In light of my first attempt at an article, I have decided to take the advice of some noteworthy critics in regards to the manner in which I compose and write my works. Firstly, I would like to state that the purpose of this article is to both elaborate on what Dragon Ball Z is and why it was such a life-altering show for me and many other children. Secondly, I have attempted to make this article longer than my previous one, with more pictures scattered throughout. Thirdly, I have attempted to edit this article more thoroughly than my previous one, yet if I have missed anything I am sure you will be kind enough to point it out.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, Dragon Ball Z is an anime series produced by Toei Animation from 1989 to 1996. However, it was introduced and made popular to the United States through Cartoon Networks action based television block Toonami in 1998, and after its initial success, continued to air on cartoon network through 2005.
The story centers on an extremely powerful alien, otherwise known as a Saiyan, named Goku.
No not quite, a little bit older
There we go
Despite Goku's super speed and strength, he is a kind, childlike protagonist with a cheerful personality and an air of innocence that the viewer cannot help but be attracted to. Yet for all his positive traits, Goku is a fierce and nearly unstoppable warrior in battle, never fighting for the wrong reasons, but only to protect his friends and the planet earth from the many baddies who inevitably get in his way.
Now one of the great things about Dragon Ball Z was that it contained so many different characters with whom the viewer could relate to or even despise.
Gohan- The half Saiyan son of Goku, Gohan appears harmless at first sight,
yet when he got angry, he summons a power rivaling his own father.
When the viewer is first introduced to Gohan, he is practically a toddler, yet that all changes when Piccolo trains him for a full year and helps him to unlock the inner potential that would reveal itself later in the series.
Yamcha- Definitely not the most memorable of the Z fighters, Yamcha was first introduced in the early episodes of Dragon Ball, yet by the middle of Dragon Ball Z, he had lost his relevance in the show and was for the most part a minor character. Probably the most memorable thing about Yamcha was his awesome death at the hands of the saibamen (what a way to go).
Tien- Like Yamcha, Tien was first introduced in the Dragonball series, yet he too had lost his relevance in Dragon Ball Z after he was killed by the Saiyan Nappa and later wished back to life. His greatest contribution to the show would have to be his Solar Flare move.
Krillin- Bald and short, Krillin has all the makings of a sidekick. Always a step behind Goku, Krillin is usually inserted into the plot whenever Goku is either busy training or waiting to be wished back to life. For all his shortcomings, Krillin eventually marries Android #18, has a daughter with her, and even grows a full head of hair.
Trunks- The future offspring of Bulma and Vegeta, Trunks returns to the past in order to save Goku from dying of a heart disease and thereby stop the world from being destroyed by androids #17 & #18. Not my most favorite character, but he gets style points for carrying a sword.
Chiao Tzu- The best friend of Tien, Chiao Tzu is a small, doll-like person who did not contribute much to the show at all. Needless to say, I never really liked him at all. I will however admit that Chao Tzu, like Yamcha, gets major points for turning himself into a human bomb in an attempt to kill Nappa, even if it did fail miserably.
Raditz- Appearing in the first episode, Raditz drops a bombshell on Goku when he tells him that they are long lost Saiyan brothers whose sole occupation is the destruction of entire species of aliens for profit. Disgusted with Gokus peaceful life on earth, Raditz institutes some tough love on Goku by kidnapping Gohan and demanding that he kill at least 100 humans in order to get his son back. With the help of Piccolo, however, Goku is able to kill his brother, but not without sacrificing his own life.
Nappa- One of four remaining Saiyans, Nappa is basically a meathead who enjoys killing and destroying things, including Piccolo, Tien, and Chao Tzu. Although Goku beats the snot out of him, it is Vegeta who actually kills Nappa after his unsuccessful bout with Goku.
Frieza- A super powered alien being who wants the Namekian Dragon Balls so that he can wish for immortality. Frieza is basically the ultimate bad guy, as he can destroy entire planets with only a finger. After changing forms 4 times and killing Vegeta, Piccolo, and Krillin, Goku goes Super Saiyan for the first time and manages to kill Frieza.
Androids #17 & #18-Two androids whose sole occupation is the destruction of human kind. The only thing that sets them apart from the other Z villains is that they really don not have any other agenda other than killing, and that they really enjoy it too.
Cell- Cell is an artificial life form who is a conglomeration of all the cells of the Z fighters. His main goal is to absorb Android's #17 & #18 so that he could reach his perfect form and test his new found strength. Although he has three forms, his first is by far the scariest, as he can literally suck a person right out of their clothes and absorb them. Freaky stuff.
For those rare characters who, at some point, found themselves on the wrong side of the Kamehameha wave, yet who eventually came around and joined the good guys
Piccolo- The son of the dark side of Kame, Piccolo once only wanted to defeat Goku, yet after training Gohan for a year, he develops a bond with him and they become close friends, so close in fact that Piccolo literally sacrificed his life for Gohan during their fight with Nappa.
Vegeta- Originally coming to Earth for the Dragon Balls, Vegeta later teams up with Gohan and Krillin on planet Namek to help them to defeat Frieza. After that, he eases up and joins the good guys on planet earth, though he never really loses his bad attitude.
Majin Buu- an evil magical being who does not appear to be all that scary, Majin Buu starts out as a rampaging killing machine, but later becomes friends with a man named Hercule and his dog named B. After Buu becomes good, he expels his dark side, which then absorbs him, which then later re expels good Buu from his body. Confusing, I know, but Buu ends up living happily ever after with Hercule.
What would any children's television show be without a line of expensive, plastic action figures. There was nothing fancy about these little guys, as they were mostly just little miniatures of your favorite hero or villain that you could bash together when you were feeling bored. Though I owned a lot of Z fighter action figures, my two favorite would have to be Captain Ginyu and Android 16, just because Captain Ginyus scouter and armor could come off, while as 16s hand was detachable. What better way to amuse yourself than by removing an androids hand or de-clothing a muscled alien?
My experience with this card game was extremely short, mainly for two reasons. 1- because it was extremely hard understand the rules, let alone play the game, and 2- because not many stores carried massive supplies of Dragon Ball Z cards, at least not in my neck of the woods. I think it is important to mention the card game simply because I believe that any child who is truly obsessed with a show, regardless of what it is, will possess some form of trading card relating to it (example: YuYu Hakusho and Lord of the Rings trading cards. Never heard of them? Neither have most people)
Though I am aware that there are numerous video games relating to Dragon Ball Z, I would like to focus on two that actually played during my childhood. The first was Dragon Ball Z Budokai, which was first released on the gamecube in 2003. Admittedly, it was not the best game in the world, but just the feeling of playing all those different characters from the show was enough to make any kids jaw drop. The second was a game called The Legacy of Goku for the gameboy advanced. Though I never actually owned this game, I played it so much at my friends house that I might as well have. This game was also nothing special, but still, I could not help myself when it came to reenacting all the priceless moments of Gokus action packed life.
If you were to make a list about why this was such a great show, it might go on for miles, but I believe that the biggest reason it was so popular, at least for me, was because it was revolutionary in terms of the action and the sheer violence that it contained. Until I had experienced Dragon Ball Z, the greatest action show I had ever seen was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, albeit a good show, yet not on the same age level as Dragon Ball Z. To sum it all up, this show changed my life in a big way, and, regardless of what people may say, I believe it to be the single greatest anime ever to air on television.