Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

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Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by LoganForkHands73 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:07 pm

I could've swore I must have already made a thread about this subject, but it seems I haven't. Meh, now's a good a time as any.

I've come to notice that there's a certain... world-weary pessimism in much of Toriyama's work, particularly regarding attitudes towards human societies. In interviews, Toriyama often displays a surprisingly cynical view of his own work, referring to his manga career as little more than light entertainment that helped pay for his mortgage, as well as claiming that Goku has "poisonous traits", that he's a disaster of a father, that the world would be screwed if everyone took him as a role model, etc. This is diametrically opposed to the anime production crew's optimistic views on Goku and Dragon Ball as a whole, but that's a broader discussion for another day. Now, Toriyama is still a gag mangaka at heart, none of this supposed satirical commentary is especially deep or reflective of reality.

As Dragon Ball is a very "man vs. man" type of story with little interest in conveying any deeper "man vs. society" type conflicts, the flaws associated with humanity are most often embodied in specific characters. Mr. Satan perhaps stands out most of all, as a weak, arrogant blowhard who proudly emblazons the word 'SATAN' on all his merchandise and successfully cons the population into disbelieving in the true spiritual power of martial arts, living up to his ironic nickname as a great deceiver and false idol. However, Satan, as we all know, undergoes major character development in the latter half of the manga, going from a self-serving coward to finally living up to his heroic reputation, ironically by using his ridiculous PR to telepathically con the people of Earth into transferring their energy to the Genki Dama when Goku and Vegeta's attempts to convince them honestly failed miserably.

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As such, there's a strangely cynical bite to the otherwise triumphant climax of the Buu arc, as the humans gleefully surrender their genki based on their blind faith in their beloved fake hero, all while the real heroes once again do the heavy-lifting without so much as an 'arigatou'. Earlier in the same arc, a disturbingly realistic outcome of an apocalyptic alien invasion is portrayed as a random crazed gunman decides to go full Purge mode while the world is distracted by Buu's rampage, killing many innocents before receiving brutal comeuppance from Buu himself. With the stakes growing higher, civilian casualties really started ramping up in the Android, Cell and Buu arcs, often with liberal gore and dismemberment. Even the protagonists seem to grow increasingly blasé to the safety of innocent lives endangered by their battles, not least since death is only a Dragon Ball gathering away from being reversed. Piccolo's attempt to convince Cell not to devour the richest man in Ginger Town is to say "even a life as worthless as this is still a life". Damn bro, can you spare the compassion?

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman continues these themes in stride, with some scathing satire against Japan's idol-worshipping culture and the general idiocy of humanity. Even the deuteragonist Omori bitterly declares humanity a lost cause for the most part while listing out our flaws, though he's naturally shocked when Jaco offers to wipe them out, saying that we're not that bad. Omori is pretty much a complete opposite of Roshi, being a depressive old scientist isolated on a small island, trying to finish building a time machine to save his wife who was tragically killed while attempting to build said time machine. Toriyama has often claimed to relate to Roshi most of all the main DB cast, as a fellow self-described perverted hermit who prefers a quiet life in the countryside. It's interesting to see how Toriyama's views have seemingly changed as he's gotten older and more cynical, as the Roshi archetype has been flipped on its head. The ruthlessness of the manga industry no doubt played a role if this is the case.

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Moving on, we come to Dragon Ball Super. The overall thematic link between nearly all the arcs (at least pre-Moro arc) is the conflict between mortals and gods. The Beerus arc is fairly optimistic in this regard, with humanity ultimately being spared for producing spirited warriors like Son Goku, as well as our hospitality and culinary skills. Especially our culinary skills. Kibitoshin summarises it best that Earth has a great charm, for all its flaws. Toriyama deliberately intended for the film to carry a more uplifting tone in light of the 2011 tsunami catastrophe that devastated his home country, in contrast to the film's original dark pitch, which might be the sweetest thing I've ever heard.

Then we come to the Universe 6 Earth, or rather we don't, as it's dead Jim. Destroyed long ago, but not from some alien invasion, just from plain old nuclear devastation presumably. Whis and Vados speculate that it was some petty human conflict that got out of control. Beerus wishes for the planet to be revived at the end of the tournament arc as a nice gesture to his brother, but there's no guarantee history won't repeat.

Enter the Misanthrope Supreme himself, Zamasu. Observing mortals from the godly realms, Zamasu concludes that mortals have squandered the gifts blessed to them by the gods and deserve to be wiped out completely. The Trunks arc deals with some oddly heavy themes for Dragon Ball. While Goku Black's initial motive rant in the anime can be interpreted as him hating humanity for our crimes against the environment or stagnation as a society, Zamasu's primary grudge against mortals is more shallowly rooted on his own inability to reconcile the similarities between mortals and gods, namely how some mortals like Goku are able to attain power rivalling the gods. That, and viewing all mortals as incorrigibly violent purely based on observing a 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque scene involving a race called the Babarians. Gowasu really picked a great planet to showcase the virtues of mortalkind... :lolno:

Both the anime and manga versions of the arc end on a controversially bitter note of Future Zeno outright erasing Trunks' entire timeline, rendering all the heroes' efforts to save it nearly pointless. The Universe Survival arc thankfully gave us a much needed reprieve as it ends on a happy note with Android #17's selfless wish reaffirming mortals' worth in Zeno's eyes.

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Lastly, we come to Goku himself. In the Moro arc, he removes his Galactic Patrol insignia and vows to finish the fight with Moro "as an Earthling", rather than a Galactic Patrol agent. In Goku's twisted little mind, fighting as an Earthling basically translates to giving the planet-destroying enemy a Senzu, trying to talk to talk the enemy into handing himself in, letting the enemy sprain his hand on your rock-hard abdominals just to prove yourself as the alpha chad in the situation, then finally deciding to finish the enemy, by which point the enemy has figured out a way to escape. For Goku, as always, it's his selfish desires clouding his judgments and making him unreasonably merciful even in a dire situation like this, but he rarely bothers to justify himself like he does here. This may be more of a Toyotaro plot beat, but it's fairly on-brand for "the human way of doing things" to be portrayed as less efficient than the alien/godly way.

(FYI, not even criticising that turn of events, it's one of my favourite sequences in the Super manga incidentally)

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So yeah, what do you think? Is Toriyama a bit of an old misery guts sometimes? Aren't we all?

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by PurestEvil » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:28 pm

I honestly find this sort of comedic angle in Dragon Ball hilarious in an ironic sense. Not everyday would one find such cynicism and contempt of humanity in a children’s gag-action manga.
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by TrunksTrevelyan0064 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:10 pm

I don't necessarily see Toriyama's outlook on the world as being cynical or pessimistic, but as realistic.

The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Many people are selfish and ignorant. But the world is also not all doom and gloom. There are some who inspire hope, who strive for and even accomplish very real, positive change. These people are heroic - but never perfect. They too make mistakes. People we admire can have toxic traits, yet we continue to love them anyway because in our eyes their good outweighs their bad. The same goes for characters like Goku. Is he selfish? Sometimes. Is he a hero? Sometimes. Many of Toriyama's characters are selfish jerks, but we count them among the "lovable good guys" anyway.

Judging from Toriyama's comments throughout manga volumes and interviews, and the way he has characters playing off of one another, he seems very aware of how the world works, and that allows him to poke fun at it so brilliantly. While his work may contain some cynical-sounding messages, it also contains many characters who are utterly unfazed by all the batshit craziness going on around them. Maybe that's the main message to take away from Toriyama's work: The world may be a messy, complicated place, but don't let it get you down! Have a laugh! Here's a robot girl poking at poop!
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by jjgp1112 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:28 pm

The first arc illustrates this the best, I think, as every character wouldn't be out of place in Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A bunch of manipulative assholes scheming on each other who only genuinely come together when an asshole with a better budget attacks them.
Yamcha: Do you remember the spell to release him - do you know all the words?
Bulma: Of course! I'm not gonna pull a Frieza and screw it up!
Master Roshi: Bulma, I think Frieza failed because he wore too many clothes!
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by Demon Prince Piccolo » Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:43 pm

I agree with TrunksTrev that it doesn't come off as overtly cynical to me, moreso realistic. It's usually given a humorous slant, so at the end of the day, even realizing a lot of people are garbage, there's always hope that people can rise to be better. And that even crap human beings like Mr. Satan and well, Roshi (I'm aware there's already a separate thread on him) can impart some good into the world. And that there are always some people persisting and trying to do good. Idk
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The story of DRAGON BALL starts from the moment Goku met Bulma. I don't really mind the Z, so long as it's understood that it's not the true beginning of the story.

I actually prefer the Goku vs Tenshinhan and Goku vs Piccolo Jr. rivalries to the Goku vs Vegeta rivalry.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by JulieYBM » Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:43 pm

These elements are really interesting and why I wish I didn't have to worry about how this could negatively affect kids or the masses.
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by WittyUsername » Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:45 pm

I’ve said before that there seems to be a certain cynicism and irreverence to Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, but other people dismissed that notion. In my case though, part of the reason I said that was because of the way deities are handled in the DBS era. Beerus is a lazy prick who destroys planets if he’s even mildly pissed off, many of the other Gods of Destruction seem to range from incompetent to arrogant and pompous, the angels come across as apathetic, and the ultimate God of the entire multiverse is a dumb kid who has no qualms about erasing entire universes from existence on a whim.

With that said, there are definitely some themes of misanthropy in Dragon Ball as well, and I personally don’t care for that stuff in any work of fiction.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by ABED » Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:03 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:45 pm
I’ve said before that there seems to be a certain cynicism and irreverence to Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, but other people dismissed that notion. In my case though, part of the reason I said that was because of the way deities are handled in the DBS era. Beerus is a lazy prick who destroys planets if he’s even mildly pissed off, many of the other Gods of Destruction seem to range from incompetent to arrogant and pompous, the angels come across as apathetic, and the ultimate God of the entire multiverse is a dumb kid who has no qualms about erasing entire universes from existence on a whim.

With that said, there are definitely some themes of misanthropy in Dragon Ball as well, and I personally don’t care for that stuff in any work of fiction.
I still don't see how his version of gods are lazy pricks or incompetent is a cynical statement.
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by WittyUsername » Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:14 pm

ABED wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:03 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:45 pm
I’ve said before that there seems to be a certain cynicism and irreverence to Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, but other people dismissed that notion. In my case though, part of the reason I said that was because of the way deities are handled in the DBS era. Beerus is a lazy prick who destroys planets if he’s even mildly pissed off, many of the other Gods of Destruction seem to range from incompetent to arrogant and pompous, the angels come across as apathetic, and the ultimate God of the entire multiverse is a dumb kid who has no qualms about erasing entire universes from existence on a whim.

With that said, there are definitely some themes of misanthropy in Dragon Ball as well, and I personally don’t care for that stuff in any work of fiction.
I still don't see how his version of gods are lazy pricks or incompetent is a cynical statement.
I assume you mean that that you’re not sure how it’s cynical for the gods to be lazy or incompetent. Anyway, it paints a bleak outlook on the Dragon Ball world if the highest beings of authority in existence are assholes who can destroy everything on a whim, with nothing anyone else could do to stop them.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by SupremeKai25 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:17 pm

There is a little bit of both optimism and misanthropy.

The Future Trunks arc is certainly thematically dark. The main villain Zamasu is a young God who lost faith in humanity, as he was frustrated and obsessed with the endless cycles of blood that mortals perpetuated. Zamasu rejects redemption at every turn and in the end he is destroyed after having lost his sanity, and having devolved into the level of the barbarians he was revolted by years earlier. The ending itself is very dark, since the mortals of Earth, despite banding together and giving their energies to Trunks, could not defeat Zamasu and were all killed. Only another God, Zeno, could defeat the mad God Zamasu.

Some people think that this ending is "too dark" for Dragon Ball, and they are right, but I see this as a bonus. Dragon Ball is a series where the Dragon Balls ALWAYS fix everything in the end, so it was refreshing and original to finally have an ending where the Dragon Balls can't just resurrect everyone and rebuild the cities.

The ToP arc however is the complete opposite, it is a very optimistic arc. We see the return of Frieza, who manages to put aside his past defeats and join forces with the Saiyans (unlike Zamasu who couldn't let go of the defeat he suffered at the hands of Goku). We see that the main antagonist, Jiren, is changed by Goku (again unlike Zamasu). We see that in the end Android 17 makes an altruistic wish, saving all of existence from being erased. There are clear parallels with the previous arc. In the previous arc, the God Zamasu lost all hope in humanity and decided to destroy them. In the ToP arc, the God Zeno regained his faith in humanity, as they passed his moral test (the ToP itself), and decided to spare them. In the previous arc, mortals in the end were completely useless and only Zeno could defeat Zamasu. In the ToP arc, mortals prove that they can change and do good things and in the end it is a mortal, Android 17, a machine that was created to kill people, who ends up saving the Cosmos.

The Future Trunks and ToP arcs are very connected thematically. The 2 manga-only arcs (Moro and Granolah arcs)? Not so much :think:

The Granolah arc feels VERY random so far. It delves into the themes of vengeance, the Saiyans, etc. but none of this is connected to the themes of most of the previous Super arcs, which were centred around the dynamics between mortals and Gods...

But regardless you are right in saying that the Future Trunks arc is very misanthropic, but in the end it is counter-balanced by the ToP arc, which has a VERY positive happy ending. In complete contrast with the previous arc, which ended with the Future Timeline being erased by Future Zeno, despite all the sacrifices the mortals made...

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by nhienphan2808 » Sun Sep 26, 2021 3:41 am

The Japanese typically have a different perspective on morals than the West, what makes good and evil, what is suitable for kids, and such things. They are not unfamiliar with gray areas, and "poisonous" heroes. Good and evil doesnt mean how many people you save or kill, or dark doesnt mean grumpy and assholerish and "light" doesnt mean happy all the time. They would find it easy to recognize Vegeta's sacrifice as representing not heroes or redemption, but the way Hiroshima victims died (turned to stone because all the organic materials in their body were blown away), and Goku's forgetfulness and detachedness admirable.

The West is more cut throat about those standards. I would say by the time Dragon Ball got popular in Japan itself the "western" heroic influences from comics and flims had reached their general public though, which explains Toei's more heroic main character and slightly victimized anti-hero Vegeta. despite them being also "Japanese".
I don't necessarily see Toriyama's outlook on the world as being cynical or pessimistic, but as realistic.

The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Many people are selfish and ignorant. But the world is also not all doom and gloom. There are some who inspire hope, who strive for and even accomplish very real, positive change. These people are heroic - but never perfect. They too make mistakes. People we admire can have toxic traits, yet we continue to love them anyway because in our eyes their good outweighs their bad. The same goes for characters like Goku. Is he selfish? Sometimes. Is he a hero? Sometimes. Many of Toriyama's characters are selfish jerks, but we count them among the "lovable good guys" anyway.

Judging from Toriyama's comments throughout manga volumes and interviews, and the way he has characters playing off of one another, he seems very aware of how the world works, and that allows him to poke fun at it so brilliantly. While his work may contain some cynical-sounding messages, it also contains many characters who are utterly unfazed by all the batshit craziness going on around them. Maybe that's the main message to take away from Toriyama's work: The world may be a messy, complicated place, but don't let it get you down! Have a laugh! Here's a robot girl poking at poop!
Yes all of this.
ShadowWolf87 wrote:Freeza beat Goku, beat Vegeta, and destroyed the Earth. Even if no one else knows it, who does? Goku.
Who gets told it's his fault for being so careless? Goku.
Who has to live with that similar to how he wanted to make Freeza live with the fact he'd been beaten by what he considered trash, and have to live with that shame? Goku.
Freeza got the perfect revenge.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by ABED » Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:06 am

WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:14 pm
ABED wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:03 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:45 pm
I’ve said before that there seems to be a certain cynicism and irreverence to Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, but other people dismissed that notion. In my case though, part of the reason I said that was because of the way deities are handled in the DBS era. Beerus is a lazy prick who destroys planets if he’s even mildly pissed off, many of the other Gods of Destruction seem to range from incompetent to arrogant and pompous, the angels come across as apathetic, and the ultimate God of the entire multiverse is a dumb kid who has no qualms about erasing entire universes from existence on a whim.

With that said, there are definitely some themes of misanthropy in Dragon Ball as well, and I personally don’t care for that stuff in any work of fiction.
I still don't see how his version of gods are lazy pricks or incompetent is a cynical statement.
I assume you mean that that you’re not sure how it’s cynical for the gods to be lazy or incompetent. Anyway, it paints a bleak outlook on the Dragon Ball world if the highest beings of authority in existence are assholes who can destroy everything on a whim, with nothing anyone else could do to stop them.
Except that the mortals have been shown to be able to reach their level, and instead of showing gods as being all powerful and all good, they are just as human and fallible as anyone else. That's not cynicism. All it says to me is that human beings have ridiculous conceptions of things like "gods". They aren't special and we shouldn't bow down to them.
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:39 am

I dunno, this all feels like it’s trying to make Dragon Ball come off as a lot darker and more cynical than it actually is.


Beerus tendency to destroy or threaten to destroy planets on a whim is played for laughs.


Also lol at the Future Trunks arc being misanthropic. The one were we see normal humans fight back and resist tyranny? The one where the big bad is a God who is unquestionably played as a narcissist who we shouldn’t like or agree with from moment one? THAT ARC? That’s the one that is supposedly misanthropic? Really?

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by WittyUsername » Sun Sep 26, 2021 1:49 pm

ABED wrote:
Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:06 am
WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:14 pm
ABED wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:03 pm
I still don't see how his version of gods are lazy pricks or incompetent is a cynical statement.
I assume you mean that that you’re not sure how it’s cynical for the gods to be lazy or incompetent. Anyway, it paints a bleak outlook on the Dragon Ball world if the highest beings of authority in existence are assholes who can destroy everything on a whim, with nothing anyone else could do to stop them.
Except that the mortals have been shown to be able to reach their level, and instead of showing gods as being all powerful and all good, they are just as human and fallible as anyone else. That's not cynicism. All it says to me is that human beings have ridiculous conceptions of things like "gods". They aren't special and we shouldn't bow down to them.
The series has made it painfully clear that no one can do anything about Zen-Oh. Also, Beerus has yet to be defeated.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by LoganForkHands73 » Sun Sep 26, 2021 3:11 pm

jjgp1112 wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:28 pm
The first arc illustrates this the best, I think, as every character wouldn't be out of place in Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A bunch of manipulative assholes scheming on each other who only genuinely come together when an asshole with a better budget attacks them.
Yeah, it does feel like that sometimes. "Bulma, you horny uncoordinated bitch."
I don't necessarily see Toriyama's outlook on the world as being cynical or pessimistic, but as realistic.

The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Many people are selfish and ignorant. But the world is also not all doom and gloom. There are some who inspire hope, who strive for and even accomplish very real, positive change. These people are heroic - but never perfect. They too make mistakes. People we admire can have toxic traits, yet we continue to love them anyway because in our eyes their good outweighs their bad. The same goes for characters like Goku. Is he selfish? Sometimes. Is he a hero? Sometimes. Many of Toriyama's characters are selfish jerks, but we count them among the "lovable good guys" anyway.

Judging from Toriyama's comments throughout manga volumes and interviews, and the way he has characters playing off of one another, he seems very aware of how the world works, and that allows him to poke fun at it so brilliantly. While his work may contain some cynical-sounding messages, it also contains many characters who are utterly unfazed by all the batshit craziness going on around them. Maybe that's the main message to take away from Toriyama's work: The world may be a messy, complicated place, but don't let it get you down! Have a laugh! Here's a robot girl poking at poop!
All very good points well made. :thumbup:
I dunno, this all feels like it’s trying to make Dragon Ball come off as a lot darker and more cynical than it actually is.

Also lol at the Future Trunks arc being misanthropic. The one were we see normal humans fight back and resist tyranny? The one where the big bad is a God who is unquestionably played as a narcissist who we shouldn’t like or agree with from moment one? THAT ARC? That’s the one that is supposedly misanthropic? Really?
I probably should've included more counterpoints of Toriyama making comedic light of all the occasionally dark or cynical material. But onto the Trunks arc, I didn't label the whole arc as misanthropic, just Zamasu's philosophy and the downer ending. I mean, as much as they parade about Trunks being a beacon of hope and fighting for the lives of all ningens (especially in the anime), he still loses everything. In the end... it doesn't even matter. ♬
These elements are really interesting and why I wish I didn't have to worry about how this could negatively affect kids or the masses.
Thanks, but I don't think any of this is worth losing sleep over. Kids deserve fun fantasies but exposing some harsh realities every once in a while isn't such a bad thing.
There is a little bit of both optimism and misanthropy.

The Future Trunks arc is certainly thematically dark. The main villain Zamasu is a young God who lost faith in humanity, as he was frustrated and obsessed with the endless cycles of blood that mortals perpetuated. Zamasu rejects redemption at every turn and in the end he is destroyed after having lost his sanity, and having devolved into the level of the barbarians he was revolted by years earlier. The ending itself is very dark, since the mortals of Earth, despite banding together and giving their energies to Trunks, could not defeat Zamasu and were all killed. Only another God, Zeno, could defeat the mad God Zamasu.

Some people think that this ending is "too dark" for Dragon Ball, and they are right, but I see this as a bonus. Dragon Ball is a series where the Dragon Balls ALWAYS fix everything in the end, so it was refreshing and original to finally have an ending where the Dragon Balls can't just resurrect everyone and rebuild the cities.

The ToP arc however is the complete opposite, it is a very optimistic arc. We see the return of Frieza, who manages to put aside his past defeats and join forces with the Saiyans (unlike Zamasu who couldn't let go of the defeat he suffered at the hands of Goku). We see that the main antagonist, Jiren, is changed by Goku (again unlike Zamasu). We see that in the end Android 17 makes an altruistic wish, saving all of existence from being erased. There are clear parallels with the previous arc. In the previous arc, the God Zamasu lost all hope in humanity and decided to destroy them. In the ToP arc, the God Zeno regained his faith in humanity, as they passed his moral test (the ToP itself), and decided to spare them. In the previous arc, mortals in the end were completely useless and only Zeno could defeat Zamasu. In the ToP arc, mortals prove that they can change and do good things and in the end it is a mortal, Android 17, a machine that was created to kill people, who ends up saving the Cosmos.

The Future Trunks and ToP arcs are very connected thematically. The 2 manga-only arcs (Moro and Granolah arcs)? Not so much :think:

The Granolah arc feels VERY random so far. It delves into the themes of vengeance, the Saiyans, etc. but none of this is connected to the themes of most of the previous Super arcs, which were centred around the dynamics between mortals and Gods...

But regardless you are right in saying that the Future Trunks arc is very misanthropic, but in the end it is counter-balanced by the ToP arc, which has a VERY positive happy ending. In complete contrast with the previous arc, which ended with the Future Timeline being erased by Future Zeno, despite all the sacrifices the mortals made...
Also great points, I agree with most of that. :thumbup:

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by kemuri07 » Sun Sep 26, 2021 4:54 pm

Calling DB misanthropic is....a stretch.


Dragon Ball, especially in its earliest days, is not really cynical as it is parodic. Remember, DB started life as a parody of martial arts and fantasy films. Every character is meant to be, in some way or another, mocking tropes that a Japanese audience would be familiar with. Toriyama's main source of humor even now is to have kind of be assholes to each other, but I never get the sense that he's making a grand statement on humanity itself. I'd argue that, considering the character development nearly every single characters to, from selfish assholes, to ride or die allies willing to sacrifice themselves for their friends. DB might be poking fun at us, but ultimately it does see humanity as worth saving.

Let's look at your Satan example. Yeah... you could look at it in a cynical fashion if you wanted to. But I think that ignores specific context that the show itself provides. Namely that, like everyone else before him, Mr. Satan goes through character development in which he's a lot more thoughtful than when he first appeared in the Cell Saga. That was due to his friendship of Buu. The fact that a coward is the one who ultimately saves the world is meant to be seen as a positive: That even the worst of us can strive to be better.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by ABED » Sun Sep 26, 2021 4:59 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Sep 26, 2021 1:49 pm
ABED wrote:
Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:06 am
WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:14 pm


I assume you mean that that you’re not sure how it’s cynical for the gods to be lazy or incompetent. Anyway, it paints a bleak outlook on the Dragon Ball world if the highest beings of authority in existence are assholes who can destroy everything on a whim, with nothing anyone else could do to stop them.
Except that the mortals have been shown to be able to reach their level, and instead of showing gods as being all powerful and all good, they are just as human and fallible as anyone else. That's not cynicism. All it says to me is that human beings have ridiculous conceptions of things like "gods". They aren't special and we shouldn't bow down to them.
The series has made it painfully clear that no one can do anything about Zen-Oh. Also, Beerus has yet to be defeated.
The keyword is "yet" and he is shown to have a soft side for our heroes and helps them out a lot.
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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Sep 26, 2021 5:17 pm

The entire character of Beerus is treated as a joke. He threatens to destroy the earth on the smallest slight and is then placated with sweets.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by 90sDBZ » Sun Sep 26, 2021 5:54 pm

You could probably interpret anything as cynical if you try hard enough. Even if there is some cynical stuff in DB it's far outweighed by optimism.

Despite Goku's flaws, he's repeatedly rewarded for his honest nature and great work ethic.

The more dishonest characters are shown in a negative light by not being able to ride nimbus. Roshi regularly suffers for his bad behavior. Mr Satan is constantly dealing with extreme anxiety for trying to maintain his lies. Vegeta's unhealthy obsession with Goku makes him miserable until he gains some humility and just focuses on improvement for its own sake.

Goku is a guy who finds true happiness in his own self improvement, and doesn't care for money, fame, status, or any other external object. These are admirable traits that many of us could benefit from. The fact that he brings out the good in so many others is also a very optimistic view of human nature.

The overall theme of DB is hard work and dedication pay off. There's certainly nothing cynical about that.

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Re: Misanthropic themes in Dragon Ball and other Toriyama work

Post by WittyUsername » Sun Sep 26, 2021 10:15 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun Sep 26, 2021 5:17 pm
The entire character of Beerus is treated as a joke. He threatens to destroy the earth on the smallest slight and is then placated with sweets.
You don’t have to tell me that Beerus’ antics are played for laughs. I’m aware of that. I’m just personally tired of his shtick at this point. Regardless, he’s not the prime example of how the deities in DBS irk me. That would be Zen-Oh, who I greatly dislike as a character and concept.

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