Suburban Senshi IRC Chat #66: “In Defense of Dragonball Z [MiST of online Review]”
#66: “In Defense of Dragonball Z [MiST of online Review]”

*** Now talking in #suburbansenshi
*** Topic is '-= Blasphemers!! =-' .
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Okay, so I'm surfing the web and I see the site offering "point blank" anime reviews. They have a bunch of anime listed on their front page here, and among them is one of my favorites, Dragonball Z. So I look at the rating. It's horribly low. So I decide to check out the review, to see why it was so low.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> (Now, mind you, Point Blank anime has some good reviews. This was NOT one of them. It was ill-informed, weakly presented, and barely coherent. I hope to Kami this was a joke review (their Hi-Ho one is hilarious) but somehow I doubt it. And even if it was, I see so much of this [BLEEP] online about DBZ that I have to make my feelings known anyway)
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> What greeted me, rather than an insightful, thoughtful analysis of the flaws (and I admit there are a few) in DBZ, was an unabashed display of unmitigated ignorance. So, as a loyal fan of Dragonball and Dragonball Z (much less so of Dragonball GT), I must take it upon myself to defend the series, MST3k style. To do so I will be enlisting the aid of fellow DBZ fans Jedite and Souichi Tomoe. (Hotaru and Michiru don't seem to get the appeal)
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Let's GO!

Dragonball Z is based off of a Japanese tale that I’m not familiar with but have read about.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yes, we call it the manga Dragonball by Toriyama Akira-sensei.
<GERMATOID> You don't THINK he means SAIYUKI, the retelling of the CLASSIC Chinese legend of the MONKEY KING, do you?
<// J_Daito //> So he's read about it, but he's not familiar with it? How do you manage that, exactly?
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Don't worry, that's kind of the theme of this whole review.
<GERMATOID> Wait, I THINK he's going to ELABORATE on this.

It basically talks about monkeys and Dragonballs.

<// J_Daito //> There goes the Monkey King theory. I don't recall any Dragonballs in Saiyuki.

Putting that aside, I can comfortably say that a plot in DBZ is near none.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah, he's got a point.
<// J_Daito //> Yeah, I mean you can't really call the life cycle of Son Gohan, who goes from terrified infant to fiercely determined warrior-child to saviour of the Earth plot.
<GERMATOID> Nor the CONTINUAL quest of VEGITA to reconcile his fierce PRIDE as PRINCE of the Saiya-jin with the REALITY that despite his best EFFORTS, a lowly third-class warrior with a KIND HEART continually surpasses him through HARD WORK and DEDICATION.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah, we can't call Trunks' journey through time to save the past from the horror that has haunted him since childhood a plot. Or the frenetic three-way quest for the Dragonballs on Planet Namek with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance a plot. Or the whole segment in the Majin Buu saga where Vegita throws away his humanity in order to try and reclaim what he thought was the defining aspect of his persona a plot. I mean sure, they all have plot-like elements, such as being organised around a conflict and building through complication to a climax, but hey... you know...
<// J_Daito //> It just ain't there.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah.

The series takes place several years after the original Dragonball – Goku and Chichi are married and have a son named Gohan, named after Goku’s alleged grandfather.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> I ALLEGE that Son Gohan was, for all intents and purposes, Goku's grandpa.
<// J_Daito //> But so was the four-star Dragonball, so we shouldn't go too far with this.

Like it’s predecessor, there are also 7 Dragonballs which allow a person to summon a mysterious dragon who will grant them a wish (and as always, countless, COUNTLESS villains who are willing to steal them at any length).

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> I bet I could count them.
<// J_Daito //> Let's see. Vegita, Nappa, Raditz, Freiza, Zarbon, Cui, Guldo, Reccome, Dodoria, Captain Ginyu, Jeice, Burta, King Cold--
<GERMATOID> HEY! Just count the ones who WANTED the Dragonballs! Cold didn't!
<// J_Daito //> Right. Hmm. Garlic Jr. had already gotten his wish in movie 1, so he doesn't count... The androids and Cell just wanted to kill Goku, there were those criminal types and Tao Pai Pai in the Cell saga, altogether three guys.... in the Majin Buu era none of the bad guys wanted the Dragonballs, they just wanted to unseal Buu... so really...
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> About sixteen, counting those three one-shot mafia guys and robotic Tao- Pai-Pai.
<// J_Daito //> Damn. I guess this guy can't count past ten or something, if sixteen is "countless".

Since it’s almost impossible to summarize a near-295 episode series

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Whoah... I guess he *can* count higher than ten.
<// J_Daito //> It's impossible, but he'll try anyway.

I’ll try and be as vague as possible.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Nice to see he has goals for himself...
<// J_Daito //> In other words "I clearly only saw the dub and don't know what the hell I'm talking about and they're only paying me in doritos and flat diet Pepsi anyway so I'll fudge my way through this and hope no one notices."

First, some crazy people with spiky hair known as “Saiyans” come to Earth and plant trees/kill people

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah, that Vegita, he's a regular homicial Johnny Appleseed.
<// J_Daito //> I think he means the Saibamen.
<GERMATOID> Or is he confusing the series with the DBZ MOVIE about the WORLD TREE?
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Hmm... maybe he didn't see the dub, because he said people were killed. In the dub, no one died in the Saiyan saga.
<GERMATOID> Yeah. They all had PARACHUTES.
<// J_Daito //> Or got sent to the Next Dimension. Saban.TM

but are whimsically defeated by Goku (and perhaps Gohan?).

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Let's see. Goku gets a giant hole shot through his body by Piccolo, deliberately sacrificing his own life to ensure Radditz' defeat. Pretty damn whimsical.
<// J_Daito //> It is if you're a General of the Dark Kingdom.

Then one of the Saiyans known as Vegeta joins up with the Z-Fighters.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> WHOA! So like, the whole first half of the Frieza saga just evaporated?
<// J_Daito //> That whole time period where Vegita is happily threatening Krillyn and Gohan with death?
<GERMATOID> SHUCKS, guys, we all knew Veggie was just FOOLIN', right? He'd NEVER actually KILL anyone... right?

But, just as everyone goes back home and the series starts to get as dry as a forest in Arizona, Freeza, the menace of the South, attacks the Z- Fighters.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Huh? Menace of the what now?
<// J_Daito //> Frieza was the wicked Changeling overlord of the South? Does that mean we've got North Frieza, West Freiza and East Frieza, one for each Kaiou?
<GERMATOID> No, no, no! Haven't you heard the LEGENDS of the INVINCIBLE General Frieza who BURNED Atlanta to the ground during his MARCH to the sea in the WAR between the STATES?

During Freeza’s attack Goku turns into a “Super-Saiyan”,

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Wait. He said everyone went home. So like, the Frieza saga ended. Why is Goku only going SSJ now?
<// J_Daito //> He didn't read the script?
<GERMATOID> You know that crazy Son GOKU, always GOOFING off.

which basically means that there will be a whole bunch more episodes and their hair turns yellow. Obviously, Goku defeats Freeza. What did you expect?

<// J_Daito //> *Everyone's* hair?
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> It does seem that way later, doesn't it?
<GERMATOID> Even people in OTHER SHOWS get their hair turned YELLOW! SHINING FINGER!
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> But wait. They went back home. So why is Goku only defeating Freiza now?
<GERMATOID> This is OBVIOUSLY the PRIME DBZ Timeline where GOKU succumbs to his fatal heart disease.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Whoa, I didn't know they animated that.

Next, we have Trunks. He’s apparently Vegeta and Bulma’s illegitimate love- child from the future.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> uhh, can't argue with that.

He warns Goku that in 3 years time, super Androids will attack Earth and they will have the power of 60,000 apes (that’s a lot of Saiyans!). To add

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> I must have missed that line in the dub.
<// J_Daito //> This review: ghostwritten by 60,000 monkeys.

insult to injury, during this time Goku will fall ill to a mysterious heart disease (this is like a soap opera), which killed him in Trunks’ time, but Trunks now has a mystical cure for Goku’s heart!

<// J_Daito //> We call this mystical cure... 'medicine'.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> So it's like a Soap Opera because it's convoluted... yet it doesn't have a plot. Someone help me here.

The androids come and the Z-Fighters win, yada-yada-yada,

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> So the whole thing about Vegita's arm getting broken, his [BLEEP] handed to him, Trunks getting his Freiza-slicing blade almost shattered on 18's head and the Androids wnding up flying off in VICTORY to seek Goku while Krillyn cowered in fear for his life was what? A hallucination?
<// J_Daito //> Probably.

and then a new enemy comes! His name is “Cell”, who has the ability to evolve in sorts (haha, how witty!).

<// J_Daito //> Much like this review isn't.

Cell is very powerful (beginning to see a pattern here?)

<GERMATOID> Your statements LACK anything beyond the BASEST superficiality?
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Bad guys are strong?

and begins absorbing the androids in a domino-esque fashion.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> So he lines them up and knocks them down?
<// J_Daito //> At least he doesn't knock them u--
<GERMATOID> That's enough of THAT! This ISN'T!

Once he absorbs all of the androids he reaches his perfect stage, but unbeknownst to the Z-Fighters (aside from Goku), the only one who will stand a chance against this menacing foe is Gohan!

After Gohan defeats Cell (unfortunately, Goku was killed!), many years pass with no villains around. Also after the fight, a cowardly man known as Hercule has taken credit for the victory, evidentally making him rich and famous!

<GERMATOID> Accurate. Coherent. ASTOUNDING.

Gohan takes up the name of Great Saiyaman, in which he wears a flamboyant costume that looks reminiscent of The Guyver (argh, Mark Hammil!).

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Uh-huh... I can see how a green shirt, sentai helmet, cape and boots really looks like a blue suit of biogenetically enhanced power armor.
<// J_Daito //> Can I PLEASE have some of what this guy is SMOKING?

After some follies involving dinosaurs and a girl named Videl (Hercule’s daughter), Goku is brought back to Earth for one day to participate in a Battle Royale of sorts, held by the city.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Battle Royale? Umm, you mean the Tenkai-Ichi Budokai? Only the DEFINING tournament of most of Dragonball, which you made reference to earlier? But you're an anime reviewer working for what appears to want to be a serious site. So you'd know that, right? RIGHT? You just forgot, yes?

Once all of the Z-Fighters meet up there they find a few interesting people waiting for them. Kaio-shin and a big purple fellow who’s name has escaped me.

<// J_Daito //> Must have flown out via the hole in your head.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Now wait. How the heck does he know the guy's name is Kaioshin if he's only seen the dub?
<// J_Daito //> Maybe he saw it subbed... he never really says he only saw the dub.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Then why later does it look like he only-- ARRGH!
<GERMATOID> Don't hurt your brain about it

But in any case, the shits about to hit the fan in more ways than one!

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yes. Unfortunately it fell back down and we have been tasked with reviewing it.

Some crazy people with “M”s stamped to their forehead are after Gohan’s super-powers! They manage to get it with Kaio-shin’s help (he uses it as a ploy to find the location of Babidi). Babidi is an evil magician from days- long-past and is attempting to revive his deceased father’s magical creation, “Majin Buu”.

Since Cartoon Network stopped airing new episodes of DBZ about 15 years ago with a cliché reminder of “You keep watching, we’ll keep playing”, this is essentially where it cuts off. All in all, the Buu series basically takes us into the very mind of Akira Toriyama. Well, maybe not. That was probably Dr. Slump,

<GERMATOID> WATCH as he tries desperately to REDEEM himself with the Otaku by making REFERENCE to Toriyama's other great work!
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Now see!? He references Cartoon Network! So he makes it sound like he stopped watching when they stopped airing Season 5... but they never called Kaioshin "Kaioshin"... they called him "Grand Kai", right?
<GERMATOID> Someone's been watching fansubs on the sly... naughty, naughty.

but anyway…, through a process known as ‘deduction’, we can surmise that Buu is let out with Vegeta’s aid, but oh no, the Saiyan’s power up in

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Anyway, through a process known as "I watched the FANSUBS"
<// J_Daito //> Or "Read a cheesy FAQ".
<GERMATOID> Or "asked someone on staff who actually WATCHED the show"

strength, but so does Buu! Then in a miraculous change of events, the Saiyan’s gain the edge. 100 episodes and 75,800 flashbacks later, it’s all over and the Z-Fighters are victorious.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> To be fair, the show is kinda like that. But then again this isn't End of Eva. Now check out the Oh-so-wonderful character bios: (Goku's skipped, it's actually OK)
<// J_Daito //> Aww, do we HAVE TO?!
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> All in the name of a good MiSTing, yes!

VEGETA: Vegeta is the moody Saiyan who claims to have a bunch of pride.

<// J_Daito //> Yeah, that whole "I'm the PRINCE of SAIYANS" thing... he's just claiming that. He's really just the cook.

His home planet was destroyed by Freeza and after waiting a real long time to defeat Freeza, Goku defeated him. I don’t think Vegeta’s problem is his pride, just his gross incompetence in basically any situation.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah, like when he vaporized that planet, or half of Freiza's remaining army, or battled Goku to a standstill twice, or...
<// J_Daito //> Or got slaughtered by Frieza when he thought he was a "Super Saiyan", got mauled by Android 18, caused Cell to form, caused Buu to Hatch...
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Ok, so the guy has a point.

Vegeta eventually marries Bulma and they have a love-child named Trunks who becomes a Super Saiyan at a very early age (like Goten). There are also rumors that him and Goku are lovers, but these are just rumors of course!

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah man, Puar told me that Yamcha said that Tenshinhan heard from Oolong that Bulma walked in and read a note from Goten to Trunks describing how their dads were... like, *sparring* and stuff.
<// J_Daito //> Huhuhuh... sparring. Hehehe. Hehe.

KRILLIN: The unffocial “narrator” of DBZ,

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> I thought that was Kaiou-sama?

Krillin prefers the side-lines while ranting incoherent thoughts than using any sort of power in hand-to-hand combat.

<// J_Daito //> Yeah. That mountain-cutting Kienzan, the numerous Kamehameha attacks, weak [BLEEP] man. totally.

Krillin eventually marries Android 18 (or as the Spanish-dub would say “Numero Diez y Ocho”)

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> For a guy that doesn't seem to like the show very much he's sure seen a lot of its dubs.

and they have a daughter named Marin. Krillin also grows black hair to increase his character’s sex appeal with the lady folks.

<// J_Daito //> Or maybe it was because AFTER he got married he no longer needed to keep a monk's discipline? No... that would make *sense*...

TRUNKS: Vegeta’s son and proverbial Marty McFly of the Saiyans.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> There's a description that will haunt me forever.

Trunks is the fortune teller who comes to the past

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Look out Uranai Obaba! Someone's out for your job!

and changes a bunch of stuff (apparently no one ever told him that when you go into the past you don’t squish giant mosquitos!). Trunks is a strong Saiyan and carries a sword, or atleast he used to prior to his Battle with Cell.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Frieza... the giantest mosquito of them all.

PICCOLO: A Namek from Planet Namek, Piccolo has the ability to regenerate his limbs when they get blown off in almost every battle.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Them arms, they be a'flyin...

Piccolo once hatched from a bad egg

<// J_Daito //> I always said that Piccolo was a rotten egg....

(like a Tamagotchi, oh how I adored them)

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Yeah, know we know just who we're dealing with here.

but then after this he split into two, Good Piccolo and Bad Piccolo. Somewhere along the line they fused created Piccolo.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> So. Wait. He was borned from da egg, den he be split...
<// J_Daito //> BZZT! Piccolo's father split in two, forming evil Piccolo Daimou and good Kami.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> ...and then, and then they like fused and became Piccolo again?
<// J_Daito //> Who, Piccolo Daimou and Piccolo Jr? That's incest man. Damn.
<GERMATOID> Umm, but since Kami IS technically Piccolo's HALF-father...

As you can see, he enjoys switching from side-to-side, but in the end he

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> God, but this could get ecchi.
<// J_Daito //> (seductive voice) Do you... vacillate?
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> In the comments section the reviewer goes on to say:

Dragonball Z can be summed up in one word. “Bad”. When even the show’s creator, Akira Toriyama, says it was a basic failure, you have to agree with him. For one part, the Animation is sincerely bad. It only rivals the first Final Fantasy Anime, and take my word for it, that’s like gazing into the depths of Hell.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Toriyama said that? I must have missed the press conference.
<// J_Daito //> The animation's bad? Umm, I count at least two levels of shading in later DBZ and the character designs look crisp and well rendered (most of the time) to me...

There is NO character development, and there is NO Plot,

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> We picked this apart already. But if he felt the need to repeat himself, we can but return the favor!
<// J_Daito //> One need only look at Vegita's transformation from a malevolent thug to a prideful man to a man who cares for his family and later, even the fate of the world he had wanted to destroy to shoot this down.

unless you consider a lot of loud noises and random enemies with different powers showing up every now and then. If you’ve ever seen DBZ, you can also agree with me that there is little to no music at all, and most of it is weird Japanese techno from the 80s, which is utter crap.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> No, I can't agree with you. The music is pervasive, and of high quality.
<// J_Daito //> Where did all those CDs full of BGM come from then? The sky?
<GERMATOID> No! I HAVE IT! Son May, DESPERATE for profits, made up a FICTIONAL soundtrack to go with their BOOTLEG audio releases! DBZ: The IMAGINARY Orchestral Companion!

Since I left most of my comments obscurely scattered throughout the review,

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Really? I thought it was more like you left your review obscurely scattered through your comments.

I give DBZ a 3.0001, since we gave Ninja Scroll a 3 I was trying to balance out the lesser of the two evils.

<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Ugh. You know, let me tell you what I get out of DBZ, now that idiot-boy has had his say.
<// J_Daito //> Go Ten'ou! Spit forth your bile and venom!
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> No man, it's not like that
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Dragonball / Dragonball Z is like a classic mediaeval morality play, with simple, easy to identify characters that resonate with the viewer.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Son Goku is the innocent wanderer who experiences the world from his child- like perspective, seeing the good in people where others would fail to look. He journeys the world making friends and fighting evil, standing true to his principles and always willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Vegita is the prideful man full of himself who has no time for the world. From the way he carries himself to the way he treated his son during their training, he was the complete opposite of Goku, always focusing more on aggrandizing himself at the expense of others. He is slowly transformed over the course of time however, to someone not as innocent as Goku, perhaps, but one who has redeemed hismelf and now takes a stand for the helpless ones around him. His story shows that men can change themselves for the better, if they allow themselves to, no matter how dark their origin.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Piccolo also exemplifies this ideal. Born literally from a seed of evil, he allowed his concern for Son Gohan (who he had originally captured out of the need for self-preservation with the intention of corrputing the child to be like him) to change him. His fusion with Nail represents the incorporation of strength through compromise (he didn't want to change himself, but eventually went through with it because it was the only way to stand a chance against Frieza-- and he came out stronger and wiser for it) and his fusion with Kami, a man whom he actively hated, granted him wisdom (the wisdom of sometimes embracing those you consider your enemies) and strength.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Now you might be saying I'm overanalyzing. Perhaps. But look at it. Goku repeatedly makes a habit of embracing his enemies and turning them to good. Yamcha. Tenshinhan. Vegita. Buu. (well that was Mr. Satan). The point is, there are clear themes, simply expressed for mass consumption.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> No, DBZ is not the intellectual Escher drawing that Evangelion or, to some degree, Utena is. But it's not meant to be. Like any simple fable, such as the Monkey King legend, or Beowulf, truths about courage, nobility, sacrifice and friendship are expressed in the context of battle and struggle. The themes are there. The plot is there. One need only look at the touching scene just this past week between a now-adult Son Gohan and his dead father, parting for perhaps the last time, to see that the emotions are there too.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Those people who see DBZ and bash it for just being "fighting and powering up" are missing the point. Yes, it does get repetitive, but then again recall that Toriyama was harangued into extending the series several times due to it's popularity. (There's only so many ways to power up, people). The messages behind the show are there, consciously exploited by Toriyama or not. You just have to be willing to look past the "loud noises and random enemies" to see it.
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=-->
<--=[ SpeedRcrX ]=--> Dragonball covers the course of an extraordinary fellow's life from late childhood to his being a grandfather. It covers the birth, growth and ascension of his son to the maximums of human(?) potential. And along the way we see friends grow up, marry, and have families of their own. It's a 12 year epic journey that one should not dismiss lightly.
*** Disconnected