MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 12/11/17!)

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby matt0044 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:07 pm

I will defend a few points:

The whole Goku sharing Ki with Freeza with a supposed blast looked a lot different in the Anime where it was more of an wave-like energy than a visible blast so that explains why many fans have hardly been quite up in arms about it. In addition, it seemed to not so much keep him from dying so much as delay it. Who's to say Freeza's still not in constant pain over the loss of his, well, everything?

I mean, you could argue that it could've worked on Goku with Piccolo and/or Krillin but given his gaping chest wound, they wouldn't have made it in time most likely.

There's also how Goku's essentially showing Freeza less so mercy so much as pity, adding on how the dude's just not worth putting down he's so pathetic. The once great tyrant of the universe, now a complete wreck. Freeza could've tries to float on away but instead he was once again the instrument of his demise. So I personally appreciate the poeticness despite how flimsy the basis of it admittedly is.

As for how rushed the resurrections are... yes, as far as the Manga goes, it feels like an author just wanting to get it done. It's weird because as a writer, I would've wanted to take it easy with the next few chapter before going into a whole new story arc. You know, have just a chapter where the character celebrate their return. Hell, I could've easily seen the Manga showing the Namekians adjusting to Earth life. It always feels like Toriyama could've stood to make some filler of his own if only to destress after a major ongoing story. Maybe his editors feared readers getting bored or something but that's neither here nor there.

I think what makes the arc a fan favorite despite the flaws would be how the Freeza battles are put to animation. There's something about action in motion compared to sequential art that always gets people favoring the latter. I properly saw the arc on DBZ Kai so a large part of the dragging filler was avoided and even the slugfests were fun to watch. Speaking of Kai, I appreciate it kept the filler of Gohan trying to keep Freeza on Namek as it goes boom. Even if Goku came back, it was nice to see addition development for who's essentially the secondary protagonist of the Z era.

Plus, the whole "trying to survive against a powerful maniac" element is something that is pretty suspenseful if watching for the first time. Like a ticking time bomb except nobody can see the actual timer.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby RandomGuy96 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:07 pm

Gaffer Tape wrote:The Big, Dumb Ending - Dragon Ball Dissection: The Freeza Arc Part 13!

The Freeza Arc finally comes to a close... and I'm probably going to get a lot of hate mail over this one because I honestly think it is the worst ending in the series. But we also look back at the arc as a whole and finally give it its score. Let me know what you think!


I agree that this arc is heavily overrated in general. More specific thoughts as I'm watching:

-I agree that the arc escalates in power too quickly, in both words and visuals. I recall you noting in the RRA arc that keeping characters relatively weak can often be superior to making them extremely strong, since it's easier to give them creative challenges. I think that as well, and throw in that the more powerful a character is, the less impact that character's fights actually have since their feats become increasingly incomprehensible to us. We know, roughly, how hard Superman is hitting someone when he throws a bus at them, or punches them through a brick wall, and recognize the weight of that impact. But if he punches them into the Sun? Not so much.

This is a big reason why superhero movies tend to downgrade the power levels of their characters. An example is the recent Wonder Woman film; that is rightfully praised as a good movie and has some good action in it, but its incarnation of the titular character is far from the one who could lift continents and trade blows with Superman. She has to actually exert effort to lift an armored vehicle weighing a couple dozen tons, and still dies to bullets. The Marvel films are in a similar boat; there is not a single MCU character so far that the U.S. military could not easily kill; the likes of the Hulk can get knocked out by a terminal velocity fall and be left bleeding from 40mm grenades and the shrapnel from a crashing helicopter. Even Superman, probably the most famously overpowered character who has that as part of his premise, has been depicted at 'saner' levels in recent movies than he has been in the comics (or the Reeves films).

-However, I don't agree that Freeza and Goku never showed signs of damage. The latter maybe, since he was already banged up at that point and it's hard to convey much more (though I'd argue that's the point; Goku was easily overpowering Freeza, who was barely capable of putting up a half-decent fight). But the former receives a very painful blow that has him vomiting blood. That made me wince when I first saw it. Goku must have cracked his rib and punctured a lung. I would also note that, in real fights, people seldom show much visible damage, because punching doesn't work like that; fists aren't blades and bruises don't develop instantly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JEQKevB8do
Take this video for example. None of these people have any immediate visible injuries, "merely" stumbling/being stunned after a blow and eventually getting knocked out, but all of them have concussions and potentially serious internal wounds.

-I'm surprised you didn't mention Goku's face after killing Freeza. That's probably my favorite panel in the manga. The perfect mix of satisfaction, frustration, and vague pity.

-It is pretty weird that everyone builds up how much a Super Saiyan is a warrior of pure rage, and then we actually see the fight and there's no rage at all. Goku is just angry at Freeza and beating him up for funsies. He's not in an actual rage- for something like that, see Vegeta's reaction to Cell killing Trunks. Or Movie 4's "false" Super Saiyan, for that matter.
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dbgtFO wrote:Please elaborate as I do not know what you mean by "pushing Vegeta's destruction"

He's probably referring to the Bardock special. Zarbon was the one who first recommended destroying Planet Vegeta because the saiyans were rapidly growing in strength.

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Herms wrote:The fact that the ridiculous power inflation is presented so earnestly makes me just roll my eyes and snicker. Like with Freeza, where he starts off over 10 times stronger than all his henchmen except Ginyu (because...well, just because), then we find out he can transform and get even more powerful, and then he reveals he can transform two more times, before finally coming out with the fact that he hasn't even been using anywhere near 50% of his power. Oh, and he can survive in the vacuum of space. All this stuff is just presented as the way Freeza is, without even an attempt at rationalizing it, yet the tone dictates we're supposed to take all this silly grasping at straws as thrilling danger. So I guess I don't really take the power inflation in the Boo arc seriously, but I don't take the power inflation in earlier arcs seriously either, so there's no net loss of seriousness. I think a silly story presented as serious is harder to accept than a silly story presented as silly.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Zephyr » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:34 am

It's a stretch, but you could look at Goku's confusing and inconsistent actions post-transformation as the manifestation of some kind of internal struggle between his new Super Saiyan "rage", and his practical desire to kill Freeza and get out of there.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Fizzer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:48 am

I always thought Goku was going through an internal struggle here. The rage of the Super Saiyan is within him, it's hard for him to keep calm and he acts out of spite towards Freeza. Goku is also in there, though. Sparing Freeza after all he did isn't something kid Goku would have done, but perhaps when he's been struggling to hold on to his sense of reason it's more important than ever for him to act out of pity rather than rage, so ironically it's that bubbling rage below the surface that makes him do it.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby ShadowDude112 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:04 am

Just want to say that Freeza counting his percents as he goes up is a thing in Wuxia movies. They do that all the time in those, so, I'm lost on how that's a complaint in the last video. Also, I'm confused as to why you thought Goku sharing his ki with Freeza was such a weird thing. That's happened before in Dragon Ball and after. Yes, it helping Freeza who was cut in half was a stretch, but it's not out of line for the series.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Soppa Saia People » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:23 am

Props on the editing. Your videos were always fairly well edited, but man, the quality has shot up recently. Congrats to almost 10,000 subs.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby ekrolo2 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:44 am

ShadowDude112 wrote:Just want to say that Freeza counting his percents as he goes up is a thing in Wuxia movies. They do that all the time in those, so, I'm lost on how that's a complaint in the last video. Also, I'm confused as to why you thought Goku sharing his ki with Freeza was such a weird thing. That's happened before in Dragon Ball and after. Yes, it helping Freeza who was cut in half was a stretch, but it's not out of line for the series.

The problem lies with the fact Freeza's apparently shit at controlling or even understanding how his powers work. It's why he creates several forms just to control roughly 1% of his strength but later on he can, with complete mathematical certainty, know precisely how much his power is rising with each passing moment?

The ki sharing wasn't a thing before Gohan and Krillin randomly do it with Piccolo and there's no basis for it anywhere in the series. You can't even say it's them copying the Spirit Bomb because Piccolo flat out chastises Kaio for NOT telling him what the Bomb even is. So, where and how are they suddenly giving each other power? Why don't they do this any time before or later? I'm pretty sure if Gohan gave his dad all his energy for the Cell Games, Goku could probably outright kill Cell. Why didn't anyone do this against Nappa where it would've been useful? It's just a random ability they suddenly use in this fight then completely forget about it later on.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Gaffer Tape » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:41 pm

Loving the responses. Thanks for continuing to be interested in the crazy crap that comes out of my mouth!

RandomGuy96 wrote:-I agree that the arc escalates in power too quickly, in both words and visuals. I recall you noting in the RRA arc that keeping characters relatively weak can often be superior to making them extremely strong, since it's easier to give them creative challenges. I think that as well, and throw in that the more powerful a character is, the less impact that character's fights actually have since their feats become increasingly incomprehensible to us. We know, roughly, how hard Superman is hitting someone when he throws a bus at them, or punches them through a brick wall, and recognize the weight of that impact. But if he punches them into the Sun? Not so much.


I just wanted to say I'm so glad we agree on that.

-However, I don't agree that Freeza and Goku never showed signs of damage. The latter maybe, since he was already banged up at that point and it's hard to convey much more (though I'd argue that's the point; Goku was easily overpowering Freeza, who was barely capable of putting up a half-decent fight). But the former receives a very painful blow that has him vomiting blood. That made me wince when I first saw it. Goku must have cracked his rib and punctured a lung. I would also note that, in real fights, people seldom show much visible damage, because punching doesn't work like that; fists aren't blades and bruises don't develop instantly.


Well, bruises aren't really my problem. That's really rather in the realm of the facial blood I likewise complain about. They're just superficial indications of supposed damage. Your point about people stumbling around is rather more what I was hoping for as that's an actual reaction to taking damage. In the Piccolo Arc, Goku loses the use of his limbs. In the Cell Arc, Gohan loses the use of his arm. In the Saiyan Arc, when Goku's fighting Raditz and his ribs are crushed, he can barely get up anymore. Without checking, I'm not sure when the Freeza example you listed happens, and I'm assuming I can't remember it because there's no significant consequence to it. If Freeza punctured a lung, he should have severe difficulty breathing, which would in turn severely hamper his ability to fight. But they're both just a complete flurry of punches and kicks until the end. That's what my problem is. It's basically that they're not dizzily staggering around!

-I'm surprised you didn't mention Goku's face after killing Freeza. That's probably my favorite panel in the manga. The perfect mix of satisfaction, frustration, and vague pity.


It's a great face, don't get me wrong. There just really wasn't a place for it amid all the other things I wanted to talk about, at least not without breaking the flow. But I did give its own close-up just to honor it.

ShadowDude112 wrote:Just want to say that Freeza counting his percents as he goes up is a thing in Wuxia movies. They do that all the time in those, so, I'm lost on how that's a complaint in the last video. Also, I'm confused as to why you thought Goku sharing his ki with Freeza was such a weird thing. That's happened before in Dragon Ball and after. Yes, it helping Freeza who was cut in half was a stretch, but it's not out of line for the series.


I'll embarrassingly admit that I'm not as up on Wuxia as it would probably be wise for me to be in light of making this series. By all means, please recommend some good films and recommend some that have percentage counting. I'd honestly love to see some examples. However, that's not necessarily a defense for it. I still think it's stupid, for the reasons I list in the video, and just because it's a genre convention doesn't change that. It just means the direction of my annoyance has to shift a bit. Thank you for pointing that out to me, though. I wish it was something I had known beforehand. Other than that, see erkolo2's response for why I don't care for it and the ki-sharing.

Soppa Saia People wrote:Props on the editing. Your videos were always fairly well edited, but man, the quality has shot up recently. Congrats to almost 10,000 subs.


Thanks! I've definitely try to make every video better than the last, and that includes the presentation. It looks like I'm going to hit 10,000 very soon! Wow!
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Soppa Saia People » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:50 pm

Your videos as a whole have been excellent lately. I was legit laughing at some points, and Goku as a Devout from FF3 is amazing.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Kid Buu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:25 am

Gaffer Tape wrote:Loving the responses. Thanks for continuing to be interested in the crazy crap that comes out of my mouth!

RandomGuy96 wrote:-I agree that the arc escalates in power too quickly, in both words and visuals. I recall you noting in the RRA arc that keeping characters relatively weak can often be superior to making them extremely strong, since it's easier to give them creative challenges. I think that as well, and throw in that the more powerful a character is, the less impact that character's fights actually have since their feats become increasingly incomprehensible to us. We know, roughly, how hard Superman is hitting someone when he throws a bus at them, or punches them through a brick wall, and recognize the weight of that impact. But if he punches them into the Sun? Not so much.


I just wanted to say I'm so glad we agree on that.

-However, I don't agree that Freeza and Goku never showed signs of damage. The latter maybe, since he was already banged up at that point and it's hard to convey much more (though I'd argue that's the point; Goku was easily overpowering Freeza, who was barely capable of putting up a half-decent fight). But the former receives a very painful blow that has him vomiting blood. That made me wince when I first saw it. Goku must have cracked his rib and punctured a lung. I would also note that, in real fights, people seldom show much visible damage, because punching doesn't work like that; fists aren't blades and bruises don't develop instantly.


Well, bruises aren't really my problem. That's really rather in the realm of the facial blood I likewise complain about. They're just superficial indications of supposed damage. Your point about people stumbling around is rather more what I was hoping for as that's an actual reaction to taking damage. In the Piccolo Arc, Goku loses the use of his limbs. In the Cell Arc, Gohan loses the use of his arm. In the Saiyan Arc, when Goku's fighting Raditz and his ribs are crushed, he can barely get up anymore. Without checking, I'm not sure when the Freeza example you listed happens, and I'm assuming I can't remember it because there's no significant consequence to it. If Freeza punctured a lung, he should have severe difficulty breathing, which would in turn severely hamper his ability to fight. But they're both just a complete flurry of punches and kicks until the end. That's what my problem is. It's basically that they're not dizzily staggering around!

-I'm surprised you didn't mention Goku's face after killing Freeza. That's probably my favorite panel in the manga. The perfect mix of satisfaction, frustration, and vague pity.


It's a great face, don't get me wrong. There just really wasn't a place for it amid all the other things I wanted to talk about, at least not without breaking the flow. But I did give its own close-up just to honor it.

ShadowDude112 wrote:Just want to say that Freeza counting his percents as he goes up is a thing in Wuxia movies. They do that all the time in those, so, I'm lost on how that's a complaint in the last video. Also, I'm confused as to why you thought Goku sharing his ki with Freeza was such a weird thing. That's happened before in Dragon Ball and after. Yes, it helping Freeza who was cut in half was a stretch, but it's not out of line for the series.


I'll embarrassingly admit that I'm not as up on Wuxia as it would probably be wise for me to be in light of making this series. By all means, please recommend some good films and recommend some that have percentage counting. I'd honestly love to see some examples. However, that's not necessarily a defense for it. I still think it's stupid, for the reasons I list in the video, and just because it's a genre convention doesn't change that. It just means the direction of my annoyance has to shift a bit. Thank you for pointing that out to me, though. I wish it was something I had known beforehand. Other than that, see erkolo2's response for why I don't care for it and the ki-sharing.

Soppa Saia People wrote:Props on the editing. Your videos were always fairly well edited, but man, the quality has shot up recently. Congrats to almost 10,000 subs.


Thanks! I've definitely try to make every video better than the last, and that includes the presentation. It looks like I'm going to hit 10,000 very soon! Wow!


We had an entire thread about Wuxia if you are interested:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=31707

Check out Snake in the Eagle Shadow if you haven't. Tao Pai Pai's design is based of the antagonist of that movie.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Gaffer Tape » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:27 am

Kid Buu wrote:We had an entire thread about Wuxia if you are interested:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=31707

Check out Snake in the Eagle Shadow if you haven't. Tao Pai Pai's design is based of the antagonist of that movie.


Yeah, I've read a lot of Kunzait's writings about the genre, including parts of this thread, but it's nice to see it again. And thanks for the recommendation.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Kid Buu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:35 am

A Chinese Odyssey might be worth looking into as well, since it is based of the same book DB is (Journey to the West).

Another personal favourite of mine is Future Cop, which is based on Street Fighter, but It kinda works as a DB movie since SF and DBZ fighters kind of fight similarly.

That said, I can't think of a Wuxia movie with the percentage raise thing like Freeza does. I'm sure I know of some but are they are just slipping my mind. I'll keep you updated though.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Kunzait_83 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:06 am

Worth noting that Snake in the Eagle's Shadow isn't Wuxia, but a standard/straight kung fu story (though DB certainly takes more than its share of DNA from that end of the genre spectrum as well). While wuxia and grounded kung fu fiction are closely linked and are within the same general family tree of genre fiction, there is a distinction between them.

The "percentages" thing in particular is relatively commonplace in Wuxia literature, and thus in literary adaptations (films, comics, games, etc). Often both the narration and the characters themselves will refer to the amount of power put forth in physical strikes and Chi techniques via percentaged numbers. The idea behind it stems from showing how much precise control that the superhumanly strong/skilled martial artists in these stories have over their own Chi that they can effectively gauge their own levels of power output from within their bodies and in each technique they use.

A couple examples from Return of the Condor Heroes Chapter 11:
"Hong Qigong was keeping his palm’s power in check; he only used ten percent of his internal energy but the first clown felt his arms go numb and his chest ache. The second clown saw that he was in danger; he was afraid that Hong Qigong’s palms will force him into the deep valley so he quickly stretched out his hand and pushed the first clown’s back. Hong Qigong’s palm power increased; the second clown moved back, almost slipping down into the deep valley. The fourth clown was standing behind them and stretched out his arm to support them. Hong Qigong’s palms power spread through them, it spread towards the fourth clown who in turn passed it onto the third clown and the third clown spread it towards the final one in the line, the fifth clown. The clowns had nowhere to hide and nowhere to run; in the blink of an eye, they were defeated by Hong Qigong’s single palm."


"The five of them positioned themselves into the mount posture; they flared up their chi and united their internal energy to resist the single palm but they felt the force of the palm getting heavier. Their chests felt tighter and gradually it was becoming more difficult to breathe.

Hong Qigong suddenly gave out a ‘yi’ call showing his surprise. He took back eighty percent of his palm’s power and said, 'Your internal energy has its good points; who is your master?'”


Another instance I can think of crops up in Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre. Here's some screencaps from a scene late in the 1994 Jet Li adaptation:

Image

Image

Image

And from a more recent wuxia novel, I Shall Seal the Heavens (describing a fight with a mortal character who ironically enough is training to harness heavenly/godly Chi):

"Meng Hao’s sudden appearance caused the man’s face to fall. This, of course, was the person who had just spoken. He tried to retreat backward, but Meng Hao was too fast. He burst out with eighty percent of the power of a true Immortal, causing rumbling to fill the air as he punched out seven times in quick succession. The young man in the wide bamboo hat was crushed as easily as dried weeds, and exploded into a haze of blood.

Meng Hao took his bamboo hat and bag of holding, then turned to face the dozens of figures who were currently bearing down on him. Behind them were hundreds of other cultivators, all flying toward him to attack together.

“You shouldn’t be in such a hurry to attack me,” Meng Hao said cooly. “Starting from now, and lasting until the time you leave the lands of South Heaven… we’re going to play a little game!

“A game of cat and mouse!” His body flickered as he used Form Displacement Transposition to suddenly appear far off in the distance. Earlier, he had escaped an ambush with only fifty percent of the power of a true Immortal. Now that he had eighty, if he wanted to leave this place, there was nobody who could stop him."


And so on and so on. Again, its a relatively common, ubiquitous Wuxia narrative device used in a bunch of different stories. Freeza's use of it isn't really that out of the ordinary at all, and he's hardly the only character in Dragon Ball to do it either.

ekrolo2 wrote:The ki sharing wasn't a thing before Gohan and Krillin randomly do it with Piccolo and there's no basis for it anywhere in the series. You can't even say it's them copying the Spirit Bomb because Piccolo flat out chastises Kaio for NOT telling him what the Bomb even is. So, where and how are they suddenly giving each other power? Why don't they do this any time before or later? I'm pretty sure if Gohan gave his dad all his energy for the Cell Games, Goku could probably outright kill Cell. Why didn't anyone do this against Nappa where it would've been useful? It's just a random ability they suddenly use in this fight then completely forget about it later on.


That's the thing though; it isn't "random". Its a fairly common ability that martial artists display numerous times across countless wuxia stories and media. Its often used for healing, like what Goku does for Freeza, but it can also help temporarily bolster another fighter's vitality in a fight. These aren't any more or less out of nowhere in DB than characters suddenly being able to jump super high or punch down a mountain fairly early on in the series, or teleport about to and fro.

Chi transfer was one of the many commonplace supernatural martial arts abilities in Wuxia that I detailed in the big wuxia thread, so check that out for more details. The image and gif links are all currently dead with no way for me to edit and fix them as of yet, so here's some of the example gifs I used in it:



Very few of the more common supernatural martial arts abilities in wuxia are given any sort of grand introduction in DB: the better and more proficient characters get, the more abilities they end up displaying as they go. We see Muten Roshi even telepathically read Namu's mind in the 21st Budokai, similarly to how Goku reads Gohan and Kuririn's minds on Namek, an ability sometimes criticized in fandom. Tenshinhan, Piccolo, and even Kuririn in the anime can divide themselves into cloned doppelgangers with nary a hint of setup for such abilities. There's no grand introduction to these abilities: they're just powers that superhumanly strong martial arts masters in ancient Chinese wuxia lore have long been established as being capable of in countless myths and tales dating back hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years ago, no different than firing means of light from their palms, mouths, eyes, etc. And yes that also even includes the body splitting. Hell, some Wuxia stories depict it in far weirder ways than DB ever does:

“I concocted pills for thirteen generations of the Black Sieve Sect, and of them, was able to collect five sets of ancestral blood from three generations…. From this blood, I should be able to create five rudimentary Blood Clones.” Within his mind he could see the description of Blood Clones which was contained in the Blood Immortal legacy.

“Blood Clones are like shadows. Meld the self into the shadow, and it becomes like a doppelgänger, its life and death tied to my thoughts. A Blood Clone contains twenty to thirty percent of the power of the Cultivation base of my true self. If I can upgrade it to a Blood Spirit, it can employ one hundred percent of my true self’s Cultivation base. The final version, which is created with nine generations of ancestral blood, is a Blood Divinity, which is a defiance of the Heavens!”


Note: "Cultivation" is a common term used in Wuxia for the growing, strengthening, and storing up of Chi in a fighter's body via years and years of hard, dedicated training.

Also, while thumbing about for relevant quotes from wuxia novels, this one also jumped out at me (from God of Slaughter).

Luo Hao's heart was beating several times faster than before! Around him, the power of gravity surged ten times!

All of a sudden, the eight men surrounding Luo Hao's group felt an immense pressure, as if they were being pressed down by a huge mountain. The pressure almost made them kneel on the ground. Even the Crescent emissary was affected. However, he grunted and said, "Luo Hao, what a surprise! Your 'Gravity Art' is truly at an advanced level!! Ten times gravity! No wonder you are so arrogant."


Dragon Ball, like most other wuxia stories, has always generally been written as if the reader/viewer is already inherently familiar with a lot of these common Chinese fantasy kung fu tropes, because Asian pop culture as a whole generally is. Its like why in any common fantasy story there's no big introduction or explanation for why a wizard character in a medieval fantasy story can conjure an enchanted monster from out of thin air: he's a wizard, wizard's know magic. That's just innately hardwired into our collective cultural consciousness, and we don't generally devote much space in any generic fantasy story to "establish" or "set up" these things for those not in the know.

Its no different at all with how mystical Taoist Ki abilities work in ancient wuxia lore: characters can use Ki to fly, shoot beams, be super strong/fast, "sense" the ki and even the "intent" of other fighters, and even heal others by sharing some of their ki. Hell, in many cases they can even control natural elements like fire, wind, ice, etc: something which DB rarely ever does, and on the rare instances it does its never given any fanfare. Ki can be used to create weapons (another ability DB rarely uses and devotes no "setting up" towards), bind people in place like invisible chains, and on and on and on. There's plenty of other Chi abilities that DB hardly touches much base on: only fairly recently has Super introduced into the DB world the idea of celestial/godly Ki (another ancient piece of Taoist lore). People from parts of the world and from cultures where the genre is more commonplace tend to just have these things, consciously or unconsciously, embedded via cultural osmosis.
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Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.


Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby ekrolo2 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:09 am

Kunzait_83 wrote:Dragon Ball, like most other wuxia stories, has always generally been written as if the reader/viewer is already inherently familiar with a lot of these common Chinese fantasy kung fu tropes, because Asian pop culture as a whole generally is. Its like why in any common fantasy story there's no big introduction or explanation for why a wizard character in a medieval fantasy story can conjure an enchanted monster from out of thin air: he's a wizard, wizard's know magic. That's just innately hardwired into our collective cultural consciousness, and we don't generally devote much space in any generic fantasy story to "establish" or "set up" these things for those not in the know.

Its no different at all with how mystical Taoist Ki abilities work in ancient wuxia lore: characters can use Ki to fly, shoot beams, be super strong/fast, "sense" the ki and even the "intent" of other fighters, and even heal others by sharing some of their ki. Hell, in many cases they can even control natural elements like fire, wind, ice, etc: something which DB rarely ever does, and on the rare instances it does its never given any fanfare. Ki can be used to create weapons (another ability DB rarely uses and devotes no "setting up" towards), bind people in place like invisible chains, and on and on and on. There's plenty of other Chi abilities that DB hardly touches much base on: only fairly recently has Super introduced into the DB world the idea of celestial/godly Ki (another ancient piece of Taoist lore). People from parts of the world and from cultures where the genre is more commonplace tend to just have these things, consciously or unconsciously, embedded via cultural osmosis.

I get the historical context for how and why these things are there, it doesn't mean they make sense in a story context for Dragon Ball. Freeza is established as sucking at controlling his power, so, when he starts saying with absolute accuracy how much power he's using or raising to, it doesn't make any sense with a guy who's setup as being bad at ki control to where a mere 1% of it needed 4 forms to regulate it. It would be like if the story said "Goku turns into a giant ape monster if he stares at the moon!" then had Goku stare at it for a long time with nothing happening because reasons.

The ki transfer is another example, much like image training, it's a thing Toriyama just drops into the story and the characters know it but besides it being a wuxia trope, where'd these abilities come from in-universe? Why can Piccolo suddenly take Gohan & Krillin's power for his own when apparently Kaio didn't tell him jack or shit concerning any ability of such description. The characters just have the ability to do so because the story need them to and because its a staple of wuxia. Goku giving ki to Freeza could at least somewhat work with him knowing the Spirit Bomb as a work around but Piccolo's flat out doesn't, it's a random thing that happens to be a staple of Toriyama's primary inspirations he drops into the narrative because he needs it at that precise moment.

Again, I get where these abilities come from and how they're a part of Dragon Ball, it doesn't change the fact they don't make sense beyond a "this is a wuxia thing!" angle.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Kunzait_83 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:14 am

ekrolo2 wrote:I get the historical context for how and why these things are there, it doesn't mean they make sense in a story context for Dragon Ball. Freeza is established as sucking at controlling his power, so, when he starts saying with absolute accuracy how much power he's using or raising to, it doesn't make any sense with a guy who's setup as being bad at ki control to where a mere 1% of it needed 4 forms to regulate it. It would be like if the story said "Goku turns into a giant ape monster if he stares at the moon!" then had Goku stare at it for a long time with nothing happening because reasons.

The ki transfer is another example, much like image training, it's a thing Toriyama just drops into the story and the characters know it but besides it being a wuxia trope, where'd these abilities come from in-universe? Why can Piccolo suddenly take Gohan & Krillin's power for his own when apparently Kaio didn't tell him jack or shit concerning any ability of such description. The characters just have the ability to do so because the story need them to and because its a staple of wuxia. Goku giving ki to Freeza could at least somewhat work with him knowing the Spirit Bomb as a work around but Piccolo's flat out doesn't, it's a random thing that happens to be a staple of Toriyama's primary inspirations he drops into the narrative because he needs it at that precise moment.

Again, I get where these abilities come from and how they're a part of Dragon Ball, it doesn't change the fact they don't make sense beyond a "this is a wuxia thing!" angle.


Actually, I'll give you Freeza as being a poor choice for a character For Toriyama to have used to demonstrate that level of awareness/control of his own Ki, especially considering that Freeza and his whole army in general are supposed to be emblematic of fighters who have raw brute power, but no understanding of how their own abilities work on a more nuanced level. I was more simply pointing out that the narrative device/concept itself isn't without precedent. But yes, Freeza from a basic character standpoint shouldn't have been the character to engage that trope with, when almost any other character in the series would've been fine.

The latter point about Ki transferring however, I'm still gonna have to heavily disagree on, and I'm not sure if the full idea of what I'm trying to say is totally coming through here exactly.

There are some landmark techniques where characters are shown specifically learning them from a master: Kamehameha, Kaioken, Genkidama, etc. But there are countless other abilities that the characters reach on their own from training that we're never shown, because they're considered fairly ubiquitous enough in the genre that audiences are already understood to be conditioned to expect them. Dragon Ball never "establishes" precisely when/how Goku and other characters reach and pass the point where their normal physical strength and speed passes into the realm of superhuman (hell, many of them already start off there from moment 1 in the series).

Its supposed to be innately understood that this is what mastery of Ki can do for a fighter because that's what Ki does and how it works across virtually all other martial arts fantasy fiction. Its that much a universal given. Same goes for countless other abilities that seemingly "come from nowhere" like being able to bend and control the shape and direction of your channeled Ki techniques (like Goku does with the Kamehameha later on without any "hey where did he learn to do that?" moments) or again Tenshinhan and other characters being able to make clones of themselves.

Hell, look at telekinesis/levitating other objects with one's Ki. That ability seeps into most of the characters' respective repertoires later on somewhere around the end of pre-Z/beginning of post-Z I think (or thereabouts), and its never given so much as a pause by the narrative or setup for where/when it was learned. Because levitation of objects is as basic an ability of Ki harassing as they come in these stories, and at a certain point there's a universal understanding that that's what martial arts mastery can allow you to do with your Ki across all these works. Tolkien never sets up or explains where, when and how each and every individual power and ability of characters like Saruman or Gandalf were learned or picked up from. They're wizards. They know magic and they know spells. Away we go to the races.

Or look at the Mafuba/Evil Containment technique.

Image
Nope. Not a Dragon Ball original concept either.

Suddenly Dragon Ball is just casually jumping into the idea that certain kinds of Ki can be used to seal and contain malevolent/demonic beings, both physically and spiritually/metaphysically. The story doesn't stop to explain the why's and how's of this in detail: nor for that matter does the story ever stop to explain that there isn't just "Ki" but positive and negative forms of it, holy and demonic forms of it, and that they're all dinstinct and distinguishable among fighters sensitive to them. Goku when confronting Future Trunks for the first time mentions that he didn't even flinch on Trunks' first sword swipe because "he felt no killing intent in his Ki". Again, when before has Dragon Ball ever paused to establish and lay out that Goku can now make this distinction, or for that matter that this distinction is even something that exists in Ki?

It doesn't, because Dragon Ball is being written for an audience that already know from the getgo how all this stuff works and what it entails. Because, like it or not, these concepts and in many if not most cases even the finer details in how they work, are largely universal across this entire genre.

My point is, it seems arbitrary to single out this ONE lone example, when you should be poking that same hole throughout ALL of these instances throughout Dragon Ball (and there's a fuckload of them). And if that's such a sore a sticking point for you, you're going to have a rough go of it across virtually the ENTIRE wuxia landscape, where characters already know how to fly and shoot lasers and punch down mountains and sense each other's presence, and at almost NO point does the narrative stop dead in its tracks and makes a point of ever establishing exactly "when/how did they learn to do that?" by way of having the basics of Ki control re-litigated across each and every single story.

Because you're supposed to understand, on a cultural level (because these stories are written for a cultural that typically does) the same way that we understand the Western concept of "magic" in fantasy or what witches and werewolves and vampires are and how they work and what their rules and limitations and weaknesses are, that this is a universal set of fantasy martial arts ideas and concepts, whose scope and limits have been established and been around and understood across, again I need to stress this, literally thousands of years worth of stories.

The basic nature of what Ki is, how it works, what it does or can do for a character in a wuxia story, etc. are universal enough on a mass enough frame of cultural reference that its often something that usually goes without any detailed explanation. Dragon Ball itself doesn't give itself very many "baby's first wuxia" moments where it pauses the narrative to describe the barebones basics of this stuff: only two occasions I can think of offhand, and one is in anime filler (more than 5 story arcs deep no less) and the other is in the very last arc of the whole manga. And on both occasions its much more for the character's benefit in the story rather than for the audiences.

I get (especially these days) that for a whole generation of people within this fanbase Dragon Ball is their first ever, sometimes perhaps one of their only ever, Wuxia stories, and that the genre's very existence is something that's been at a complete and total loss to said generation of fans. But neither Toriyama, nor anyone else involved could've or should've ever expected that DB would be THE introductory work of the very existence and concept of martial arts fantasy fiction for nevermind a much further later generation of fans well far past the conclusion of the serial's run, but for a whole foreign audience from a whole foreign culture where the genre's existence as well as that of all of its basic most ideas and concepts are nill, and thus should've been retroactively held to predict that future of the series and write every single long-established martial arts myth idea or concept as if its that audience member's very first ever foray into these things.

Dragon Ball was aimed at Japanese children, but throughout China, Japan, Taiwan, etc. plenty of children tend to learn from fairly early on what a lot of these things are to the point that by the time they reach adolescence they become cultural givens (more so if that child is on the nerdier side of the spectrum as far as their taste in genre works go: again, this stuff is basically the direct Asian martial arts equivalent of D&D type of fare).

For my part, I don't even remember exactly when/how I learned of basic fairy tale/fantasy characters and stories like Snow White and King Arthur and Rapunzel and whatnot when I was little. At some point I must've, but its so culturally elemental that its almost like they've always just "been there" in my head from day one, and that's how it tends to be for a fuckload of other people in the Western world as well. Its not an exaggeration to say that that's how steeped and ingrained these kinds of martial arts stories are in their native corners of the globe.

I know I'm going off into all this from a relatively minor plot point in the grand scheme of DB, but I think that so much of the most basic and foundation confusion and misconceptions that a lot of people in the West have about even the very most basics of DB's premise, ideas, and even much of the execution of said ideas stems largely from something so ingrained on such a primal level in one part of the world being so alien and foreign and unheard of to another. Its why even little things and minor details in these stories that I'm sure most Wuxia readers/viewers for long many hundreds of years throughout Asia have long taken for granted can leave people on the other side of the globe in total disarray and confusion.

This is also the fundamental reason for why a lot of people, since I'd written that original Wuxia thread a few years back now, seem stuck on this idea that "How could Toriyama have done all this research into all of this obscure, arcane stuff that no one's ever heard of before? He's such a flaky, by the seat of his pants dude that its not at all like him." and "I think that Kunzait is reaching and reading too much into all this stuff because Dragon Ball isn't that complex or academic".

None of these story concepts and genre conventions are in the least bit complex, obscure, or even academic (well, at least not on the more pulp side of the spectrum like where DB resides) for most people in the regions of the world where Toriyama resides and where DB was written from and towards: oftentimes Wuxia is as just much broad, mainstream, audience pleasing fluff in its homeland as it is actual hard art and literature: but its foreign enough to a lot of Westerners that it can seem far more like "shit I gotta do research and homework on" than it is "shit that everyone already knows since they're kids being read fairy tales in bed"; so Western DB fans, when they're exposed to these ideas for the first time, treat them like they're as distant and difficult as algebra or Aramaic mostly just out of raw unfamiliarity and ignorance, when for a guy where Toriyama's from its just like writing something as basic and universally well known as a Western.

I.e. its a Western, so there's cowboys and horses and saloons and gunfights as high noon. We're off to the races. Its Wuxia, so there's martial arts masters, ancient Ki cultivation techniques, gods and immortals, tyrants and rival schools, and mythical beasts, demons, and enchanted weapons/objects. We're off to the races. It's THAT fundamentally basic. Or in other words, one culture's "This is as basic and universally ingrained as The Sword in the Stone that every other kid and fantasy geek knows like their own reflection" is another culture's "obscure apocryphal trivia that feels like I'm doing a college exam to learn about".

These are cultural frames of reference so starkly fundamental and basic in the minds of different people across different parts of the world, that we simply take them for granted until we're directly confronted with them. Here in this topic it manifests as something as incredibly minor and small as Ki transfer. In cultures where these kinds of powers and abilities in these kinds of martial arts fantasy stories thrive and are ubiquitous, no one's gonna raise an eyebrow when a powerful martial artist channels their Ki into a wounded or tired fighter. Its done all the time in so many stories of this nature with characters like these. There's little need for an "in-universe" stopping to explain where the characters learned it. They've trained and studied martial arts and control of their own Ki for enough years that they've mastered these particulars about their fighting styles and abilities. Boom. We move onward. At least for a martial arts fantasy-versed culture.

But to a cultural audience where martial arts fantasy isn't really a thing, even these minor details make one pause in their tracks and say "wait a minute, I don't understand why this is a thing all of a sudden or where it comes from, why didn't the story lay it out for me?" Because the very concept of Ki itself is still new and fresh to you, you're still kind of getting used to a lot of the basics even this late in the game, so any time a fighter demonstrates even a common technique for the first time, its jarring and shocking. And thus we run into hurdles like this, where suddenly we're nitpicking in places that we're not really meant to or where someone who is more innately familiar with the genre and its components will be puzzled and confused at why the other person who isn't is suddenly having a hard time wrapping their head around what is otherwise such a basic concept or idea.

Again: on a fundamental level Dragon Ball isn't unique nor does it exist in a cultural vacuum. There are literally untold COUNTLESS thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of these kinds of stories that have existed since at least a few centuries B.C. At this point in history its fair to say, none of them are obligated to stop and take a powder at every turn to establish themselves as an introductory course for a culture that exists outside of their neck of the woods, especially when its a dumb, simple, disposable little children's wuxia comic made by a guy who beforehand specialized mostly in dick and fart joke comics.

Toriyama at no point ever expected Dragon Ball to be the kind of massive pop culture shattering success it ultimately was in its native Japan, much less all the way across the Pacific in a territory where its story conventions and their cultural ubiquity are totally non-existent and alien; so giving it too much shit for not catering itself and its story beats to that impossible to predict cultural status with a foreign audience is, I would say, not very fair at a minimum.
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Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.


Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby ekrolo2 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:35 am

Kunzait_83 wrote:My point is, it seems arbitrary to single out this ONE lone example, when you should be poking that same hole throughout ALL of these instances throughout Dragon Ball (and there's a fuckload of them). And if that's such a sore a sticking point for you, you're going to have a rough go of it across virtually the ENTIRE wuxia landscape, where characters already know how to fly and shoot lasers and punch down mountains and sense each other's presence, and at almost NO point does the narrative stop dead in its tracks and makes a point of ever establishing exactly "when/how did they learn to do that?" by way of having the basics of Ki control re-litigated across each and every single story.

I actually do have a series wide problem with Dragon Ball just introducing concepts right out of nowhere. The only reason I'm specifically talking about Piccolo just being able to transfer ki (why didn't anyone ever do this before?) is just one I can think off the top of my head.

I'm not saying it doesn't make sense as a feature of the series and with how ki is presented, especially after the Spirit Bomb established that you can take/give power to and from other things. It's just... why now? Why does he suddenly know he can do this? Why does Goku suddenly gain the ability to read minds?

My issue isn't that Harry can cast a spell, it's the story acting like he's always known the spell but didn't use it because reasons. It's a small example of how Toriyama loves to introduce then drop concepts whenever he needs them and then never, ever revisits them.

But I do agree with you to a point about the cultural differences, to Japan, people shooting lasers is the western werewolf: they just do it because they can do it and you're right in saying that it's absurd for Toriyama or anyone to write with EVERYONE in mind just so nobody can get confused. But I also shouldn't have to do some research into Wuxia to get why people fire lasers in a story nor does that excuse the author doing a bad job of introducing a concept.
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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Kunzait_83 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:02 pm

ekrolo2 wrote:But I do agree with you to a point about the cultural differences, to Japan, people shooting lasers is the western werewolf: they just do it because they can do it and you're right in saying that it's absurd for Toriyama or anyone to write with EVERYONE in mind just so nobody can get confused. But I also shouldn't have to do some research into Wuxia to get why people fire lasers in a story nor does that excuse the author doing a bad job of introducing a concept.


You basically just contradicted yourself here. Within two sentences. "I agree that Toriyama and other writers shouldn't have to tailor their work for absolutely everyone, but they also should tailor it for me." is the gist of what you just said there.

The whole entire point of my above spiel is that for the audience that Toriyama wrote this for, there's no need to "research" martial arts fantasy tropes like Ki and what it can do, how it works, how fighters use it. You, by virtue of not being a Japanese elementary school kid much less even someone from any other Asian region to where this stuff is prevalent and hardly in the least bit requiring research-intensive homework, are not in his target audience. You, as well as I and basically nearly everyone on this forum here (with a few exceptions), are wholly incidental and unexpected byproducts of the series' unplanned degree of runaway success. Its by sheer raw force of talent and marketing that this weird little comic has spilled over as much as it has, and that's as much a marvel of cultural crossover as it gets.

Its neither Toriyama's nor the story's fault that you, I, or anyone else here have lived and have spent our lives growing up in a region where Wuxia is more niche rather than mainstream and culturally prevalent. Toriyama didn't write Dragon Ball with the foreknowledge and intent to take the globe by storm and have it universally play to all people of all cultures across the whole planet. He wrote it to entertain a readership of Japanese grade schoolers from within a specific culture where martial arts fantasy fiction is decidedly more widely familiar and predominant in the mainstream media and folk history within that region of the world.

I'm sure he's to whatever degree or other overjoyed that it grew so exponentially beyond those fairly humble goals, but both he and the work itself shouldn't be retroactively held to task for not foreseeing that level of success and level of global spread well far in advance enough to tailor every beat, moment, and detail for an audience that's never even heard of the existence of Chinese kung fu fantasy folktales, much less knows a single thing about what specifics they entail.
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Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.


Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Gaffer Tape » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:20 pm

Thank you so much, Kunzait, for going into such detail about Wuxia and the culture surrounding it. I mean it when I say it's always informative and always a joy to read your posts. I was definitely off-base accusing Toriyama of introducing the percentages thing and, in turn, pushing it away from fantasy. And that is a correction I do intend to address in a future Dragon Ball Dissection video. That said, I still don't like it. Percentages still feel out of place to me in the setting. Even the examples you gave in other works in the genre felt very clunky to me. Reading off dry numbers is almost never interesting, period. Even in, say, Star Trek, a genre where calculations fit much more at home, the parts where they read off shield percentages is never memorable or tense. However, the context you gave as to why it would make sense for martial arts masters to be so precise makes sense and causes me to find it a little more acceptable. I'm glad we're all in agreement over Freeza being the poorest fit for such a demonstration, though.

Unfortunately, I cannot get behind the justifications for Goku's healing hands. And I promise that has nothing to do with lack of exposure or a foreigner's need to have other culture's concepts spoon fed to me. Just from the perspective of good old-fashioned storytelling do I find this to be handled poorly. Yes, there are definitely genre conventions that we just know and don't require much in the way of explanation. But in terms of individual stories, those conventions only serve as a framework. They can't always serve as a substitute for establishing rules in a specific universe. Everyone knows what a vampire is, but the exact application of those concepts are going to vary from story to story. Twilight's vampires, for example, have distinctions separate from Bram Stoker's Dracula despite originating from a common source. And so, even when tropes are ubiquitous to its audience, a story is still responsible for establishing its own rules, for establishing them quickly, and for sticking to those rules once they're in place.

In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the story establishes immediately the concept of manipulating elements. No one needs to stop the story and explain every martial arts influence that causes that to be the case. And the characters, over the course of the series, expand their usage of these skills over time. However, there is never a point where new powers just come out of nowhere. For example, up until late season 1, waterbending had only ever been used in specific ways, usually in combat. But when Aang accidentally burns Katara with his firebending, she discovers that she can use waterbending to heal herself and others. There had been absolutely nothing established in the world of Avatar prior to this to suggest that the skill could be used this way. But it's specifically established at this point that it can be. If waterbending had only been used as a combat power for nearly an entire season, Aang burns Katara, and then she just heals herself with no comment, that would be incredibly jarring and out of place, no matter how many other stories in the same or similar genres have characters who can do that. Not to mention it's much more satisfying to show characters learn new applications for their skills rather than having them just be there. Since you use western fantasy as an example, let me bring up Harry Potter as well. We understand all the genre conventions of spellcasting, wands, broomsticks, but that doesn't stop the series from establishing all of those concepts. It's still written from the point of view of an audience who is familiar with the trappings, but it still has to establish how its world works.

Likewise, Dragon Ball establishes a lot of its rules very early on. Within the first couple of pages, we learn that Goku, and therefore others, can perform superhuman feats. Goku shows just a few chapters in that he can sense the presences of other people. Using ki as a destructive energy blast is quickly established too, but even that is given an introduction. As something that Yamucha is aware of but can't do, it establishes that it is not out of the realm of possibility but that only a particularly gifted martial artist can pull it off. A reader doesn't have to be familiar with the Wuxia traditions to understand how these techniques are being used in the story. I think a good example of this is flight as a martial arts ability. It's not until a couple of years into the story that we see martial artists who can fly. But it's established. Goku, Kuririn, and Yamucha don't just start randomly flying. They meet characters who do know how to fly. They comment on this ability they've never seen. Then one-by-one, they learn to do it too, and for the first couple of times, it is commented on that now such-and-such character taught himself how to fly. Then eventually it becomes so ubiquitous that it no longer needs to be commented on. That's a universe establishing a new rule. It doesn't matter that other characters in other works know how to fly. Since Dragon Ball had already established itself as not having martial arts characters doing that, it needed to introduce the concept. That has nothing to do with understanding genre conventions. It's using good storytelling conventions.

By the end of the Freeza Arc, Dragon Ball was more than halfway through its seventh year of publication. By that point, its general rules had been established for years, so having an established character with an established skill set pull out a power so at odds with anything seen before in this series and will never be seen again despite how game-changing such a technique would be is not good storytelling. It doesn't matter that other wuxia does it or Avatar does it or Harry Potter does it. Dragon Ball hadn't done it, so in Dragon Ball, it comes out of nowhere.

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. Dende had just recently been established as a character who could heal with his hands. And I have no problem with that. Namekians and their powers are still newly-established, so we don't know what they are and are not capable of. And when it does happen, it is addressed for being unique, not just ignored or treated as something commonplace. Piccolo asks Dende if he can do it too, but Dende tells him that Fighting-Types cannot heal. So in fact, the story establishes a clear divide between those who can heal and those who can fight, at least when it comes to Namekians. But since Piccolo only asked if he had this skill because he happened to be a Namekian too, that implies it's not something a "typical" martial artist in Dragon Ball can do. So not only is Goku's use of this type of technique not established, the story actually suggests that he shouldn't already have it in his skill set.

So I definitely need to become more acquainted with Wuxia, and I greatly appreciate the recommendations and examples. You've given me plenty of food for thought. But in this case, I can't help but find it a case of sloppy storytelling, not ignorance of the conventions.
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MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection Series Discussion Thread! (Updated 12/11/17!)

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby Neo-Makaiōshin » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:49 pm

Kunzait_83, I think ekrolo2 and Gaffer Tape point is that (speaking about the Ki transfer issue), wuxia/asian fantasy story tropes or not, it does not change the fact it still breaks rules of good storytelling (i.e: it still does not change the fact that it comes out of nowhere for that specific moment in the story, is never brough up before or after that point in the story).

Let's go with a different example:

There's a certain story genre named XYZ, one of said genre trademark trope/common element is "the heroes will pull out of thin air and without foreshadowing whatever power they need to get them out of the most unsolvable and dire situation", in other words a Deus Ex Machina. This element might be part of XYZ dna but, it doesn't change the fact that it is a Deus Ex Machina and breaks the rule(s) of good storytelling.

EDIT: Gaffer beat me.
MajinMan wrote:I like how "good writing" boils down to power scaling. Nothing else matters. It's ALL about power scaling. Screw the overall narrative. Screw the world building. Screw the character motivations and development. If these characters don't gain their power the way I want them to, then it's shit writing. Fuck everything else. Nevermind the fact that DB has never been consistent on how characters gained their power.

You want to talk power scaling? Explain how the humans got stronger than Raditz by training with God for less than a year, but Goku, who trained there for THREE YEARS was basically half of Raditz. And that doesn't included the 5 year skip where Muten Roshi himself stated that Goku hasn't been slacking all this time. Please enlighten me on how wonderful and great this power scaling is. And for the record, the Saiyan arc is my third favorite arc in the series.

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Re: MistareFusion's Dragon Ball Dissection! (Updated 9/18/17!)

Postby ekrolo2 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:05 pm

Kunzait_83 wrote:
ekrolo2 wrote:But I do agree with you to a point about the cultural differences, to Japan, people shooting lasers is the western werewolf: they just do it because they can do it and you're right in saying that it's absurd for Toriyama or anyone to write with EVERYONE in mind just so nobody can get confused. But I also shouldn't have to do some research into Wuxia to get why people fire lasers in a story nor does that excuse the author doing a bad job of introducing a concept.


You basically just contradicted yourself here. Within two sentences. "I agree that Toriyama and other writers shouldn't have to tailor their work for absolutely everyone, but they also should tailor it for me." is the gist of what you just said there.

The whole entire point of my above spiel is that for the audience that Toriyama wrote this for, there's no need to "research" martial arts fantasy tropes like Ki and what it can do, how it works, how fighters use it. You, by virtue of not being a Japanese elementary school kid much less even someone from any other Asian region to where this stuff is prevalent and hardly in the least bit requiring research-intensive homework, are not in his target audience. You, as well as I and basically nearly everyone on this forum here (with a few exceptions), are wholly incidental and unexpected byproducts of the series' unplanned degree of runaway success. Its by sheer raw force of talent and marketing that this weird little comic has spilled over as much as it has, and that's as much a marvel of cultural crossover as it gets.

Its neither Toriyama's nor the story's fault that you, I, or anyone else here have lived and have spent our lives growing up in a region where Wuxia is more niche rather than mainstream and culturally prevalent. Toriyama didn't write Dragon Ball with the foreknowledge and intent to take the globe by storm and have it universally play to all people of all cultures across the whole planet. He wrote it to entertain a readership of Japanese grade schoolers from within a specific culture where martial arts fantasy fiction is decidedly more widely familiar and predominant in the mainstream media and folk history within that region of the world.

I'm sure he's to whatever degree or other overjoyed that it grew so exponentially beyond those fairly humble goals, but both he and the work itself shouldn't be retroactively held to task for not foreseeing that level of success and level of global spread well far in advance enough to tailor every beat, moment, and detail for an audience that's never even heard of the existence of Chinese kung fu fantasy folktales, much less knows a single thing about what specifics they entail.

I didn't say Toriyama should tailor the story for me, I said he's bad at introducing select concepts because he assumes everyone knows them but other concepts get fleshed out. For example, ki transfer and Goku reading minds get no explanation whatsoever, and yet, Kaio-Ken and the Spirit Bomb do. Unless the concept of a power up and draining life force from outside things to boost your strength ISN'T a wuxia trope which is possible but unlikely given what I've seen. Why's some stuff getting some form of exposition while other stuff doesn't?
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