Monday, November 7, 2016

Superhero Media: Dragonball Z - Season 4

Want to get into DBZ but not sure where to start? Start here. The Garlic Jr, Trunks and Android Sagas make up this season and each of those avoids too much of the stuff that can make DBZ drag from time to time. As I've mentioned before, most DBZ fans are critical of the Garlic Jr arc, because it focuses on Gohan, Piccolo and Krillin rather than Goku, and the enemy is a magical goblin king rather than a killer alien or robot. I personally love the saga for all those reasons, and that Piccolo remembers his size-changing powers from Dragonball, or rather, Toriyama does. The real meat of the series, however, comes in with the Trunks Saga; a cyborged-up Frieza comes to Earth for revenge only to be instantly stopped in his tracks by a band new Super Saiyan that we've never seen before, Trunks. A lot of fans seem to forget just how big this moment really is, Frieza is such a big deal that he's still used as a metric for powerful villains to this day and he's taken out in one episode (rather than dozens) by only the second Super Saiyan that's ever popped up. Sure, later on, Super Saiyans tend to rain from the sky, but in that moment, it's a hell of a big deal and we really want to know who this guy is. 

Also worth a mention, and a watch, are the "downtime" episodes between the departure of Trunks and the arrival of the Androids, Piccolo lives with Gohan, Chi-Chi and Goku while they train and both he and Goku are forced to take driving lessons in what is probably one of the best episodes in the entire series. Once the Androids do arrive, we get some of the best fights in the series and even the child-voiced Android 19 manages to be threatening to the heroes, at least until Vegeta rips his hands off and blasts him to pieces. The strength of this season, especially after the interminable Frieza Saga, is that events happen smoothy and quickly, nothing drags and most fights are over in a couple of episodes. For once, the heroes aren't entirely outclasses by the villains and even manage to work as a team on occasion. Bulma's role in the group is revealed through her technical expertise and even Chi-Chi shows that she's prepared to fight if the need arises, because there is really that much at stake.

When I want to scratch my DBZ itch, I tend to reach for this season before anything else, it's fun, multiple characters get time to develop, the plot advances, the fights aren't too drawn-out and the villains are some of the best we get in DBZ. Sure, without having watched the previous three seasons, you may feel a bit out of place, but it really is a good place to start if the serial nature of the programme bothers you that much. The introduction of Future Trunks, the Androids and even the idea of a DB "multiverse" all hold significance for the future of the story, perhaps more so that Goku fulfilling an ancient prophecy or the defeat for Frieza. Still a good watch, even more than a decade on, highly recommended. 

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