Sometimes our Throwback Thursday choices are cult hits, some that have remained popular over several decades, and others… are somehow in the in-between of mocking and love. Today’s Throwback is just that, and it’s ‘Dragon Ball Z’.
I want you to think back to when you first saw ‘Dragon Ball Z’, before you joked with friends how long it took to do one fight scene (which is usually twenty episodes or so, I think), and before you made fun of their powering up for sounding like constipation. Think back to that moment when you watched ‘Dragon Ball Z’ for the first time.
I’m going to bet it blew your twelve-year-old mind.
You had an entire universe of aliens fighting aliens, magic wishing balls, and people dying left and right. Every time you thought a battle was going to go one way, the winds would shift, leaving you on the edge of your seat every afternoon, just dying to know what will happen to Goku. You didn’t care about pacing (five minutes to power up now seems a bit extreme). You didn’t care how long the fight took. You just cared that every day you couldn’t wait for the next episode so you could know what happened next.
And that, no matter what age it happened to you, means it is good science fiction.
Of course, some might quibble over the fact that it is science fiction.
Yes, it has aliens. But it also has a magic balls that grant wishes when they are collected, and an afterlife… that you could still train in to become powerful… which, as I typed that suddenly made me aware of how silly that concept is.
But then again, it also had gravitation chambers that helped you build muscle mass, spaceships, and amazing cars that came out of capsules.
The plot is also very simple for a science fiction show. Goku saves the planet from various alien threats with the help of his various friends. But that really wasn’t the charm of the show. The charm was rooting for your favorite characters against all odds, and never knowing what was going to happen next after they killed off the main character in the beginning of the first season.
So, here’s to ‘Dragon Ball Z’. I can’t watch it as an adult, but I have such fond memories of it, I know that it will always be a legend, and deserving on the list of great past science fiction.