Dragon Ball GT Rewatch Week: Black Star Dragon Ball Saga – Final Day: Conclusions of the Saga

I’m not the power level guy. Very quickly, I learned to stop caring about power scaling, relative strength and characters getting inexplicable power boosts during my time watching Dragon Ball Super. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. The jump in power levels is much less extreme in Dragon Ball GT, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get a whole lot of nonsense for our trouble.

In this final day talking about Dragon Ball GT before I dive into the Baby Saga, I have a question for the three or four people actually reading this. What do you think of this format? When I start watching the Baby Saga, do you this again and break it down after I’ve finished it all? Or should I just start reviewing the episodes one at a time instead as I go through them.

Let me know in the comments. I can make a choice eventually when I pick up GT again.

Nice shorts Trunks

I have talked a lot this past week, but have only touched upon Trunks a little bit. I haven’t dug too deeply, mainly because there isn’t a whole lot to say. It seems like Toei made the choice to turn the Kid Trunks from Dragon Ball Z into an approximation of Future Trunks from the Android Saga. It’s not choice I am willing to criticise, but it doesn’t feel like it makes total sense to me.

These characters couldn’t have had a more different; one a sole survivor, living on the edge of society with his widowed mother. The other was a spoiled brat who wanted for nothing and a Vegeta as an active part of his life. The Trunks in GT should be a much different character the one we end up getting.

It’s not a genuine complaint, but it’s another example of Toei’s strange decision making process when writing this series. Trunks is the voice of reason of the gang, the one who understand technology and often comes up with the solutions to the problems encountered that don’t involve punching or crying at something. He’s also the butt of a lot of the jokes. It’s kind of what leads to the incompetent Time Patrol Trunks from the Xenoverse games.

I get the impression that most of the choices made by Toei when starting GT were financially motivated, rather than coming from a writer wanting to tell a story. There are a ton of stories about Toriyama and his editors butting heads with each other over how he wrote his manga. I’m not saying that whoever wrote GT didn’t care about the integrity of the series, but you can see the gears turning behind the choices made in situations like this: Future Trunks is a popular character, so let’s bring him back (in some form). Hell, Super did the exact same thing in the Goku Black story line.

It’s not just Trunks, the robot Giru feels like a character in which merchandising was a significant factor behind his design. I’m not as cynical as that though, because while Giru initially felt like an unnecessary addition, by the time this saga ended, I ended up liking the character a whole lot. Even with his apparent betrayal of the gang.

 

Toei painted with a broad brush

While I have criticised the show for its characterisation of both Goku and Pan, it’s not to say that the show doesn’t ever feel like Dragon Ball. The goofy humour and silliness is a lot more apparent in GT, more so than it’s about action. I ended up enjoying the sillier aspects of the show more than when it took itself seriously.

I’m going to say something controversial: I actually liked the Para Brothers. Right away, it was obvious that they were a homage to the Ginyu Force to some degree, an eccentric group of minions who manage to be both goofy, but somewhat effective against the heroes.

In this way, GT wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Not only does it borrow heavily from its own history, with the likes of Luud having shades of Majin Buu or Janemba and the Dr. Myuu/Lychee comparison, but there are also wider references to things like Star Wars and Indiana Jones in the series locations and designs. It still feels like Dragon Ball as a result, even if it sometimes gets the details wrong.

Like Dragon Ball Super, GT is driven by fan service more than anything. The major difference is that, while Super feels like a fan service show made by fans, GT gets the overall tone and feeling of what the show is about, but just gets little things wrong. Or at least plays them strangely.

Knowing what I know about GT’s future story lines, I get the impression that Toei realised this sooner rather than later as the adventure aspect of the show take a back seat to the Z style battles starting with the next saga.

 

It’s actually a good start to the series

I have spent a good amount of time in this week complaining about Toei, how they ruined the character of Pan and other such nit picks. In the end though, this has been a 16 episode arc that has felt like it there to slowly build up its first major villain. And in that regard, it succeeds.

The stakes have been set and this future timeline is established. Now we know where we stand, Dr Myuu actually feels like he could be a genuine threat in the next arc. Many of my complaint about the series come from a place of being a big fan of the franchise. And while those criticisms are valid given this was specifically made for an existing fan base, in a vacuum: there is enough here to warrant actually continuing the show.

I just hope that the wider cast of Dragon Ball have a greater presence in the upcoming episodes than they have here. It’s one of the things that Super did well that GT hasn’t done at all: revisiting and developing its older characters. Hell, Master Roshi got significant character development in Super, Vegeta is hardly in GT. Not to mention Uub, why the hell isn’t he around more.

This was only the first 16 episodes, and I’ve got a fair bit ahead of me still to watch. Going forward, I’ll be looking at the characters I felt that Toei dropped the ball with, and see if they manage to develop them any. And if they improve the fights, of which I’m sure there are going to be plenty. I’ll probably end up getting this this next year as there are a lot more episodes in this next Saga to get through.

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