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Anime Review: Curious Case of Dragon Ball GT

golden dragon sculpture

My thoughts about the grand tour, and what went wrong with it.

Imagine if you have a time machine, and for whatever reason, you decide to go to the mid to late 2000s. You go to online forums of that time, and mention Dragon Ball GT. (I don’t judge, you’re the one with the time machine, lucky bastard / bitch / whatever the hell in between.)

You then just sit back, and watch the fireworks.

Dragon Ball GT came after the original series ended, and Toriyama stopped writing the manga. With his blessings, Toei Animation decided to create Dragon Ball GT, Gt stands for Grand Tour, by the way.

And, it was hated. Hated by the fans in Japan. Hated by the fans outside of Japan. However, recently, there has been some shift, and people have acknowledged that the show has some good ideas. And today, I will talk about them in this article, and why did the show fail despite those good ideas.

Note: I’m well aware you write the article, not talk. Please ignore such silly mistakes.

The good ideas.

Here’s the list of what I think were good ideas from this show.

  • Going back to the basics: by this, I mean going back to the roots of the Dragon Ball franchise, where you try to collect the mystical orbs, and have a grand adventure in the process. And this time, instead of just Earth, you’ve got a whole galaxy! How cool is that?
  • Revenge of Tuffles: Tuffles were a race who were killed by saiyans when they took over Planet Plant, and renamed it Planet Vegeta. In Dragon Ball GT, a genetically engineered Tuffle goes to Earth to take revenge upon saiyans alive today. Given we never saw Tuffles aside from flashbacks, this was a great concept, and a great way to introduce an entirely new villain, who actually has a valid reason to hate the heroes.
  • Return of the past villains: now, admittedly this comes at the time of the weakest arc in GT. but I do think that villains escaping Hell, coming back stronger than before was a great idea, especially since the good guys will be outnumbered. If the villains spread throughout the whole galaxy, and started a war of sorts, the heroes would have a hard time containing this threat, since they won’t be able to solve this problem by brute force alone. Not to mention, some villains can also change sides after their experiences in Hell. Who says you can’t change after you die?
  • Shadow Dragons: this had to be the greatest concept in this show so far. Dragon Balls, which are nothing more than a “Fix every problem” device by this point, overload from all the wishes over the years, and result in the birth of seven evil dragons, turning the objects around which the whole series revolves against the world in the process.
  • Super Saiyan 4: After gaining a new, and stronger form of great-ape, Goku gains control over its rage, subdues the form, and gains this new level of power. Ever since Dragon Ball Super, people have been arguing about which one is better, Super Saiyan 4 or Super Saiyan God. While I can’t speak for the design and looks, I do feel that Super Saiyan 4 has something wilder about it, which the god forms of Dragon Ball Super lack.

Let’s see how were these ideas executed.

The intergalactic grand tour was disappointing. Despite meeting some dangerous characters, most of the time, it was silly. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t help that there’s no serious group like Red Ribin Army in the background who wants to collect the Dragon Balls. Another thing which bothers me is that why the hell Namekians are not trying to enter the galactic stage, since they used to be a space-faring race in the past? And what happened to Frieza’s empire, didn’t someone take his place?

The whole arc with Baby, the Tuffle villain coming to take revenge was hollow. Baby was a great villain, since instead of using brute force, he used strategies with long-term goals. But since he himself doesn’t care about Tuffles, that kind of makes the revenge point hollow. Beyond that, he is just another villain trying to conquer the world or the galaxy.

The villains escaping from Hell thing didn’t pan out either, for all of them were taken out by the heroes easily.

And Shadow Dragons? Apart from a few Dragons, most of them were just silly, and didn’t present the threat which they should have.

As if all these bad points weren’t enough, the show also screwed up with the other characters. Trunks is relegated as a babysitter, and for some reason he is paired with Pan of all people (Some people really need to get a life; pairing a teenage girl with a man in his late 20s is all kind of wrong!) though he is the president of Capsule Corp, when it comes to power, he is nowhere near like his future, and traumatized counterpart.

Goten is another disappointment. But given what happened with Gohan, I’m really not surprised.

And Pan? Oh boy. She could easily have been the protagonist, but instead, she is just a damsel in distress most of the time. Adding insult to injury, her way of talking in English dub sucked big time. Each time I hear her talk, I die a little inside. Then I come back to life, and wonder whether teenage girls really talk that way, and die again.

And that is the whole problem with this show. It has promise, great ideas, and concepts. But it fails to deliver on them every, single, time. A show cannot survive and be successful on good ideas alone. It needs to execute them properly for that to happen. Doing that half-way with laziness will result in a lot of hate, and the ignoble death of the franchise. Dragon Ball is just lucky enough to avoid that.

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Published by Tanish Shrivastava

I'm a guy who likes programming, chess, and writing.

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