-by Dylan D
Dragon Ball is easily one of the biggest anime franchises of all time, and for that one of the biggest franchises in the world. Goku’s adventures span multiple manga series, anime series, movies (sadly a live action one), action figures, posters and so on. While I’m constantly updated on the current happenings of the Z fighters thanks to one of my best friends; only one adventure in the series kept me hooked until the end, the original. Since the fourth anime series titled Dragon Ball Super is finally coming to the United States next month; I think it’s appropriate to look back on where it all started.
I was twelve at the time. My parents argued a lot, screaming and the usual. I would hope for the best everyday. Not only that but I was bored with day to day life. School and tests, all that stuff seemed so irrelevant. I grew up on stuff like Pokémon and One Piece so I knew the world was huge and full of stuff to be explored, but here I was trapped in a desk doing times tables. Anyway, one day I was at Borders book store (it’s sad to say Borders is just a memory now). As a kid would normally do, instead of looking at boring old books I wandered off into the DVD section. There I saw a bright blue package holding Season 1 of Dragon Ball. I knew about Z, but not the original. In fact I thought it was a prologue made after Z. I begged my dad to get it for me and when we got home I locked myself in my bedroom, popping the first disc into my PlayStation 2. I was then absorbed into one of the best fictional worlds ever.
A charismatic deep-voiced narrator introduced me to Son-Goku, a kid not much older than me who lived in the world I wished I did. Living in the middle of the forest, Goku’s biggest worries were exploring and catching dinner. I guess my twelve year old self subconsciously imagined himself as Goku. So when Goku went on an adventure so did I.
The reason I prefer Dragon Ball to the other series is its simplicity and tone. There are no multiple deaths to be undone with the dragon balls, aliens aren’t the enemies until much later, and the fighting is slower paced with weapons and fists and the occasional energy attack. There’s also a lot of comedy, which is awesome. I think this is what hooked me in so much as a kid; the stories were easy to understand and I could laugh along the way.
Where I live; the innocence of a child doesn’t last too long. Some of the other boys in my eighth grade class would talk about smoking, drinking and the sorts, meanwhile I just wanted to be a kid who watched cartoons and played outside. Everybody wanted to grow up so fast and I just wanted adventure. I guess that’s a con of living in New York; there are no green fields to run around in, just concrete.
I looked at Goku through my TV screen and saw the definition of innocence. There’s a scene early on where Goku is taking a bath with the help of his older partner Bulma. As if needing an assistant for a simple bath wasn’t enough, it’s revealed that Goku doesn’t even know what genders are. He also assumes that everyone would have a tail just like he does. The crazy thing is Goku has lived in isolation ever since his grandfather died; he embodies innocence with his lack of social awareness.
With simple plots and an innocent fun loving character to project yourself into, it’s not hard to see why a kid yearning for adventure would love Dragon Ball. It has great writing, one of the best English dubs of all time and memorable music. Like a fine cheese or wine, Dragon Ball has aged into something that gets better every year. It reminds us through Goku that even the biggest legends start off in small footsteps; it’s an epic saga that shows us what it means to be innocent. Let’s be honest, it inspired us all to get into that trademarked pose and scream for a Kamehameha beam.
So yes, I will try watching Dragon Ball Super on Toonami this January. If by some chance I don’t like it enough to stick around; oh well, at least I have Dragon Ball