16 Reasons Dragon Ball Z Doesn't Hold Up No Matter How Much You Love It
If you grew up in the 1990s in North America and your first encounter with Japanese culture didn’t come from Pokemon, it almost certainly came from Dragon Ball Z. One of the most-watched animes of all time, Dragon Ball Z pulled off the rare feat of being a sequel that was more popular than its predecessor. DBZ, as the cool kids called it, combined extreme violence with flashy visuals and the kind of outrageously over-the-top dramatics that have since become an anime cliché. Its main character, Goku, was at one point a hero whose popularity was on par with the Batmen and Spider-Men of the world.
However, like many childhood staples from the 1990s, Dragon Ball Z doesn't hold up when revisited today. It’s a viewing experience that mixes cringe-inducing regret with a genuine astonishment that you invested so much of your life in watching this compilation of brightly-garbed men shouting at each other. Watching Dragon Ball Z today is the kind of thing that makes you realize that your parents were definitely right to think that you were a weirdo. Read through these arguments about why Dragon Ball Z sucks and vote up the ones you agree with.
- 12,676 VOTES
The Great SaiyamanPhoto: Toei Animation
The story arc of Goku’s son, Gohan, was originally one of the best things about Dragon Ball Z. Gohan was the Carl Grimes of his day, transforming from annoying whiner to hardcore badass with his literally one-handed destruction of Cell. Gohan followed up all of this character development by quickly turning into one of the show’s lamest characters. When he wasn’t nerding it up in school, Gohan could be found patrolling the streets as the Great Saiyaman, a vigilante with a practiced dance routine and one of the worst costumes in superhero history.
- 22,457 VOTES
Only a Few of the Characters Actually MatterPhoto: Toei Animation
Even among the characters that can fight - unimaginatively dubbed "Z Fighters" - only a few characters truly matter. Goku and the other Saiyans quickly outclass all of their former allies and rivals, with the possible exception of the Namekian Piccolo. A show set on Earth soon had essentially zero useful Earthling characters. The Z Fighters were the equivalent of an unbalanced football team, where only a few key players matter and everyone else just tries not to get in the way. In the case of Krillin, they couldn’t even do that.
- 32,376 VOTES
Dying Doesn't MatterPhoto: Toei Animation
Characters do frequently die in Dragon Ball Z. The series’ first story arc concludes with the death of Goku, countless characters sacrifice themselves, and Krillin explodes, like, a dozen times. The show doesn’t even bother with funeral scenes, however, because of the existence of the titular dragon balls. These wish-granting orbs summon the dragon Shenron, who can bring the dead back to life.
There are two limitations to this loophole: the dragon cannot grant the same wish twice and the dragon or the dragon balls themselves can be destroyed. The show completely avoided these limitations with the introduction of a second dragon, who could grant the same wish twice, thus rendering everyone effectively immortal. Even Krillin.
- 42,593 VOTES
There's So Much FillerPhoto: Toei Animation
For all of its faults, Dragon Ball Z definitely provided fans with several moments of dynamic plot and tense drama. Unfortunately, one of those major faults was the fact that great moments were surrounded by insane amounts of filler material. Every event seemed stretched far beyond its natural limits by endless build-up and countless diversions to the main plot. Even worse were the episodes that were completely meaningless filler, like the time Goku got a driver’s license or the time everybody just went fishing. Not exactly what you tune in for when watching a battle-orientated anime.
- 52,233 VOTES
Villains Quickly Become PowerlessPhoto: Toei Animation
Dragon Ball Z opens with the arrival of Raditz, Goku’s long-lost and incredibly powerful Saiyan brother. Despite it taking both Goku and Piccolo defeat Raditz (a feat they just barely managed), the next major antagonists to attack Earth carry with them plantable Saibamen that are each as powerful as one Raditz and the Z Fighters take them down with ease. The villainous Frieza has an awe-inspiring power level of one million, but by the next story arc, he is easily dismantled by a brand-new character from the future. Eventually, young children are able to beat once all-powerful foes like Cell and Frieza with one arm tied behind their backs. Each new phase of the story renders the threats of the past laughable, which makes it hard for the show to gain any sense of history.
- 62,027 VOTES
The Useless Side CharactersPhoto: Toei Animation
Dragon Ball Z made an admirable attempt to carry over the majority of the characters that were established in its precursor series, Dragon Ball. However, it didn’t really make an effort to find anything meaningful for all those characters to do. DBZ involves fighters with the power to destroy worlds, yet tries to shoehorn in plots involving talking turtles, shapeshifting pigs, and Krillin. Totally-normal human Bulma even accompanies the team to alien planet Namek, where she provides the essential service of annoying Vegeta and getting into mortal danger. Most of these side characters’ screentime revolves around them watching the more important characters do stuff on television.