Dragon Ball Z - Reviews

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dragonballk's avatar
Sep 3, 2015

I find it hard to believe the low ratings DB and DBZ have on this site. This is not only a fantastic Anime, but one of the best stories ever put together in the history of literature. I will stand behind that statement no matter what argument anyone wants to make.

 First of all, by covering a story from the main characters childhood all the way till his mid life (so far), Akira Toriyama does something that (to my knowledge) nobody else in modern times has done. I do believe this is something that has been done somewhat frequently through history though in the form of epics and the like, but I can't think of anything else in modern pop culture that follows a character from childhood to adulthood at a relatively realistic pace without making use of flashback episodes, or after-the-fact spinoff series'.

 Toriyama does a fantastic job of drawing from inspiration, without blatantly ripping anything off. If you know anything about creativity, be it writng stories, or music, or anything, you know it is completely impossible to do anything "original". Everything has already been done, and has been for a long time. At best you might be able to be the first to use a certain prop (for lack of a better term) like computer technology, or setting, like freshly colonized Mars, but when it comes down to actually writing a story, it will already have been done. The best story tellers we know of, with the exception of the earliest recorded stories surviving through history, can all have their best stories traced back to prior stories, even William Shakespeare. What makes a good writer is someone who can put just the right twist on something to make it his own. One of the best example's i can think of, is the transformation to Great Apes. There is very clearly a similarity to the whole "full moon, wearwolf" idea, but instead of a wolf-like creature, it's a giant ape, wich ties back in to his original inspiration, which was the journey to the west.

 Another thing that is so great about Toriyama's work, is the vast array of inspiration that he draws from. There are traces of ancient mythology like the epic of gilgamesh. Folklore like Wearwolves (as iv mentioned), and countless examples of modern pop culture hits like Superman, and the Terminator franchise. 

 Yeah, i know, there's a lot of time wasted on grunting, and screaming, if you focus strictly on the dialogue, but if you examine the whole story itself, it is without a doubt, a masterpiece.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.1/10 overall
jediuser's avatar
Dec 22, 2010

Story:5.5/10

Dragon Ball Z is an anime that holds many fond memories for me (and probably for you too, if you're reading this review). As a kid, I found myself hopelessly addicted to the sight of watching two guys blast the hell out of each other while spewing out iconic lines like "Its over 9000!!" After all these years, however, I have finally gotten around to writing a review of this show. It pains me to say it, but after taking a good hard look at it critically, I found it simply doesn't carry the same charm it had all those years ago.

Okay, maybe it does...kinda. No matter how much criticism I can lay on the series, I still maintain that it pulls no punches when it comes to action. Simply put, Dragon Ball Zhas some of the best choreographed, most stupefyingly awesome fight scenes aound. Admittedly, the fighting is pretty simplistic as the characters repeatedly grow to new power levels and just beat the Hell out of each other, but what it lacks in creativity it makes up for with pure, testosterone-fueled martial arts mayhem.

Unfortunately, flashy battles cannot hide the fact that the show simply lacks the fun and creativity of the original Dragon Ball (which I admittedly liked more than Dragon Ball Z; okay, I will now go into hiding). For one thing, there's no epic quest to obtain the dragon balls here - Oh, they're still there, but they serve as little more than plot devices that pop up to bring dead characters back to life. Yep, Dragon Ball Z is 100% fighting anime - no adventuring, less fun. Given that, the "plot" ends up being little more than an excuse to fight increasingly powerful bad guys. What's more, the fights all seem to follow a given formula. Good guy fights, gets beaten and either

a. Goku will arrive just in time to save them, or

b. Good guy will suddenly become stronger and beat bad guy.

This formula repeats itself throughout the show, so after a while, the fight scenes, stupefyingly awesome as they are, pretty much lose their tension - they just aren't enough to hold viewer interest for 291 whole episodes.

DBZ's major problem isn't any of the above flaws, however, which are possible to accept as common shonen action tropes. No, DbZ's biggest problem is, inarguably, its atrocious pacing. Dragon Ball Z is one of those anime that was unfortunately running at the same time as the manga, and as a result, the show adds lots of filler and massively drawn out fights to pad out the show. The average length of a figt scene, I believe, is no fewer than five episodes - and that may even be a little low. The best example of this is probably the fight between Goku and Frieza at the end of the Frieza saga, which lasted for no fewer than 19 episodes. This would be a little easier to stomach if the characters spent most of this time actually fighting, but thing is, only about 40% so-called "fights," actually consist of super-awesome fighting. The other sixty percent consists of characters staring each other down, going over their strategy, and gloating over how much more powerful they are than the other guy. After ten episodes of this, you'll probably fall asleep waiting for it to end.

As if to add insult to injury, the show also includes some of the most blatant filler episodes I've ever seen in any anime, period. One infamous filler arc early in the show has Goku running down a long path for ten or so episodes while going through some totally useless adventures in Hell and on the path. Another filler arc ties in to one of the many DBZ movies and ends up being just as disposable as them. As such, in all of 291 episodes, Dragon Ball Z just doesn't have enough substance to carry it through. Good luck trying to finish the show.

 

Animation:5.5/10

Dragon Ball Z's animation hasn't aged well at all, mainly because it was never a great looking show even at the time it was first aired. Early on, the low-budget animation is particularly obvious, with washed out colors and an overall grainy look. The backgrounds also aren't much to look at, with most fights taking place in either barren deserts or grassy plains that all look the same. The producers couldn't even come up with something unique for the other planets - Namek is basically Earth with tortoise shell-shaped houses. There are certainly a few high points - most notably a battle between Goku and Frieza on an exploding planet - but, for the most part, the backgrounds are rather plain.

As for the fight scenes, they suffer from the natural restrictions of a long-running show. Animation shortcuts abound, from speed lines to re-used cells that make each fight look similar to the last, thus making the already repetitive fights even more repetitive.

That said, DBZ's animation has a few saving graces that prevent it from from looking completely flat. Most notable of these are the character designs. Boasting seemingly endless variety (and ridiculous hairstyles), Toriyama's character designs are creative, inventive, and appealing. Notable standouts are Frieza in his forms ranging from scary to deceptively non-threatening, and Vegeta, who's small stature manages to hold a surprising menace (and an awesome widow's peak). Also, given that this is a show that ran over a course of seven years, the animation quality does improve over time. At the show's beginning, the animation is nothing short of piss poor, but by the time of the show's final season, it actually looks pretty decent, with a better use of color and more fluid movements.

 

Sound: 7/10

Dragon Ball Z's English dubbing is surprisingly strong, and marks the start of Funimation's long line of quality dubs. While I didn’t care for the voices of a few of the side characters (particularly the goofy sounding King Kai), there are many more standouts. I actually like Goku's English voice, Sean Schemmel, more than his Japanese seiyuu (who I heard was a woman), despite his occasional bit of stiff delivery. Keep in mind, though, that this praise applies only to the Funimation dub, and not to the far-inferior Ocean dub. A good comparison to make would be between the voices of Vegeta. Chris Sabat makes him sound downright sinister in a way few other actors could; conversely, Ocean's Brian Drummond makes him sound more like a pissed-off munchkin (y’know, those cute little guys from Wizards of Oz).

However, I'd recommend watching the English dub not for the voice acting, but for the music. Simply put, aside from the catchy opening themes, the original Japanese soundtrack sucks. The BGM basically consists of some slightly revamped tunes from the original Dragon Ball's already unspectacular soundtrack. Not only does this sound totally dated, it just doesn't seem to fit the zany action taking place on the screen. The Bruce Falconer score, on the other hand, features a much livelier selection, with a healthy selection of guitar riffs that suit the action quite well, even if it is ridiculously cheesy.

 

Characters: 7/10

Characterization is something of a mixed bag, but given that this is an anime focused predominantly on fighting, the characterization as a whole is surprisingly strong.

First off, if you’re a fan of the original Dragon Ball, don’t expect much from a majority of the old cast. Aside from Goku, Krillin, and Piccolo (and Bulma to an extent), the old characters like Tien, Yamcha, and Master Roshi are pretty much reduced to guest appearances. This is due to the fact that the show is pretty much a continuation of the original Dragon Ball, so the writers apparently assumed that the viewer has already watched that show. If you haven’t (which would likely be most of you, I believe) you’re given little reason to care about them other than the fact that they’re on Goku’s side. This doesn’t help with the fact that the characters are generally worthless in battle – in the face of more powerful foes, they end up as mere cannon fodder, which would have more impact if death in the show actually meant something. Thing is, when a character dies (which they do, often), they will assuredly be brought back to life either by the dragon balls or by some other contrived means, so you don’t really care if they live or die.

That said, the characters that are there manage to be strong enough to carry the show. Son Goku remains the benchmark by which all shonen protagonists are judged –strong, naïve, brave, and just an all around perfect hero. Piccolo, one of the villains from the original Dragon Ball, undergoes a somewhat surprising though still welcome change of character, as he goes from evil villain to respectable comrade through his interactions with Goku’s son Gohan, and Krillin manages to get some good moments in the spotlight. As for new characters, a few of them actually manage to bring something to the table. While some are fleshed out more than others, you’ll see a good amount that you’ll come to care about as they form bonds and grow in power as well as maturity.

Among them, the strongest example of this by far is Vegeta. The complete opposite of Goku in every respect, Vegeta starts out as a purely evil bastard that you just love to hate. Whereas pretty much every other character fight under the stale “I will defend the Earth” moniker, Vegeta is driven by his excessive pride and a repeated desire to surpass Goku that makes him all the more interesting. At the same time, the relationships he develops with Bulma and his son Trunks prevent him from coming off as a one-dimensional badass, and the choices he makes towards the end of the series show that he is ultimately not as evil as he initially seems. Indeed, watching Vegeta’s gradual change from ruthless villain to respectable, yet still badass comrade was one of the main factors that kept me watching to the end.

 

Overall: 6.5/10

So, to answer the question many of you are probably asking: Does Dragon Ball Z live up to its massive hype. Well…that’s difficult to answer. On the one hand, it possesses some of the flashiest battles in all of anime, but on the other hand, it comes close to ruining it with lame fillers and really drawn out battles. My recommendation – Watch the new, streamlined Dragon Ball Z Kai, which is superior in almost every imaginable way.

 

 

 

 

 

5.5/10 story
5.5/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
Slayare's avatar
Apr 23, 2014

Hands down one of the greatest anime created, completed my childhood. Rewatching it again more recently, it still captures the child in me, and proceeds to captivate me. If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
anticloud's avatar
Dec 11, 2013

Dragon Ball Z is a show that I grew up watching. It was the show that initially sparked my interest in anime. There are many reasons why this show is so popular in many different countries. To begin, I will talk about the story.

Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of Dragon Ball, which focused primarily on martial arts. Unlike Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z is much more serious and involves slightly less humor and puts a lot more emphasis on action sequences. In fact, throughout the series, the entire earth is constantly threatened and planets frequently explode with a single attack. Thus, for any action-adventure fans, this show is a must watch. The premise of Dragon Ball Z is simple: The "Z Warriors", consisting of powerful fighters, both human and alien, team up to defend planet Earth from all threats. The enemies usually last tens of episodes with cliffhangers at the end of each episode, leaving the audience wanting more. Every villain has a unique purpose for fighting, whether it is to become the most powerful creature in the universe or simply to destroy all humans. Either way, it is always fascinating to see the backstory of the enemies and to watch them grow powerful.

Speaking of growing powerful, the characters constantly train to increase their "power levels", enabling them to use exponentially powerful attacks. This is where the animation and sound effects shine. The attacks are dreadfully astonishing to watch, and the horrific expressions held by the protagonists as they watch their foes obliterate entire cities is contagious to the viewers. The sound effects are extremely nostalgic. In fact, many animes reproduce some of the sound effects because they are so well-done. The music in the American Soundtrack Series by Bruce Faulconer is eerie yet highly engaging, which immerses the viewers into the mystical Dragon Ball Z universe.

The characters are unforgettable. Most of them originate from the previous series, Dragon Ball. However, new characters are introduced, such as Vegeta, a stubbornly prideful Saiyan who desires to be known as the prince of his own powerful, but dying race. The antagonists in the series are memorable and almost even likable, due to their uniqueness and prolonged stay on the show. Although some of them, such as garlic Jr, are simply irritating and used primarily as fillers (which is the one major flaw of the already lengthy series), most of them are so unique and memorable that they are often missed when they are finally dealt with. However, due to their wicked desires of destroying many innocent people, which they tend to follow through with, it is relieving when they are dispatched.

Overall, this show is highly recommended for anyone interested in comedy, action, supernatural powers, aliens and plot-twists (one arc even includes time-travel). The transformations of both foes and heroes alike are stunning and anticipated. The story is engaging and easy to follow. This is one of the few animes that I have watched that ended well, but left me wanting more.

9/10

-Anticloud

8/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
YannaeLou's avatar
Oct 12, 2020

This anime has gone a long way and still seems to be going strong

The first episode I watched was Goku ssj taking on Frieza 100%. I did not know what was happening at the time, but I wanted to watch it.

The story is pretty simple. You follow Goku, A Saiyan that was sent to Earth to survive, thrive and eventually destroy it, but after he accidently hit his head as a child during a nasty fall, he seemed to have forgotten about his original mission, his roots. He grows up as an Earthling with a loving family, loving to compete martial arts and sees himself as an Earthling, not a saiyan.

However, his heritage attracts other 'saiyans', which leads to confrontations versus them and as time passes...other and stronger opponents. And to become stronger Goku must train hard. And that is the story. Goku doing his best to keep his family and friends safe, protecting the Earth, and looking to compete against the best of the best.

This anime shows you how far our main protagonist Goku's come to become as strong as he is now. You see him train, you see him get beat down and get back up. You see how his family develops as the story progresses, the bonds the characters create as time passes (father-son, rivalry, etc...).

The fights are amazing! They all have their signature moves, and develop new techniques, and when one of those new techniques finally comes out, or a combination of two is being used, never seen before....I can only fangirl of how amazing it was.

Also...I watched many anime but whenever I hear the word Villain, one of the first characters that comes to mind will always be Frieza. The whole Frieza arc, he was menacing. He had everything that I would like a villain to have. I didn't know who was going to make it or not, I was at the edge of my seat. And also in that arc...that one hystorical LEGENDARY DBZ moment happened. I love the other villains as well, they're all so different and unique, but Frieza just really stands out to me.

I think I watched the whole thing like 4 times now. Doesn't seem to get old, I still rewatch my favorite scenes every now and then.

Really recommend it

8/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall