It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by KBABZ » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:08 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:54 pm
I don’t really regard the age thing as a retcon. Goku says he’s 14 but surprise he just thought 14 came after 11.


But also I guess Goku was 12 for 2 years in a row? Since he was apparently 12 for both the first two Dragon Ball hunts
It's a well-known plot hole that the manga doesn't actually give the requisite year break for the Dragon Balls to not turn to stone. Unless Goku took a LONG time going to Roshi's, or it took a LONG time for Roshi to leave the island, the eight month timeskip during their main training phase means that the Dragon Radar should not have worked when Goku set off at the end of the 21st TB.

So with that in mind, I think Goku's birthday hadn't happened yet. For whatever that's worth for a guy who doesn't know his actual birthday.

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by MyVisionity » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:36 pm

Goku's age is a retcon because it contradicts his previously established age. There's no reason not to believe Goku when he says he is 14. So then it's revealed that Goku was 12 the whole time, thus making it retroactive. It may not be a huge retcon, but still a retcon nonetheless.

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:06 am

MyVisionity wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:36 pm
Goku's age is a retcon because it contradicts his previously established age. There's no reason not to believe Goku when he says he is 14. So then it's revealed that Goku was 12 the whole time, thus making it retroactive. It may not be a huge retcon, but still a retcon nonetheless.
That's not what a retcon. Retcon act as though that information had always been true and everyone knew it. This REVEAL contradicts previous information because Goku can't count - an explanation that works IN UNIVERSE because it comes out of his character.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by Gaffer Tape » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:31 am

ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:06 am
MyVisionity wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:36 pm
Goku's age is a retcon because it contradicts his previously established age. There's no reason not to believe Goku when he says he is 14. So then it's revealed that Goku was 12 the whole time, thus making it retroactive. It may not be a huge retcon, but still a retcon nonetheless.
That's not what a retcon. Retcon act as though that information had always been true and everyone knew it. This REVEAL contradicts previous information because Goku can't count - an explanation that works IN UNIVERSE because it comes out of his character.
That's exactly what a retcon is, and it matches your own definition verbatim. Unless you believe that Toriyama was purposely holding back this information, it's a retcon because otherwise, Goku factually was 14 until the moment it was changed. Then it was changed, and he suddenly had always been 12 despite having previously been 14. Just because it doesn't make an in-universe plot hole doesn't mean it's not a retcon.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:49 am

Not quite. It may contradict a previous statement, but the statement was unreliable to begin with and nothing Goku did required him to be a teenager so it's not like the new information recontextualizes anything. Being 14 wasn't important in any meaningful way.

The purpose of a retcon is to handwave some element being inserted into the world or story.

Even assuming I agreed, it's not some huge deal for the reasons I mentioned.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by KBABZ » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:25 pm

ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:49 am
Being 14 wasn't important in any meaningful way.
I disagree actually; for what Dragon Ball was at the time, Goku being 14 I felt was important in the ol' No Balls joke from the second Chapter because that makes him only two years younger than Bulma, rather than four.

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:43 pm

KBABZ wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:25 pm
ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:49 am
Being 14 wasn't important in any meaningful way.
I disagree actually; for what Dragon Ball was at the time, Goku being 14 I felt was important in the ol' No Balls joke from the second Chapter because that makes him only two years younger than Bulma, rather than four.
It was important for a single joke? How does this change things in anything meaningful way? Lastly, the joke comes from his naiveté due to not having contact with another person besides his grandpa, not his age?
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by MasenkoHA » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:51 pm

KBABZ wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:25 pm
ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:49 am
Being 14 wasn't important in any meaningful way.
I disagree actually; for what Dragon Ball was at the time, Goku being 14 I felt was important in the ol' No Balls joke from the second Chapter because that makes him only two years younger than Bulma, rather than four.
I don’t know why it would matter if he’s 12 or 14 for the no balls joke to work. He’s never seen another human besides his grandpa. He just thought everyone had balls because both he and his grandpa did.

Goku saying he was 14 seemed like the joke.

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by Gaffer Tape » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:06 pm

I don't see how level of importance has any bearing on whether or not something qualifies for retroactive continuity. Retcon is not a value judgment. It's simply whether or not something was retroactively changed. Did Toriyama always intend Goku to get his age wrong? Then it's not retroactive continuity. Did Toriyama change his mind about Goku's age and come up with an explanation for the change? Then it IS retroactive continuity. Simple as that.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:30 pm

Gaffer Tape wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:06 pm
I don't see how level of importance has any bearing on whether or not something qualifies for retroactive continuity. Retcon is not a value judgment. It's simply whether or not something was retroactively changed. Did Toriyama always intend Goku to get his age wrong? Then it's not retroactive continuity. Did Toriyama change his mind about Goku's age and come up with an explanation for the change? Then it IS retroactive continuity. Simple as that.
But retcons are specific. This isn't a change in continuity. Nothing important happened with that information and the explanation for the change works in universe. It's not any different from a reveal that character X is really character Y even though there was no foreshadowing but it doesn't contradict anything that was shown. I have a specific example from Justified, but don't want to give anything away in case anyone is planning to watch it. If you haven't you should. Justified is amazing.

The term was created to define a VERY specific situation.

Goku tells Bulma he is 14 when he looks at her in the bathtub and she flips out calling him a perv. The joke wouldn't work if he was 4 and naturally wouldn't understand or know better than to look at a girl in the bath. His age is changed to 12, but 12 is plenty old enough to know better than to watch girls bathe.
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by MetaMoss » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:57 pm

ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:30 pm
But retcons are specific. This isn't a change in continuity. Nothing important happened with that information and the explanation for the change works in universe. It's not any different from a reveal that character X is really character Y even though there was no foreshadowing but it doesn't contradict anything that was shown. I have a specific example from Justified, but don't want to give anything away in case anyone is planning to watch it. If you haven't you should. Justified is amazing.

The term was created to define a VERY specific situation.

Goku tells Bulma he is 14 when he looks at her in the bathtub and she flips out calling him a perv. The joke wouldn't work if he was 4 and naturally wouldn't understand or know better than to look at a girl in the bath. His age is changed to 12, but 12 is plenty old enough to know better than to watch girls bathe.
Personally, I think you're running under a unnecessarily narrow definition of retcon. Heck, if the Wikipedia article on it is to be believed, the word (in its abbreviated form) was first used in reference to Alan Moore's rewrite of Swamp Thing's origin, which fit in seamlessly with previous stories for the character. Like the change with Goku's age, the explanation fit just fine with the established universe and didn't affect continuity.

I'd call the Goku's age thing a retcon of no consequence, but it still at least changed a fact established in the story, no matter how flimsy that establishment was.
Do me a favor and just pretend there's something cool or witty or profound down here.

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:23 pm

Here's the problem with many terms, people misuse them all the time even if they should know better. Case in point, how many times are series revivals called reboots even by people in the media? If the new version of Swamp Things origins fit in seamlessly, it's not a retcon. Retcons shouldn't necessarily include instances where characters find out something they thought to be the case wasn't true. The reason it's narrow is because there's no reason to combine something that has so little consequence and can easily and logically be explained away in universe with something so blatant. To make the definition so broad leads to confusion.

Goku's age wasn't really an established fact. We heard it from Goku who can't count and thought Bulma's breasts were a butt on her chest. He's not a reliable source of information.

In any event, it doesn't surprise me that DB was successful on JPN TV. Weekly TV was just the way it was. Not to sound all Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man but "that's the way it was and we liked it!"
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by MasenkoHA » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:36 pm

ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:23 pm


It wasn't really an established fact. We heard it from Goku who can't count and thought Bulma's breasts were a butt on her chest. He's not a reliable source of information.
I also feel like we can’t call it a retcon because we don’t know if Toriyama had planned for Goku to be 14 and then backtracked when he decided to make Goku 12. (Even though Toriyama seemed against keeping Goku as an eternal child) maybe he did but just as likely he was setting up a joke that Goku can’t count. Just like he thought girls had male genitals. I know Toriyama is viewed as a seat of his pants writers but its not unlike him to set up a joke with later pay off. That pervy turtle hermit is a martial arts legend who trained Goku’s grandpa! Gyumao’s weird daughter came back 6 years later (in universe) to collect on Goku’s marriage promise.

I just feel like it can only be a retcon if we have indisputable proof that Goku was suppose to be 14. And yeah Mr. “Girls have butts on their chest” isn’t reliable for that info.


Android 19 and 20 not being THE Androids is a good example of a retcon. We know Toriyama had them planned as the big bads. They show up on the designated time and place Trunks said they would. I think early editions of the manga even had Trunks specify 19 and 20. Then the story went “Actually these aren’t the real Androids. And Android 20 is Dr.Gero. Butterfly Effect is in effect”

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:42 pm

Yes, thank you. 19 and 20 becoming 17 and 18 is an example of a retcon. The story acts like Trunks said 17 and 18 the entire time and we're just supposed to forget it. To give another example in another series, Joey & Chandler and Monica & Rachel's apt. numbers on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. changed from 4 and 5 to 19 and 20. No explanation. We're just supposed to forget the original numbers.

To my mind, whether an author intends something isn't really a determinant of something being a retcon.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by MasenkoHA » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:50 pm

ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:42 pm


To my mind, whether an author intends something isn't really a determinant of something being a retcon.
I think the author’s intent can be tricky. Especially when the story isn’t 100 percent planned out.

Toriyama didn’t intend Goku to be an alien and might have literally came up with the idea when he was plotting the Saiyan arc. But it would be hard to call it a retcon because nothing said Goku wasn’t an alien. His origin story was “Gohan found a boy with a monkey’s tail in a bed of moss” Goku could have been a literal reincarnation of Sun Wukong for as far as anyone knew. Toriyama just eventually went with alien.

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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by Gaffer Tape » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:58 pm

ABED wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:23 pm
Here's the problem with many terms, people misuse them all the time even if they should know better. Case in point, how many times are series revivals called reboots even by people in the media? If the new version of Swamp Things origins fit in seamlessly, it's not a retcon. Retcons shouldn't necessarily include instances where characters find out something they thought to be the case wasn't true. The reason it's narrow is because there's no reason to combine something that has so little consequence and can easily and logically be explained away in universe with something so blatant. To make the definition so broad leads to confusion.

Goku's age wasn't really an established fact. We heard it from Goku who can't count and thought Bulma's breasts were a butt on her chest. He's not a reliable source of information.
I know you and I have debated the meaning of the word "retcon" for years, so I don't expect either of us to change at this point. And you know I vehemently agree with you in regards to how the word "reboot" has lost any and all meaning it ever had. But no definition of retcon I've ever seen, including the one you presented in this thread, mentions anything about the severity of the impact on the plot as a defining factor. Hell, even in the debates you and I have had, I've never heard this defense. I don't see this as anything like the misuse of reboot, where it's used to label any kind of new work. This is literally talking about something that retroactively alters continuity. To say there is an arbitrary line of importance that must be crossed does the opposite of the reboot problem and makes the term almost impossible to define! Who is to say what's important? That's not something that can be classified. That's completely subjective.

Whether or not Goku is a reliable source of information is also completely irrelevant. The fact that the plot can so easily provide a justification for the change is what keeps it from being a plot hole or a contradiction, not a retcon. Just like you, I agree that words have meaning for the purpose of ease of clarification. But that's why we have a term like "plot hole" because it's a different phenomenon than retcon. Obviously they sometimes overlap. Some retcons introduce plot holes. Others don't. But if your definition of retcon is so narrow that it only allows for continuity changes that create contradictions, then there's not even a need for them to be separate terms. Both of them seem to mean almost the same thing where you're coming from. The only circumstance in which Goku's knowledge or lack thereof would be relevant to this conversation is if Toriyama originally wrote 14 purposely for Goku be wrong.

I will agree with MasenkoHA (and in fact, I said it in my earlier post) that we don't know for certain how this change came to be. We don't know if it was an actual change or not. Because of that, I don't know for sure if this is a retcon. However, I'd be willing to consider wagering large sums of money that this was an actual change and therefore a retcon. Even putting aside how very little advance planning Toriyama is known to do, the possibility of this actually being a reveal seems slim to none. I mean, what kind of payoff is that? What would even be the point in Toriyama lying about Goku's age? Do you honestly think Toriyama's sitting there going, "Oh, my gosh. My main character is 12, but I'm totally going to have him tell people he's 14 only to reveal later on that he was wrong! They'll never see it coming! It'll blow them away!" Like you said, it's a completely insignificant moment that has no real bearing on anything. So it seems highly, extremely, ridiculously unlikely that such a nothing setup was being used for such a nothing payoff.
To my mind, whether an author intends something isn't really a determinant of something being a retcon.
Ooh, missed this one in the meantime. And I have to vehemently disagree. The intention of the author is of tantamount importance to distinguishing between a retcon and an actual reveal. And it feels weird for me to type that because my mindset when it comes to fiction is typically intent doesn't matter as much as what makes it on the page. However, in the case of retcons, the intent and the result are one in the same, whether it's explicit or not.

And since I don't feel like creating another quote box: Goku's alien origin is the most prominent retcon in all of Dragon Ball. Because we know for a fact that Goku was not an alien at the beginning of the series. Toriyama has said this. He became an alien later in the run, and that information retroactively applies to all material prior to that. That is about as spot-on to the definition as you can possibly get. It is the quintessential example of a retcon. It's the example that should be listed under the definition of retcon in every dictionary along with Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father.

For example, I can watch Star Wars, the original Star Wars, and, in my mind, I can choose to take Ben Kenobi at face value, that Darth Vader killed Luke's dad. That's not my personal interpretation. That is simply how the story was originally constructed and how it originally existed. It's not that the real information was being withheld from people in 1977. It's that it simply did not exist. It's not part of the movie, either explicitly or implicitly, that was actually made. It is the truth, the author-scribed truth at that time. And nothing can change that. I can also watch the movie and reinterpret my perception of such scenes to include the later "knowledge" that Darth Vader is Luke's father, and that's because, while that information had not been imagined at the time Star Wars came out, it is knowledge of a nature that retroactively changes the context of the first film, despite the fact that (heaven only knows how given how George Lucas operates) none of those elements have actually been altered.

Likewise, I can read the Red Ribbon Army Arc and confidently assert that Goku is not an alien for any of it. Because in the context of this story, he is not. He was not written that way. Nothing in that story has been changed to make Goku an alien. But if I want to, I can read it, taking that later context with me, and I can interpret him as an alien because the nature of that later information retroactively affects the fictional biography. Retcons are very often about changes in context, not necessarily content.
Last edited by Gaffer Tape on Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by Cure Dragon 255 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:31 pm

...I love you GafferTape, but what does any of this have to do with the topic of the thread?
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by Gaffer Tape » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:38 pm

Cure Dragon 255 wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:31 pm
...I love you GafferTape, but what does any of this have to do with the topic of the thread?
Well, I definitely mea culpa to that. You're absolutely right that it has nothing to do with the thread. But come on. Why single me out specifically when I neither started this conversation nor have contributed the most posts about it? :P
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by ABED » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:39 pm

Bottom line, no definition of a retcon I've seen is perfect and leaves open room for interpretation. I like the shorter definition even though it's hardly exhaustive but it keeps people on the right track, by and large, but suffice it to say, I vehemently disagree with just about everything you wrote. I especially disagree with you about the issue of an author's intention. That NEVER matters in the reading of a story. If it's not there on the page, it doesn't matter. Author's change their minds all the time, and many leave their stories open and don't give everything about their characters up front for instances like Goku's origin. For all we know, Toriyama could've changed his mind several times over the years about Goku's origin. Does any of that matter? Not in the least. All that matters is his origin was left sparse and nothing about him being an alien contradicts previous facts.
Retcons are very often about changes in context, not necessarily content.
So are reveals.
Last edited by ABED on Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: It's actually amazing that DBZ was successful on Japanese TV

Post by MasenkoHA » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:40 pm

Cure Dragon 255 wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:31 pm
...I love you GafferTape, but what does any of this have to do with the topic of the thread?
To be fair, discussing when is a retcon not a retcon? Is a bit more interesting than having to explain why Dragon Ball Z would still do well in a weekly format.

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