Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

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Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Ripper 30 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:15 pm

okay, so nowdays the current popular opinion is that Dragon Ball is the only good part of the Franchise and Dragon Ball Z after Namek Arc is really bad and has bad characterization, plot devices, plotholes, shallow villains, no overarching plot, characters made to act dumb to prolong the plot. the characters somehow letting the main villain reach perfect form or get revived, characters risking the fate of the world for their own sake and later on changing motives and overall mediocre at best writing, repetitive themes, similar abilities copied in both arc, similar structure, similar mistakes, dragged story, do you think it sucks after Namek stuff?

I personally like it even after Namek Arc and for me no arc in DBZ really sucks or is even bad. i loved new characters like Android Trio, Gero and Android 20 were creepy, Cell was good, Future Trunks was great, Kaioshin... well he was mysterious at the beginning, Dabura was good, Babidi was good, Majin Boo was entertaining, Videl was good too.
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Desassina » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:43 pm

No. The Cell arc's only questionable moment was in the Games. A forgotten character was given a new persona to build up his ascension in the same chapter (Gohan). The villain himself had a great build up and the mystery surrounding time travel and the androids played out well until the former became Perfect. Granted that it was a change in pace that served as a breather for the intense moments that led to it. It was still more significant than Piccolo Jr. trying to conquer the world through a tournament, because the characters didn't face off until the obvious result, but made room for the ones that mattered in the Cell Games.

The Majin Boo arc's questionable moment was in Vegeta and Goku's return for Vegetto. With fusion having played its role, the need to suddenly ditch Gohan for an equally sudden fusion through potara earrings was felt, but it led to the happiest ending with nobody dead. Evil Boo's absorptions were played out by the time Gohan got absorbed. I would have preferred SSJ3 Goku being absorbed, Gohan fighting equally with Goku Boo, and Vegeta allowing himself in to free his pod and the others'. Then, the Pure Boo chapter could play the same, with the Genki-dama as the last resort.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by PFM18 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:44 pm

Buu arc? Yes.

Cell Arc? Absolutely not.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Desassina » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:24 am

Actually, scratch what I said about Goku being absorbed for Gohan to fight Evil Boo with the former, because why would Goku be revived for the sake of going out again? Besides, I did say that absorption was played out after Gotenks Boo, and Goku would have given him the same clothes as Gohan. It worked out well.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by DBZAOTA482 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:50 am

Nah, I'd say the Cell arc had decent (but flawed) writing. The Buu arc specifically after Vegeta's sacrifice is when the writing for the series in general started to suck whatnot with Toriyama losing steam and having a very lenient editor. I mean, the man's style is basically writing at the seat of his pants.
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Diccolo-420 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:29 pm

I wouldn't say Cell arc had perfect writing but it definitely was a great chapter and the last really solid one, but it was clear that DBZ was stretching itself thin.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by sintzu » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:08 pm

Despite their flaws I think they're very good arcs with Buu ending the original story on a high note. With DB reaching its peak around the Saiyan and Freeza arcs, things could've been a lot worse like what happened with Bleach but thankfully Toriyama managed to continue and conclude things on a satisfying note. Cell and Buu had so many great characters and moments that I can't even think how DB would be without them as they brought so much greatness to the DB lore and original story.
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by PsionicWarrior » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:13 pm

I think both these arcs are fantastic like the rest of DBZ and DB lol

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Lord Beerus » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:51 am

I've made it very well known that I think the Cell arc is terrible in many facets, and I've gone into excruciating detail about why I think that, so I won't bother to repeat myself.

The Majin Boo has some narrative issues and story's structure falls apart in the final 1/4 of the plot. But it still has that wonderful balance of charm, entertainment and general whimsy to carry the arc as a whole to something very much worthwhile. Also, the anime adaptation of the Majin Boo arc is fantastic.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by theherodjl » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:23 am

Lord Beerus wrote:I've made it very well known that I think the Cell arc is terrible in many facets, and I've gone into excruciating detail about why I think that, so I won't bother to repeat myself.

The Majin Boo has some narrative issues and story's structure falls apart in the final 1/4 of the plot. But it still has that wonderful balance of charm, entertainment and general whimsy to carry the arc as a whole to something very much worthwhile. Also, the anime adaptation of the Majin Boo arc is fantastic.

Is it because the Android & Cell arcs are basically the plot to the Terminator series with inspiration from Toho's monsters for Cell's design & concept? As well as the fact that Akira Toriyama kinda lost some control of the story's direction because his editor hated the villains?
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Lord Beerus » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:58 am

theherodjl wrote:
Lord Beerus wrote:I've made it very well known that I think the Cell arc is terrible in many facets, and I've gone into excruciating detail about why I think that, so I won't bother to repeat myself.

The Majin Boo has some narrative issues and story's structure falls apart in the final 1/4 of the plot. But it still has that wonderful balance of charm, entertainment and general whimsy to carry the arc as a whole to something very much worthwhile. Also, the anime adaptation of the Majin Boo arc is fantastic.

Is it because the Android & Cell arcs are basically the plot to the Terminator series with inspiration from Toho's monsters for Cell's design & concept? As well as the fact that Akira Toriyama kinda lost some control of the story's direction because his editor hated the villains?
I don't mind that Android/Cell is basically Terminator 2.0. I mean, if you're going to rip plot-threads from sci-fi movies, then I would actually say that the Terminator (the first two installment) are some of the best movies to do so.

My issue with the Android/Cell arc is that the character writing is horrendous (seriously, this aspect brings down the arc so much), the incorporation of Time Travel is awful and the Cell Games has an horrendous narrative. That's not to say that the arc doesn't have any great moments sprinkled in there. But I just think 70% of that arc is straight up garbage.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Ripper 30 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:01 pm

Lord Beerus wrote:
theherodjl wrote:
Lord Beerus wrote:I've made it very well known that I think the Cell arc is terrible in many facets, and I've gone into excruciating detail about why I think that, so I won't bother to repeat myself.

The Majin Boo has some narrative issues and story's structure falls apart in the final 1/4 of the plot. But it still has that wonderful balance of charm, entertainment and general whimsy to carry the arc as a whole to something very much worthwhile. Also, the anime adaptation of the Majin Boo arc is fantastic.

Is it because the Android & Cell arcs are basically the plot to the Terminator series with inspiration from Toho's monsters for Cell's design & concept? As well as the fact that Akira Toriyama kinda lost some control of the story's direction because his editor hated the villains?
I don't mind that Android/Cell is basically Terminator 2.0. I mean, if you're going to rip plot-threads from sci-fi movies, then I would actually say that the Terminator (the first two installment) are some of the best movies to do so.

My issue with the Android/Cell arc is that the character writing is horrendous (seriously, this aspect brings down the arc so much), the incorporation of Time Travel is awful and the Cell Games has an horrendous narrative. That's not to say that the arc doesn't have any great moments sprinkled in there. But I just think 70% of that arc is straight up garbage.
can you elaborate on those particular flaws?
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by ABED » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:22 pm

If anyone brings up the rules of time travel in DB not making much sense, I've seen a James Cameron video where he says they never really do. I accept that and don't really care. I'm just glad they didn't do the infinite loop theory of time travel. THat's the one that I like the least.
he anime adaptation of the Majin Boo arc is fantastic
It's too long even in the manga. THe anime makes it worse.
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Lord Beerus » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:28 pm

Ripper 30 wrote:
Lord Beerus wrote:
theherodjl wrote:

Is it because the Android & Cell arcs are basically the plot to the Terminator series with inspiration from Toho's monsters for Cell's design & concept? As well as the fact that Akira Toriyama kinda lost some control of the story's direction because his editor hated the villains?
I don't mind that Android/Cell is basically Terminator 2.0. I mean, if you're going to rip plot-threads from sci-fi movies, then I would actually say that the Terminator (the first two installment) are some of the best movies to do so.

My issue with the Android/Cell arc is that the character writing is horrendous (seriously, this aspect brings down the arc so much), the incorporation of Time Travel is awful and the Cell Games has an horrendous narrative. That's not to say that the arc doesn't have any great moments sprinkled in there. But I just think 70% of that arc is straight up garbage.
can you elaborate on those particular flaws?
I talk about the Android/Cell in detail this thread, but I'll just take the "positives" and "negatives" part of the review of that arc:
[spoiler]POSITIVES

The Set-Up (Most of it):
I love the debut of (Future) Trunks in both mediums. It’s grand, effective and caries that wonderful feeling mystery and intrigue that Dragon Ball doesn’t have most of the time. (Future) Trunks killing Freeza was something I previously had an issue with because I always felt it diminished Freeza’s characters as he was brought back to life just to be killed off again. But unlike that happening in Resurrection F, Freeza’s death actually adds weight to the plot because of the later reveal of (Future) Trunks warning of threat coming to Earth that’s even greater than he is. Freeza’s hasty demise actually works quite well in elevating the stakes of the narrative in fashion that feels constructive to adding drama, suspense and establishing (Future) Trunks as a character not to be looked over.

Cell:
Cell is a really good villain. And while I bemoan the inconsistency of his abilities, I can’t deny that he is very entertaining antagonist to watch. He initial incarnation feels like something straight out of a horror film. One moment he’s inflicting terror to thousands of people simultaneously and then when the cast tries to get the jump on him, he suddenly vanishes without a trace, as if he was never there to begin with. And he does this all the while getting stronger to ensure that he is successful with achieving his goal of “perfection”. And how he uses cunning and underhanded tactics to get one-up n the cast when he’s backed into a corner is so much fun to watch. It’s the kind of cat-and-mouse style of narrative that the early portions of the Freeza arc thrive on and I was so glad to see on back on full display in the early portions of the Cell arc.

I also greatly enjoy Cell’s evolution from an aesthetic and personality standpoint. How he turns from this hideous big/cicada like creature, to more toned down but still monster-ish looking being when he absorbs #17, to the finally more humanoid and presentable appearance he attains from absorbing #18. The dynamic of his characterisations changing along with physical appearance make Cell all the more unique of a villain. Going from the very cautious, sneaky, and calculating creature who as pragmatic in his approach to ensuring he had the easiest time in achieving his main goal of perfection, to the more thuggish, arrogant and exploitive character after he absorbs #17, to the more vain, sadistic, laid-back and battle hungry persona that dominated his mindset following the absorption of #18, and reaching the endpoint with him becoming completely deranged and egotistical after coming back to life with a huge influx of power, Cell displayed a wide variety of characteristics and that really helped sell the idea that he was truly a being composed of many of the central cast and other antagonists.

Cell was extremely ranged villain in every aspect, and this arc was so much better for it. It also helps that Norio Wakamoto was (and still is) fantastic as Cell.

Trunks:
I really enjoyed this character. And as much as I lament how he falls into the background after fighting #18, he remains relevant enough in the plot to not feel like disposable commodity. I loved his straight laced, no-nonsense, call-a-spade-a-spade, pragmatic way of thinking. I found his backstory to be the best Dragon Ball has ever produced for any character. And I take great enjoyment in knowing that he managed to get his happy ending, with him saving his world in his timeline by killing #17, #18 and Cell, because it was definitely earned.

Studio Cockpit:
I really can’t sing their praises enough. Any episode that is handled by them is spectacular in art-style and animation. Even episodes that may be lacking in content they can manage to bring to life through their stunning visuals. Episode 179 has one of the best looking fights the franchise has ever produced because of their hard work.

NEGATIVES

Bulma and Vegeta Having Trunks:
I don’t like the revelation of Bulma and Vegeta were Trunks’ parents. On one hand, it’s one hell of an effective plot twist. But on the other, the justification for Bulma hooking with Vegeta is just absurd. As someone who has watched the story from the beginning, there is no setup, indication or implication of Yamcha being promiscuous. You can buy the idea of Bulma being the "cheater" because there are way more hints of Bulma being more of a wanderer when it comes to partners than Yamcha is up until that point in the story. Bulma flirts or is shown to be attracted to many other guys that aren’t Yamcha in the story.

I can understand characters changing as they get older, but Yamcha being a cheater is such a jarring and out-of-context change in character that it can be really seen as character assassination for the sake of the plot happening and moving forward. It was like Toriyama knew that Bulma shacking up with Vegeta would absolutely ridiculous, but he knew he needed another Super Saiyan so he had to find some way for Bulma to dump Yamcha and get knocked up by Vegeta and not seem like a terrible person for doing such a thing. But Yamcha being the one unfaithful in his relationship with Bulma? No. I can’t buy that for a second. It just feels wrong.

How Goku Escaped Namek:
I don’t like the explanation on how got off Namek before it exploded. Funny enough, when the anime tries to add some rationale to this, it creates more issues. In the anime version of events, after Goku not being able to operate Freeza’s spaceship, one of the Ginyu Forces space-pods was just conveniently falling down into the planet’s core to be swallowed up by the magma along with Freeza’s spaceship and Goku quickly jumped into, pressed some random buttons and escaped the planet. Now there’s just one problem with all of this… IT NEVER FUCKING HAPPENED.

Remember Freeza’s ship? Yeah, after Goku realised he couldn’t get that to function during the climax of the Freeza arc, he abandoned it and that thing fell right into the core of Planet Namek and was swallowed up by magma. That ship was destroyed. And right after that, the last thing we see before Namek is explodes is Goku yelling in fury over the fact he couldn’t escape Namek before it explodes. Are you telling me that after Goku screamed in anger from not being able to escape Namek, he saw one of the space pods that the Ginyu Force used, managed to operate it and escaped from Namek just before it was destroyed, all in the space of less than a few seconds? Yeah… no. I don’t buy any of that.

Goku surviving Namek must go down as one of the biggest narrative fumbles in all of Dragon Ball. It’s terrible from storytelling perspective as it just makes Goku desperate situation of trying not get find a way of escaping Namek before it blew up seem far less of a serious matter and more of a minor inconvenience for him. And it’s also a major oversight as it effectively rewrote the ending of the Freeza arc.

Time Travel:
Now let’s talk about time travel. Long story short… this arc butchers this plot device…. horribly.

Let’s break it down.

(Future) Trunks warns that cyborgs #19 and #20 (yes, he says this in the manga) will be unleashed onto the world in three years and bring about the apocalypse. Fast forward three years, and that’s what happens in story. No problems so far. But shit gets confusing when (Future) Trunks travels back to three years after he first travelled back in time and after seeing the dismembered head of #19, he wonders what kind of cyborgs the cast are fighting as he doesn’t recognise the face of #19. Despite him being one of the very cyborgs (Future) Trunks previously mentioned were going to killing everyone and destroy the world. (Future) Trunks then hypothesizes that perhaps going back in time more than once changed history. And that makes no damn sense. Why? Because the story later states that when (Future) Trunks went back in time, he didn’t go back in time in his own timeline. He went back in time to a completely different timeline where any actions he has, regardless of how many times he goes back the past, has no effect on what happens to the future of his timeline. And yet (Future) Trunks’ future changes when it shouldn’t. And now instead of #19 and #20 causing the mayhem in his future, it’s #17 and #18. Hell, (Future) Trunks even provides a very detailed and accurate description of what cyborgs #17 and #18 look like. So (Future) Trunks timeline has his history radically altered when it shouldn’t have been changed in the slightest.

And then in comes Cell… who somehow manages to make the time travelling shenanigans even more confusing. He states he’s from a timeline when #17 and #18 don’t exist and were mostly like destroyed by (Future) Trunks, and that he killed the Trunks in his timeline, stole his time machine (which was already set to travel back to three years in the past) and went back to the past. None this make any sense for several reasons. How did the Trunks of that timeline mange to take care of the cyborgs of Cell’s timeline? But more importantly, as Piccolo hypothesised, why was Trunks in Cell’s timeline planning to go back to three years to the past and tell the main cast that he had destroyed the cyborgs in that timeline? It wouldn’t matter. Trunks would be travelling back to a completely different timeline. Anything he changes in Cell’s timeline wouldn’t have any effect on the timeline he travels back to the past to. The Cyborgs would still exist in that timeline. At least according the story’s own logic that what happens in one timeline wouldn’t affect what occurs in another timeline.

But then things get really fucked up with Cell expositional backstory in conjunction with what happens in the main story. Krillin and Trunks (in the main timeline) find Dr Gero’s secret basement, destroy his supercomputer which is creating Cell and kill Cell in his infant stage of growth. So what happened in the timeline that Cell comes from (who killed Trunks and stole time machine), where Trunks and Krillin destroy Dr Gero’s supercomputer and kill Cell while he’s still growing? How did that event not still happen in Cell’s timeline? Did history get altered again from Trunks travelling back in time on the second occasion? Well… that wouldn’t make much because the action of just traveling back in time, in Cell’s scenario, changes nothing as he still dies while he is growing in Gero’s secret basement in the main timeline. Why didn’t history get altered when Cell travelled back in time? Does changing the flow of events only happen when Trunks uses the time machine? But this begs an even larger and more important question… how does Cell exist? He came back in time one year before Trunks did in the first occasion Trunks travelled back in time because Cell needed the extra three years to stay beneath the Earth to evolve from an egg into his fully-grown bio-android. So what event(s) lead to Cell’s timeline being created?

This is why a lot of stories don’t like having their foundations based on time travel because it’s a plot device that is incredibly easy to fuck up. And if you fuck it up, it can lead to the structure of the narrative crumbling. Inconsistencies can emerge, plot holes can be created, and continuity errors could unintentionally wreck your story. And unfortunately, this isn’t something that can be swept under the run as in the Cell arc, the concept of time travel is the driving force of the narrative. Because without time travel being implemented, the story can’t work. But the implementation of time travel is so inconsistent. The rules constantly change. History is altered when it shouldn’t be altered. Information passed on that turns out to false when it should be true. We’re presented with a scenario where just travelling back in time can alter not only the history on the original timeline but can create a branching timeline where that history is altered in the same way in some part as the original timeline. And yet this rule is trampled on immediately when it’s later discovered that changing the past in one timeline wouldn’t alter the history of another timeline despite the fact that apparently all of the timelines ARE connected. Or do the timelines become separate entities after a while? The story falls apart instantly if you spend more than 60 seconds thinking about how time travel is incorporated in the Cell arc.

Am I making this whole situation more confusing than it appears to be at face value? Or it this just already really confusing, and my dissection of this is making me even more confused about it? Either way, it’s a clusterfuck. I have no fucking idea how time travel works in an arc where the initial centerpiece for the narrative evolving is based solely on time travel. And that’s a big fucking problem. Look, I love what Akira Toriyama has mostly done for Dragon Ball. But his writing is not infallible. In my opinion, his handling of time travel, in narrative sense, was horrific.

Vegeta:
I hated Vegeta in this arc. Hated him, hated him, hated him. He was insufferable in this arc. Throughout this arc, Vegeta was constantly angsting about Goku. He always seemed to be moaning and complaining about how strong Goku was compared to him, and it just became intolerable. It doesn’t help that his rivalry with Goku is one-sided. But it wasn’t just Goku, anytime that any other character was stronger than him, he would throw a bitch fit and start brooding over it. Best exemplified when stood on the edge of cliff for three fucking days after he got his ass handed to him by #18.

His attitude in this arc is why I didn’t care about his angry outburst and attack against Cell when he killed Trunks. Most of the story spent so much time hammering into your head that Vegeta is a self and unrepentant bastard to everyone, that him suddenly want to avenge Trunks is so jarring. There’s no build up to moment. Vegeta had displayed his resentment towards Trunks anytime they interact that I can’t get invested into any arbitrary 180 of Vegeta’s personal perspective towards Trunks.

From throwing ki blasts at a cyborg that he knows can absorb energy, to constantly having delusions into thinking he can beat Cell, to allowing Cell to play him like a fiddle, to acting like spoil child whenever someone else was more powerful than him… Vegeta just drags down the arc so much when he gets significant screentime. The only time Vegeta became tolerable to me was at the very end of the arc when apologizes to Gohan for being a liability in battle.

I know Vegeta is a colossal asshole. That’s his gimmick and character. But he doesn’t need to be irritating. Remember the Freeza arc? Yeah, Vegeta was an asshole in that arc, but he also was a more well-rounded character. The mark of good antagonist is someone you don’t like, but you ultimately want to see more of them. I didn’t like Vegeta’s actions on Namek but his character was so much better handled that I was eager to see what Vegeta would do next. In the Cell arc, I hated what Vegeta was doing but I also despised his character to the point where I didn’t want to see him again. And no, it wasn’t in the “love to hate” kind of way. It was in the “get off my screen, I don’t want to see again” kind of way. Vegeta in this arc had, what wrestling fans would call, “Go away heat”.

Gohan:
What the fuck was going on with this guy in this arc? He just fades away from the plot after the #19 and #20 arrive. Then gets suddenly thrusted into the main spotlight in the cumulative battle against Cell, and we’re supposed to believe this is going to be his passing of the torch moment. Yeah, I’m sorry, but fuck that noise. If this is the arc that marks the period in which that Gohan is meant to assume the role as central character, you have to have him featured more predominately in the arc in a significant sense when the cyborgs arrive, or at the very least, give him more screen time. You can’t have somebody who you want to have as the main character sit out 90% of the arc that supposed to act as the starting point for them becoming the main character. It’s just bad storytelling.

Then when it comes to him actually fighting Cell, his characterisation is just so off. He states he doesn’t want to kill Cell and thinks his fight against him is pointless. I’m sorry, but… what? Gohan is a character that has shown on so many occasions that he’s been more than willing to thrust himself into battle and fight to kill should the opportunity call for it. He put himself in harms ways against Vegeta, Nappa, Freeza’s soldiers, the Ginyu Force and Freeza himself because he knew what the stakes were and what needed to be done. He even personally insisted on going to Namek, even when he knew of the possible dangers and threats. Hell, him training with Goku in the Room of Spirit and Time and was centred around him preparing for the opportunity in fighting Cell.

There was no indication prior to him fighting Cell that he had any qualms about killing if it was absolutely necessary. What lead to him suddenly having this pacifism when confronting Cell? For Gohan to go through this kind of major character development, especially in story that is centred around fights that sometimes go to the death, you have to provide the context of when, how and why Gohan went through this kind of change in personality. It’s the same deal with how Gohan acts like a sadist when he’s a SSJ2. Give the reader the proper build-up. Or else you create the idea that Gohan is acting out of character. And unfortunately, that’s the only conclusion I can come to regarding Gohan’s attitude during the Cell Games. He goes right back to stating he want to beat Cell when the Cell Jrs start attacking Goku and the rest of the cast, it’s obvious that characteristic was thrown in for the sake of the plot. Gohan’s mentality shifting to not wanting to kill Cell had no bearing on his character because Gohan goes right back to wanting to defeat Cell.

The Cyborgs:
Conceptually speaking, I hate what the cyborgs represent. They’re inserted into the plot because they’re monstrously strong, which is fine, but then you find out that there were created under the pretences of character who had no idea about what Super Saiyan is. And #16, #17 and #18 are far stronger than Super Saiyans. This has always been personal pet peeve of mine because this absolutely murders any kind of mystique Freeza's character had. Freeza was by no means this unbelievable force of nature that should be reckoned with in the universe. He was ultimately just a big fish in a small pond. As an old, very intelligent, but also mad scientist in a cave with a box of scraps, with no idea of how strong Freeza is, can somehow create cyborgs that are far stronger than Freeza ever wished he could have been. It makes Freeza look like the luckiest character ever. Because if Dr Gero had decided to carry out his plan sooner, and on a scale as large as Freeza, Freeza and his army would have been no match for him.

And in terms of personality, most of the cyborgs are very flat and one note in characterisation. Gero/#20 is a generically evil as they come, #19 has no character, #18 displays a little personality before turning into the stock tsundere female character, and #16 is the most haphazardly written of the lot. His character is that he like bird and nature, which would be good but doesn’t lead to anything for him development wise as he still provides the strong implication that once Cell is take care off, he’s going to kill Goku, as he was programmed to do. I don’t why the writing for #16 is so indecisive.

If the story wanted to portray #16 in a more positive light to make his death more tragic, then it should’ve spent some time giving the context for why he suddenly grew accustomed to birds and nature in general but still had the capacity to retain his original purpose of killing Goku. I think it would have served as better character development for him to come to love life on Earth and then somehow override his programming to become capable of abandoning his original purpose of killing Goku. I mean, if you’re not going to give some backstory on the affinity that #16 has with nature, at least utilize it fully to properly develop #16. As it stands, #16 just feel like a really half-arsed character.

#17 is without a doubt the most interesting out of all the cyborgs. He has more of a personality out of being just stoic and acting cool. He’s prideful in battle, acts leisurely in his goals and has a degree of honour for his opponents.

The Final Battle Against Cell:
Oh boy, what a clusterfuck the home stretch of the battle against Cell is.

Let’s start off with the idea of Gohan fighting Cell. From a narrative standpoint, this fight doesn’t work… at all. Gohan doesn’t even know what Cell looks like, let alone have an idea of what he can do in combat. So what am I supposed to get out Gohan beating up Cell? What relationship does Gohan have with Cell that supposed to make the feeling of Cell being brought down a peg by him feel so cathartic or satisfying? And this lead to another issue regarding Gohan’s battle with Cell: what served as Gohan rage breaking point.

Now don’t get me wrong, the moment itself where Gohan becomes a SSJ2 is visually spectacular. But it’s incredibly narratively shallow. Remember Gohan's reaction after Piccolo died saving his life in the Saiyan arc? That was emotional because Gohan at least got the chance to build a relationship with Piccolo to make the moment he died feel more relatable, genuine and powerful. Remember when Goku became SSJ for the first time? That was a powerful moment because you knew prior to that moment just how much Goku's friendship with Krillin meant to him because of how close they were depicted to be and how they reacted to each other deaths the first-time round. Gohan was watching his family and friends he trained and grew up with getting beaten to death at the Cell Games by the Cell Jrs and it doesn't affect him other than making him grit his teeth harder. Yet a random cyborg that Gohan that doesn't know on any other level, other than he cares for all living beings on life, a viewpoint all of the Z-Fighters, excluding Vegeta, at that time also shared, dies in front of him and suddenly that makes Gohan snap and go over the edge? I just can’t buy into that.

I feel that a proper relationship needed to be built between the two characters to justify Gohan reacting the way he did when #16 was killed. It just helps the moment feel more raw and believable. To me, it just felt like Toriyama needed an excuse for Gohan to become a SSJ2 and he threw in that speech from #16 just so that the moment could happen. All we knew about #16 prior to him giving the speech to Gohan is that kinda liked birds. That's it. #16 even reminds Goku that he was built to kill told him not to forget that. So that whole "#16 cares about all living things" characteristic kinda feel even more contrived. If Toriyama spent more time developing #16's character and building a more believable relationship between Gohan and #16, the moment Gohan became a SSJ2 for the first time would have been perfect. So while the fact that Cell crushed #16’s head after his speech served as an avenue for him tapping into true power is a great moment on it’s surface level, there is no foundation to it. That moment from a storytelling perspective means nothing because Gohan barely know who the fuck Android 16 was beyond the fact he was built to kill Goku and that loved birds, trees and animals. He of all people shouldn't be the trigger for Gohan's SSJ2 moment because there is no emotional connection between the two of them.

But what follows Gohan becoming a SSJ2 is even worse. Cell regurgitates #18… because why not? Then Cell reveals he can blow himself up… because why not? Then in moment of heroism Goku teleports Cell just he’s about to explode to Kaio-sama’s planet and saves the Earth. In perfect world, the Cell arc ends right there. But for some reason, the story must continue. And Cell manages to come back to life through a major narrative fuck up. Turns out the core in his head survived the explosion and Cell was able to regenerate from it. But there's only one tiny problem… Cell’s core was already destroyed! Remember when Goku blasted Cell at point blank range with that Teleportation Kamehameha? That destroyed the top half of his body, which coincidentally, destroyed his core. Which just raises the further question of how Cell manged to regenerate from that attack from Goku.

What really rubs the up the wrong way about this is whole contrived affair is how it blatantly artificially extends the plot. Cell didn’t need to come back to life. Goku’s sacrifice didn’t have to become meaningless, and Future Trunks didn’t need to die as a result of Cell’s resurrection. You have the arc just end with Goku, Cell and Kaio-sama, Bubbles dying and that would have been a perfectly suitable ending. Yes, we wouldn’t have had the Gohan/Ghost Dad and Cell Kamehameha beam clash, but you know what, I could have certainly lived without it. Nothing was gained from Cell arbitrarily returning to the plot. Because he just ends up being killed in literally the next episode/chapter. It’s a pointless and haphazard narrative choice that retroactively raises more questions surrounding the plot, while also unnecessarily stretching out a story that was already barren with content. Nothing about Cell coming back to life feels like a natural sequence of events. It just feels like something that had to happen… because why not? And honestly, that’s just bad storytelling. The whole sequence itself really feels like padding when you look back it.

Character Moments With No Purpose:
You know, it’s one thing if character has a moment in the story that a had little build up but didn’t lead to anything. That’s always disappointing. But what even worse is when a character has a moment in a story which has no build up, leads to nothing a and can conflict with their established character. The Cell arc has so moments like this.

Goku giving a senzu is the fucking nadir of a character moment with no purpose. Look, I get it, Goku likes a good fight. And he’s willing to spare or give assistance to his rivals when he know there’s not a threat. But he’s never gone to the extent where he willingly aids his opponent in restoring their full strength. Especially before a fight that determines the fate of the planet, and even more so against an opponent that he has no idea of how strong he is. It just seems like such a gross overexaggeration of Goku’s character in regard to how much he would put a good fight over everything and anything else. Thank God Piccolo calls him out on this, but it was a still a horrible moment for Goku’s character. But more than it being stupid, it was unnecessary for the plot. If Cell was still feeling tired, as Goku claims he was, when he goes on to fight Gohan, would that have made difference to how their fight would have transpired? It’s highly unlikely. Especially since Cell wasn’t even using all of strength to fight Goku in the first place. So Goku giving Cell a senzu served no narrative purpose and painted Goku in a horrible light. It’s the most unlikable has been portrayed in Dragon Ball, in my opinion. And it didn’t need to be this way.

Speaking of painting characters in a bad light… let’s talk about Krillin. Now I understand that Krillin is most “human” character of the cast. His reactions, his personal goals and his perspective of events, in my opinion, the most relatable. But one of his most admirable traits is his pragmatism. His acknowledgement of what needs to be done, when there are many lives at stake. That’s why Krillin not shutting down #18 just comes across as really jarring. As I’ve stated, Krillin know to be very pragmatic and actually quite good in his decision making during critical times. Remember when he was about to kill Vegeta when he was weak and couldn't defend himself in the Saiyan arc and prevent him from coming back to harm Earth? The exact polar opposite happened in Cell arc with him not shutting down #18 when he knew very well what the stakes were and would happen if Cell absorbed #18. He literally put the world in grave danger for one woman he affection. Did it not cross his mind that once #18 is gone, they could simply bring her back to life? The icing on the cake is how cold and abrasive #18 acts towards Krillin when it’s revealed to her Krillin took care of her after Cell spat her out and even when Krillin wishes to remove the bomb from inside her. Yes, I know they end up together, but taking this moment in regards with the self-contained aspect of the Cell arc, it’s moment that has no payoff and purpose. Hell, how they end up together is never elaborated on. And like Goku giving Cell a senzu, it puts Krillin’s character in a more unflattering perspective given how he tried to persuade the cyborgs to leave Goku alone, but then turn around and acts in a fashion that not only puts Goku’s life risk, but the lives of billions of people. And then, after witnessing Vegeta attacking Trunks while he was trying to prevent Cell from absorbing #18 and becoming perfect, Krillin has the goddamned nerve calling the Vegeta stupid. It’s an absurdly hypocritical statement to make given that Krillin just endangered the Earth over his one-side affection for a cyborg. Where does Krillin think he has the high moral ground to call out other people for putting their selfish requests above the consideration of billions of lives? You might as well have not had this side plot of deactivating #18 because it has no consequences on the plot as #18 is absorbed anyway. If you’re going to have side character who can’t do much physically in the plot and you want them to contribute in other ways, that perfectly fine. Just have it mean something.

Two more case of character moments that serve no purpose include Tien and Trunks. Tien’s Kikoho to Cell looked pretty good, but again, it severed not purpose because #18 doesn’t follow Tien’s advice of getting away as far as possible and Cell still very shortly after that moment absorbs #18. So why was Tien thrown into the plot if his actions would no effect on the plot? It’s the same deal with Trunks abandoning his conviction of offending Vegeta’s pride and showing how much stronger he is and fighting Cell with an even more buffed SSJ form. Trunks could have fought Cell in the SSJ form he had before he powered up again, and it would have been the same kind of fight. On top of this, why Trunks is so concerned with hurting Vegeta’s pride by showing how much stronger he’s gotten? Trunks has already shown that he willing to discard his paternal links given that he’s aware how much of a bad person Vegeta is and how he’s even stated that he’d kill him if it meant saving the world. If the character moment doesn’t lead to anything in the story arc it happens in, don’t bother having it. It’s just a fluff. And not even constructive fluff like Goku searching for a new God of Earth.

Piccolo’s scenario with fusing with Kami is probably the most tragic of all in the entire arc. The story gave the impression that him fusing with Kami was a huge moment for his placing in the power hierarchy and how this would affect his character. Which is why I presume that whole “When do you think I became your friend? I’m a demon!! I’m merely using you to take over the world!!” bullshit happened. After Piccolo fuses with Kami, he skirmishes with Cell and only ‘loses’ because Cell get the slip on him with some trickery, and even “outsmarts” Cell to get some information out of him. Then Piccolo faces #17, and it’s downhill from there. His fight with #17 is boring and ending quickly in an stalemate that doesn’t get a proper conclusion as Cell strolls back into the plot breaks Piccolo’s neck with one punch and nearly kills him with a blast to the chest at point blank range. All that build-up of Piccolo fusing with Kami and nothing fundamentally changes about Piccolo and his immense power-up is quickly swept under the rug. And just to twist the knife a little, the moment that lead to Piccolo getting curb stomped in battle, was all down to a moment of uncharacteristic foolishness, with Piccolo pointlessly powering up before he fight’s #17, even though he didn’t need to, knew that Cell can sense energy and knew that Cell was looking to absorb the artificial humans to become much stronger. But then again, Piccolo is no stranger to doing stupid shit for the sake of it, like when he wished to go to Namek. And if that wasn’t enough, just to piss on Piccolo a little more because why the fuck not, after recovers from nearly being killed by Cell, Piccolo trains for a day (a year) in the Room of Spirit and Time, and he gains nothing from it. He might as well have not gone inside in the first place as he even acknowledges that he still has no chance against Cell. Goku’s flippant response to Piccolo inquiry about his growth in power compared to Cell is the icing on the cake.[/spoiler]

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by ABED » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:32 pm

LordBeerus, no other time travel story's logic is airtight. I don't see that as a problem.

As for Goku escaping Namek, I wish they went with unreliable narrator because yes, the two contradictory version of events is a big issue. Seeing them side by side is even worse.

And finally, I think your view of Vegeta's arc is mixed. Some things you have correct, others you're off base. It seems like what you want with set up is telegraphing. And while I agree that Vegeta's behavior gets annoying, mainly because he never seems to learn, he's still in his intermediary stages of his development. He's supposed to be an arrogant dick who needs validation from others to gain a sense of pseudo-self esteem.
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by PFM18 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:43 pm

I don't think the buu arc is necessarily badly written. It is definitely the worst written arc of DBZ, but that isn't surprising it is the worst arc in Z in several ways IMO.

-Buu is a boring villain who is a babbling child incapable of producing entertaining and engaging dialogue.
-Vegeta's development in this arc is overrated.
-It is just way too long
-The power scaling can be a bit wonky

Barely a top 10 arc in the series IMO

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Yuli Ban » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:41 pm

From a basic storytelling standpoint, almost everything about Dragon Ball is badly written because it was never meant to be well-written in the first place, so that's not a very high bar to clear. Comedic parodies tend to follow cliches as a means of making fun of, homaging, or deconstructing them, which explains a lot of Dragon Ball's beats. It's a very simple and enjoyable story, but on an objective level, all Dragon Ball arcs are barely above what is considered passable for a 12-year-old to write. That's actually one of the series' strengths: it's so childishly simple and pulls that off so well that anyone can enjoy it. But like I said, you'd be laughed out of even a high school writing club if you tried presenting any arc as a serious, fully fleshed out story except as a comedy/parody.

From a Dragon Ball standpoint? Boo is worse than Cell in every way. The Demon King Piccolo, Freeza, and Cell arcs worked because they didn't linger on one opponent and each part built up to the next.
The Piccolo arc really began with the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai, then moved on to Piccolo's henchmen, then to Piccolo himself, then to Yajirobe of all people, then back to Piccolo, then to Popo and Kami, then to Piccolo Jr.
The Freeza arc started with Raditz, then Nappa and Vegeta, then Freeza's henchmen (there was a bit of a three-way here, however), then the Ginyu force, then Freeza himself. Freeza was built up the entire time and his stacking transformations felt novel. We also got Super Saiyan out of it. It was everything Goku had been working towards for the entire series exploding in one furious golden light.
With the Cell arc, we started with the return of Freeza, then 19 and 20, then 17 and 18, then the imperfect forms of Cell all building up to Gohan's finest moment. Something which had been foreshadowed going back to the first time we saw Gohan.

With the Boo arc, we started with Gohan in high school— huh? And then moved onto a new martial arts tournament, then Majin Vegeta, and then Boo. Then we stay with Boo for about 70 episodes. Boo transforms, but by this point, that was growing stale.

Boo was also capable of regenerating, which would have been an interesting twist if Cell weren't already capable of it. If Cell's regeneration had real, grounded limits (e.g. regeneration took away strength; destroying his head actually killed him; etc.), then a character with perfect, immortal regeneration would have felt more like a threat. But Cell pre-emptively stole Boo's thunder when he regenerated from Goku's IT Kamehameha, and then took a victory lap when he regenerated from total self-destruction.

Boo could also absorb peop— Cell did it.

Boo was created using the power of the strongest warr— Cell did it.

Boo humiliated Gohan after he got cocky with his new pow— Cell did it.

Boo forced Vegeta to realize his arrogance had led to disa— Cell did it.

Boo lost power after losing people he abso— Cell did it.

Boo even killed Trun— Cell did it.

From a serious standpoint, Boo was nothing but rehashes of old ideas, most of them from the Cell arc. Vegeta's personal arc was the only one that went anywhere, but this wasn't Vegeta's story like Freeza was for Goku and Cell was for Gohan. But overall, it's a failure. It drags on way too long with nothing really happening. This is the same problem from the infamous Goku vs. Freeza fight, except now it's literally every part of the entire arc taken up to eleven. Five minutes lasted 15 episodes, so 24 hours can totally last 100. Makes perfect sense!


Now from a parody standpoint, the Boo arc is probably the best Dragon Ball has to offer because that was the point the series became a self-aware self-parody. The reason why it makes all these mistakes? Because it's making fun of itself. Super Saiyan 3 looks so ridiculous because of course it does. Boo is so ridiculous because the Zetto Senshi had become so overly serious following Piccolo, Freeza, and Cell. Boo is a parody of Cell. Instead of an honorable evil genius, he's a gluttonous idiot. Gohan spends so long getting his potential unlocked, only to get his ass beat two episodes after coming back— which isn't actually that outrageous if you remember that's pretty much exactly what happens to Goku and Vegeta every saga. What's more, it also showed the consequences of the Z warriors getting sloppy by having the Earth actually get blown up for once. It was a resounding failure that only came back to being a victory because of the power of Satan. Literally.



Could it have been written better? Absolutely. Would it have still been as awesome if it were better written? Again, absolutely. Not gonna be a contrarian for a cheap laugh here— you could have tied up everything in the Boo arc much more adeptly and not have lost a single bit of the magic, and at times a lot of the charm fell flat because it wasn't fleshed out to its maximum potential. So from that standpoint, it's really an "along for the ride" kind of story.
Cell was indeed better. I even like that Vegeta made the mistake of letting Cell power up because, again, I adore that sort of alien "I only want a challenge, not necessarily victory" mindset that the Saiyans were said to have. I also adore exploring the consequences of such a mindset. It definitely took itself more seriously, but at least it felt like it needed to. What's more, it also brought back some elements from OG Dragon Ball, which is also nice. The Demon Realm was never explored properly in Dragon Ball, so Dabura's appearance felt wasted and we never learned much about what Majins are supposed to be or where they came from (which could have theoretically been a very useful plot device for defeating Majin Boo in the end, but what do I know).
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by TheZFighter » Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:28 am

I'm not big on the "Cell Games" part but otherwise I'm a big fan of Cell and Buu.
Z-Fighters fan.

Goku, Yamcha, Krillin, Tien, Chiaotzu, Yajirobe, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, Future Trunks, Android 18, Goten, Trunks and Majin Buu.

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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by Bebi Hatchiyack » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:33 pm

Wow Lord Beerus :o

I think I now have a new view about the Cell arc :shock:
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Re: Are Boo and Cell arc badly written stories in general?

Post by PFM18 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:52 pm

Lord Beerus wrote:
Ripper 30 wrote:
Lord Beerus wrote: I don't mind that Android/Cell is basically Terminator 2.0. I mean, if you're going to rip plot-threads from sci-fi movies, then I would actually say that the Terminator (the first two installment) are some of the best movies to do so.

My issue with the Android/Cell arc is that the character writing is horrendous (seriously, this aspect brings down the arc so much), the incorporation of Time Travel is awful and the Cell Games has an horrendous narrative. That's not to say that the arc doesn't have any great moments sprinkled in there. But I just think 70% of that arc is straight up garbage.
can you elaborate on those particular flaws?
I talk about the Android/Cell in detail this thread, but I'll just take the "positives" and "negatives" part of the review of that arc:
[spoiler]POSITIVES

The Set-Up (Most of it):
I love the debut of (Future) Trunks in both mediums. It’s grand, effective and caries that wonderful feeling mystery and intrigue that Dragon Ball doesn’t have most of the time. (Future) Trunks killing Freeza was something I previously had an issue with because I always felt it diminished Freeza’s characters as he was brought back to life just to be killed off again. But unlike that happening in Resurrection F, Freeza’s death actually adds weight to the plot because of the later reveal of (Future) Trunks warning of threat coming to Earth that’s even greater than he is. Freeza’s hasty demise actually works quite well in elevating the stakes of the narrative in fashion that feels constructive to adding drama, suspense and establishing (Future) Trunks as a character not to be looked over.

Cell:
Cell is a really good villain. And while I bemoan the inconsistency of his abilities, I can’t deny that he is very entertaining antagonist to watch. He initial incarnation feels like something straight out of a horror film. One moment he’s inflicting terror to thousands of people simultaneously and then when the cast tries to get the jump on him, he suddenly vanishes without a trace, as if he was never there to begin with. And he does this all the while getting stronger to ensure that he is successful with achieving his goal of “perfection”. And how he uses cunning and underhanded tactics to get one-up n the cast when he’s backed into a corner is so much fun to watch. It’s the kind of cat-and-mouse style of narrative that the early portions of the Freeza arc thrive on and I was so glad to see on back on full display in the early portions of the Cell arc.

I also greatly enjoy Cell’s evolution from an aesthetic and personality standpoint. How he turns from this hideous big/cicada like creature, to more toned down but still monster-ish looking being when he absorbs #17, to the finally more humanoid and presentable appearance he attains from absorbing #18. The dynamic of his characterisations changing along with physical appearance make Cell all the more unique of a villain. Going from the very cautious, sneaky, and calculating creature who as pragmatic in his approach to ensuring he had the easiest time in achieving his main goal of perfection, to the more thuggish, arrogant and exploitive character after he absorbs #17, to the more vain, sadistic, laid-back and battle hungry persona that dominated his mindset following the absorption of #18, and reaching the endpoint with him becoming completely deranged and egotistical after coming back to life with a huge influx of power, Cell displayed a wide variety of characteristics and that really helped sell the idea that he was truly a being composed of many of the central cast and other antagonists.

Cell was extremely ranged villain in every aspect, and this arc was so much better for it. It also helps that Norio Wakamoto was (and still is) fantastic as Cell.

Trunks:
I really enjoyed this character. And as much as I lament how he falls into the background after fighting #18, he remains relevant enough in the plot to not feel like disposable commodity. I loved his straight laced, no-nonsense, call-a-spade-a-spade, pragmatic way of thinking. I found his backstory to be the best Dragon Ball has ever produced for any character. And I take great enjoyment in knowing that he managed to get his happy ending, with him saving his world in his timeline by killing #17, #18 and Cell, because it was definitely earned.

Studio Cockpit:
I really can’t sing their praises enough. Any episode that is handled by them is spectacular in art-style and animation. Even episodes that may be lacking in content they can manage to bring to life through their stunning visuals. Episode 179 has one of the best looking fights the franchise has ever produced because of their hard work.

NEGATIVES

Bulma and Vegeta Having Trunks:
I don’t like the revelation of Bulma and Vegeta were Trunks’ parents. On one hand, it’s one hell of an effective plot twist. But on the other, the justification for Bulma hooking with Vegeta is just absurd. As someone who has watched the story from the beginning, there is no setup, indication or implication of Yamcha being promiscuous. You can buy the idea of Bulma being the "cheater" because there are way more hints of Bulma being more of a wanderer when it comes to partners than Yamcha is up until that point in the story. Bulma flirts or is shown to be attracted to many other guys that aren’t Yamcha in the story.

I can understand characters changing as they get older, but Yamcha being a cheater is such a jarring and out-of-context change in character that it can be really seen as character assassination for the sake of the plot happening and moving forward. It was like Toriyama knew that Bulma shacking up with Vegeta would absolutely ridiculous, but he knew he needed another Super Saiyan so he had to find some way for Bulma to dump Yamcha and get knocked up by Vegeta and not seem like a terrible person for doing such a thing. But Yamcha being the one unfaithful in his relationship with Bulma? No. I can’t buy that for a second. It just feels wrong.

How Goku Escaped Namek:
I don’t like the explanation on how got off Namek before it exploded. Funny enough, when the anime tries to add some rationale to this, it creates more issues. In the anime version of events, after Goku not being able to operate Freeza’s spaceship, one of the Ginyu Forces space-pods was just conveniently falling down into the planet’s core to be swallowed up by the magma along with Freeza’s spaceship and Goku quickly jumped into, pressed some random buttons and escaped the planet. Now there’s just one problem with all of this… IT NEVER FUCKING HAPPENED.

Remember Freeza’s ship? Yeah, after Goku realised he couldn’t get that to function during the climax of the Freeza arc, he abandoned it and that thing fell right into the core of Planet Namek and was swallowed up by magma. That ship was destroyed. And right after that, the last thing we see before Namek is explodes is Goku yelling in fury over the fact he couldn’t escape Namek before it explodes. Are you telling me that after Goku screamed in anger from not being able to escape Namek, he saw one of the space pods that the Ginyu Force used, managed to operate it and escaped from Namek just before it was destroyed, all in the space of less than a few seconds? Yeah… no. I don’t buy any of that.

Goku surviving Namek must go down as one of the biggest narrative fumbles in all of Dragon Ball. It’s terrible from storytelling perspective as it just makes Goku desperate situation of trying not get find a way of escaping Namek before it blew up seem far less of a serious matter and more of a minor inconvenience for him. And it’s also a major oversight as it effectively rewrote the ending of the Freeza arc.

Time Travel:
Now let’s talk about time travel. Long story short… this arc butchers this plot device…. horribly.

Let’s break it down.

(Future) Trunks warns that cyborgs #19 and #20 (yes, he says this in the manga) will be unleashed onto the world in three years and bring about the apocalypse. Fast forward three years, and that’s what happens in story. No problems so far. But shit gets confusing when (Future) Trunks travels back to three years after he first travelled back in time and after seeing the dismembered head of #19, he wonders what kind of cyborgs the cast are fighting as he doesn’t recognise the face of #19. Despite him being one of the very cyborgs (Future) Trunks previously mentioned were going to killing everyone and destroy the world. (Future) Trunks then hypothesizes that perhaps going back in time more than once changed history. And that makes no damn sense. Why? Because the story later states that when (Future) Trunks went back in time, he didn’t go back in time in his own timeline. He went back in time to a completely different timeline where any actions he has, regardless of how many times he goes back the past, has no effect on what happens to the future of his timeline. And yet (Future) Trunks’ future changes when it shouldn’t. And now instead of #19 and #20 causing the mayhem in his future, it’s #17 and #18. Hell, (Future) Trunks even provides a very detailed and accurate description of what cyborgs #17 and #18 look like. So (Future) Trunks timeline has his history radically altered when it shouldn’t have been changed in the slightest.

And then in comes Cell… who somehow manages to make the time travelling shenanigans even more confusing. He states he’s from a timeline when #17 and #18 don’t exist and were mostly like destroyed by (Future) Trunks, and that he killed the Trunks in his timeline, stole his time machine (which was already set to travel back to three years in the past) and went back to the past. None this make any sense for several reasons. How did the Trunks of that timeline mange to take care of the cyborgs of Cell’s timeline? But more importantly, as Piccolo hypothesised, why was Trunks in Cell’s timeline planning to go back to three years to the past and tell the main cast that he had destroyed the cyborgs in that timeline? It wouldn’t matter. Trunks would be travelling back to a completely different timeline. Anything he changes in Cell’s timeline wouldn’t have any effect on the timeline he travels back to the past to. The Cyborgs would still exist in that timeline. At least according the story’s own logic that what happens in one timeline wouldn’t affect what occurs in another timeline.

But then things get really fucked up with Cell expositional backstory in conjunction with what happens in the main story. Krillin and Trunks (in the main timeline) find Dr Gero’s secret basement, destroy his supercomputer which is creating Cell and kill Cell in his infant stage of growth. So what happened in the timeline that Cell comes from (who killed Trunks and stole time machine), where Trunks and Krillin destroy Dr Gero’s supercomputer and kill Cell while he’s still growing? How did that event not still happen in Cell’s timeline? Did history get altered again from Trunks travelling back in time on the second occasion? Well… that wouldn’t make much because the action of just traveling back in time, in Cell’s scenario, changes nothing as he still dies while he is growing in Gero’s secret basement in the main timeline. Why didn’t history get altered when Cell travelled back in time? Does changing the flow of events only happen when Trunks uses the time machine? But this begs an even larger and more important question… how does Cell exist? He came back in time one year before Trunks did in the first occasion Trunks travelled back in time because Cell needed the extra three years to stay beneath the Earth to evolve from an egg into his fully-grown bio-android. So what event(s) lead to Cell’s timeline being created?

This is why a lot of stories don’t like having their foundations based on time travel because it’s a plot device that is incredibly easy to fuck up. And if you fuck it up, it can lead to the structure of the narrative crumbling. Inconsistencies can emerge, plot holes can be created, and continuity errors could unintentionally wreck your story. And unfortunately, this isn’t something that can be swept under the run as in the Cell arc, the concept of time travel is the driving force of the narrative. Because without time travel being implemented, the story can’t work. But the implementation of time travel is so inconsistent. The rules constantly change. History is altered when it shouldn’t be altered. Information passed on that turns out to false when it should be true. We’re presented with a scenario where just travelling back in time can alter not only the history on the original timeline but can create a branching timeline where that history is altered in the same way in some part as the original timeline. And yet this rule is trampled on immediately when it’s later discovered that changing the past in one timeline wouldn’t alter the history of another timeline despite the fact that apparently all of the timelines ARE connected. Or do the timelines become separate entities after a while? The story falls apart instantly if you spend more than 60 seconds thinking about how time travel is incorporated in the Cell arc.

Am I making this whole situation more confusing than it appears to be at face value? Or it this just already really confusing, and my dissection of this is making me even more confused about it? Either way, it’s a clusterfuck. I have no fucking idea how time travel works in an arc where the initial centerpiece for the narrative evolving is based solely on time travel. And that’s a big fucking problem. Look, I love what Akira Toriyama has mostly done for Dragon Ball. But his writing is not infallible. In my opinion, his handling of time travel, in narrative sense, was horrific.

Vegeta:
I hated Vegeta in this arc. Hated him, hated him, hated him. He was insufferable in this arc. Throughout this arc, Vegeta was constantly angsting about Goku. He always seemed to be moaning and complaining about how strong Goku was compared to him, and it just became intolerable. It doesn’t help that his rivalry with Goku is one-sided. But it wasn’t just Goku, anytime that any other character was stronger than him, he would throw a bitch fit and start brooding over it. Best exemplified when stood on the edge of cliff for three fucking days after he got his ass handed to him by #18.

His attitude in this arc is why I didn’t care about his angry outburst and attack against Cell when he killed Trunks. Most of the story spent so much time hammering into your head that Vegeta is a self and unrepentant bastard to everyone, that him suddenly want to avenge Trunks is so jarring. There’s no build up to moment. Vegeta had displayed his resentment towards Trunks anytime they interact that I can’t get invested into any arbitrary 180 of Vegeta’s personal perspective towards Trunks.

From throwing ki blasts at a cyborg that he knows can absorb energy, to constantly having delusions into thinking he can beat Cell, to allowing Cell to play him like a fiddle, to acting like spoil child whenever someone else was more powerful than him… Vegeta just drags down the arc so much when he gets significant screentime. The only time Vegeta became tolerable to me was at the very end of the arc when apologizes to Gohan for being a liability in battle.

I know Vegeta is a colossal asshole. That’s his gimmick and character. But he doesn’t need to be irritating. Remember the Freeza arc? Yeah, Vegeta was an asshole in that arc, but he also was a more well-rounded character. The mark of good antagonist is someone you don’t like, but you ultimately want to see more of them. I didn’t like Vegeta’s actions on Namek but his character was so much better handled that I was eager to see what Vegeta would do next. In the Cell arc, I hated what Vegeta was doing but I also despised his character to the point where I didn’t want to see him again. And no, it wasn’t in the “love to hate” kind of way. It was in the “get off my screen, I don’t want to see again” kind of way. Vegeta in this arc had, what wrestling fans would call, “Go away heat”.

Gohan:
What the fuck was going on with this guy in this arc? He just fades away from the plot after the #19 and #20 arrive. Then gets suddenly thrusted into the main spotlight in the cumulative battle against Cell, and we’re supposed to believe this is going to be his passing of the torch moment. Yeah, I’m sorry, but fuck that noise. If this is the arc that marks the period in which that Gohan is meant to assume the role as central character, you have to have him featured more predominately in the arc in a significant sense when the cyborgs arrive, or at the very least, give him more screen time. You can’t have somebody who you want to have as the main character sit out 90% of the arc that supposed to act as the starting point for them becoming the main character. It’s just bad storytelling.

Then when it comes to him actually fighting Cell, his characterisation is just so off. He states he doesn’t want to kill Cell and thinks his fight against him is pointless. I’m sorry, but… what? Gohan is a character that has shown on so many occasions that he’s been more than willing to thrust himself into battle and fight to kill should the opportunity call for it. He put himself in harms ways against Vegeta, Nappa, Freeza’s soldiers, the Ginyu Force and Freeza himself because he knew what the stakes were and what needed to be done. He even personally insisted on going to Namek, even when he knew of the possible dangers and threats. Hell, him training with Goku in the Room of Spirit and Time and was centred around him preparing for the opportunity in fighting Cell.

There was no indication prior to him fighting Cell that he had any qualms about killing if it was absolutely necessary. What lead to him suddenly having this pacifism when confronting Cell? For Gohan to go through this kind of major character development, especially in story that is centred around fights that sometimes go to the death, you have to provide the context of when, how and why Gohan went through this kind of change in personality. It’s the same deal with how Gohan acts like a sadist when he’s a SSJ2. Give the reader the proper build-up. Or else you create the idea that Gohan is acting out of character. And unfortunately, that’s the only conclusion I can come to regarding Gohan’s attitude during the Cell Games. He goes right back to stating he want to beat Cell when the Cell Jrs start attacking Goku and the rest of the cast, it’s obvious that characteristic was thrown in for the sake of the plot. Gohan’s mentality shifting to not wanting to kill Cell had no bearing on his character because Gohan goes right back to wanting to defeat Cell.

The Cyborgs:
Conceptually speaking, I hate what the cyborgs represent. They’re inserted into the plot because they’re monstrously strong, which is fine, but then you find out that there were created under the pretences of character who had no idea about what Super Saiyan is. And #16, #17 and #18 are far stronger than Super Saiyans. This has always been personal pet peeve of mine because this absolutely murders any kind of mystique Freeza's character had. Freeza was by no means this unbelievable force of nature that should be reckoned with in the universe. He was ultimately just a big fish in a small pond. As an old, very intelligent, but also mad scientist in a cave with a box of scraps, with no idea of how strong Freeza is, can somehow create cyborgs that are far stronger than Freeza ever wished he could have been. It makes Freeza look like the luckiest character ever. Because if Dr Gero had decided to carry out his plan sooner, and on a scale as large as Freeza, Freeza and his army would have been no match for him.

And in terms of personality, most of the cyborgs are very flat and one note in characterisation. Gero/#20 is a generically evil as they come, #19 has no character, #18 displays a little personality before turning into the stock tsundere female character, and #16 is the most haphazardly written of the lot. His character is that he like bird and nature, which would be good but doesn’t lead to anything for him development wise as he still provides the strong implication that once Cell is take care off, he’s going to kill Goku, as he was programmed to do. I don’t why the writing for #16 is so indecisive.

If the story wanted to portray #16 in a more positive light to make his death more tragic, then it should’ve spent some time giving the context for why he suddenly grew accustomed to birds and nature in general but still had the capacity to retain his original purpose of killing Goku. I think it would have served as better character development for him to come to love life on Earth and then somehow override his programming to become capable of abandoning his original purpose of killing Goku. I mean, if you’re not going to give some backstory on the affinity that #16 has with nature, at least utilize it fully to properly develop #16. As it stands, #16 just feel like a really half-arsed character.

#17 is without a doubt the most interesting out of all the cyborgs. He has more of a personality out of being just stoic and acting cool. He’s prideful in battle, acts leisurely in his goals and has a degree of honour for his opponents.

The Final Battle Against Cell:
Oh boy, what a clusterfuck the home stretch of the battle against Cell is.

Let’s start off with the idea of Gohan fighting Cell. From a narrative standpoint, this fight doesn’t work… at all. Gohan doesn’t even know what Cell looks like, let alone have an idea of what he can do in combat. So what am I supposed to get out Gohan beating up Cell? What relationship does Gohan have with Cell that supposed to make the feeling of Cell being brought down a peg by him feel so cathartic or satisfying? And this lead to another issue regarding Gohan’s battle with Cell: what served as Gohan rage breaking point.

Now don’t get me wrong, the moment itself where Gohan becomes a SSJ2 is visually spectacular. But it’s incredibly narratively shallow. Remember Gohan's reaction after Piccolo died saving his life in the Saiyan arc? That was emotional because Gohan at least got the chance to build a relationship with Piccolo to make the moment he died feel more relatable, genuine and powerful. Remember when Goku became SSJ for the first time? That was a powerful moment because you knew prior to that moment just how much Goku's friendship with Krillin meant to him because of how close they were depicted to be and how they reacted to each other deaths the first-time round. Gohan was watching his family and friends he trained and grew up with getting beaten to death at the Cell Games by the Cell Jrs and it doesn't affect him other than making him grit his teeth harder. Yet a random cyborg that Gohan that doesn't know on any other level, other than he cares for all living beings on life, a viewpoint all of the Z-Fighters, excluding Vegeta, at that time also shared, dies in front of him and suddenly that makes Gohan snap and go over the edge? I just can’t buy into that.

I feel that a proper relationship needed to be built between the two characters to justify Gohan reacting the way he did when #16 was killed. It just helps the moment feel more raw and believable. To me, it just felt like Toriyama needed an excuse for Gohan to become a SSJ2 and he threw in that speech from #16 just so that the moment could happen. All we knew about #16 prior to him giving the speech to Gohan is that kinda liked birds. That's it. #16 even reminds Goku that he was built to kill told him not to forget that. So that whole "#16 cares about all living things" characteristic kinda feel even more contrived. If Toriyama spent more time developing #16's character and building a more believable relationship between Gohan and #16, the moment Gohan became a SSJ2 for the first time would have been perfect. So while the fact that Cell crushed #16’s head after his speech served as an avenue for him tapping into true power is a great moment on it’s surface level, there is no foundation to it. That moment from a storytelling perspective means nothing because Gohan barely know who the fuck Android 16 was beyond the fact he was built to kill Goku and that loved birds, trees and animals. He of all people shouldn't be the trigger for Gohan's SSJ2 moment because there is no emotional connection between the two of them.

But what follows Gohan becoming a SSJ2 is even worse. Cell regurgitates #18… because why not? Then Cell reveals he can blow himself up… because why not? Then in moment of heroism Goku teleports Cell just he’s about to explode to Kaio-sama’s planet and saves the Earth. In perfect world, the Cell arc ends right there. But for some reason, the story must continue. And Cell manages to come back to life through a major narrative fuck up. Turns out the core in his head survived the explosion and Cell was able to regenerate from it. But there's only one tiny problem… Cell’s core was already destroyed! Remember when Goku blasted Cell at point blank range with that Teleportation Kamehameha? That destroyed the top half of his body, which coincidentally, destroyed his core. Which just raises the further question of how Cell manged to regenerate from that attack from Goku.

What really rubs the up the wrong way about this is whole contrived affair is how it blatantly artificially extends the plot. Cell didn’t need to come back to life. Goku’s sacrifice didn’t have to become meaningless, and Future Trunks didn’t need to die as a result of Cell’s resurrection. You have the arc just end with Goku, Cell and Kaio-sama, Bubbles dying and that would have been a perfectly suitable ending. Yes, we wouldn’t have had the Gohan/Ghost Dad and Cell Kamehameha beam clash, but you know what, I could have certainly lived without it. Nothing was gained from Cell arbitrarily returning to the plot. Because he just ends up being killed in literally the next episode/chapter. It’s a pointless and haphazard narrative choice that retroactively raises more questions surrounding the plot, while also unnecessarily stretching out a story that was already barren with content. Nothing about Cell coming back to life feels like a natural sequence of events. It just feels like something that had to happen… because why not? And honestly, that’s just bad storytelling. The whole sequence itself really feels like padding when you look back it.

Character Moments With No Purpose:
You know, it’s one thing if character has a moment in the story that a had little build up but didn’t lead to anything. That’s always disappointing. But what even worse is when a character has a moment in a story which has no build up, leads to nothing a and can conflict with their established character. The Cell arc has so moments like this.

Goku giving a senzu is the fucking nadir of a character moment with no purpose. Look, I get it, Goku likes a good fight. And he’s willing to spare or give assistance to his rivals when he know there’s not a threat. But he’s never gone to the extent where he willingly aids his opponent in restoring their full strength. Especially before a fight that determines the fate of the planet, and even more so against an opponent that he has no idea of how strong he is. It just seems like such a gross overexaggeration of Goku’s character in regard to how much he would put a good fight over everything and anything else. Thank God Piccolo calls him out on this, but it was a still a horrible moment for Goku’s character. But more than it being stupid, it was unnecessary for the plot. If Cell was still feeling tired, as Goku claims he was, when he goes on to fight Gohan, would that have made difference to how their fight would have transpired? It’s highly unlikely. Especially since Cell wasn’t even using all of strength to fight Goku in the first place. So Goku giving Cell a senzu served no narrative purpose and painted Goku in a horrible light. It’s the most unlikable has been portrayed in Dragon Ball, in my opinion. And it didn’t need to be this way.

Speaking of painting characters in a bad light… let’s talk about Krillin. Now I understand that Krillin is most “human” character of the cast. His reactions, his personal goals and his perspective of events, in my opinion, the most relatable. But one of his most admirable traits is his pragmatism. His acknowledgement of what needs to be done, when there are many lives at stake. That’s why Krillin not shutting down #18 just comes across as really jarring. As I’ve stated, Krillin know to be very pragmatic and actually quite good in his decision making during critical times. Remember when he was about to kill Vegeta when he was weak and couldn't defend himself in the Saiyan arc and prevent him from coming back to harm Earth? The exact polar opposite happened in Cell arc with him not shutting down #18 when he knew very well what the stakes were and would happen if Cell absorbed #18. He literally put the world in grave danger for one woman he affection. Did it not cross his mind that once #18 is gone, they could simply bring her back to life? The icing on the cake is how cold and abrasive #18 acts towards Krillin when it’s revealed to her Krillin took care of her after Cell spat her out and even when Krillin wishes to remove the bomb from inside her. Yes, I know they end up together, but taking this moment in regards with the self-contained aspect of the Cell arc, it’s moment that has no payoff and purpose. Hell, how they end up together is never elaborated on. And like Goku giving Cell a senzu, it puts Krillin’s character in a more unflattering perspective given how he tried to persuade the cyborgs to leave Goku alone, but then turn around and acts in a fashion that not only puts Goku’s life risk, but the lives of billions of people. And then, after witnessing Vegeta attacking Trunks while he was trying to prevent Cell from absorbing #18 and becoming perfect, Krillin has the goddamned nerve calling the Vegeta stupid. It’s an absurdly hypocritical statement to make given that Krillin just endangered the Earth over his one-side affection for a cyborg. Where does Krillin think he has the high moral ground to call out other people for putting their selfish requests above the consideration of billions of lives? You might as well have not had this side plot of deactivating #18 because it has no consequences on the plot as #18 is absorbed anyway. If you’re going to have side character who can’t do much physically in the plot and you want them to contribute in other ways, that perfectly fine. Just have it mean something.

Two more case of character moments that serve no purpose include Tien and Trunks. Tien’s Kikoho to Cell looked pretty good, but again, it severed not purpose because #18 doesn’t follow Tien’s advice of getting away as far as possible and Cell still very shortly after that moment absorbs #18. So why was Tien thrown into the plot if his actions would no effect on the plot? It’s the same deal with Trunks abandoning his conviction of offending Vegeta’s pride and showing how much stronger he is and fighting Cell with an even more buffed SSJ form. Trunks could have fought Cell in the SSJ form he had before he powered up again, and it would have been the same kind of fight. On top of this, why Trunks is so concerned with hurting Vegeta’s pride by showing how much stronger he’s gotten? Trunks has already shown that he willing to discard his paternal links given that he’s aware how much of a bad person Vegeta is and how he’s even stated that he’d kill him if it meant saving the world. If the character moment doesn’t lead to anything in the story arc it happens in, don’t bother having it. It’s just a fluff. And not even constructive fluff like Goku searching for a new God of Earth.

Piccolo’s scenario with fusing with Kami is probably the most tragic of all in the entire arc. The story gave the impression that him fusing with Kami was a huge moment for his placing in the power hierarchy and how this would affect his character. Which is why I presume that whole “When do you think I became your friend? I’m a demon!! I’m merely using you to take over the world!!” bullshit happened. After Piccolo fuses with Kami, he skirmishes with Cell and only ‘loses’ because Cell get the slip on him with some trickery, and even “outsmarts” Cell to get some information out of him. Then Piccolo faces #17, and it’s downhill from there. His fight with #17 is boring and ending quickly in an stalemate that doesn’t get a proper conclusion as Cell strolls back into the plot breaks Piccolo’s neck with one punch and nearly kills him with a blast to the chest at point blank range. All that build-up of Piccolo fusing with Kami and nothing fundamentally changes about Piccolo and his immense power-up is quickly swept under the rug. And just to twist the knife a little, the moment that lead to Piccolo getting curb stomped in battle, was all down to a moment of uncharacteristic foolishness, with Piccolo pointlessly powering up before he fight’s #17, even though he didn’t need to, knew that Cell can sense energy and knew that Cell was looking to absorb the artificial humans to become much stronger. But then again, Piccolo is no stranger to doing stupid shit for the sake of it, like when he wished to go to Namek. And if that wasn’t enough, just to piss on Piccolo a little more because why the fuck not, after recovers from nearly being killed by Cell, Piccolo trains for a day (a year) in the Room of Spirit and Time, and he gains nothing from it. He might as well have not gone inside in the first place as he even acknowledges that he still has no chance against Cell. Goku’s flippant response to Piccolo inquiry about his growth in power compared to Cell is the icing on the cake.[/spoiler]
It is crazy how so few people can take an objective view of DBZ. People just put it on a pedestal as though it can do no wrong and then they micro-analyze every little detail of the DBS series and bash it into pieces for things as though similar problems weren't had in DBZ.

Good for you Lord Beerus for not being one of those people!

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