MyVisionity wrote:the aging is part of what allowed the tone and story to become what it did
This is where I'm not following. What specifically
about Goku growing up "allowed for" the story to continue the natural trajectory it was already heading in? Bad shit happened to kids before Goku grew up, and bad shit happened to kids after Goku grew up. Nothing suggests that the "way worse stuff" that happens after Raditz wouldn't have still happened had Goku simply not grown up.
Like Toriyama said, making Goku an adult made the battles easier to draw. If the process becomes that much easier, then the fighting can progress that much further, to the point where you can up the intensity levels of the battles like with Ma-Junior, Raditz, Vegeta etc. Even with the natural trajectory, I doubt you would have seen the things that unfolded in the Z-era if Goku was still a kid. Like him getting blasted through the chest and dying, or characters losing limbs, etc. Also, I can't see a young Goku traveling to outer space and taking on the likes of Freeza's army. In DBZ you had Gohan travel to Namek, but he was accompanied by an adult Bulma and Kuririn, while fighting alongside adults most of the time throughout the series.
ABED wrote:All of the arcs have comedy throughout, doesn't mean it's not grim. The Buu arc is far more comedic. You cherry pick moments in the Piccolo arc and the Buu arc, yet somehow the Buu arc has only a few moments of comedy, but the Piccolo arc is the farce? You brought up the Pilaf gang and their antics, but how did that undercut Piccolo? He doesn't join in on them. DBZ's not that dark or grim. Yes, I know the stakes get universal, but it feels SO big as to be laughable. I think you overestimate how grim things actually get and how dark DBZ gets.
The difference for me is in the overall atmosphere of the episodes, which involve things like music, direction, editing, writing etc. Using the Boo arc as an example, there is a consistent feeling of dark, sinister foreboding almost from the jump (at least when the Boo plot begins during the tournament). Yes, there are the typical comedic and lighter moments throughout, however they never really detract from the seriousness of everything that is occurring. Even with all of Majin Boo's antics, the tone never really veers from the typical Z-era darkness or the hopelessness and dread of the Boo arc. (With possibly the exception being the Gotenks/Vegetto battles, but that stuff was poorly conceived in my view.)
The Daimao saga, in contrast, lets you know almost immediately that even though things have taken a darker turn, here's the Pilaf gang so things can't really be that
serious. Here's the weird old man Piccolo, sleepin with his eyes open and drinkin soda pop or whatever... The whole thing just switches back and forth from light to dark, without the same consistency of the Z-era. You also have the rice cooker thing, all of the Yajirobe stuff, whatever the filler characters are up to, etc. It's darker, and serious, but also fun and light-hearted.
The real issue here I think is that the Piccolo arc was coming right on the heels of the silliness and lighter tones of the first few arcs, and so the more serious stuff was only just beginning to find its way. As opposed to something like the Majin Boo saga which had the darker and serious arcs leading up to it.
Last but certainly not least, even if I agreed and DBZ does get darker and grimmer, it was the end of a journey that began years prior. It didn't appear out of nowhere. Raditz's arrival was definitely a big turning point, but it was also the latest after a few big ones.