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Web Video / Dragon Ball Dissection

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Dragon Ball Dissection is a web series created and hosted by Lance Rumowicz, a.k.a. MistareFusion. In the vein of History of Power Rangers, he critically analyzes the Dragon Ball manga from beginning to end, as well as the animé adaptations of each arc, and the various specials, spin-offs, and Non-Serial Movies.

The series began on January 12, 2012, concluding his analysis of the manga 10 years later. New episodes are released on Monday on a roughly biweekly basis.

MistareFusion has a rating system going from the arc he enjoyed the most, to the least. It doesn't mean he considers the best arc perfect or the worst arc horrible, since he enjoys almost everything about Dragon Ball... with at least three exceptions.

    Arcs rated 
  • 10. The Red Ribbon Army Arc
  • 9. The Saiyan Arc
  • 8. The 22nd Tenkaichi Budōkai Arc
  • 7. The Hunt for the Dragon Balls Arc
  • 6. The 21st Tenkaichi Budōkai Arc
  • 5. The Freeza Arc
  • 4. The 23rd Tenkaichi Budōkai Arc
  • 3. The Cell Arc
  • 2. The Piccolo Daimaō Arc
  • 1. The Majin Boo Arc

Watch the entire series from the beginning here.


This work provides and discusses examples of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Averted; Lance openly praises parts of an arc he likes, even if it scores low. He even says that (up until Dragon Ball Minus and the Universal Survival Arc) there's no part of the series he truly hates, even the lowest scoring arcs.
  • Actor Allusion: Lance notes the oddity of Goku saying Yajirobe sounds like Kuririn in the manga, when the character hadn't yet appeared in the anime. He theorizes this was Akira Toriyama nudging the anime to cast Kuririn's seiyuu, Mayumi Tanaka, as Yajirobe, owing to her main role being dead for most of the Piccolo Daimaō Arc.
  • Anachronic Order: Though the series updates in chronological order based on when each chapter or movie came out originally, the TV versions of arcs are only covered in between main manga arcs (and didn't start until after the Piccolo Arc was finished). Likewise, Episode of Bardock and Dragon Ball Minus are covered directly after the Bardock special despite all three being years apart from each other, and the Trunks special is covered in the same video as Trunks The Story despite both being separated by six months.
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  • Arc Fatigueinvoked: When discussing this as a common criticism of the Red Ribbon Army Arc in Part 8, Lance speculates it stems from fans more familiar with Dragon Ball Z and the arc's lack of new major characters or concepts that carry over into said portion of the series (with even the Cell Arc only using the Red Ribbon Army's logo and none of the arc's characters).
  • Art Evolution: The early videos of the series have lower-quality audio and basic visual effects and editing. These greatly improve midway through the Red Ribbon Army Arc and above, to the point where the Cell and Majin Boo Arc videos have uniquely animated title sequences.
  • Author Appeal:
    • When it comes to discussing the movies, Lance has stated that he tend to prefer the Slice of Life scenes more than the action itself. He finds action for the sake of action to bore him, as he is not emotionally invested enough to care.
    • Fancy and/or cute clothes are something he likes, particularly those of female characters.
  • Berserk Button:
    • There is no Dragon Ball Z manga. The last video covering the Saiyan arc and the first video covering the TV adaptation both spend time discussing the Dragon Ball > Dragon Ball Z split, and how it only affected the animé while the manga retained the name Dragon Ball from beginning to end.
    • The name of the mountain where Goku used to live (Mount Paozu) was the creation of Toei Animation, and so was the idea that Goku lived there with Chi-Chi when they got married. Since this contradicts the manga (where Goku's home is never seen until Cell and being completely different in design and location) this annoys Lance well enough he jumped into a rant on Facebook the moment the anime-only name was referenced in the manga of Super.
    • While he hasn't covered it yet, he's made no secret of his dislike for Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.
    • Dragon Ball Minus currently stands as the worst Dragon Ball product in Lance's eyes, both for being a poor story on its own, and retconning Goku's backstory from being sent to destroy Earth and becoming its savior through pure chance, to an even more blatant knockoff of Superman's backstory.
    • Lance can't stand the various Freeza expies that show up later in the franchise. The only ones he doesn't count are King Cold (with whom he has his own set of problems) and Coola (though he says the seeds took root with him). invoked
    • Lance absolutely hates when fans claim that Vegeta is a better father than Goku.
    • While it doesn't come up very frequently in his reviews, Lance won't hide his hatred of the Universal Survival Arc, which he considers the worst arc in the franchise, alongside Jiren being a very boring antagonist.
  • Better Than Canoninvoked: In The Cell Arc Part 12, Lance comments that Dragon Ball Z Abridged handles Vegeta's sudden acceptance among the group despite his past deeds better than the manga, due to Goku being more naïve than his canon counterpart and thinking they're best friends, despite Vegeta openly hating him.
  • Broad Strokes:
    • The exact events in a number of scenes (particularly fights) are skimmed over, as in Lance's words, "this is Dragon Ball Dissection, not Dragon Ball Plot Synopsis."
    • His looks at the TV adaptations of each arc don't cover the plot aside from brief looks at filler, with each video directing viewers to see his look at the manga version for his thoughts on the story. The plot summaries of the specials and movies are similarly brief.
  • Continuity Lockout: His major problem with Clash! 10,000,000,000 Powerful Warriors is that the movie doesn't establish its main characters to non-fans, and the whole movie is an Excuse Plot for the sake of fights. Though this also applies to many of the Dragon Ball Z movies, most of them at least establish them and their relationship with one another in the first act. He saw the movie through the eyes of a non-fan, ended up hating it, and compared the script to someone playing with action figures. invoked
    Lance: There's that one guy... and that other guy... and that other guy who doesn't like them... and that one guy who is a kid...
  • Demoted to Extra: In The Saiyan Arc Part 7, Lance suggests that the series' infamous neglect of older characters came about from newer characters taking on their attributes, traits and roles, subsequently making the older ones redundant. He directly compares Kuririn to Yamcha (both being Hopeless Suitors), Yajirobe to Oolong (both being cowardly, grumpy snarkers) and Piccolo to Tenshinhan (both being stern, no-nonsense rivals sharing a strong bond with someone much smaller).
  • Deus Exit Machina: He criticizes the series' later tendency to write Goku out of the story to preserve drama; in particular, he calls out the Freeza Arc for not only doing it twice (first at the start following the Saiyan Arc, and again after Captain Ginyu's defeat), but consequently making Goku out of place in a story that focused on other characters up until then.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The Majin Boo Arc Part 7 examines how many people are put off by Spopovich's beatdown on Videl, even though it's far from the most brutal display in the story; even within that same fight, Videl broke his neck before he started doing anything extreme.
  • Dub Name Change: Averted; Lance refers to characters and spellings via approximations of their Japanese names, as opposed to the more well-known Funimation names (Blooma instead of Bulma, Kuririn instead of Krillin, Freeza instead of Frieza etc).
  • Easily Forgiven: The Cell Arc Part 12 goes deep into how Vegeta is let off the hook by just about everyone despite being a murderous bastard all his life, even after he proves himself an active liability by letting Cell become complete. He even compares Vegeta's evil acts to those of the other reformed antagonists (albeit excluding Piccolo's actions as Piccolo Daimaō), and he still comes out worse than all of them.
  • Ensemble Cast: Lance mocks this line of thought about the Artificial Humans arc, since even while it has many characters, none of them actually advance the story forwards. It is only Goku who does. The only time Dragon Ball has an ensemble cast, in Lance's words, is in the Pilaf arc.
  • Executive Meddlinginvoked: The notorious Arc Villain Shuffle of the Cell Arc is addressed in Part 6, and Lance takes issue with fans who see it as an example of Toriyama's editors "meddling with his vision", when they likely made him change a lot of things before they even went to print. He even considers the setup for #17 and #18 to be an improvement over that of #19 and #20 (as the heroes are far more proactive than before), and agrees with Yū Kondō's low opinion of Cell's second form.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The intro to The Red Ribbon Army Arc Part 6, the Doctor Slump crossover, is "Dr. Slump Dissection", showing Dr. Slump characters and using its music. Like the crossover itself, there's no indication it's actually Dragon Ball until Goku and General Blue show up in Penguin Village.
  • Fan-Disliked Explanationinvoked:
    • At the end of The 22nd Tenkaichi Budoukai Arc Part 3, he discusses Tenshinhan's alien background as claimed by one of the Daizenshuu guidebooks, and flat-out rejects it since it dilutes the uniqueness of Dragon Ball's Earth, and (since nowhere else in the series is it ever brought up) adds nothing to it unlike Piccolo and Goku's alien backgrounds.
    • Dragon Ball Minus's take on Goku's background (that he was sent to Earth for his own safety by his loving parents, and not to destroy it by his barbaric race who saw him as a weakling) diminishes the significance of Goku's character arc in the series, as he details in The Saiyan Arc Part 6. He outright considers Minus the worst installment in the franchise for this rewrite.
  • Favorite Tropeinvoked: Scenery Porn. He loves the use of color and surroundings, especially in the movies.
  • Flanderization: While Goku has always been passionate about martial arts, Lance asserts that he was still much more heroic than Toriyama is willing to acknowledge, and that it was only after the reveal of his Saiyan heritage that he started making more irrational decisions for the sake of a good fight, culminating in him simply waiting for the apocalyptic threat of Dr. Gero and his Androids to come to them, despite knowing what will happen three years in advance.
  • Flat Character:
    • Lance considers Lunch to be little more than a single joke, and as such isn't too bothered with her completely disappearing after the 23rd Tenkaichi Budoukai Arc.
    • Lance doesn't really care about Coola, since to him, he's Freeza without any of his interesting traits.
    • He notes that while Yamcha and Tenshinhan are entertaining as antagonists, they mostly become blank slates once they pull an about-face and lose the antagonistic traits that made them interesting (compared to Vegeta, who still remains himself even after he stops being an active villain).
    • Lance was very vocal about his distaste for Paikuhan from the Anoyoichi Budokai Filler Arc, viewing him as a proto-Jiren who only exists to be a hurdle for Goku in a tournament without anything interesting about him as a character.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Because of how he reveals each arc's ranking, whatever he gave the Cell Arc would inevitably reveal what he'd give the Majin Boo Arc; hence, it has the lowest ranking.
  • Four-Point Scale: Averted; Lance grades each of the 10 arcs in relation to each other, where the top score only means he deems it better than the other 9, and vice versa for the bottom. The Cell Arc Part 1 begins with him reaffirming that the score does not mean "10 = perfect, 1 = worthless", and that he largely likes the entire series regardless.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Lance briefly bemoans #18 having a scene devoted to her shopping for clothes in the animated Trunks special as if shopping is all girls care about, before wanting two outfits she wears in the very next breath.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: Despite his complaints about Freeza's "tennis", he still finds himself putting it above the "tennis" with Super Buu, if only because Freeza actually getting overwhelmed by Super Saiyan Goku feels much more special than Super Buu repeatedly getting overpowered, only to turn the tables via assimilation.
  • Idiot Plotinvoked:
    • Lance considers the Cell Arc to be founded entirely on this: in Part 3 of his look at it, he addresses the heroes' refusal to stop Dr. Gero before he creates the Artificial Humans (despite being told that they will kill them and devastate the world), and concludes it only occurs because there would otherwise be no story. He even goes on to point out that the heroes suddenly take the proactive option at almost every other point afterward.
    • This is also a major reason behind his critiques of the Buu arc, noting that the entire story only happens because the heroes keep refusing to take the threat seriously or make proper use of the tools at their disposal, only to suddenly turn on a dime and actually come up with clever tactics whenever the plot doesn't require them to be stupid.
  • Invincible Villain: Lance can't stand villains who are invincible due to overpowered regeneration abilities that nullify damage over and over until an arbitrary ending attack, but implacable foes who serve to ramp up desperation as the heroes struggle to hold their own (such as Nappa and the #17 and #18 in the Trunks special) are a better use of the trope in his eyes.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!invoked:
    • Most of Lance's issues with the Piccolo Daimaō Arc stem from elements being repeated (and in his view, poorly) from the Red Ribbon Army arc; more specifically the battle with Tao Pai Pai.
    • He criticizes Goku's Curb-Stomp Battle with the Ginyu Force after arriving on Namek in part for being almost identical to his similar thrashing of Nappa after arriving back from Kaio's planet.
    • He considers the movies at their worst when they adhere to a formula of "Designated Leisure Activity" at the beginning, followed by a prolonged fight against an often shallow villain.
    • One of the reasons that he feels Vegeta's Face–Heel Turn in the Buu arc falls flat is because Vegeta already betrayed everyone in the previous arc by letting Cell reach his Perfect form. While Majin Vegeta shows some more depth and later remorse, Vegeta helping the antagonist for the sake of a good fight has already lost the intended shock factor for Lance, and he further condemns the other characters who had already let Vegeta off the hook for acting surprised that Vegeta’s unaddressed flaws resurfaced.
      Lance: Oh no! Vegeta has betrayed his allies and set into motion a chain of events culminating in the extinction of almost every living thing on the planet as well as the planet itself! ...Or, as Vegeta likes to call it: Tuesday.
  • Jumping the Sharkinvoked: Lance rates the Red Ribbon Army and Saiyan arcs as the best the original manga has to offer, but sadly any story from then on has a severe downgrade. While he doesn't hate any story after the Saiyans (except for Dragon Ball Minus, Resurrection ‘F’, and the Tournament of Power), he believes the franchise itself became too "safe" for its own good.
    Lance (On a YouTube comment): All I can say is that I currently feel that even the worst of the original DB is better than Super on a good day. The Dragon Ball franchise has been resting on nostalgia, fanservice, and flash for far too long. In other words, it has been "playing it safe." And while taking a risk won't necessarily be above criticism (there's a reason they call it a risk), and I can't even guarantee it would be better, I'd have much more respect for Super (and modern DB) if they'd stop playing it safe all the time.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonanceinvoked: The Red Ribbon Army Arc isn't often well-regarded among fans, but is nonetheless ranked the highest in Lance's scores at 10/10. Conversely, the Piccolo Daimaō Arc (typically seen as the best pre-Z arc) received a 2/10, the even more popular Freeza Arc got a 5/10, and the equally popular Cell Arc received a 3/10 (and it was initially going to receive the 2/10).
  • Moral Event Horizon: He believes that Vegeta had gone way past it by the end of the Freeza arc, and finds it ridiculous how quickly the other characters accept him when he should at best be tolerated for an Enemy Mine until he becomes a liability. invoked
  • Non-Indicative Name: Lance splits the series into arcs based on how they form a complete story; hence why the battle with Baba's fighters (after which Bora is revived) is considered part of the Red Ribbon Army Arc even when the titular villains have been long defeated by that point. Similarly, the Cell Arc includes everything from Freeza's return to the battle with #17 and #18, even though Cell himself doesn't show up until after those events.
  • Pet-Peeve Trope:
    • invoked Real Is Brown. He considers the Coola's Revenge movie an Even Better Sequel to the previous movies thanks to the wonderful backgrounds and use of color in that movie compared with the previous ones starting with The Tree of Might, where there was a dark color palette for the scenarios. This is also one of the reasons he dislikes the Universal Survival Arc, as the constant dark battleground alongside the Arc Fatigue was exhausting for him.
    • Action for the sake of action is not interesting for him, as he finds himself quite bored if he isn't emotionally invested in the characters. This is a reason why he rates both Resurrection ‘F’ and the Universal Survival Saga quite poorly, as the first one was a poorly constructed Excuse Plot and the second was a long action-driven tournament with hardly developed antagonists. invoked
    • Deus Exit Machina that keeps Goku out of the fighting for extended periods of time, making him feel detached from the conflict when he finally shows up. Lance also felt that Gohan's small role for most of the Cell arc hampered the impact of him taking the protagonist mantle by the end.
    • He isn't a fan of the One-Winged Angel transformations that become prominent around the Freeza arc. How they're applied to Freeza is his least favoured use of them, as his ability to transform at will renders his second and third forms a waste of time when he could skip to his final form and curbstomp the heroes. Cell and Buu's transformations, which are instead triggered by absorbing certain people, are received much better by Lance.
    • Serial Escalation AKA "Power-up tennis", when the heroes and villains are constantly one-upping each other with overhyped power-ups and transformations. It causes fights to drag out while making the characters' time and effort feel wasted when they get power-crept out of relevance.
    • Villains who have regeneration abilities. He's OK with Piccolo and Metal Coola, noting that the former's regeneration went as far as limbs and still required a lot of energy, whilst the latter's could be overcome via strategy and overtaxing it. The likes of Cell, however, don't even feel pain from wounds, making them "wanked-out invincible" in his opinion. He even gets noticeably ticked off when later arcs claim that Piccolo can regenerate the kind of wounds Cell can (for instance, regenerating his entire body from just a head), which certainly wasn't the case early on.
      Lance: I miss the Saiyan Arc, where damage seemed to actually matter. Where's the fun in watching people punch an invincible brick wall?!
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Despite his hatred of the Universal Survival Arc, he does consider Caulifla and Kale to be interesting characters, if a bit poorly handled like everything in the arc.
    • Likewise, he "likes Ribrianne and her schtick well enough", despite the character being widely disliked by the Western community.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Argues this with the Cell arc, specifically when Goku claims that he bears responsibility for the arc because he's a Doom Magnet who attracts trouble. Lance argues that this is an Informed Flaw, since few-if-any threats in the series were drawn unbidden to Goku specifically and his presence has been overall hugely positive. However, he points out that Goku is actually right to bring up that he's responsible for the events of the arc, due to his refusal to simply track down Gero and dismantle his scheme before it even begins. He argues that Goku citing his Doom Magnet status rather than his increasing recklessness and focus on battle is a sign that those early moments in the arc were simply him being handed the Idiot Ball rather than an actual attempt to introduce a real flaw, since if it was an intentional flaw, this would have been the perfect time to bring it up.
  • Running Gag:
    • There's a few, but the longest running one is Lance saying, "poor dolt", after something bad happens to Yamcha.
    • "No one cares about Chiaotzu."
    • Him taking every opportunity to point out that post-fusion, "Piccolo" is "God [Kami] wearing a Piccolo suit" (and variants of that phrase). As Piccolo's post-fusion characterization is much more along the lines of Kami's than Piccolo's (e.g. choosing to live at the lookout, being horrified at the damage to it by Super Buu and Gotenks, showing knowledge of the godly hierarchy, acting neurotically deferential towards Kaioshin), this one gets a lot of play.
    Lance: Everyone says God is useless, but he managed to completely bend Piccolo to his will, and thus take the ultimate revenge.
  • Sequel: The Original Title: Starting with The Freeza Arc Part 9, subtitles are added to the video titles ahead of the part number, describing the content of the episode ("Freeza Tennis" referring to the back-and-forth battle between Freeza's forms and the heroes, and "The Battle Powers Episode" being about... well).
  • Serial Escalation: Lance criticizes this quite a bit whenever it happens in rapid succession, likening such fights (such as against Cell's first two forms) to games of tennis, in which the "ball" is hit back and forth via ultimate power-ups that quickly get outclassed. In particular, the Cell example reflects poorly on Piccolo, since his dramatic fusion with God and subsequent massive power gains are quickly rendered meaningless by several other characters.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Lance eventually made a video discussing the different name spellings across translations and his own choices for his series.
  • Strictly Formula: The early Dragon Ball Z movies' similar story beats to one another do not go unnoticed by Lance. By Extreme Battle!! The Three Great Super Saiyans, he has far more to say about how the old, worn-out, repetitive formula and how strangled by it the movie is, than he does about the movie itself.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Discussed in regard to Videl's brutal loss to Spopovich, which seemed to be motivation for Gohan to avenge her while Videl herself gets Demoted to Extra. It gets subverted when Spopovich and Yamu instead take off with Gohan's energy and get then killed by their master Babidi. Lance ultimately gives the story leeway on this, if only because Videl is the first female character to suffer from this.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequelinvoked: He considers The Incredible Mightiest vs. Mightiest (a.k.a. Cooler's Revenge) to be an "oasis in a sea of crap" compared to the rest of movies 4-7, thanks to the beautiful scenery and colors and the use of pathos for Coola's motivation (even if he is a less interesting Freeza). He does say it's not his favorite movie, though.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Characterinvoked:
    • Chiaotzu is frequently pointed out as having little to no role past his introductory arc, and is either a Mauve Shirt or a background character. Because Toriyama doesn't care about Chiaotzu.
    • Even before he covered their appearances in the series itself, Lance had gone on record as finding Vegetto and Gogeta uninteresting for ignoring the potential characterization that would come from fusing together two people with conflicting personalities (of whom one holds a deep dislike for the other), instead existing just to beat people up.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plotinvoked:
    • The plot point that the Dragon Balls can't grant the same wish twice — and its sole application being with regards to resurrections — is one that Lance finds underutilized.
    • Lance laments in The Cell Arc Part 8 how Cell's mystery is squandered with his Infodump as soon as he appears, and points out how his relation to Doctor Gero, the Artificial Humans, the heroes etc. could have been discovered like puzzle pieces by the heroes over a period of time.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The Cell Arc Part 3 goes into Goku's gradual shift to the "puts universes at risk for the sake of a good fight" flanderization present in Dragon Ball Super, and how it didn't really start until the addition of his Saiyan heritage. He also disagrees with Toriyama's assertion that Goku was never supposed to be a "good guy", given his higher sense of morality in the early arcs.
  • Tough Act to Followinvoked: With the Red Ribbon Army Arc being his overall favorite Dragon Ball arc, and the Saiyan Arc being right behind as the top "Z" arc, it's difficult for later arcs to recapture the same sense of adventure or action they had (particularly the latter, as the raw brutality of the final fight is lost in favor of Super Modes, transformations, regeneration, and numerous "ultimate" trump cards that don't matter).
  • Tradesnark™: Lance's movie reviews repeatedly mention the "Designated Leisure Activity of the Film™".
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: When Gohan says he doesn't want to kill Cell, Lance points out that Gohan showed no hesitation seemingly killing Freeza's two mooks who destroyed the spaceship after Gohan, Kuririn, and Blooma arrived on Namek, but "fiction far too often seems to value life on the basis of how high in the credits you're listed."
  • Word of Dante: While discussing the retcons to Babidi and Buu's origins, Lance suggests that the Kirby vs. Buu DEATH BATTLE! video was what gave people the impression that Babidi being Bibidi's creation rather than his son was always part of the story and merely mistranslated. invoked