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.
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