Why is “Dragon Ball Z” Such a Popular Anime Series? [Review]
Whether you obsess over anime, or dread it’s existence, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of Dragon Ball Z. The series is among the most well known in the world. Heck, it even pushed the anime industry’s growth and popularity in North America before Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh came aboard. Many of today’s popular manga artists, such as those responsible for One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, and Fairy Tail, have looked up to the work of Akira Toriyama’s infamous Dragon Ball Z.
What is it about Dragon Ball Z that makes it such a popular anime series, to the point of attracting individuals who want nothing to do with this type of foreign entertainment?
The overall idea of DBZ is not entirely interesting. Essentially the series is about a character who must fight aliens in order to protect the planet Earth; while at the same time, gather seven mystical balls to grant him any wish. In a way, it sounds like a mix of The Powerpuff Girls and Aladdin, which isn’t interesting, nor entertaining, to the majority of individuals. But when you look deeper, you’ll quickly notice what makes this series pop – it’s story, characters, and development.
Many anime series revolve around a boy, typically 12 to 15 years of age, who is surrounded by other young characters. The team of youngsters usually have extraordinary potential, and deep hidden powers. Throughout the journey, these kids defeat countless of powerful villains and, essentially, become the strongest.
The original Dragon Ball series had that same approach, but, once Dragon Ball Z was released, things began to take a sharp turn. DBZ revolves around a man who is surrounded by other grown men (or grown aliens). The team of adults constantly train, mostly through physical means, in order to ascend to the next level of strength. Throughout the journey, the men, with the help of some children, battle against powerful villains and, essentially, become the strongest. There’s much more to DBZ than this, but the main element that distinguishes the two styles is that DBZ focus on characters after they’ve turned into adults.
If you notice, American superheroes usually derive from Marvel Comics and DC Comics. The majority are men, usually those with a strong build, such as; Batman, Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Thor, Human Torch, and, of course, Superman. Through a western perspective, there shouldn’t be a shock as to why some individuals don’t like anime — which essentially revolves around a young boy, rather than a strong man, defeating powerful villains.
Dragon Ball captured the interest of the typical anime fan, so when Dragon Ball Z was released, fans who were already attached to the series decided to watch their favorite character grown up. With Dragon Ball Z‘s Japanese roots and deep action-packed story, mixed with a touch of American superhero characteristics, it became an instant success that satisfied a global audience.
As a side note, that’s also the main reason why you hear people ask, “Who would win in a battle? Goku or Superman?” These two characters are looked upon as the most manliest, and strongest, individuals the fantasy world has to offer. You’ll hardly see anyone put Superman against a youngster, such as Gon (Hunter x Hunter) or Natsu (Fairy Tail), no matter how strong they may be. And that’s the biggest difference between Dragon Ball Z and typical anime.
Dragon Ball Z has many elements that make it distinctive, such as its extremely powerful characters, tons of muscle, humor, non-stop battles, super powers, and transformations. Oh, and of course, the twenty minute dialogue, or three full episode wait, before a battle actually begins — which Naruto masters quite perfectly, but that’s for a different article. All in all, DBZ‘s unique elements, along with its attraction for global interest, is something that cannot be ignored. This series may not be the best anime of all time, but it stands firm to being the one that influenced the entire industry as we know it. And for that, it’s legendary, just like the Super Saiyan.