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Dragon Ball is really the only manga series that's really clicked with me to any noteworthy degree; in fact, it's the only sequential art series of which I own the entire series of books. Even so, whenever I decide to re-read it every three years or so, interest sort of inevitably drops off after the conclusion of the more light-hearted pre-Z books are done with. The series just sort of lost more and more of the elements that made me dig it in the first place, eventually becoming a series of overly long, increasingly Darker and Edgier arcs with more shocking swerves than a Vince Russo wrestling program. Not that it isn't insignificant in this regard compared to the anime, eh guys?
At its best, Dragon Ball is a simply joyous mix of hardcore martial arts action, kooky characters, and indeed very delectable wimmins. Centered around a never-ending search for the titular seven dragon balls—which, when brought together, summons forth a mighty dragon that grants any one wish you may have (though really, the dude gives Genie a run for his money in the fine print department...)—which of course attracts the attention of forces both good and bad, for both good and bad reasons.
Centered mostly around incorruptibly good youth Goku and his increasingly unlikely menagerie of insanely neurotic friends, Dragon Ball balances out the "dragon ball hunt" arcs (once a wish is granted, the balls are scattered all over the world and rendered inert for a while) with frequent martial arts tournaments, providing breathers at choice instances. Bouts of epic drama are offset by DB's innocently racy and occasionally puerile humor to great effect. It knows when to get serious and downplay the humorifics for tonal consistency, but its breathtaking balancing act of the two is Dragon Ball's greatest virtue; one that is unfortunately all but gone in the Z arcs.
I realize this may come off as "Z totally sucks you guys" sentiment, but it's just that for me personally, the series didn't evolve on basis of its strengths. If you enjoy the epic action of Z more than its predecessor, more power to ya. It's all great entertainment, no matter how you slice it. Any detractors of Z's "brainless action" really should give the original arcs a try.
...I don't necessarily disagree with you, but even Dragon Ball had its super-serious parts. The King Piccolo arc, anyone? And even Z had its comic relief. Sure, what you describe happened, but it wasn't as dramatic as you insist.
And I don't get what you mean about swerves. Once again, the original had just the same. I really think it just boils down to the fact that the original came first, and Z recycled a bit too often to stay fresh.
Yeah, obviously all the other stuff like the humor and things are there, but I just become too fatigued by everything else for it do any good balancing things out.
In Z, seems like every battle boils down to someone revealing they hadn't been fighting with their full strength, or pulling some sort of previously unmentioned secret super-technique out their asses, several times over. Add that to the fact that for my money, aliens and genetic experiments or whatever tend not to make for interesting villains, and it becomes a huge detriment to my enjoyment. Every over-the-top battle has to top the previous one.
Also, I guess I failed to touch upon this, but I think the series became too dark for its own good, to the point of exploitation. Cell sucking people's life force out and reducing them to a collapsed heap of skin isn't a very useful thing to add to a story. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I realize it's pretty subjective and shit but that's me.
Well, at least you admit that it's your own tastes and your preference for fantasy over sci-fi at work. I may not agree, but I can understand.
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