How Dragon Ball Super Made Dragon Ball Better

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Surprising even to me, it turns out Dragon Ball Super is actually really good. I’ve written a small post detailing how Dragon Ball Super has improved upon its predecessors. Take a look!

Purity in Anime Isn’t So Simple

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When the words “purity in anime” come up, I think the typical association is with sexual purity. Between past stories of fans being angry at individuals both fictional (Nagi from Kannagi) and real (Suzumiya Haruhi seiyuu Hirano Aya) for not being virgins, to the idol industry’s forbidding of relationships for its stars, there is a valuing of chastity that is often tinged with the desire for someone’s virginity to be in a state of limbo: always on the cusp of losing it, but never going to do so. At the same time, however, while sexual innocence is one form of purity, it’s not the only kind, and often it takes the form of a “naive perspective,” a “pure heart,” or a “child-like desire.”

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To shift the discussion away from female characters, I’d like to talk about perhaps the most famous character in all of anime: Son Goku. Suffice it to say, he needs no introduction, but one recurring trait of the character is that he is pure-hearted. It’s what allows him to ride Kintoun (Flying Nimbus). When confronted with the Devilmite Beam, an attack that turns one’s negative thoughts into damage, Goku is completely unaffected. Even as he fights planet-crushing adversaries, has two kids, and generally grows into an adult, Goku is still portrayed as innocent of mind. His love of fighting is genuine, and even sex doesn’t really change him.

Looking at more recent titles (unless you count Dragon Ball Super), a character like Nagisa in Clannad is supposed to be an epitome of innocence and purity, but by the time of After Story she’s married and is no longer a virgin. Even though her tragedy quotient shoots way up (as tends to happen in Key works), Nagisa is much like Goku in that sex doesn’t actually impact the sense of purity her character exudes. In terms of child-like desire, Haruka in Free! views the act of swimming similar to to how Goku approaches fighting. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about the simple joy of the activity itself, whether that’s swimming to feel the thrill of the water regardless of competition, or wanting to test one’s strength against strong opponents. It’s as if the ultimate purity is one that maintains itself no matter the circumstances.

I can’t forget that there is a double standard when it comes to sex. Girls, be they fictional or real, are subjected to the issue of being “ruined” or considered “sluts” in a way that goes well beyond the limited world of idols where both sexes are subject to scrutiny. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if it’s possible for a character to be viewed as pure yet also sexually promiscuous? I don’t think it’s impossible. Perhaps even the enjoyment of sex can be portrayed innocently, even if that might not necessarily be realistic. That said, the degree to which people would be able to accept something like this is probably small in the grand scheme of industry and audience reactions, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing either. One question I wonder is how fans can reconcile a desire for purity in some cases with a strongly sexual presentation at the same time, but it might just have to do with having the option to shift responsibility, especially in the 2D realm of anime and the 2.5D realm of idols.

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In the first paragraph I mentioned Hirano Aya and her fall from grace due to the idea that she had sex with her band mates. The backlash essentially sent her from being the top otaku idol to only working in anime sparingly, but ultimately it’s my opinion that this has made her voice acting career better than ever. No longer is she pushed into roles that are tailored towards keeping her as that “goddess of anime.” She can be Migi, the alien symbiote in Parasyte. She can be Paiman, the weird panda-like hero in Gatchaman Crowds. She can be Dende, guardian of the Dragon Balls in Dragon Ball Super. It’s possible to look at her full CV and see that her acting is not limited to that which is most sexually thrilling or geared towards otaku appeal qualities. By de-coupling her from the very idea of virgin purity, her acting is arguably purer than ever before.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

Whiplashing It: Iron Man 2 Thoughts

I watched Iron Man 2, and just to put down a quick review, it was very entertaining and a worthy sequel, though not as good as the first and the action scenes tended towards the disorienting. What I really want to talk about though is the film’s villain , Ivan Vanko.

Iron Man suffers somewhat from a lack of really memorable supervillains, with few outside of the fanbase even knowing who the Mandarin is, let alone someone like the “Iron Monger” or “Whiplash,” the official name for Ivan (though it’s never mentioned in the film). Strictly speaking, there is no “Ivan Vanko” in the original comics, and is instead an amalgam of two existing Iron Man supervillains, Whiplash and the Soviet-themed Crimson Dynamo.

What an intriguing idea! If your villains aren’t that interesting, try to take elements from at least two, and try to create a more developed character out of it. I feel like it could go a long way.

So then I think, what if we applied this to film adaptations of anime? Let’s just say, HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING, that there was some kind of Dragon Ball “film,” if you will. While there are plenty of strong, iconic adversaries Goku and friends have had to face over the course of their tale, I just have to wonder about the possibilities of “Whiplashing” it.

Merge the Saibamen with the Little Cells to have an ultimate team of deadly jobbers.

Incorporate elements of Android No.19 into Tullece and have a guy who looks like Goku because he is a robot.

Better yet, mix Zarbon and Bacterion into a handsome, self-centered alien whose true form is ugly and also smells.

The possibilities are endless

Sprkng! Early Observation of Dragon Ball Kai

I don’t plan on making it a habit of blogging about Dragon Ball Kai, but seeing as I reviewed a very “special” remake yesterday, I felt I should talk a little about how the other, inarguably better remake is doing.

For those of you who don’t know, Dragon Ball Kai is an HD re-mastering of the original Dragon Ball Z with new audio recorded (both music and voices) and, most importantly, all fat trimmed to make the show more streamlined and in-pace with the original Toriyama manga. Three episodes are out so far, and it should give a good indicator as to how the show will fare later on.

Dragon Ball Kai accomplishes in three episodes what took the original anime five, and early Dragon Ball Z wasn’t even that filler-laden! At the pace they’re going, the show may end up feeling it’s never dragging. That is, unless perhaps the manga dragged in certain areas as well. It’s an interesting conflict, being “true to the manga,” because should you be true to it, bad parts and all? Probably the main difference in pacing that will be seen is that in the manga powering up hardly takes any time. It’s the classic cliche of Dragon Ball Z that entire episodes are spent “powering up,” and it’ll be funny to see that stereotype smashed. It’ll be even funnier when the Namek saga takes significantly less time, and the inevitable jokes will occur which go, “Are they still on Nam- oh…I guess not. Carry on!”

Unlike that other thing, there’s really no point to discussing whether or not Dragon Ball Kai is true to the spirit of Dragon Ball. While this is clearly going to make them massive piles of money to roll around (and to sleep on top of with lots and lots of beautiful women), it’s still, I feel, a labor of love to a certain extent, even if it’s simply a repackaging of old material to seem new and fresh. I’m cool with that.

I just have to wonder if this mean that for all the young kids who are watching Kai before Z, will they be unable to ever watch the Z anime when a superior alternative exists?

Dragon Ball Kai over Dragon Ball Z?

Dragon Ball Kai, for those of you who don’t already know, is the remastered, revised new airing of Dragon Ball Z with the filler cut out and the pacing altered to remove the fluff and get closer to the pacing of the original manga. Obviously, this is going to at some point be released on a physical format for purchase. Most likely it’s even going to be on Blu-Ray what with this being a remastering for HD broadcast.

If you enjoyed the series on Cartoon Network or syndication but never purchased any series, is how willing would you be to buy Dragon Ball Kai INSTEAD OF the original Dragon Ball Z anime? If you have the original DBZ anime, would you be willing to sell it in order to get DBKai, or does the original hold too much sentimental value?

It’s supposed to be about half as long with everything improved, so it looks to me like a more enticing purchase, but I just want to get a better idea of what others think. Would DBKai being essentially a condensed DBZ anime be a more attractive product to lay money down on? Is DBKai something only existing DBZ fans will pay attention to? Can it draw in a new audience, one that was born within the past decade and is now just reaching the target age for a classic great shounen series?

Dragon Ball Kai and the “Sacred Original”

Dragon Ball Kai, if you haven’t heard, is the newly redone, newly voiced, high-definition re-airing of the Dragon Ball Z anime starting April 5, 2009. And this time, according to Toei, they’re going to cut out the filler to make it more like the original manga.

There’s a certain level of importance placed on the “original” in anime, manga, and of course art and entertainment in general. Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” discussed the changes mass production could influence upon art and the concept and authenticity of an “original.”Star Wars is already a massed-produced work, but fans cry foul whenever George Lucas decides to revise the original trilogy, whether it’s deciding who shot who first, who appears in the sky as a ghost, or whether the Death Star should meet its end with many tiny explosions or one giant shock wave. Fans will argue that the plastic, rubbery look and the decisions made then, seen perhaps as weaknesses by some, are actually strengths of the movie. Originals, for better or worse, are often considered to be “sacred.” But what does one consider the “original?”

I bet a lot of people are fine with editing down Dragon Ball Z to remove a lot of the filler which bogged down the pacing of the series, and I am among them. In one sense, it is not the “original” because there’s a manga to base it on, a vision of what should have been. But what if Dragon Ball Kai was not a revision of Dragon Ball Z but the entire original manga retraced and made to look better than ever with “unnecessary filler” cut out? We know that Toriyama originally wanted to end the series at multiple junctures: the defeat of Piccolo, Jr. at the Tenkaichi Budokai; the death of Freeza; the death of Cell. Is the original his intended plan which never was carried out due to Shounen Jump editors wanting to keep making money hand over fist? If so, then surely the manga would have a huge chunk of its content cut out.

Now I’m not arguing against the concept of Dragon Ball Kai and its desire to tighten up the anime and remove the excess. I’ve established myself as being in support of the idea. However, when you sit down and try to consider what the “original” could be, it opens up a whole can of worms.

Today’s homework assignment is that I want you to think over the following two things. First, is the idea that the original creator(s) may not necessarily know what’s best for his own story, and that external factors which seem like limitations may sometimes produce better results (see First Gundam). Second, is taking the concept of “cutting out the boring and unncessary” parts and comparing it to dubbing practices of the 80s and 90s.

Have fun, though. That’s what’s most important.