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Ballz Deep

Steve gets intimately close to Dragon Ball Z, for science!

Badass, right?
Badass, right?

Dragon Ball Z has all the right kind of crazy to get into, but it lacks any continuity or character consequences to make the show more enticing beyond watching two dudes fight on an exploding planet. That’s what Dragon Ball Z is all about; muscular men throwing one another through mountains and making the planet shake just by throwing a punch. The plot holes and broken narrative elements are so numerous it almost seems intentional. Yes, we can laugh at the widely known goofy moments like, “It’s over 9,000!”, but lets take a closer look. I’m embarking on an epic quest to list what exactly is wrong with Dragon Ball Z. Taking a critical approach to one of Anime’s most beloved franchises is what the people want. For example, it took way longer for Namek to explode than five minutes. Or did it!?

#28 Gohan’s Reversal:

A large complaint I have with Dragon Ball Z is the gross mishandling of characters. It’s a widely accepted argument that Dragon Ball Z should have ended with the Cell Saga. Ending the show there would have brought a satisfying conclusion to the series. Regular people finally got a first-hand look at the power of the Z-warriors; Vegeta found redemption for his sins, and Goku was killed and surpassed by his son. Gohan was built up from the beginning. We’ve seen potential in his character through fights with Vegeta, the Ginyu Force, and Frieza. Never did Gohan play any major role in killing more important villains, but since the fight with Raditz, we’ve been teased that Gohan will most likely assume his father’s role eventually.

Gohan walked out of the Cell Saga as the most important character.
Gohan walked out of the Cell Saga as the most important character.

This magical ending did indeed happen. Dragon Ball Z unfortunately lived on with the purpose of undoing every story arch that was concluded thus far. Gohan did an about-face. When we last left Gohan, he was the most badass character in the series. Not to mention he was the same age of the bulk of the audience. Now he’s going to high school and spending his off time playing superhero. The Great Saiyaman Saga is the worst filler segment across the Dragon Ball franchise as a whole. Gohan didn’t develop as character, nor was he ever in any danger while fighting humans. He becomes one of the weaker characters in the series and possibly the most annoying. With Gohan being an adult, he lost the only interesting thing he had going for him. The only thing to come out of The Great Saiyaman Saga was Videl, who arguably just serves the purpose of a whom to produce another Saiyan character later on.

#82 Vegeta is a bitch

The one who is sold as the badass of the series is actually the biggest crybaby. Once a saga, Vegeta has to have his obligatory speech. Prince of all Saiyans, check, part of a warrior race, check, Goku is a low-level clown, check. Dude, we get it! Vegeta is like the most popular girl in highschool’s best friend. She’s still really pretty and gets a lot of attention, but will always live in the shadow of her friend. She knows she’ll never move up the chain. Vegeta has pride, but should keep it to himself more often.

#101 Goku believes he can’t breathe in space

The Saiyan’s have proved they can breathe in space on multiple occasions. Our first example (in terms of timeline) is when Frieza committed the genocide against the Saiyans. Here, we saw Bardock challenge Frieza…in space. In the Saiyan Saga, we see Vegeta and Nappa blow up a planet while standing on their space pods. During the three years before the Androids appeared, Vegeta transformed into a Super Saiyan in space.

When Frieza realized he couldn’t defeat Goku in battle, he came up with a plan to destroy the planet they were on. After a massive blow to the planet’s core, it would explode in mere minutes. After the planet was gone, Goku wouldn’t have any more air to breathe. However, the question of whether or not Goku can survive the resulting explosion isn’t ever asked. Later on, the Z Warriors are surprised Buu came out of Earth’s explosion. Maybe Frieza doesn’t remember the genocide he committed? Perhaps he didn’t know Bardock was a Saiyan? I don’t know. Either every Saiyan aside from Goku can breathe in space, or he just took Frieza’s word for it. I don’t blame him for not wanting to test out the theory.

#173 Regeneration doesn’t matter

No big deal.
No big deal.

After the battles with Frieza and the Androids, the writers felt they needed a new avenue to display a character’s strength. Blowing up planets is old news. Hell, Krillen can probably do it. But how would characters deal with being blown up? We saw basic iterations of this concept with Piccolo. I never understood the durability of a Namekian. Piccolo explained that if his head remained intact, he could heal. This doesn’t seem to be the case with scores of Namekians being beaten to death by Frieza and his men. Piccolo himself was killed by a blast that didn’t even amputate anything. Perhaps internal damage plays a role?

Cell takes this to the next level by being able to reform so long as a single cell is alive. Even after he self-destructs in a last-ditch effort to kill Gohan, Cell comes back for more. As mentioned earlier, Buu destroys several planets while on them and manages to regenerate as good as new. Regenerating bad guys is the new power-up. It’s a visual display of power their opponent can show. When Gohan first transformed, he blew Cell in half. The same goes for the fight between Vegito and Super Buu. Virtually every attack dealt by Vegito tore Majin Buu apart. Majin Buu especially suffers from being blown up, arms amputated, face smashed in, and numerous horrible injuries merely to serve the purpose of what a badass he was, or his opponent, depending on who was winning that episode. You would think one of the non-regenerating characters would become a casualty at some point.

Those are just a few issues with one of Anime’s best. Come back later when I talked about who is more lame between The Gold Fighter and The Great Saiyaman. What are your favorite goofs of the series? Post below!

AURON570on July 6, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
cool article. I think I was too young when I was watching DBZ to actually care about details and critiquing the story and stuff. It was cool, being able to fly, throw balls of energy and have an aura around you. Iduno, I guess for me DBZ is just one of those things that are part of my childhood and are in the past. DBZ has definitely left its mark though.
YotaruVegetaon July 6, 2011 at 3:54 p.m.
I hereby reject this exercise completely!
ojeteon July 6, 2011 at 4:33 p.m.
The whole thing about Goku not being able to breathe in space while other saiyans can is a (kind of epic) fail the anime had. All those references you mention about saiyans flying through space breathing are just things that happened in the anime. Bardock appear in the manga series just in a panel and Vegeta never trained on the moon, neither blow a planet with nappa. And although those things DID happen in the anime, the tv show was adapting the manga and something as important as the end of the fight with Freezer (wich was, in my opinion the biggest and coolest fight Goku ever got) couldn't be changed. The climax in the end was that Goku have to run to the spaceship before everything was blown away. Things like that can't be changed.
 
Sorry for my bad english, I tried my best. I hope you can at least understand it.
Daniel_Newton moderator on July 6, 2011 at 4:47 p.m.

The breathing in space thing is always a tough one, I guess you'd have to compare the manga to the anime, but it might be the case that every time a Saiyan was seen breathing in space it was filler. Even though Toriyama was involved with the Bardock special, I don't know how much of it he actually oversaw.

I think I can help with the Namek thing though. If I remember correctly, there are different types of Namekians. Piccolo and Nail are warrior-types, so they can regenerate, while most Nameks aren't. Kami, Guru and Dende have more magic-like abilities instead, like being able to heal or create Dragon Balls.

Fat_Magnumon July 6, 2011 at 4:50 p.m.
Yeah, I checked out after the Cell saga. Just seemed like a good place to stop watching/caring. I came back a while later and vaguely remember Gohan running around like a power ranger and something about a fat guy made of bubblegum who was apparently the most powerful thing ever.  
 
It wasn't any less crazy than those things before I saw all that, I was just getting older and probably didn't think it was 'cool'. Luckily those attitudes end with junior high. =P
EpicSteveon July 6, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.

To clarify, we aren't talking about the Manga at all.

Hockeymask27on July 6, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
@epicsteve said:

To clarify, we aren't talking about the Manga at all.

This title is gold. Also I 'll love dbz no matter the plot holes tell I die.
Nasar7on July 6, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
Did you capture that Gohan pic off a fansub? 
 
Joking aside, I agree that DBZ should have ended after the Cell saga. It had plenty of funny moments after that, but none that were very significant. And as a kid, Gohan was my favorite character and I felt pretty cheated when they introduced Goten and Trunks going super saiyan at like 8 years old. The commonly held belief is that Toriyama wanted to make DBZ Gohan-centric but caved due to Goku's popularity. It's a real shame. 
Kuma_From_Argentinaon July 6, 2011 at 5:55 p.m.
Piccolo was awesome since he was a Fighter Clan Namek, and he is all around badass.... 
 
The other nameks were either of the p$%&$ clan or they werent as awesome as Piccolo
msavoon July 6, 2011 at 6:08 p.m.

Not every single namekian has the ability to regenerate their limbs. I think Nail tells Frieza something to that effect when he grows back his hand.

msavoon July 6, 2011 at 6:11 p.m.

Oh and DBZ should have ended after the Frieza saga.

shamrollon July 6, 2011 at 6:12 p.m.
Good read. 
My problem with DBZ was how long it took to resolve anything.  Frieza said the planet would blow up in a few minutes but it took like 10 episodes!!!  Half the show is everyone acting like their constipated.  With that said, DBZ was the show that first got me into anime.
ojeteon July 6, 2011 at 6:17 p.m.
@epicsteve said:

To clarify, we aren't talking about the Manga at all.

Ok, but then don't take as a plot hole something that is like that just because the Anime sucks.
 
@re_player92 said:

Oh and DBZ should have ended after the Frieza saga.


+1
Destinyheroknighton July 6, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.

@epicsteve said:

To clarify, we aren't talking about the Manga at all.

Why not? Its the main canon, also the creator said Sayians can't breathe in space (they just have air in there KI barrier)

A green barrier. This is an ability utilized by the infant Broly during the destruction of Planet Vegeta. It allowed Paragus and Broly to escape into the vacuum of space, where Saiyans cannot survive. (Daizenshuu 6, p.106)
msavoon July 6, 2011 at 7:14 p.m.

@ojete: Correct me if I'm wrong, not really into manga, but wasn't that the original stopping point in the manga and due to the series popularity they continued on? I mean when you see the Frieza saga you can see they are wrapping it up. Vegeta is dead and has given a very heart felt speech to Goku, Goku is the one and only saiyan to turn into a super saiyan proving that he is the one unique one out of the bunch, Frieza the main villain dies and the fate of Goku is left mysterious.

Lurkeroon July 6, 2011 at 7:17 p.m.
I love DBZ, but I was also young when I watched it religiously. It still has its moments that I like to come back to (FATHER! YOU'RE GOING TO DESTROY THE WHOLE PLANET!), but yeah, its long running shonen action show.
 
The part where Fieza said the planet would blow up in 5 minutes and it took several episodes in when I learned how goofy DBZ is. When all the villains started regenerating is when I learned how redundant the show is. After the Cell Saga I pretty much stop paying attention, and I only saw a handful of episodes from DBZGT.
ThePhilatronon July 6, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.

Whether or not you care about the manga, knowing where and why the anime and its inspiration deviate is integral to understanding such significant plot holes. It's hard to blame the anime for taking the liberty of having Saiyans breathing in space for example, when they might not have been aware that it would cause issues down the road. It's hard to know what consistency issues are important when you don't know where the story is headed.

EpicSteveon July 6, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.

@ojete said:

@epicsteve said:

To clarify, we aren't talking about the Manga at all.

Ok, but then don't take as a plot hole something that is like that just because the Anime sucks.

@re_player92 said:

Oh and DBZ should have ended after the Frieza saga.

+1

It is a plot hole. The anime is a standalone product. The intro doesn't have some obvious message that says "Hey, read the Manga for the plot portion." It's like pointing out bullshit in Star Wars and having fans bring up extended fiction. I'm aware the anime is an adaptation of a book. However, that doesn't excuse sloppy presentation. DBZ also has had more time that virtually any other show in existence to establish plot, clocking in at 294 episodes. Instead time is spent powering up and watching poor excuses for comic relief.

calcuselesson July 6, 2011 at 8:27 p.m.
Hey Steve-o, replace all those breath's with breathe's.
 
drfeelgood91on July 6, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
Vegeta is by no means a bitch!

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