The Legacy of Dragonball Z

By Stephen Hohmann

Who are
all these
     I first heard about the show Dragonball Z through a friend named Roger Smith. It was at the very beginning of the whole Dragonball Z "phenomenon." Cartoon Network was rerunning the Saiyan and Namek sagas, leaving viewers to wonder if Goku had truly become the legendary "Super Saiyan," as Vegeta had silently wondered, or if he was still levels away from that plateau. The episodes I first remember seeing and watching with intent were the episodes with Gohan and Kuririn hiding out of sight from Dodoria, Zarbon and the dreaded Freeza; silently watching them torment little Dende and his Namek brothers. They get their tails handed to them but make a comeback once Saichourou unlocks their "hidden talent." It's the classic tale of the underdog and I think that's what drew me initially. Once I had watched the rest of the Namek saga and then all the way back again through the Saiyan saga, my curiosity blossomed. When were there going to be new episodes? What happens next?
Cartoons don't flip people
off! Oh, it's anime. Cool!

Thanks to Gallagtor of the DaizEX boards for the pic.
     I searched the internet and found that I wasn't the only one wondering. I also found that something was missing from what I had been watching. At this time, I was only curious and interested. Once I saw the picture at the left, I was hooked. I don't remember Recoome giving anyone the finger, ever! Reading on, I found out there was a lot I didn't remember that was supposed to be there. The Japanese version became this magical thing for me, forbidden by the Cartoon Network but celebrated by the Dragonball Z web community. DBZ Uncensored and Planet Namek were daily visits in my quest to uncover the truth behind "what really happened."
     Season three, the Freeza saga, eventually did come out. By this time, I was a Dragonball Z fanatic. I had a bunch of the toys and I watched every day, never missing an episode. My friends and I had all become experts on the subject of Dragonball. We knew that Goku turned Super Saiyan soon, we knew that Freeza came back and that Trunks killed him again. We also knew there were two other Dragonball Z shows, Dragonball and Dragonball GT. GT stands for Gohan's training, Roger told me once, because after Goku dies in the explosion on Namek, Gohan becomes the focus of the series. Yeah, we were experts in Dragonball knowledge.
The first DvD I
ever owned. Wow.
     Once season three was over my thrist for DBZ was unquenchable. I spent a huge percentage of my paychecks on stuff like action figures and VHS episodes. I remember how exited I was the day my mother drove me up to Suncoast to purchase the two volumes of the Trunks saga. These episodes weren't even on TV yet and I was buying them, UNCUT. That was another buzz word. They had two minutes of additional footage and those two minutes meant the world to me. This was before DvD and the availability of the legendary Japanese Version. I got home and watched those episodes over and over again. Following Trunks, I bought all four Androids saga VHS tapes. I was the coolest kid on my block, in my own mind at least. Then I learned about fansubs, the actual Japanese Version that you could buy from other fans that translated it for you. Oh my god, I was so excited to learn that a friend of mine was borrowing the first twenty episodes, fansubbed! I kept bugging him and bugging him to have me over to watch them and when he finally did I sat and watched episode after shitty-quality episode, loving every moment. After that, nothing less than the Japanese Version would do. I went out and spent the $150 on a DvD player along with the first Trunks DvD. If I thought Trunks was cool before, I had another think coming. I replaced all my VHS with DvD as they came out.
My hoodrich manga Vol. 27.
Goku goes Super Saiyan! OMG!
     Back in the good old days, you could download the entire manga off of Planet Namek for free. I didn't want to spoil the anime for myself so I only read the chapters I had seen on TV and DvD but I got so into it that I put an entire volume of manga onto a floppy disc and took it to typing class and printed the entire thing out using the school's printer. I still have it, taped a printout of the cover onto the front of a folder and there it sits to this day, telling the tale of Goku going Super Saiyan.
     I had amassed quite a collection of the action figures by this point and it was at this point where I got into making stop-motion movies. Almost every one I made was about Dragonball Z. Battle, Budokai 69, Gotenks and the Gundam, Freeza's Fury, Cells and Trunks Big Adventure, these names probably mean little to you but to me each was an epic at the time of creation.
Freeza's quite a thug
in his own right.
     As time went on, the Cell saga played out on Toonami and my interest in the english version waned. I mainly liked the Japanese Version now and bought the DvDs steadily. By the time Buu showed up, I was barely watching it once a week. I played some of the GBA Legacy of Goku games but my interest as a whole was waning, as was many fans I think. A lot of the bigger websites were dying and I just didn't care anymore. Being a DBZ fan was looked down upon.
     So, I forgot about Dragonball Z for a long time.
The last DvD
I've bought
to date. Wow.
     Then, this last summer the release of the Ultimate Uncut Edition DvDs sparked brand new interest in Goku's adventures for me. Back in the day it was widely known that the original two seasons of Dragonball Z were owned by someone else and DvDs with the Japanese Version would not be coming out for a very long time. This was perhaps one of the reasons I stopped buying the DvDs because I'm anal and I didn't like the idea of having an incomplete set, especially when the missing episodes were the first 65. I bought Volume 1 on a whim against the advice of my brother, "No, you'll only waste your money on more." He was right. All summer long, the majority of my purchases have been Dragonball related. I decided to read up on the original Dragonball so I bought one or two volumes of the manga every week. Great read, in a lot of way I like it better that Dragonball Z honestly. I plan to start buying the DBZ manga soon. I got three more Ultimate Uncut volumes, each on the day they were released. I bought movie 7, Super Android 13! and the two volumes of the Cell Games where Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 on DvD. I've also downloaded and watched nearly all the DBZ movies and several sagas of the english Dragonball. It's actually pretty good, in my opinion, not nearly as flawed as the DBZ english version.
     The future looks healthy for my Dragonball obsession. I've been playing the super-addicting Dragonball Z Budokai 3 a lot in the past two weeks. There are still 26 volumes of manga to buy and read and many many DvDs with that ever so magical Japanese Version on them. Also, I've started doing stop-motion again. Ha!

Back to My Writing