Dragon Ball GT Anime Review
Doragon Booru GT
Dragon Ball GT
US Release By
Lame attempt to drag on something way past its prime
64 25-minute episodes
1996-02-07 - 1997-11-19
What's In It
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 0 (none)
- Language: 1 (mild)
At the end of Dragon Ball Z, Goku was getting on in years (In fact, he should have been like 70!) That's why in the beginning of this show, Emperor Pilaf (Remember, that goblin thing from Dragonball that just mysteriously disappeared as soon as DBZ started) climbs up to Kami-sama's lookout and uses some crappy new dragon balls with black stars to wish Goku was five again, since even the creators of this show knew that seventy-year-olds can't go running off around the galaxy. Well, guess what? It turns out that these dragon balls spread around the entire universe, and if Goku and friends don't get them back within one year the entire earth will blow up!! Wow!!!
If you've read my review of Yuu Yuu Hakusho, you know what I'm about to say: I am not a fan of Dragon Ball Z. I've seen it on TV; I've read the manga in Shounen Jump out of sheer boredom; I know all the characters' original names; I liked Dragonball. But I am not a fan of Dragon Ball Z. The reason for this is the absurdly long, ridiculously boring fight scenes; shallow villains; and utter lack of plot, supplanted with cheesy plot twists like "Oh no, the killer androids are on the loose and now some evil creature from the future is here too!" The only reason I even watched GT is because maybe I held some little flickering light of hope within me that this show would be more like the original Dragonball's comedic adventures.
Luckily for all you big-time Akira Toriyama fans, you have nothing to worry about, because this pathetic end to the Dragonball saga won't be tarnishing your favorite show's name. This is because Akira Toriyama, past scribbling a few robot designs, had absolutely nothing to do with this show. This was created by the TV people, more specifically Toei Animation, because Toriyama wanted to give Dragonball a rest and move on with his career, but Toei wanted more green (or whatever color Japanese money is). I heard this show was actually cancelled before it even finished its run, which is practically unheard of with anime (the only other instance I've heard of is the original Gundam's mid-series cancellation, and those '70s people didn't know a good thing when they saw it).
Though some anime fans don't realize it, the average Japanese viewer is not like an American fan. American fans are typically fairly intellectual people, often young people in college or grown adults. Average Japanese viewers, on the other hand, are just like average American viewers, which means that if something was cancelled, that means it must have been REALLY bad (This is why there can be such a big difference between what's popular in Japan and what's popular among US fans).
Now on to Dragon Ball GT. Since the story and characterization and so on are just a continuation of Dragon Ball Z, this review will be less categorical than most of mine are. What's been created here is a true spectacle of what horrors marketing can wreak on a work. This is even more of a perversion than Yugioh, since the second Yugioh starts on the screen you can see it was created for the sole purpose of marketing tie-ins. It was made to be a commercial, and it is, but Dragonball wasn't, and now it's been made into one. The story (what little is present) is an obvious and gratuitous attempt to drag on Drag-on Ball Z even longer than it already had been, and since that was the main excuse for Dragon Ball Z's story, it works in what it sets out to do.
Coming from the side of a non-fan, I can say that if Toriyama had actually wanted to carry on Dragon Ball Z, I'm sure he would've found some way to do it. It may not have been as stupid as this, but this is only a small step up from some of the things he did do. It isn't the actual lame contrived "plot" twist used to drag on this concept that really makes this show worthless; it's the execution. Much as I complain about the parts of Dragon Ball Z that Toriyama actually created, I can see how much he really does for it when something he wasn't involved in comes around (in this case, I'm talking about the worthless movies or the abysmal Garlic Junior Saga in the TV show). Those were boring beyond all logical comparison (more boring than Dune combined with Boogiepop Phantom combined with Ghost in the Shell, and without the other appeal). I don't know what it is; something to do with the fights, or the designs, or the overall feel, but something Toriyama does takes Dragon Ball Z from unbearable to mediocre (or in the mind of a fan, from mediocre to excellent).
Actually, I was lying; I do know what it is Toriyama does (Warning: Corny Artistic Rant Ahead). When he makes Dragon Ball Z, even if the story is nonexistent, even if the characterization is painfully simplistic, and even if the fights drag on lamely for eight hundred episodes, he injects his soul into it. Every scratchy, mysteriously empty panel of the manga has concentrated soul of Akira Toriyama in it, and the movies, Garlic Junior Saga, and GT have the concentrated soul of marketing in them, which basically means they're crap.
Dragon Ball GT marks the introduction of a new character: Pan, Goku's granddaughter. She appeared at the age of five in like the last three episodes of DBZ, and if I thought Lum Cheng from Silent Mobius was a superfluous character, was I in for a surprise. Pan brought a new meaning to the word "superfluity." In this one she's like twelve years old and she travels the galaxy with Goku and Trunks. Of course, in true Dragonball style, she's both the weakest and stupidest character for no discernible reason, since she's the only female character (by the way, her name means "bread" in Japanese). She's the most dull Dragonball character since the Supreme Kai in the Majin Buu saga. No characterization can hold up for the ungodly episode count this series is breaching unless every episode is sort of the same, like Pokemon, and this is where Dragonball's collapses.
I thought the bad guys in previous Dragonball shows were boring, but at least they looked unique and had the gigantic planet-shattering steroid beams that engraved them into your memory. The bad guys in Dragonball GT all just look exactly the same as someone in previous Dragonball shows, and they don't do anything to set themselves apart. General Rilldo and Doctor Myu want to turn every life form in the galaxy into robot mutants! Whoopee! And how exactly do they plan on doing this when their doomsday weapon is the kid form of Majin Buu with a palette swap whose big ability is that, when he runs off with his tail between his legs, he can run into other people's bodies? Not a single steroid beam can come out of his hand, mouth, eyes, lower extremities, or any other part of his body, and previous Dragonball shows have proved that the only way to beat steroid beams is with steroid beams.
As a non-fan, there were a lot of things in Dragon Ball Z that I thought were utterly ridiculous. I won't go into them right now, because it would take an entire review, and they don't really matter anyway. But Dragon Ball Z always managed to keep enough of a grasp on its roots in Dragon Ball that it never ended up taking itself too seriously, which would have been a disaster. Now we get to see how much of one, because that's one of the worst things, even with everything else how it is, that Dragonball GT does wrong! I laughed until I cried when Goku and General Rilldo stopped fighting so General Rilldo could proclaim "Soon all lifeforms will be robot mutants!", even more so because General Rilldo has an "accent" that sounds vaguely British, so "robot" came out like "robət" (with an upside-down e). It's good that they tried to actually come up with some reason for the heroes to fight the bad guys, which they never even tried to do in Dragon Ball Z, but come on--you can do better than "I want to transform all life into robət-mutants!"
Dragonball GT is the one of the most godawful anime I've ever had the displeasure of seeing. Everything about it is worthless, including the spirit behind its creation. The thing it most favorably compares with is Gatekeepers Full Throttle, since both of them were made to drag on the popularity of something else, both of them had high production values, and both of them were totally worthless. The only difference is GKFT had Miyu Menazure (yeah, it's ru not re, but who cares?). And DBGT has Pan. Pan isn't smart enough to outsmart Miyu, but isn't stupid enough to outstupid her. And that basically sums up the entire show. However, if you could care less about the weird bad guys and endearingly two-dimensional characterization of Dragonball and Dragonball Z, and only watched them so you could see two hulking muscleheads beating the living $*!% out of each other, you'll probably love this show.
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Notes and Trivia
This really should have gone on that review, but here now in its complete unabridged form is the reason why I call Gatekeepers 21 "Gatekeepers Full Throttle"! Well remember Charlie's Angels Full Throttle? It was the sequel to something, had three female main characters, and it sucked. (I also refer to Final Fantasy X-2 as Final Fantasy X Full Throttle for the same reason).
This probably should have gone in the actual review, but there is one big story continuity issue with Dragon Ball GT. Waaaaay back when Goku was training under Kaio-sama, he learned about the history of the Saiyan race and how they destroyed the technologically-advanced Tuffles to gain control of their planet. However, it seems Baby (the big evil thing) is actually supposed to be a Tuffle or something (I was only partially paying attention by this point). I suppose the fact that all the Tuffles are supposed to be dead can be excused (since all the Saiyans but Goku and Vegeta were supposed to be dead, but in the movies a new Saiyan just showed up every time. You'd think with all these Saiyans still lurking around there'd be some lady Saiyans to help them repopulate their race), but whoever was supposed to be a Tuffle is portrayed as being extremely powerful. And Kaio-sama expressly said back in DBZ that the Tuffles only ruled the planet because of their technology, they were no more powerful than regular humans. But I'm sure the creators didn't care about things like that as long as DBGT kept selling T-shirts and action figures.
US DVD Review
The DVDs for most of the series feature 3 or occasionally 4 uncut episodes, with both English and Japanese audio and a subtitle track, per disc. The original first 16 episodes are being released in the same format as well, as "Lost Episodes".
Really more 7-up, but I want to make concessions for the uncut version, which is probably more like 13-up.
Violence: 2 - Only ugly monsters die, and they just get vaporized by big beams.
Nudity: 1 - A few outfits from Bulma... er, I mean, her daughter.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - These guys have no time for sex; whacking creatures is their life.
Language: 1 - Uncut version probably contains some rougher language.
Episodes starting at #17 are available on 15 volumes of edited or unedited dubbed VHS or uncut bilingual DVD from FUNimation; the original first 16 episodes are currently being released on unedited dubbed VHS or hybrid DVD. Also shown on Cartoon Network.