If you ask anyone to name an anime show, Dragon Ball Z will likely come up a lot and for good reason, it’s a legendary series that even to this very day continues to have a ton of staying power and is actually getting better (at least with the movies, I haven’t heard as many good things about the new anime series) as time has gone on. DBZ is a series that revolves around two major things: ridiculous over-the-top martial arts fighting with energy blasts…and a fuckton of superhuman muscle.
And you know what? It’s fucking awesome!
For a series that was made from 1989-1996 (and then dubbed in English from 1996 onward), it’s still stood the test of time, at least once you get to around the Frieza Saga, as the Saiyan Saga can look a bit rough at times. Even today, the fight scenes still look fantastic, the character design albeit ridiculous still holds up pretty well and minus a few ridiculous plot points, I still feel that the story is pretty solid and enjoyable to sit through to this very day.
For those who have somehow not even heard of it, let alone watch it, Dragon Ball Z is essentially what happens when you take a martial arts anime, add in a ton of sci-fi themes and then turn it up to 11. Flight, super speed, energy blasts, massive explosions that would make Micheal Bay climax, more punches per minute than a gamer spamming E-Honda slaps and most importantly, a ton of anger and screaming.
Yeah you heard me, a ton of screaming. Apparently the logic in Dragon Ball Z is that if you scream loud enough, you’ll get enough power to destroy the entire universe. Not even kidding, screaming is pretty much required to go Super Saiyan, which is essentially a transformation that by turning their hair gold, growing it out more and getting spikier, the fighter gets exponentially more powerful, which comes in real handy when the enemy as the time has been whipping their ass for four episodes straight.
Which brings me to the one point about the series that I can’t defend, the stupidity of how many episodes this series has and the bullshit filler a lot of episodes contain. There are legitimately episodes that are just two guys stopping mid-battle to have a chat, take a few potshots at each other and then five minutes of screaming to raise their power levels. Take Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 transformation for example, it takes him an entire THREE AND A HALF MINUTES to make his first transformation from Super Saiyan 2 to Super Saiyan 3. The average anime episode is between 20-25 minutes, so that means that three and a half minutes of screaming and nothingness took up between 14-17% of a single episode. Essentially 15% of that episode was filler from that scene alone and we’re not counting the meaningless dialogue that the series does suffer from at times.
Which is hilarious when also watching something like Dragon Ball Z Abridged from TeamFourStar, who will point out the constant idiocies the show suffers from and just turns it into comedy gold. But regardless of the stupidity the original show displays, when the show is on point, it’s fucking on point. When the show gets serious and it’s time to have badass fights and conflict, the show delivers it in spades. The final fight with Frieza, Gohan being the first to go Super Saiyan 2 during his battle with Cell, Vegeta’s sacrifice during the Buu Saga, those are three standout moments that personify the series when it’s at its best. There’s a lot of stupid over the course of the series, but it’s anime, it’s hard for there not to be a little stupid. But when it’s time for the show to ramp it up, oh boy does it ever!
The series being as long as it is means there’s a ton of characters given life and some given death over the course of the show, some interesting, some boring, some super cool, some super lame. My personal favourites have always been Vegeta, Future Trunks, Videl and in terms of a villain, Frieza’s gotta be my favourite since Vegeta flips so many times between good and evil that he’s exempt from this. There’s obviously a few duds like Android 19, King Cold and Babidi, but realistically any character that has some staying power isn’t a total bore or annoying. Obviously we can’t count Krillin in all this though, he’s been through enough.
The series as a whole is full of great and bad moments, but has stood the test of time due to parodies, memes, and now the revival of the series through the newer movies and the new series, Dragon Ball Super. Regardless of how you feel about the show overall, you know it exists, you know it’s in the upper echelon of all-time anime and it’s a series that probably will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Just don’t talk about Dragon Ball GT, even the creators say it’s not canon, like it’s an alternate universe. That’s how bad it was. It’s pretty bad…