Top 10 DBZ Relationships Part 1 (#10-#7)


Roger Gus Townson here, once again. In between getting turned down for every job I apply to, I’ve been watching the DBZ remake known as Dragon Ball Z Kai on Nickelodeon. Short version, it’s actually starting to grow on me. Granted, the writing’s a little shady and lacking at times, but fortunately much of the original cast has returned. The new actors do an okay job. The frame rate seems to have improved, and the pacing is light-years better.

These guys must be seriously invested in their characters to be playing them as long as they have, through the same story, over and over again. Not that I’m complaining.

For all I’ve said in the past about how this show is dated, poorly plotted, inconsistent, repetitive, and nonsensical, that doesn’t change how downright freaking awesome it is. For those of you that mistake it for shallow, it really isn’t.

To prove that, I am here to showcase what I believe are ten of the most powerful relationships that developed throughout the series. Keep in mind that when I say “relationships” I don’t simply mean romance (In fact, at least 90% of the greatest bonds in the show had nothing to do with that). I am simply speaking of a codependence between two characters throughout the course of the show. Why do I think this is important? Because for an anime who’s major focus was on the combat scenes, it worked really hard to develop these characters and give them connections and emotional depth.

As Moviebob once said, “Action sense gets better when people you care about are in the fight, and you know why they’re fighting.”

So for those of you ready for a DBZ article from a new point of view, here we go.

10. Jeice and Burter (Partners)

I can just hear Chris right now going “…Are you serious?”

Okay I know I’m not making the best impression by putting them first, but please, hear me out. Jeice and Burter are co-members of the Ginyu Force, an elite team of Frieza’s most feared and deadly assassins (more deadly than feared, for sure). Jeice and Burter immediately make my list because with the exception of the fusion technique that comes into play hundreds of episodes later, these happen to be the only two characters in the entire series with a special attack that requires both of their support. Yeah that’s right, they team up to create I giant PURPLE energy blast! Um…what was it called again, Chris? The purple…torpedo? (Pranger’s Note: I believe it was called the Purple Flash Attack in the version I watched the most.)

Anyway, the chemistry between these two is classic evil minion thugery to its finest. And when Burter goes down for the count, Jeice does what any respecting evil minion would do: he runs away and leaves his buddy to die, lest he die himself. But in the end, those who fight together die by Vegeta’s hand together.

And then they go to the after life to get pwned at the same time by Tien.

9. Kami and Mr. Popo (Co-Guardians)

I couldn’t find a good enouch picture of the two of them. So… here’s an awesome picture of their lookout.

Here we have one of the oldest relationships in the DBZ Universe. Kami and Mr. Popo work together overseeing the planet Earth. They are the sole keeper and creator of the Dragon Balls, (in essence, the show’s namesake) and as such, the planet’s last shred of hope when our greatest fighters are lost in battle. The relationship itself, while not that domineering to the plot, has always been touching. Kami was left by his parents on Earth during the Great Drought plaguing his home planet, Namek. Popo became Kami’s first and only companion after years spent all alone, waiting for his parents that never came. They’re pretty much the only family they’ve ever known.

Can I just say something though? So ‘Kami’ mean’s ‘God’ right? WTF! Everyone else in this show has names that mean food, clothing, animals and stuff, and he’s God? Seriously, not even the guardian of Namek is that pretentious. I don’t even want to know what Popo means. (Pranger’s note: Akira Toriyama doesn’t work by the same rules we do. Any godly character would be named Kami in any anime setting, there just happen to be multiple godly characters here. Also, as I said, Akira Toriyama doesn’t work by the same rules we do.)

8. Goku and Krillin (Childhood Friends)

I don’t know why, but these toys say so much about these guys.

What more can I say? The protagonist and his best friend. Doesn’t get much better than that. So why do they rank so low? Well, it’s because I felt this was a far more developed relationship in Dragon Ball than Dragon Ball Z. Goku’s off on his own a lot training, leaving his bud to watch out for his son on Earth, then Namek, but I’ll get to that later. Despite that, I like how much their characters clashed in Dragon Ball, yet in Z, they actually do seem to share in eachother’s humor more often. Also, it’s very important to point out that it is Krillin’s death (the second time) by Frieza that ultimately triggers Goku’s rage, leading to the very first appearance of the Super Saiyan. So that’s definitely worth something.

7. Goku and Bulma (Courage and Wisdom)

The biforce that started it all.

Here again is another relationship that is far more relevant in Dragon Ball rather than Z, yet I still think it’s worth mentioning. One of the reasons this relationship feels like it held up in Z was that despite how much these characters have absolutely nothing in common and inevitably slipped away from each other throughout the story, there was an obvious hint their chemistry was still present. Goku’s passing away from the heart virus was a serious motivator for Bulma to continue her father’s work at Capsule Corporation and develop the time machine. (Any of you seen the movie “The History of Trunks,” might know what I’m talking about). It wouldn’t even change the fate of her own world, but saving Goku in a completely alternate timeframe was enough to her, and what inevitably saved them all.

What’s unique about the Goku/Bulma dynamic is how it’s vastly inspired by characters from a very old tale from Chinese mythology. (Pranger’s Note: Gus is referencing Journey To The West). I haven’t read it, but I do know it’s the exact same mythology that inspired Ninja Theory’s new video game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. (Coming soon to Xbox 360 and PS3 this October), like Goku, Monkey (the protagonist of Enslaved) has a monkey tail, super-human strength, fights with an extendable bow staff, and is forced to assist a young girl (like Bulma) who relies more on intellect to get out of feisty situations. Yet both stories dove enough away from the original source material to make it their own. All I know is Goku and Bulma were the seeds that began this whole story, and for that they disserve some recognition. (Pranger’s Note: For a good retelling of Journey to the West, read American Born Chinese, available at your local library).

Come back Wednesday for part 2!

Want more DBZ articles? Check these out:

The Dragonball Z Technique Guide

10 Worst Instances of Filler in Dragonball Z

Creating My Own Sagas: Dragonball Z Action Figures


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  1. I found your list far better than the original author and better explained. I found myself agreeing completely with it.

    Goku and Krillin’s relationship deserve much better than 7th. And even in GT, on the last episode Goku pays a visit to Krillin and Master Roshi. The relationship ranks much higher than 7.

    And then there’s Master Roshi and Goku. I feel those two had good chemistry in Dragonball. While it was still present in Dragonball Z, Master Roshi’s prominence in the series started to decrease which ruined the bond they had. They even had a sixth sense about each other.

    Another is Tien and Chiaotzu. While Chiaotzu was always a pretty minor character his loyalty to Tien is special, much like Puar with Yamcha. And like Puar with Yamcha, Tien returned the loyalty and love back to Chiaotzu, even when he was under Master Shen’s guidance.

    I also agree with the above comment about Goku and Vegeta. They had great chemistry. There was a kind of love-hate relationship. While Vegeta kept trying to compete with Goku and be better than him, even while he hated him he had respect for him, and opened up to him when Frieza killed him.

    Also, while it might rank near the top of my top 10 list (top being worse), Goku and King Kai had a great relationship. They were great together, they were great for comedy and had a special bond.

    And lastly I liked the relationship between Vegeta and Nappa before Vegeta killed him. I think that was very easily my favourite partnership when it comes to the villains. Android 18 and 17 were alright but it didn’t feel the same as Vegeta and Nappa. And Nappa had huge respect for Vegeta and was loyal to him, and even though he was more than willing to attack Frieza he’d never think of attacking Vegeta and when Vegeta tells him to calm down and stop an action he does it straight away. He only refused to do it once but after getting told again he stopped.

  2. Goku and Krillin placed that far up? Next to Jeice and Burter? For shame.

    1. Goku and Krillin: Classic bromance. Goku has a better relationship with Krillin than he does with Chi-Chi… “We just didn’t want to let you down.” “Don’t be silly. Neither of you two could ever let me down.”

    2. Gohan and Piccolo: Gohan has a closer relationship with Piccolo than he does with his own father. I found the paternal and protective relationship that Piccolo had with Gohan to be extremely touching. “Do you want to know what he’s thinking? He’s not thinking about strength or about competition! He’s wondering why his father is standing there letting him die! And so your son may be the most powerful person in the world but he’s also a scared eleven year old boy. I’d rather die than wait!”

    3. Goku and Vegeta: Overrated relationship but I really loved the extremely large amount of respect that Vegeta obviously had for Goku. Other than Chi-Chi and Gohan he seemed more distraught than anyone else when he died in the alternate timeline. “Kakarot…no…”

    4. Goku and Bulma: Even though these two have nothing in common personality-wise I was always shipping for them. It’s interesting how Bulma developed a high level of respect and attraction (after seeing him at the 23rd Budokai) for Goku that she never really got over in the alternate timeline. Up until the Buu Saga she actually seemed to respect him more than any other member of the cast, especially Vegeta, who her future counterpart placed little faith in.

    5. Gohan and Trunks: Another History of Trunks relationship. I loved the sibling dynamic that these two had and I was really disappointed when this wasn’t reflected when Future Trunks went into the alternate timeline. We barely see Trunks and Kid Gohan interact. “What did they do to you, Gohan?! You were everything to me, everything. This just isn’t fair!”

    6. Gohan and Videl: I loved the Team Saiyaman dynamic between these two and felt that their relationship could have been developed more deeply. Of course, being a shonen, that just wasn’t going to happen in any Dragon Ball property. It’s also interesting that this is the only romantic relationship in which the two share the same dorky personality quirks.

    7. Gohan and Krillin: Far less intense than Krillin’s relationship with Goku, especially after the Namek Saga, but there were some great scenes between these two. “You saved us. Your dad was very proud of you, Gohan, you know that. And he had to do what he did because he loves you!”

    8. Goten and Trunks: Nothing overly cathartic here but the dynamic between these two is cute.

    9. Goku and Yamcha: There was somewhat of a big brother relationship between him and Goku during the earlier portions of Dragon Ball and even up until the end of the Frieza Saga. He was also the one most distraught over Goku’s possible death on Namek.

    10. Yamcha and Puar: This is about as minor as it gets but again, cute. It’s nice to see that someone is on Yamcha’s side.

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