Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

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Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by batistabus » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:21 pm

When I first got into discussing Dragon Ball on the DaizenshuuEx forums back in (my day!) 2010, the conversation around Goku's personality had a slightly different dynamic from today. It seemed that we were constantly battling FUNimation's "Superman" version of the character. Yes, Goku hates evil. Yes, Goku sacrifices himself for the greater good. Yes, Goku cares deeply about his friends and family. All of that is true, but what FUNimation's version (and maybe, inherently, the anime/films) severely missed was the "elements of poison" aspect of his character. While he cares about his family, and is more than willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, he's not your typical American sitcom dad. While he will save the earth from those who threaten it, it is not his goal to end world problems. Goku is a good person who readily steps up, but what motivates him on the day-to-day is his desire to improve as a martial artist. He is pure but not a saint. He is well-intended but sometimes naive. He's someone who focuses so much on the bigger picture that he is sometimes insensitive to how others may be effected emotionally. He is jarring and unorthodox, but so bright and transparent that he can't help but have a positive affect everyone he comes in contact with.

Eventually, the larger English-speaking DB fanbase started understanding these aspects of the character. This is largely thanks to DBZ Kai and DBZ Abridged, but if I were to pinpoint a single moment for this shift, it would be ScrewAttack's Goku vs Superman Death Battle. Thanks to consultation from Kanzenshuu and Derek Padula, fans got to see just how starkly Goku contrasted with Superman. Was their portrayal of the character perfect? Perhaps not, but it was leagues closer to Toriyama's Goku than most English-speaking fans had been accustomed to. While this didn't fix the problem entirely, a lot more people seemed to get it.

Nowadays, I feel like I'm observing a weird 360 in how fans talk about Goku. There is a portion of the fanbase who has perhaps exaggerated the characteristics that make Goku unique as a protagonist; that he is solely motivated by fighting, that he doesn't care about anyone (least of all, his family), and that he is a complete moron. On the other side, there is a faction who is totally resistant to his characterization in Super; that he has never kissed Chichi, and that he's willing to endanger his world for the sake of a fight.

Some in this camp are especially hostile to the "Piccolo is Gohan's real dad" joke. Fine...it's been done to death, and it was never that funny to begin with, but it does have a bit of truth to it. Gohan and Piccolo have a special bond. While Goku certainly cares for (and has given his life for) Gohan, he doesn't seem to dote on him the same way that Piccolo does. That doesn't mean Goku is a horrible dad, it just means they have a different type of relationship. I've seen particularly harsh criticism of Goku and Gohan's relationship in the DBS manga from this camp, which I don't understand in the least. Gohan is an adult with a family who can make his own choices, and I feel that their relationship in the manga is true to that. But I digress. It's a dumb joke, but it's not nearly as offensive as some seem to take it.

Back to my original point. What inspired this thread was a tweet containing a series of edited manga panels mocking those who think Goku's sole motivation is fighting. They're pretty funny, and anyone who thinks Goku only cares about fighting is wrong, but...there's something that bothers me a bit about stuff like this. There seems to be a group of fans who don't appear to be casuals, yet still lean heavily towards the notion that Goku is an ideal hero and father.

In my view, it can be - and always has been - both. He can love his friends and family while sometimes being inconsiderate. He can be oblivious in some situations but clever in others. He can be afraid of fighting Raditz but excited about fighting Boo. Goku and Toriyama, despite being so consistent over the years, continue to find ways to surprise us.

Does anyone have a better sense of this? Maybe someone who has been around for longer than I have, or someone who has only gotten into Dragon Ball with Super? It seems so strange to me that we as fans can't seem to agree on how the main character of the series should behave. Does it lie in the fact that Goku is not a relatable character? Is Goku just so tied to Toriyama's unique vision that it's hard for others to fully grasp it? Or is the ability to take what you want from the character part of his appeal?

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by TheMikado » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:48 pm

The problem, in my opinion. Isn't the fandom. Its that Goku has literally been around for decades and people don't know how to properly categorize him as a character. They tend to make him too simplistic and talk in terms of absolutes. Goku is .... so ..... etc.

The fact is when we see Goku, he is an intelligent, yet naive individual. Good-natured and Good hearted enough to continue to ride the Nimbus, thus the idea of there being "poison" wouldn't jive with a major plot point of his ability to ride the Nimbus. But the consistency problems don't end there.

In Z, we see one of the first acts is for Goku to run the entirety of Snake way, he has an immediate understanding of what it means to run 1 million Km or miles depending on the translation. We also see in the Buu saga he is able to tell time at the World Martial Arts tournament and even performs mental math to determine how much time he has in minutes until the fighting begins.
Yet we zoom over to Super and in the very first episode he is portrayed as a bumbling idiot only caring about training such that he ruins his crops, has Goten nearly crash his tractor, and then can't seem to understand the difference between 100,000 and 1 million zenny are the very end. This also ignores his seeming issue with having trouble conceptualizing grade school numbers 5-6 when they are getting the Saiyans to perform the SSG ceremony.

These are just some quick examples of why the fandom is constantly at war. Because we have a complex character between portrayed in many ways which seem at odds with one another and previous characterization.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by Majin Buu » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:58 pm

TheMikado wrote:The problem, in my opinion. Isn't the fandom. Its that Goku has literally been around for decades and people don't know how to properly categorize him as a character.
The way I see it, the issue of people having different ideas about Goku's characterization was caused by two things:

1. Toei making Goku slightly more superhero-like than he was in the manga for the anime.
2. Funimation's DBZ dub running with that superhero portrayal even more than Toei did.

This applies mainly to the American fanbase though. I wonder if this is a problem at all in Japan?

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by Doctor. » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:10 pm

batistabus wrote:Nowadays, I feel like I'm observing a weird 360 in how fans talk about Goku. There is a portion of the fanbase who has perhaps exaggerated the characteristics that make Goku unique as a protagonist; that he is solely motivated by fighting, that he doesn't care about anyone (least of all, his family), and that he is a complete moron.
I feel like it's a side-effect of Super airing. Toei has desperately tried to dial Goku's heroism back down and made him much more poisonous than he ever was in the original series perhaps in an attempt to appeal to Toriyama. Even if some of his more... questionable decisions come from Toriyama's own script, they would probably be handled much more gracefully under his direct hand. He has been ridiculously flanderized in modern Dragon Ball to the point that some of the subtlety and nuance in his personality has been completely erased from public consciousness, most likely because it's been far too long since he has been portrayed "correctly." I would consider the Super manga Goku an improvement over the anime version, but he too is a departure from where the Boo arc left the character and often feels like a caricature of himself as well in spite of some of the manga's more nuanced character moments; and besides, the manga is far too irrelevant to ingrain itself deeply into the perceptions of the general fanbase.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by KBABZ » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:36 pm

Goku can't be easily fit in a box, which is why his character is often forced into one that doesn't tell the whole picture. He can appear dumb, but that's mainly because he isn't well-learned and doesn't fit well in most social situations; this is something people with Asperger's and Autism get a lot of the time (I should know, haha). Anyone who's seen Goku's battle tactics knows that he can be surprisingly clever and intelligent (but the fact that many of these moments are in Dragon Ball doesn't help). He appears only loves fighting (and food), but it's easy to forget that he's the protagonist of a shonen fighting manga that is primarily ABOUT fighting and aimed at 12-15 year olds. He cares about defending people and doing what's right, but he is in no way proactive about it doesn't actively spend his time doing it. He isn't actively heroic but he is constantly trying to be a good person and do the right thing, which is not the same as being heroic.
Doctor. wrote:I feel like it's a side-effect of Super airing. Toei has desperately tried to dial Goku's heroism back down and made him much more poisonous than he ever was in the original series perhaps in an attempt to appeal to Toriyama. Even if some of his more... questionable decisions come from Toriyama's own script, they would probably be handled much more gracefully under his direct hand. He has been ridiculously flanderized in modern Dragon Ball to the point that some of the subtlety and nuance in his personality has been completely erased from public consciousness, most likely because it's been far too long since he has been portrayed "correctly." I would consider the Super manga Goku an improvement over the anime version, but he too is a departure from where the Boo arc left the character and often feels like a caricature of himself as well in spite of some of the manga's more nuanced character moments; and besides, the manga is far too irrelevant to ingrain itself deeply into the perceptions of the general fanbase.
Totally agree here, it sonds like he isn't the adult that he developed into over the course of Z and is arguably more childish than in the Dragon Ball anime.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by batistabus » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:05 pm

Doctor. wrote:I feel like it's a side-effect of Super airing. Toei has desperately tried to dial Goku's heroism back down and made him much more poisonous than he ever was in the original series perhaps in an attempt to appeal to Toriyama.
I think I agree with this, but I'm not sure how to feel about it. It's nice that Toei is at least listening to the words Toriyama says, but without fully understanding it, and from feeling constrained by Toriyama's last-minute editorial suggestions, you end up with something that feels just as wrong but in a different way. I'm not interested in a story about Goku and his friends without Toriyama, but what we've ended up with in Super just feels like a half-measure that doesn't seem to satisfy anybody.
TheMikado wrote:The fact is when we see Goku, he is an intelligent, yet naive individual. Good-natured and Good hearted enough to continue to ride the Nimbus, thus the idea of there being "poison" wouldn't jive with a major plot point of his ability to ride the Nimbus. But the consistency problems don't end there.

We also see in the Buu saga he is able to tell time at the World Martial Arts tournament and even performs mental math to determine how much time he has in minutes until the fighting begins.
Yet we zoom over to Super and in the very first episode he is portrayed as a bumbling idiot only caring about training such that he ruins his crops, has Goten nearly crash his tractor, and then can't seem to understand the difference between 100,000 and 1 million zenny are the very end.

Because we have a complex character between portrayed in many ways which seem at odds with one another and previous characterization.
Okay, so you're saying fans have this issue because "official" writers have this issue. The Super anime has the issue of multiple writers with different visions taking on the character, which certainly muddies things. I'm sure many writers are basing Goku's personality off of what they remember from when they were kids, which results in a caricatured portrayal.

But it sounds like you're saying this problem goes beyond Super. Do you think Toriyama is wrong when he describes Goku's "poison"? I don't see Goku being "pure" but still having "poison" as incompatible. Complex, sure. I mean, it is incompatible if you're thinking of "pure" as a Western Christ-like idea, but I don't think that's what Toriyama intended. Even in early Dragon Ball, Goku unintentionally insults people, does/says rude things, and kills without guilt when he feels he needs to. He is "pure" in the sense that he is true to himself and others, but that doesn't mean these things can't be selfish in nature or have unforeseen consequences. He is "good" in the sense that he would never inflict harm onto others and hates those who do, but he's not on a crusade, either.
KBABZ wrote:Goku can't be easily fit in a box, which is why his character is often forced into one that doesn't tell the whole picture.
Right. I think part of it might be that it's easier to say what Goku isn't than it is to say what he is. It's one thing to look at a version of Goku and say "that doesn't feel right", but another thing entirely to write something that does. Blame it on Toriyama's unique perspective, but what about it produces elements that seem so straight-forward yet also distinct?

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by VegettoEX » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:14 pm

There are definite easy "answers" (if you can call them that?) to the "question" (if there is one?) in the form of "this franchise has been going for over thirty years" and "additional, official continuations of the series have been produced by authors and teams other than the singular, original creator himself".

But I always like to drop a few historical bits for context and reference, too... stuff from before FUNimation's English dub of an adult Goku even existed and therefore couldn't shape perceptions.

Eddie A. S. Mak wrote in the Spring 1996 issue of Animeco:
Arguably the greatest fighter in all of the Dragonball universe. He is modeled somewhat after the old Chinese demigod, who was a monkey deity skilled in the martial arts. Goku’s strength, battle prowess, skills, and powers have no equal among his peers. Moreover, he has the soul of an innocent, pure and free from evil (I guess killing isn’t really a sin in the Dragonball realm). He lives to fight, but not for pleasure, glory, or fame. He also doesn’t fight to save the world, though that’s what he usually ends up doing. He fights so that he can perfect himself by pushing himself to the limit and beyond. On the other hand, he’s very much a country bumpkin, who wouldn’t know what a car is even if it ran him over, as it almost does in the beginning of the story. As the saga progresses, we discover why Goku is so inhumanly powerful, why he had a tail, and why his past is such a mystery.
And, one of my favorites, James Teal in the November 1996 Animerica:
Superman is, and always has been, a symbol for truth, justice, and upstanding moral fortitude–a role model and leader as much as a fighter. The more down-to-earth Goku has no illusions about being responsible for maintaining social order, or for setting some kind of moral example for the entire world. Goku is simply a martial artist who’s devoted his life toward perfecting his fighting skills and other abilities. Though never shy about risking his life to save either one person or the entire world, he just doesn’t believe that the balance of the world rests in any way on his shoulders, and he has no need to shape any part of it in his image. Goku is an idealist, and believes that there is some good in everyone, but he is unconcerned with the big picture of the world…unless it has to do with some kind of fight. Politics, society, law and order don’t have much bearing on his life, but he’s a man who knows right from wrong.
The character of Son Goku was, by and large, understood when the series' original serialization came to an end. Much as I'll go against this sudden strange narrative I'm seeing around lately that somehow there was no factual/independently-sourced/referenced/corroborated news reporting and professional translation work going on pre-Daizenshuu EX/Kanzentai and that, in the English-speaking world, it was specifically and precisely FUNimation's English dub that sidelined the wealth of information and progress on that front for years... so too did it sideline the discourse around the franchise's characters. We're unfortunately still reeling and recovering from this here in 2018.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by KBABZ » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:38 pm

batistabus wrote:
KBABZ wrote:Goku can't be easily fit in a box, which is why his character is often forced into one that doesn't tell the whole picture.
Right. I think part of it might be that it's easier to say what Goku isn't than it is to say what he is. It's one thing to look at a version of Goku and say "that doesn't feel right", but another thing entirely to write something that does. Blame it on Toriyama's unique perspective, but what about it produces elements that seem so straight-forward yet also distinct?
I would say it's a clash of cultures. To attempt to channel Kunzait on the matter, Goku has a lot of characteristics intrinsic to a wandering Wuxia warrior protagonist. They have great ability and often help out those in need, but they very much work within their own interests and do not actively seek out things for which to dole justice on, and 90% of the time they don't even think about it and focus on their own personal goals. Vegetto's second quote from Animerica sums this up wonderfully. One facet of wuxia that Dragon Ball has a lot is with how "other" the martial artists can be, as exemplified in the Saiyans; they are so dedicated to their craft that they alienate themselves from most people and even from their own peers and friends like Bulma and Chi-Chi, that "don't give a fuck-ery" when it comes to training and fighting that most Westerners see as just being badass and not much more.

But of course wuxia isn't what most people think of when they see the stuff in Dragon Ball for the first time. Characters with bright outfits who fly and fight obviously evil and often hammy villains with giant beams of light that destroy planets is, for most Westerners, instantly comparable to comic books (I know I saw the Kamehameha as a laser beam when I first saw it), and those protagonists carry their own bevy of expectations: characters who do good and dedicate their life to fighting evil because it is their calling to do so. FUNimation comic book-ized DBZ as a (successful) attempt at making the show feel less foreign in its concepts because that is the easiest way to go, but in doing so they washed away that authenticity to the original work. Dragon Ball characters don't operate like most comic book characters at all, which results in many Westerners mis-interpreting them, even moreso through FUNimation's take via the voicework whilst STILL having to contend with the actual video content depicting the characters actions, which results in memes like Goku being a bad father and an asshole.

Goku is a simple character, but only when you disassociate him with Western expectations of a brightly-outfitted character who fights villains with beams of light.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by ABED » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:52 pm

I do wonder if it was actively an attempt to wash away those wuxia elements or they mostly misinterpreted it and did see DB as a superhero story.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by KBABZ » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:30 pm

ABED wrote:I do wonder if it was actively an attempt to wash away those wuxia elements or they mostly misinterpreted it and did see DB as a superhero story.
Could be a bit of both. I don't think FUNimation would have been at all aware of the story being like a wuxia at the time (didn't they have some script limitations or something?), and adding elements like those in comic book stories was probably the easiest way to make the story more appealing to Western audiences without having to rewrite and re-edit absolutely everything.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by ABED » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:11 pm

KBABZ wrote:
ABED wrote:I do wonder if it was actively an attempt to wash away those wuxia elements or they mostly misinterpreted it and did see DB as a superhero story.
Could be a bit of both. I don't think FUNimation would have been at all aware of the story being like a wuxia at the time (didn't they have some script limitations or something?), and adding elements like those in comic book stories was probably the easiest way to make the story more appealing to Western audiences without having to rewrite and re-edit absolutely everything.
The point is I don't think they knew they added those superhero elements. Once you see it, it's hard to miss that it's a very different genre (particularly one that most western audiences aren't aware of), but otherwise I can see why anyone would mistake DB for being a superhero story.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by Kunzait_83 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:55 am

VegettoEX wrote:There are definite easy "answers" (if you can call them that?) to the "question" (if there is one?) in the form of "this franchise has been going for over thirty years" and "additional, official continuations of the series have been produced by authors and teams other than the singular, original creator himself".

<snip>

The character of Son Goku was, by and large, understood when the series' original serialization came to an end. Much as I'll go against this sudden strange narrative I'm seeing around lately that somehow there was no factual/independently-sourced/referenced/corroborated news reporting and professional translation work going on pre-Daizenshuu EX/Kanzentai and that, in the English-speaking world, it was specifically and precisely FUNimation's English dub that sidelined the wealth of information and progress on that front for years... so too did it sideline the discourse around the franchise's characters. We're unfortunately still reeling and recovering from this here in 2018.
Both those quoted Animerica descriptions (and for that matter KBABZ's short rundown a few posts below) summarize both Goku's character, as well as its very distinctive and unmistakable place within Wuxia lore, spot on: and unfortunately this entire conversation is also (per Mike's last paragraph that I quoted above) part and parcel of a MUCH bigger matter regarding the depth and degrees to which most of the entire history and context surrounding broader Japanese Anime and Manga fandom and fan culture within specifically U.S. culture (beyond simply just that of Dragon Ball) has been systematically buried and whitewashed away from memory, at least among most millennial (and younger) fans from the late 90s/early 2000s Cartoon Network-era and onward.

Understand: what you have here is a generation of die-hard American anime buffs who were roughly around elementary school-age (at the oldest) during the surge in mainstream popularity enjoyed by anime (with DBZ - in all its FUNimation-ized Faulconer Xtreme Hardcore WWE Monster Truck Rally glory - acting as the prominent tip of that spear alongside Pokemon) and who grew up A) COMPLETELY detached from both all of U.S. anime prior to that era as well as moreover the STARKLY and opposingly different type of fan culture that birthed and supported its pre-Toonami cult video boom and B) completely intellectually incurious and non-motivated about exploring that history pre-dating their own gateway into the fold, even with all of the encyclopedic wonders of Google, Wikipedia, Youtube, and the modern internet as we know it in general at their literal fingertips.

Combined with most of the old guard of fandom almost (almost mind you) entirely dropping away from the scene in general, and what you have is a paradigm that has lead to DECADES now (early-most 2000s up through today) of history being actively rewritten - largely unknowingly and unintentionally - by swathes and swathes of younger, later fans from the turn of the millennium (and rolling onward into even younger generations of fans via inertia and momentum) who, through sheer stubbornly clung-to ignorance and narrowly nostalgic hyper-fixation on "their" era that they came of age in, have created this whole entire false narrative - that has been canonized and enshrined within the VAST overwhelmingly majority of internet anime fan communities for many years now as "conventional wisdom" - that until DBZ and Pokemon broke big on Cartoon Network at the tail-end of the 90s/early-most 2000s, utterly NO ONE within the United States had ANY clue what Japanese anime and manga as a collective whole even were (never mind just Dragon Ball itself as a standalone series) and that the only exposure anyone had to any of it prior was through the deceptive lens of other edited-for-kids-TV Shonen/Shojo titles like Voltron/Golion, Robotech/Macross, Speed Racer, Sailor Moon, etc.

THIS misconception, THIS complete and utter falsehood that has acted as the central "narrative" behind the whole of Western/U.S. anime fandom for the entirety of the 2000s and 2010s, is the real crux of the problem that we're really talking about here: and its a MUCH bigger, more over-arching problem of which DBZ (and all its myriad surrounding "dub misconceptions" and "fandom generation gap" conversations that we all routinely have around this place) is merely just one symptom of. And there simply (and tragically) hasn't been NEARLY enough of a pushback from older-gen fans in correcting this shit. Largely because there just isn't anywhere NEAR enough of us around anymore with a big enough voice/platform to make a dent in the Toonami narrative (which, again, has been HEAVILY pushed and reiterated/re-emphasized over the years): we're just drowned out.

When the vast overwhelming bulk of wider, mainstream U.S. anime fandom as we've known it for the past nearly 20 years now has managed to thoroughly convince itself that its own historical context and breadth of general, basic-most knowledge of anime doesn't extend even so much as a single day any further prior to the Cartoon Network debut of FUNimation dubbed DBZ... really, is it ANY wonder that people today are still treating even incredibly fundamental aspects of Dragon Ball (such as Goku's entire characterization and the internal logic of his whole series-spanning motivation) as if they were a complete and utter blank slate always and from the very beginning throughout the United States fanbase until Kanzenshuu re-launched itself and started podcasting about the Japanese version circa the mid-2000s?

Like I've said in plenty of other threads now: the fan culture for anime in the West prior to the rise of the Toonami generation was a TOTALLY different animal from what we've all known as anime fandom for the last 20 some-odd years. Things like the Wuxia genre WERE absolutely known and familiar entities to the bulk of that fandom, and the context behind it as it relates to something like Dragon Ball was in NO way some kind of great big mystery to most anyone at the time: in large part due to the massive crossover and overlap between Hong Kong/Chinese live action film/TV and anime fandoms, with bootleg VHS acting as one of the main common denominators linking them together.

The fundamental sensibilities of the fanbase for this type of stuff back in those days (80s and 90s) was SO utterly different and alien from the "children's action cartoon" fixated later eras of fandom post-2000, that it was a TOTALLY natural fit to have things like Dragon Ball, Goku: Midnight Eye, Kujaku-Ou, Fist of the North Star, and the assorted works of Chang Cheh, Tsui Hark, Chor Yuen, Ching Siu Tung, Wong Jing, et al. all co-existing alongside one another underneath the same general, overarching fandom umbrella.

One traffiks in Japanese anime bootleg tapes (largely on the basis of a general love for strange, bizarre foreign/art house oddities overall), and its but a mere a hop, skip, and jump away to also traffiking in Chinese kung fu tapes (including those of the mystical "flying through the sky slinging Chi beams" variety), among heaptons of other weird, eclectic shit. You just had to be a teenaged or 20-something "alternative culture" misfit back in the 80s and early 90s (or in my case, a younger kid who just hung out with a ton of them because most other kids my age were largely fucking boring) to be aware of it and partake.

Put it this way: if Wuxia actually WERE as utterly unknown and outright alien to U.S. audiences as most people in this fanbase tend to think it is, we wouldn't have everything from Big Trouble in Little China to Mortal Kombat to The Matrix to Kill Bill to Avatar: The Last Airbender. People like John Carpenter, John Tobias, The Wachowskis, and Quentin Tarantino weren't exactly pulling this stuff from top secret, government-confiscated film reels kept inside a sealed vault buried next to the Ark of the Covenant and Jimmy Hoffa's body.

What KBABZ is saying in his post about the "Western superhero" disconnect with Wuxia IS totally true and accurate as he describes it... but that's in large part wholly because of the audience of culturally insulated elementary/middle school kids of the late 90s/early 2000s to which it overwhelmingly pertains to. To older audiences from before/beyond that, it was a TOTALLY different (and MUCH less ignorant and sheltered) dynamic at play entirely.

Like EX was getting at: NONE of this stuff was EVER at ANY point kept completely away from any and all American/Western eyes inside an impenetrable force-field, and late 80s/early 90s fans were FAR more knowledgeable and educated on all this stuff than most people in today's fandom realize. I second his sentiment and will add that its more a testament to later fandom's own myopic obsession with their own nostalgia for their childhood innocence and lack of contextual understanding (and their lack of historical/intellectual curiosity and interest in growing past it) that much of this history and information has been so thoroughly cast aside than it is to how supposedly "secretive" and "hidden away" it was('nt).
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Journey to the West, chapter 26 wrote:The strong man will meet someone stronger still:
Come to naught at last he surely will!
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.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by RandomGuy96 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:16 am

The more I think about Toriyama's "elements of poison" comment, the more I think that he's just trying to use an excuse for being lazy. The "poison" shows up at the whims of the plot. Goku can go from totally self-absorbed and shortsighted, literally willing to destroy the universe to have a bit of fun and being totally unconcerned for others' suffering, to being a long term thinker who feels a responsibility to protect the Earth, urges others to do the same, and meticulously plans to that effect.

I wonder if that's why he decided Gohan would be unsuitable as a protagonist? Because then Toriyama would have to write the main character differently and couldn't always fall back on "he wanted to have fun/stroke his pride" as an excuse so many times. Nor could he write easy "he's a blunt jerk because he doesn't know any better" dialogue.
The Monkey King wrote:
RandomGuy96 wrote:
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.
It was actually Beerus disguised as Zarbon #StayWoke
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: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by ABED » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:26 am

When did Goku make meticulous plans to save the Earth?
couldn't always fall back on "he wanted to have fun/stroke his pride" as an excuse so many times.
That's not falling back on anything. That's the character. Toriyama doesn't use it as an excuse to facilitate the story. Goku's choices all come out of character.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by Vijay » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:46 am

I've admired Toriyama's portrayal of Sun Wukong-esque Son Goku ever since DB

Goku being Jesus of anime aside. Goku being face of anime aside. Goku being most iconic, recognizable & likable anime character aside.

Goku has always been a "slap across haters face" character. Despite being featherweigh character, Goku has broke myth of cliched, so-called deep & stereotypical wannabe cool superheroes/protagonists since late 80's

His Z version, arguably his distinct maturation in terms of age, power, responsibility gave depth to Goku's characterization. Something as simple as placing his palm on Krillin's head to telepathically visualize sequences of events to more complex, most criticized decision to allow Goten & Trunks gamble @ Boo Arc have been & will always be a dream for any protagonist

Its just saddening to see all these complex shades of Goku removed to "wanna fight strong guy" troope

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by ABED » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:13 am

Something as simple as placing his palm on Krillin's head to telepathically visualize sequences of events to more complex
That's complex? I always took it as a mostly lazy way to get out exposition.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by ekrolo2 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:16 am

I always found Toriyama's notion that Toei Goku is too heroic puzzling. People use him reviving a bird in movie 5 as proof but honestly, him giving Freeza Ki and another chance to not be a rotten scumbag despite him killing Krillin as way more of a heroic thing to do.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by Doctor. » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:27 am

ekrolo2 wrote:I always found Toriyama's notion that Toei Goku is too heroic puzzling. People use him reviving a bird in movie 5 as proof but honestly, him giving Freeza Ki and another chance to not be a rotten scumbag despite him killing Krillin as way more of a heroic thing to do.
I always use the Kaioken x20 scene as an example. While the speech in the anime isn't entirely out-of-character, Goku's heroism is needlessly brought to the forefront. While in the manga, his speech about avenging the Saiyans and Namekians was enough; his heroism was always an underlying theme during the fight but it was rarely ever the centerpiece. Toei may not write Goku in out-of-character situations during those heroic moments, but they happen far too often in order to be impactful, and doing the right thing becomes the focal point of the character; which is why it's all the more jarring when he actually is an asshole who puts everyone in danger. Whereas in the manga, Goku's heroism and his selfish dick attitude strike a nice balance. You can expect heroic scenes when shit escalates, but they'll never drown out his other feelings.

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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by VegettoEX » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:29 am

ekrolo2 wrote:I always found Toriyama's notion that Toei Goku is too heroic puzzling. People use him reviving a bird in movie 5 as proof but honestly, him giving Freeza Ki and another chance to not be a rotten scumbag despite him killing Krillin as way more of a heroic thing to do.
Goku's actions and specifically his dialog to Freeza when he donates energy is nothing on the level of his tireless monologue about protecting Earth in DBZ movie 3 and literally bringing a bird back to life in DBZ movie 5.

Koyama's infatuated with Goku serving as a protector and having the character both know and constantly state he's a protector, whereas — as stated in the two citations I've provided above — Toriyama's version of the character will certainly do those things and knows they're good things to do, but they're not his sole driving force.
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Re: Fan Perceptions of Son Goku's characterization: Then vs Now

Post by PFM18 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:15 am

ekrolo2 wrote:I always found Toriyama's notion that Toei Goku is too heroic puzzling. People use him reviving a bird in movie 5 as proof but honestly, him giving Freeza Ki and another chance to not be a rotten scumbag despite him killing Krillin as way more of a heroic thing to do.
It's less heroic as it is just stupid. He is allowing the epitome of evil to go free and continue murdering people But that's kind of Goku's character, he is very stupid.
Last edited by PFM18 on Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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