Well, every other day it seems, I learn something new about this show…
Whilst trolling around on the ol’ YT recently, I came across a trailer for the fast-approaching new DBZ movie, BATTLE OF THE GODS. I haven’t had an opportunity to comment on that flick yet (and doing so feels doubly-apt now that I’ve learned a bit more about some of DRAGON BALL’s mythological inspirations - - more on those in sec), and the most salient point now is actually Goku’s Japanese VO actor. Having grown up on one dub or another, it was honestly shocking to hear him speaking with such a shrill, feminine voice that sounded somewhere between Ed Elric’s and Monkey D. Luffy’s.
For me, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the endless “sub vs. dub” debate. I do believe that there really are cases where the dub actually makes the material more enjoyable. I felt that way about YU YU HAKUSHO… and I absolutely feel that way about DBZ, now. I don’t care if Nozawa's the originator of this role. I’m going to be stubborn here and say that she just doesn’t like Goku to me. At all. And I’m never watching the sub, ever again. Nuh-uh.
On the loftier level I alluded to above, this episode really reinforces the show’s roots in world religion for me. A month or two back, I finally got around to reading the Hindu epic, the RAMAYANA, and it was really an eye-opening experience, because it read exactly like a superhero adventure. Heroes fighting demons with special weapons, super-moves with their own highly-descriptive shotc alls, et cetera... it all seemed remarkably familiar. The chain of inspiration is pretty solid, of course, with the RAMAYANA's Monkey God Hanuman inspiring the Monkey King of JOURNEY TO THE WEST; which, as everybody knows, inspired DRAGON BALL in turn.
Why does the connection seem especially pronounced here, though? Well, look past the heroic sacrifice that’s the center point of this episode and it’s hard not to see more significance in a lot of notions that are just thrown out offhandedly. Goku accepts his own death without any fear, confident in knowing that he’ll just be reincarnated soon enough in what might as well be this world’s equivalent of the Samsara cycle. Vegeta and Napa are casually introduced in what might as well be another plane of existence, just as Goku just sort-of casually ambles to yet another plane.... and so on.
The parallels are really hard to miss (even while Goku's squeaky voice is bugging you out).