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Is It Time To Remake The Original 'Dragon Ball' Anime?

Find the Dragon Balls, Look out for them all..

By Kristy AndersonPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
A young Krillin and Goku in 'Dragon Ball'.

Dragon Ball is one of the most successful, widely known anime franchises worldwide. Even those with very little anime knowledge will often be able to recognise the series protagonist, Goku. However, while many fans have watched Dragon Ball Z, and the more recent Dragon Ball Super, far fewer, at least in Western countries have seen Dragon Ball, the original series that started it all.

The reason for this is relatively simple. While an English dub of Dragon Ball, which is more humour/adventure based, at least to begin with, aired in some Western countries in the mid-90s, it was quickly pulled from screens due to low ratings. It's more action packed sequel Dragon Ball Z, which first began regularly airing outside of Japan in the late 90s-early 2000s as an attempt to find the next big thing after the success of Pokemon, was a much bigger hit with Western audiences. Another sequel, Dragon Ball Super, eventually continued the franchise's success.

Later this year, another new series, Dragon Ball Daima, will hit screens. Made in celebration of the Dragon Ball manga's 40th anniversary (The manga covers the events of both the original Dragon Ball and Z), Daima will see Goku and the franchise's other major players transformed into children, and travelling to a new world in hope of fixing the situation. Apart from Goku's reduced age, the series will also see him making greater use of his Nimbus Cloud and Power Pole, both major elements of the original Dragon Ball.

While many more recent fans have expressed confusion in the apparent change of direction compared to Z and Super, those who have truly been with the franchise since the beginning have welcomed the return of the classic elements. Some have even expressed hope that if Daima is successful, Dragon Ball anime might be up for a remake when the original reaches the 40th anniversary of its television debut in two years time.

Here's why it might actually be a good time for a Dragon Ball remake.

It would reconnect the franchise with it's roots, and teach newer fans Goku's origins.

At the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, it is revealed that Goku is actually a Saiyan, a member of an alien race sent to purge Earth of life and prepare it for takeover. Fortunately, a bump on the head as a child wiped out his programming. For many, introduced to the franchise through DBZ, this revelation is where Goku's story began. For others, the shift towards threats from other planets was a hard left turn from where Dragon Ball began.

Dragon Ball, a mystical comedy adventure, was initially intended as a modern retelling of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. A young woman, Bulma (representing the Monk Tripitaka) encounters super-strong orphan Goku, who possesses the Four-Star Dragon Ball, and convinces him to join her on a quest to find the other six balls, which will summon the Eternal Dragon to grant them a wish. They are eventually joined on this quest by Oolong, a shapeshifter (Pigsy), and former bandit, Yamcha (Sandy). Later story arcs see Goku train under Master Roshi, enter a World Martial Arts Tournament, and battle the Red Ribbon Army.

For the most part, Dragon Ball (at least until the final story arc) is not quite as violent or battle heavy as it's sequels, but it does still include many battles and moments significant to the overall story arc of Goku and other characters, such as Bulma and Krillin. Everyone loves a hero origin story, and Dragon Ball is Goku's. While it is different from what many fans know the franchise to be, if marketed correctly, leaning on the Goku's origin angle, a Dragon Ball remake could quite easily find an audience.

The original animation has visibly aged.

The original Dragon Ball anime debuted on Japanese screens in 1986, making it's earliest episodes nearly four decades old. The age of the content is noticeable, with sometimes choppy animation, and imperfections in the footage. While for those who watched the series as it was airing, this adds to the charm. Unfortunately, for others, used to the smoother animation of later entries, it makes it more difficult to watch.

While many fans have expressed interest in Goku's early history, and are happy to watch short clips of significant moments, they struggle with the aged look of Dragon Ball too much to commit to watching the series as a whole. If the series was remade with the crisper, cleaner look of it's sequels, these fans would be more than happy to watch.

Some of Dragon Ball's fight scenes can be more interesting to watch than Z or Super

Many of the fight scenes in Dragon Ball Z, and later Super, follow a rather predictable pattern. Goku (or Gohan, Vegeta, etc) struggles in battle against a new enemy/rival, but when things look their bleakest, uncovers a new ability/power level/transformation that either helps him achieve victory, or, in filler-heavy sagas, extends the fight long enough for this cycle to repeat itself.

Dragon Ball's fights are somewhat less predictable. As the series goes on, Goku outright loses fights more regularly, and often has to train and improve his skills before re-engaging some enemies. Even after training, Goku is still a child, albeit a freakishly strong child, often facing adult opponents. There are times when Goku's small stature counts against him, and so he must fight more strategically to counteract his disadvantage. Also, Goku cannot yet fly independently in Dragon Ball. These elements are what have some fans especially interested in Dragon Ball Daima, and could make an original Dragon Ball remake watchable.

A remake could trim the filler content

A common problem that arises when Manga are adapted into Anime form is when production of the anime outpaces the manga chapters available to adapt. Rather than pause production, anime episodes are padded out with filler content while the manga catches up. Dragon Ball Z, clocking in at a whopping 291 episodes, was notorious for filler, particularly during the 'Frieza' saga, when it sometimes took multiple episodes to complete a single attack.

While filler was less of a problem with Dragon Ball, or at least less overt and annoying than DBZ's filler, it is still present. The series runs for 153 episodes, which, while much less than the uncut DBZ, is still a big commitment for a first time viewer. A remake could remove just enough filler to bring Dragon Ball down to a less overwhelming episode count.

A 'Dragon Ball' remake may actually benefit the 'Dragon Ball Super' anime

The anime adaptation of the third chronological entry in the Dragon Ball series, Dragon Ball Super, has been on hiatus since 2018, having left off at the 'Tournament of Power' saga. A number of manga sagas have been produced in the meantime, including those based on the movies Dragon Ball Super: Broly and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.

Fans have eagerly awaited the return of the Super anime, so some were disappointed when Dragon Ball Daima was announced instead, and could be equally disappointed if a Dragon Ball remake was announced ahead of more Super. However, the scenario also presents a unique opportunity in Dragon Ball history.

By the time Daima and a potential OG Dragon Ball remake are completed, creator Akira Toriyama should be further ahead with chapters of the Super manga. After literal decades of filler being an issue for the franchise, multiple sagas of the Dragon Ball Super anime could be made without the need for any filler at all. As an added bonus, Dragon Ball could reintroduce unknowing fans to the Red Ribbon Army, before their return as villains in Super's 'Super Hero' saga.

By revisiting it's past, this franchise could secure it's future. Let's show new fans what it was like to find the Dragon Balls for the first time.


About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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