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Monday, July 21, 2014

Dragon Ball GT is no Good:

Dragon Ball consists of three parts -- the original Dragon Ball, which I recently discarded as hopelessly flawed, Dragon Ball Kai, which is perfect in every way, and Dragon Ball GT, which is filler and thus worthless.  If you cut out Dragon Ball and GT, Dragon Ball Kai alone is actually a rather short series.  But adding Dragon Ball or GT to someone's watching schedule won't prolong their enjoyment of the series, it will only prolong their torture.

GT had some good ideas.  Pan, a young girl, as a protagonist, something Dragonball had lacked up until then.  The Dragonballs being eliminated because granting wishes is a broken idea that can only lead to harm.  Goku finally dying after being brought back to life so often it was a running joke.  But because the story wasn't concocted by a genius, but just some half-rate hack who wrote the scripts for the anime on his own initiative, these ideas were not executed well.  Instead we have stupid episodes like Trunks crossdressing in order to trick a giant lizard, when it has already been established that the Saiyans are the strongest force in the universe and can kill practically anyone in a single punch.  Or Goku getting caught in a dance endurance contest which he loses to some random idiots.  Or Pan getting turned into a doll.  Or Vegeta losing his signature good looks for a stupid buzz cut and mustache.  These ideas might sound humorous but in fact they're just stupid.  They aren't 'in character.'  I can't imagine any of these things actually happening because neither Trunks, Goku, nor Vegeta would ever permit such things to happen to them.  It doesn't make sense that a tail is useful to a Saiyans fighting potential when the entire previous, canon portion of the story said it was actually a hindrance to Saiyans reaching their true potential.  Also, discarding the awesome blonde haired, blue eyed look of a super saiyan for a stupid red furry suit with a tail and calling it SS4 is plain unacceptable.  Why would becoming stronger make you uglier in a system that has only made them better looking every transformation so far?

Because GT is filler, it keeps going against the spirit and essence of Dragon Ball's canon material.  It borrows the name of Dragon Ball while actually trampling all over its spirit.  Frieza was the ruler of the galaxy.  This means that no enemy can exist in space as strong as Frieza.  For a new foe to appear that's strong enough to oppose the Saiyans, they have to be a new foe who has only just recently appeared for some explainable reason.  Newly invented androids and sealed ancient demons make sense -- the enemies in GT don't.  There are tons of new enemies all over, empires and planets and kings with long established histories, all of whom are capable of fighting evenly with Goku, who were somehow all subjugated by the ruler of the galaxy Frieza up until this point?  Pure nonsense.  How can we take these fights seriously when we know that everyone Goku faces must be weaker than Frieza, that no one in the galaxy stronger than Frieza should possibly exist?

Also, GT uses too many concepts that were already used previously in the series.  Vegeta being possessed and forced to fight Goku by Baby is a retread of Majin Vegeta possessed by Bobidi to fight Goku in the Buu arc.  Buu eating all the Z warriors and using their strength to defeat Goku and Vegeta is exactly like Baby controlling all the Saiyans in order to take down Goku.  The revival of Android 17 and others from hell so that everyone has to refight the same old foes is downright retarded in its repetitiveness.  How could anyone make such a rookie mistake?

Even ignoring the bad writing, nothing good can be said about the music, art, or animation either.  Made in the 90's, it looks, as you'd expect, God awful.  Whole minutes are wasted watching a stupid fat blob trundle around the scenery.  The faces have a weird plastic sheen to them, as though they're barbie dolls instead of people, the lighting is so poorly animated.  Everything looks like it was done to cut corners and save money, instead of to be genuinely good looking works of art.  Super Saiyans look awesome, they look beautiful, they're awe inspiring -- red monkey coats do not.  Pan is super moe, and her voice actress did a knockout performance, but this doesn't help when half of all the scenes involving Pan are her falling for dumb traps or bullying Gill, a complete waste of our time that could easily have been skipped without hurting the overall flow of the story.

A new movie is coming out in the Dragon Ball universe, this one also written by Akira Toriyama and thus totally canon.  I'll accept additions to the Dragon Ball universe so long as it's something like this, and I'm looking forward to it.  But GT is something else.  Like Rurouni Kenshin's fights against black knights or Kenshin's journey to the moon, it's just filler flogging a dead horse well past its expiration date.  Taking advantage of a series' popularity to push substandard products on consumers is the worst.

The way to watch Dragonball, the only way to enjoy Dragonball for the classic everyone agrees it is, is to watch Dragonball Kai, and leave out all the rest.  Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT are all better off forgotten, never to be seen again.

Meanwhile, I'm also dropping Haikyu as a watchable series, because try as I might I can't get excited about volleyball.  I don't think it's a good sport, and the characters in the series are just plain dull and unevocative to me.  They're all the same.  It's hard to even tell them apart, since none of them have any distinct mannerisms or special moves or anything.  So unlike Prince of Tennis or Ginga E Kickoff, who all have really splashy character designs so people can distinguish between the players, all the volleyball athletes are cut from the exact same cloth of 'average high school boy with no distinguishing traits.'  Distinct character designs are so important for a story to hold a viewer's attention.  They're the visually arresting element that keep us excited about seeing said people on screen.  In addition, if the plot doesn't take characters out of their comfort zone, there's really no point to the story being told.  So what if all these people have fun playing volleyball.  Who cares if they win or lose?  It doesn't matter in the least.  In Cross Game, our pitcher had to fulfill his last promise to his dead girlfriend.  There was weight to his actions.  Likewise, in Major, he had to reach the Major leagues so he could avenge his dead father against the mighty pitcher Joe Gibson.  That's a storyline viewers can get invested in.  But if it's just kids playing around, with no weight behind their motivations or determination at all, how can any of us even begin to care about what happens?

A sports anime should never be about sports.  It should use sports as a vehicle to tell us something much more important about a character, their heart.  It should always be a relationship-centered story, first and foremost, with the sports element as a background that tests their mettle and determination.  Chihayafuru understands this.  Major understands.  Saki understands.  Hikaru no Go understands.  Haikyu doesn't.

Meanwhile, Baka to Test's final volume in the main storyline has been translated.  It's a satisfying ending to a long and winding tale, so everyone should go read it.  There's still a volume of short stories that haven't been translated yet, but I'm sure even that will become available eventually, thanks to the hard working folks over at Baka Tsuki.  Given that the light novels have been done for a year and there's still no announcement of a third anime season of the series, though, you can pretty much kiss said satisfying resolution of the story ever appearing in animated form goodbye.  A perfect example of one of my thirty greatest tragedies in anime.

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