Sunday, October 2, 2016

Superhero Media: Dragonball Z - Season 1

There's something I've been known to say on occasion; that, as much as I like the web-series Dragonball Z - The Abridged Series (very funny parody series made with love, by fans), there is no point watching DBZA if you haven't seen Dragonball Z, equally, there is little-to-no point watching Dragonball Z if you've never watched Dragonball. This contention gains me a bit of ire, but if there's one thing that sells my argument, it's the first season of Dragonball Z. Watching it again after having seen the entirety of Dragonball, Dragonball Z has a lot more to enjoy, like Launch, Yajirobe's return during the Vegeta fight and just how shocking the Piccolo/Goku team-up is. I mean, holy shit, Nappa takes out both Tien and Piccolo, just how powerful is he? Then Goku takes out Nappa in one move, that's some next-level shit right there. Without the prior experience with Dragonball, there's no connection to the characters; who are these guys? Why do I care that they died? Why does Yamcha suck so much? (Pro Tip: he doesn't, he's about the 5th most powerful guy on the planet and could best a room-full of fighters without powering up, it's just that the Saiyans are that much more powerful). 

So, what about the story then? Well, there's a lot more preparing to fight than actual fighting, which can be annoying for the action-thirsty, but I'm always in favour of character development and Piccolo especially has one heck of an arc in this first season; going from world-conqueror to world-defender in twelve months. Also, it would be remiss to assume that any episode between the death of Raditz and the arrival of Vegeta and Nappa is filler. The Princess Snake episode is one for the books, in the uncut versions that I've been watching, one of her handmaidens demonstrates playing Russian Roulette to Goku and blows her brains out... right on screen! In this programme that was broadcast for children in the West! King Kai is always good value and the introduction of the afterlife and alien worlds broadens the Dragonball world further from the original; all-in-all, a good start to the series. 
Is this a good place to start for new fans? Probably not. The Trunks Saga has more action and jumps into a better story-line straight away, plus has less Goku, which is always a bonus to me. What the Saiyan and Vegeta Sagas do well is transition from the mood and tropes of Dragonball to Dragonball Z. For example, the Kamehameha/Gallic Gun climax to the Vegeta/Goku fight would never have happened in the original show, there would have been way more magic and size-changing. Still, as far as DBZ seasons go, this first one will probably be higher on my re-watching list than the next couple. 

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