Growing Up On ‘Dragonball’

Published 6 years ago by

dragonball z2 Growing Up On Dragonball

Before Dragonball was a movie, it was a Japanese manga comic book created by Akira Toriyama, which later became an anime cartoon series. I was too young to read the manga in the 80’s but I first became aware of the anime around 1989, when a Dragonball Tv movie premiered on my local TV station.

My brother and I instantly shoved a tape in our VCR, trying to preserve this new awesomeness we were seeing. As fate would have it, that tape ran out just before the climatic final battle at a Martial Arts Tournament, and Dragonball was lost to us until the series’ next installment, Dragon Ball Z, premiered on American TV in the late 90s. Fate had given me a second chance and I snatched it up.

Most of my college years (1999-2003) involved hard-partying peppered with some light studying – but in all the chaos I carved a special place out for Dragon Ball Z. I never missed an episode, every afternoon on Cartoon Network, and failing that, I was surely there for the late-night repeat. I (and alot of my friends) stayed glued to the saga of Goku, an alien warrior raised on Earth who defends humanity from interstellar warriors bent on conquering and/or destroying the universe by using seven magical dragon balls which grant one wish to the one who collects them all.

Girls used to call it “a soap opera for boys.”

And it was just that: the Dragon Ball Z anime (as fans already know) was executed in soap opera fashion: episodes jumped between three or four main storylines and it could take weeks for ‘that big thing that was about to happen’ to actually happen, but the turtle-crawl pace didn’t matter: you stayed tuned in.

Heck, one half-hour episode could spend fifteen minutes on a character “charging up” his super powers for a fight, without ever getting to the fight! And we were somehow on the edge of our seats!

dragonballz14 Growing Up On Dragonball

My obsession didn’t end with the show either: the only video games I ever had imported from Japan were (you guessed it) Dragon Ball Z games. I couldn’t read a word of the instructions, it could take me weeks to figure out how to play it, but again, I (and my bro) loved every minute of it, trading karate blows and massive energy blasts, battling it out with our favorite spikey-haired characters.

By the time I finished the fourth and final (and epic) installment of the Dragon Ball Z series post-college, I felt like I had completed an epic journey. One that had not only journeyed me through an action-packed story of warriors in battle, but also through a significant time in my life, out of high school, through college and into manhood. It’s a strange through-line to have, I know, but hey, it’s what I got.

Kamekameha, baby. Ka-me-ka-me-ha.
 Growing Up On Dragonball

TAGS: Dragonball
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  1. I loved the show when I was a kid, and through most of High School(til my senior year), but after the Buu Saga and the horrible GT epidsodes I just couldn’t stand it.

  2. While I loved the show when I was in the sixth grade, I sort of feel off it through jr high and highschool, though I’ve recently gotten back in to and have been re-watching everything I can find. great article.

  3. I’ve just finished the 2nd season remastered boxset, so, so good! Only 7 more to go, yass!

  4. I’m with ya Kofi and while I’m a “bit” older than you I can still call up a DBZ episode on the Apple TV and love every minute of it.

  5. @kofi

    Not sure if they changed it in the american version but the japanese ones always have been “kame-hame-ha”… But yeah i was hooked. I never really watched the american versions though… They were way too annoying (voice overs). Plus i got to see most of it before it appeared on american tv so that was cool. I myself still like dragonball a lil bit more then z just for the fact that there was more hand to hand combat then relying on huge energy blasts that destroyed several landscapes. Good article though kofi… as i too grew up on dragonball and now i read the naruto manga.

  6. Ohhh Goku… you were and apparently still are that annoying little boy that just won’t go away. The countless hours I spent watching you grow up up but never fully understanding what the heck you were truly were about. I guess you are right Kofi– DBZ is a soap opera for guys.

  7. I was there with ya Kofi! Every afternoon at 4 P.M.. I’d make sure I was home to watch every single episode of DRAGON BALL Z.

    Cell really drew me into his invincibility like existence and I thought he was just destruction incarnate. I loved how they developed him into the bad*** he was.

    Then the cold, calculating androids showed up, and they were just insidious.

    Despite the way they ended the series i watched, leaving the door open, I HATED that ending to the series and was miserably sad.

    But I loved how Gohan came into his own, slowly but surely to that point.

    Not too many cartoons can be as epic or near epic as DRAGON BALL Z was for me.

  8. I loved how all of Goku’s friends were once his enemies. I followed it up until the first few Buu episodes. I was looking forward to a friendly tournament involving many of the characters, I got jipped. Friends make fun of me for this, but Piccolo was always my favorite.

  9. What I hated the most was what Kofi has stated, they spend countless hours before something “big” would happen!
    They would talk, and stare, then power up, talk again, stare endlessly and it would be 3 episodes later that they fight!

    Exaggerating a bit here but you get my point.

  10. Oh I get that.

    It’s like you’re just waiting for the devastation to begin and … and … and … OH GET ON with it already and devastate!!!

  11. Bruce, yeah man!
    Annoying, but at least they didn’t dissappoint with the fight because it was so over the top and just plain nuts.

  12. Wow Kofi, you make me feel old. :-)

    I got hooked on DBZ when I saw a tape in some old video store and wondered what this was about. I think the tape was Fusion, and after watching, I had to find out about this show. After watching all of Z, I bought the tapes and eventually gave them to my son who, unsurprisingly, lost them to his children. I didn’t hate GT but it was inferior to Z. I continually get into light arguments with my son on who would win in a fight: Superman or Gokuh; of course, he always said Gokuh unless it was Superman from the comic. I will always have a spot in my heart for DBZ and the over-the-top action. It is unfortunate that the live-action movie did not capture what we all saw in Akira’s Dragonball universe.

  13. Show started to suck (for me) after Goku became Super Saiyan level one. They seriously just talked too damn much in every episode after he became super saiyan level 1. My interest was re-peaked with Cell saga but even that couldn’t keep me on board for GT as i kept seeing too much talk and the overly exposed Hercule and his goofness and not enough action, and then the whole krillin loving Android 18 was just kinda hmmm too me. Have they even shown Goku at level 4 in the animated series yet, or are they still trying to milk it.

  14. @SIN
    Gokuh reached SSJ4 in GT, after turning into Oozaroo and retaining his mind, transformed even further, into SSJ4. Later, he and Vegeta merged in SSJ4 Gogeta (I think), which was their most powerful level, to defeat the evil dragon. I do get what you are saying; I didn’t like much of the talk and definately could have lived without all the childish stuff, but it was a children’s show.

  15. “he and Vegeta merged in SSJ4 Gogeta (I think)”

    Yeah, they fused to take on Omega Shenron, but Gogeta played around the entire fight and used up all the fusion time.

  16. I think I’ll add my little bit lol

    I seriously think that they made Gohan into a woosie when he became an adult. When he was a teenager in the cell saga he frekin owned! lol but then in the next season he turned out to be such a little b*tch honestly I was so dissapointed but oh well great series still love it but frown upon the movie.

  17. I grew up on dragon ball as well I remember back in 97 when I saw the first promo for the show. I even used to have dragon ball z clock and two posters of Goku and Co. Well, not really one of them was actually that really cool screenshot of Super Saiyan Goku right after Friza fired an energy blast at him and he remained unphased. I even had about nineteen action figures for it as well. Likeitmuch, I agree with you about the movie but I have to say I did a review of it for my college newspaper (My longest and most detailed movie I had done for them), and I gave it three out of seven stars (get it, “stars”? Haha I’m so funny! Anyway, The ONLY reason why I gave three stars, (I had spend about 99 percent of the review explaining why the movie sucked) Is because of Brainiac himself, James Marsters. I really felt like he knocked picccolo out of the park. Yes I know piccolo did things differently then he did in the series but Marsters really captured the essence of who King Piccolo was.

  18. Awesome article! I agree, I grew up on it as well, and recently just starting watching the episodes on DVD from the beginning. On season 5 now, just began the Cell Saga! DBZ is the best!

  19. awesome. first time i actually got to dragon ball was when i rented a super nintendo video game. it was one of the first ones, when you start off fighting piccollo and cell is the last fight. i had no idea who these people were but for some reason their names and the dragon ball z title always stayed in my head…. and then it all began…

  20. I’m not a guy but I was obsessed with Dragon Ball. I started watching it when I was about eight, hence I grew up with Goku. I watched since he was a little boy until he grew up, got married, had kids, then grandchildren and he be became a boy again. I swear sometimes I wanted to smack the tv ’cause NOTHING of consequence happened but I was still there the next day for the next episode. I must credit my brother for this because he was the one that turn me to it, he wouldn’t miss it for the world. Lucky us, after a couple of years they started to transmit 2 episodes back to back, so the wait was less annoying and “the event” would happen faster. But we would have reruns and guess what? We watched every single one again LOL I missed that type of feeling in the new cartoons kids get to watch now, most are just crap. Maybe these were violent but they were still better than what they get to see now…

  21. Totally agree on gabby’s post and your article!!

    yeah it may seem a little violent but… just… see… happy tree friends…

    Dragon Ball is much much much better than that crap and all those craps airing in TV now.

    and btw the author of Naruto, One Piece have openly admitted that their greatest influence was Dragon Ball and modeled their characters and stories inspired by DragonBall.
    Also Bleach was originally rejected by the publisher but Akira Toriyama (creator of DragonBall) wrote a ‘letter’ that will totally change the situation.

    In conclusion

    Dragon Ball is the best.

  22. its the best ever

  23. i wish that they would make more

  24. i was really little when i started watching it. but it suddently went off the air. sometimes i wish DBZ was reality

  25. I love dragon ball z to i seen every eposode since dragon ball to dragon ball gt never missed any

  26. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Dragonball is truly legendary. I’ll never forget the overwhelming feeling of shock the first time i saw goku transform into a super saiyan. Dragonball made me what I am today. Soon my own cartoon will be on tv. I hope people will like it a tenth as much as I liked dragonball.

  27. i am a young lady from S.A i have loveD DBZ since i was a 8years and now I am 20years and im still crazy about them…i just cant grow besides it doesnt have age restriction,i have a younger brother who is 9years this year and a sister who is 14years we all watch it and we dont wana miss it…………..i love them and i cant get enough of them,they are exciting and fun imated ofcourse……much love keep up…we crazy about these cartoons and they dont have competion that matches them.