Watching the first episode of Dragon Ball Super this morning reminded me of how much I use to care about this franchise. I used to be completely obsessed with it. There were many times in elementary school that I would act out a lot of the fights on the playground with random friends. It was a lot of fun. I also can’t count the amount of times I’ve rewatched DBZ with my two hands. Maybe if I included toes I could, but none the less. Right now, I don’t care as much for Dragon Ball as I used to. Not even by a fraction. So, what happened? I can think of a few things. Maybe I got tired of it. Maybe the series just fell flat for me for a lot for story reasons. Maybe my tastes changed after watching a lot of other genres of anime. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.
Before digging into this any further, I liked the first episode of Dragon Ball Super quite a bit. For me, the strongest episodes were always the slice of life ones. The main characters are super strong bad asses that can defeat galactic threats weekly if they needed too, but they face real world problems as well. Since these are pure heroes, they never try to acquire fame and fortune for anything that they’ve ever done and that has hurt them from normally in society. Well, except the Briefs family who are the richest people in the world. Goku can’t do all the training he wants to do now. Since he’s back from the dead, his biggest problem is solving his family’s needs. The most interesting moment was the exchange in which Goku took a large sum of money from Hercule. Goku’s purity went done by a little bit and Hercule’s purity went up, so it was an interesting change of dichotomies. The voice acting was pretty decent and the animation was a little stiff, but it was all around a good episode for me.
Now to jump back onto the negative train, I honestly think that the Dragon Ball franchise peaked at the Freiza saga. The main reason was Freiza was the final boss and every single-story element, every single battle, and every single character interaction was because this guy existed. He was a tyrant and the people he had under him worked hard for recognition from him. From the saiyans who were mostly killed off and the remainder finding a way to survive under Freiza’s oppressive system to Freiza himself, not a single moment felt empty because it always felt like there was something bigger and scarier over the horizon. While I still liked the Android to Cell Saga of Dragon Ball Z, it never had that feeling. Half the time it felt like they had to rush out another enemy immediately because what was currently out there didn’t get the reactions they wanted from the audience. The same for the Buu saga to a larger degree. If there was anything that hurt DBZ the most, it was the fact that they cared more about what the fans wanted after Freiza instead of the way Akira Toriyama wanted to write it. Nothing ever jelled like it did when Freiza was the main villain. I doubt even Super will have this kind of cohesion to it, but that remains to be seen. Does this mean that I think everything up Freiza was perfect? Well no, that had some problems that became more apparent as I watched more anime.
The pacing of DBZ is insanely slow and the animation isn’t the best either. When I first watched it, I didn’t have anything to compare it to. After watching a few series that were shorter, like fifty episodes or less, I starting getting used to the quality of those shorter series. The pacing was faster and made sense. Not waiting through a larger amount of episodes for something to happen really felt good and kept the excitement at a high level. Something like Namek blowing up in five minutes did take ten episodes or so. I wanted more of it and as I saw more and more series like that, it became my new norm. I can say the same thing for action. Those shorter series had action that was a lot more visceral, snappy, and exciting on a more consistent basis. It wasn’t until later until I finally found out that that was because longer series didn’t usually have the resources to maintain a high level of quality all the time. Still, I think the biggest thing that changed was knowing what anime could do. Seeing something mature like Ghost in the Shell and also had heavy political motivations like Gundam worked more for me then something that just had people punching each other to see who was the winner. Maybe growing up diminished how much fun I had with DBZ by quite a bit as well.
In the end do I still like the Dragon Ball? Well yeah. I’ve had some great moments with it that I never want to take back. I even had the moment were Goku first became Super Saiyan as my favorite moment in anime for my 30-Day Anime Challenge. It’s not my favorite thing in the universe anymore, but I do admit that I still have an attachment to it. I just don’t have this immediate urge to be caught up to the latest series or watch that movie where Freiza comes back. I still watch Team Four Star’s abridged series when they put out a new episode out and want to laugh for days straight, but that is as much as a review of the series that I need. Right now, I am content with watching Dragon Ball Super dubbed one episode at a time weekly. My attachment is still there and I am still acting on it. I’m just not as obsessed with it as so many people still are. I have also been getting get back into shonen series again, so maybe my love for it well come back in some form. It’s hard to tell right now.