Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

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Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Hellspawn28 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:09 pm

We all know that Dragon Ball is wuixa, but I see many people that consider DBZ to be a Sci-Fi show. Would you agree with that? I do consider Dragon Ball/Z/GT/Super to be a Martial Arts Science Fantasy series, but not Sci-Fi. George Lucas said that Star Wars is not Sci-Fi because"The laws of physics are different here. Star Wars is not science fiction at all. It's much more attuned to mythology, to psychology, to history than it is to science".

I feel like the same can be said for the Dragon Ball series because the series has different laws of physics compare to our real world.
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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:15 pm

There are spaceships, aliens, cyborgs, androids, time machines, body shrinking bands, and lazers. To me that's scifi.

And to respond to that Lucas quote, I just want to note that the laws of physics in Star Trek are also hugely different than the laws of physics in our own universe, and that Star Trek spends much more time dealing with parables and politics than it does speculating on what space travel will do to our civilization. Yet, it's indisputably science fiction.
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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:20 pm

There’s undeniably science fiction elements there particularly in the Saiyan-Cell portion of the series but I always consider it to be a Martial arts fantasy series.

The series blends multiple genres: horror, adventure, sci fiction, slapstick comedy etc. But martial arts or wuxia best encompasses what the series is as a whole.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Rory » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:41 pm

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Zestanor » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:22 pm

Raditz to Cell is scifi. Spaceships, green antennae aliens, dudes blowing up planets, non-magic time travel machines, reprogrammed artificial humans. A plethora of fantasy element not drawn from traditional western or eastern lore are infused in these arcs.

The beginning through Piccolo isn’t scifi and neither is the Buu arc. These all draw mainly from traditional folklore: the villains are either from earth or the underworld and the setting is either earth or heaven.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by ABED » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:24 pm

It has science fiction elements, but it's primarily a martial arts story. That's the core of the series from beginning to end. Hell even the Cell arc which is the most sci-fi the story gets ultimately boils down to a martial arts competition, and the villain is made up of the DNA of the most powerful martial artists in the universe.
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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:48 pm

Zestanor wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:22 pm
Raditz to Cell is scifi. Spaceships, green antennae aliens, dudes blowing up planets, non-magic time travel machines, reprogrammed artificial humans. A plethora of fantasy element not drawn from traditional western or eastern lore are infused in these arcs.
The dudes blowing up planets can do so because of mystical life energy they learn to manipulate.

The Green antennae aliens started with a character who probably wasn’t always conceived as an alien.

I don’t consider the time traveling or space ships aspect any different than the use of hoi poi capsules.

We had cyborgs in pre-Raditz Dragon Ball too.

Most of the sci fi is generally window dressing.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Melee_Sovereign » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:04 pm

I would say Dragon Ball's main genre is Martial Arts Fantasy. But a given fiction can fall under multiple genres. I wouldn't say Dragon Ball is not a Sci-Fi. The definition of Sci-Fi it self is often disputed, so it depends how you want to define it. It should also be noted that Sci-Fi is sometimes split into two subgenres: Hard Sci-Fi, and soft Sci-Fi.

With a hard Sci-Fi, the setting soughts to explore speculative science it self and will be the central driver to the plot. Dragon Ball doesn't do that. It merely uses Sci-Fi as one of its tools to drive plots. So I'd say it's a soft Sci-Fi. Although around the Android saga, it comes close to bordering hard Sci-Fi, because it actually starts to get speculative with how time travel actually works e.g. Trunks asserting that it works under the idea of parallel universes. That's as close to as actual hard Sci-Fi that it's ever gotten. The rest is soft Sci-Fi, because the Sci-Fi it has just serves to be convenient to the plot e.g. capsules, dragon radar, gravity rooms etc...

I would also call Star Wars a soft Sci-Fi/fantasy, or science fantasy with occasional sprinkles of hard Sci-Fi elements to it.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Zestanor » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:26 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:48 pm
The dudes blowing up planets can do so because of mystical life energy they learn to manipulate.
It’s more the “blowing up planets” thing that makes it scifi. (The use of Ki in DB is unique. Its existence is justified by historic religious/mystical stuff, but obviously the later Genki Damas and laser beam struggles are from Toriyama’s own imagination. But I agree these have nothing to do with science fiction.)
The Green antennae aliens started with a character who probably wasn’t always conceived as an alien.
True, but there was only one like him at first; the other members of his “race” were straight up demons from hell. Piccolo was just the most beautiful of the demons, like Satan, or the eastern equivalent. Human-like civilizations on other planets is the science fiction trope.
I don’t consider the time traveling or space ships aspect any different than the use of hoi poi capsules.
Capsules are used on earth by humans for human purposes. Spaceships and time machines are used to visit other worlds. Isn’t that a huge difference? Perhaps if capsules had been used for more than storage I’d grant your point.
We had cyborgs in pre-Raditz Dragon Ball too.
One cyborg. I suppose Mary Shelley is sometimes called a science fiction author, and in that respect No. 8 adds a science fiction element to the early part of DB. On the other hand, I doubt No. 8 is a reference to Frankenstein’s monster from the novel. He is obviously modeled off the popular depiction of the monster from the movies, which have really never been considered sci-fi. And he’s a gag character. Nos. 16-20 are totally different.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:31 pm

Zestanor wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:26 pm

One cyborg. I suppose Mary Shelley is sometimes called a science fiction author, and in that respect No. 8 adds a science fiction element to the early part of DB. On the other hand, I doubt No. 8 is a reference to Frankenstein’s monster from the novel. He is obviously modeled off the popular depiction of the monster from the movies, which have really never been considered sci-fi. And he’s a gag character. Nos. 16-20 are totally different.
Major Metallitron and Cyborg Tao?

I don’t think #8 being a gag character should disqualify him. He’s still an example of Dragon Ball using artificial humans before the artificial human arc.

And yeah he’s based on the Universal Studios horror version but he’s still a human that was brought back to life with cybernetics

Anyways I wouldn’t consider DBZ’s Saiyan arc-Cell arc anymore sci-fi than I consider the Baba arc to be horror.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Zestanor » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:51 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:31 pm
Zestanor wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:26 pm

One cyborg. I suppose Mary Shelley is sometimes called a science fiction author, and in that respect No. 8 adds a science fiction element to the early part of DB. On the other hand, I doubt No. 8 is a reference to Frankenstein’s monster from the novel. He is obviously modeled off the popular depiction of the monster from the movies, which have really never been considered sci-fi. And he’s a gag character. Nos. 16-20 are totally different.
Major Metallitron and Cyborg Tao?

I don’t think #8 being a gag character should disqualify him. He’s still an example of Dragon Ball using artificial humans before the artificial human arc.

And yeah he’s based on the Universal Studios horror version but he’s still a human that was brought back to life with cybernetics

Anyways I wouldn’t consider DBZ’s Saiyan arc-Cell arc anymore sci-fi than I consider the Baba arc to be horror.
Metallitron is just a mech robot, which Toriyama had featured in both Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump already. That’s a different genre than the science fiction of cybernetically brainwashed/enhanced apocalypse-causing (originally) Androids of the Cell arc.

Cyborg Tao is a better case; I forgot about him. And I’ll admit the sci-fi elements had begun to appear at the 23rd TB. For one, God appearing laid the seeds for the space travel themes in Raditz to Freeza. I’m sure at first Toriyama made God look like Daimao as a gag, but there’s a direct line from the repercussions of that reveal to Freeza. When God talks to Piccolo in their language during a match, I’d say that’s the moment when the reader or viewer recognizes a prelude for the science fiction to come.

I’m not saying DB ever stops being about martial arts, but when they take it to outer space, or when it comes back in a time machine, then you have to add sci-fi as a subgenre.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by KBABZ » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:18 pm

Science fiction is one of the core ingredients that make Dragon Ball what it is right from the first chapter when Bulma uses a Dragon Rader and a Hoi Poi capsule to reveal her futuristic-looking motorbike. While wuxia tropes form the backbone of all of Dragon Ball's stories, how much an arc or mini-arc utilizes science fiction will vary.

For example, the Muscle Tower arc is rather WWII but features both the wuxia-ludicrous Murasaki plus a giant hulking Frankenstein android (a reference to the earliest science fiction story). This is then followed up West City, which is basically The Jetsons, which has the shrinking wristwatch, then there's the anachronism pirate cave with 18th century pirates who have a WWII-themed robot with the head of a Xenomorph and a base with a supercomputer in it. This is then followed up by the Land of Korin storyline and the Baba arc, both of which feature no science fiction at all, but the RRA base in-between has Battle Jackets!

The introduction of space is of course where Dragon Ball gets a huge shot of science fiction by course of how you get into space and what that setting means for the people who inhabit that world. What's interesting of course is that Frieza's forces are VERY sci-fi, yet they still use the martial arts we expect from the story at this point, and in fact their reliance on the sci-fi scouters puts them at a detriment with the core wuxia elements and it proves to be a frequent downfall for those characters. Plus, with the exception of Katatz's spaceship, the Namekians aren't sci-fi themselves! The Buu arc is an especially interesting case: the wuxia and science fiction is mixed together, so Buu is a nearly incomprehensible genie kept under heel by a magician, but they're both from space. The Land of the Kais is ostensibly in the afterlife, but their world is very much a space setting being that it's still a planet.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:39 pm

Zestanor wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:51 pm
MasenkoHA wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:31 pm
Zestanor wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:26 pm

One cyborg. I suppose Mary Shelley is sometimes called a science fiction author, and in that respect No. 8 adds a science fiction element to the early part of DB. On the other hand, I doubt No. 8 is a reference to Frankenstein’s monster from the novel. He is obviously modeled off the popular depiction of the monster from the movies, which have really never been considered sci-fi. And he’s a gag character. Nos. 16-20 are totally different.
Major Metallitron and Cyborg Tao?

I don’t think #8 being a gag character should disqualify him. He’s still an example of Dragon Ball using artificial humans before the artificial human arc.

And yeah he’s based on the Universal Studios horror version but he’s still a human that was brought back to life with cybernetics

Anyways I wouldn’t consider DBZ’s Saiyan arc-Cell arc anymore sci-fi than I consider the Baba arc to be horror.
Metallitron is just a mech robot, which Toriyama had featured in both Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump already. That’s a different genre than the science fiction of cybernetically brainwashed/enhanced apocalypse-causing (originally) Androids of the Cell arc.

Cyborg Tao is a better case; I forgot about him. And I’ll admit the sci-fi elements had begun to appear at the 23rd TB. For one, God appearing laid the seeds for the space travel themes in Raditz to Freeza. I’m sure at first Toriyama made God look like Daimao as a gag, but there’s a direct line from the repercussions of that reveal to Freeza. When God talks to Piccolo in their language during a match, I’d say that’s the moment when the reader or viewer recognizes a prelude for the science fiction to come.

I’m not saying DB ever stops being about martial arts, but when they take it to outer space, or when it comes back in a time machine, then you have to add sci-fi as a subgenre.
Metallitron is an android. How does that not qualify as science fiction?

Same with the can store anything capsules, Bulma’s amazing shrinking wristband, the robot in pirate cave, flying cars, the Red Ribbon Army’s advance arsenal, etc

For sure the science fiction elements became more prominent for the Saiyan -Cell era but they were always there’s.

But all that stuff is decoration to add flavor, it is fundamentally a martial arts fantasy series.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Zestanor » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:47 pm

KBABZ wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:18 pm
The Buu arc is an especially interesting case: the wuxia and science fiction is mixed together, so Buu is a nearly incomprehensible genie kept under heel by a magician, but they're both from space. The Land of the Kais is ostensibly in the afterlife, but their world is very much a space setting being that it's still a planet.
Was Babidi from space? I had forgotten that. I assumed he was just a bad guy from the immortal realm. I’d argue that the Kaioshin realm does not count as outer space or science fiction. That realm, unlike planets in outer space, has its existence justified by supernatual forces, not natural ones. The trope of deities/heavenly powers dwelling on other planets long predates science fiction. Though the two world are connected temporally, there is no way to go from one to another by means of technology or science.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by ABED » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:53 pm

They're from space, but is that the line of what makes something sci-fi?
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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:57 pm

ABED wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:53 pm
They're from space, but is that the line of what makes something sci-fi?
Babidi being from space is pretty incidental, he’s an evil wizard first and foremost being an alien isn’t really a defining part of his character.

Same with the Kaio and Kaioshins. They’re technically aliens but their defining aspect is being Gods that watch over their designated quadrant of the universe.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Polyphase Avatron » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:49 am

It has elements of sci-fi but it's not exclusively sci-fi.
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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Matches Malone » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:53 am

ABED wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:24 pm
It has science fiction elements, but it's primarily a martial arts story. That's the core of the series from beginning to end.
Pretty much this. DB has a lot of different elements to it, but when you look at the franchise as a whole (DB,Z,GT,S), it's first and foremost a martial arts franchise.

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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Robo4900 » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:44 am

There's sci-fi influence and ideas. Red Ribbon takes some sci-fi influence, Cyborg Tao in the 23rd Tenkaichi is a sci-fi idea, the Saiyan and Namek arcs go into outright space opera territory, and the Cyborgs/Cell storyline is somewhat sci-fi/horror.

I think what lies at the heart of this question is two things:

1. Space opera and sci-fi are different, related things. Sci-fi is more about a somewhat realistic world with science advancing us to a different state. In Black Mirror, various forms of technology give the world a very different flavour, and ultimately the sci-fi idea is usually used to put a spotlight on a particularly shitty part of our society. Star Trek often does this too, though with a much more optimistic view. This is the key thing... Sci-fi isn't just an aesthetic or a list of tropes, it's a genre, and usually quite an intellectual one.
The thing a lot of people miss is the existence of sci-fi's goofball sister genre, the space opera. A space opera generally takes sci-fi ideas, mixes in fantasy and mythology ideas, and generally isn't the intellectual examination of human nature that sci-fi tends to be, and it's generally not as grounded as sci-fi tends to be. Star Wars, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and the Namek arc of Dragon Ball are space opera.
And of course, one can use sci-fi or space opera ideas without outright being a space opera; Dragon Ball tended to borrow from both in the Saiyan-to-Cell stories. Arguably the Boo arc has space opera stuff too, to a certain extent.

2. Dragon Ball vs Z. Yes, really, this again. This thread specifically asks "Is DBZ Sci-Fi?", singling out the latter half of the Dragon Ball story. Assuming we can all agree that Dragon Ball is one 519-chapter/444-episode story (I'm not talking about Super or GT here, I'll get to them later), we can get to a far more interesting aspect of the question: "Is Dragon Ball sci-fi starting from the Saiyan arc?"
As I touched on earlier, I think Dragon Ball borrows from sci-fi rather than being sci-fi, and more often it's space opera, though it tends to just borrow from that too, rather than outright being it. But, the sci-fi/space opera elements (which I'll just refer to as sci-fi elements collectively from here on out as an easier shorthand) could be argued to start from the storyline that establishes two main characters are aliens, and introduces alien villains... But the thing is, despite it being front-and-centre here, like all ideas that Dragon Ball puts as a mainstay in a given arc, the sci-fi stuff has been in the franchise from the beginning; the hoi-poi capsules are a sci-fi concept, Sgt. Metallic, Cyborg #8, and Cyborg Tao all ended up being setup for the Cyborgs/Cell arc, which was the closest Dragon Ball ever comes to being sci-fi...
So, yes, the Saiyan arc is where the sci-fi elements started being front-and-centre, but to the same extent that the story was still ultimately a fantasy kung-fu epic which just so happened to borrow a lot of sci-fi elements and concepts that Toriyama thought would be cool, the Saiyan arc is still a fantasy kung-fu story, just with a couple of sci-fi ideas put in it.

So, no, I don't think Dragon Ball's original run was sci-fi, though it did dip into space opera territory.

And indeed, Dragon Ball would go on to mess with this in its various sequels, spinoffs, etc.; Z movies 2 and 11 have a bit of a sci-fi B-movie feel, GT's first storyline was alternately sci-fi and space opera (planet Imegga was outright sci-fi, planet M2 was outright space opera, the Lood cult was an odd mix of the two), before it went back to the more fantasy-focussed roots with the Super #17 and Evil Dragons storylines.
Super has dipped its feet into sci-fi, but mostly just in the form of reusing old plot devices that are still lying around (Future Trunks and the time machines), and as one-off characters in the tournaments, which is quite interesting.
And of course, in the original run, there were some sci-fi ideas in individual filler stories; Gohan and the robot was a sweet, little sci-fi story. Between that, the Z movies that have played to it, and GT, I do wonder if Toei was always more into the sci-fi stuff than Toriyama was. :lol:

But anyway, to bring this incoherent babbling to a close:
No, I don't think Dragon Ball is sci-fi. It certainly borrows a lot from the genre, but more often than not, where one could call it sci-fi, they're actually thinking of space opera. Like Star Wars, Dragon Ball has always been more fantasy than sci-fi at its heart.
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Re: Is DBZ Sci-Fi?

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:25 am

I'm in the camp that says Star Wars is fantasy, not sci-fi (or space opera if you want to be specific), so no, while Dragon Ball absolutely borrows sci-fi concepts it is not defined by them.
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