For more than three decades, Dragon Ball Z by Akira Toriyama has led the shonen genre and influenced countless other series with its plot, characters, and pacing. Dragon Ball has done a lot to change the shonen genre, and for that it should be given a lot of credit, but it’s not perfect.
Celebrating Dragon Ball Z’s most memorable moments while remaining critical of the anime’s flaws is feasible. Dragon Ball criticism typically concentrates on the show’s filler content or formulaic writing, however there are also valid issues with the anime’s handling of life and death.
In most anime, death is a necessary evil. However, sacrifice can be a common theme in shonen combat anime like Dragon Ball Z. Death shouldn’t ever seem pointless or manipulated. It can be an emotional stimulus for transformation when managed properly.
When the original Dragon Ball series eventually allows death and its effects to set in, some of its most moving scenes occur. Characters can learn and develop as a result of suffering severe losses. Nevertheless, Dragon Ball Z finally loses all significance because of how carelessly it handles death and impermanence.
Dragon Ball Repeatedly Wishes to Avoid Death
Since the beginning of the series, the Dragon Balls and their nearly endless wishes have been revered as precious treasures.
However, they are also one of the most crucial weapons for resurrection and the reversal of death. Regarding this matter, there are several very important guidelines and limitations, such as the fact that Shenren cannot undo natural deaths and that he won’t grant the same wish again, including someone’s revival.
This is still sufficient to convey that dying is frightening and that the characters must actually go through it. Because Piccolo’s death renders Earth’s Dragon Balls inoperable, the bloodshed in Dragon Ball Z’s Saiyan invasion is exceptional.
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The wisest course of action for Dragon Ball Z might have been to maintain this initial premise, but because of fear and impatience, Planet Namek’s Dragon Balls are revealed, allowing for even more latitude with their demands. Even while the Dragon Balls and death are still very much relevant at this stage, the series is starting to go downhill.
The days of characters going for extended periods of time without having access to a set of Dragon Balls are long gone. The tidy-up at the conclusion of the Frieza Saga in Dragon Ball Z establishes a frustrating pattern for the series that is repeated after Cell and Buu’s losses.
Characters are able to frequently return from the end in ways that were previously inconceivable because to the advent of more potent Dragon Balls and deft wish-granting. Nowadays, viewers anticipate that any significant plot development will be followed by a scene in which the villain’s victims are all brought back to life.
When all of this conveniently gets pushed under the rug with Dragon Ball wishes, it becomes much more difficult to conduct dramatic actions like Majin Vegeta’s attack on defenseless spectators or Cell’s siege on the city. The sense of loss that existed during Vegeta and Nappa’s invasion or even King Piccolo’s battle no longer exists in the world of Dragon Ball Z.
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