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Goten is a anime/manga character in the Dragon Ball franchise
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I have never had the most positive opinion of Dragon Ball Z. My experience with the series was initially restricted to the first 16 episodes of Vegeta’s invasion of earth, at which point I somewhat lost interest.

Backtracking for no particular reason (that I can remember), I encountered Dragon Ball, Toriyama’s original series, and loved its quirkiness enough to give its sequel another go; I went as far as the Freeza saga before finally calling its quits.

Before today, my thoughts on Dragon ball as a franchise (precluding the original Dragon Ball) pretty much aligned with those of the numerous DBZ haters the internet has been known to produce, most of whom cannot stand its exaggerated tropes.

Again, that was before today, before I actually saw Dragon Ball Kai, a series that just might have transformed my entire outlook on Akira Toriyama’s story, so much so that it somehow compelled me to take a closer look at Fairy Tail.

DRAGON BALL KAI
My first encounter with Dragon Ball Kai began with Gohan and his journey to school upon the back of his nimbus cloud. I knew something was terribly wrong almost immediately.

It wasn’t just the quirkiness of watching Gohan bring justice to the streets in his silly Saiyaman costume but the miraculous and rather casual return of the twice (thrice?) dead Goku and even the manner in which the confrontation with Babiddi and his minions played out.

Basically every thought I had ever had about just how campy, cheesy and cliché’ Dragonball Z could become seemed to manifest in the 17 or so episodes of Dragonball Kai I watched.

And it was awesome; a reaction that my brain couldn’t quite explain and which, even now, I can’t help but presume might have been a fluke on the part of this specific set of episodes.

+THE PLOT:
Fighters from all around the world are summoned to partake in a test of skill and strength in the World Martial Arts Tournament; when an ancient and malevolent evil threatens the world, the strongest among them all will rise to defend their home against the dark machinations of a power hungry sorcerer.

+REVIEW:
I don’t know if that plot description does this series justice, at least as far as the episodes I watched are concerned; because, to an extent, Kai had so much more going for it than that particular synopsis describes, even while doing so little in the same breath.

-The characters
DB Kai’s characters single handedly sold the show to me; I know the series is just DBZ re-mastered but I do not remember enjoying the DBZ cast this much in my original encounter with the universe.

Kai’s cast is energetic and full of life, bringing less depth of story and more fun and excitement. I was especially taken by Trunks and Goten, whose rivalry was an interesting and light hearted take upon the conflict between their fathers.

Mr. Satan was infinitely humorous, not only in his show of cowardice but the various interactions he had with his daughter Videl and her new comrades; and Gohan, I was caught a little off guard by his age, seeing as the last time I saw him, he was off training with Picollo in preparation for Vegeta’s arrival, and doing more crying than actual fighting.

Considering his curret power and age, one does question the decision to bring Goku back to the fold; with the younger cast finally burgeoning and having come into their own, it would have made more sense to bury the past and all its heroes, making way for the new generation (like most shonen tries to do).

And any nostalgia among fans that cannot see a dragonball  universe without Goku could have been easily satiated with Goten, a Goku facsimile if there ever was one and the perfect opportunity to inject the innocence of DragonBall back into the aging series.

None the less I can’t complain, because even Goku’s presence aided rather than harmed this arc.

-The Story
‘What Story?"’ is what I would have said about Dragon Ball in the past, and speaking truthfully that hasn’t changed. That is what my brain is struggling to reconcile about Dragon Ball Kai.

The majority of the elements that this show uses I have spent considerable time complaining about and raging against in various other anime; these tropes, the cheesy execution of plots, the somewhat messy pacing, I should have been screaming (at least internally) at Dragon Ball Kai as I watched it.

And my brain struggled to remind me of how much I hated this sort of story execution in other anime, how many manga had irritated me by telling the exact sort of story that was playing out in Dragon Ball Kai.

And maybe there is a genius element to all this, a secret technique to presenting this material in a way that, rather than infuriate, immensely entertained me. I can’t even compare Kai to the original DBZ because I didn’t watch this arc in the original format.

Which means I cannot quite determine if Dragon Ball Kai actually does something different from original, or if this arc was just as entertaining in the original Dragon Ball Z.

Whatever case, the arc promised a fun filled story told within the setting of explosive battles at a tournament, followed by the arrival of an ancient evil, and it managed to entertain in every way.

The actual battles were engaging and the conversations revealed enough snippets of information to provide an idea of previous story lines and arcs that might prove relevant at the present.

-The action
You cannot talk about Dragon Ball without mentioning the action; and for a series as old as this, it is surprising just how dynamic and not stale the action is.

One of the reasons that tend to attract me to Naruto is the series’ unique collection of action scenes, usually so much more than a punch/kick/punch/kick approach. Probably because their fairly unreliable levels of durability (at least in comparison to One Piece and Bleach), fight scenes in Naruto are typically dynamic primarily because of the caution each character injects into his or her actions on the battlefield.

And in a series where a kunai to the throat can bring even the strongest enemies to their knees, it makes sense that the fights would progress fairly slowly, with each step planned, well thought out and executed with thorough forethought. 

Dragon Ball Kai reminded me of Naruto, not on its pacing but the variations that it infused within each fight scene; for a series this old, I expected several minutes worth of characters blurring about each other, and throwing endless flurries of invisible fists and kicks at each other.

As such it was surprising how almost grounded the fighting was, at least within the tournament setting, the moves varying with the passing of time, making even the long winded battles worth watching.

Again, I cannot tell if this is the effect of Dragon Ball Kai or if the original series actually got his good. Whatever the case, I could watch these aliens beat the daylights out of each other all day.

And did I mention how awesome Trunks and Goten were.

+VERDICT:
Dragon Ball Kai is fun, and it is the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously that makes this arc work so well. Yes, it is silly to an extent, yet the show chooses to not only accept but utilize that silliness to great effect.

Dragon Ball Kai, or at least his arc, is the sort of show you can watch on a lazy Saturday, where nothing particular piques you interest and you simply wish to immerse yourself in a little bit of light fun.

+RATING: 8/10, I am still in awe. The idea that I could enjoy Dragon Ball Kai this much still baffles me. Again, I am not quite certain if it is this arc in particular that is simply that entertaining, or if the rest of the series maintains this same quality of fun.

Barely halfway through this saga, I cannot rule out the possibility of finding disappointment once I finally push through the rest of the arc, Here’s to hopping that the series maintains this same quality.

And who knows. I just might decide to backtrack and catch up on the entire series, starting from the Frieza finale onwards.

THE FAIRY TAIL COMPARISON
IN the few short years that I have been reading and watching Fairy Tail, it never crossed my mind to juxtapose Fairy Tail against Dragon Ball regarding any of its incarnations; not only because my experience with Dragon Ball was limited, but the two series, well, they don’t really have anything in common outside of basic shonen tropes.

Dragon Ball Kai didn’t change that perspective; what it did was allow me to understand the potential that lay within Fairy Tail’s structure, or rather all it could be.

Don’t get me wrong; while I am not as big a Fairy Tail Fan as I once was, I have reached a place where I can appreciate it, where the story telling decisions made do not infuriate me quite as much.

That being said, I cannot ignore the manga’s many flaws. Simply put, Fairy Tail doesn’t know what it should be, or even wants to be; straying back and forth between light hearted tones and very dark concepts, I have been accused before of failing to appreciate the story for what it is: simplistic, comedic, action packed and Ecci.

And the claim is this: if I could only understand the fact that Fairy Tail wasn’t the dark and heavy series I want it to be, I would enjoy it. 

To an extent that is true, but the fault for any confusion on my part with regards to the sort of manga I am reading falls solely on the shoulders of Hiro Mashima; I take Fairy Tail more seriously than it deserves because that is the tone the story has always presented mostly dark and only breaking out the fun and happy stuff at the end of its arcs.

As I was watching Dragonball Kai I couldn’t help but think of Fairy Tail. Because Kai knows what it is, or should be, and makes optimum use of its assets. People like to make excuses for really bad entertainment; think of all those movies that want us to believe they are terrible on purpose, just so they can qualify for the ‘So bad they are good’ Category.

Dragon Ball Kai isn’t bad per say; but it is campy and very cheesy, the sort of cheesiness that so many tried to convince me was intentional and which I disputed as desperate excuses until today.

Clearly Toriyama knew what he was doing, because Kai spends more time making fun of itself than I thought possible. There is a perfect balance between the dark and light elements. And at no point does the story get so serious that you forget what Dragon Ball is meant to be.

This is what Fairy Tail should be; if its so determined to follow its lighthearted side, then why not stick to it, play the strengths that a story within such a genre affords, the way Kai does its thing.

Kai doesn’t as much narrate its story as it does simply play with the plots, throwing characters about, the result being a surprisingly fun filled experience. At the end of the day Kai makes it so it doesn’t matter how its arcs unfold, how the various battles finish or who wins at the end. 

It is all about the journey. And in that regard it can get away with all the ludicrous power-ups it wishes to invent. Because, at the end of the day, the focus on creating a fun filled experience is never lost.

Fairy Tail is a somewhat dark and action packed shonen series that wants to do lighthearted comedy and ecci; and in that regard it fails, because it creates expectations for plot progressions down the sort of murky paths that never payoff the way they should.

It would benefit from not taking itself too seriously. While it isn’t quite terrible, despite having some terrible moments (Because she’s Erza? Really Hiro?) Fairy Tail could truly come into its own, become a true contender for the top spot if only it was less of an overly emotional series, dark and action packed, yet sort of comedic and silly, and instead truly embraced its light and fun side.
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