‘Dragon Ball Z’ review

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

Set your screens to over 9000, because I’m about to give my thoughts on one of the most influential and popular anime out there, “Dragon Ball Z”! Created by Akira Toriyama, this hit series has made a huge impact on the world as well as pop culture. It spawned spin-offs, multiple films, and introduced anime to millions of people, particularly in America. 

The series takes place years after its predecessor “Dragon Ball.” We see that Goku is now grown up, married to Chi-Chi, and has a son named Gohan who unknowingly inherited his father’s powers. While spending time with his friends, a humanoid alien named Raditz tracks down Goku and tells him that he is his long-lost brother and that they are part of a near-extinct race called the Saiyans. It’s also revealed that Goku was sent to Earth as an infant to wipe out the planet for conquest, but suffered a blow to the head as a child and lost all memory of his mission. Goku refuses to join Raditz but finds himself outmatched by his brother’s superior strength. This forces Goku to join forces with his arch-rival Piccolo as they barely defeat this new threat. Though it is soon revealed that the remaining Saiyans are on their way to Earth, including Vegeta, the powerful Prince of all Saiyans. With little time to spare, Goku and his allies prepare while Piccolo trains Gohan, which ultimately results in a friendship between the two. As the series progresses Goku and his friends protect the Earth from new and stronger enemies, they work hard to hone their skills and surpass their limits. 

That’s basically the main synopsis of the first arc of this series. There’s a lot more story involved after this, but for the sake of not spoiling it, I’ll go right into my real thoughts. 

Whenever you think of the word “anime,” chances are this series is one of the first titles that immediately come to mind. It’s easy to see why everyone, whether they’re fans of the franchise or not, recognizes characters like Goku and knows what the show is generally about. 

Even though it’s a sequel series, you can watch this show first and still have a good understanding of what “Dragon Ball” is. It’s because of this that it’s seen as one of the best sequel series as it does what any good continuation should do, which is further the story. In a universe with hundreds of characters and a 291 episode runtime, the series is able to stand on its own while still remaining faithful to its roots. 

In a world where someone can collect seven dragon balls to summon a celestial dragon for limitless wishes, you’d expect that a lot more could be done in this universe. Which is the case as this show goes above and beyond the base concept with the stories it creates. Despite being similar to the original series with its world and humor, “Dragon Ball Z” stands out with its more mature tone and larger narratives. As expected this allowed the series to showcase more violent action, life-threatening stakes, and even have beloved characters getting killed off on screen. It’s because of those very reasons why the show has a more adult edge to it. The series is also monumental for massively expanding on the lore of the universe. Introducing characters and elements that have grown to be major parts of the franchise to this day.

It is often seen as the originator of classic anime shonen tropes. Those include screaming loudly while powering up, holding the enemy back until someone strong like Goku shows up, and yelling out the names of finishing moves while doing them. I was surprised at how many of these tropes are still being done in tons of other shonen series. 

The story arcs are usually set up where a big villain shows up and wreaks havoc, forcing the characters to get stronger and learn new moves to take them down. Storylines organized like this do feel very monster of the week, and there are filler episodes to be found throughout the show. But it didn’t matter because the entertainment value and heightened stakes that came with it kept the show engaging. I’ll admit I was greatly impressed by the amount of villains and conflicts that were introduced in this show. They range from large-scale threats like the dreaded Frieza and Majin Buu to intimidating adversaries like Cell and the androids. Characters like this may seem outlandish, but the series writes them in a way that makes them both threatening and entertaining to watch. 

This also brings me to one of my biggest reasons why this series is so phenomenal. Not only does “Dragon Ball Z” have good characters, big villains, and an engaging story, it’s also epic. I mean gigantically epic! If you can see these battles play out on a large screen, do it! Seeing these characters go up against seemingly undefeatable threats in numerous grand scale locations has me on the edge of my seat every time I watch them. I’m also impressed when I found out how the animation was done in the 1980s and wasn’t shown in America until years later. It really shows how this series stood the test of time even in the modern era. Everything from the animation to the voice acting makes this series one of the top action series ever made.

Courtesy of Funimation

Another big element that plays a factor in the show is the characters that it creates and establishes. While a lot of the original cast from the prior series is given focus, this series also takes time to introduce the new generation that will go on to have major arcs as the story progresses. I found these to be my favorite characters to focus on, particularly Gohan whose story arc of going from a defenseless child to one of the strongest fighters on Earth to be massively engaging. This aspect is handled so well you can’t help but root for these characters when they make a breakthrough or do something monumental. I especially loved the story arcs surrounding characters like Piccolo and Vegeta. While I do enjoy characters such as Goku, Krillin, and Trunks. Piccolo and Vegeta stand out to me the most because they’re given a lot of time and development to their characters. Both of them start out as adversaries of the series, but when more dangerous foes come into the picture, this creates an alliance of convenience that forces them to work with the main characters to overcome the new threat. As a fan of action series, there’s something really cool about seeing these dangerous enemies join forces with our heroes to defeat a greater evil. Ultimately becoming allies to take on future challenges. 

Courtesy of David Eckstein-Schoemann

While there are people that look at this series as nothing but aliens fighting while screaming like banshees. When you sit down to watch it, you get invested with how they can tell an epic story with simple yet likable characters. “Dragon Ball Z” has had a lasting impression on the world, not just in other anime but all sorts of media in general. Its style and tropes have been repeated and parodied numerous times over the years. It really shows the number of people who still want to imitate and capture the essence of one of the biggest anime of all time. Despite airing during a time where anime wasn’t well known, it’s thanks to this series that it got the ball rolling for hundreds of other series to have an impact on pop culture. 

Courtesy of David Eckstein-Schoemann

To this day people still regard it as one of the best anime series of all time. Based on the influence it’s had on other creators and writers it’s not hard to see why. It’s got fantastic characters, bold action, as well as a large scope and story that anyone can get invested in. This franchise has been through multiple avenues throughout the years, but no one will ever forget the epicness that is “Dragon Ball Z”!

Rating: 5 out of 5 Sails


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