5 Things From DBZ I Wanted To See But Didn’t

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Christmas is over and the end of the year festivities are about to hit, meaning everyone else is going to be covering the Best Of and Worst Of 2010 lists like they just remembered they had a final paper to write. Me, I decided I haven’t talked about Dragonball Z in quite a while and that therefore I’d spit out a list that really gets to the heart of my feelings about the show. I love it to death, but it has a lot of shortcomings. And I mean a lot. More than it should. Despite all the cool moments that happened, here are Five Things From DBZ I Wanted To See But Didn’t.

5. A Conclusion to Goku vs Vegeta’s Rivalry:

Vegeta would totally use the Konami Kode by the way.

The very first big fight of the series proper involved Goku, the low-level Saiyan outcast, versus Vegeta, the prince of all Saiyans, in an all-out slugfest, the likes of which the series would rarely ever see. Their fight delivered us with more than enough iconic images to fawn over, but the fight’s resolution just wasn’t satisfying. Sure, we can say round one went to Goku, but really, Gohan, Krillin, and even Yajirobi helped team up and fight Vegeta.

We’d have to wait over 200 episodes before the long-awaited rematch between these two, first getting teased as a match during the Tenkaichi Budokai but eventually switching to what we really wanted to see: Goku and Vegeta both as Super Saiyan 2’s going at each other’s throats with everything they could come up with.

I had tingles all over my body when the fight actually started.

Except the fight didn’t exactly, um, end. It became apparent that neither really wanted to keep fighting all-out as both fighters had made their respective points (Vegeta that he’s angry and Goku that he’s stupidly powerful), and the threat of Majin Buu was a little too great to ignore. If you can basically stop your opponent by holding up a hand and saying, “Wait,” the fight sort of petered out. While Vegeta did technically win the fight by knocking Goku out when his back was turned (cool but so lame), there was no resolution to the fight at that moment. And there never was. We deserved one last good fight between these two as it was the driving force behind both Goku’s and Vegeta’s motivations throughout most of the series i.e. “I must be stronger than the other one.” Having the rematch called on account of Vegeta finally come to his senses and realize that Goku’s the main character isn’t as satisfying as say, I don’t know, finishing a fight you started.

4. Future Trunks’ World:

Sure I'm insanely cool, but it's not like I get to stick around forever.

The strange timeline paradoxes aside, Future Trunks was one of my favorite characters of the series. Knowing that he only had a short time with us was a sad feeling to deal with, more so when I realized that once he left the show he’d never have a reason to reappear again, and even worse, the Trunks from the present timeline was a total Chaunce.

Lame!

I began to wonder what Future Trunks was going through. There were a number of questions I wanted to answer other than the whole “Wouldn’t Majin Buu absolutely mangle his world?” question. For one, I wanted to know if Trunks and Bulma were smart enough to consider going to New Namek and bringing Dende to Earth to restore the Dragon Balls. It could entirely work as Trunks saw Goku do this with Dende in the present timeline, meaning Dende could show up on Earth and recreate Shenron, or maybe an even better dragon considering how much older and more learned he’d be, allowing the main characters to be wished back again. Everyone but Goku could be back within a few year’s time, essentially reinstating the status quo and permit the future timeline to continue flowing in a completely alternate way. Naturally, as you know, the series never showed this alternate future play out in favor of having the Z Fighters battle a pink rubber-monster. Oh well.

3. A Real Fight in a Crowded City:

And remember, anything from GT doesn't count.

For one reason or another, the fights began to bore me as the series plugged on. A lot of this had to do with the lack of innovation within a fight, but even worse, every fight had to take place in locations completely separate from the rest of the world, meaning either a wasteland, or a…actually always a wasteland. We hardly even had a fight in the forest, didn’t we? We got a few in the ice and snow thanks to the movies, but those don’t count.

Of all the places a fight could have taken place, I was rooting for “City” most of all. Why? Because I wanted to see the true scope of these fights rather than the same old rock formation getting smashed. If the fight between Goku and Kid Buu was placed within a city with thousands of people running around, suddenly things get more intense. Goku’s need to perform better becomes more desperate, and even better, as an audience we’re allowed to have a stronger emotional reaction to the fight.

That's a cool punch, but wouldn't it be cooler if there were other people there to judge how hard that hit really was?

The reason behind this has to do with the rarity we encounter a total wasteland in our lives. DBZ completely forgoes the human element extremely early on and does very little to ever regain it. Consider a scary movie for a moment. Are you more scared during a scene that takes place in a desert, or a scene that takes place in a house that looks just like yours? Were we to see Goku and Cell tossing each other through skyscrapers, there’d be that underlying feeling of, “Whoa, what if I were in that building? Or what if someone I knew was in that building?” Without consciously realizing it, Cell would look like a more vicious villain every time he crumbled a building and Goku would look like a more courageous hero whenever he sacrificed his body to a punch or blast just to save a city bus or hospital. The closest we got was a scene at the World Martial Arts stadium so that Vegeta could blow up a few people and a filler fight between Goku and Majin Buu where Goku leads the villain away from the city that he sort of already wrecked by transforming into a Super Saiyan 3. I’d have preferred a fight happening at a lightening pace within the middle of a city where no innocent bystander can really escape. Tension!

2. Seeing Earthlings Regain Some Credibility:

Well, score one for the Earthlings. Too bad we're still in last place.

The longer the series went on, the more apparent it was all about the Saiyans and no one else. Krillin, Yamcha, and Tien were still around, but they couldn’t do anything of value within the series. Even Android 18, technically a human as well, was relegated to a filler plot (albeit a pretty hilarious one) in the final plot arc of the series.

At best we had Hercule, AKA Mr. Satan, the bumbling fool of a World Champion who knew martial arts but not the kind that meant anything in the world of DBZ. His crowning achievement came in the form of befriending Majin Buu, thus accomplishing what none of the other characters ever could: ask a super villain to stop being evil and have him go “Okay.” This victory is extremely short-lived though as we’re reminded that no DBZ plot can be resolved without someone punching harderest.

Once again the problem here rests with a lack of relate-ability. The main characters are all members of an alien race and can fly, crush rocks, and shoot hand beams like that’s just what happens at puberty. And don’t try and tell me that we’re expected to relate on a basic level similar to E.T. E.T. was a vulnerable alien who just wanted to go home. Goku is a super-powered alien who wants to fight this pink rubber dude and Vegeta is super pissed that he’s not as super-powerful as the other super-powered guy from his same race. Gohan doesn’t display any deeper emotion, nor does Goten or Trunks, and least of all Piccolo (different super-powered race but whatever). We can’t even relate to the bad guys as they’re just one-dimensional “kill all humans” bad guys. Even Bowser has more motivation behind his schemes.

Now that I've already achieved my goal of being perfect it just makes sense to kill everyone.

Krillin was a great foil for human achievements in the earlier stages of the series as he wasn’t the most powerful character but he played an integral part in at least half of the show’s run. He helped to beat Vegeta on Earth and to delay Frieza on Namek, plus he began to have some interesting character developments in the Cell Saga when he fell in love with an android. But humans still only seemed to find use in the series within the “Women in Refrigerators” role. Think about it. Krillin’s greatest moment involved him getting blown up so that Goku could transform into a Super Saiyan. Yamcha got a hand through the stomach so that everyone knew when the androids appeared. Tien stalled Cell so that Vegeta could show up to the fight a little late, and then again to stall Super Buu just long enough for Goku to not be dead anymore. At best we have Hercule convincing every single human on Earth not to be an idiot. Being in the DBZ universe would suck.

1. Any Actual Character Development:

Turning two characters into one doesn't count as character development.

Yes, this is a bold request, one that many hardcore fans will argue I don’t need to ask for as there is more than enough character development to satisfy anyone’s needs. If you believe that, you probably also think dropping an ice cream cone, crying, then being happy when your brother buys you a new ice cream cone is a completely amazing form of character development.

I’m a writer, specifically a dialogue writer, so I have a huge affinity toward characters sounding real and acting real. Showing Goku fight increasingly stronger opponent is about as deep as Spongebob eating another Krabby Patty. Having Goku come to grips with his utter uselessness as a husband and provider for his family, now that’s something worth an award. The Incredibles is amazing for this. Ironman is amazing for this. Dragonball Z doesn’t give a crap about character development.

Your main argument is going to involve Vegeta. Yeah, I get that he has a character arc that takes him from prideful prince to reluctant hero to fallen angel to Earth’s savior. Sure, his arc is there, but it’s not really that deep. We get hints of depth, such as when he says goodbye to his son before he kills himself, and when he openly weeps about how Frieza raped his entire people, but we don’t have a chance to enjoy any of these moments and let them sink in, mostly because these changes don’t mean anything in the long run. As soon as Vegeta comes back from a serious case of the deads, he’s right back to acting exactly how he did before revealing that Frieza made him who he is. When he returns from the spiritual world to assist with the final fight against Kid Buu, he doesn’t seem to mention his son more than a few casual, “I can’t believe you let my son get blown up, Kakarot.” Having his entire character arc consisting of “Needing to accept that Goku is way superior to him” falls flat when Goku’s response is essentially just, “Oh, yeah, I’m sort of busy right now so can I give a crap later?”

"I just want him to like me!!!"

Krillin also hints at some deeper character opportunities as he struggles with an inferiority complex throughout the series, plus it becomes apparent that he’s pretty lonely and just wants to find true love. Giving him the chance to love Android 18 is great, but there’s a whole seven years left blank where all the good stuff happens in terms of their relationship. When we leave Krillin and Android 18 at the end of the Cell Saga, Android 18 is freaked out by his selfless acts of kindness towards her, and Krillin has sort of resigned himself to the fact that they’ll never work out. Next time we see them they have a child together. Alright then? Sure, it’s not something action junkies want to deal with, but is sure as hell makes for more interesting characters.

Then we have Gohan. His entire arc seems to consist of him not believing in himself, always doubting that he can outdo his dad in terms of usefulness. Then at the end of the Cell Saga we see him unleash and show off his abilities as the new Most Powerful Character, resulting in him coming to terms with his strength and his role as a hero. But then he becomes worthless in the Buu Saga, barely managing to stay relevant beyond a brief-yet-awesome fight scene that accomplishes nothing. That would be a regression of character. Gohan had the potential to mirror Peter Parker in terms of a “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” character arc, but instead Gohan just sort of exists in the background next to Goku, a character that has no character arc whatsoever. Even the little hint that Goku could be forced to struggle with the newfound Super Saiyan power is brushed over almost instantaneously. What a disappointment.

Boy it's a good thing you're not a one-dimensional character, otherwise that'd be really boring, wouldn't it?

Dragonball Z is already 291 episodes long and adding more to that is unreasonable. I get that. But there is a lot of wasted space, dead air, and needless fighting happening all over the place. If they had to cut the entire Buu Saga just to make space for the characters to take an episode to talk, it’d be entirely worth it.

As DBZ currently stands, it’s still one of my favorite shows ever. But I wanted so much more from it. I’m sure I can’t be the only one though. Anyone else have something from DBZ they wanted to see but didn’t? Leave a comment and let me know. If we get a dialogue going, we might even succeed in some character development here.

Need more on Dragonball Z? Check out these articles:

Creating My Own Sagas: Dragonball Z Action Figures

Top 10 DBZ Relationships Part 1

The Dragonball Z Technique Guide

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

9 Comments

  1. You are right about something. I hate the fact the seirs ended the way it did. Altough today it might be too late to change anything. Basically everything is written. Sure i wanted more from the show but i learned to accept it th way it is. I Still love the show.

  2. I do agree that their should have been a Goku vs Vegeta Round 3 but I just can’t see that in anyway working out after Buu(trust me I have shat my pants thinking about how it could) Because even if Vegeta didn’t give that”I accept you’re better then me Kakarot” speech, Goku is still at the end more powerful then Vegeta with his SS3 powers.
    And yes I would say their is little to no character development but Vegeta and Gohan’s arcs are unbelieveable and powerful, they just get effed up by going on TO LONG! Goku(as much as I love him) should have stayed in otherworld and Vegeta as well after killing himself for everyone…wait…THERE YOU GO!!! If they could have writen in Goku vs Vegeta Round 3 in the Other World Tourament then there is you’re conclusion 🙂
    I would like to have seen a better ending to the series all together.
    Also(speaking of Character Development) their is moment after Gohan defeats Cell where Vegeta says somthing like”I’m not worthy of being called a Warrior” and flys off vowing ever to fight again…would have loved to have seen some inner conflick there 🙂

  3. There are a few things I would like to have seen and I have caused me to ponder.

    1. More expansion on Frieza’s empire. Frieza;s World Trade Organization basically focused on taking over planets, conscripting the greatest warriors and clearing out other planets of any life in order to sell them. The question is, to who and why? What use does Frieza have for currency? He’s so powerful he can get pretty much anything he wants. If he needs something he might really need, like the Dragon Balls, he simply takes it. I suppose it would be because Frieza is so powerful he believes he is superior to other life forms and is therefore given the right to manipulate them.

    2. More explanation of how ki and the general super powers work. Episodes devoted to some more detail of the training would be interesting. Also, why is it that most aliens seem naturally adept at ki manipulation. I know Ginyu mentions some are tremendously powerful since they’re “mutants”, but it seems that greater numbers of alien populaces have these abilities, at least in comparison to humans.

    3. More gimmick styled villains, at least minions. They do touch on this some in Dragon Ball and in a few movies, but the most interesting gimmick villain was probably Guldo.

    4. How the heck Dr. Gero was able to understand ki and replicate it mechanically. A little more explanation on that would have been fascinating. Gero is one of my favorite villains in the series, and I think an episode about his ability to gather funds and work in secrecy, maybe exploring on his hatred for Goku and possibly some people he may have killed to keep his experiment secret. For that matter, maybe the inclusion of one villain who was a serious threat but not physically very powerful. Though Garlic Jr. and Babidi were not the coolest villains, they were a nice change of pace.

    5. Teen Gohan done right. I think this portion was mostly kind of lame, but the premise was interesting. The Z Fighters are basically a super hero group. Why not have them fight crime? To have villains who would be credible threats, have them try to find terrorist with hidden explosives in buildings or murderers and kidnappers. who might hide behind bystanders. The little they did with this worked pretty well in Dragon Ball, but mostly because the characters were more vulnerable.

    6. An ending that actually felt like it had more resolution.

  4. I totally agree with you there, although I quite liked how Piccolo became good because he found he cared about Gohan (though it was quick). I think Vegeta’s character was fine. Sure he went back to being a dick quite a bit but that was because he felt stuck with Goku being dead so much… I loved when he finally admitted Goku was stronger… but yea besides that I totally agree with everything. I reckon they could have elaborated more on Gohan’s feelings… I mean his Dad dies, then disappears, then dies again, then to top it off after about 15 years or something he pisses off to train some random kid for X amount of years… Why could he just instant transmission home at night and on the weekends to see his family? What a dick… But then again Goku isn’t really known for his intelligence.

  5. Remember that Dragon Ball was created for humor. Toriyama had no idea where he was going with the series when he started. If you asked him whether he planned to include supe powerful beings from 5000 years before the first episode that would try to destroy the universe, I think he would just think you’re crazy. I think he planned to end it at king piccolo but changed his mind.

  6. I agree they should redo Dragon ball trough Dragon ball Z. Connect the two and do the characters like “Bleach,” or “Naruto Shippuden” that way when you have an intense fight you still get a sense of inner and outer struggle of growth. Also better roles for the earthlings, evolution shouldn’t stop at flying and shooting beams what about special skills that others including sayians do not have like element, or weapons,even some sense of using dragon balls to wish for room to grow. Jeez WTF

  7. Yep. That pretty much sums it up.
    I guess if anything, I just wish the show some more legitamate female characters other than Bulma, Chi Chi, and 18.

    I myself am 206 episodes into One Piece right now, and even I’m kind of struggling with the number one on the list here. Granted, it’s not really as bad as DBZ, but I’m at the point where I’m starting to notice all the habits each of the main characters has and I want to see them grow, but it just takes so damn long. Luffy specifically, just has the habit of seeming like he grows through the course of a very intence arc of episodes, but once the bad guy’s finaly down, he’s back to being his blissful naive self. It’s not that we don’t like him just the way he is, we do, it’s just… I don’t know. As Captain of the Straw Hat Pirates, I expect Luffy to grow up act like a competent freaking a Captain, and not just when the sh*t hits the fan like he has been doing.
    Fortunately for me, I’m not even half way through the series yet, so there is still plenty room for growth.

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