The Curious Case of DBZ Fans

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Where to begin….well let’s start off with the basics, Dragon Ball (no Z) was a huge hit in Japan. It practically defined the modern Shonen “genre.” Many mangaka say that their inspirations mostly come from Dragon Ball, but the thing is that no one really thinks about Dragon Ball, unless it has a Z.

For some unknown reason, and probably a lazy click away I am not looking forward to, America decided to use the time skip to rebrand the international hit anime. To jazz things up they added a Z, and well the rest is history. Many, tons, fathoms, of anime fans probably started out watching DBZ either on their own, or from a special cartoon block called Toonami. The show had everything; action, romance, power ups, and most importantly action!

I will admit that it took a considerable time to get me hooked with Dragon Ball Z. In fact I think I started watching it during the cell saga and continued onto the Boo saga before starting from the beginning. And like the purest that I am, I started from the beginning with episode one…..of Dragon Ball. Yep, you know that series where Goku was a kid, and you were able to see his junk, and at times Bulma’s. That classic feeling of timelessness as it was just a fun adventure with a few fights. Then the fighting got more attention, people loved it, begged for it, and so by the later part of Dragon Ball there were more tournaments. By the time the story did a time skip, which was still Dragon Ball after that (no Z), it was all about the fighting. Every character was having a power up, and people would have orgasms every time Goku’s hair turned blonde and elongated. (I feel like that’s a post in and of itself….hm.)

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So far I’m not saying anything bad about Dragon Ball, or any of it’s related series, but I find it interesting that it’s not really the case with the fanbase. Like One Piece, Naruto, at one point Bleach, right now Fairy Tail, you find large fanbases that will defend the show with their dying breath saying it’s the most awesomeness thing ever, but when it comes to DBZ fans, it’s interesting to see how much the majority of “fans” they are.

Did you know, a good chunk of people who watch DBZ constantly, and sweat it’s the best anime ever, never knew there was a DB series before with Goku as a kid? I was shocked at this, although if I actually thought about it then it would have been simple to figure out. To help myself, and you, organize the points to why DBZ fans may irritate a lot of people, I’ll be putting sections in this post.

  • The First Series

Like I stated earlier, DB has a much different tone than DBZ. Whereas the latter is constantly trying to be the best, and show as much fast “paced” action as possible, the former is more of a comedic fairy tail. Not only was I shocked to find people ignorant of the first series, but when they watched it they hated it. I’m sure some liked it, but if you started with DBZ the majority of people would at least not like DB.

But why would they? As far as they’re concerned, DBZ was what set the tone for the whole franchise for them. DBZ was the first anime to be an international giant (if I’m wrong please correct me in the comments). When they have watched nearly 300 episodes of fighting and super saiya-ing, then watching Goku’s kid junk and Bulma acting like, well a younger Bulma, might have been a big turn off.

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  • The Action

If you ask any DBZ fan about what’s the best part of the series, 99.99% of them would say the fights. Even I would say that, because there isn’t much depth to it. One villain comes on, Goku defeats him, another one comes that is stronger, Goku defeats that one, and so on. I’m sure everybody has heard the tiresome joke that most of DBZ is characters screaming for minutes on end, and while a lot of people will argue that, it is a valid point.

While the fights are fun and good, especially in the manga, and the power ups hype the shit out of fans, you can’t deny that a majority of an episode could be two characters powering up. Although, that is partly do to the animation company not taking any breaks and waiting for the manga to get ahead. I’m sorry, but because of this the pacing is terrible, slow, and sometimes you wonder what the point of some episodes are.

  • The Length

DBZ has 291 episodes, in 2009 they decided to release DBZ without any filler (DBZ Kai) which turned out to be 159 episodes long. That means the original DBZ has 132 episodes that were filler, adding to the fact that all the canon episodes were drawn out too. This is why we have episodes of them screaming so much, give those voice actors a Purple Heart for all their valiant efforts!

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They had full seasons, infamously like Bleach, where it was all filler. Sure some of the filler isn’t bad, but when you have 132 episodes I’m sure a good portion of it are duds, stinkbombs, and forgettable. One Piece is a long running anime (700+ episodes) and amazingly I’m sure it has fewer filler episodes than DBZ (if I’m wrong please correct me in the comments). Why am I pointing this out? Because the people who brought DBZ to life just don’t know how to do it well, and the fact that DBZ isn’t perfect.

Also, when you go back to rewatch the series do you go from episode one and watch every single one till 291? Or, do you rewatch your favorite fights, arcs, or moments? Because I’m telling you, after trying to rewatch the series on Blu-ray, and in order, I must admit that a lot of the times it feels tedious and I’m wondering just what did I get out of each episode (especially in the Frieza saga, yikes).

  • Hating on Itself

This is very curious, I’ve seen a lot of fandoms discuss, debate, and get into angry rants of their favorite series, but I think this is the only fandom that actually throws hate around. (Okay, not the only one, but the only one to serious, and nearly, have an unanimous hatred toward sections of it).

It was stated multiple times that Toriyama, the creator of the manga, wanted to stop DB(Z) at the Frieza arc. Unfortunately, DBZ had grown into a monster hit and with some persuasion of a few green leaves he was off drawing another arc. It was also stated that Toriyama might have been bullied, and put through numerous occasions of….ahem stuff….to continue the series. He has stated how miserable he felt drawing it, and because of this (I think) a lot of anime fans say the quality severely drops after Frieza dies. So many times I hear people putting down the Cell saga and the Boo saga. For me they were vast improvements, and some of my favorite arcs, but it amazes me how vehemently fans curse, stab, and throw “mud” like monkeys at those two arcs. Add the fact that a lot of people think DBZ is the “true” Dragon Ball, it’s an astonishment that they would be fans at all. That means they liked the first two arcs of DBZ, and then for a fun time they will throw “mud” at the rest of the series.

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Not only that, but this thought process really exploded when GT came around. GT wasn’t in the manga, it was an anime original story line that, I believe, Toriyama didn’t even touch. But fans hate this series with a passion. They hate that Goku turned into a kid again, they hated Super Saiyan 4, even though I thought it was the most badass and actually made sense. They hated…..Trunks….maybe? I’m not really sure. Every time I hear, or read, about people’s hatred towards this series they never really give defining answers. Personally, I liked. Was it better or as good as DB or DBZ? No, but I respect that they sort of combined the two shows, giving you a fighting and power-up scenes within an adventure story that tries to hearken back to its roots. Even them trying to expand the Dragon Balls mythology I found fascinating.

I’m fine with people expressing their thoughts, in fact I love it when they’re thoughts are different, but when the vast majority who thinks this way voices their opinions and they say “It should of ended with Frieza,” and end of conversation with a lot of people never give any reasons, then that just befuddles me because that’s not a valid argument. If they did it was “Frieza’s the best villain” and even then I could argue with them. There just isn’t anything backing up their thoughts, which aggravates me, because whenever people try to argue, especially in the fandom, it’s like a war. Accusations, shouting matches, all they need is an executioner and we’d be back in 15th century Europe.

If you breakdown what the average DBZ fan likes about the series you get The Saiyan Saga, and the Frieza saga. Then they bitch about the quality dropping after that, and some of them don’t even realize that there was a series about Goku growing up. If you engage in a friendly debate between them you’ll most likely be violently attacked by words and soon be in the middle of a screaming match. Why are fans like this? I have absolutely no idea. Not all DBZ fans are like this, mind you, there are some out there who loves all of it, some who maybe just loves DB (no Z), and maybe some who loves DBZ and DBGT, but it’s those DBZ purists who have the loudest voice. You hear them the most, because they wear their passion on their chest. That’s not a bad thing, but it irks me that they don’t seem to be open minded and actually participate in a healthy debate.

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I really wish I had an answer to this, but because I personally thought the Frieza saga was boring I just don’t have that connection to understand. The only rational thing I could think of has to do with power-ups. It was the first time Goku became a super saiyan, Frieza was built up to be the ultimate villain and even he could transform (more than once). Maybe the fans didn’t like the rest of the series because the villains after frieza, (Androids, Cell, Boo) were just not on the same level, and in fact you can argue that those villains were a step down (even though Boo threatened the whole of existence….). As for GT, maybe people just didn’t get that feel that it was Dragon Ball because Toriyama didn’t have anything to do with it, or because it wasn’t in the manga they didn’t treat it as canon? And you could argue that Dragon Ball was just random antics about a boy with little fights…..but again that’s all speculation.

But, just so I can back up my theories, when Dragon Ball Battle of Gods came out there was a split reaction in the fan community. Some people really loved it, while some didn’t. I think one of the biggest complaints was that it felt too much like Dragon Ball, and it felt slow with a weird subplot with Pilaf and his gang. People wanted more fights. Personally, once again, I loved this film and thought it really captured what Dragon Ball (the franchise) is. I loved the fact that Pilaf and his gang are now children, I loved the fact that it wasn’t all about fights, and in fact that “slow pacing” that some may call it actually built up the brief fights to make them even more exciting. But what did they do after that film, and all the mixed reactions? They brought back Frieza……sigh.

The last thing I’ll leave you with is this: Power-ups is not character development.

So that’s my take on DBZ fans. Tell me what you thought in the comments, did you like it? Agree or Disagree with me? This was going to be one of my first posts, but I decided to put it on the back burner. I also think that everyone has had some encounter, whether good or bad, with a really vocal DBZ fan, so I hope I can hear from everyone (the good the bad or the ugly reactions) on this topic. Cheers 😀

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One thought on “The Curious Case of DBZ Fans

  1. Great and insightful post. This brings back a lot of memories. I wasn’t born yet when Dragon Ball without the Z was released but I was fortunate enough to watch it as a kid. I don’t remember much about it but I do remember the first theme songs. So I decided to rewatch it from episode 1 last year. It was adorable! I’ve had fond memories of the entire series of DB, including Z. Not so much with GT, but let’s forget about that since many don’t consider GT as canon. But I do admit that I like the multi-generational aspect of it. Just like you said, DB is not perfect, but it’ll always have a special place in my heart. I grew up with it, after all. Anyway, great post. Keep it up. Cheers!

    Like

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