Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

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Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by WittyUsername » Thu May 10, 2018 10:25 pm

I don’t know how people are going to react to this topic, if they react at all, but this is a question that’s been going through my head for a while now, and I’m genuinely curious as to what people think of this.

Let me just state for the record that I’m not inherently against raunchy humor. I get the appeal of it, and I can enjoy it myself at times, such as with movies like Deadpool. It’s also probably no secret that the early parts of Dragon Ball were honestly rather perverted.

With that being said, does the whole situation regarding the way that Bulma was heavily sexualized seem like it might’ve been crossing a line in hindsight, considering that the character was only 16 at the time? Was Toriyama going too far with the whole situation, especially when one of the characters who lusts after Bulma is an elderly man? Or is the whole thing perfectly fine on the grounds that it’s meant to be crude and silly?

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Logania » Thu May 10, 2018 10:44 pm

I find it very awkward, and I'm glad it doesn't happen as much as the series goes on.

Whether it's supposed to be raunchy and silly humor doesn't matter, it's not really enjoyable to watch to me like when she has no panties on and reveals herself to Roshi. Even if she was an adult it wouldn't change my views much.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by CriticalThinker » Thu May 10, 2018 10:47 pm

I myself am not that big a fan of fan service in most mediums so I never liked it all that much in regards to Bulma. Not that I'm totally against raunchy humour either it's just I never found the gags between Bulma or Roshi to be very funny. I think it crossed a line but some others probably don't think that.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by MyVisionity » Thu May 10, 2018 11:10 pm

I personally love all of the perverted humor found within the series, and think that it is part of its charm.

Does the sexualization of the characters, particularly a teenage Bulma cross any lines? I think so, definitely. However, within the context of the series itself I don't think that it is problematic. And I'm still able to enjoy watching it without feeling too awkward or uncomfortable. I find it easy to separate one part of my mind from the other I suppose you could say.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Shaddy » Thu May 10, 2018 11:17 pm

I don't mind sexualization of characters. People are sexual beings, and can be viewed both sexually and not. There is a such thing as objectification of women, and while Toriyama is kind of terrible at writing female characters, I'm not sure I'd put it quite at that level. Either way, sexy ladies are not the reason it happens nor are they strictly a direct result of such things, so again I'm not knocking it's existence. When it comes to sex appeal in anime, I prefer when it's equal-opportunity (even just on principle), and your mileage may vary if the muscular shirtless dudes grunting and punching each other counts for that, but in general the biggest issues I have with it's use in Dragon Ball is:

A. It's one joke, used over and over again, and it's not even funny. Roshi pervs on Bulma and something bad happens to him. Woo hoo. There's a point where it just feels completely detached from what's actually supposed to be happening, and it's like waking up from a fever dream once it's over. I don't mind fanservice either for gags or titillation if you actually get creative with it. Dragon Ball doesn't.

B. It's all non-consensual and creepy. I'm not one to judge others for what kind of fanservice they find appealing, but I find it way sexier if a girl is naked because she wants to be. Even if someone's still perving on her, I'd find it way more acceptable if she knew and just didn't care. As a side note, that part in the Namek saga where Bulma's just walking around the ship in her underwear? Hot as fuck.

C. It's not what I really look for in this kind of show. I guess this is a me issue, since it permeates a lot of Japanese shows and I should come to expect it more often than not, but when I sign on for a show like Dragon Ball or One Piece, I'm here for action, adventure, screaming, and silliness, so having things occasionally and suddenly move to dumb sexual comedy scenes is an awkward tonal shift at best, and the way it just forgets about it afterwards makes me confused as to what's even happening. If I want sex appeal in a show, I'll go find a show that's based around that. Even in action series, you still have stuff like Kill La Kill, where it's obvious there's gonna be tons of titty and booty on screen, but then I know that going in, and it's a major part of the show, so it's not a bizarre interruption so much as a weird fun fusion of fanservice and people beating the shit out of each other. And hey, the actual sexual abuse in that show comes off as creepy and wrong because it's supposed to!
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Thanos » Fri May 11, 2018 12:07 am

Maybe it's because I was exposed to Dragon Ball so early in life that I'm fully jaded to it, but it doesn't particularly bother me. Though technically 16, in no way is she depicted as being less than a grown woman. Her physical appearance (aside from outfits and haircuts) never really changes throughout the series, so it's not like there's some form of glorification on Toriyama's part of sexualizing children. He's clearly going for a "young woman" aesthetic in terms of Bulma's character. If you had switched her out for, say, Chi-Chi as she first appeared in her already-questionable attire, then yes, that would definitely be reprehensible. If I were Toriyama I might bump the age up a couple years, but this is a cartoon so it doesn't particularly matter. There's plenty of anime that have supposedly grown women who look like preteens with boobs. That would be something I'd consider probably more worth criticism. Not to mention... I've been out of the anime scene for about a decade, but isn't this a common trope? I seem to remember a number of series with sexualized underaged girls.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Saikyo no Senshi » Fri May 11, 2018 12:38 am

Hmm. I have been thinking about this myself a lot lately. I certainly have a changed opinion on this topic from before. I kind of, sort of found Toriyama's delivery of the Roshi gag funny before, but I think its cheap and tasteless humor ultimately. I'm fed up of sexual humor in anime/media in general. It is repetitive and boring and very rarely someone gets creative with it. It is also problematic for obvious reasons. So, yeah it would have been ideal if it was avoided, but I totally understand why it exists. It was 80s Japan and it was a totally different time and all that.

However, there is a point to be made. Blooma herself uses her sexuality to her advantage which thankfully fades away as the series progress. She even tries to do that against Goku and while you can argue that this should have never been a part of Blooma's character to begin with and I would end up agreeing. Yes, it should not have been, but it is what it is and that at the very least doesn't make it feel out of place. There's context to it.

Later on though, especially anime filler and it continues even in Z where Roshi shows up just to perv on not just Blooma but pretty much all the female characters is just straight up garbage and the worst mistake the anime staff did. Hell, even Super had to do that and it fucked up so bad.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by JulieYBM » Fri May 11, 2018 12:46 am

Nope. Blooma isn't a real person and exists only to do the impossible for creators and consumers of art. With someone like Blooma you can not only enjoy doing things you can't do in real life but you can do them from the perspective of being that character. I think Blooma represents the sort of perverted, twisted element that exists in all people, not just Toriyama, so from that perspective it's great not only seeing her whore herself out for things but also be on the losing end of some delinquent act.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by sintzu » Fri May 11, 2018 4:56 am

I don't care about it but it's not something I'd do again moving forward.

I think you have to keep in mind that it was written in a very different time (early 80s), the age of consent in Japan is younger than it is in the west, there are far worse things in anime now compared to it & it was just done for laughs in an animated show, it was never done to be taken seriously or to encourage people to do it in real life.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by coola » Fri May 11, 2018 5:43 am

On contrary, with all this political correctness, I'm glad Japan didn't mellow down, and pervy old man was, and still is one of characters that pop in anime from time to time and what happened to Bulma you can see in every high school girl slice of life/harem series :)
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by PsionicWarrior » Fri May 11, 2018 6:00 am

I never minded it lol
Just like Roshi's antics, it's the humorous aspect of the antithesis of wise venerated old man who turns out to be a perv, classic and overused but still funny lol

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by KBABZ » Fri May 11, 2018 6:34 am

Pretty much agreed, there's a reason I edited out all of the non-manga perv scenes in T1C, and they're surprisingly easy because, as mentioned, they're all Big Lipped Alligator Moments. This problem affects Roshi especially because after Daimao's defeat, he has nothing to do except worry over the fights or try to grope the female cast at literally the most inappropriate moments (like Bulma at Dende's Lookout). I also agree with the Alien-like underwear stuff on the way to Namek; it's a big egregious, but at the very least she's clearly consenting and comfortable (she certainly trusts Krillin not to shove his hands anywhere he pleases), so it isn't as "cover your mum's face" awkward as Roshi intentionally falling into her breasts when stepping out of a car. We shouldn't have to be putting up with that stuff, especially in a show ostensibly aimed at twelve year olds.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by FoolsGil » Fri May 11, 2018 7:38 am

Reading Dragonball while in puberty: No.

Reading Dragonball years later: Yes.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Fri May 11, 2018 9:29 am

I'm ambivalent about it. It does make me wince at certain moments and other times I'm fine with it. I still like moments such as when Bulma tries to use her femininity against Blue but it doesn't work because he prefers the company of men.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by BlazingFiddlesticks » Fri May 11, 2018 11:33 am

The gags that have no punch line beyond humiliating her never sat well with me, but on the whole the execution was pretty good, since it was either a means to a different end (Yamcha's finding her bathing being more about his bad timing and a funny introduction to his conundrum), a liberty a silly but ultimately inoffensive story is allowed to take ("Let me dress up sassy teenager in cute costumes, damn it!"), or brought on by Bulma herself since her being so consciousness of her appeal is a foundation of her character. I am glad the series dropped it early as it did, its a hard balance to hit (I think "Turtle Hermit Lingerie" was peak, anyway) and it got both more leery and canned as it went on.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by 8000 Saiyan » Fri May 11, 2018 11:56 am

I'm with ABED on this one. I'm ambivalent about it.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Exline » Fri May 11, 2018 3:23 pm

Shaddy wrote:I don't mind sexualization of characters. People are sexual beings, and can be viewed both sexually and not. There is a such thing as objectification of women, and while Toriyama is kind of terrible at writing female characters, I'm not sure I'd put it quite at that level. Either way, sexy ladies are not the reason it happens nor are they strictly a direct result of such things, so again I'm not knocking it's existence. When it comes to sex appeal in anime, I prefer when it's equal-opportunity (even just on principle), and your mileage may vary if the muscular shirtless dudes grunting and punching each other counts for that, but in general the biggest issues I have with it's use in Dragon Ball is:

A. It's one joke, used over and over again, and it's not even funny. Roshi pervs on Bulma and something bad happens to him. Woo hoo. There's a point where it just feels completely detached from what's actually supposed to be happening, and it's like waking up from a fever dream once it's over. I don't mind fanservice either for gags or titillation if you actually get creative with it. Dragon Ball doesn't.

B. It's all non-consensual and creepy. I'm not one to judge others for what kind of fanservice they find appealing, but I find it way sexier if a girl is naked because she wants to be. Even if someone's still perving on her, I'd find it way more acceptable if she knew and just didn't care. As a side note, that part in the Namek saga where Bulma's just walking around the ship in her underwear? Hot as fuck.

C. It's not what I really look for in this kind of show. I guess this is a me issue, since it permeates a lot of Japanese shows and I should come to expect it more often than not, but when I sign on for a show like Dragon Ball or One Piece, I'm here for action, adventure, screaming, and silliness, so having things occasionally and suddenly move to dumb sexual comedy scenes is an awkward tonal shift at best, and the way it just forgets about it afterwards makes me confused as to what's even happening. If I want sex appeal in a show, I'll go find a show that's based around that. Even in action series, you still have stuff like Kill La Kill, where it's obvious there's gonna be tons of titty and booty on screen, but then I know that going in, and it's a major part of the show, so it's not a bizarre interruption so much as a weird fun fusion of fanservice and people beating the shit out of each other. And hey, the actual sexual abuse in that show comes off as creepy and wrong because it's supposed to!
Wow I've never related more to a post about sexualization in a cartoon.

- Non-consensual sexual humor is honestly revolting and I never found it funny at all.
- Blatant fanservice is annoying as well. It used to be the reason why I dropped anime back then and had a phase in my middle school years where I would ridicule people who would watch anime, thinking they were total losers who were overly attracted to cartoon characters.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Bullza » Fri May 11, 2018 5:20 pm

KBABZ wrote:...
Small world. I just saw your comment on this article.

https://kotaku.com/how-yakuzas-city-cha ... 1821884988

I thought "Don't I know that avatar from somewhere", and yeah it's you lol.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by KBABZ » Fri May 11, 2018 7:40 pm

Bullza wrote:
KBABZ wrote:...
Small world. I just saw your comment on this article.

https://kotaku.com/how-yakuzas-city-cha ... 1821884988

I thought "Don't I know that avatar from somewhere", and yeah it's you lol.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by sintzu » Fri May 11, 2018 10:32 pm

coola wrote:On contrary, with all this political correctness, I'm glad Japan didn't mellow down, and pervy old man still pop up in anime from time to time.
Saying goodbye to pervy old men would be the least we'd have to worry about if Japan ever gives into political correctness. I'm really happy to see people like the Japanese still stand up for themselves and what they believe in instead of jumping onto the bandwagon of backing down on things whenever some nobody is "offended".
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