You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

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You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Zestanor » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:36 pm

For those who watched DBZ dubbed first into English before the original Dragon Ball anime, was there some confusion about characters like Oolong, Puar, and Karin, who are bizarre non-humans with no real explanation given for their presence? Or even Yamcha, Tenshinhan, and Chaozu: did you have a sense that the show wanted you to care about these characters and their deaths (they went to Namek for these guys!) for no particular reason?

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Polyphase Avatron » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:02 pm

I always figured there was a backstory behind them that we just didn't see. When Toonami started showing Dragonball, that suspicion was confirmed.

One thing about the world that did confuse me a lot in the early days was that I wasn't sure if it was supposed to take place in the past (because there were dinosaurs) or in the future (because there was all of this advanced technology). Only later did I figure out that it was a complete fantasy world unrelated to RL Earth.
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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Zestanor » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:08 pm

I guess the 'offscreen backstory' thing isn't so foreign to western audiences. Lord of the Rings for one was a sequel to a book that was only published twenty years later. The mysterious references to the Silmarillion in LOTR when first published had the effect of evoking a sense of a grand and expansive world, but that was a happy coincidence. The backstory was intended to be read first!

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by TheGreatness25 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:53 pm

As a kid, I kind of absorbed everything and got invested into the characters simply by them talking. I just accepted that Kurilin was Goku's best friend and that Roshi was Goku's master where there was mutual love and admiration. I also accepted that Piccolo was Goku's sworn enemy before Raditz showed up, even though all we had to go by was that little bit of dialog in the second episode. It's amazing how a kid's mind could just absorb and accept anything when it wants to.

As for Puerh and Oolong, I don't think that the surprise of seeing talking animals is any more unusual than being exposed to it in Dragon Ball.

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by MyVisionity » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:32 pm

The animal characters did not seem bizarre to me because it's a cartoon. As for the Z-senshi and their relationships, I pretty much just went along with it. It wasn't particularly confusing or complicated in my view.

I guess it helps that I was aware of the '95 dub that had aired a few years earlier, and even though I hadn't watched it, knowing that there was some kind of backstory made a difference.

Additionally, it wasn't long after I started watching that I began reading about the franchise over the Internet. So it was never some kind of big mystery to me.

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by KBABZ » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:05 pm

I feel like any good story should be able to draw you in and be understandable and compelling on a base level despite you coming in during the middle of it (with the understanding that important stuff happened earlier). In the case of Dragon Ball, it works very well on that front, and if anything important from the past shows up you usually get a line or two establishing what it is and why it's important (such as Oozaru becoming relevant again for Gohan and Vegeta).

That being said, the story is designed to be watched from the actual beginning, and in the case of Z it lends a lot of weight to characters like Yamcha, Tien, Roshi, Bulma and especially Krillin and Piccolo who have much deeper relationships with Goku than you might guess based off of what you see of them in Z. I also feel that watching OG DB really sets in that Goku is an oddball, and when he becomes an adult he continues that by being a goofy kid in a man's body who knows when to get serious.

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by ABED » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:19 pm

Granted my level of understanding of storytelling wasn't what it is now as I was 11/12 when I first saw DBZ, but so many characters having died off screen didn't sit right to me as normal backstory. I knew there was something we were missing. Even though the internet was new at the time, I was able to find Curtis Hoffman's manga summaries and confirm my suspicions.

I was never confused since DB is sufficiently simple, it just bothered me that we were missing so much.
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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Yuli Ban » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:29 pm

OK.
Raditz is this hair-metal looking monkey man who can slap someone through a house with his tail, one-shot the protagonist, kidnapped his 4-year-old son, and told the protagonist to kill every single man, woman, and child on the planet or else. That's actually a really shocking opening because it doesn't lollygag; it throws you right into the action.
Except that's not where Z started. Unless you count the filler opener, the very first main character we see in Dragon Ball Z is Piccolo. We have absolutely nothing to suggest he's evil because he tries to stop the guy who just killed an innocent farmer. Then we see Piccolo again and it turns out everyone is afraid of him......? Why? Who is Piccolo? Why is his appearance making the day so much worse? Are the senshi just dicks? Oh, so apparently he has a history with Goku and the two teaming up is shocking? How is it shocking? When did they fight before? Why didn't we see it? Will it ever be referenced? Apparently not!

I was 9 years old and I still thought "Huh?"
Seriously, I know that Z has always been more popular— that's fine, a lot of things take their time to hit their stride either in quality or popularity— but I just don't understand why there was no attempt to market DB better and treat both series as one gradually evolving product. It's not like the "Dragon Ball" section of the story was embarrassing, low quality, and completely nonindicative of what's to come. It's not like Pantera where they want the world to forget they were a glam metal band and have effectively erased that chunk of their history from their image and character.

Imagine if Harry Potter tore up the British world all throughout the '90s and very early 00s, but the first Harry Potter movie released worldwide was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and thus casual international fans thought this was the start of the series and that the three previous books were just "optional comedic prequels". That's essentially what happened to Dragon Ball. At the same time, Dragon Ball is one of the only major IPs where you could start in the middle and still understand what's happening. Toriyama was literally making up the story as he went along and you pretty much had to consider forgotten/retconned any plot device, character, or arc that hasn't appeared in more than 4 volumes. This is the same guy who forgot he had a tournament referee ¡¡in the middle of that same tournament arc!!

Still, as a writer, it does bother me that the franchise is all but forced to start at the halfway mark for much of the world. It's just so damn hard to communicate how much it bothers me, even though I regularly abuse and shit all over what I've written and put on an air that I don't care how it's portrayed. There's just this divide between "Yeah, this story is basically a pastiche of other people's ideas" and "I'm fine with another country completely butchering my story just to get to the 'good' part." Toriyama may not care as much, but I do. It just feels... wrong.

And when you go through the entire series as one thing, a lot of that argument that "everything changed the moment Raditz arrived" falls apart. Tonally, Dragon Ball was already "Z" by the 22nd tenkaichi budokai. By the 23rd tenkaichi budokai, you are literally watching Dragon Ball Z, but it's still called "Dragon Ball."



I think the perception that Dragon Ball Z doesn't have a good story stems from the fact most viewers started at what's literally the midway point of a series. Going back to Harry Potter again, if you started with Goblet of Fire, you'd probably think nothing makes any sense and that characters are acting so out of place. Why do Ron and Hermione put up with Harry's shit? Why does everyone believe Harry Potter could do it but was arrogant for trying? Why is Harry doing this? Why is Voldemort doing this? That's never explained because the previous three books already explained it. But if you doggedly refuse to read the "optional comedic prequels", it's not the series' fault that the story makes no sense.
Same deal here. Yamcha being killed was turned into a meme because it was literally the first thing so many people saw him do in the series, and yet he was built up as being this epic and proud warrior. In a normal story, that's funny. Pride cometh before a fall. People who'd been following Dragon Ball since the start were shocked and saddened and didn't treat it as a joke because Yamcha genuinely was a badass who tried his best. Chaotzu... died. Oh. Okay, who? Tenshinhan sacrificed himself, and that's pretty epic, but if you're a first time viewer, you're just watching some generic kung fu warriors job to two techno-monkeys until Goku arrives to save the day.
There's a certain over-the-top charm to it because you're essentially thrown into a generic kung fu cartoon but all of a sudden these spiky-haired monkey men are shaking the entire planet with their power and KILLING PEOPLE AND BLOWING UP CITIES AND OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE COOLEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE
So you don't care about those story incongruencies, at least when you're 10 years old.

Go online and see how many people say they tried to get into Dragon Ball Z when they were older and just couldn't do it (and this includes, perhaps predominantly, anime fans who are used to watching Japanese children's cartoons). Ask them why and if it's not a "Seinfeld is Unfunny" situation (where everything Dragon Ball does has been done by other shows, perhaps even better), it's almost always because they couldn't follow the story and don't know that it's like loading up a 50% save file in a video game you just bought brand new.


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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Vijay » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:41 am

Well, I didnt felt that way.

I started off with GT, and needless to say, it was all abt Gou wanking. But strangely, I didnt give a flyin fck abt Goku let alone anyone

Then, watched DBZ.And felt...I was HOME. This was the show.

Just as in real life...the past didnt mattered. Only the present and what's in-store for future kept DBZ...or at least its story moving forward.

I never cared abt how Krilin, Piccolo or Tien became Goku's friends...when I watched all of them giving their all @ Frieza Arc & Cell Arc. Thats what it is.

But somehow...just out of curiosity, watched og DB & it changed perception of characters 180 degrees lol :P :P :P

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Gaffer Tape » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:12 am

In regards to your specific examples, there certainly were things to piece together, like who Karin was and why he lived in this tower that was really high in the air but below this other floating structure. The nature of Kami and Piccolo would be danced around a few times in the first two seasons but was still a bit odd. The one that stuck out to me a lot regarding them was Blooma's flashback to the Namekian language. I wondered who in the world that ordinary-looking guy was and why he knew Piccolo's language. Was he some kind of scientist? Or archeologist?

Tenshinhan and Chaiotzu were a bit difficult to get a bead on. Their introduction was simply Yamcha saying, "I'm glad you two were called up (to training)." So what their relationship was to anybody, or if they were just known by reputation, was unknown to me, although as Tenshinhan recognizes Gohan as Goku's son, that implied they knew each other. Yamcha, however, wasn't a problem. Dragon Ball Z (re)introduces him very well, and, unlike with Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu, those scenes weren't cut in the dub. He's mentioned in the very first episode. We see his career and learn of his frustrations. We see his interactions with three of the characters closest to him (Pu'erh, Kuririn, and Blooma). So he's established very, very completely and satisfactorily.

The only problem I remember with him, though, is related more to simply not catching every episode as it aired. I certainly remember at least one friend assuming he was Goku's brother due to relatively similar features and outfits. But that's not something you could classify as a fault of skipping to Z.
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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by SuperSaiyaManZ94 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:17 am

Gaffer Tape wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:12 am
In regards to your specific examples, there certainly were things to piece together, like who Karin was and why he lived in this tower that was really high in the air but below this other floating structure. The nature of Kami and Piccolo would be danced around a few times in the first two seasons but was still a bit odd. The one that stuck out to me a lot regarding them was Blooma's flashback to the Namekian language. I wondered who in the world that ordinary-looking guy was and why he knew Piccolo's language. Was he some kind of scientist? Or archeologist?

Tenshinhan and Chaiotzu were a bit difficult to get a bead on. Their introduction was simply Yamcha saying, "I'm glad you two were called up (to training)." So what their relationship was to anybody, or if they were just known by reputation, was unknown to me, although as Tenshinhan recognizes Gohan as Goku's son, that implied they knew each other. Yamcha, however, wasn't a problem. Dragon Ball Z (re)introduces him very well, and, unlike with Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu, those scenes weren't cut in the dub. He's mentioned in the very first episode. We see his career and learn of his frustrations. We see his interactions with three of the characters closest to him (Pu'erh, Kuririn, and Blooma). So he's established very, very completely and satisfactorily.

The only problem I remember with him, though, is related more to simply not catching every episode as it aired. I certainly remember at least one friend assuming he was Goku's brother due to relatively similar features and outfits. But that's not something you could classify as a fault of skipping to Z.
Yeah, that one scene where Bulma is thinking back to Kami-as-Shen (Hero) and Piccolo speaking Namekian at the 23rd Budokai while figuring out Kami's ship would indeed seem weird to someone who hadn't seen the original series especially in the 1996 dub. It was possible to make sense of the story somewhat, but generally the skipping over of Dragon Ball after episode 13 really left a large hole which FUNimation didn't get back to until 2001, and even then by that point a lot of people's introduction was of course through Z unlike in Japan where the original run aired in sequence over eleven years.

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by omegacwa » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:26 am

I don't recall being confused, but I definitely made up a lot of my own head canon to fill in the blanks.

The first Dragon Ball thing I can clearly remember seeing was a random episode of the Ocean Dub Vegeta Vs Goku fight or a fansub of movie 12 or 13 (loaned to me by a friend of mine who had Dragon Ball stickers all over his binder at school). At this point it was so long ago I can barely recall what I saw first.

But yeah. I filled in the blanks myself and never felt confused. The story was straight forward enough that even my guesses ended up being fairly accurate.

To this day I still bring up one of my funny thoughts on something. I downloaded a horrible quality fansub clip of Vegeta turning Super Saiyan for the first time off a random website in 1996 or so. The picture quality was so bad I thought it was happening at a World Tournament.

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Yuli Ban » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:32 pm

omegacwa wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:26 am
I don't recall being confused, but I definitely made up a lot of my own head canon to fill in the blanks.

The first Dragon Ball thing I can clearly remember seeing was a random episode of the Ocean Dub Vegeta Vs Goku fight or a fansub of movie 12 or 13 (loaned to me by a friend of mine who had Dragon Ball stickers all over his binder at school). At this point it was so long ago I can barely recall what I saw first.

But yeah. I filled in the blanks myself and never felt confused. The story was straight forward enough that even my guesses ended up being fairly accurate.
That's what I was trying to say, squeezing this paragraph down to about 2,000 words.
To this day I still bring up one of my funny thoughts on something. I downloaded a horrible quality fansub clip of Vegeta turning Super Saiyan for the first time off a random website in 1996 or so. The picture quality was so bad I thought it was happening at a World Tournament.
Was it a 64p video?
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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by omegacwa » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:01 am

Yuli Ban wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:32 pm
Was it a 64p video?
Probably 1p lol. I have no idea. This was in an age before anyone in the general public even knew what 1080p and so on meant.

The clip was very low quality and pixelated. Almost looked black and white.

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Dbzfan94 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:10 am

I started with Buu so the referecnes to Piccolo being evil and destroying the World Tournament had my younger self like huhh????

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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by Hellspawn28 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:28 pm

I do remember being a bit confused by the flashbacks of the 1996-1998 dub of DBZ and made me felt like I was missing out on another show. At the time, Dragon Ball was just being dub by the Funimation in 2001 and I had to find fan sub episodes of the first DB show to know what was going on.
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Re: You watched DBZ before DB and certain characters didn't make sense

Post by MasenkoHA » Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:53 pm

I think there was a general sense of “why should I care about these guys?” Yamcha, Oolong, Puar, Tien, and Chaotzu always just feel like they were just there

I guess Yamcha has the context of being Bulma’s boyfriend at least.

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