Son Gokû, a fighter with a monkey tail, goes on a quest with an assortment of odd characters in search of the Dragon Balls, a set of crystals that can give its bearer anything they desire.Son Gokû, a fighter with a monkey tail, goes on a quest with an assortment of odd characters in search of the Dragon Balls, a set of crystals that can give its bearer anything they desire.Son Gokû, a fighter with a monkey tail, goes on a quest with an assortment of odd characters in search of the Dragon Balls, a set of crystals that can give its bearer anything they desire.
The story revolves around a 12 year old monkey boy, named Son Goku, who meets up with a 16 year old girl named Bulma who is searching for seven mystical balls named Dragon Balls, which when gathered together, will summon the dragon god Shenlong, who will grant you any one wish. Throughout their adventures they meet many memorable characters, such as the perverted shapeshifting pig Oolong, the not so good around girls desert bandit Yamucha, and an old martial arts master, who's technique and strength is only matched by his appetite for pretty, young girls known as Muten Roshi. There are many great stories spanning across 153 episodes, including several Tenkaichi Budokai's (Known in the American version as The World Martial Arts Tournament.) An evil organisation bent on world domination (who cares if it's cliché, you can't go wrong with the classics) called the Red Ribbon Army, An ancient evil known as Piccolo Daimao, and many more. My personal favourite parts of the series were the Piccolo battles, and that's where the tone of the series changed to be slightly more dramatic. It's an excellent show because you also get to see the steady transformation of a gifted, and pure child into a martial arts genius.
People who are more used to the non-stop action of its successor Dragon Ball Z should be warned that this series focuses a lot more on humour on most parts, until later in the series. There are many great fights in the anime, they just aren't as frequent as Dragon Ball Z. But if you are a fan of action anime, I would still highly recommend this to you.
This show was taken to America and turned into a kids show, which is not how it should be seen. If you want to watch this anime, watch the DVDs with Japanese dialog with subtitles. I'm sure you will enjoy it. Masako Nozawa is great as Son Goku, and captures his personality perfectly. Even if you do want to watch it, you need to watch it on DVD, as the television version edits out anything that is even slightly adult. It's just way too G rated. The original version (mostly in the early episodes) is filled with toilet humour, sex jokes and nudity. I feel that that's the way the series was originally made, and it should have been kept that way, rather than focus on the younger audience. But it is a good thing that they did in a way, as the people who were fans of the dub at the young age can grow up and discover the original version, as I did.
The animation is nothing really to talk about. It started in 1986 and it was pretty standard animation for that time, in Japan anyway. There is nothing wrong with it, it's just not something to write home about. But in a way, I find that nice because it has an 80's feel to it. It doesn't take away from the quality in the least. The soundtrack of the series isn't bad, but tends to reuse music a lot throughout the series. I thought the Tenkaichi song played during the Jackie Chun fight was the best of the series, but the opening and closing themes were pretty good as well.
Even if you don't like the start I would recommend that you continue watching, as you may find you like it later on, partly because of the way the tone changes a little in later episodes, where it stops a lot of the toilet humour and sexual stuff (not all of it, just a fair bit) and focuses on more serious stuff, like death. All in all, I'd say this is a great way to introduce yourself to anime, or even just if you want something fun to watch. Don't watch it if you want a series that will make you think, because that isn't what this is for. The show is hilarious, and the action is great.
Now to bring up the subject of the new American live action movie that's coming in 2009. How do I feel about the concept? I have made no secret about my disliking for the way the American's have handled this anime. So am I excited about the movie? In short, definitely. Do I think it will be a good movie? Probably not. Do I think it will be a good adaption of the series? Bit of doubt there. But do I think it will be entertaining? Now that I can give a yes to. I don't expect quality cinema from the movie, and I don't expect a reflection of Dragon Ball, I just expect a fun movie that shares certain aspects of it, and from the casting work, I think they could do a pretty good job. I look forward to seeing how they do it, and I am definitely psyched to see a live action Son Goku and Piccolo duking it out, hopefully with some epic ki blasts. A huge Kamehameha wave or Mafuba by Chow Yun Fat should be worth the $10 admission fee alone. I can't wait to see it, and I hope it's good enough, and successful enough to be the start of a franchise. You know, I'm the sort of guy who will probably like it anyway.
- May 13, 2008