Dragonball Z is all about high octane fights, some emotional moments and quite a few important life lessons.
Many anime watchers today have heard of Dragonball Z even if they haven’t seen it, and for many people, it served as a gateway into the epic world of anime. While there may objectively be much better anime than DBZ, personally DBZ is one of my favorite, if not my favorite anime of all time, for it wouldn’t be an exaggeration for me to say that Dragonball Z probably molded me into the person I am today. Back when I used to watch DBZ at the time I was 6, I used to watch it just for the fast-paced action, the cool transformations and then try to imitate their actions (except jumping off rooftops). Later on, when I saw it again after growing up, knowing some things about it already, I was surprised at the amount of emotional depth it contained.
The anime continues 5 years after the events of Dragonball (which is yet another fun adventure) but does not take much from it. The series is divided into 4 sagas — Saiyan (Sayajin) Saga, Namek Saga, Androids (Cell) Saga and Buu Saga. While the 4 arcs are independent, they do sometimes loosely connect to each other, which, for a manga written in 1984, is quite acceptable.
Many people who do not have a positive outlook on Dragonball Z mainly have complaints such as —
- It drags on too much,
- It has too much screaming, or
- The story is lame, etc.
But what they need to understand is that the anime was made according to what the times followed and in the 1990s, it was not about events flying forward and the plot hurtling at breakneck speeds, it was more about creating an atmosphere, and until this day, the Super Saiyan 1 transformation and some other transformations of certain key characters, gives me goosebumps and gets me excited.
Considering that it is more than 20 years old I feel that it stands up to most modern-day critically acclaimed titles, not because it has some complicated plot, but because of the characterization of the various individuals. Time skips do not change the characters much, which makes them much more relatable. The real changes are shown with an utmost subtlety.
So what makes DBZ so special? Well for me, one of the most prominent statements would be, and I quote — “When you know that a character is going to stay alive in the end irrespective of what happens in the story and even then you feel for the death of that character, it goes a long way in showing what kind of impact any anime has on you.”
Dragonball Z doesn’t carry itself with a heavy tone, neither does it involve dark themes, but it does convey some very valuable life lessons such as friendship, hard work, dedication and passion.
Art & Sound
I recently had another go at all the 291 episodes of DBZ, and there were some contrasting elements. Being a long running anime, the anime’s older sagas like the pre-Cell saga might not stand up to most modern anime, but the Buu saga is able to hold it’s own. As for the character design, I have no complaints, because the base character designs were already awesome to begin with, and with the addition of transformations, it blew everything out of the water. One thing I also liked about the anime is that the women are not much objectified with bloated assets.
I’m not that much of a music enthusiast myself, but the tunes can really pull you into the story. The tracks may not do that great a job overall, but step it up when the show needs them to. As for the voice acting, there have been some errors in the translation from Japanese to English and as for the English viewers, they might feel quite a bit uncomfortable when migrating to Japanese, due to the incredible change in voices of the characters.
Story & Character
The story is probably the weakest point about Dragonball Z because it is always about getting more powerful without much reason given to the powerups. Sometimes, there is a valid statement given, but then it is not always utilized throughout the series and many inconsistencies will almost immediately be noticed.
As for the characters, here is where DBZ’s strengths lie. Apart from the designs, each character is unique, has a different motivation and as stated earlier, does not change much throughout the series and the changes are definitely shown through subtle actions of characters.
Dragonball Z is the inspiration to some of the most popular manga today which include the likes of One Piece, Fairy Tail, Bleach and Naruto. In fact, the author of One Piece has straight off declared that his manga’s main protagonist Monkey D. Luffy has all the tropes and traits of Son Goku. For Naruto fans, well, Sasuke is the name of Akira Toriyama’s (DBZ’s author) son. Tite Kubo and Hiro Mashima, the authors of Bleach and Fairy Tail respectively, were also inspired heavily from Akira Toriyama’s work.
Dragonball Z might not appeal to the modern generation who like fast and snappy progression, but is yet a very good anime that sets the bar very high for its time. Fans of the action-adventure genre in anime are going to feel right at home and will be able to appreciate what Dragonball Z has given to the anime industry. Do not go in expecting a very twisted story line — It is all about fighting, strong characters with motivations and a whole lot of revivals.