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Anime / Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone

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Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (simply known as Dragon Ball Z and later as Dragon Ball Z: Return My Gohan!! in Japan) is the fourth Dragon Ball movie and the first under the Dragon Ball Z banner. It was released between episodes 11 and 12, with it premiering at the 1989 Toei Cartoon Festival (along with three other movies from the Akuma-kun, Himitsu no Akko-chan, and Kidou Keiji Jiban series). It was released in 1989 by Toei Animation, originally titled simply Dragon Ball Z: The Movie during its theatrical release. It was then dubbed into English by the Canadian company The Ocean Group in 1997 for the American company Funimation Entertainment, the title being changed to Dead Zone. It was then re-dubbed by FUNimation itself in 2005.

The story sees a demonic being named Garlic Jr. take over the Lookout Point as revenge against Kami for being chosen over his father for the position of God of Earth, who in turn tried to take it by force, was defeated and cast into the Dead Zone as punishment. Goku gets in on the action when Garlic's lackeys kidnap Gohan for the Four Star Dragon Ball on his hat, joined shortly by Krillin and Piccolo as they try to stop Garlic from making his wish and taking over the world.

Curiously, it proved popular enough that Toei revisited it in a anime-only sequel arc in the Dragon Ball Z anime, the Garlic Jr Arc, set between the Namek arc and Android arc.

This film provides examples of the following:

  • Aliens Are Bastards: Garlic Jr. The name of his race is never given, but he's a prick none the less.
  • And I Must Scream: After becoming immortal, Garlic Jr. gets sealed away inside the Dead Zone for all eternity.
  • As You Know: Kami acts as Mr. Exposition by telling Garlic Jr. the backstory of his father's evil acts and banishment to the Dead Zone.
  • Badass Cape: Garlic Jr. wears one with a hood.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Nicky was in charge of watching Gohan while the young Saiyan was being kept prisoner. It... didn't end up well for him.
  • Bald of Evil: Garlic Jr. has no hair and is an evil bastard. Same for his minions Ginger and Sansho.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Krillin does this for Goku, intercepting blasts from Sansho and Nicky with one of his own.
  • Bowdlerize: The Funimation dub avoids mentioning that the fruit Gohan eats will get him drunk. Instead, it notes that it will "make him feel weird". Even the more accurate Pioneer/Ocean Group dub has Nicky note that Gohan will just "see things".
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Zigzagged. Nicki, Ginger, and Sansho are shown to be strong enough that they could beat Goku or Piccolo if all three of them ganged one of them at once, and are much less of a threat when faced individually. Played straight with Garlic Jr., who is much more of a threat than the three of them.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Nicky, Ginger, and Sansho can fire Energy Waves at the opponent. Used against Piccolo, which hit him, and later against Goku (minus Ginger, he was knocked out by Goku) but it was deflected by Krillin.
  • Complete Immortality: Garlic Jr. is the only one to have this wish successfully given to him by Shenron (until Super, anyway), as well as the only one to actually have absolute immortality (although some characters were implied to be immortal, such as Master Roshi and the Androids, it seems to be limited to natural causes).
  • Dead-Hand Shot: After he and Nicky are killed by Goku's Kamehameha, we see Ginger's twitching hand sticking up from the rubble before falling limp.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Garlic Jr. is immortal, and rather than just fighting Goku and Piccolo until he inevitably wins, since he can't die and still had plenty of strength left, he summons the Dead Zone, the one thing that can defeat him.
    • Garlic Jr. has his minions track down and attempt to kill Piccolo before he wishes for immortality, even though this will kill Kami and, in turn, deactivate the Dragon Balls.
    • Furthermore, they just needed the Dragon Ball attached to Gohan's hat. Had they just taken the hat and left Gohan, Goku wouldn’t have quite as pressing a reason to locate Garlic Jr.'s lair and stop his plans.
  • Dual Wielding: Nicky and Ginger can summon two katanas for each of them by pulling them. Out of their skin.
  • Drunken Glow: Gohan gets drunk from eating an apple. Aside from the half-opened dizzy eyes and hyperactive behavior, he gets a red streak over his face.
  • Edible Theme Naming: Garlic Jr. and his minions are all named after spices/condiments.
  • Elite Mooks: Nicky, Ginger, and Sansho.
  • Enemy Mine: Piccolo opts to help Goku, since he has a score to settle with Garlic Jr.'s mooks.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Or "Papas" in Garlic's case. Garlic Jr.'s main reason for attacking Kami in the movie was to avenge his fallen father. In the series, he solemnly vows to use the Dragon Balls to bring him back, and when he thought Piccolo died and the Dragon Balls lost, he lamented the loss but remained steadfast in finding another way.
  • Expy: Garlic Jr. looks like a more serious and threatening version of Dragon Ball Big Bad Emperor Pilaf, to the point that they share the same voice actor. Both are voiced by Chuck Huber in the Funimation Dub, Don Brown in the Ocean Group Dub, as well as Shigeru Chiba in the Japanese version (Shigeru only voiced Garlic Jr. in the anime, not the movie, who is voiced by Akira Kamiya).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Unlike his enemies, Garlic Jr. literally cannot die. The first half of the movie was him basically moving to make that the case. Yet somehow he gets the brilliant idea of opening a void to eternal darkness — this can backfire, and thus become worse torture for him than for anyone else ever because, again, he literally cannot die.
  • Immortality Hurts: Garlic Jr.'s eventually trapped in the Dead Zone, literally forever as he'll never die.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: This movie starts the trend of Krillin serving as the Plucky Comic Relief who gets hurt every Z movie with comedic results. Here, he gets hit in the head by falling debris weighing many tons and only gets knocked out.
  • Kick the Dog: When Garlic Jr. mercilessly beats Kami while he's defenseless.
  • Large and in Charge: Garlic Jr. is an inversion, he's downright tiny and all of his minions are much bigger than him. Played straight with his One-Winged Angel form.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the anime at this point, as there is no blood on-screen and Garlic Jr.'s minions are more comedic than Raditz, Nappa, or Vegeta.
  • Mama Bear: Chi-Chi tries to defend Gohan, but she gets incapacitated by Ginger.
  • Mister Big: Garlic Jr. is no taller than a four-year-old, at least until he transforms.
  • Mood Whiplash: Garlic Jr.'s hammy Motive Rant is suddenly interrupted by Gohan crying and demanding to go home.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: The second Chi-Chi is felled by Ginger, Goku senses something is wrong and immediately runs back home.
  • Mythology Gag: The entire fight with Garlic Jr.'s second form is a much less one-sided version of Goku and Piccolo's fight against Raditz, right down to the two taking off their weighted clothing and Gohan delivering a critical blow.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Thanks to Garlic Jr.'s minions kidnapping Gohan, he intervenes in the climax when Garlic Jr. opens up a portal to the Dead Zone and sends him into it. If they had just left him, their boss would have won.
  • Non-Serial Movie: The film would actually avert this, since most of the details point to it taking place near the end of the gap between the original Dragon Ball and Znote ...were it not for the fact that 1), Krillin meets Gohan before the Raditz Arc, but doesn't recognize him in the TV series (while this could be explained away on Krillin's part by him hitting his head or something and wiping the memories of the movie away, Gohan doesn't recognize Krillin when they meet in the TV series), and 2), Goku and Piccolo have their talk about weighted clothes in this movie. It's worth noting that the original Z seems to imply that this movie does happen (or at the very least, the movie is Broad Strokes), due to the Garlic Jr Arc having the villain of this movie come back for revenge. In Kai, on the other hand, the movie's continuity is very ambiguous - at best, it's Broad Strokes, at worse, it's this trope played straight due to the lack of the Garlic Jr arc.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Nicky's horrified reaction before being blown away by Goku's Kamehameha along with Ginger.
    • Sansho when he discovers that Piccolo is more than he can handle alone.
    • Krillin when Piccolo arrives on the scene.
    • After learning who Gohan's father is, Nicky and Sansho exchange worried glances. Ginger is also clearly sweating a bit.
  • One-Winged Angel: Nicky, Ginger and Sansho all bulk up and increase their powers by shouting weird things related to their names.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Garlic Jr. and his father are functionally evil counterparts to Kami (and eviler counterparts to Piccolo Jr. and Emperor Pilaf), much like Demon King Piccolo before them. They even have minions too.
  • Papa Wolf: Goku rushes into action the second he knows where Gohan's being held.
    Gohan: My dad is Goku, and he's the strongest fighter in the world! And when he gets here, he's gonna teach you a lesson!
  • Pink Elephants: Gohan eats some fruit that makes him drunk and see random walking animals around him.
  • Sinister Scimitar: Played straight by Nicky and Ginger; the swords they pull out of their limbs are curved enough to be considered scimitars, and they're evil.
  • Person of Holding: Goku battles Nicky and Ginger, who both rip swords out of their bodies.
  • Power of the Void: The Dead Zone.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Nicky, Ginger, and Sansho.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Gohan hits this when he sees his father being sucked into the Dead Zone.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Garlic Jr.'s Motive Rant:
    Goku: I didn't come here to listen to your life story! Where's Gohan?!
  • The Sociopath: Garlic Jr. is known for being totally ruthless and insane.
  • Stupid Evil: Garlic Jr.'s minions are sent out to steal Dragon Balls, and they also kidnap Gohan when they could've just taken the Dragon Ball from his hat. Granted, Goku would have likely come to stop them anyways, but still...
  • Super Mode: Garlic Jr. and his minions, Nicky, Ginger and Sansho, all have this.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Garlic Jr. grows from a being about Gohan's size to taller than Goku and Piccolo as well as gaining the mass to be on par with Ox King during his Super Mode.
  • Terrible Trio: Nicky, Ginger and Sansho.
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: After blasting Garlic Jr. into the Dead Zone, Gohan is unable to remember doing it, instead believing that his father did it.
  • Villain Ball: Again, as stated above, Garlic Jr. tries to kill Piccolo before he is ready to make his wish for immortality.
  • The Worf Effect: Subverted, it looks like the movie is trying to hype up the villains by having them start the movie by defeating Piccolo, the final and most powerful villain seen int he original series. The truth turns out to be that they only got the better of him because of surprise, numbers, and their boss being involved. None of the bad guys aside from Garlic Junior himself is even remotely a threat to Piccolo. (And from all indications, Garlic needs to be transformed to be able to overcome Piccolo.) When Piccolo separates one member of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad from the rest later in the movie, Piccolo wins the fight with almost embarrassing ease.
  • You Are Too Late: Goku twice over. He doesn't get back to the house until just after Gohan is grabbed, and he doesn't get to Garlic Jr.'s base until after the immortality wish is granted.
  • You Killed My Father: Garlic Jr. has this attitude towards Kami.