15 Reasons Dragon Ball Z Doesn’t Hold Up No Matter How Much You Love It

If you grew up in the 1990s in North America and you first came across with Japanese culture that wasn’t from Pokemon, it almost certainly came from Dragon Ball Z. One of the most-watched animes of all time, Dragon Ball Z pulled off the rare feat of being a sequel that was more popular than its previous version. DBZ combined extreme violence with flashy visuals and the kind of obnoxious dramatics that have since become an anime trope. Its main character, Goku, was at one point a hero whose popularity was on par with the Batmen and Spider-Men of the world.

However, like many childhood staples from the 1990s, Dragon Ball Z doesn’t hold up when revisited today. It’s a viewing experience that mixes cringe-inducing regret with genuine astonishment that you invested so much of your life in watching this compilation of brightly-clothed men yelling at each other. Watching Dragon Ball Z today is the kind of thing that makes you realize that your parents were definitely right to think that you were a weirdo. Read through these arguments about why Dragon Ball Z sucks and vote up the ones you agree with.

  1. Villains Quickly Become Powerless

Dragon Ball Z opens with the arrival of Raditz, Goku’s long-lost and incredibly powerful Saiyan brother. Despite it taking both Goku and Piccolo to defeat Raditz (a feat they just barely managed), the next major villains to attack Earth carry with them plantable Saibamen that are each as powerful as one Raditz and the Z Fighters take them down with ease. The villainous Frieza has an awe-inspiring power level of one million, but by the next story arc, he is easily dismantled by a brand-new character from the future. Eventually, kids are able to beat once all-powerful foes like Cell and Frieza with one arm tied behind their backs. Each new phase of the story renders the threats of the past laughable, which makes it hard for the show to gain any sense of history.

2. There Are So Many Fillers

For all of its faults, Dragon Ball Z definitely provided fans with so many moments of dynamic plot and tense drama. Sadly, one of those major faults was the fact that great moments were surrounded by insane amounts of fillers. Every event seemed stretched far beyond its natural limits by an endless build-up and countless diversions to the main plot. Even worse were the episodes that were completely meaningless filler, like the time Goku got a driver’s license or the time everybody just went fishing. Not exactly what you tune in for when watching a battle-orientated anime.

3. Dying Doesn’t Matter

Characters do frequently die in Dragon Ball Z. The series’ first story arc concludes with the demise of Goku, numerous characters sacrifice themselves, and Krillin explodes, like, a dozen times. The show doesn’t even bother with funeral scenes, however, because of the existence of the titular dragon balls. These wish-granting orbs summon the dragon Shenron, who can bring the dead back to life.

There are two limitations to this loophole: the dragon cannot grant the same wish twice and the dragon or the dragon balls themselves can be destroyed. The show completely avoided these limitations with the introduction of a second dragon, who could grant the same wish twice, thus rendering everyone effectively immortal. Even Krillin.

4. Only a Few of the Characters Actually Matter

Even among the characters that can fight – unimaginatively dubbed “Z Fighters” – only a few characters truly matter. Goku and the other Saiyans quickly outshine all of their former allies and rivals, with the possible exception of the Namekian Piccolo. A show set on Earth soon had essentially zero useful Earthling characters. The Z Fighters were equal to an unbalanced football team, where only a few key players matter and everyone else just tries not to get in the way. In the case of Krillin, they couldn’t even do that.

5. The Great Saiyaman

The story arc of Goku’s son, Gohan, was originally one of the best things about Dragon Ball Z. Gohan was the Carl Grimes of his day, transforming from annoying whiner to hardcore badass with his literally one-handed destruction of Cell. Gohan followed up all of this character development and quickly turned into one of the show’s lamest characters. When he wasn’t geeking it up in school, Gohan could be found patrolling the streets as the Great Saiyaman, a vigilante with a practiced dance routine and one of the worst costumes in superhero history. 

6. Fusion Caused So Many Plot Holes

The whole concept of fusion, in general, was mishandled. The fusion dance was overused and had to be nerfed, and its replacement was the more powerful but apparently permanent application of magical earrings. These earrings were supposed to merge their users permanently, leading to some hard-take decisions, but every time a pair decided to fuse, they managed to get out of it with some convoluted plot twist. For example, Majin Buu’s stomach acid miraculously reversed the permanent fusion process.

Perhaps it was for the best that few fusions lasted long. When they did, fans were perplexed. For instance, by the end of the series, Piccolo was technically three different people. He fused with his ancient counterpart, Kami, early in the series, and later fused with fellow Namekian Nail in order to take on Frieza. Try to watch Piccolo’s scenes knowing that there are two other guys sitting around inside his head all the time. It’s just weird.

7. The Bad Dubs

This one is only a problem in English-speaking countries, but it is definitely something that hurts the playback value of Dragon Ball Z. While later efforts were made to improve the dubbing, early North American ports of the anime were pestered with notoriously awful translations and voice acting. At best, these mistranslations were used to remove some questionable content from the original. For the most part, they simply resulted in awkward dialogue. However, at their worst, the bad dubs resulted in some characters having their natures completely altered from their original Japanese counterparts.

8. Things Escalate Way Too Quickly

The tendency for former villains to become quickly obsolete is symbolic of one of the major flaws at the core of Dragon Ball Z: escalation. Everything in DBZ escalates in a ridiculous, exponential fashion. The “Over 9000” meme refers to Goku’s power level, which surprises Vegeta and Nappa. One story arc later, we meet Frieza, with a power level of one million. Soon thereafter, Goku and Vegeta each had children that were born with power levels well above that. Even one of the coolest parts of the show, the Super Saiyan transformation, was rendered ridiculous by continually more powerful versions that came up whenever the plot demanded it.

9. Dying Permanently Doesn’t Even Matter Because the Afterlife Is Pretty Sweet

Despite all the loopholes, some characters still managed to die and stay dead for a while. Even that wasn’t much of a consequence, however, thanks to the establishment of one of fiction’s most diverse and fantasy afterlives. Some of the potential afterlives in the DBZ universe include life as a happy cloud, adventuring on a giant snake road, or training on King Kai’s planet with a monkey and a talking cricket. Even their version of Hell is relatively docile. Best of all, the afterlife is full of fighting tournaments, which just so happen to be the favorite thing of most of the show’s characters. Dying might actually be better than living in this world.

10. The Useless Side Kicks

Dragon Ball Z made an admirable attempt to carry over the majority of the characters that were established in its precursor series, Dragon Ball. However, it didn’t really try to find anything meaningful for all those characters to do. DBZ involves fighters with the power to destroy worlds, yet tries to shoehorn in plots involving talking turtles, shapeshifting pigs, and Krillin. Totally-normal human Bulma even accompanies the team to alien planet Namek, where she provides the essential service of annoying Vegeta and getting into mortal danger. Most of these side characters’ screentime revolves around them watching the more important characters do stuff on television.

11. The Fusion Dance

Undoubtedly, fans of Dragon Ball Z will remember the excitement that came with the notion of characters fusing. The idea that their favorite characters could combine with one another to form even more powerful fighters was so exciting, it spawned a still-vibrant online trend of creating character mash-ups. Unfortunately, the process by which characters fused was incredibly goofy. Consisting of an awkwardly stilted dance that culminated in dual-fingertip touches, fusion was a process that undoubtedly led to countless schoolchildren getting beat up for replicating it.

12. It’s Outdated

In many ways, Dragon Ball Z is a product of its time. The extreme action and outrageous hair were definitely a 1990s thing. However, some parts of the show were outdated even when it aired, and these aspects look even worse in 2016. Chief among these is the infamous Mr. Popo, manservant to the Namekian Kami. Popo’s appearance as a racist caricature was barely made up for by later edits that turned him from black to blue because they should have known better than to draw him that way in the first place.

13. Everyone Old Is a Pervert

The world of Dragon Ball Z has a bit of a weird cultural thing; every old person is a creep. This is most prominent among males, and almost all of Goku’s mentors have some sort of sexual deviancy. The worst offender is definitely Master Roshi, who helped transform Goku into a world-class fighter and taught him the Kamehameha. Roshi is a great role model in some senses but also spends most of his free time harassing women and openly reading pornography. Most charmingly, his nose habitually sprays blood whenever he’s turned on. Unappropriate.

14. It Became a Self-Parody

In the end, Dragon Ball Z became a show on which ridiculousness grew as exponentially as its characters’ power levels. The things it was criticized for early on in its history soon became over-exaggerated and impossible to ignore. Did you think too much time and focus was put into powering up? The entire story arc started revolving around it. Thought that the ability to bring someone back to life was a copout? Let’s make that even easier. Was the sheer amount of training and preparation too much for you? The show invented and introduced a Hyperbolic Time Chamber so that the characters could train for years while only days passed in the real world. In short, Dragon Ball Z became a self-parody.

15. Getting Hurt Doesn’t Matter

Another major flaw at the core of Dragon Ball Z is the complete lack of consequences for anything that happens. The characters fight vicious battles with amazing powers and sometimes suffer serious injuries. However, they never really have to worry about it, due to the existence of Senzu Beans. These magical fruits don’t make you toot, but they do restore anyone to perfect health no matter how badly wounded they are. It makes the whole thing seem more like live-action roleplay than battles to the death.

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