Since before the turn of the century, Dragonball Z has been dominating the screens of millions of fans around the world. With its wildly successful re-release onto Toonami in 1998 Dragonball Z solidified itself in the public domain as a standard for most young adults to have watched.
In fact, you would probably be hard pressed to find many people under the age of 30 in Australia or New Zealand who have not watched at least some small amount of the show.
With streaming services like Crunchyroll and AnimeLab, finally picking up the newest version of the show, Dragonball Super, I am gripped by the fever once again.
Although, now, only seventeen episodes are currently available on Crunchyroll or AnimeLab, both services promise to continue release both the back catalogue of episodes that are still missing and the new episodes will be simulcast shortly after airing in Japan.
The new series is far from perfect, the internet has plenty examples of the shoddy frames during action sequences where it is obvious some corners have been cut in the name of speed or cost, but the story is 100% Dragonball. Akira Toriyama returned in full force to bring his epic story to life once again with even more at stake than just a planet or two. Now whole universes could be annihilated with a simple thought by some of the more over powered characters this show has to offer.
Anyone who watched the battle of the Gods and Resurrection of F movies will recognise some of the characters who are now frequent guests on the show, even if mainly in an expositional role, since their power levels are on the universe destroying end of the scale. As well as the new Super Saiyan transformations of Goku and Vegeta.
These new characters and transformations add new dynamics to the stories told by Dragon Ball Super, often in the form of comedic value. As well as the new direction of comedy to fill the viewers in on important information the fight scenes don’t feel as drawn out and dramatic as they did in the days of DBZ.
I think the fight against Frieza still holds the record for the longest on screen fight. It is unlikely that will ever be debunked either, since I doubt any new generation would be as patient as we were to receive the results of the conflict. Especially since we had all been waiting so patiently for even just the first Super Saiyan transformation. There was a lot of strange yelling of young boys around New Zealand after that episode. I am not ashamed to admit I was one of them.
The impact of Dragon Ball Z on New Zealand and Australian teens when it was being released is undeniable though. A lot of geek and nerd culture has come further and further into the public eye over the last decade or so and DBZ was leading the charge, with Pokemon and to a lesser extent YuGi Oh following along beside it.
Every SupaNova, Comic Con or similar event that I have attended since I was 18 has had a heavy element of DBZ and Pokemon. One convention I attended even held a Kamehameha contest. There is always at least one group of guys walking around with Dragon Ball Z cosplay and since the release of Pokemon Go there has been a resurgence of Pokemon Trainers as well.
I have stood on the side lines and watched as geek and nerd culture has evolved beyond my wildest dreams since I was a geeky little kid in high school. Now things like Marvel Comics, DC, Anime and Manga have become publicly more acceptable.
No longer will the weird kid who likes comics be stuck in library to avoid those who would persecute them, instead they are a font of knowledge for all the kids who went to see the latest Marvel blockbuster and want to know more about the characters.
And in my opinion a lot of these changes started with Dragon Ball Z. Pokemon may have come earlier and primed a good number of impressionable young kids with the idea that cartoons are cool, but Dragon Ball Z hit us all at just the right time. Now all those kids who were gripped by the DBZ craze before the turn of the century are coming up to their 30’s and starting to have a real voice in the world. Now more than ever acceptance of things that used to be deemed as “childish” by our parents is possible because we are the parents and are more than happy to watch Goku beat the bad guys with our little ones or watch Ash and his friends as they travel to new places, meeting new people and discovering new Pokemon.