Sunday, March 10, 2024

Thinkin' 'bout Dragonballs


The death of Dragonball and DragonballZ creator Akira Toriyama had me thinking about Dragonball. though I don't know that I am really touched by the passing. I have only seen a tiny bit of the actual manga. But I love the series, and I don't really know how involved he was with it. But it would not exist without the guy, so I gotta give props. 

I discovered the show some time in the early or mid 90's. There was no Adult Swim at the time (I think). But it was being shown daily on one of the Los Angeles off channels cartoon blocks. I think I caught the last 30 second of an episode. The characters I would come to love bloviating about some threat or another. I was vaguely aware of its existance before that, but I decided to try and catch a couple of episodes. Like a lot of anime you suddenly discover you have no idea what the fuck is going on. 

I soon saw that they had tapes of these US dubs at my fave video store, so I was able to dive into the first episodes of DragonballZ Goku and his young son visiting what seemed to be old friends on a tiny tropical island. A threat from outer space by guys with similar looks to Goku's. The appearance of Piccolo, who seemed to be an old enemy, though when they showed flashbacks to some previous version of the series where the character looked much older. 

Then I noticed a very small collection of episodes of the original Dragonball, with a young Goku. So I got it; there was a series with Goku as a kid, and Z was a continuation. I was fascinated. then I discovere US dubs that included killing. In the TV dubs I saw when somebody got destroyed, somebody would say something like"wow, you really sent HIM to another dimension!" 

I loved the world as persented in it. In Dragonball the world seemed to be like the Judges Guild Wilderlands; vast wilderness punctuated by points of light villages, with cities to follow in the later show. 

Young Bulma. Later in life she would go on to have sex with 
and bear children for an alien who destroyed entire civilizations
and sometimes even ate them. Bulma was kind of a ho' 

Piccolo was my favorite early on. The antihero of the series. But I liked them all really, and had a fond spot for Krillin, Yamcha, and others. And I loved Goku. Such an innocent but powerful good guy. It was so cool that most of his friends started as enemies who became friends, won over by his good nature as much as his power. Gok and others were killed time and again (I think Krillin held the trophy on how many times). They would travel through hell and go visit King Kai who would make them stronger. 

As new arcs and enemies came in, I became more obsessed. I was never emotionally attached to things my friens loved, like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. But my heart was in this series. The Planet Namek saga. The androids. The Cell Games. It just went on and on. 

Fuck around and find out

Then after years passed I saw Dragonball GT (I think it was called) which did not have any input from Akira  and seemed to be a different show, with Goku a kid again and running around with his grandchildren. 

But into the 2000's it got back on track, but by then I was sort of tired of the constant power growth. And those early sagas were so dear to me, they seemed to be enough, like the earlier seasons of Mad Men or The Sopranos. So besides a peek now and again over the years to see what god level dudes they were fighting, I kind of let it go. But this weekend I seriously wanted to get the Crunchyroll free 7 day trial to watch some early eps, but I had a lot to do so might just do it next week. 

the unsung hero of the series

And also, I never saw as many of the original young Goku eps of Dragonball as I would have liked. I'd like to check out the backgrounds of some of those more mysterious characters, like Yajirobi the fat samurai who will eat anything (including demons and dinosaurs), or Lunch/Launch, a peaceful young girl next door who would turn with a sneeze into a blond femme fatale with a machine gun. I may have to seek those out.

But here's to Akira for creating some of my favorite characters of any genre, and an amazing world for them to punch the shit out of each other in. 


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