Not content to let DRAGONBALL sit with the end to DRAGON BALL Z, those in charge of the animation have forged ahead following elements foreshadowed in the epilogue of DBZ. The final episodes brought the series about 8-12 years past the death of the climatic villain Majinbu, where we find him reincarnated as a poverty stricken boy, in karmic penance for his bad deeds, entering a fighting competition. Goku recognises his energy signature and adopts him to train him as a future protector of earth. DBGT picks up about 5 years after this point.1
In this timeline many of the events foreshadowed in the Trunks/Cell story arc, which seemed to reveal the future of the DB universe, never happened. Gohan never became Trunk’s trainer. Trunks does not grow into a warrior. The rest of the characters are not dead at the hands of Androids 17 and 18. Instead, Gohan has married Mr Satan’s daughter, Beetle, and they have a pre-teen daughter, Pan. Gohan’s become a studious nerd. Trunks has become president of his mother’s [Bulma’s] company Capsule Corp; a desk bored, out of fighting shape, manager. Bulma and Vegeta are still shacked up, having produced a younger sister for Trunks.
The main problems the creators of this series faced were making it friendly to a new generation of younger viewers, and finding somewhere to take Goku, who had become ridiculously powerful. They solved both in one stroke: Goku’s original foes from the first episodes of DB show back up in old age and, using special dragon balls that disperse over the universe when used, accidentally wish Goku back into being a child! Goku, with restricted powers, now faces the task of finding those dragon balls lost in the cosmos. Along with him go his grand-daughter, Pan, now some years his senior, and Trunks.
This layout has not gone over well with many fans. After the second episode all but the 3 core characters disappear. It is very kid oriented in its humour, reverted Goku, and the obvious group leadership often focus on Pan, a character the creators made appealing to a 7 to 12 year old audience in dress and speech. There are some very good pieces of humour, but a lot that is demeaning to the characters, especially Trunks, who, as the baby-sitting adult, is along for comic relief. Anyone who likes the yea?-come-over-here-and-say-that leering warrior Trunks will not be amused.
One benefit is that since they are not confined to recreating manga into anime, the story moves much quicker. What is covered in the first 4 shows of DBGT would easily have been stretched to 7 or 8 in DBZ! They work out like this:
1. Goku finishes Majinbu’s training, a fight which allows Pilaf and his bumbling ninjas to sneak in and raise the dragon. Goku confronts them and is accidentally made into a child again. He returns to Earth, where Pan is foiling a robbery. We get to see everyone’s shocked reactions.
2. This one is mostly filled with seeing all the other characters in new aged form, a subplot involving a bungled attempt to kidnap Goku for ransom, and the preparations of the Capsule Corp spaceship. Pan launches it with only Goku and Trunks inside.
3. They land on the first planet, an old-West meets alien-dictator affair, where they go into massive debt and learn how badly the locals are being oppressed. A robot eats Trunk’s dragon ball detector and becomes the fourth party member. Their ship is captured.
4. They rescue their ship; in the process becoming “blood thirsty terrorists” on the local want ads. The dictator turns out to look a bit like a version of a Cell-type bio soldier. The hunt is on to arrest the saiyajins.