Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nostalgia-Dragonball Z

Lately, having been swept by a wave of nostalgia, I became curious in shows that I liked as a kid. Were they really as good as I remembered them, or as bad as I remembered them? I decided to rewatch some of these shows to see if my opinion of them has changed since I was a kid.

Dragon Ball Z-Plot Summary

The story is about Goku, a cheerful childish young man (who quite frankly married way too early and rashly) whose peaceful life is drastically changed when his brother suddenly shows up, kidnaps his son, and reveals that 1) Goku is an alien, 2) was sent to Earth to commit genocide and sell the planet to the highest bidder, and 3) there is a reason why Goku is unbelievably stupid (brain damage from an injury as a child). This event induces an onslaught of villains, that Goku along with his son Gohan, and his friends Krillin, Piccolo, etc must defeat to protect the universe, going from the strongest being on Earth to being the strongest being in the universe.

Dragon Ball Z- My thoughts as a kid 

Like I said earlier, this was my favorite show as a kid. I think what impressed me about it as a kid was that it had an ongoing plot. I remember one time explaining a meltdown I had when I missed an episode that “it was not like other shows where it didn’t matter if you missed an episode; if you missed an episode of Dragon Ball Z, you would be completely lost the next episode (now I know that’s not true, considering the pacing of this series) I actually didn’t start this series until the very last arc, and only saw the first two arcs in reruns,  so I missed a good portion of the series, including the battle between Goku and Freeza.

Dragon Ball Z-My thoughts now

I actually started this process back in May, after randomly seeing a clip of the opening in a video. On a whim I watched the first episode again and found that I actually enjoyed it MORE now than I did as a kid, because now I can make fun of it. This is a series that I sometimes have a hard time justifying liking, because I know it’s stupid. It’s ridiculous, over-the-top, corny, drawn out, and riddled with plot holes big enough to drive semi trucks into. And God bless every ridiculous minute of it.

I could rant on and on however about why I still love about the series. In fact I could create an entire blog site dedicated to ranting about this cheesy show, but since I’m not, I’ll briefly explain my reasons for liking this show despite being hyped up on steroids.
One thing about the series is the setting. The series predominantly takes place on Earth, though obviously an alternate version of Earth. The series manages to combine science fiction, fantasy, and the kung fu genre into a single setting without any elements ever seeming awkward or out of place, giving the series a ‘Jurassic Park meets Star Wars meets fairy tale meets lame kung fu movie’ feel to it. I find that popular stories tend to create an entire world from scratch i.e. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pok√©mon and this series is no exception. It has its own timeline, own map (which is vastly different  from ours) own laws of physics and so on.
Another thing is the characters. The story has a huge supporting cast, which range from annoying, bland, and useless to complex, amazing and dependable. Personally, I think the most well-written characters are Piccolo, Gohan, Vegeta, and Trunks. Out of all the characters, they seem to change the most in the series and seem to be the most well-developed, and that includes Goku. As for the characters that frankly have no point in being in the series, unfortunately it is impossible to write them out of the story without turning the cast into massive dicks because they can always be resurrected with the dragon balls.
In spite of the unintentionally bad nature of the series, it was one of those rare cartoons on American television that took itself and its audience seriously (well okay, the dub didn’t ALWAYS take its audience seriously) and that in itself is commendable. The series is stone cold, with the majority of comic relief being imposed on it by the dub. They actually had the balls to kill the main character in the first SIX episodes of the series. That being said, there are a lot of extremely tragic and very touching scenes in the series. I think the most tragic scenes are both the times Vegeta dies and when Piccolo first dies. There are several others, but these stood out in my mind in actually reducing me to tears. Of course this is not including both the specials, which are both the absolute beyond doubt SADDEST moments in the series.
While this may be going a bit way too much in depth, it’s something that impresses me so much about the series that I had to talk about it and that is the music. This series is the only one I’ve ever heard of to have two different soundtracks, the English and the original one. The English dub hired a composer to write background music for the series; Bruce Falconer. The music has a techno rock feel to it, which blends in with the story really nicely. However the Japanese music is ultimately superior. It has an epic space opera feeling to it, featuring a full orchestra and choir (complete with Gregorian chanting and an Opera-style vocals). My favorite pieces are ‘Requiem~ to those who meet their end’ and ‘The Formidable Warrior, The Saiyan’, which really should be checked out by ANYONE who enjoys classical music, and not just DBZ fans. The music makes the series epic, classic and cinematic.
 Dragon Ball Z, while being utterly ridiculously and over the top, had a lot of heart. Full of morals about sacrifice, hard work, redemption and loyalty, it is as inspiring as it is stupid, ultimately making it a good series, and still one of my favorites.

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