Reviews: Dragon Ball
An Uncanny Yet Delightful Adventure
It's uncanny that this series is something I enjoy as much as I do. While it may be a case of Seinfeld Is Unfunny, I will admit that it has a lot of problems, such as a pacing that gets brutally slow at times, and a plot that becomes riddled with problems if thought about for way too long. Many of the characters aren't the most fleshed out and 3 dimensional either. Yet at the heart, it's still an epic adventure, one of the few that actually chronicles a long period of time as the boy from the start of the show grows from 12 years old to nearly 50, from a child to a grandfather. The entire series has its ups and downs, but it's also very much a modern epic, and because Death Is Cheap, it's not uncommon for major characters to be killed off in the series (hell, most of them die at least twice), including the protagonist, making the plot a fair amount more unpredictable than one would think for a shounen. Many of the characters show slow but subtle character development in a surprisingly believable fashion, such as Piccolo and Vegeta, who grow from cold and ruthless to protective, admirable characters. The characters travel the world and eventually the universe, meeting a very very large and colorful cast of characters, heroes and villains. In this I feel it covers a huge scale that few series get to, and does it pretty well with many of the characters being surprisingly memorable and differentiated. The action likewise has its ups and downs, but considering how many shows have imitated it, you gotta remember just how awesome it was for its time. The fights still have some great moments and are built up around tension. And for its time the animations for the fights were pretty darn epic, even if it grew from more tactical martial arts to Ki-based energy fights from the start to the end of Z. It's hard to talk about Dragonball in a modern context because it's been imitated so much and thus it has aged. It's uncanny that I like it considering its faults, but I still find it to be a very charming and entertaining series, and despite all its faults I still recommend it. It's just an inexplicably terrific show, with some good morals as well.
A series that lost its way over time.
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.
Dragon Ball: the greatest story ever told
You may think that the whole show is just one, big barrage of fighting and Arc Fatigue. I think it's much deeper than that. I think that Dragon Ball presents the growth of a true hero, Son Goku. Throughout it all, Goku manages to warm everyone's heart with his child-like naivety and his kind heart and amazed us all with his incredible physical strength and his superior martial arts skills. Son Goku is a 12 year old boy with superhuman strength and a monkey's tail which grants him the ability to transform into a giant were-ape whenever he looks at the moon. He lives a quiet life in the mountainside, which means he is devoid of anything from the outside world. That is, until he meets Bulma, a bratty teenager who is on a quest to look for seven mystical balls. The balls, when ever they have united, summon a powerful dragon who grant one wish, and it can be anything you want (and I mean anything) Soon, the two sort-of become friends and they continue on the search for the Dragon Balls and the rest is history..... Five years later, Goku gets married and has a son named Gohan. Also, Earth has been at peace for a good amount of time. But, an ailen from outer space shows up, meets Goku and tells him that he is part of a dead race of interglactic superpowered people called "saiyans". Oh, and did we forget to mention that Goku was sent to Earth to destroy us all? Yep, and that's only the beginining of Dragon Ball Z. Now, Goku and his friends Yamcha, Krillin, Tenshinhan, Chiaotzu and Piccolo fight all kinds of evil, be it superpowered, monkey tailed arrogant princes (Vegeta, who later becomes one of the good guys), evil space tyrants (Freeza), evil cyborgs (Cell) or evil magical beings (Buu) All the while, Goku's son Gohan grows from a wimpy little crybaby, to a kind-hearted, heroic person who is willing to fight for the sake of his friends in family throughout all the freaking craziness that happens. Well, I haven't read the original Dragonball fully and I only own the first five volumes of Dragon Ball Z, but I think this is a truely epic series. It gives you some epic fighting scenes and teaches the importance of forgiveness, honor, pride and the will to fight. I also believe that Son Goku may even teach us a few things, which is basically the same things I just mentioned. I would highly suggest reading this manga.