time he tried, Executive Meddling forced him to bring Goku back as the hero again. This was most evident in the Cell and Buu sagas, where Goku's story was done and over with and almost every other main character was more interesting than him.

The biggest disappointment, to me, is how the series eventually ended. After THREE possible endings (Piccolo Jr, Freeza, and Cell), the way it actually ends (going off to train Kid Buu's reincarnation?) was incredibly anticlimactic.

the Deus Ex Machina that was the Dragonballs killed any sense of sadness when characters died.

Except when Piccolo and Kami died that one time. Not only was the death sad, but it meant that (for a while), there were no more Dragonballs to wish anyone back. Before the Namek saga started, that was a pretty Oh Crap moment.
  • marcellX
  • 25th Jan 12
You talk like the Death Is Cheap result didn't exist in Dragon Ball, after all they had the same magical spheres. As you yourself pointed out each arc got a little darker, and it reached the point of world domination, since this is usually an ascending thing, the bigger the thread the higher the scale, and as a result there is less room for comedy and , that is not to say that almost every moment not fighting was a comedic one in DBZ. As for the space transition, that or otherworlds were the only option, since Goku was the strongest person in the world at the end of dragon ball.
  • DeviousRecital
  • 25th Jan 12
I'd have to agree on the series being best before any monikers were attached to it. The series really should have ended with Piccolo, but everyone involved wanted more money... It just seemed to lose its soul after that, everything became so very boring and repetitive. The only arc I thought was good in Z was the "Cell saga", and that's only because the show didn't even bother playing around by the time our main villain showed up.
  • eveil
  • 27th Jan 12
Yes, it's new and different from the original and it sucks. We get it.
  • RWB2
  • 7th Feb 12
@eveil "Yes, it's new and different from the original and it sucks. We get it."

Many series improve over time. Often, a sequel might be better than the original work. Z sadly isn't a case of this, in my unprofessional opinion.

@marcellX "You talk like the Death Is Cheap result didn't exist in Dragon Ball"

It didn't, really. Bora was the only one revived with them before the Piccolo arc, in which they were rendered unusable.

  • marcellX
  • 7th Feb 12
yes, and that sadly established that they could revive anyone, in fact that was the first thought of action when krillin was killed. Then at the end everyone who was killed by Piccolo and his spawns was revived, which gave a bad setting for future story lines. When you actually count, there weren't that many wishes to revive people, thought it looked like a lot more because it was from then on used, revive everyone killed by the latest thread instead, that's why the aspect of life and death was lost and focused more on how to achieve the power to defeat the big bad.
  • marston
  • 7th Feb 12
I think that the bringing back to life thing only came up twice in Dragon ball, and the first time there was only one person brought back.

And I agree, this series really lost what made it so great. It's such a shame.
  • eveil
  • 7th Feb 12
Many series improve over time. Often, a sequel might be better than the original work. Z sadly isn't a case of this, in my unprofessional opinion.

And often, the sequel is only considered better if it's the same but more.
  • kn83
  • 8th Feb 12
Since early Dragonball is more obscure in the U.S. than DBZ is, people like to be all elitist and rant about how much the early series was so much better than Z is with bias and one-sided arguments like death not being cheap at first (when it always was). In reality, the only thing the early part has above Z is less filler (and even this isn't true anymore thanks to Kai). The early Dragon Ball fights weren't really all that "witty" to begin with, they just had alot of humor in between. Save Goku vs Piccolo and Goku vs Roshi, none of the early fights are as good as Goku vs Vegeta (both times) and Gohan vs Cell. As far as storytelling and Character Development goes (the latter often overlooked by DBZ critics) the Android/Cell arc is clearly the best in the entire franchise, especially in regards to Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo and Trunks. As far as Villains go, as good as Piccolo was (easily the next best one) he still doesn't hold a candle to Freeza. Part of what makes DBZ so good is how it plays with what was then the audience's expectations about shonen anime/manga (all while setting the standard for the genre at the same time). Its clearly Toriyama's best work, and when you take a look at its influence on many other anime its easy to see why.

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