Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday at the Movies: My Three Favorite Anime (Part I)

In theaters, I'd still like to see Dredd and Looper. Since I don't think I'll be doing that tonight, I'm going to do a write up on my top three favorite anime of all time. I'm eschewing my normal list of 5 format because I love these three equally and want to explain why more than I want to explain what they are (which will happen anyway, to some extent).

I'm also going to break this into three separate posts. One tonight, one tomorrow, and the last on Sunday. Just to switch things up a bit.

And, before I get started, I'm always interested in finding other interesting anime (and, despite the three I'm about to post, my tastes are fairly diverse). Leave me a comment with your favorite (and why), and I'll hunt it down and give it a go!

Ok, the first one is probably going to discredit me from all other anime fans, and I accept that. However, it wins the nostalgia credit, and nostalgia weighs a lot with me (I think this comes from enjoying comic books and video games, though it could be some facet of human nature I'm unfamiliar with).

Third, on my personal top three list is...

Dragon Ball Z. There, I said it! It's a guilty pleasure. I've seen all 291 episodes (got this number from Wikipedia, I honestly thought there were much, much more!) in English. I've seen most of the movies and apparently none of the OVAs (I'll have to track those down), but the main series is what I really enjoyed.

Side note: I don't mind subtitled anime, but my preference is dubbed. Yes, I understand that this normally comes with terrible ramifications (poor translation, awful voices, etc...), but I feel, especially with anime, that I'm there to watch the art on the screen, not reading text.

Dragon Ball Z takes place not long after the series Dragon Ball ends, though I'm living proof that you DON'T need to know anything about Dragon Ball to enjoy the sequel series (I've started Dragon Ball after, but have still yet to see every episode). It starts of strong with the Saiyan Saga. We're introduced to the likable cast of heroes and, almost immediately, the beginning of some interesting enemies.

The main character, Goku, is a big-hearted goofball. When done poorly, they are my least favorite stereotype and WILL kill an anime for me. Goku is a nice mix. When things get serious, he becomes calm, cool, and collected, and the transition isn't glaring, or accidental. Goku is in full control, he's able to juggle his multi-faceted personality (which is important in a good character).

Vegeta and Goku
My favorite character in the series, however, starts off as a petulant, arrogant villain. Of course, I'm talking about the Prince of All Saiyans, Vegeta (... who isn't King, I assume, due to having no one to crown him?). He starts off being unlikable, a decent and overpowered villain for Goku to overcome and show that this show won't be constrained in how outrageous the fights will get, something that increases with every new villain. Over the nine seasons, Vegeta changes dramatically. He fits the role of the angry rival, but he does grow into more, especially when he becomes a father. He's always all business, a short package of attitude, but is appealing because of it.

He's the most emotionally vibrant of the cast because, when he shows it, you feel it.

The show does eventually run into the issue of villains being too powerful. This happens at the end of the Cell Saga, when Cell is able to regenerate unless every single cell of him is destroyed. Once that's your enemy, it's hard to go beyond it, and that's only season six!

Beyond the characters themselves, the stories are pretty basic -- it's an action anime and is at its peak when characters are kicking the snot out of each other. The first enemies are aliens (all three of them...) that invade Earth. Then the crew goes to another occupied planet to give their boss the what for. Then, back on Earth, we get a time traveler thrown in for good measure, coupled with a mad scientist and an amalgam of a villain. The final villains are created by magic and look... well, kind of like bubble gum.
Harmful when swallowed
It is probably important to note that the show takes its name from the seven mystical Dragon Balls, items that, once gathered together, summon a dragon who grants wishes. I'm not kidding, and it is utilized as a "get out of death free" card a few too many times...

But it's all good. The characters all grow (and in more than power!). And, one thing that is infinitely in DBZ's credit, the art style isn't afraid to update itself as the show goes on. Thankfully, they don't go the route of completely switching up the art style, as we would see in a comic book. Instead, it is just brought up to date and looks amazing in the last seasons.

Vegeta at the beginning...

... and the end

To give a negative, the show IS 291 episodes, and there is a bit much on the filler side of things, which can really slow things down (NOT good for an action title). The Frieza fight is notorious because it has a season of DVDs to itself, basically. To combat this, Dragon Ball Z Kai was created. I've never seen it, but I do know that it is a remastering and streamlining of the series, being comprised of only (heh) 98 episodes. I'll eventually see how it stacks up.

DBZ has flaws, sure. It also has a lot of cliches, ok. But it does have redeeming qualities, some of my favorite characters (and tropes) in any anime, and there are some moments that are just plain badass.

I find it to be worth every moment, and I'm glad it got me into anime when I was younger. Thank you Akira Toriyama!!

It is worth noting that Dragon Ball GT is a sequel to DBZ. It was not, however, done with Toriyama on board and suffers for it. I'm working my way through the seasons so far, but it starts off kind slow. That, and the villain that's a pedophile doll toucher kind of made me lose interest...

NEXT TIME on The Arbitrary Nerd... My second favorite anime!


  1. Should check out DBZ Kai as well, pretty much DBZ without all the filler, some negative changes, but worth checking out. Cuts down the 291 episodes by a good amount though.

  2. I've hear that as well. What are the negative changes? I believe some of the voices are changed for the worse, but otherwise I am in the dark.