Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by foxfang4 » Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm

Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by dbgtFO » Sun May 26, 2019 8:23 am

I was thinking about Trunks and his tragic story and how he tries the hardest to end threats before they become too powerful for him to handle, yet he is the one, that ends up suffering the most. Not sure if it can qualify as cynicism, but there's something there. When Goku-Black followed Trunks to the past world, Goku started by holding back instead of immediately crushing him like Trunks would have, if he had that power. Of course this only served to power up Black and bite Goku in the butt, but at the end of the day Goku and Vegeta get off scot free, while Trunks loses everything, failing to protect his timeline.
And then you also have Goku-Black existing because of Trunks wanting to create a peaceful timeline in the first place and help save his own and berating him for time travelling in the first place. It's almost like the cosmos is punishing him for trying to do good and save the world for everyone, while the more individually minded people get to have their peaceful, saved world without actually having that as their goal.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by 90sDBZ » Sun May 26, 2019 9:36 am

foxfang4 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm
Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.
I'd definitely say it's the opposite. It's an uplifting story which takes adults back to a simpler time, thus providing escapism from the more depressing side of life.

People who think it's cynical are drastically overanalysing it. It's a fun cartoon for kids under the age of 10, not Film Noir or a depressing social commentary. If you find Dragonball cynical you probably find almost everything to be cynical.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun May 26, 2019 10:51 am

90sDBZ wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 9:36 am
foxfang4 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm
Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.
I'd definitely say it's the opposite. It's an uplifting story which takes adults back to a simpler time, thus providing escapism from the more depressing side of life.

People who think it's cynical are drastically overanalysing it. It's a fun cartoon for kids under the age of 10, not Film Noir or a depressing social commentary. If you find Dragonball cynical you probably find almost everything to be cynical.
Pretty much this.


I’m starting to think a lot of people on here are confusing “dark moments” with cynicism.

Trunks arc (in Dragon Ball at least maybe not Super) is about as optimistic as it gets. Even if he can’t change his timeline he will save another future for a better tomorrow.


We’re approaching Tv tropes levels of “let’s make things seem way worse than they actually are” levels of pseudo analysis.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by ABED » Sun May 26, 2019 11:19 am

Also, that's a fairly depressing viewpoint to take - adults like it BECAUSE it's cynical.

If you want cynicism, watch Seinfeld. Snyder's take on the DC characters is also cynical.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by WittyUsername » Sun May 26, 2019 2:03 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:51 am
90sDBZ wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 9:36 am
foxfang4 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm
Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.
I'd definitely say it's the opposite. It's an uplifting story which takes adults back to a simpler time, thus providing escapism from the more depressing side of life.

People who think it's cynical are drastically overanalysing it. It's a fun cartoon for kids under the age of 10, not Film Noir or a depressing social commentary. If you find Dragonball cynical you probably find almost everything to be cynical.
Pretty much this.


I’m starting to think a lot of people on here are confusing “dark moments” with cynicism.

Trunks arc (in Dragon Ball at least maybe not Super) is about as optimistic as it gets. Even if he can’t change his timeline he will save another future for a better tomorrow.


We’re approaching Tv tropes levels of “let’s make things seem way worse than they actually are” levels of pseudo analysis.
I would say that the entire concept of Zen-Oh is pretty cynical. So, the Dragon Ball multiverse is run by a childish idiot who is more than willing to casually destroy entire universes for no real reason, and no one can do anything to stop him?

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun May 26, 2019 2:06 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:03 pm
MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:51 am
90sDBZ wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 9:36 am

I'd definitely say it's the opposite. It's an uplifting story which takes adults back to a simpler time, thus providing escapism from the more depressing side of life.

People who think it's cynical are drastically overanalysing it. It's a fun cartoon for kids under the age of 10, not Film Noir or a depressing social commentary. If you find Dragonball cynical you probably find almost everything to be cynical.
Pretty much this.


I’m starting to think a lot of people on here are confusing “dark moments” with cynicism.

Trunks arc (in Dragon Ball at least maybe not Super) is about as optimistic as it gets. Even if he can’t change his timeline he will save another future for a better tomorrow.


We’re approaching Tv tropes levels of “let’s make things seem way worse than they actually are” levels of pseudo analysis.
I would say that the entire concept of Zen-Oh is pretty cynical. So, the Dragon Ball multiverse is run by a childish idiot who is more than willing to casually destroy entire universes for no real reason, and no one can do anything to stop him?
You’re really stretching the concept of cynicism there bud.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by WittyUsername » Sun May 26, 2019 2:20 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:06 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:03 pm
MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:51 am


Pretty much this.


I’m starting to think a lot of people on here are confusing “dark moments” with cynicism.

Trunks arc (in Dragon Ball at least maybe not Super) is about as optimistic as it gets. Even if he can’t change his timeline he will save another future for a better tomorrow.


We’re approaching Tv tropes levels of “let’s make things seem way worse than they actually are” levels of pseudo analysis.
I would say that the entire concept of Zen-Oh is pretty cynical. So, the Dragon Ball multiverse is run by a childish idiot who is more than willing to casually destroy entire universes for no real reason, and no one can do anything to stop him?
You’re really stretching the concept of cynicism there bud.
What would you consider to be an example of cynicism in a work of fiction?

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by Nokra » Sun May 26, 2019 2:35 pm

Yes. Entire universes get wiped out just for the enjoyment of zeno. Very cynical

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun May 26, 2019 2:45 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:20 pm
MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:06 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:03 pm


I would say that the entire concept of Zen-Oh is pretty cynical. So, the Dragon Ball multiverse is run by a childish idiot who is more than willing to casually destroy entire universes for no real reason, and no one can do anything to stop him?
You’re really stretching the concept of cynicism there bud.
What would you consider to be an example of cynicism in a work of fiction?
Lord of the Flies- People are inherently animalistic and evil and it’s only the laws of society and authority that keep people good

Batman Returns- The Penguin was born deformed and rejected by parents/society but was evil all along anyways, Selina Kyle rejects a chance of happiness for revenge, Bruce Wayne is an empty shell of a man, the most celebrated man in Gotham City is a monster

Carrie- Teens are monsters who will bully and ostracize an outcast. Adults aren’t much better. Even when you try to help someone it can backfire horribly

Fight Club- You can have security in life and still not be content and feel unfulfilled


Just some examples off the top of my head. A series where the lead regularly befriends his enemies and everything generally turns out okay is hardly by any stretch of the imagination cynical.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by Neo-Makaiōshin » Sun May 26, 2019 3:50 pm

Nokra wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:35 pm
Yes. Entire universes get wiped out just for the enjoyment of zeno. Very cynical
If it was truly cynical, the heroes would have failed in avoiding Zen-Oh's Universe erasure and guess what? All erased Universe came back and Zen-Oh was cool with that happening.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by 90sDBZ » Sun May 26, 2019 3:52 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:03 pm
I would say that the entire concept of Zen-Oh is pretty cynical. So, the Dragon Ball multiverse is run by a childish idiot who is more than willing to casually destroy entire universes for no real reason, and no one can do anything to stop him?
I think you're looking too far into it. Zeno being all powerful is just a plot device to add tension to the story, not some social commentary. If anything, the fact that he takes a liking to Goku over those who suck up to him suggests that being two-faced gets you nowhere, while being yourself will get you respect. It was the same with Beerus, and many of Goku's other former enemies.

And then there's the constant message throughout the series that hard work and self-discipline will lead to success. And the idea that you should persevere through endless hardship because there's always hope. And Goku rising above his "low class" status despite all odds. And all of the bad guys eventually getting their comeuppance. And even characters like Mr Satan and Roshi suffering for their own actions time and time again.

And then there's the theme of redemption with several bad guys turning good.

I'm sure if you tried hard enough you could interpret pretty much anything in a negative light. Personally I don't feel the need to go out of my way looking for that point of view.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Sun May 26, 2019 4:34 pm

I don't get why people find Zeno cynical. He's a parody of the stereotypical Dragon Ball fanboy. He likes to watch fights between the strongest characters and thinks highly of Goku. I could also see the erasing universes gimmick being dropped, Beerus doesn't even try destroy planets anymore and his potential to do so is only used as a gag threat when someone pisses him off. It's all for comedy, and as others have said an escape from reality. There are plenty of series out there you could make an argument for bleak views of the world and humanity, but Dragon Ball is not one of them.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by MyVisionity » Sun May 26, 2019 8:20 pm

foxfang4 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm
Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.
I agree with this. At least in terms of the characters being flawed and morally questionable people. I'm not sure if children can appreciate just how flawed the cast can be the way adults might. It gives the series something extra for audiences to enjoy instead of the old "righteous heroes" routine.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by ABED » Sun May 26, 2019 8:25 pm

MyVisionity wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 8:20 pm
foxfang4 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm
Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.
I agree with this. At least in terms of the characters being flawed and morally questionable people. I'm not sure if children can appreciate just how flawed the cast can be the way adults might. It gives the series something extra for audiences to enjoy instead of the old "righteous heroes" routine.
Having a flaw isn't cynicism. Cynicism is about whether people are inherently trustworthy. And despite whatever flaws the characters have, the heroes aren't malicious and are able to achieve their goals through a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun May 26, 2019 11:21 pm

MyVisionity wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 8:20 pm
foxfang4 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:42 pm
Honestly I think the cynicism is one of the key reasons why DB appeals to adults so much.
I agree with this. At least in terms of the characters being flawed and morally questionable people. I'm not sure if children can appreciate just how flawed the cast can be the way adults might. It gives the series something extra for audiences to enjoy instead of the old "righteous heroes" routine.

Damn I think children are idiots and even I don’t think they’re as stupid as you apparently do.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by Tavarano » Wed May 29, 2019 2:12 am

Michsi wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 1:05 am
No, when Piccolo's words about Gohan's outlook on his plan with Cell finally starts to hit home and he turns around to look at the battle horrified. I don't remember him ever having a moment of self-reflection or realization like that before or ever again. You would think it would make him more self aware of his action going forward, but he is arguable worse in the Boo Saga.
I see, though for me his reaction is more of a surprise than being horrified, it's something like "huh really?". He had other moments of self awareness, when he blew up some robot's face (I don't remember his name) in red ribbon arc and recognized that he did something wrong, and another is right after the Vegeta fight when he wondered whether it was a wrong thing letting him go, and then he doubled down when he threw a senzu bean to Vegeta on Namek saying it's only for a rematch. Regardless, Toriyama said "Goku absolutely never changes.", if anything he likes to make things worse with time, note how yamchaxbulma, gokuxchichi and goku's relationship with gohan all start on a high note, to quickly degenerate.
90sDBZ wrote: People who think it's cynical are drastically overanalysing it. It's a fun cartoon for kids under the age of 10, not Film Noir or a depressing social commentary. If you find Dragonball cynical you probably find almost everything to be cynical.
The author himself implies that is the case again and again, poison is a rather nefarious word that he likes to use. There are reasons to think that Toriyama wasn't just dissatisfied with Goku's potrayal, but entire anime adaptation and its tone, it's just that Goku is the central point, the question in the interview is "There is poison inside?", most likely what he said to the interviewer beforehand is poison being inside DB.

See these 2 other interview answers.
AT: Also, this is often misunderstood, but I’m not good with wholesome content. It may seem wholesome at first glance, but there’s actually poison inside.
Q: When the series was being made into an anime, did you give the anime staff any demands?
AT: I intended to leave everything up to them, so I don’t think there was anything in particular. Only, after a while, I felt they were going too far in a wholesome direction, and that time alone, I warned them.
Dragon Ball isn't nice, it only looks like it is.

You say cartoon, but have you read the manga? It doesn't treat itself the same, manga besides fighting is almost nothing but abusive, mean-spirited and cynical jokes, the few wholesome moments Toriyama added were soured or mocked by the story, Goku meets his grandpa except he is implied to be a pedophile who adopted Goku for his own reasons with the "testicle pillow" joke, Goku promises Gohan a fishing trip but Gohan has to wait 4 years and it ends up being shitty, characters play with little Trunks as Bulma is about to take him into a deadly battle with androids and tells Yajirobe that he can kill him if he wants since she doesn't like Vegeta and he is the father, and complains that her baby looks ugly. He's just that kind of a troll, someone described Toriyama well and simply enough for me as an asshole that likes to amuse himself.

One thing that needs to be observed about DB and Toriyama as an author, is that his characters and stories lack self-awareness, evil and terrible events are not framed as such.

Have you read Toriyama's manga Lady Red? In case you haven't, a girl wants to become a heroine, gets raped twice while chasing a criminal, gives up on her quest, and becomes a prostitute instead. Is it a relatively optimistic story, "ehh she got raped and failed her mission, shit happens, but she still got a new job so it's all dandy" or it's all around disgusting, depressing story with the "don't try to help the world or you will get fucked" message?

Now compare to it to some DB's writing, take Buu arc for example. Goku threatens to murder Supreme Kai, a benevolent god who came to Earth trying only to keep peace, doesn't use SS3 to beat Vegeta while lying to and manipulating everyone about it knowing the Kai's warnings about Buu, finally when he reveals it, he still opts to not kill the monster he himself unleashed, drops the responsibility on two kids and is arrogant enough to continue lying, this time that he couldn't kill fat Buu with SS3 to Piccolo, said monster proceeds to murder all of his friends, family, destroy the Earth, but that still is not enough to make Goku reconsider his behavior, he mocks the helpful gods crushing the potaras, plays rock paper scissors and has the time of his life fighting Buu, he plot armors his way to victory, magic balls restore all the harm, nothing bad took place and everyone meets to happily celebrate. Afterwards the humanity's memory gets erased to take away their happiness and sense of accomplishment from defeating Buu, and the arc has two messages, new generation is a failure, and Vegeta was mistaken in thinking that Goku's strength came from his family, he is only as good as he is as he fights for himself.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by Michsi » Wed May 29, 2019 4:20 am

Tavarano wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 2:12 am
Michsi wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 1:05 am
No, when Piccolo's words about Gohan's outlook on his plan with Cell finally starts to hit home and he turns around to look at the battle horrified. I don't remember him ever having a moment of self-reflection or realization like that before or ever again. You would think it would make him more self aware of his action going forward, but he is arguable worse in the Boo Saga.
I see, though for me his reaction is more of a surprise than being horrified, it's something like "huh really?". He had other moments of self awareness, when he blew up some robot's face (I don't remember his name) in red ribbon arc and recognized that he did something wrong, and another is right after the Vegeta fight when he wondered whether it was a wrong thing letting him go, and then he doubled down when he threw a senzu bean to Vegeta on Namek saying it's only for a rematch. Regardless, Toriyama said "Goku absolutely never changes.", if anything he likes to make things worse with time, note how yamchaxbulma, gokuxchichi and goku's relationship with gohan all start on a high note, to quickly degenerate.
"Huh, really" strikes me as a too frivolous an interpretation than the scene makes it out to be. Yes, he thinks about the consequences of having let Vegeta go,too (again, something that goes nowhere, and he even intended to let Freeza go later on), but the urgency and intensity of his reaction during the Cell games is on a different level.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball cynical at its core?

Post by 90sDBZ » Thu May 30, 2019 5:33 am

Tavarano wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 2:12 am
The author himself implies that is the case again and again, poison is a rather nefarious word that he likes to use. There are reasons to think that Toriyama wasn't just dissatisfied with Goku's potrayal, but entire anime adaptation and its tone, it's just that Goku is the central point, the question in the interview is "There is poison inside?", most likely what he said to the interviewer beforehand is poison being inside DB.

See these 2 other interview answers.
AT: Also, this is often misunderstood, but I’m not good with wholesome content. It may seem wholesome at first glance, but there’s actually poison inside.
Q: When the series was being made into an anime, did you give the anime staff any demands?
AT: I intended to leave everything up to them, so I don’t think there was anything in particular. Only, after a while, I felt they were going too far in a wholesome direction, and that time alone, I warned them.
Dragon Ball isn't nice, it only looks like it is.

You say cartoon, but have you read the manga? It doesn't treat itself the same, manga besides fighting is almost nothing but abusive, mean-spirited and cynical jokes, the few wholesome moments Toriyama added were soured or mocked by the story, Goku meets his grandpa except he is implied to be a pedophile who adopted Goku for his own reasons with the "testicle pillow" joke, Goku promises Gohan a fishing trip but Gohan has to wait 4 years and it ends up being shitty, characters play with little Trunks as Bulma is about to take him into a deadly battle with androids and tells Yajirobe that he can kill him if he wants since she doesn't like Vegeta and he is the father, and complains that her baby looks ugly. He's just that kind of a troll, someone described Toriyama well and simply enough for me as an asshole that likes to amuse himself.

One thing that needs to be observed about DB and Toriyama as an author, is that his characters and stories lack self-awareness, evil and terrible events are not framed as such.

Have you read Toriyama's manga Lady Red? In case you haven't, a girl wants to become a heroine, gets raped twice while chasing a criminal, gives up on her quest, and becomes a prostitute instead. Is it a relatively optimistic story, "ehh she got raped and failed her mission, shit happens, but she still got a new job so it's all dandy" or it's all around disgusting, depressing story with the "don't try to help the world or you will get fucked" message?

Now compare to it to some DB's writing, take Buu arc for example. Goku threatens to murder Supreme Kai, a benevolent god who came to Earth trying only to keep peace, doesn't use SS3 to beat Vegeta while lying to and manipulating everyone about it knowing the Kai's warnings about Buu, finally when he reveals it, he still opts to not kill the monster he himself unleashed, drops the responsibility on two kids and is arrogant enough to continue lying, this time that he couldn't kill fat Buu with SS3 to Piccolo, said monster proceeds to murder all of his friends, family, destroy the Earth, but that still is not enough to make Goku reconsider his behavior, he mocks the helpful gods crushing the potaras, plays rock paper scissors and has the time of his life fighting Buu, he plot armors his way to victory, magic balls restore all the harm, nothing bad took place and everyone meets to happily celebrate. Afterwards the humanity's memory gets erased to take away their happiness and sense of accomplishment from defeating Buu, and the arc has two messages, new generation is a failure, and Vegeta was mistaken in thinking that Goku's strength came from his family, he is only as good as he is as he fights for himself.
I've read portions of the Manga but not the entirety. From what I have read the story plays out largely the same, and all of those positive themes I mentioned above are just as present. You still have Goku rising above his low class status through hard work, multiple bad guys turning good, the element of hopefulness, and bad guys ultimately losing in the end.

Toriyama's story clashes with his comments, at least to a degree. For every example of cynicism, there are multiple examples of optimism to counter it.

You're focusing on details that are largely insignificant when compared to the larger themes of the story. You say there were few wholesome moments? What about all the times the earth was saved? Or the sacrifices by Roshi, Goku, Chiaotzu, Tien, Piccolo, and even Vegeta? What about the bond between Gohan and Piccolo in general? Or Trunks managing to save 2 timelines in Z? Or the Namekian race being saved and even being given a new home just like their old one?

The series is littered with uplifting and feelgood moments, but you're ignoring them and fixating on the insignificant stuff.

Here's something to consider. Toriyama said the Bardock Special was the kind of story he'd never have written, so clearly there was some distinction between that and regular DB.

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