8 February 2004 | Gav_tH
Fine follow up to DragonBall Z
There are many complaints against DragonBall GT. Many people complain about the lack of characters who get things to do, the lack of favourite characters from the first two series, and the mix of styles from the first two series. The first DragonBall was a very comedic show that centered around Goku growing up as a child, while DragonBall Z introduced many new characters, evolved the existing ones and took itself a lot more seriously. Both shows worked fine in their individual styles, but did feel slightly contrasting next to each other.
DragonBall GT is also disregarded by many fans, as the series original creator did not work on this series other than having the job of character consultant.
But looking past the complaints, and regarding it as a series in it's own right, DragonBall GT is very fine. The first step it takes is noticeable - reducing Goku back to the state of a child. The second is probably more noticeable - reducing the regular cast list to only 3; only two of which were favourites from DragonBall Z. In later episodes, an all new fourth party is also added - Gil, a robot who swallowed the Dragon Radar from the original series - unfortunately, he generally slows things down, but at least there has been innovation, which is commendable.
What this series does - and very successfully, it's worth noting - is consistently merge the comedic DragonBall with the action-laden DragonBall Z. Everyone is a winner here, even if their favourite style is not featured as much as in their favourite of the two original series. Reducing Goku to a child was a sensible move, as it allowed fans of the original who drifted during Z's adult-Goku to become interested in the series with the character they knew and loved again. The series utilises it's license to the fullest - resurrecting Emporer Pilaf from the original series (noticeably absent from DragonBall Z), and recreating the importance of the DragonBalls (who were generally merely aesthetic in DragonBall Z). The series also introduces the character of Pan - who showed a lot of potential at the end of DragonBall Z. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the show, Pan does take up a lot of the screen time, but her character is a direct descendant of Bulma from the original series (despite family tree relations), with the role of 'growing up' given to Goku in DragonBall and Gohan in DragonBall Z.
The series is not perfect, however. Early episodes are generally unengaging, with sometimes uninteresting villains and often farcical situations. The early episodes seem to focus mostly on the DragonBall style over the DragonBall Z one - and because of this the series feels alienated to those who have only experienced DBZ (which is probably a large percentage of the fanbase). Animation has dropped noticeably in quality from DragonBall Z - feeling a bit more 'clunky' and hard-edged. Character re-designs are generally awful; Vegeta starts off the series with a moustache, Gohan's glasses now dominate his face, Trunks has been given an odd suit that really can't be categorised, and Krillin is almost completely unrecogniseable from the first series.
On a redeeming note, though, some character redesigns are good - Pan's costume suits the feel of the show, and Bulma looks exactly the same as in DBZ, save a few wrinkles. Goten also looks great as the skinny teenager, and his role is well written. Hercule also looks much better than expected with a bald patch.
Fans of DBZ will be disappointed that many of the characters are left out of the action - Gohan, Goten and others seemingly never get to fight at all, or do anything of utmost importance. Krillin is annoyingly underused, but he was becoming like that in DragonBall Z as well. Yamcha, again, is noticeably missing. And most surprisingly, Vegeta gets considerably less screen-time in DBZ - though of all the supporting cast, he probably does the most, so it's not all bad.
So what is DragonBall GT? It's a decidedly mixed bag - many good features, and many bad. But as a series in it's own right, it is very good, and a few steps above many other action animes that have all action and barely any substance. The light humour adds a lot, too, and feels very much a part of the DragonBall continuity. And because of the linked styles from the first two series, which works very well in the later episodes, the series really does take on a new perspective, and truly does feel like a DragonBall series. It's not perfect, but for fans of the series it's more of the same - repetitive fight after repetitive fight, with Hercule throwing in some overused (but still welcome) cameos here and there.
A good follow up, if not perfect. Definitely worth investing in if a fan of either original series - or if DBZ left you begging for more - which it did for many people.