So the last episode of Dragonball GT finally aired on the Cartoon Network last night. What an ending!
Or lack there of.
I’ve been a fan of anime for a long while – longer than I even knew what anime was. In the late 70’s I was watching a cartoon that was running on WNYW called Battle of the Planets. A few of my friends watched it too – during recess there were a few dozen boys and girls running around the playground shouting “Transmute!” or blooping like Keyop. It’s not too often that cartoons are liked by both genders, after they start schooling. It wasn’t until the ‘net came around that I learned that Battle of the Planets was a hacked up, geared-for-kids version of the Japenese-based anime Gatchaman.
And Gatchaman was no kids show. One of the main characters suffered from delusions and brain trauma. The major villain – split into two different character in BotP – was a hermaphrodite in the service of an evil ethereal being… as an example, compare the Joker from the 1966 Batman TV show with the Joker from the 1990 Batman movie: night and day.
BotP lasted until 1980 and promptly disappeared from the airwaves – it has turned up on DVD’s and cable over the last couple of years – and life moved on. Some time in the late-80’s I bumped into Robotech. Robotech in the states was another hack job, but not nearly as bad as BotP was. Yes, Harmony Gold took three different Japanese anime series and merged them into one show (Macross, Robotech Masters (Southern Cross), and New Generation (Mospeada)) were actaully three different shows, tied together in the US through the translation/dubbing) but they did keep the over all theme of the show the same… and what’s more, they didn’t dumb it down to appeal to kids. For the first time since the fifties, cartoons were supposed to be watched by adults as well as kids.
Once the ‘net went mainstream I did some research and realized that anime was a pretty popular thing all over the world. What’s more, it was usually an animated version of manga – comic books – which was even a larger thing than anime, in Japan.
Consequently, I was late in the game when I found the epic of Dragonball. The first episodes I saw of Dragonball were from the Dragonball Z series and frankly, it bored me. Fights took fourteen episodes to finish – it reminded me of the difference between Law and Order and a PBS crime drama. Law and Order takes 30 minutes to solve a mystery; PBS takes 25 weeks. I had heard that DBZ was popular, but I didn’t get it, so I avoided it for a long while.
And then I saw DB from the beginning. DB starts with Son Goku as a young kid: he meets Bulma for the first time, still has a tail, and starts to train as a martial artist. Throughout the original DB series, there is a comic trend and a light story line that follows the same story that the original manga storyline. And that to me is amazing: the manga (DB and DBZ) ran in a magazine – Shonen Jump – for over ten years. DB, which just came to the states a few years ago is over twenty years old, yet it’s still comical and entertaining. And once you watch the entire series of DB, DBZ takes on a much deeper meaning: yes there’s more fighting, but the relationships between the characters make more sense with the background.
All of that, it feeds into DB GT. DB GT continues a few years after the end of the DBZ storyline and it was worked on by a different writer – Akira Toriyama, the creator of DB/DBZ, wasn’t involved – but I was still curious. The series starts slowly, and I eventually found out why: they fired the first set of writers after six episodes. And by episode 7 or 8, the show picked up. In fact, the majority of DB GT was good. Except the first few episodes, which was sorta blah… and the ending. The last episode. After years and years of shows, the very final episode of the entire thing, was sorta… blah.
Blah. After millions of TiVo bytes that were dedicated to snagging DB/DBZ/DB GT and it turns out to just be blah. Blah!
Feh. It was a gyp, but at least it’s done with!