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Anime Insider December 2003 (#10)

Feature

The QT on ‘GT’

 

A Grand Tour Behind the Mysteries of ‘Dragon Ball GT’

Dragon Ball GT may be the sequel to DBZ, but it sure is…different. Goku’s a kid again, and he and his granddaughter Pan are traveling through the galaxy to find a new set of Black Star Dragon Balls that will destroy the Earth unless they’re returned in a year. At least there’s still an evil alien bent on enslaving the universe.

Airing from [sic] in Japan from 1996 to 1997, DBGT‘s 64 episodes have taken a while to get to America. Now the wait is over, and the show will finally premiere on Cartoon Network this November.

But DB fans know GT raises a lot more questions than answers. And we know, because when we asked you to give us your DBGT questions on our Website, anime-insider.com, you flooded our servers. Lucky for you, we busybodies at Anime Insider hate not knowing the answer. So we took your questions down to DBGT licensor FUNimation in Fort Worth, Texas, and banged on the door until they let us talk to director Chris Bevins, script supervisor Jeremy Carlisle, script writer (and voice of Goku and Pan’s spaceship-mate Trunks), Eric Vale and voice actor of Baby and Master Roshi Mike McFarland and get some answers. And we got’ em, too.

Why did FUNimation skip the first 16 episodes of DBGT?
–Terry, Falmouth, Mass.
The episodes were skipped for a purpose. “We wanted to start everybody off with a taste of the fun action of GT, which doesn’t really get started until the supervillain Baby is introduced,” explains Bevins.

See, the first 16 episodes show Goku (turned into a kid again by the Black Star Dragon Balls), his granddaughter Pan and the teenage Trunks traveling through the galaxy to recover the Black Star Dragon Balls. Goku and the crew land on an assortment of rather goofy planets, much in the style of the less-action-oriented, more wacky adventure-filled Dragon Ball. They don’t contribute to the plot, and they disenchanted a lot of Japanese fans who wanted GT to be more like DBZ [see sidebar].

FUNimation didn’t want to have the same problem. “We wanted to make sure everybody got hooked on the big full-blown action of GT that everyone had kind of become accustomed to on Dragon Ball Z, and then go back and fill in the gaps afterwards,” says Bevins. But GT fans need not worry–Bevins says the original first 16 episodes are already in production, and should appear on DVD sometime in 2004.1

If the long blonde hair is Super Saiyan 3 and the red body hair is Super Saiyan 4, what is the giant monkey form in between them called?
–Angelica, Phoenix, Ariz.
While any Saiyan can turn into a giant monkey–called the “Oozaru” form in the Japanese–when he looks at a full moon (Goku does a few times in DB and his son Gohan does it once in DBZ), this is a special mode only achieved after the Super Saiyan 3 level. While looking at the full Earth while standing on Baby’s newly wished for Planet Plant, Goku transforms into the giant monkey form with a special golden sheen. The proper Japanese name for this form is “Goruden Oozaru,” which literally translates to “Golden Giant Monkey.” As for the English dubbed version, director Chris Bevins states, “I don’t think we ever officially gave the form a name.” According to Eric Vale, “As a scriptwriter, I just put ‘gorilla.'”
How old is Goku when DBGT starts?
–Michael, Lexington, Ky.
Everyone, get out your calculators! According to the DBZ Daizenshyu (a Japanese series guide), Goku is 24 when DBZ starts. After fighting Raditz, Freeza and dying at Cell’s hands, he comes back at age 37. The last four episodes (273-276)2 of DBZ occur 10 years after the Buu saga, making him 47. In those same episodes, Goku’s granddaughter Pan is four years old. When GT starts, it’s been another 10 years3, so Goku is technically 574. You can explain his youthful looks by this great physical shape and his many years spent dead.
Can Pan and Bulla go Super Saiyan?
–Jennifer, Seattle, Wash.
The only thing necessary to turn Super Saiyan is Saiyan blood, and since Pan is Goku’s granddaughter and Bulla is Vegeta’s daughter, they’ve got it. However, they never do turn Super Saiyan in any episode. Theoretically, any Saiyan can turn Super, male or female. “Anybody of Saiyan blood could potentially go Super Saiyan with enough training,” says script supervisor Jeremy Carlisle. “If any of the other lady characters train hard enough, they I don’t see why they couldn’t.”
Why or how does Goku get old again when he turns Super Saiyan 4?
–Matthew, Washington, D.C.
While Goku may have turned into a little kid, the power of Super Saiyan 4 is so great, it’s far too much for a little kid’s body to harness. Goku’s body is forced to take on its natural adult state to channel the power. “Goku has to be able to expand his mass anyways by going into the Golden Giant Monkey form before he can focus all that power into the form of Super Saiyan 4,” add Bevins.
What would Super Saiyan 5 Goku look like?
–Tiffany, Boise, Idaho
While Goku never strays past SS4 in DBGT, the FUNimation crew had a few ideas. “You know when Roshi turns all buff in Dragon Ball?” asks McFarland. “He looks like that, with long flowing, glowing half-black, half-blonde hair, and a monkey tail.”

“And he rides a shark!” Carlisle adds. Eric Vale’s answer? “Gary Coleman.”

At the beginning, Baby is a creation of evil alien scientist Dr. Myuu; but he later says he’s an alien called a Tuffle. What’s the deal?
–Steven, Long Beach, Calif.
Baby is the first serious villain to cross paths with Goku and the gang. Early on, Dr. Myuu refers to Baby as his own scientific creation (episodes 21 and 22), but later Baby himself exposes Dr. Myuu’s claim as mere delusion, revealing his true nature at the end of episode 22 as a member of the alien race of Tuffles.

When the Tuffles realized they were losing their war with the saiyans, they developed a secret biological weapon. This weapon is Baby, a powerful parasitic creature with superb mind control abilities, a deep hatred for all Saiyans, and a mission. “Baby explains that his essence was controlling Dr. Myuu all along, and he actually made Dr. Myuu rebuild him,” explains Bevins. Baby uses Dr. Myuu’s genius to make himself stronger by integrating his own biological system with Dr. Myuu’s mechanical brilliance and recreating himself as a half-parasite, half-android type of creature.

Why didn’t the Black Star Dragon Balls ever show up in DBZ?
–Emily, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Because they weren’t invented yet. In DBZ, the only Dragon Balls used by creator Akira Toriyama were the Orange Star Balls. But Toei Animation, makers of GT, decided to create the new Black Star set as a convenient plot device (if a weird one) to get Goku into space, chasing after them. But for the in-story explanation, the first episode says that they were created long ago by the original Namekian who later split into the good guardian of Earth Kami, who made the Orange Star balls, and the evil being who became good Piccolo. As their combined form, the Namekian who created them was much stronger, hence the extra wish power, different colored star, and why they scatter across the galaxy and not just the Earth when used.
What do the Black Star Dragon Balls taste like?
–Michael, Clifton, N.J.
BEVINS: Chicken!

McFARLAND: They taste like regular Dragon Balls that were cooked too long.

VALE: I ate dirt when I was a kid… they probably taste something like dirt.

ANIME INSIDER: You ate dirt?

VALE: I ate dirt! Anybody who said they didn’t eat dirt when they were a kid, they’re lying!

McFARLAND: I didn’t eat dirt…

VALE: Liar!

McFARLAND: I did eat black jelly beans, which don’t taste good. Maybe Black Star Dragon Balls taste like baseball-sized black jelly beans.

BEVINS: Gross…

What’s up with Bulma and Vegeta’s daughter’s name?
–Cindy, Plantation, Fla.
As a pun Toriyama created, every member of Bulma’s family is named after some kind of underwear. The family name is Briefs5, after all, and Bulma means “bloomers” in Japanese. Her son Trunks…well, duh. In the original Japanese, their daughter’s name is actually Bra! “Bulla is what we call her,” says director Bevins. “For a family show, we decided that we should probably just call her something different that’s close to Bulma, but not quite.”
Will Cell come back in DBGT?
–Keith, Newport, Va.
In the word of Eric, voice of Trunks, “Yes. Big time.”

SPOILER WARNING! But how, you might ask? Yes, Cell is still dead, and no, he doesn’t escape from the afterlife. During episode 43, the dead Cell and Frieza actually team up to face off against Goku, who gets trapped in the Underworld by a trick of the deceased spirits of Dr. Myuu and Dr. Gero!

If Saiyans’ hair is fixed, how does Vegeta grow a mustache? And why did he think it was a good idea?
–Loree, Indianapolis, Ind.
While Vegeta is often quoted for saying all Saiyans’ hair is fixed in DBZ, he must have been only referring to head hair, because he grows a thick ‘stache in GT. “I think he was tired of having a lip scowl,” Mike McFarland offers, “and this way he could hide it.” There could be many reasons why he grew it, but no explanation really stands out. The only thing for sure about the mustache is when Bulla criticizes it in episode 25, Vegeta looks ready to kill himself and next day, the lip hair is gone.
Who is the strongest character of all in Dragon Ball/Z/GT?!
–Christen, Las Vegas, Nev.
Just like the fans, even the guys running DBGT have conflicting opinions. “I would have to say it’s the shape-shifting cat Puar,” reveals Mike McFarland. “No, it’s Goku’s wife Chi Chi,” retorts Eric Vale. But if you really want to know…

SPOILER WARNING! As the final episodes reveal, the absolute strongest character in the DBZ/GT universe is… Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta! SS4 Gogeta is the result of a temporary fusion of Goku and Vegeta in their SS4 forms, much like Vegito resulted from their fusion during DBZ. The reason he turns into Gogeta and not Vegito is because instead of using the Fusion-inducing Potara earrings (which made Vegito in DBZ), Goku and Vegeta perform the Fusion dance (the way Goku’s son Goten and Vegeta’s kid Trunks turn into Gotenks in DBZ), creating Gogeta.

San Antonio, Texas-based freelance writer Alysson Wyatt still can’t figure out how Krillin got hair.

 

■ (SIDEBAR) End Games

The Strange, Secret Origin of ‘DBGT’

If you’re wondering why this new Dragon Ball series is different from the first two, you might be surprised to hear that the Goku’s creator ended his saga before GT ever began.

Toei Animation, the makers of the Dragon Ball Z anime, were understandably upset when original author Akira Toriyama decided to end DBZ after 42 manga volumes and 444 anime episodes (he named it “Z” because that’s the last letter, get it?). After all, it would effectively end the anime and cut the 3 billion yen cash crop they were making. So Toei decided to go ahead on their own–and premiered DBGT just one week after the last episode of DBZ in January of 1996.

Although the story was created entirely by Toei, Toriyama did have his hand in, if just a little. “He had some involvement in the preliminary character designs,” says director Chris Bevins. “For example, he designed both the robot Giru and the space ship that Pan, Trunks, Giru and Goku all travel in through the first saga.”

The lack of Toriyama’s storytelling hurt the show. While DBZ garnered a massive 25 percent of Japanese TV viewers at its peak in 1993 (sinking to a 13.5% during 1996), Toei somehow failed to realize the draw of DBZ was its action and made GT an adventure comedy. The ratings sunk lower, until Toei’s studio writers finally wised up and added super-villains like Baby, as well as multi-episode-long fights, and raised the ratings back 14%. But between the lack of Toriyama’s storytelling and the weird plot inconsistencies, DBGT never reached the same level of success… in Japan.

But in America, FUNimation seems to have made the right choice–DBGT DVDs are out-selling seven DBZ at the videostores. Who knows what ratings it’ll bring on Cartoon Network this November?

AW

The following historical notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information and were not originally published in the book.

1 Indeed, the first batch of episodes were later released over five volumes under a subtitle of “The Lost Episodes” over the course of 2004 into 2005. There were, of course, never actually “lost” in any way; it was a marketing ploy to get to the action more quickly and build-up demand for a series of episodes that otherwise were not expected to perform as well.
2 This would have still been taking into consideration the fact that FUNimation’s original 1996-1998 English dub of the series condensed approximately 68 episodes down to 53 for syndication broadcast, along with one un-numbered “uncut” episode during the third season broadcast on Cartoon Network, thus giving “276” episodes instead of the original 291.
3 Dragon Ball GT officially begins — according to Toei’s own materials, including the Dragon Ball GT Perfect File books — in Age 789, placing it five years after the end of the original manga. Various marketing materials and press coverage surrounding FUNimation’s English dub (incorrectly) places it ten years later, though this timeframe does not appear to be mentioned in FUNimation’s English dub of Dragon Ball GT itself.
4 As per note #3 above, Goku would chronologically be 52 years old (born in Age 737 and Dragon Ball GT beginning in Age 789). You may want to make some adjustments for the time he spends dead during the Saiyan arc and between the Cell and Boo arcs!
5 There is no evidence to support this. While Bulma’s father is indeed named “Dr. Brief” (ブリーフ博士 Burīfu Hakase), as Videl makes clear later in the series, surnames are actually uncommon in the civilized portion of the Dragon World (thus her surprise at the name “Son Gohan”). In all likelihood, the father’s name is “Brief” in and of itself, while Bulma’s name is simply Bulma as a given name with no tacked-on family name. In FUNimation’s English dub, “Briefs” is used for the entire family.
Transcription & Notes: VegettoEX
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