When diving into the world of anime, irrespective of whether you are a beginner or not, you must have heard of the masterpiece that is called Dragon Ball. Following the Dragon Ball franchise, Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball Z is one such masterpiece that has been enjoyed by every late 90s and early 2000s kid.
The series was actually started in the 1980s in Japan by Akira Toriyama, which gradually got created into an anime, which is loved by the most audience for its sheer brilliance and powerplay. And while we all were hyped as kids to replicate the ‘Kamehameha,’ let’s get into the details of Dragon Ball Z and how it reached the pinnacle of being one of the most brilliantly made anime of all time.
Dragon Ball Z is a Japanese anime series produced by Toei Animation. The series aired in Japan on Fuji TV from April 1989 to January 1996 and was released a decade later in America. Due to its success in the US, the manga chapters of Dragon Ball were released by Viz Media under the Dragon Ball Z title.
Dragon Ball is considered to be a starter anime for many people and an inspiration for mangakas who are new to the industry. The Dragon Ball Z sequel focuses entirely on the character named Son Goku, our main protagonist. Goku comes from a species that is considered to be the strongest species in the Universe, the Saiyan race.
We are introduced to another surviving character of the race, the Prince of the Saiyans, Vegeta. Goku’s son, Gohan, is rumored to be even stronger than him, and we get to see his full potential after the Cell Saga, where he really transforms into what he is supposed to be.
Fans of Dragon Ball Z look back fondly to the characters which make this show memorable. Characters like Krillin and Bulma are sidelined in DBZ, but they still have their highlights. Piccolo, who initially was the antagonist of Dragon Ball, comes back as an ally to Dragon Ball Z, where we see his softer side as he bonds with Gohan.
If you are someone who has seen Dragon Ball before Dragon Ball Z, you get to witness the actual growth of the characters. Despite that, Dragon Ball Z does a good job of portraying its characters, giving them the necessary limelight and showing them in terrific yet vibrant colors.
Also Read: How Old Is Frieza? The Cold-Hearted Dragon Ball Villain
Dragon Ball Z: Storyline
The story starts off with the protagonist, Goku, known as Kakarot, crash-landing on earth in a pod sent from the planet Saiyan. The pod opens, and Goku steps foot on the planet, which would later be the home he ardently protects.
He is found by a frail old man who takes him under his wing and calls him Goku. One special attribute about child Goku is that he is born with a fully grown and working monkey tail. Saiyans have the ability to transform themselves into beings of pure energy called Super Saiyans and harness immense strength and light.
After a Saiyan successfully controls all levels of being a Super Saiyan, he/she is transformed into a massive Ape-like creature which is the most powerful form of being a Saiyan. Goku travels the world with his adoptive father learning about earth’s cultures and traditions and how it is important to be compassionate and loving rather than selfish and exploitative.
While he’s on his adventures, he meets a ton of people, such as Krillin (his best friend in later seasons), Bulma (someone who he trusts immensely), his master who taught him all about fighting and mercy, and a ton of other crucial people.
Dragon Ball Z starts off with a time skip, showing Goku as an adult with his five-year-old son, Gohan. However, his brother, Raditz comes, arrives on earth, asking him to join him in his quest for universal destruction. Teaming up with Piccolo, he takes his brother down but dies in the process. The dragon balls revive him. A year later, more Saiyans started coming, leading to the appearance of Vegeta.
It is revealed that the dragon balls come from a planet called Namek, a planet in the trinary system within Universe 7, where the Namekians reside. The next arc within DBZ revolves around Frieza, a genocidal dictator, ruler of most of the galaxies, and the one who nearly eradicated the Saiyan race.
Here, we see Goku teaming up with Vegeta to stop Frieza. Goku taps into the power of the ancient legend called Super Saiyan, ultimately defeating Frieza. Goku escaped to the planet Yardrat where he learned teleportation.
After assembling the remnants of Frieza’s body, Frieza’s father, Cold, arrives with his troops on earth to destroy it. However, they are stopped by Adult Trunks, Vegeta and Bulma’s son in the future, who time-traveled to prevent Goku’s death.
The Cells arc is considered to be the peak of DBZ. Adult Trunks warns everyone that two Androids from the Red Ribbon army are coming to exact revenge on Goku, who defeated them as a kid. Keeping the plot brief, the cell saga basically explores the Semi-Perfect cell continuing his quest to reach his Perfect form by absorbing the androids #17 and #18.
Our heroes head out to fight Cell, who has now assumed Perfect Form, and it turns out to become one of the fiercest battles in DBZ. The Cell arc builds up Gohan, Goku’s son, who eventually defeats the villain as well.
The Buu saga talks about a primordial demon, Buu, who used to devour galaxies. The Majin Buu saga looks into Buu’s backstory and his emergence on earth by the evil wizard Babidi, insights into the stories of Old Kai, the introduction of the Super Saiyan 3 transformation, and the Fusion Dance.
Dragon Ball Z Review: The Originator of Shonen Tropes
The Dragon Ball franchise is seen as the originator of classic anime tropes. Some of its signature styles include screaming loudly while powering up and yelling out names of finishing moves while doing them. A lot of action anime use these elements to create a thrilling atmosphere.
Dragon Ball Z is known for its transformations, and we get to see a lot of it unfurl. We did not get to see one but more transformations! Combined with the fusion concept, this anime is brilliant at executing the essence of shonen. Not to mention, the anime contains a lot of training. We get to see a lot of physiques, and Goku is like that guy who would pay the gym a visit every day.
The story arcs are very engrossing, especially the Cell saga. It is usually characterized by a big villain who is hell-bent on destroying the Universe, and our protagonists are teamed up to stop that from happening.
Storylines like these are quite heavy, not to mention the Majin Buu arc in which Toriyama could have drawn a line. The Majin Buu saga feels like an amalgamation of extra and random things which he threw into a pot and brewed up as a story.
Nevertheless, the story arcs provide entertainment and invoke a sense of emotionality within them as well by bringing in topics of love, teamwork, friendship, and, obviously, showcasing gigantic epic battle scenes. There are many filler episodes, but that is how most popular and long shonen anime go.
Dragon Ball Z Characters
Dragon Ball Z has done a phenomenal job of showing good characters, intriguing villains, and an engaging plot. The true beauty of the show speaks through the characters. We see antagonists teaming up with the protagonist, we see evil people turn good, and we also see evil people doing evil things.
Although many of the characters find themselves in conflict with other characters, they quickly create bonds and forge alliances for the greater good. Goku and Piccolo become close friends. Vegeta, the Prince of the Saiyans, is seen as a power-hungry person and arrogant.
However, he soon becomes a friend of the protagonist but is not well-liked by the group. The most prevalent human characters, like Krillin and Bulma, are mostly sidelined in the storyline of Dragon Ball Z, but we do get some iconic scenes from them.
It is very evident that the main characters in this story include Goku and Vegeta, and Gohan. The dynamics of both characters are very visible in the show. Vegeta seeks to be the strongest man in the world, while Goku is a more laid-back person.
However, it always seems that Goku is ahead of him, which makes Vegeta envious. Dragon Ball Z does a great job at bringing in intimidating villains with their evil ideologies of total destruction and suffering.
It is obvious that anyone who is into anime must have watched this series. Not to mention, I get quite nostalgic thinking about the time when this series was aired on Cartoon Network, and I would, aimlessly as a kid, yell ‘Kamehameha’!
However, Dragon Ball Z is not just about that. While a lot of people stereotype this anime as a hyper-masculine show, the series offers more than just epic fighting and incessant screaming and yelling during transformations. If you have the heart and time for this show, you will get invested in it quite easily.
Except for the extra arc of Buu, which was quite confusing for the audience, every other arc in the series is quite engaging. Dragon Ball Z is one of the anime series that deserves hype, respect, and popularity. People still imitate and capture the essence of the series and the franchise in general.
The style and trope of the series have been parodied by a lot of people. Additionally, you get to see a lot of people perform the Fusion dance for meme purposes or for entertainment. Either way, Dragon Ball Z is epic and one of the best anime series I have seen. It has everything, a fantastic plotline, detailed characters, and bold and epic action.
Our Rating: ⭐ (4.7/5).
Also Read: What Episode Does Vegeta Go Super Saiyan For The First Time?