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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!

afrokolaon July 6, 2011 at 10:57 p.m.

The biggest problem with Dragon Ball Z, or Dragon Ball as a whole really, is that Akira Toriyama kept on making it for the money. His original plan to end the series after the Frieza saga was only stalled because Shonen Jump asked him to keep making it. Seeing as Dragon Ball was their biggest seller for so many years, I can't really say I blame the Jump executives, but Toriyama's shit attitude about Dragon Ball has always rubbed me the wrong way. I still kind of wish we could have read the ending he originally had in mind for the series, but I guess we'll never know.

Gerhabioon July 7, 2011 at 2:15 a.m.

My favorite plot holes are when they blow up the moon twice and how none of the power-level/transformation dynamics make sense.

ALSO WHY DIDN'T GOHAN EVER TRANSFORM INTO SSJ2 AS AN ADULT EVEN WHEN IT COULD HAVE SAVED HIS LIFE? WHY?!

Still, I love DBZ.

Ryokanon July 7, 2011 at 2:25 a.m.

Great Article.  
 
Lot of memetic mutation in there ! ;-)
ojeteon July 7, 2011 at 2:33 a.m.
@re_player92 said:

@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.

Yeah, Toriyama wanted to ended there but they "push him" a little bit to continue the series. And then at the end of the next arc the same thing happened.
 
It would be perfect if the series had ended up there, in Namek, even with Goku dying after killing Frieza. Frieza was the ultimate enemy to Goku, a pure evil being who was the strongest guy in the universe. And in that time, when Goku was the only "legendary super saiyan" everything has much more sense.
ojeteon July 7, 2011 at 2:49 a.m.
@epicsteve said:

@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.

I just said that you can't take just the anime as a standalone product as long as it's an adaptation from Manga. If the plot holes came from the filler (and the DBZ filler was one of the worst thing anyone has ever done to humanity) you can't say they are "Dragon Ball" plotholes, they are just things that came up wrong because the people making the TV show had no idea of what they were doing. There are a lot of bigger and more obvious plot holes in Dragon ball (when the hyperbolic time chamber first appeared it is said that only two people can be there at once. Later in the boo saga, four people enter at the same time -goten, trunks, piccolo and boo) than things that happened "just in the anime".
matti00on July 7, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.

I never got it anyway, my friend used to watch DBZ and I'd just sit through it cause I knew Tenchi was on next. Although I rarely watch any modern shoujo either so I think that's just what I'm into

golguinon July 7, 2011 at 6:40 a.m.

I came because of the title, but I read because I recently saw Kai. It was the first time I saw Dragon Ball Z completely.

Popon July 7, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.
Dragon Ball Z is awesome and all but you should watch Dragon Ball that's a pretty good too, it was the first anime series I ever watch and it's probably still my favorite. It tells the story about Goku and how he grows up (well sort of) it has kids flying through God's brother, unending towers and nose bleeds :D.
bonkerson July 7, 2011 at 10 a.m.
I loved DBZ as a kid; it's just plain fun to watch.
 
P.S Vegeta will beat your ass.
difficluson July 7, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
Love the article. Keep it up dude!
Aaron_Gon July 8, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.

Really good article Steve.

LewisLongshankson July 9, 2011 at 5:08 a.m.
Vegeta was the only character that made DBZ worth watching past the Cell Saga because, while he had turned good, his rivalry with Goku hadn't been resolved. His character still was an arrogant douche as well. I like how that was eventually resolved by the end when the two were forced to put aside their differences and fuse. 
 
Although it is absolutely lame what became of Gohan otherwise. Geeky High School Teenager phase, Mystic form and Great Saiyaman - it all blew hard.
SARRISSon July 9, 2011 at 11:45 p.m.

can someone explain the numbering system here?

ookami597on Dec. 16, 2013 at 8:14 p.m.

Where do I begin? I recall the dragon telling everyone he couldn't stop the saiyin invasion cause it was beyond Kami's power? They then go on to do ridiculous things with the Earth dragon balls for the rest of the series, wishing people back to life on different planets and moving entire races across the universe for instance. How the hell did 17 survive cell's death twice? He is seen at the end giving energy to a spirit bomb which I don't even know how that's possible. He was still in 17 when cell blew himself up? Speaking of which, my fav: why didn't Goku just go back to Earth after teleporting cell to King Kai's? They sit there and talk for like 30 sec. Instant Transmission is supposed to be....INSTANT

kn83on May 1, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.

@ookami597: A lot of that stuff can be explained.

1. It is stated that the dragonballs can't alter the nature of someone stronger than their maker. Bringing people back to life, moving people to different locations, etc. is not changing their nature, so it is within the dragon's power.

2. 17 died when cell blew himself up. He was wished back to life by Krillin after the Cell Games.

3. As of the Goku's sacrifice, I'm guessing that was for drama lol.

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