When it comes to Dragonball, my opinion is a great big double-edged sword. I think the perfect place for the series to end, from a storytelling perspective was with Goku defeating Freeza on Namek. It ended the Saiyan arc that started with Z and had Goku fulfilling a legendary prophecy to become the strongest fighter in the galaxy. Problem is, if that had happened, we wouldn’t have had any more Dragonball.
And while it wasn’t as tight as the series before, I still liked the Android Arc, it introduced some cool characters and had a ton of cool moments. It also came full circle on Gohan’s arc with Goku passing the torch to his son to become the new hero, thanks to the power the series had been eluding to since his introduction. Then again, if that had been the end, we wouldn’t have had anymore Dragonball. No Battle of the Gods, no Dragonball Super and no… Majun Buu saga.
While there were still things I liked about the final story arc of Dragonball Z, there is no doubt in my mind it came to embody all the worst things about the series as. It’s badly written, nonsensical and throws away huge pieces of groundwork laid down by the series that came before it. The strange thing is that while the fans obsess over minor details, power levels and other such nonsense, the original creator comes out and admits that he was making things up as he went and just totally forgot about other things along the way.
By this point in the series is seemed like Akira Toriyama was totally at the whims of his publisher and ended up re-writing the series as it was going. The whole series feels like it’s spinning its wheels, and could have ended several times before it eventually does. Introducing unnecessary elements along the way that come off more as fan service than anything. It reads like fan fiction. Which is kind of insulting to faction considering the time, love and thought that goes into Dragonball Multiverse (which any Dragonball fan worth their salt should read.)
But let’s not stop there, let me give 10 overthought reasons (in no particular order) this saga is bad:
Goku taking that passed torch right on back
The ending of the Cell saga was the moment that the series paid off all the hyping up of Gohan it had been doing since he was introduced. It had Goku pass the torch to his son as the new protector of Earth as Goku decided to stay dead at the end. He said it was so the Earth would be in less danger, but lets be honest, it was so he could train in peace away from his wife.
Gohan was always more of a main character in Z than Goku was, and the ending of the Cell Arc had Gohan literally being told it was his responsibility now. It seems like that is where the series was going too, as the Buu Saga begins, Gohan is a high school student and the show follows him trying to fit in while also using his power for good. However, as soon as Goku shows up again, Gohan becomes an afterthought.
Goku has snatches his torch back from Gohan so fast that Gohan spends most of the arc either hiding out on another planet or dead. It would be one thing if Toriyama just decided he wanted Goku to be the main character after all, but he dangles the torch in front of Goten and Trunks too when he is training them fusion. It’s just a great big troll from Goku if you ask me because at the end of the day, nobody going to save the day in this series but him.
Gohan getting the shaft
See the first paragraph of the last point. After beating Cell, Gohan was king badass, he reached a weirdly defined level above the legendary form of Super Saiyan and was the real deal. Even the Buu Saga started by following him going to high school trying to be a normal student, but also using his super human fighting skills to be a “superhero”.
There were hijinks, a romance sub-plot. It seems like Gohan might really be the new main character. But then Goku shows back up and Gohan takes a back seat for the rest of the series. Gohan contributes very little once Goku and Vegeta take centre stage, getting shown up by both of them straight away when the real fighting starts. So Gohan gets whisked away to train for Majin Buu. During this time he swing around a sword for a while, then has an old man dance circles around him for 10 hours, literally. Then he is a badass again, which is pretty anti climactic considering.
The worst thing about it though is while this new Ultimate Gohan is a massive badass, he amounts to absolutely nothing. He doesn’t beat Majin Buu, his huge power boost being a waste of everyone’s time. Gohan being a punk bitch has continued into Super in a big way, with him barley having any of the power after Freeza’s return. It’s a huge shame, because while Toriyama has explained that he believes Gohan would never continue training due to his pacifist nature, you don’t have half the series build him up only to let him melt into the background. It’s bad writing.
Older characters becoming useless
As Dragonball Z went on, it continued to move away from what the tone and spirit of the original show. What started as a light hearted adventure full of colourful characters, became a show about powering up, transforming and planet busting finger cannons. I’m not complaining about this change in the series, what did bother me was how the none Saiyan characters from the early days of the series became less important to the point where they had literally nothing to do.
From the beginning of Z it was obvious that there was already a gulf of power between Goku and the human characters, but there were still things for Bulma, Krillin and the others to contribute. Krillin and Piccolo has major figures in both the Freeza and Cell Arcs despite not necessarily being that strong. Even Tien had his badass moment of holding off Cell in his imperfect form, but by the time the Buu saga rolled around, half of the older characters became background faces doing nothing but showing their faces.
In the Buu saga, if you’re not a saiyan, you’re not worth shit. Unless you’re Hercule. But that’s another point entirely.
I know he’s kind of a fan favourite at this point, but I just don’t like Hercule in the Buu saga. His shtick just got old to me real fast, and yet he caries whole portions of the Buu saga with his wacky hijinks. The whole plot between him and the fat Majin Buu felt like one more thing in the series that was just padding it out.
I’m not saying Hercule shouldn’t exist, he’s an important part of what the show is now, it’s just that as a character whose job it is to pretend he’s a lot stronger than he is seeing him on screen is like seeing a magician that only knows one trick. It gets real old real fast.
I don’t get why he continues to take credit for everything post Cell though. The people of earth seemed pretty chill with old men destroying the moon with their palm lasers and 50 foot tall green alien dudes during the original Dragonball. Can’t they believe that some radish farmer from the mountains can also go toe to toe with a god and come out the other end okay…
Majin Buu is a shitty villain. For one, I say Majin Buu, and you don’t know which one I’m even talking about. There is Fat Buu, Grey Buu, Super Buu, Buutenks/han and Kid Buu. He is not a villain at all, he is a force of nature, a wave of destruction. He just so happens to be something you can punch in the face.
His form are confusing and nonsensical. Changing between the arbitrarily throughout the series and unnecessarily so. The fat Buu was already stronger than the Z fighters, but hell let’s make him Super Buu before anyone has even come close to beating his previous form. But then it seemed like the writers were tired of having the villain be a crazy monkey monster, so they have him absorb Gotenks and Piccolo and he is suddenly Cell. Then they make him a monkey monster again, but let’s make his final form one of his weakest…
It’s terrible, but the aboslue worst thing about Majin Buu is that he is still around. After all is said and done, Fat Buu becomes the latest member of the villain come good guy team that Goku seems to accumulate around him. And he continues to be a petulant, selfish and unpleasant character that Mr. Satan has to babysit for the rest of time, much to my displeasure.
Majin Buu was a bad villain, in the same way a meteorite headed towards earth is a bad villain. It’s a threat sure, but it’s not going monologue to the heroes and give them any real drive to defeat it. In terms of storytelling Buu is the worst villain the series has produced.
Super Saiyan 3
Okay everyone, let’s be totally honest with ourselves for a moment. Super Saiyan 3 is really dumb, in every aspect. It was a cool moment when Goku spent 20 minutes powering up and destroying Sean Schemmel’s vocal chords. But out of context, just look at that form and realise how stupid it looks. The hair, the super brow and gravelly voice. It’s almost a parody of a super transformation.
On top of that, Super Saiyan 3 does nothing to earn itself. Goku turning Super Sayian for the first time was something the show earned, Goku was barely holding his own against Freeza, and it took his best friend being killed in front of him to send him over the edge and ultimately find the power to defeat his enemy. It was the same with Gohan and the form that would eventually become known as Super Saiyan 2, it was earned.
Super Saiyan 3 comes from Goku saying “Hey, wanna see something cool.” Then doing it and it amounting to jack shit. And to top everything off, the form sucks in terms of its usefulness. It never contributes to a fight, in fact it ends up being to the detriment to the user every time it’s used.
It doesn’t help Goku beat Fat Buu, but it uses up the rest of the time he has before he needs to return to the afterlife. It doesn’t help Gotenks beat Buu, and it dramatically shortens the fusion time. It contributed nothing to the final battle between Goku and Kid Buu as it ends up putting Goku out of the fight while Vegeta takes a beating for him.
It sucks and looks stupid, as much as it pains me to say that.
8 year old Super Saiyans and Power creep
I don’t inherently have any problem with Goten and Trunks. Trunks was a character they needed to do something with after the time skip and while his young self pales in comparison to the time traveling anime Kyle Reese, he is still a kid. Goten is like the annoying sidekick for the annoying sidekick.
What did bother me is the fact that they both can turn Super Saiyan, at the age of 8, with basically no training. It used to be kind of a big deal that someone turned into a super saiyan, but now it seems like it is every sayian’s birthright. It takes a big dump on the form that used to be something important, by making it almost useless.
Power creep has always been a thing in DBZ, people leapfrogging each other numerous times a series for no reason. And while the Buu saga might not have been as egregious as previous arcs, it goes to show how far the show has gone when a super saiyan transformation is of little consequence.
I really am going for the jugular here aren’t I. Like Super Saiyan 3, I feel that all of the fusions in the series are there to purely give fans boners and never actually contribute anything meaningful to show story or its resolution.
I used to like Gotenks, like, a lot. Then I grew up and realised how insufferable he is. Never mind him being ridiculously strong for no reason, there is a distinct lack of getting shit done when it comes to the fusion characters that infuriates me. Gotenks is a showboating idiot whose fusion doesn’t last long enough for him to contribute anything useful, and then there is a Vegito.
The most fan service character the series has produced in my opinion. The strongest character to exist in the three Dragonball Z arcs and yet another character who suffers from overconfidence and failing to get shit done syndrome. If you’re going to create a character like Vegito and then not have him immidietly solve the problem, then you’re just spinning wheels, not knowing where you’re going.
At this point in the series though, just drawing out length was defiantly what was happening. If Gotenks didn’t solve the problem right away, Gohan should have. And if Gohan had just killed Buu outright, like he should have learned when he fought Cell, then there would have been no reason for Vegito to exist. But then even he didn’t get the job done, when he could have done it in an instant…
Fusion is fan service…
The Dragon Balls don’t mean jack anymore
The Dragonballs, the things the series is named after, the maguffin that acted as the driving force of the original series. At this point they’ve become nothing but get out of jail free cards. Part of the reason Vegito supposedly didn’t destroy Buu when he had the chance was because he wanted to get absorbed so he could rescue his children and Piccolo who had also been absorbed previously.
What I was thinking was: “who cares, just wish everyone back with the Dragonballs, like you do every time.” At this point in the series there are two sets of Dragonballs at the heroes disposal, both of which can grant three wishes. It kind of makes you wonder why anyone fears death in the series when their revival is (at most) 12 months away.
I’m not going to harp on this one too much as it’s something that was more of a holdover from the original series that continued to be around before the direction of the series changed from a lighthearted adventure to a Shonen fighting series.
It’s just easy to poke holes in a show’s logic when you have a magic wish dragon to solve all your problems.
Immediately after saving their kids and allowing Majin Buu to go through yet another transformation, the entire effort of Goku and Vegeta is revealed to be for naught as Buu blows up the planet, killing everyone bar a few select characters who are all no good in a fight. No, don’t save Gohan Kibito, the guy who is far stronger than the enemy and the guy you spent 10 hours giving a power boost to, no save Hercule and his dog…
This leads to a series of inconsiquentional and unwinnable fights against Majin Buu which ends with Vegita having the bright idea of using the Dragonballs to wish back Earth and having Goku kill Buu with a Spirit Bomb, a move that Goku fails to beat both Freeza and Vegeta with the previous two times he used it in the series.
To top it all off, the only reason this plan works is because Hercule not only manages to convince the people of earth to volunteer their power for the Spirit Bomb, but also gets Vegeta clear of the blast, almost making him the real hero of the whole arc as he accepts the reality around him and gets over his cowardice enough to stop Goku from bottling it.
This series was terrible. It was bad for a long time too. Dragonball GT being even worse than this. The odd movie came out that recaptured some of the good things about the series, but it wasn’t until Battle of the Gods that we got some official, honest to God, good Dragonball stuff. It’s a shame Dragonball Super hasn’t been entirely up to snuff this far either. But what you going to do, it’s a revival of series older than me.