Dragon Ball’s syndication in the West has been interesting, to say the least. The series made a name for itself on Toonami and its popularity never weakened from there. After Toonami’s demise, however, the series was left without a home. Nickelodeon ended up picking up Dragon Ball Kai, and ran reruns before Adult Swim acquired the rights to Kai, Kai: The Final Chapters, and Super.
During this time where Nick was airing Dragon Ball, they actually managed to run Dragon Ball GT in full, as well. They didn’t have The Final Chapters, so Kai jumped from the Cell Games to GT, but audiences everywhere got to watch a show that’s considered to be the worst Dragon Ball property ever. And it’s only gotten worse with age.
10 The English Dub
Dragon Ball Z should be considered Funimation’s worst English dub, but Dragon Ball GT has it beat. Soundly, at that. There’s literally nothing Dragon Ball GT does right from a localization angle. The script, on a whole, is pretty much completely changed. Entire character motivations are rewritten and dialogue isn’t even translated.
Funimation got a bit better with Dragon Ball Z over time, but Dragon Ball GT just proves that they simply stopped caring about their localization efforts. Dragon Ball GT is as low effort as it comes and to call it a localization is frankly misleading. In execution, GT’s English dub may as well be an adaptation.
9 “The Lost Episodes”
Considering Dragon Ball’s anime adaptation had already been completed by the time the franchise got popular in the west, Funimation would have easily been able to research fan reception for content they’d have to air sooner or later. Recognizing that Dragon Ball GT’s opening would prove difficult for western fans, they made it a coveted relic.
The Hunt for the Black Star Dragon Balls arc became known as the “Lost Episodes,” and Funimation’s premiere for Dragon Ball GT actually began fifteen episodes in with Funimation’s very own recap episode. It’s a terrible episode and does a worse job establishing GT than the actual episodes, but this did make fans interested in The Lost Episodes. Only for them to immediately lose interest, anyways.
8 The Replacement Score
Bruce Faulconer’s replacement score for Dragon Ball Z was awful and helped shape the franchise’s reputation in the west for the worse, but it at least has some decent tracks. Perfect Cell’s theme and most Boo arc tracks are actually decent outside of context (and in The Legacy of Goku II and Buu’s Fury.)
While Funimation didn’t opt to bring Bruce Faulconer back for GT, they did still commissioned a replacement soundtrack, this time composed by Mark Menza. Like Bruce, Menza does just as bad a job, completely failing to understand Dragon Ball GT’s tone. Unlike Bruce, Menza was composing for a much worse show so his already weak tracks only suffered.
7 The Theme Song
Dragon Ball GT’s opening theme is one of the most beautiful songs to come out of any Dragon Ball property. In Japanese, that is. Because Funimation had absolutely no desire to properly respect Dragon Ball, GT’s English dub also featured a brand new theme song to go with its lower quality soundtrack.
Fans everywhere “stepped into the Grand Tour” and immediately stepped out. Dragon Ball GT was antithetical even to the garbage image Funimation had built up for the series. It was all someone even worse than DBZ’s train-wreck of a localization. Dragon Ball GT isn’t good even in Japanese, but this did it no favors.
6 The Hunt For The Black Dragon Balls Arc
Dragon Ball GT was caught somewhere between wanting to pay tribute to the original Dragon Ball and shamelessly cashing in on the success of Dragon Ball Z. Naturally, Toei did the only sensible thing and dedicated GT’s first story arc to rehashing Dragon Ball’s first story arc. It’s quite charming all things considered, but it doesn’t pay off in the end.
The arc itself ends up transitioning smoothly into the Baby arc, but Baby himself is another issue, as he basically invalidates the Black Star Dragon Balls completely. It’s clear that Toei had no idea what they wanted to do with Dragon Ball GT early on, and they simply couldn’t figure out what to do soon enough.
5 Turning Goku Into A Kid
Turning Goku into a child was always going to be a mistake in the grand scheme of things, but it could have been handled well. The concept lends itself to an interesting arc for Goku. After all, this is an experienced martial artist now stuck in the body of a child. How does that affect his strength? His ego?
Unfortunately, these aren’t questions Dragon Ball GT cares to answer or explore. Instead, it retreads a character arc for Goku that frankly doesn’t even make sense within the context of the series. That Goku doesn’t stay an adult after unlocking Super Saiyan 4 is frankly a bit of a tease.
Dragon Ball ends with Goku flying off to train Oob, his new student and prospective rival. It’s a fitting finale that was never meant to be expanded on. At least not by Akira Toriyama. The logical next step for Oob would be to become Goku’s successor, but Dragon Ball GT opts to remove Oob almost immediately from the narrative.
He’s certainly important when he does return, but after fusing with Majin Boo and becoming Majoob, he doesn’t do much. Worse yet, the story does try to feign his importance by involving him in major battle, but Oob never manages to contribute all that meaningfully and he has nothing resembling a character arc after the Baby arc.
3 The Super 17 Arc
Considering just how well Dragon Ball Super made use of Android 17, Super 17 in comparison comes off way worse. He was already the single worst villain in the single worst arc in the anime, but knowing what 17 became in a different sequel series really does end up souring an already terrible arc.
This is to say nothing of how the Super 17 arc outright contradicts the series’ depiction of Hell. It’s a strange premise for a story arc and 17 isn’t used well whatsoever. To make matters worse, 18 ends up playing a major role in the arc only for Goku to show up and hog all the spotlight from her.
2 A Hero’s Legacy
Around the end of the Baby arc, Toei released a TV Special for Dragon Ball GT set 100 years and the future and chronicling a brief adventure in the life of Goku’s ancestor, Goku Jr. Titled A Hero’s Legacy in the west, the special really doesn’t offer much to the Dragon Ball mythos other than giving fans a glimpse of Goku Jr. before the finale.
Unfortunately, the special itself feels aged even in the context of Dragon Ball GT. It also plays out like a send-off to the franchise halfway through GT’s run. That not only makes its role awkward, it undermines the dozens of episodes that succeed it.
1 The Ending
Dragon Ball GT has an incredibly sentimental ending that calls back to the franchise as a whole, but what does it really say about Dragon Ball in the grand scheme of things? Dragon Ball was never a particularly sentimental series, and Shenlong flying off with Goku at the end of it all puts far too much emphasis on Goku being a special person rather than a skilled martial artist.
It’s completely antithetical to the main series’ ending, and it thematically flies in the face of the series’ current main property, Dragon Ball Super. While it was once considered Dragon Ball GT’s saving grace, maybe it’s time fans look back on the ending and re-examine it with a fresh perspective.