Dragon Ball Super: Stupid

Shitting on DBZ is a rite of passage for anime critics. While many shows have glaring flaws, DBZ has the rare honor of remaining the most well-known and most egregious example of the very flaws it prototyped over two decades ago. It’s an easy target.

Somehow lost in the mix is that DBZ is an enjoyable show. (I’m specifically referring to Dragon Ball Z, not Dragon Ball the prequel, which bored me to tears from what little I’ve seen of it, or Dragon Ball GT, which I’ve never seen.) If you simply go by the number of good arcs, DBZ outperforms several shounen anime often held in higher critical regard, such as Rurouni Kenshin, Bleach, and Yu Yu Hakusho. DBZ had three solid arcs: the Saiyans, Frieza, and Cell. Even the Buu arc started reasonably well, only turning to utter garbage once Buu showed up.

Dragon Ball Super inherited all of DBZ’s flaws and little else. Well, it also inherited some old DB characters nobody ever cared about and gave them way too much screen time, though I suppose even they were better than some of the new characters, such as Monaka, a character defined by weakness, timidity, and huge nipples.

Pretty much the whole series was a lazy, contrived mess. First, Goku and the gang took on the God of Destruction. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it only happened because the God of Destruction foresaw god-level Saiyan strength in a dream. It’s literally deus ex machina. How did Goku get his god-level power-up? Everyone prayed for it. It makes you wonder why the Saiyans never prayed to be stronger when they were tyrannized by Frieza. How did Frieza get his power-up? He trained for the first time in his life, which for some reason never occurred to him when he was paranoid of a Saiyan uprising. Then the crew moves on to challenging opponents from parallel universes, which I guess is slightly less lazy writing than discovering your next opponent in a dream. The only decently written arc was the new Future Trunks arc. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t go wrong with time travel.

There were a handful of good fights in the whole show. Just watch them on YouTube, preferably in the English dub if available, because Goku’s Japanese voice is probably the single most unfitting major character’s voice in the history of anime. Why did Bulma’s voice actor have to be the one that died?

Some would say Dragon Ball Super should be held to a lower standard as a kids show. I’m ok with giving the original Dragon Ball a free pass for that very reason. But this revival without a doubt banked on its appeal to the previous generation of fans, many of whom have children today. I used to teach a Business English class to middle-aged engineers. On one particular Monday lesson, I asked them what they did over the weekend. A surprising number said they watched the Tokyo marathon. Turns out they only watched because they were expecting Dragon Ball Super to come on. Props to the marketing team for the Tokyo marathon.

Dragon Ball Super should’ve tried harder. Hell, it should’ve tried. It didn’t, and it sucked.

Dragon Ball Super: ~~

11 Replies to “Dragon Ball Super: Stupid”

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you said and I’m a HUGE fan of the original manga. I own all the volumes and have read the whole thing at least 8 times. It’s my second favorite manga of all time just behind Genshiken (I fucking love Genshiken). I even love the beginning where Goku is just a kid and it was more comedy based than Dragonball Z was. I only watched about 20 Super episodes before dropping the whole show. After that I have watched some clips on youtube and wasn’t impressed. The whole thing feels like bad fan fiction. It doesn’t even feel like a real sequel.

    Also, Dragonball is the ONLY time when I prefer English dub over Japanese because of Goku’s voice. It really is that bad. I mean I’m happy that more people are watching anime even if they watch English dubs, but to me Japanese language is part of the anime watching experience. It’s part of the fun. Just like if I watch Chinese matial arts movie I try to find one without english dub. I can read subtitles just fine.

    • Eight times? I don’t think I like anything as much as you like Dragon Ball.

      That’s the same analogy I make for the new Star Wars movies. I don’t think they’re bad, but they feel like fan faction.

      I’ve never liked female voices for male characters, but even then, there’s a huge difference between a husky female voice for a teenage boy and raspy female voice for a middle-aged muscleman.

  2. Dragoon Ball Super is Naruto filler all over again. Couldn’t care less, same bullshit 15 minutes taking 200 episodes. Was unimpressed. Dragon Ball GT on the other hand is good even if it is not Canon, however, according to Toriyama own’s word, Dragon Ball should have ended in the Cell Saga, so it is safe to assume everything else is yet profitable filler.

    • Let’s be fair, it was only 131 episodes. And Naruto didn’t hit full-blown filler mode until episode 137.

  3. Huh. I actually heard good things from people about Dragon Ball Super but could never bring myself to start watching it.

    Although I never looked into it so I suppose people who didn’t like it wouldn’t talk about it.

    I guess one problem with it is that it’s pretty clear that Dragonball doesn’t work without Goku. Nobody seemed happy with Goku staying dead after the Cell Saga. And Goku isn’t a character that can change in an interesting way.

    • Those people are all liars. Or maybe it was all a dream…

      I wouldn’t mind leaving Goku dead for a change. I was waiting for that one arc when they’d let Vegeta save the day, but no, it was all Goku from start to finish.

  4. Dragonball Super was not something I could bring myself to watch. I had my time with Dragon Ball Z (though I never wanna see Namek again. Fake Namek, or actual Namek with the dang Bulma filler) I partially watched Dragon Ball, and did a clip show viewing of GT. It left an impression on me as a nascent anime fan when I was starting to understand what anime was, but I can’t watch anymore. Series fatigue plus the things I’ve heard and clips I’ve seen have turned me off from it. It had a good run, but Super was where I got off the ride.

    • If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t have watched Super either.

      But now imagine you’re trying to learn Japanese, and there’s a series you’re already familiar with playing at 9:00 AM on Sunday mornings. The language is generally easy to understand, and there’s basically no hit to your enjoyment value even if there are parts you don’t fully understand. It gives the series some added value.

      Then again, if I’d spent those 131 half-hours updating this site…

  5. You said what I couldn’t put into words. You should be glad you dropped it, it gets much worse. There are things that make your average media consumer cringe, but for someone who really knows the DB universe, it just hurts…a lot.

  6. After another look at this post and I forgot to tell you about the existence of Dragon Ball Kai.

    It’s the recap of DBZ. It’s far superior because it takes out all the crap 15 minutes taking 200 episodes and some scenes were redraw and redubbed. It’s kind of akward to see the quality of the scenes fluctuate, but that’s ok because it made DBZ fun and enjoyable to watch all over again.

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