Yuli Ban wrote: ↑
Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:08 pm
Kunzait_83 wrote:People have their qualms with the Daimao arc, but I certainly wouldn't call it "objectively bad" by any stretch. For me, I've always argued that the 22nd Budokai all the way through the Namek arc is the single best uninterrupted stretch of the entire franchise.
Well no wonder. This part of the series follows the cycle of the Hero's Journey almost perfectly. It's xianxia in full while maintaining narrative cohesion (whereas plenty of wuxia and xianxia stories have a bad habit of continuing long after they start getting repetit— ohh.....)
Also, this is the part of the series that is essentially the cartoonier version of Yu Yu Hakusho. It's the point where Dragon Ball came into its own and started leaving its purely parodic gag roots behind.
In other words, Dragon Ball could have started with the 22nd tenkaichi budokai and ended with Son Goku's death on Namek and it would have been just as much of a fulfilling story. Everything else is essentially extra to Son's story arc, though that doesn't mean everything else is necessarily bad or useless— several story arcs were played out back in the original Dragon Ball quest/Pilaf arc and Gohan's story arc (my favorite in the series) wouldn't get started until most of Goku's story arc had already been done.
This represents what I think might be one of the biggest problems in Dragon Ball— Son Goku's story arc is essentially over. It's been over for decades. He was part of more stories, but Dragon Ball is no longer his story. Passing the torch to Gohan after Cell would have been the strongest move for the series. But Toriyama's decision against it and his decision to keep Goku as the lead brought us to where we are now. And the entire franchise is suffering because of it. We've had two attempted canon continuations that fell into the exact same problems, even if the second felt more faithful to the original work at times.
Perhaps in parallel of how, despite common belief, Journey to the West isn't about Sun Wukong.
ADD moment: There are several tests you can play to check the tensile strength of any story. For this particular rant, ask yourself this question: if you can take away a character, does their absence vitally affect the story and development of other characters? If you could reasonably rewrite a plot with this character appearing at all and giving other characters a better reason to appear, why not do so? For most of Dragon Ball after Cell, Goku has been largely peripheral despite dominating the screen. It was at its most atrocious in the Future Trunks arc, where you literally could have taken Goku out of the arc entirely (save as Goku Black) and the entire thing wouldn't have changed. Goku wasn't at all needed for any part of it past the first fight with Zamasu. Everything he did that actually mattered could have been done by someone else, and it would have made for a much stronger, much tighter arc for Future Trunks.
Of course, there was a third canon continuation of Dragon Ball, one which usually draws a lot of praise. That was Dragon Ball Online. In this case, almost everyone from DB is long since dead, little more than legends of an earlier time. There's no chance for Goku to hijack the story; it's entirely up to a new generation. Here is where new material for Dragon Ball can work. But alas, we're too far gone.
Ironically, Dragon Ball could have learned something from Naruto in this case— though it's a flawed show, the best thing about Boruto is that it's following a new generation's journey without wimping out and falling back on the more well-known and established characters from the first series. Dragon Ball could have pioneered that (though to be fair, I understand Toriyama's reluctance to keep it going long after he had tired of it; Tintin's creator expressed the same angst).
So I suppose that's the most annoying thing to come out of nü Dragon Ball— despite everything that has been written about Dragon Ball G(oku) T(ime) and having two decades to learn from its failure, Toei and Toriyama essentially made the exact same mistakes in HD.
I know I keep saying "But I'm arguing about literary theories in a cartoon series for 3-7 year-old Japanese boys," but if we're talking about actual functional problems with the franchise as a whole and why modern Dragon Ball can't seem to come anywhere close to the old stuff sans fanservicey homages, narrative issues always come first. At this point, we're essentially talking about "Zombie Ball Z" and are a part of a "Dead Goku Society" analyzing at which point Dragon Ball "died". I don't want to say it died when Goku returned from his battle with Freeza— arguably the most well-renowned part of the series (the Gohan vs. Cell fight) was still ahead of it. I think the problem is that there's not much of a point to it anymore.
Since Goku's arc is over but we still follow him around with no new arcs being created for him (the GoD arc doesn't seem to be going anywhere and we could assume as much thanks to Super taking place before the EoZ), Dragon Ball is essentially no different from American comic serials with the fatal flaw that other characters don't have their own series so the entire thing is being done through focus on Goku.
In which case, Dragon Ball Heroes might as well be the only continuation. It may be utterly stupid and without any arc whatsoever, but at least it's upfront about it.