"Dragon Ball GT": Cash In, Tune Out
Ah, Dragon Ball GT, the red-headed stepchild of the franchise. Shunned by almost all Dragon Ball fans for throwing out any nuance the previous series might have had, this series survives on the Dragon Ball name alone. When FUNimation brought over the series to America, they cut the first sixteen episodes so they could get to the action faster, so these are finally being released as “Lost Episodes,” and this disc is the final release. That’s right, this is the last we’ll see of Dragon Ball for several years.
Episodes on this disc:
Episode #13: “The Man Behind the Curtain”
Episode #14: “The Battle Within”
Episode #15: “Beginning of the End”
Episode #16: “Giru’s Checkered Past”
When we last left our heroes, Pan had been turned into a doll by Dolltalki, while Goku and Trunks struggled to rescue her. After beating the general of the fortress, Dolltalki has activated the giant machine god Luud to get rid of our heroes. Unfortunately, energy attacks won’t work against this mechanical beast. Things get even worse when Luud absorbs Pan, giving the machine even more power! Only a properly timed attack by both Goku and Pan can succeed, but Goku’s not so good at counting. Unknown to them, however, Dr. Muu is watching, plotting to use them for his own evil purposes. After that little adventure, the gang stops by a random desert planet to search for a Dragonball. However, the planet is really, really hot. Like, Tatooine hot. To make things worse, a giant centipede surprises our heroes and damages the water fuel tank. Pan feels left out, especially when Trunks suggests they go back to Earth and swap Pan for Goten, and runs away. Later, the gang arrives at Giru’s home planet, M2. There, Giru starts acting weird and leaves the gang by themselves. Eventually he comes back, but with four strange robots that captures Goku and Trunks! Pan is left by herself as her robot friend is revealed as a traitor and her two partners are gone. What will Pan do?
This series is really painful to watch. The plot hole count is way above safety levels. Goku, who was childish as an adult but still responsible somewhat, seems to have had his brain functions diminished along with the rest of his body. He acts way too much like he did in the original Dragon Ball, discarding all the development that took place in Dragon Ball Z. This Goku is way too carefree to be taken seriously. Pan is, was, and forever will be the most annoying character in the cast. The way she plays around all the time, getting in everyone’s way and not contributing at all to the plot makes her a completely wasted character. Most fans liked Pan back when she was four years old more than they do now! Even Trunks, who is the smartest of the group and the leader, gets the shaft, as he is constantly being beaten up or otherwise disposed of so that Goku and/or Pan can save the day. It’s as though they put Trunks in so the fangirls would tune in week after week and that’s it.
Even worse are the fluctuating power levels. In Dragon Ball Z, Goku could quite literally destroy a planet by flicking his wrist if he wanted to. Trunks was also extremely powerful and Pan was stronger than Goten. That’s all thrown out the window here. The most glaring example is Episode 15, when Goku and Trunks fight those giant centipedes. Their energy attacks don’t have any effect and Goku has to spend at least twenty minutes beating up just one of those things! Earlier on, Luud attacks our heroes over and over, getting angrier and angrier. Now, Goku and Trunks could just turn into Super Saiyans, pick up the giant robot, fly him thousands of feet in the air, then smash him into the ground. But no, they only turn into Super Saiyans when Luud steps on them, and immediately go out of that mode when they knock Luud off. I could expect these kinds of battles back when the gang wasn’t uber-strong like in the Saiyan and Freeza Sagas, but this is pushing it. I realize that it’s hard to write for characters that can blow up the galaxy by growling hard, but they could’ve done a better job at this.
Animation is decent. The show isn’t nearly as colorful or as interesting to look at as Dragon Ball Z was, what with all the pale browns and blues. Plus, Goku just doesn’t look right without his orange gi. The power-ups don’t look nearly as cool as they did in the Buu Saga. Even the fighting isn’t all that enjoyable. FUNi did a decent job at transferring the video, though several shots look very faded. As usual, the entire Japanese version looks washed out, which boggled my mind. Why not use the same actual episode video for both languages and just change the opening and ending?
The music doesn’t do its job very well, unless said job is “to suck.” Everyone already knows how crappy the English opening theme is, so I won’t harp on that. The English background music basically serves as a placeholder, doing little more than drone. The Japanese background music does a better job at enhancing the action, though it still isn’t what I would call high-class. Voices are about par for the course. Anybody reading this has most likely heard the dub voices on Toonami, so you know what to expect. The Japanese voices are about the same as they have been through the past 300+ episodes of Dragon Ball/Z. Nothing too much to report on that end.
Extras. Extras. Hmm. A Dragon Ball DVDs with extras. Clearly a myth, and it remains so. We get character profiles (barely readable due to the small type), a clean opening (that changes depending on which language you click on in the Languages Menu), as well as a bunch of trailers. Shockingly, we get an insert, which is a catalog of all of FUNi’s current and upcoming releases. It also has previews for Gunslinger Girl, Baki the Grappler, Burst Angel, and Sakura Taisen. Despite the numerous spelling/factual errors (such as saying Goku beat Garlic Jr. in Dead Zone, and spelling Kakarot “Karkarot”), it’s still pretty cool to see FUNi’s plate for the next 5-6 months or so.
If you like Dragonball GT at all, you would probably like this disc. I, on the other hand, would rather pretend the series never existed.