Why I “Quit” Watching Dragon Ball Super

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.

Why?

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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Dragon Ball Movie 2: Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle Review

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Rating: 4.5/10

Plot: Goku has arrived on Roshi’s island to train under him, but a boy named Krillin has arrived to request the same thing. Roshi only wants to take on one student, so he offers a race to decide who gets to be his pupil. There’s a legend about a sleeping princess who has been held captive in a castle called The Devil’s Hand under the absurdly fittingly named Lucifer. Whoever saves the princess and brings her back to him wins. But there’s more to this ‘princess’ than you might think.

Breakdown: Returning to Funimation back in its early days. How quaint. This was picked up by Funimation when they were making their trial runs with Dragon Ball, but this movie was a special release completely uncut and unedited, meaning all of the text remains in Japanese, including the credits, at least certain versions – the one that I have included them anyway.

This is yet another movie that Harmony Gold also dubbed but damn it all if I can’t find that version. We also have a couple more HG name changes to note, one them being hilarious.

By the way, doesn’t that plot just sound like the most cliché thing ever? A princess is being held hostage by an evil being and it’s up to our valiant heroes to save her? Was that like the first story plot ever made?

Our plot is set up by our narrator saying a sleeping princess is trapped in some castle by a freaky demon thing and actually scares me with the odd and creepy animation they’re using here. That was unexpected. You legitimately caught me off guard.

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We get the opening theme which is the original Japanese version. No idea why. Funi already had a dubbed theme made for Dragon Ball and their own title card. To be honest, I prefer Funi’s version over the original. The vocals are fine, but the music is awful. It’s a shame because the Funi version that was finalized for the entirety of the series is one of my favorite themes ever.

Oh well, at least I don’t have to see that lame title card again.

This movie continues on from the previous adventures from the last movie, so I guess these movies are in their own little canon. Goku is flying around on his nimbus catching some food as he heads to Master Roshi’s house to ask to be his student. Goku here is voiced by Ceyli Delgadillo as opposed to Saffron Henderson from the previous movie. You may know her as…….No one else. Apparently she voiced young Dende in the older dubs of Dragonball Z as well as the kid that Yusuke saves in the first episode of Yu Yu Hakusho, but her role as Dende was redubbed in the remastered versions of the DBZ series and I barely remember what the kid from YYH sounds like.

She does a pretty good job, and I don’t have any real complaints beyond that same weird feeling of having a different voice actor play a well-known character.

He meets back up with Master Roshi and asks to be his student, but he says he doesn’t take on many students and wonders if Goku has what it takes. Huh? In the last movie he performed the move that took you years to create and master in about two minutes. That doesn’t show you that he has potential?

Goku hears something and they look outside to see a small boat paddling in the distance. It’s everyone’s favorite bald guy, Krillin!

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Krillin here is voiced by Lauren Steele, who was never replaced as his VA barring when he became an adult.

Oh and Krillin’s HG name is the hilarious one I was talking about.

You…you ready?

You sure?

Okay, here it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..It’s Bongo!

…..BONGO! Funny – he doesn’t look like the guy from The Mosquitoes…..If you get that reference, you earn a hug.

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Krillin makes a grand entrance by jumping from his boat that is still pretty far away from shore, but ends up getting his head stuck in the sand. He asks to be Roshi’s student as well, presenting him with a dirty magazine as a gift.

Roshi only seems to want to take on one student. Krillin presented him with a gift when Goku did not but Goku arrived first and asked first, so he decides to give them a test to see who should get to be his student.

The test is one of legend that is incredibly dangerous. They have to save the princess from the plot—I mean legend has it that a Count named Lucifer (yes, Lucifer. She’s literally being held hostage by the devil) put a spell over a princess to put her in a constant state of sleep. Hey, you stole Maleficent’s gig! Their task is to go to the castle and save the princess. Whoever does the actual saving gets to be his student.

At the bare bones, this story’s as cliché as humanly possible, but Dragon Ball never makes things that boring.

As the story concludes, we see our first glimpse of Launch

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or as she’s known in the HG dub, Marilyn.

Her voice actress(es) isn’t (aren’t) the same here, but they emulate her voices pretty well and I never paid much attention to Launch anyway. During the series she was just kinda there and meant for comedy. I don’t blame you if you didn’t pay attention to her or remembered her either. Akira Toriyama has reportedly straight up admitted that, at a certain point, he completely forgot Launch even existed.

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Roshi forbids Goku from using the nimbus to prevent an unfair advantage against Krillin and merely points them in the supposed direction of the castle.

Krillin trips Goku as they start their race, but not like that matters because it’s Goku.

The race continues and Krillin continues to try all sorts of tricks to make Goku fall behind, even cutting a rope bridge and making Goku fall hundreds of feet into the rocky waters below. Krillin, there’s a difference between little underhanded tricks to win a race and attempted murder.

He also takes a bus and rides a herd of buffalo to get there faster, but Goku catches up on foot.

Meanwhile, back on Roshi’s island, Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong and Puar come for a visit. The only significant voice change here is Bulma who is played by Leslie Alexander and, from what I can find this is the only voice acting role she’s ever done. I don’t like her as Bulma because she sounds way too much like a shy 40 year old librarian than the loud screaming teenager I know her as.

Goku and Krillin arrive at the Devil’s Hand while Bulma and the others catch up to them to see them/visit or help them I dunno. However, their plane gets attacked by some monster and they crash land.

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This movie’s villain is weird. He’s named Lucifer but he looks and acts like a vampire and he has an assistant named Igor. You’re meshing so many evil icons together…

Bulma wakes up in a beautiful bedroom, and Lucifer tries to sweet-talk her, but she demands to see Yamcha and the others.

Krillin and Goku make their way through the castle and see a whole army of monsters charging at them. However, they pretty much ignore them and run over them. One monster stays behind – a typical looking demon thing with….pink horns and a pink ribbon circling its head? And a little pink puffball sidekick?…..Okay.

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The army comes back, but Krillin won’t have any of that and starts kicking some ass while Goku faces off against the whateverthehellthatis who fights with….giant orange lollipops?……Did I eat the wrong brownies a minute ago?

Once the candy man is dispatched, Goku goes to help Krillin with the others and we get a good ol’ fashioned ass kicking montage. It’s here where some of the voice acting gets a little lame, but it’s not too bad.

However, pinky gets back up and starts Master Asia-ing everything. Goku demands that he release the princess, but he tells them that the princess isn’t a girl.

Goku starts to take him on, and Krillin decides that this is his opportunity to split.

Unsurprisingly, the thing with Bulma is a trap and they really want to drain her blood with a needle for a ceremony they’re having.

Krillin gets carried off by a pterodactyl and Goku pursues him. Goku calls his flying nimbus to save Krillin from falling into the mouth of a sea monster. He tries to set Krillin on the nimbus, but since Krillin doesn’t have a ‘pure heart’ he falls right through and Goku has to save him again.

The pink and red monster thing gains the ability to fly by putting two balls of green fire beneath his feet and sends out his army of flying monsters with machine guns to chase after Goku and Krillin on the flying nimbus—You know sometimes I need to take a step back and realize how silly anime is sometimes…Ahhhh.

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They fight for a bit and Goku takes the pink and red monster thing down by leading him into the mouth of the monster that was going to eat Krillin before and he gets eaten. However, they remain pursued by the army of monsters behind him.

Meanwhile, the monster army is taking their sweet time sucking out Bulma’s blood. Oolong, Puar and Yamcha are in disguise in the crowd keeping an eye on her. Just as she’s about to be poked with the needle and just as Yamcha’s about to run to her aid, a giant explosion occurs overhead. Goku and Krillin fall into the Sleeping Princess’s canopy bed where they discover that there is no princess in terms of a girl. It’s actually the name of a giant jewel. Okay, if it’s not an actual princess, why is it being held in a canopy bed? What’s the point besides to further confuse people?

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Launch comes out of nowhere riding a motor unicycle and steals the jewel away. She starts escaping, but Count Lucifer sends his army after her. Since she now has the jewel, Krillin and Goku pursue her, not realizing that Bulma and the others are also in trouble. Yamcha and the others make their way to Bulma and are about to rescue her when Oolong and Puar lose their transformations and they all end up getting outed and surrounded by monsters.

As Launch is makes her escape, stray hairs tickle her nose and make her sneeze, which causes her to transform back into good launch. (If you need a refresher on her character seeing as how they never explain here who she is or what her shtick is, Launch has two personalities; one being a gun-crazy thief and the other being a super sweet ball of sunshine. Besides the obvious manner change, her hair also changes color between blue (good) and blonde (bad) with her eyes also changing color from black (good) to green (bad). She switches between the two against her will when she sneezes and neither personality remembers anything the other has done.)

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Her sudden transformation causes her to crash and lose the jewel to Goku, but Lucifer grabs Krillin and threatens to kill him if Goku doesn’t hand over the jewel. He gives Lucifer the jewel but Lucifer’s army attacks anyway. Goku handles them just fine until that little pink puffball thing from earlier bites his tail, causing him to become faint. The monsters take this opportunity to beat the crap out of Goku while Krillin looks on helplessly. Later, Goku and the others are all trapped in some wall being guarded by the pink puffball.

Lucifer and his cronies begin their ritual which involves aligning the full moon with the skylight of their castle and shining the light onto the gem to ‘activate’ it. Did the writers just take every cliché around and shove them into a Dragon Ball movie?

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If you’re familiar with the series, you know what the full moon entails – Goku turning into a giant uncontrollable ape. Despite the first movie not showcasing the ape, Yamcha seems to know about the transformation and how to stop it. I only mention this because this movie as well as the first one clearly do not follow the show’s canon because several aspects such as Goku’s adventures with Bulma, meeting Yamcha and Puar, meeting Oolong, Master Roshi etc. are all pretty different from the occurrences in the show. Even this movie’s initial plot with Krillin is not how it happened.

We also have no idea what Goku and the others were doing between movies but we know they weren’t together the entire time because Goku was off on his own when he went to Roshi’s. If you’re merely following the movie’s canon, you’d be pretty confused as to the workings of a good chunk of this movie such as what Goku is, what happens during a full moon, what Launch’s deal is and more.

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King Kong Reference confirmed

As Goku wreaks havoc, Yamcha tells Puar to turn into a giant pair of scissors and he cuts off his tail, causing him to transform back.

Once that’s said and done (What was the point of that? I guess it did free them from the wall, but I don’t even know how they got in the wall to begin with.) they go off to rescue Bulma who’s still being held captive by Lucifer.

Lucifer’s big plan is to use a giant friggin’ laser beam to blow up the sun. They never explain why they need Bulma’s blood in the first place. And to make it even more annoying, they never even take any of her blood so I honestly don’t understand why that plot point was needed.

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The blood wasn’t part of the ritual in any way nor was it a part of the master plan. Were they going somewhere with that and just forgot? What would they have done if Bulma and the others never went to the Devil’s Hand? That was a one in a million chance, and they needed that blood, supposedly right then and there, for their ceremony. They also never explain what the Sleeping Princess jewel is or where it came from or what it even does really besides I guess make lasers work. RRRGHHHH.

They want to blow up the sun to take over the world

Of course

because they thrive in darkness while humans die without sunlight. They claim the sun is useless to them, but hi science. Do they realize that moonlight is only possible with sunlight? The moon doesn’t produce its own light – it’s reflecting light from the sun. That’s why the moon has shadows. Seeing as how the moon was critical to this plan and the overall workings of the jewel, they can’t call the sun ‘useless.’

Also, I hope these demons have an extremely strong low temperature tolerance.

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Goku and the others show up and they have short fight with Lucifer’s only attack being a red ball of light replayed with stock footage a couple of times. Right as the laser is being fired, Goku destroys it with a Kamehameha wave, but the blast instead backs up in the laser beam, kills Lucifer and destroys his castle. Oh wait, come on. This was another movie where Goku didn’t technically beat the baddie? Hmph.

They take a picture by the destroyed castle and show it to Master Roshi along with Launch who decided to tag along for some reason. Can she ride the nimbus? At least when she’s good Launch? Also, I love how Launch isn’t even named in this movie. They never mention it once. If you’re going to make your own movie canon, you need to explain stuff like this, movie.

Launch barely even had a purpose in this movie. She showed up, stole the jewel and lost it two minutes after getting it. Her being there had no bearing on the plot whatsoever.

Anyway, Roshi’s so enamored by Launch that he immediately accepts both Krillin and Goku as his pupils and shows Launch around the house. However, she turns back into bad Launch and shoots up the place, even shooting Roshi three times in the head. (He got better)

And the movie ends with Goku, Krillin and Roshi freaked out by Launch.

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Bottomline: I have to say, this movie’s probably one of the weakest movies based on an anime I’ve ever seen. It’s not horrible, it’s just not interesting and there are a ton of issues with the storytelling.

If you’re only following the canon of the movies, this would be pretty confusing with Launch (especially considering that, since you never hear or see her name, you’d never even know who she was) and Goku turning into an ape. The story is as cliché as it sounds, the villain is weak, the master plan is cliché and most of it is nonsensical. If this weren’t a Dragon Ball movie and included its humor and characters I would be asleep right now.

That being said, the main/only highlights of the movie were Goku and the others. There are several awesome jokes and I love watching Krillin kick ass even if he ultimately doesn’t get to do much. The only reason this movie gets as many points as it has is merely the lovable qualities of the Dragon Ball universe. If it didn’t have these qualities, it’d be an awful standalone movie.

The voice acting’s pretty good even if Funimation was just starting to take their training wheels off back then.

The music is also standard DB fare, great with it’s own style and flair.

Additional Information and Notes: Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle was directed by Daisuke Nishio, a prominent director in the Dragon Ball series with the entirety of the series, several movies and nearly half of Dragon Ball Z under his belt. It was written by Kenji Torui. The movie was produced by Toei and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.

Runtime: 45 minutes

Year: 1987

Recommended Audience: Nothing particularly bad. There’s violence and nudity with Goku after he de-transforms. Roshi’s still a perv, but he doesn’t do anything too bad here. 10+

Dragon Ball Movie 01: The Curse of the Blood Rubies Review

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Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: In a different retelling of the Dragon Ball origin story, a powerful monkey-tailed boy named Goku meets a girl named Bulma. They hunt down Dragon Balls together, and during their adventures they come across a village that happens to have an incredibly sought after stone called Blood Rubies in its soil. They appear to cause terrible reactions in anyone who seeks them out, and Goku’s the only one who can save this village from total ruination.

Breakdown: Despite my nostalgic love of the Dragon Ball series, I never kept up much with the movies mostly because not many of them were aired on TV that often, at least where I live. I was able to catch a movie or two on Cartoon Network and I had one on DVD, but I never watched any of the original DB movies, only DBZ.

I’m watching the second version English dub of this movie done by Funimation. This version is sandwiched between an earlier version done by a company called Harmony Gold which got its fame through dubbing Robotech, and the final version done by Funimation to show the movie in its entirety and clean it up a bit to match the dub that they eventually created. Harmony Gold’s version was apparently censored less than Funi’s first dub of it (surprising) and all of the names were changed.

Harmony Gold’s version of the dub was not well received, though I will say from the clips I managed to track down that it was a pretty faithful adaptation – they even kept the original Japanese score. Despite this, they eventually lost their license to the fairly newborn Funimation. Apparently, the dub of this Dragon Ball movie was actually used as a pilot to launch the rest of the series, so you can actually thank this movie for giving us what we have today.

I haven’t been able to track down the full version of the Harmony Gold dub, and it might not even exist since it was only shown on TV and never released on VHS. HG also had the rights to the TV series, but no one seems to know how many episodes they dubbed, and those episodes are also lost to the abyss.The only information I have on the HG dub is the changed names, and I will include those in the review.

The opening theme song is not the same as the English version of the Japanese original OP as seen in the finished dub of Dragon Ball. I love the final product. It’s one of my favorite OP’s. This one is fairly good actually, except for the ending title card which looks awful. It looks like it was hastily put together in MSPaint.

The Harmony Gold version of the opening is available on YouTube, and it’s an English version of the Japanese OP like Funi eventually created. HG, however, uses the actual Japanese score for it, which Funi couldn’t get from Toei, and their lyrics were different.

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Our movie starts off with a village countryside where the local farmlands are being forced by soldiers to dig up the soil in order to find blood rubies to give to the king. One of the villagers tries to stand up to the soldiers, but ends up getting beaten. As the soldiers leave, we get hints that the king wasn’t always a cruel tyrant and that he just recently became such. One little girl who I believe is the daughter of the man who got beaten vows to show them who’s boss.

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Cut to a quiet mountain area where we see our hero, little Goku. Most of the characters have different voices in this early dub, but they seem to do alright. Goku is voiced by Saffron Henderson instead of Colleen Clinkenbeard. From the list I see, she’s probably better known for voicing Sota from Inuyasha, Genki from Monster Rancher or Sherry from Zatch Bell. Also, in the Harmony Gold version of this movie, Goku’s named Zero.

Goku talks to his grandpa’s four-star Dragon Ball and goes off to catch some fish. He kicks a giant fish in the face and goes off to bring it back home.

Meanwhile, Bulma is seen driving around the mountainside while tracking down Goku’s Dragon Ball on her “bleeper”….Yeah, I guess it took them a bit to come up with “dragon radar.” She also noticed that military soldiers are heading in the same direction and fears that they’re after the Dragon Ball too.

Bulma here is voiced by Maggie Blue O’Hara instead of Monica Rial. She’s played Madison in Cardcaptors, Holly from Monster Rancher and Kitty in X-Men Evolution. Bulma’s name in the HG version is Lena….I don’t even know why they bothered changing her name since her name is on the front of her shirt.

She crashes into Goku on the mountain path, and, if you’ve seen the origin story in the TV series, it’s the same shtick, only this time she tells Goku that his Dragon Ball is likely being stolen by soldiers. When they go to his home, they discover that his Dragon Ball is indeed gone with a single gold coin left in its place as a signature of the army.

Bulma decides to go after them and uses a DynoCap (if that’s what they’re still called) for a HydroJet which sounds more like a jet ski than a plane, but there it is.

They get into an air battle with the soldiers, but are ultimately blown out of the sky by a rocket launcher. I honestly don’t understand how Bulma survived that without a scratch. The entire jet blew up to tiny bits and she didn’t eject before it happened. Goku’s Goku so it’s understandable that he survived just fine, but how did Bulma survive?

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Also, supposedly, the early Funi dub of this, the one I’m watching, is censored in some situations for pervertedness on the part of Master Roshi or Oolong later on, but why did they show the part with Bulma pissing herself if they were worried about needing to censor stuff? Were the 90’s more lenient with pee?

Their journey is taking them into the night, so Bulma decides to whip out a house DynoCap. Goku is amazed by everything in the house and Bulma is amazed by how much Goku smells. She finds out that he’s never had a bath before so she decides to bathe him. The kid’s never had a bath. Great parenting, Gohan. After Goku has had a bath, she decides that she wants one now too.

She takes a bath, but quickly notices Goku in the bathroom wanting to help Bulma wash her back since she doesn’t have a tail to do so. Bulma angrily kicks him out. Oh Goku, you dense little scamp.

We cut to dinner where Goku doesn’t really like the food that Bulma has prepared. He decides to go out hunting for some real dinner and Bulma accompanies him.

As they’re traveling, they hear a small girl yelling in terror as a Satan-esque monster appears. Goku jumps into action to protect her, but the monster doesn’t think much of him. They fight for a bit and the monster turns into some mecha thing. He challenges Goku by telling him to knock down the large tree beside him and laughs until Goku knocks the tree down with one punch. This scares the monster enough to transform into a bat and fly off while Goku pursues him.

With one swift hit with his Power Pole, the bat is down and reveals himself to be Oolong, renamed as Mao Mao in the HG dub. Instead of Bryan Massey, he’s voiced here by Alec Willows who actually seems to have held the part in the Canadian/Ocean dub as Oolong for quite some time. His resume is quite long, but I really only recognize him as Mushin from Inuyasha.

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They talk for a minute before Oolong realizes that they’re in HIS territory. Goku asks who HE is before they get attacked by machine gun fire. As the gun shots end, the shooter is revealed to be everyone’s favorite desert bandit, Yamcha.

Yamcha in the HG dub is known as….Zedaki? HG sure made some weird name change choices in that dub. Instead of being voiced by Christopher Sabat, he’s voiced here by Ted Cole who’s….known for…..Well, I really only recognize his work as Lee from Beyblade, so let’s give it that, but apparently he also did several roles on Death Note‘s English dub, of which I didn’t watch much.

Yamcha jumps down with his sidekick/BFF Puar, known in the HG dub as SQUEAKER?! PBBBTTTTAHAHAHAHAHA!!…..Ahhhh, anyway. Puar here, instead of Brina Palencia is voiced by Kathy Morse whooooooo……Voiced some woman from Maison Ikkoku, and that’s basically it. Puar sounds really weird here. Like a British butler trying to imitate a woman.

Hehehe, Goku calls Yamcha Lamb Chop. That’s funny both in the sense of meat and the sock puppet.

Goku and Yamcha fight with Goku gaining the upperhand by extending his Power Pole (I really wish that’s the one thing that Funimation renamed later on, because practically every sentence including that thing sounds dirty) Yamcha loses his sword, but gets back up to hit Goku with a Wolf Fang Fist. The sound effect when he gets hit into the rock is hilarious. It’s like a parody.

Goku loses his Power Pole as well, but escapes the rubble to fight once more. That is until Bulma shows up which stops Yamcha in his tracks because Yamcha always loses his cool when confronted with a pretty girl.

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His daze causes him to fall off the ledge. He tells Puar about his problem while Puar tells him about his broken tooth due to the fall. Yamcha freaks out at this because he thinks it means he’ll never get a date and he runs off.

After the fight, Goku, Bulma, the girl, Penny (Who is named Penny in both the HG version and here, but her real name is Pansy….I can see why they changed it.) and Oolong eat some dinner at Bulma’s DynoHouse. Penny tells them that she’s on her way to see Master Roshi, whose name is unchanged in the HG version, so that he can help save their town from being destroyed by the military.

Penny explains that King Gurumes, known in the HG dub as King Gourmeth, though the Wiki’s kinda confusing about which is right because I know I hear Gurumes, used to be kind and gentle before he started mining Blood Rubies and she believes that the rubies come with a terrible curse.

He’s ruined the town and the surrounding landscape to mine for Blood Rubies and there’s nothing anyone can do about it since it’s a town of farmers against an army. What’s even worse is that he’s collecting the Dragon Balls, and when he collects all seven he’s going to make a terrible wish. Goku and Bulma then come to the realization that the King must’ve sent those thieves to Goku’s house and agree to help Penny find Master Roshi.

We cut to Yamcha listening outside. He goes back to his hideout where he explains to Puar that he’s going to steal the Dragon Balls while the King and the others are preoccupied with each other. He also says that he’ll use the wish to get over his crippling shyness around women so that he can get a date.

By the way, I don’t knot if this is the dub or the original version’s fault, but this movie has some terrible transitions. Imagine Star Wars transitions with bright fuzzy lines.

They get to Master Roshi’s house (Holy crap, that was quick. I know they have a speedboat but wow.) where they’re slightly confused over the fact that Master Roshi’s an old man with a goofy shirt and a turtle shell on his back. Master Roshi here, instead of being voiced by Mike McFarland is voiced by another Mike, Michael Donovan, whom you may know as, wow, a hell of a lot of ‘extras.’ Maybe you know him as Suikotsu from Inuyasha or Sabretooth from X-men Evolution?

Master Roshi implies that the group is going to try to kill him for his shell, but Penny gives the real reason. Master Roshi yells back behind the house that they seem nice so Yamcha seems to be wrong about them.

Yamcha appears and tells them that they’re lying to try to trick him before Bulma, realizing Yamcha’s weakness, nuzzles up to him, which makes him run off screaming.

In order to test if they are lying or not, Roshi calls the flying nimbus, which won’t let anyone ride it unless they’re pure of heart. Goku passes the test with ‘flying’ colors.

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Bulma realizes that Roshi has a Dragon Ball, and Roshi says he’ll give it to her. Hm? No need for her to flash her unmentionables? Maybe that was censored.

The soldiers are then seen spying on them, and they discover that the group has the final two Dragon Balls, so they decide to bomb the crap out of Roshi’s island and send out something called ‘pickpocket missiles’ which are just little robots with grabber claws, to retrieve the balls. They manage to get one, but Oolong, yeah Oolong, saves the other one from being stolen. As the soldiers mount another attack, we see that Roshi is pissed about being attacked, so he gets Master Roshi on their asses, buffs up and launches a Kamehameha wave at the incoming missiles to destroy them all.

Penny tells Roshi about her situation, but they’re interrupted when Goku tries to do a Kamehameha wave and succeeds on his first try to destroy a rock, which baffles everyone especially Roshi who claims it took him 50 years to learn it.

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Roshi tells Penny that he’s just an old hermit and Goku is way better suited to help her since he’s so OP. He also tells her that she has the power within herself to help her village and they leave.

Bulma and the others arrive at the palace, which has turned into a desolate wasteland, where they’re met with air attacks from the royal army. A fight ensues against the group in one of Bulma’s planes and Goku on his flying nimbus. While planes fight the group, one of the big bulky soldiers fights Goku while riding a flying disc and sporting a double-sided mace.

Bulma and the others get shot down and crash into a stone pillar, yet they’re all miraculously fine again.

Goku gains the upperhand by slicing his hoverboard thing in half which means Goku just attempted murder, but this is DB world so he’s fine. His mace turns out to be able to shoot out a chain which wraps around Goku’s neck as they both slam into the palace wall.

Yamcha is infiltrating the palace as well on his hoverbike thing and fights off soldiers. He gets to a room filled with blood rubies and grabs an armful before trying to escape the building. Wait, I thought he wanted the Dragon Balls to make his wish, not the blood rubies. Eh, whatever.

More soldiers are seen running down the hall, but they flee at the sight of a horrible monster which turns out to be Oolong. They hear more steps and hide to let Oolong scare the guards, but Oolong is scared and screams at the sight of another monster before him who also screams at his sight. It turns out to be Puar using the same technique as Oolong to protect Yamcha.

Gunfire bursts from the hall and hits Yamcha straight on to which Puar replies “Hope those rubies shielded him” which is a pointless line that ruins any modicum of tension for that scene. He kicks the gun out of the soldier’s hands and shows that indeed the rubies did block the bullets which I think is kinda BS but whatever.

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He knocks her goggles off to show that she’s actually a beautiful woman who shouldn’t have hair nearly that long while in an army. Her name is originally Pasta, changed to Aldevia in the HG dub and to Raven here – she’s been one of the two soldiers who have been harassing the group, the other being some bulky guy who is fighting Goku.

She throws numerous bombs at the group which causes a rock to nearly fall on Bulma, but Yamcha saves her, prompting her to cuddle him, making him scream.

Goku beats the bulky guy by……extending his pole…..which causes him to burst through into the throne room (or the THROWN room! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….ahhh. Yes….) At that same moment, the other group has broken into the throne room as well.

We see the King who is doubled over in pain, crying for the last Dragon Ball. His eye nearly explodes and he transforms into a big monster.

He and Goku fight and Goku uses his Kamehameha, but its surprisingly to no avail (so that means Roshi’s part was pointless?)

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However, Bulma realizes that the Dragon Balls are in his stomach, so she decides to throw the final one in his mouth to see what happens. The balls glow and Shenron emerges from the King’s stomach and mouth (I’m sure Shenron really appreciates that….)

Shenron actually has a pretty good voice here. It’s not nearly as booming as the final one, but it’s mysterious and unnerving. Shenron is called The Dragon God in the HG dub. Here, he’s voiced by Doug Parker as opposed to Christopher Sabat. You may know him from….uhh, The New Adventures of He-Man as Prince Adam and Vulcan from Zoids?

Shenron grows impatient as the group stays silent in his presence instead of making a wish. Before Bulma or Yamcha have a chance to make a wish, however, Penny asks is she can make her wish instead. She wishes that her village’s land was peaceful, beautiful and vibrant again forever. Shenron grants the wish, but says that there will never be true peace in the village as long as the rubies are beneath its land, so it removes the rubies and sucks them into the sky.

Shenron leaves and Goku watches his grandpa’s Dragon Ball shoot off across the sky. Penny thanks the dragon for granting her wish, but Bulma laments over losing her chance to wish for a boyfriend and Yamcha laments over losing his chance to wish for a girlfriend (I thought you wanted to wish for the ability to talk to girls without crippling shyness?) and Yamcha and Bulma put two and two together and look at each other as if to say “hey, why not?”

Gurumes emerges from the rubble…naked (he’s censored by the rocks) and says he feels better but he’s still hungry so Penny gives him an apple. The king tastes it and loves it, apparently never having had an apple before. Penny’s dad scolds him by saying that’s one of the many things he nearly wiped out in his tyranny and the King feels guilty.

Goku gives the coin back to Raven and says that he’ll have to start the search for his grandpa’s Dragon Ball all over again. He calls the nimbus and flies away on it, ending the movie. Meaning that, indeed, Roshi’s part was completely pointless other than to obtain the final Dragon Ball.

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Art: The art and animation are basically on par with the start of the DB series. It’s no masterpiece, but I like Akira Toriyama’s art style and the animation isn’t that bad. That title card bit, though. Sorry, Funi.

Music: I like the OP, which surprised me, and the BG music. The ED is just a different version of the OP.

Voice acting: English – Despite it seeming odd for anyone who knows the show with a different dub, and the DB franchise has been dubbed tons of times, even in English numerous times, no one really sounds ‘wrong’ and the voices grow on you. The acting in itself is also pretty good. Roshi’s not as animated acting-wise as his final VA is, but since his part was moot, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Bottomline: Overall, this movie’s fine. Despite being a Dragon Ball movie, there are no real good fight scenes involved. And Bulma’s the one who actually saved the day since Goku’s Kamehameha failed. It also gives an alternate take on the start of the series which may irk purists.

However, it’s still a fun ride and a good watch for DB fans. The story’s not great, in fact it’s kinda cliché barring the parts with Goku. We don’t get very attached to Penny as she doesn’t have much of a personality. She’s a strong, determined girl, yeah, but not much else. Also, the king’s not much of a villain. Barring his political power and army, he himself is not a big threat, and he’s defeated really quickly.

Additional Information and notes: DB Movie 1: Curse of the Blood Rubies was directed by Daisuke Nishio, who also directed Dragon Ball and DBZ. The screenplay was written by Toshiki Inoue who also wrote Ranma ½, Kiba and Death Note. The story itself was written by the creator of the DB universe, Akira Toriyama.

This movie was animated by Toei Animation, and English dubs of the movie have been distributed by Harmony Gold and Funimation, who currently own all English DB licenses.

Runtime: 50 Minutes

Year: 1986

Recommended Audience: Well, no swears, no nudity, no sex, but there’s peeing, some violence, a weird eyeball scene, but that’s about it. 8+