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Nostalgia 101: The Wonders of the 90s: Anime in full force

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 21:02

You don’t have to be a big fan of anime to have heard of “Dragon Ball Z,” a cartoon from Japan that aired in the U.S. in 1996.

The series is one of the most popular anime cartoons to make it to the states, and it is for a few reasons. The show is a lot of fun, has great male and female leads and teaches wise life lessons: the value of life, friendship and overcoming obstacles.

The main character, Goku, was always abnormally strong, even for his race of space alien warriors. Wow, that got nerdy fast. They look just like humans, but super-ripped humans with furry tails that can fly, shoot energy from their hands and turn into giant monkeys in the full moon.

Seeing all of that written out makes me actually have to think how this idea got past the drawing board. Although when you’re six, that stuff is still cool. Nonetheless, the show encompassed much more than just talking about giant alien monkeys. Goku was always training to be stronger, mostly physically although there is always a mental aspect to fighting, which he seemed to do a lot.

The reason Goku trained was not only to be the strongest, which admittedly was an enormous factor in his success, but also to protect his friends. The safety of his friends is what drives him to push himself beyond his own limits and overcome an obstacle.

The display of courage and motivation throughout the series is one of my favorite aspects. It’s incredibly motivating because all of the benevolent characters are so likeable, aside from Vegeta, so you want to act like them. I always find I’m in the mood to hit the gym after watching an episode or two.

The precursor to “Dragon Ball Z,” simply “Dragon Ball,” followed Goku as a kid, where he would take down giant monsters and an entire army at the age of eight. Personally, I liked it more than “Dragon Ball Z.” “Z” was great, but it lacked a creativity element that the original had.

The formula for “DBZ” was always some incredibly powerful enemy appears and tries to kill everyone. All of the best fighters try to take them on and fail, or–if they succeed–the victory is short-lived. Then, all of a sudden, Goku comes and wins by the skin of his teeth. Oh, and somewhere along the way Krillin and/or Goku dies.

It was still a wonderfully animated, dialogued and well-produced show, but it got stale. “Dragon Ball” was different and so was “GT” for that matter. Instead, these shows took advantage of extenuating circumstances instead of just saying, “Oh who’s stronger or is the most impossible to kill?” “Dragon” created enemies that may not necessarily have been as strong as the good guys but maybe had a special power to give them an edge.

The villains in “DBZ,” in my opinion at least, were overpowered and underimagined. Cell and Majin Buu really only had one thing going for them besides power-copying, and that was being able to regenerate their bodies even when destroyed down to the cellular level, which of course eventually happened because “Goku OP”.

There is so much more to discuss on the show, video games, movies, DBGT, favorite characters and everything in between. So if you grew up watching this show, tell me what your favorite thing was @GiGantoss on Twitter.


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