10 Harsh Realities Of Rereading Dragon Ball


The latest chapter of Dragon Ball Super was released on Dec. 20, 2022, with the beginning of a new arc. Fans are stoked that Goten and Trunks are finally getting a chance to shine, but some have complained that the arc feels too much like slice-of-life.


Dragon Ball Super is, of course, the sequel to Dragon Ball, the original manga series written and drawn by Akira Toriyama. Dragon Ball is the second-best-selling manga series of all time (after One Piece). And thought the classic series still holds up, rereading it does reveal a few harsh realities devoted fans have to reckon with.

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The Beginning Is Boring

Goku and Bulma at the beginning of Dragon Ball in the full color manga.

While the beginning of Dragon Ball is what made the story become as successful as it is, those going back to the beginning may have a much harder time getting through it. The story is more grounded and the fights aren’t as action-packed as in the second half of the series.

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Comedy is also one major aspect that has been largely controversial, especially with regard to Master Roshi. The story does pick up and the World Martial Arts Tournaments are some of the best parts of the series, but there’s no denying that occasionally there are difficult pages to get through.

Ki Needed A Foundational Beginning And Explanation

Master Roshi using the Kamehameha in Dragon Ball Full Color manga.

While ki is introduced relatively early in the series with the Kamehameha, there’s no real explanation for ki at all. The anime offers one, but it isn’t until Gohan is training Videl. This is odd because most fantasy series explain their power systems early on.

Dragon Ball opts not to. Instead, the characters conjure new abilities when needed without explanation. While Goku’s adept learning never gave an opportunity for Roshi to teach the concept of ki, fans deserved at least a glimpse of him explaining it to Krillin.

Goku’s Mercy Needed A Deeper Explanation

Goku after defeating Frieza on Namek in the Dragon Ball Full Color manga.

While it can be easy to miss on the first read, it becomes more evident on a second read that Goku’s mercy doesn’t make too much sense in the series. While there are many villains Goku actually killed in Dragon Ball, the explanations are confounding.

While Goku does explain that he spares Vegeta’s life because he wants to fight him again, it doesn’t wholly make sense that Goku spared someone like Frieza and not King Piccolo. There’s never really a point Goku trying to spare King Piccolo and Frieza he offers numerous chances to. Even when Frieza attacks Goku with the energy he gave him, Goku still lets him live.

The Dragon Balls Are Way Too Convenient

The Dragon Balls in the King Piccolo arc from the Full Color manga of Dragon Ball.

When reading Dragon Ball for the first time things may seem more dire than they really are. This is because Toriyama is able to lay various plot twists, such as King Piccolo killing Shenron to make the Dragon Balls unusable, or when Nappa kills Piccolo in the Saiyan Saga doing the same thing.

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However, there always seemed to be a way out and this can be more obvious and frustrating on a reread. If the title and central focus of the series weren’t Dragon Ball it would’ve been plausible to do away with the Dragon Balls a long time ago as they do lower the stakes of the series.

There Is A Lack Of Emotion

Roshi's final words to King Piccolo as he dies in the Full Color Manga.

While the first read is bound to make readers cry at multiple points the same might not be as true on a reread. This is because of the numerous resurrections characters have in the series and when the reader knows that in the end, the characters are going to live, it’s not as emotional.

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However, it does spark more emotion than “fake deaths” as these characters really are going into these scenes with the intention of never coming back to life. However, there is a feeling lost when the reader knows for a certainty that they will return.

The Series Needed More Worldbuilding And Backstories

Frieza recalling Bardock's death in Dragon Ball Full Color Manga.

The worldbuilding of Dragon Ball is nothing to scoff at, but it certainly could’ve done better. Especially when it came to outer space. Akira Toriyama introduced some incredible alien races like the Saiyans, Namekians, and Frieza’s race.

However, little is known about each of these within canon material. He could’ve spent more time on backstories of these races and characters to flesh out the universe and give readers more insight into the overall universe of Dragon Ball. This is done somewhat in various non-canon material which has helped flesh out some of the most tragic characters in Dragon Ball, but nothing concrete or canon was done in the main series.

The Rest Of The Cast Deserved Better

Tien and Yamcha at the beginning of their fight in the Dragon Ball Full Color manga.

The first few arcs of Dragon Ball slowly introduce the reader to some fascinating characters like Yamcha and Tien. However, these characters eventually get replaced and even Krillin doesn’t play a major role toward the end of the series.

The series seems to favor Saiyans more than the Earthlings with Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, and Goten and Trunks, one of the best duos in Dragon Ball, all taking the lead. While Piccolo does manage to stay at the forefront for a long time, even he fades into a more supportive character in the final saga making only Saiyans the important characters.

The Fights Become Less Strategic

Goku using his breath to stop him midair against King Chappa in the Dragon Ball Full Color manga.,

The World Martial Arts matches always had a character outperforming another fighter with skill alongside their might. Goku would perform some curious maneuver and the rest of the cast would discuss his strategy and how he was able to overcome his opponent.

This is something that gets lost throughout the series with most fights concluding with large ki blasts and explosions. It does make the conclusions feel a bit dryer when compared to how fights used to end in the series. There were still some exceptional scenes like the unique way Goku used the Kamehameha against Cell by using Instant Transmission, but that also hadn’t been the end of the fight.

The Buu Saga Has A Lot Of Problems

Characters from the Majin Buu Saga in Dragon Ball Full Color manga.

The Buu Saga can be a fun experience on the first read, however, when rereading the saga and paying closer attention to the writing it can be painfully obvious how many issues are in the story. The saga is full of several plot holes and inconsistencies as well as obvious changes to the story.

While the saga did wrap up beautifully with Goku’s Spirit Bomb, it’s clear that both he and Vegeta were never originally intended to come back to life. While fans will never agree whether Gohan was fit to be the main protagonist, there’s no denying that Goku and Vegeta remaining dead would’ve added a better layer to the story.

The Dragon Balls Needed To Come Into Play In A New Way

All the Shadow Dragons in Dragon Ball GT

The main purpose of the Dragon Balls in the series became solely for them to bring fallen warriors back from the dead. There is very little lore and mystery uncovered about the Dragon Balls in the series and there needed to be some sort of consequence or backlash regarding the wishing orbs.

Dragon Ball GT does thankfully address this and concludes the series wonderfully despite the build-up not always being fantastic. However, it’s unfortunate that the initial and original series never gave any new purpose to the Dragon Balls.

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