“Zamasu… Gods are not perfect. Even gods learn and grow.”
Gowasu, Dragon Ball Super
A Monkey Boy With A Tail Makes A Journey To The West
Dragon Ball, the adventures of a boy with a monkey tail who likes to fight that began all the way back in 1984. It has left its impression on millions of people around the world and changed both the Anime and Manga worlds forever with its inspiration pretty much everywhere.
The protagonist, Son Goku, with his aforementioned monkey tail is based on Sun Wukong, a God(?) born from a magical stone who rebels against heaven and fights the Gods to get his way. After being defeated he is placed under a rock by the Buddha until released by a monk (Eastern storytelling wipes the floor with ours). All of this tale and more is captured in the classical Chinese novel “Journey to the West“.
Anyway, Dragon Ball started off as a pretty close approximation to this tale, Goku is recruited by Bulma to search for the seven Dragon Balls, wish granting orbs that can grant you whatever your heart desires (In Journey to the West Sun Wukong is recruited by Tang to search for Buddhist holy scriptures that can grant enlightenment). Along the way they are joined by Oolong, a shape-shifting pig (Zhu is literally a pig man in Journey to the West) and Yamcha, a desert bandit (Sha Wujing is nicknamed ‘Sandy’).
They all have a hearts desire that they hope the Dragon Balls can make reality:
- Bulma wants “the perfect boyfriend”
- Yamcha wants to “be able to talk to girls”
- Oolong wants “the worlds most comfortable pair of women’s underwear”
Yeh don’t judge, Dragon Ball is weird…
Anyway once the Dragon Balls wish is wasted (by Oolong) the gang are furious but come to realise they have everything they need in each other, aw (in Journey to the West the Buddhist scriptures are filled with empty pages but they realise it was the journey that has helped them on the path to enlightenment).
In real life the world of cartoons was about to change forever when in 1996 Dragon Ball Z came to America (1997 in the UK), making its own journey to the west (c’mon now, that’s clever). Now Dragon Ball Z has very little to do with Journey to the West unlike that first series in Dragon Ball and instead focused on super powered beings kicking the crap out of each other, but alas all good things come to an end and in 1996 in Japan (2002 internationally) Dragon Ball Z ended and the world kept turning, a sadder, less ass kicking place (We got Dragon Ball GT but we don’t like to talk about it).
That was until 2009, when Dragonball Evolution came out. Now for those who don’t know Dragonball Evolution is a Hollywood adaptation of the franchise that is so monumentally bad that Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball’s author) said in an interview.
“I had put Dragon Ball behind me, but seeing how much that live-action film ticked me off…“
You read that right? The film was SO bad that the original creator had to step back into his writing shoes and fix this damn mess. And on March 30th 2013, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was released in cinemas in Japan and this is where the story of Dragon Ball Super begins.
Dragon Ball Super is the continuation of the adventures of Goku and friends where they now compete on a godly plain (sounds familiar?) and battle their strongest, deadliest enemies to date (typical anime stuff) but throughout it all I began to notice something. Not only had Dragon Ball seemed to return to its roots where a monkey boy was fighting against Gods like in Journey to the West but it seemed to have taken on a more philosophical role in questioning deities and as a (semi-failed) Philosophy graduate I couldn’t help admire the new way the series was going.
Now, at time of writing, Super is either finished or on hiatus (we have no idea, Dragon Ball is coming back, we just don’t know under what name) so it seemed the perfect time to break down the five major arcs in Dragon Ball Super and look at how “God’s are moronic dickheads” (I was a good Philosophy student). I will also be using this as an opportunity to gush about how great Dragon Ball is, if that isn’t already obvious.
Addendum: Since I was nearly 3000 words into this and hadn’t passed the second section I believe it is a good idea to split this up into manageable chunks, if you stick with this then you are my kinda person and we should be friends forever ❤ .
Since I decided to split this up I have decided to make this entry just be the introduction to the whole argument (read: I get to drag this out over 5 or 6 more write-ups 😛 )
Look forward to Part 2 next week when we will be looking at the “Battle of Gods” arc. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you then.
With a new Dragon Ball came a new version of “Cha-la Head Cha-la”, the song every Dragon Ball fan can’t help but sing along to (even if we don’t know the words). And yes, I’ll be using this for every part of this. You’d better get used to it.