Considering just how long Dragon Ball has been going, along with its ever increasing cast, it’s difficult to give every character a fair shake. I’ll concede that. Characters that were once vital components to creating the show’s identity eventually became relegated to the sidelines in order to further promote Goku’s one man show.
Despite being hugely important to Dragon Ball; Krillin stopped really doing anything important after Cell, the same with Gohan. If there is one thing I have to give Dragon Ball Super credit for, it’s that it does treat its older characters with some modicum of respect. Hell, it even brought Freeza back and made him even more complex and interesting than he already was.
Dragon Ball GT was in the same boat, able to create new stories about these new characters fighting new villains within this world. The world was their oyster, able to do anything with these character both new and old. And how did they fare in that respect?
The Big Baby
First off let’s look at Baby as a villain. Historically, Dragon Ball villains can hardly be considered deep or complex characters, and if anything Baby has a better reason to be a villain than most. He is the last survivor of a dead race, destroyed by the relentless onslaught of the concurring Saiyans.
So he has a good motivation, as hamfistedly as it was delivered in the show itself. Then there’s his unique quirk; his ability to possess and brainwash people onto his side. An idea already dabbled with during the Garlic jr. filler arc of the Dragon Ball Z anime, Baby sees this plan play out to a real conclusion. Taking all of Goku’s most vital allies in Vegeta and Bulma and turning them against him.
He’s a villain packed with great ideas behind him, coupled with a great design. Where Baby is let down, is in his execution.
Not to criticise a Saturday morning cartoon villain for being exactly that, but once Baby’s plan is about complete and his battle with Goku begins in earnest, the fight itself really lets down what could have been a great and dramatic final conflict between him and our hero.
I find it kind of interesting how dependent Baby is on the support of the people he’s possessed, gaining power from the Saiyans to transform into his iconic form, and then Bulma’s repeated help to turn him into his great ape form and boost his power again. I’m torn, because it makes him a more unique and interesting villain, but it also kind of fails to make him feel as threatening.
There was so much character work they could have done to make him feel desperate, underhanded and treacherous. But instead they replace this with him and his minions never ending smirk and cackling that made me want to choke something. Any and all work that could have made this guy into a real crafty slimeball of a villain was replaced with this face:
Baby is a villain with some great ideas behind him and a great design, but it ultimately all feels half-hearted. Like they wanted to make him an all powerful villain akin to the three major Z antagonists when in reality, that was not the strongest thing about his character they could have pursued.
Speaking of wasted opportunities
If there was one thing about latter Dragon Ball that really wound me up; it was Akira Toriyama’s insistence that someone would be taking the hero mantle from Goku. But then never actually following through with it. He did it with Gohan more than once, and dabbled with the idea of Gotenks being it too.
Then he did it one more time during the ending of Z, giving the nod to both Pan and Uub as the future guardians to protect Earth from any Gods of Destruction or Ancient goatman Warlocks that may come a-knocking.
I’ve already spoken ad nauseam about the wasted opportunity that was Pan, but now I want to dig into Uub and what the hell GT thought they were doing with him.
To me, it feels like the writers of GT kind of resent Uub. Like they knew they had to something with him, but it was through gritted teeth. When Uub finally shows up again, it’s to save Pan and face off against Baby. Now, despite lines from Baby saying Uub is more powerful than “the other Saiyans combined”, he ultimately loses against the Tuffle pretty easily.
Cut to a great idea:
Having Uub and Majin Buu unite to become a more complete, more powerful being. Something that sounds great in theory. It further gives Uub something unique to him, gives him a transformation, which this series seems to adore and ties a new bow on the arc of Buu. Or it would have if they’d handled it better.
It’s that foreshadowing problem again
When Majin Buu decides to fly off and merge with Uub, there’s pretty much nothing shown to build up to this moment. Buu, who had been just hanging around with Mr. Satan up until this point, simply turns around and gives a tearful farewell to his friend and flies off out of the blue. It would have been a nice moment had it not just came out of left field. They do the exact same thing with Piccolo in the final episode, where he sacrifices himself out of nowhere.
On top of this, when Buu arrives, Uub says that the pair have never met before. So, how in the hell do either of them know this’ll work, and while we’re at it, what even is Buu’s motivation for giving up his life to a total stranger. Just having them previously shared a scene together would have made this work a lot better, or a simple passing line to Goku in the first episode about Uub feeling there was “something missing” would have made the moment a hundred times better.
Everything about the moment, like so many things in GT just feels arbitrary, like they had the good idea but had no idea how to execute it well. Or it was too late in the process for them to make it work properly, so they just made their collective shrug and threw it in.
Then, to make is all the perfect storm of pissing me off, this new “Majuub” ends up getting turned into chocolate by his own attack while barely putting a scratch on Baby, rendering the entire prior moment utterly pointless. And not in a tragic way either. I mean, it is tragic, but not in the way you want it to be.
Later on, “Majuub” ends up playing a vital role in wasting time for Goku to regain his full strength. But again, this feels like a moment pulled from the collective ass of the writer’s room. A situation in which they needed something to hold Baby’s attention for a few moments and they thought: “Hey’s let’s just make Uub not dead.”
It’s just more of the same complaints
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point. The more I talk about this arc, the more I get frustrated with the fact that the writing just falls off a cliff.
Dragon Ball GT is a series full of promise, with some great idea and better art design, but it all comes at the expense of being coherent, logical or even exciting. Everything about the series is an anticlimax, from its big transformation moments, to its heroic sacrifices and even the conclusions of its battles.
Time and time again the show fails to understand what makes a story impactful, never managing to get its claws into me as a viewer and seeming to make sure it shoots itself in the foot if it comes close.
I feel kind of bad for how much I’ve ended up ragging on GT, when I genuinely came into this series hoping to find things about the show to like. And with tomorrow being the last day, my approach is going to be different, sadly, the result isn’t going to.
This is a part of a week long series in which I complain about Dragon Ball GT, if you want to read the other parts, the links are below:
Black Star Dragon Ball Saga:
Day 4: Such a Big Baby