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DRAGON BALL Z #9 - - Watch & Learn

There Goku is - - taking his time down Snake Way.

A lot of times, when I’m watching a shonen, I really have to picture a needle hovering above some audience-diving dial that’s only got two sections. Most of the time, that needle’s pointing to “All-Ages." These serialized plot has all the intricacy, genuine surprise and relative sophistication that you need to hold anybody’s attention - - young and old - -over a substantial, long-form narrative. Sometimes, though, that dial swings back to “Boys Adventure” because the show's reminding you that you’re still watching kids’ stuff at the end of the day.

Granted, there’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it’s worth bringing up as DBZ takes a plotting pit stop to indulge in what feels less like filler and more like a disposable Saturday morning one-off. Seriously, I half-expected this to end with BRAVESTARR-style PSA where Goku and Gohan are in an office, recapping the episode’s events to the audience before spelling out the moral to them. In this case, I suppose it's about not judging a book by its cover (or whatever).

Of course, the funny thing about kids’ stuff is that its definition varies wildly depending on local mores. To wit, watching this specific version of DBZ has been rather amusing for its inclusion of all the little ticks - - Gohan pulling out his pee-pee for a tinkle every episode, Ox King’s chain-smoking, Bulma lighting her friends up with an automatic pistol - - that’d be deemed unacceptable for children’s broadcasting outside of Japan. Hell, even the broad strokes of plotting - - like Goku’s brutal murder and Gohan’s abandonment in the desert that technically counts as child abuse - - put this in a precarious position of appropriateness that you really just don’t find outside of shonen.

On a smaller note, I’m sure Gohan’s voice actress never, ever wanted to say “Waaaah!” again for the rest of her life once she got done with this series. Oh boy. It's like breathing for the character!

Watch this episode, "The Strangest Robot" 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

Daniel_Newton moderator on Feb. 27, 2013 at 7:28 a.m.

A lot of it is filler, everyone knows Dragon Ball Z is infamous for its padding, especially during Goku's run along Snake Way. To be fair though, I just checked the manga and it said Goku took six months to traverse the whole thing, so maybe it wasn't so crazy to spend so much time on it in the anime.

Still, in Dragon Ball Z Kai (which has all the filler removed) the whole Snake Way ordeal is dealt with starting with episode 4 and ending with episode 6. In Dragon Ball Z Goku started the journey in episode 6 or 7 and doesn't reach the end of Snake Way (spoiler warning, Tom) until episode 18. So, yeah, there is a lot of filler content. Of course those episodes also focus on everyone training, not just Goku running.

Oh, the FUNimation dub also gets the length of Snake Way wrong. It says it's 10,000 miles but it's actually about 625,000 miles long (one million kilometres).

And now I'm done with my nerdy fact-checking. Carry on, everyone.

Petiewon Feb. 27, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
@Daniel_Newton: Yeah, the amount of filler is so ridiculous in DBZ. I actually think Kai had really good pacing. The Dragon Ball manga had a lot of timeskips where it'd just jump forward six months or two years forward with nothing inbetween. (Usually bridging an adventure arc to a tournament arc) I often preferred that to the long winded filler even the original Dragon Ball spewed out.
 
Curious to see if Tom will be feeling any different about the filler in another 8 episodes.

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