Those "other two" series...
I often get the impression from Dragon Ball Z fans that they are completely disinterested, sometimes even unaware of, the fact that there are two other series that make up the overall Dragon Ball story: Dragon Ball GT, and of course, the original Dragon Ball.

One of the more interesting phenomena I have encountered is the sharply divided opinions among fans on the three series. There are those (most from what I have seen) who believe that Dragon Ball was an unexciting "kids show," until Z started, when the series finally hit it's stride. Dragon Ball to them simply exists as a backstory, where all the characters were introduced. Events that happened are important to the overall story, but most of these fans seem content to just read the synopses, rather than going to the trouble of tracking down the episodes. It is the Z era they want to concentrate on.

At the other end of the spectrum are the fans who think that the Dragon Ball saga became tiresome and should have ended once Goku became an adult. Many became totally disinterested in Z, and never even watched it. The lighthearded, clever, "gag manga" atmosphere that attracted them to DB in the first place disappeared, replaced with a seemingly formulaic and repetitive "battle after battle after battle" scenario. This opinion seems to be more common among, perhaps even exclusive to, Japanese fans.

And then there is the ever-controversial Dragon Ball GT, which seems to fall into one of four categories among fans: "love it," "hate it," "never watched it, don't plan to," and "never watched it, but hate it on principle." GT seemed to be an attempt to create a series that was one-third Z, and two-thirds original Dragon Ball; it featured the same over the top battles Z was known for, but the overall atmosphere was more in keeping with the original series. Old DB fans, who had ignored virtually all of Z, started coming out of the woodwork and embracing the new series, while die-hard Z fans decided that the Dragon Ball saga should have ended where Toriyama ended the manga, and wouldn't touch the completely made-for-TV GT with a ten-foot pole.

Overall, it is very difficult to find fans who like all three series equally. It seems that everyone has their favorite, and puts the other two below that favorite to some degree.

Admittedly, I personally can't say that I am a fan of all three equally, but the reasons for that aren't necessarily based on preference. For one thing, I feel like comparing them in terms of "betterness" is just not possible since they are all so wildly different in style and execution. Apples and oranges, in other words. It might be possible for me to say which one I enjoy more, but not which one I think is better.

In the case of Dragon Ball, I simply haven't seen enough of it to make a fair judgment, and what I did see was (gasp) FUNimation's dub, which I don't consider anything close to what the series really is. I almost feel like I haven't seen it at all, actually. What I did see though, I really enjoyed and I had a great time watching, even though it was the English version. This tells me that I'd enjoy the Japanese original even more. I'm a big fan of the slapstick, humorous atmosphere that characterized the show, and I have a feeling that if I saw the rest of the series, I might actually prefer it to the other two.

GT I really have mixed feelings about. I was a "category three" (above) and was consciously avoiding it. I was afraid that I might end up liking it, and I didn't want to since I objected to the fact that (number one) Toriyama wasn't involved with the project in any significant way and (number two) it existed purely to milk financial rewards from the DB merchandising juggernaut, not for the artistic reasons that brought Dragon Ball into existence in the first place.

But I was in the right place at the right time, and I found myself quite accidentally in the presence of GT. You see, I live in a house with a bunch of guys who are into anime, and whose friends are as well. People come traipsing through here all the time (there are about 10 guys who seem to think they live here) and leave their anime tapes (among other things) scattered about the house for weeks and months at a time. As fate would have it, I happened upon a stack of GT tapes someone had left, and said to myself "Well Chris, it's now or never..."

I saw about one third of the series (24 episodes) over the next week or so, which is enough, I think, to form a fair opinion. But I can't really. All I can do is rate each aspect individually, I'm just not sure whether or not I like the show overall.

I love (most) of the characters. Goku is perfect, even though it seems kind of odd seeing him as a kid again. Trunks is just damned interesting, because it is incredible to see how the alternate timeline his other self created produced a totally different person entirely. This corporate, spoiled, delicate, almost light-hearted guy is far from the Trunks most of us are more familiar with, the brooding, tough-as-nails bad ass from the Dark Future. I'm glad the GT writing staff were careful enough to write the Trunks from this timeline as a completely different character.

Pan is truly awesome as well. She's just so engaging, and I find that her rebellious attitude keeps her personality dynamic. Hopefully this won't disgust any of you, but I think I have a crush on her. Well, I didn't pay attention to how old she's supposed to be, so I'll just pretend that she's 16. But, well, it's not the kind of crush you're thinking of, it's more like platonic affection.... Oh never mind, just forget I said that. (Sigh) I'm so pathetic.

Anyway, the only character I don't like is Gill. That annoying little bastard pisses me off, enough said.

The overall setting, however is just a bit too much of a departure from the old Dragon Ball "feel" for my tastes. It's just too modern, too sci-fi. That mythical, Asian feel is something I've always really loved about Dragon Ball, but it seemed to fade away little by little as the series went on, and is completely gone in GT. The musical score reflects this too, it's not nearly as Oriental sounding, although much of it is very good. And I love the opening and ending themes, although I defy any of you to tell me what the lyrics of either song could possibly have to do with Dragon Ball.

So overall, I enjoyed the episodes that I saw, but I don't feel any burning desire to go out and find the rest of the series. Does that mean I don't like it? Well, I'm not sure, maybe.

What I DO know is that this editorial has gone on for far too long, and I'm getting off the subject. (There's enough here for two editorials, in fact.) So, until next time, uh... see ya.

NEXT TIME: In an editorial perhaps related to the one you just read, I shall step up to the stage boldly and calmly and state in a deep booming voice (gasp) "The Things I Don't Like About Dragon Ball Z."

Get your hate mail ready...

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