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DRAGON BALL Z #6 - - Watch & Learn

So what does DBZ have to say about death?

I can’t recall the… logistics of death and resurrection ever being brought up in the ongoing comparison between shonen manga and superhero comics. Certainly, otaku are wont to proudly proclaim that “dead is dead” is anime - - even though I can point to plenty of instances that blatantly contradict that (Genkai, Elder Toguro, et cetera). I’d say the more pointed difference lies in how death is treated in shonen; because from BLEACH to YU YU HAKUSHO, and then to fare that’s an age-level up like GANTZ or DEATH NOTE, the afterlife often gets treated as just another place for our heroes to hang around.

Certainly, this likely comes down a difference in Eastern and Western religions. On a more surface level, though, it’s just plain amusing to see this show explicitly present its hero’s death as him more-or-less just sitting on the bench for a while.

Superman’s death was truly an event back in the 90’s (even though it was later revealed that he was just sleeping, but whatever), but most other super hero deaths feel like the character’s just taking some sort of meta-fictional vacation that the in-text story simply provides a pretext for. When Batman or Captain America died, for example, fans might as well have set timers to mark how long it’d take them to return.

So, with that in mind, it absolutely tickles me when all the Z-Fighters apply this out-of-text attitude to an in-the-text tragedy. Sure, Gohan cries over the loss of his Dad, and Krillin feels pretty bummed about his best friend’s passing… but there isn’t much wailing lamentation to be found otherwise. Gathering the Dragon Balls and wishing Goku back is just a foregone conclusion at this. The only question is whether he’ll be gone for the full one-year period, or if he’ll be back sooner (pending a speedier contract negation, perhaps?)

Watch this episode, "No Time Like the Present" here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

zaldaron Feb. 13, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.

see you can't use Dragon Ball Z or shonen to say how anime treats death though....in GOOD anime dead does mean dead...;).

YotaruVegetaon Feb. 13, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.

The thing with Superhero resurrections in Marvel in DC is that these characters are seen as too valuable to leave dead for too long. Now that superhero movies are as big as they've ever been, we can't even pretend that characters are really going to die.

In creator owned series, you don't necessarily have the guarantee that every character will stick around, so Akira Toriyama could've killed Goku early and continued on. He has less people to answer to!

I think an American comic it could be compared to is Invincible, which is a bloody mess, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if important characters were slaughtered.

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