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DRAGON BALL Z #7 - - Watch & Learn

And just whose favorite part of the show is this?

It feels good knowing that I’m right in the middle of G-Man’s favorite portion of DBZ - - that, of course, being Goku’s multi-episode trek through the oft-repetitive rolling inclines of Snake Way.

Again, considering how I now find the… leisurely pacing of this show to be rather charming after years of seeing it as one of the biggest faults, there’s something almost therapeutic about taking in DBZ’s rather low-stakes approach to this highest-stakes drama. I mean, Goku’s been brutally slain and the good guys are banking on a desperate gambit to resurrect him in time to prevent certain genocide from happening on Earth… and, right now, it all boils down to a cheekily-determined jog down an exercise path and an embarrassing dinner party?

If “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” roughly translate to “I’m all right! Don’t worry about me!”, then I guess this show really is espousing a cheerful philosophy from all its varied corners. To wit, considering how JOURNEY TO THE WEST was about the spread of Buddhism, then maybe Goku winds up being something of a Laughing Buddha figure here (who also happens to knows how to kick your ass).

With each re-visited episode, I’m not only seeing more clearly how this show’s ethos extends into its successor, ONE PIECE, but also how it connects to its predecessors in mythology and world religion. It might not seem that significant, at first, but a simple scene like Kami foreseeing his own year-ahead death - - and then ruminating on how his doppelganger Piccolo’s behavior might relate to that - - exudes a specific attitude regarding the supernatural that you really don’t come across in any other major shonen.

On a less high-falootin’ note… I completely forgot about Mr. Popo, and he is about 5000X more offensive than I ever realized he was as a kid. I feel really embarrassed by association. Ooof.

Watch this episode, "Day 1" 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

tristenkw5on Feb. 20, 2013 at 9:27 a.m.

Black person here.

Mr. Popo is not offensive to anyone except people who shouldn't be offended by him. He's a genie man, a mystical thing, not human. Middle-eastern people probably don't associate their race with him even though he wears that type of clothing, and his skin color is pure black, so the association is in most cases with black people. The only black person in Dragon Ball, General Black, sure, is closer to offensive, but even then it's a stretch. Until recently, black people weren't portrayed in anime almost at all, and calling it offensive the few times they are is not a good starting place.

If it's a choice between no blacks in anime or slightly stereotyped ones, there's an obvious answer. One of the largest divides I know is between the African-American and Asian races, and closing that gap is hard (and may never completely happen). In the meantime, I'd rather they use us for character diversity than political correctness.

AURON570on Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:52 p.m.

What? How, in any way, is One Piece a successor to Dragon Ball Z, aside from Oda being inspired and influenced by Toriyama's work?

I guess if you're referring to the general tone of each show, then I guess in an extremely general sense they might be similar. But being similar to something doesn't equate it being a successor to it.

Edit: upon rereading your sentence:

how this show’s ethos extends into its successor, ONE PIECE, but also how it connects to its predecessors in mythology and world religion.

It sounds like you want to refer to Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT as the predecessors, but I really don't see why you throw in One Piece as its successor.

Edit: Wait.. maybe you think that One Piece and Dragon Ball Z are by the same creator? o.O"

Lurkeroon Feb. 20, 2013 at 1:27 p.m.

I don't remember how many episodes Goku spent running on Snakeway, but even as a kid I remember going "seriously...he's still doing that!?"

@tristenkw5 said:

Black person here.

Mr. Popo is not offensive to anyone except people who shouldn't be offended by him. He's a genie man, a mystical thing, not human. Middle-eastern people probably don't associate their race with him even though he wears that type of clothing, and his skin color is pure black, so the association is in most cases with black people. The only black person in Dragon Ball, General Black, sure, is closer to offensive, but even then it's a stretch. Until recently, black people weren't portrayed in anime almost at all, and calling it offensive the few times they are is not a good starting place.

If it's a choice between no blacks in anime or slightly stereotyped ones, there's an obvious answer. One of the largest divides I know is between the African-American and Asian races, and closing that gap is hard (and may never completely happen). In the meantime, I'd rather they use us for character diversity than political correctness.

I disagree with you. I would much rather have no black people in anime than have some Japanese animators toss in whatever stereotypes they can think of. If they are not going to take the time to actually know about a culture they shouldn't try and portray it. Also, with the way that many black people portray themselves in the media, there are plenty of negative stereotypes to go around. If it matters, I am speaking from the perspective of a black person who has watched anime all their life.

By the way, Mr. Popo is not the only character to look like that and actual black characters in anime have been given the same exaggerated physical features. An infamous example being the cover of the Tom Sawyer game developed by Squaresoft

Daniel_Newton moderator on Feb. 20, 2013 at 1:57 p.m.

@AURON570: Dude, you're over-thinking it. I'm pretty sure all Tom meant by "successor" is that Dragon Ball Z used to be the biggest shounen anime, and now One Piece is, making One Piece DBZ's successor in that sense.

zaldaron Feb. 20, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

I really don't get how you can fault other shows for not starting with all action and having world building and interesting set ups and then love the ridiculous going no where only filler episodes of yelling and build up in this....but ah well this isn't a show I have ever had any respect for as it is no better than the Saturday morning cartoons I watch anime to get away from.

Oh and not buying the Buddhism connection way to tenuous.

Petiewon Feb. 20, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.
@AURON570: I assume Tom meant spiritual successor. OP was inspired by and inherited the adventure and goofiness of early DragonBall.
 
I think the endless fillers and padding totally kill any sort of urgency and excitement in Dragonball. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I actually preferred the trimming down that Kai did. Even though I knew what happened some of the moments were actually a little intense.
I think Goku falling off Snakeway and getting distracted multiple times was just annoying.
Bluecatcinemaon Feb. 20, 2013 at 4:48 p.m.

Ah, DBZ. I grew up watching this show, and I still watch it today.

tristenkw5on Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:25 a.m.

@Lurkero: I know Mr. Popo isn't the only one. I mentioned another one in my post. I hope you read that far before replying. Meanwhile, you bring up a nearly two decade old video game cover/character in a conversation about anime, and expect it to still be relevant. I understand an anime artist most likely drew the cover, and how the in-game character would be considered offensive, but even then this is an entirely different time and media. It barely has any bearing on the current topic, but I will say it has some.

Anyway, so this makes you angry? This bothers you? You honestly think this is what all Japanese think of black people, and they aren't just bumping into sensitive territory, the same way we Americans do with outside cultures all the time? You want all black people to be deleted from media just so our upstanding image isn't tainted by a cartoon with a pitch-black face and ridiculous lips? Because if you have to fly black people in to give their ok on every attempt to add diversity to your project, why would you bother to ever try and add them at all?

You think the Japanese people are laughing at us? Making fun of us like this?

And when will we get past the fact that stereotypes don't stand alone?!? Context is everything! I'd be waaay more on your side if that blackface character showed up in a video game set in the modern day, but it's the setting of Tom Sawyer we're talking about here. The slavery filled deep south. It's like getting mad that roots dared to have black people getting whipped in it. It's historically accurate! "Oh oh, but the Japanese should have done better research and seen that it was offensive, and took it out!" I wouldn't blame the Japanese for assuming that a ridiculous cartoon from a time filled with ignorant people would not still be taken seriously at all in current society. This all also ignores the fact that there's another black person, one of the main characters of the game in fact, who is portrayed just as normally as Tom is!

This topic frustrates me to no end because it's main thing holding back any and all progress in this area. People shoot down ideas before asking any questions, doing any real thought processes, all based on what they've been told their whole life is offensive. We want the whole world to feel sorry for us, but don't take any of the responsibility of educating those people on a compromise that can still work. We just demand we get are way, because we can, when it has zero effect on our lives.

This is also an insult to the few Japanese people who did take the time to at least try and do it respectfully, but you claim their time isn't worth the effort. The anime BECK however, has a villain many would call stereotypical. I'm not going to fight that fight, as I could more easily see the argument going either way for him. Yet there's another character, John Lee Davis, who is given a much more respectful representation as an African-American blues player. I feel his representation shows that thought was put into the characters and the choices weren't made out of ignorance. This means the main villain then becomes acceptable as a character with his own traits, not a misrepresentation of the entire race, in other words, not a stereotype.

I'm cutting myself off here. This is getting too long, and it's pointless. Approx. 10 people will ever read this, and then not even get this far because of TL;DR. Plus it makes me sound like someone I'm not. I really don't care all that much about this subject because I can't do anything to change it. But when it comes up, it gets under my skin and I just start typing.

Keep defending our race, then. It's a viewpoint I don't feel is needed as much these days, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have merit.

Lurkeroon Feb. 21, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.

@tristenkw5:

You said Mr. Popo isn't offensive. I said I think he is. When or where Mr. Popo was created does not matter because the issue is with the image and not with the social conditions at the time. If I were to see a stereotypical "Jap" as portrayed in the early 1940s I would consider that offensive too. Just because times have changed does not mean I no longer consider certain imagery offensive. Historical accuracy does not require the use of exaggerated caricatures as you mentioned with Tom Sawyer.

I wasn't "defending our race" in any way. In fact, I pointed out that black people are portraying negative media stereotypes to this day (gangster rap, basketball players, criminal idolatry). I don't watch all anime so I cannot speak for every black character to ever appear. I do not get angry/annoyed every time I see a stereotype, but there are times when it seems like a character's portrayal is meant to be offensive and derogatory.

Basically what I am saying is that in the most popular Japanese media it took a long time for a balance to come about. I think about characters like Barret and Sazh from Final Fantasy games who are stereotypical and joke characters and then realize that I have yet to know of a black character in a Final Fantasy game meant to be as "cool" as the other characters. Then I think of other characters who aren't goof ups or joke characters like Ao Koji from One Piece. It's great that there is more of a balance NOW, but to say that Mr Popo isn't offensive would be ignoring what that kind of caricature means.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me.

tristenkw5on Feb. 21, 2013 at 4:49 p.m.

@Lurkero: Sorry again for the tone of my response, yours in contrast is much more even-tempered, something rare to find on the internet. So I appreciate that. Overall it's an opinion thing, and I don't think your opinion stems from ignorance like some others on the internet. I don't see Mr. Popo as deliberately "offensive and derogatory", but that doesn't mean everyone shouldn't. I think it's more important to be able to talk about it though without simply dismissing the discussion outright as many people do.

Good talks.

sotyfan16on Feb. 23, 2013 at 12:28 a.m.

@tristenkw5: @Lurkero:

For some reason I want to give a good example of a good black character in anime. Dutch from Black Lagoon. He immediately came to mind when reading your conversation. Off-hand I cannot think of any others.

As for Mr. Popo, I always found him to be just another of the many strange characters of the Dragon Ball universe. Yes I've always seen he is black but never gave one thought it being about race. I've never applied racial thinking when I watch anime. I apply thinking based on the countries, cultures, and backgrounds of the characters.

tristenkw5on Feb. 25, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.

@sotyfan16: Dutch is a good call. The characters that just seem pretty run-of-the-mill and just happen to be of a certain race don't come to mind as easily, but are probably the best way to go about it.

I view anime similar to the way you do I think. That's why I thought middle-eastern people may have been offended by Mr. Popo because he wears clothes from their culture (the turban and poofy pants and shoes). All of that flies in the face of this being about African-Americans, yet his skin is black so all that is overlooked.

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