The Dragon Ball franchise is a big part of my life as an anime fan. I’ve been following it since the original Dragon Ball first aired on Toonami. Dragon Ball was endearing and a lot of fun. It had memorable characters, interesting storylines and plenty of cool action that only got better as time went on. I instantly fell in love with it.
Then we moved on to Dragon Ball Z – the cultural phenomenon that caught everyone’s eyes with its intense action and epic fight scenes, as well as the continued development of old characters from Dragon Ball (To varying degrees of success, obviously) and new characters added to the mix all the time. Old enemies became friends, romance blossomed, families were created, new terrifying villains arrived and the earth was put in danger several times yet saved time and again by Goku and sometimes helped by not-Goku people.
But all good things must come to an end, and once Majin Buu was taken down for good, the series concluded.
In comes Dragon Ball GT – the “Let’s not talk about that” of the Dragon Ball franchise before Dragon Ball Evolution was released. Your mileage with this series probably varies quite a bit. I’ve definitely said my piece on the show a few times already, but at the end of the day, most people agree that even though the show brought some interesting ideas to the table, GT was ultimately an extremely disappointing followup to Z that once again ended with Goku ‘see ya’-ing his family – this time forever.
Luckily, considering Akira Toriyama’s very limited involvement with GT, most don’t take it as canon. Toriyama himself even treated the series as a non-canon side-story.
Then we got Dragon Ball Kai, (Or DBZKai if you need that unnecessary Z, everywhere else but Japan) and it was fine. Kai was just a remastered recut of the original Z series to basically update it, correct some things and remove all sorts of filler. Didn’t really make too grand of an impact, but it wasn’t meant to.
It’s all quiet on the DB front for a long time until 2013 when Akira Toriyama finally wants to do more Dragon Ball stuff again, starting with a new movie, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods, which I always meant to watch but never got around to, and then Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ which I never really intended on seeing just because I kinda got sick of seeing Frieza, and his golden form was ugly to me. Kinda lazy, too, quite honestly. Frieza has so many forms, he manages another and it’s just a gold-plated version of his final form?
When Dragon Ball Super came to town, I got a little interested, putting it on the backburner of the stove of shows I’ll catch in passing, which I did, quite slowly mind you. However, the more I heard about it, the less I wanted to keep going.
The fact that they retcon some stuff while not retconning others made me a little uneasy. Then we go to ridiculous Super Saiyan levels like blue, god, rose, rage, white, ultra instinct, mastered ultra instinct on top of all of the Super Saiyan forms that already existed when we, as a society, agreed it was already at comical levels merely with SSJ1-3….I just got put off. (Not to mention that all of these forms are just recolors of the same SS form. Give GT credit – SSJ4 was very unique and cool-looking, reintegrating the ape theme back into their designs in an awesome way.)
I know full well that when it comes to shows like this, tournament fighters/shounen fighting anime etc. you’re required to keep upping the ante so your audience stays interested. Many shounen shows don’t have too much problem with raising the bar over and over again, but they also have very emotional and interesting storylines as well as plenty of character development to keep it fresh. Dragon Ball doesn’t do this nearly as often as more modern shounen shows.
We have the deeply impacting moments like Frieza killing Krillin and Vegeta sacrificing himself for his family and humanity, enriched tragic storylines like Future Trunks’ timeline, drastic character development like Piccolo and Vegeta, but those are placed very far apart amidst a never-ending punch and yelling fest.
In addition, other shounen shows tend to have a lot of various powers and techniques that add some spice to the mix. Dragon Ball just tends to have a lot of the same attack with different set dressing. Like one attack will be purple, another will be a big ball, one will have more lightning, one will require different hand movements to use, the other will look more glowy – at the end of the day most of the attacks are energy beams/balls, and it mostly amounts to who has the biggest beams or….balls….
It’s the same old song over and over. Some strong baddies are coming to earth, let’s train to beat them, nearly everyone dies, somehow manage to beat the enemy, wish back everyone who died. Very rarely are there lasting consequences when people die in the DB universe. Even if they die for good, you will likely see them all the time with the only real difference being them having a halo over their heads. I would say there’s also the restriction of them not being able to return to the physical realm, but not even that seems to be a hard rule.
DBZ did this to the point of overuse. They had a whole arc in GT that only happened because they used the Dragon Balls too much. It practically became a joke. Yes, they did put limits on it like only being able to be wished back twice, but even that had a lot of loopholes (You’ve been wished back twice with THESE Dragon Balls, but we can go to another planet and use different Dragon Balls! Or the other Dragon Balls have different rules etc.)
I’m getting off track here. The point is that the DB franchise has a really cut and dry formula that they use over and over with even the highest of stakes (Even putting whole planets or, as we’ll see, universes at risk) seeming like they don’t matter much. While the action and characters can still be a lot of fun and really cool to watch, it’s empty calories after a certain point.
And there’s only so far they can go with such empty action. Logical power scaling eventually gets broken beyond repair if you go too far. Goku is already constantly at the top of any ‘strongest character ever’ list, and they START this series fighting GODS and then get literal god mode. How much further can you go after that?
What’s even worse is, I was looking at the episode list and I was shocked to see Goku already achieved Super Saiyan God status at episode NINE?! What the shit?! Goku was getting his ass gift wrapped for him in episode five, barely about a day has gone by and he’s already got his god mode and is facing off against Beerus for several episodes?! Just….WHAT!? No wonder they can go through so many new Super Saiyan modes if he’s already become a god before the episode number hits double digits.
I hope I’m not giving off an air like I’m above frivolous fun or empty action, because I’m not. I’ve always been very much of the mind that as long as entertainment is entertaining, it’s fine. I will still talk about the problems, but I just want to have fun.
That’s actually one of the things I liked as I started watching Super. Unlike GT, which pretty much failed in trying to meld the fun and adventure of the original Dragon Ball with the more intense action of DBZ, I think Super is doing a good job bringing a more laid back and humorous feel to the series, at least in the first handful of episodes. Even Beerus, the God of Destruction, is a fun enemy. I like that he’s so goofy about food and actually pretty respectful of people, to a point, while also being very intimidating at the same time.
I also liked how the first seven episodes brought most of the characters together and put some spotlight on Vegeta’s family. He’s still a grump, but he’s a family-oriented grump.
I didn’t much care for Goku ditching his family again, but at least they showed him having a job to support his family. Even though they just throw that away because Hercule gives him a bunch of cash out of the blue. Not to say Goku didn’t earn that money, especially coming from Hercule, but still.
Vegeta freaking right the hell out when Beerus slapped Bulma so hard it knocked her several dozen feet backward was something I was waiting for. I saw a gif of that a long time ago, and I was itching to see it in true action. As a fan of their relationship, having Vegeta flip his shit at Beerus, a being that he was previous kissing the ass of and trembling in fear of for the past couple of hours, for slapping his wife and then him yelling out ‘My Bulma!’ as he slams on Super Saiyan mode was just beautiful.
And that was the same episode in which I finally decided to stop watching it.
Well, in addition to the problems I already mentioned, episode seven was pretty much a trial of my patience. Outside of that one awesome scene, it was seriously nothing but a back and forth of the group getting their asses easily handed to them by Beerus and characters going on for WAY too long just looking on in shock and making weird straining noises because of all the shock. I nearly shut the episode off before I got to Vegeta’s big scene, even though I knew it was coming, because it was that obnoxious.
I’m fully used to the typical long stretches of screaming associated with this show. I’ve gotten pretty numb to it by now and there’s usually something intense happening while they’re screaming. Or, at the very least, we know for certain the screaming is building up to something epic. But this is just boring constantly straining noises and shock faces. It really got to a point where I finally connected with those people who make fun of anime by making shocked faces, yelling and completely overreacting for too long.
And, as someone who has watched Speed Racer and not really gotten that weird stereotype, that’s a very bad thing.
Not to mention how Vegeta has been really annoying this whole time with the aforementioned ass-kissing and how he’s just spending most of his time in complete shock and terror, before Beerus has even done anything, either.
I don’t know which was more irritating – Vegeta acting like a scared puppy with no plans to do anything about Beerus besides keep him fed and happy or Goku who seems to give zero shits about the threat this being is posing to everything he’s ever loved and is purely focused on the cool challenge before him.
….Probably Goku in hindsight because, while Vegeta is being more annoying on an audio and visual level, Goku is being way more annoying through his illogical behavior. At least Vegeta is scared out of his mind because he’s concerned about the well-being of his home and family. Goku’s just an idiot who, again, feels like he doesn’t take threats seriously until it’s far too late.
Do I even need to bring up how bad this series looks? Has it been run into the ground too hard? ….Eh, probably, but just for good measure – Do you guys at Toei maybe wanna pull a few more dollars from your ass or give your animators more time to work? Because so many shots, and I definitely don’t just mean tweens, look terrible and the animation as a whole is very uninspired. Say what you will about how dated or cheap the older DB titles look sometimes, at least the direction is interesting and the animation is done in such a way that you’re never bored. Super, however, is.
And, no, like Sailor Moon Crystal, I don’t really care that they went back and redid the animation to look better for the Blu-Ray and DVD versions, especially since I’m working from the streaming Funimation copy. They should know how to do that out the gate now. It really seems like Toei cheaps out on the animation until they know the show is a hit and then they decide to spend a few more bucks to make it look good because then they deem it worth it.
I’ve heard that way down the line the animation gets better from the ground up, without needing to be redone, and is more consistent, but I don’t think I have the patience to wade through so much bad just to get to ‘A bit better.’
In addition, this may seem petty, but the designs of most of the antagonists for the series seem very lackluster so far. Most of the enemies in the DB series have been very memorable and striking, even when they have several forms. Even the more minor enemies had very unique designs. The creativity certainly tapered in GT to the point where they weren’t really making new villains as they were just making redesigns of old ones. Baby is probably the most notable design there, and even then he’s not much to write home about.
In Super, however, other than Beerus, I feel like most of the antagonists I’ve seen have been kinda boring in regards to design, very similarly to GT in that half of them just seem boring and the other half are basically redesigns of old characters. This isn’t a comment on their personalities as I haven’t watched far enough to explore their personalities – I’m simply making a note of their designs.
You might think I’m being really unreasonable to drop the series on those grounds, and maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m just being petty or an old grump yearning for the good ol’ days, but I think everyone knows when their time has come to drop a show and this was my time.
Outside of seeing the first female Super Saiyan, which, despite me complaining about the lack of one in GT, I felt was too little far too late, and besides seeing my boy 17 (He’s my favorite character) back and actually given a chance to shine on the good side, I don’t think there’s much for me to look forward to, really. I felt like episode seven was a warning signal that those things wouldn’t be worth my time in the end.
DBS has 131 episodes, and I just can’t find it in myself to watch all of that when I know the formula inside and out – when I feel like there’s absolutely no tension whatsoever because death and the destruction of the universe are basically par for the course for this show. It gets to the point where even the mindless action gets boring.
Also, I feel like these arcs will be very drawn out. As far as I’ve read, the first 13 episodes of the series are meant to cover the events from the first new movie, Gods of Destruction, while the second season covers the second movie Resurrection ‘F’. 13 episodes each to cover two 90 minute movies? I’ll admit that I very well could be wrong about this part as I haven’t watched enough to really know, but considering how padded episode seven felt, I can’t help but think this is probably right.
I know the other arcs aren’t meant to cover movies, but still, DB was never known for its great pacing.
Outside of a few amusing moments and some nostalgia, I just felt like I wasn’t getting much enjoyment out of the series and didn’t really think I’d get much out of anything else that came my way. Even with all of the stuff I’ve read online about future plot developments, I couldn’t really care enough to want to continue, let alone continue for over 120 episodes.
Beerus and Whis are really fun new additions, but they’re not enough to make me want to stay, especially since Beerus is also an asshole who blows up planets for fun and tries to kill people over pudding.
Let me end this by saying that if you’re enjoying or have enjoyed DBS and are looking forward for more continuations, more power to you. I don’t blame you at all for liking it, because I can see things in this series that are very enjoyable. I just think that, for the moment anyway, Dragon Ball titles have ceased being my cup of tea. I feel like there are other things I’d much rather be watching. The characters and relationships and the world they created will always be precious to me, but I’m just having trouble getting into the latest ventures and don’t have the drive to keep waiting for it to wow me.
I’m sure I’ll read some cool developments online in the future about these beloved characters (as I’m writing this, supposedly Yamcha got a time to shine in the latest manga venture) maybe I’ll grab one of the newer movies if I feel in the mood, maybe I’ll even read the manga (I am reading the manga, technically, but I’m way the way way back in classic Dragon Ball) but for now, Dragon Ball Super, I think it’s time we parted ways.
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