Anime Reporter turns the dials up to 11 and powers up for Season 9 of Dragon Ball Z, the final season of the show based on Akira Toriyama’s acclaimed Dragon Ball manga series.
To anime fans and those who watched cartoons of any kind in the 90’s, this series surely needs no introduction. Over the course of several years and almost three hundred episodes, Dragon Ball Z is easily one of the most famous and influential animes of all time, shaping the narrative for adventures and battles across the genre. It’s not difficult to understand the show’s phenomenal popularity and acclaim, boasting many colourful and likeable characters and a knack for intense battles which has often been emulated though rarely matched.
The series focuses on Son Goku, the optimistic and occasionally naive alien who also happens to be the number one contender for any battle throughout the universe. Following the events of Dragon Ball, which conveyed Goku’s battles during his childhood, Dragon Ball Z spends a lot of time delving into the many friends and partners in Goku’s adult life as well as his ever growing family. Which is not to say that Goku is no longer the star of the show. On the contrary, it’s more often than not a feature of an arc that Goku’s friends can at best stall against a monstrous, alien threat while waiting for Goku to arrive and the real battle to begin.
Season 9 serves as the climactic and gripping finale to the series, though it would come to be immediately followed by sixty four episodes of Dragon GT, the final Dragon Ball series and only one not to be based on the original manga. Throughout season 9, the antagonist is Majin Boo, a magical being create to destroy planets, awoken from his imprisonment and released upon the universe. As the season begins and the menace of Majin Boo looms, Goku is found to be rather inconveniently dead and his son Gohan is deep in training to overcome his limitations, all the while aware of the damage searing across the planet in his absence. As to be expected from the Dragon Ball Z series, there’s no lack of action or suspense to be found, though battles can, from time to time, be dragged out to what can feel like an unnecessary amount of time, the series and its characters inevitably make up for that in entertainment value.
Each character in the series is given their own distinctive personality and many characters from earlier seasons and series make an appearance as the end approaches, though certain characters, such as Krillin and Yamcha, long since fundamental to the group and to the series are reduced to little more than onlookers by the ever escalating events leading to the conclusion. As such, it’s easy to feel a little short-changed by the farewell given to some characters, though there are few who would deny that Goku is the heart of this show and perhaps more deserving of the spotlight than any of the other characters.
Since this season originally over fifteen years ago, the quality of the animation may seem lacking when compared
with that of more modern series’. However, it’s hard to deny, as the story progresses, that battles and environments are immersive and incredibly pleasing to the eye and that the overwhelming suspense of the series leaves any concerns about dated animation firmly in the wake of the action.
On the surface, Dragon Ball Z appears to be about martial arts and saving the universe, but at its heart it is, and always has been a show about friendship and love and this is still quite evident by the final season. Relationships and bonds continue to grow and develop organically amid the chaos of intergalactic and trans-dimensional battles. Quite simply, the most endearing and precious quality of Dragon Ball Z is that after two hundred and ninety episodes, it’s still possible to care about the characters and their struggles, not something easily accomplished.
Without Goku, it’s very difficult to imagine characters like MonkeyD. Luffy or Naruto Uzumaki coming into existence. Dragon Ball Z was more than just a terrific show, it blazed a bright trail for popular manga to follow and it remains easy to spot its influence on series’ like One Piece, Naruto, Fairy Tail and many more. Season 9 is not only an entertaining and gripping piece of animation and storytelling, it is also a fitting and satisfying end to one of anime’s greatest epics.
While those unfamiliar with the show may dismiss it as a simple story of fighting and aliens, it is without a doubt worth following this tale from innocent beginning to bittersweet end. Fans of the series have no excuse for missing out on season 9, while everyone else should make a start tucking in from the beginning immediately.
Dragon Ball Z Season 9 is available on DVD from Manga Entertainment.
Find out more on the official Dragon Ball Z website: http://www.dragonballz.com/
The official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-Ball-z-Official-Show-Page/429169313790913?fref=ts
Twitter Page (Dragon Ball Z): https://twitter.com/iTweetDBZ
Twitter Page (Manga UK): https://twitter.com/MangaUK
Influence and Significance: 9.5
Dragon Ball Z season 9 is a priceless and satisfying end to one of animation’s greatest sagas. Not to be missed. No excuses.