Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

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Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by WittyUsername » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:48 am

This is a question that’s been in my head lately that I thought was worth making a thread about. After watching several videos of RedLetterMedia talking about Star Trek: Picard, I have come to realize that there is this overwhelming consensus on the Internet that various beloved franchises are seen as having gone down the toilet lately. Despite this, however, Dragon Ball still seems to be doing pretty well for itself. Then again, there hasn’t been much new Dragon Ball content since the Broly movie, but that movie was massively successful.

In all honesty, it kind of seems like these forums are the only real place where you see people saying less than enthusiastic things about Super, and even then, that’s hardly the universal consensus on Kanzenshuu. Still, when you look at the current state of the franchise, would you say that the franchise has become a creatively bankrupt and soulless cash grab, or is there still some value to be had in modern Dragon Ball?

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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by Grimlock » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:11 am

WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:48 am
Still, when you look at the current state of the franchise, would you say that the franchise has become a creatively bankrupt and soulless cash grab
Absolutely. But I wouldn't say the franchise, as there is a portion of it actually trying to do something substantial within its own limits. It's more like the series that we recently got. However...
WittyUsername wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:48 am
or is there still some value to be had in modern Dragon Ball?
... This is also absolutely. As I said above and as it's been proven by the portion of it doing something else, Dragon Ball still has some creative value to offer. All thanks to the modernity and all the things it offers, especially some concepts that the general people are now very familiar to. It's only a matter of having the will to do it and not being afraid to get out of the comfort zone.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by KBABZ » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:14 am

I think the common answer here is "thus far, very yes". We've had the introduction of many new characters and ideas but very few of them have been executed to their fullest potential (Kale and Caulifla are for me the two biggest examples). Super seems far more interested however in locking the franchise to a status quo and milking that nostalgia, primarily by highlighting the three biggest arcs: Frieza, Cell and Buu. Frieza in particular has been brought back (a risky idea if not handled with care) but lacks a LOT of the terrifying edge he had in his original appearance (a huge disservice to his character as he's been reduced to a bully).

I brought this example up to Robo on Discord once, but the biggest sign you can point to regarding how stale and safe Super wants to be is the costumes and character designs. We had interesting new outfits for Goku and Vegeta in RoF, but for Super proper they were reverted to their Cell Arc costumes for marketability. Super Saiyan Blue is literally a recolour of Super Saiyan. Trunks and Goten have not aged or changed their appearance at all. And Bulma, who was previously known for changing her outfit literally every arc/timeskip, has retained the same appearance since her debut.

Compare this to her 10 costumes across Dragon Ball (which had LESS episodes than Super), the daring direction taken for Super Saiyan 3's design, and the gradual evolution of Vegeta's costume as, arc by arc, he shed his Saiyan armour. I realize that little details like this wouldn't have made Super better overall, but if the production was more daring and creative, they wouldn't have appeared.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:28 am

No, I don't think the series has become a souless cash grab. The people involved are clearly very passionate and are trying to produce something good. Toyotaro in particular seems over the moon to be involved in something like this (although I could be misreading that). And there's been no shortage of interesting ideas throughout Super's run. Even Broly got fleshed out and given an interesting dynamic with his father and a green alien space babe.

So it isn't as if the creative staff are phoning this in. They are trying. They haven't, in my opinion, managed to stick the landing at any point during the show's run. But Dragon Ball Super isn't anything like Boondock Saints 2 or the myriad of other sequels we've gotten this last decade. An attempt is being made
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by Vijay » Sat Mar 07, 2020 4:45 am

Haha. Ur joking man

Back then, EoZ (1996) pretty sure no one woulda thought Super wud exist now with it's God's/Angels/Grand Priest/Zeno storyline

In future, who knows, it'll explore multiverse. As much as I like practical/grounded approach as with RRA/Cell Arc involving Cyborgs, etc...gotta say I also find it amusing to involve magic/demons/Kaioshin's/God's etc.

You do realize only prob is the plot right. Just think if only every fighter or God/Angels are given proper well-written backstory or characterizations, pretty damn sure, modern DB wud run for another 2 decade🤣

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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by ClutchBangstrip » Sat Mar 07, 2020 5:16 am

Dragon Ball is still awesome... In Fact... It's even better... In a lot of ways...

I consider myself a hardcore fan with casual tastes; which is why I rarely agree with the internet's take on DB. My opinions often fall in line with the RL fans (people who don't use the internet as much for DB). If I like how the fiction looks and there's fighting, it at least, gets a "B" grade. Nothing about what made Dragon Ball Z the GOAT anime franchise has changed in recent years. The animation is better, the character designs are better, and the Toriyama style is still there. Even the latest generation of my family have latched on to the franchise, through Super.

That said, I do think Dragon Ball makes way too much money for Super to have not looked like episode 131 75% of the time, at least. You're never gonna catch the latest episode of something like Family Guy looking like episode 25 of Family Guy. I know the Japanese industry is different, but that doesn't make it right.

And the manga, it's really good, right now. I hope that they continue to take it seriously and stop using it as promotional material. It annoyed the crap outta me at how people piled on Toyotaro despite the fact that there were clear forces behind him, causing the state of his output at the time. Namely, rushing him.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by DragonBallFoodie » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:27 am

I would not say it was bankrupt, because the Tournament did host some new universes with interesting new beings (Ribrianne, Toppo, Jiren). But I would like to maybe see more of these characters beyond them being fodder for the main heroes.

The original DB/DBZ is infamous for taking a long time in its fights, but a great deal of that time was in fleshing out the characters fighting. Even if the Tournament was being drawn out, I wouldn't have minded a little more character focus.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by SupremeKai25 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:32 am

I don't see a lot of people around here having a negative opinion of Super and its future. There are plenty of threads on how the story could develop, what characters could come back, etc. Also yes, there is still a lot of value to be had from modern Dragon Ball. At least for me. I really enjoyed the Zamasu arc and had a lot of fun during the ToP arc when Super was extremely popular (it still is, but it was a whole other thing back in 2017/2018). So No, for me it's not just a soulless cash grab. Especially when they introduced new and unique characters like Zamasu, Goku Black, Jiren, and Hit, who clearly had a lot of thought put into them.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by ABED » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:51 am

Not bankrupt, but clearly running on fumes.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by TheOverlyMadHatter » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:54 am

I mean... There's a lot they probably could do, but playing it safe seems to already yield plenty of merchandise sales so I doubt they'll do things differently any time soon.

Back in 2013, a great beginning for this "2nd Renaissance", when Beerus teased the other Universes, the Dragon World suddenly had even more room to grow, more Destroyers, more worlds, it seemed like the possibilities were endless. Then we just got Freeza again... then BoG again and Freeza again again. Oh boy, new content!... Universe 6 vs Universe 7 Arc was just fighting with mostly bland characters, Goku Black was ambitious but had too many continuity issues and fumbled the ending, and the Universe Survival Arc was just a bunch of fighting with characters no one cared about. Imagine if they'd actually explored those other universes, met people and had adventures with them, and then have to come to blows with them in a battle for survival. Jiren might not have been such a bad villain if they'd established and fleshed out his reasons for wanting to be the best, cliché as they are. Lots of dramatic potential with a character that hates his own weakness. I lost interest with the Heroes promo anime. Like, really? Goku meets an alternate version of himself with a different form on par with his own ultimate form, and all he has to say is "Wow, that's pretty cool"?

Shueisha has a Dragon Ball Room now, so I doubt we'll stop seeing new content anytime before they run the franchise into the ground. But I can tell they're trying. Broly was decent (ableit a reboot), the Yamcha side-story was genuinely funny beginning to end, and the Super manga seems to be shaping up after a rushed sloppy beginning so maybe things will get better. How they handle Super 2.0, whether via movies or another series, will be a good teller of what to expect.

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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by ABED » Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:47 am

I think people placed way too much importance on the multiverse, as if having other places to go in the narrative was a physical thing. What the story lacked wasn't physical places to go but places to go with their characters. That's why I find Gohan and Vegeta's incremental changes so appealing, whereas new lore bores me to tears. More characters and development, less lore.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by Robo4900 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:19 pm

Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball has been creatively bankrupt since basically the moment Boo's dog died. It was a good moment, and a solid way to get out of the rut of "oh shit our villain's a pacifist now", but Toriyama hasn't had a good idea of what to do with the franchise for a single second since then.

Even the Broly movie, much as I enjoyed it, was a fairly hackneyed narrative, mostly saved by its strong moment-to-moment writing, and good character work... But the characters and situations are nothing new to Dragon Ball.

Toei did some interesting stuff in GT; they screwed up in a lot of ways, but had some really creative ideas, which they approached in some very interesting ways, they took some risks, but the franchise was long-dead by that point, and needed a break.

Toyotaro did some interesting original stuff with the Victory Mission manga, Toei's done some fun stuff with the Super filler arcs, but Toriyama's been phoning it in since the '90s.
But Toei clearly are fine with Toriyama phoning it in, because people keep tuning in for it, so...

I think the way forward would be to get new blood with exciting, bold, new ideas. But Toei don't want to part with Toriyama, and if the Moro arc is as heavily controlled by Toyotaro as many are suggesting, then clearly he's not the successor we're looking for. But he's probably the successor Toei will be looking to, if Toriyama steps back into more of a "creative consultant" role.

So... Yes. At the moment, it is creatively bankrupt. Every story is a new wall for Goku to punch through, with all the most obvious beats along the way, with little-to-no variation. Dragon Ball is a franchise zombie, and has been for fucking years.
There are ways to inject creativity back in, but they're unlikely to happen to any significant degree.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by JulieYBM » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:32 pm

I feel like the entire concept of being creatively bankrupt is a weird establishment-esque concept and I don't really get the idea of paying credence to it. Dislike Dragon Ball? Cool.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by ABED » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:43 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:32 pm
I feel like the entire concept of being creatively bankrupt is a weird establishment-esque concept and I don't really get the idea of paying credence to it. Dislike Dragon Ball? Cool.
Establishment-eque critique? I don't follow.
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: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by JulieYBM » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:17 pm

ABED wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:43 pm
JulieYBM wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:32 pm
I feel like the entire concept of being creatively bankrupt is a weird establishment-esque concept and I don't really get the idea of paying credence to it. Dislike Dragon Ball? Cool.
Establishment-eque critique? I don't follow.
The term is rooted in the idea that all art must be submitted to an established Elite Authority™ for review to be deigned 'good' or 'bad'. As a writer myself I simply have no patience for the idea that I need to be writing Serious™ and Real Art™. Similarly, I don't see how the art we consume needs to be Serious™ and Mature™ Art™ so long as we can explain why it is we, personally, as individuals, like it.

Like, gosh, fuck! Writing is totes hard and exhausting, a dumbo phrase like 'creatively bankrupt' is just so McFuckin' meanie and stuffz because it seeks to just, like, totes place the personal reviewing of art into a hierarchy to establish Seriousness™. This is also my problem with the concept of the review aggregation and the concept of a reviewing community. Like, fuck off and just let me know why you personally don't like something (I don't like things, too!). 'Creatively bankrupt'? Honies, people like repetition, it's why there isn't a limp girldick in the room every time a lesbian is introduced into an established franchise like Kale and Caulifla were. Deigning something unworthy of praise because of some arbitrary concept of self-seriousness is just embarrassing, eye-em-oh.

I, myself, personally, have loved recent Dragon Ball. Beers, Whis, Super Saiyan God, Blue, Migatte no Goku'i/Omen, the new characters and character interactions, and more are all enjoyable to me. I'm certainly more entertained by modern Dragon Ball than I am by anything after Cell absorbed #17 in the original comic series. By branching out into different directions like with Zamasu and Gokuu Black or the character arcs during the Tournament of Power Dragon Ball Super was able to grow and develop the franchise in appealing ways that Dragon Ball didn't have the interest or confidence in doing so before. Directors and animators got to share their ideas! Broli was remade from joke into a moe character that people could cheer on. Dragon Ball is actually fun again with infinite possibilities to play around with.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by ABED » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:23 pm

I don't know if that's the point anyone is driving at - the amount of seriousness or maturity. Even the lightest and fluffiest stories can still function as good and move a narrative forward. They can still be functional - e.g. develop characters, set ups and payoffs, reversals...

Dragon Ball used to be pizza you would find at a non-chain restaurant. Now it's DiGiorno. Not great, but will do if it's in the freezer and don't want to go out to a restaurant or pay for delivery.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by Robo4900 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:40 pm

Personally, I'd say the pizza has gone rotten at this point; it used to be a fun thing to enjoy, but now it'd just make me sick. :lol:
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by ABED » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:49 pm

I think it's less the case that it's rotten and more that you've overeaten.
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: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by Robo4900 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:56 pm

Heh. Solid point.

Though I'd argue there was a long enough break for it to be okay, so it should go down well, and it probably would go down a lot better if it wasn't just a scrambled-together assortment of things that look like the stuff I used to enjoy.
Maybe if the new pizzas were the best assortment of ingredients they could do with what they have, rather than trying to recapture a recipe they simply can't recreate anymore.
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Re: Is Dragon Ball creatively bankrupt at this point?

Post by emperior » Sat Mar 07, 2020 2:05 pm

Seems like people confuse their personal tastes and preferences and disliking of Super with creative bankruptcy.
No. Modern Dragon Ball is not creatively bankrupt. It offered much, and still has much to offer.

Maybe we can say that modern Dragon Ball often relies too much on nostalgia - but we could quite literally remove all of that nostalgia-pandering events and the results wouldn’t change Super in the slightest.
So I wouldn’t call a serie that introduced a plethora of fan-loved characters and concepts creatively bankrupt. Because it isn’t. Not when it still continues to find new interesting ways to expand the story and the lore.

And, honestly, I find those people who want Super to “innovate itself” by becoming something Dragon Ball never was, quite ridiculous. You don’t fix what isn’t broken. So what if each story is about Goku having to overcome a new foe? This is Dragon Ball, the theme of the serie is literally “break through walls” and “there’s always someone stronger out there.

I am the first who criticizes Super for not risking enough and for always keeping that Buu arc status quo. That would be fixed with new stories set after the end of the manga.
I am also the first who hates how every character always looks the same way or wears the same clothes.
The manga doesn’t have this problem, actually, as that was correlated with the anime’s disastrous schedule.
The last movie literally had Bulma in 3 different outfits so that’s, again, something they can easily fix.

I am still of the idea that a new anime show, with good schedule and therefore good animation, direction and consistent writing would change people’s perception of Super. The show’s problems left a sour taste in people’s mouth, but the stories weren’t bad, as weren’t the new concepts introduced. There is creativity. It’s just that the presentation sucked.
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