tek's rating:

Dragon Ball Z, on Fuji TV
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streaming sites: Amazon; Funimation

Caution: spoilers.

Well, this is a pretty popular series, but I was never really interested. It's a sequel series to Dragon Ball, set several years later. (At least in the U.S. it's a sequel; I guess in Japan it was the same series.) I watched that series for awhile on Cartoon Network, and it was okay, but eventually I lost interest. I doubt they ever finished showing the series, anyway. But then they started showing it on Toonami Jetstream, so I started watching again. And after a little while, Jetstream also started showing DBZ. So I figured, since I had a chance to see it from the beginning, I might as well check it out. Unfortunately for me, it seems as if a lot must have happened on the old show beyond the point where I stopped watching, though it's also possible, I suppose, that some stuff happened in between the series, stuff we never saw. I don't really know at this point. I hope I can say more about that, eventually.

In any event, Goku is now grown up, and he's married to Chi Chi, and they have a son named Gohan (named after Goku's grandfather), who's about the age Goku was during the first series, I think. Well, we get to see familiar old characters like Bulma, Yamcha, Puar, Roshi, Krillin, and Oolong. Before long, an alien crash lands on Earth, and goes to see Goku, who he says is his brother. The alien's name is Raditz, and he calls Goku "Kakarot." He tells Goku that they are two of only four remaining Saiyans, whose homeworld of Vegeta had been destroyed. Saiyans were all extremely powerful, and would hire themselves out to wipe out the dominant races on other worlds, so that the planets could be sold to the highest bidder. Kakarot himself had been sent to Earth as a baby to do just this, but never received his instructions, so he grew up not knowing of his origins. And now Raditz was here to do the job Kakarot was meant to do years ago.

Goku, of course, wants no part in this. He fights Raditz, with help from someone else called Piccolo, who was an old enemy of Goku's, though as yet I've never seen him in Dragon Ball, or anything. But anyway, they have a common enemy in Raditz. They barely manage to defeat him, because he was much more powerful than they were. It's also discovered that Gohan may be more powerful still. In spite of the fact that Chi Chi never wanted him to learn martial arts, he heads off to train with Piccolo to learn to control his power. Goku... lost his life in the battle with Raditz.

But, apparently people have died before and been wished back to life with the Dragon Balls, though that can only be done once for any individual, and it hasn't been done yet for Goku. So, his friends will wish him back to life, one year later. First he has to make his way to the home of King Kai, in the afterlife, to receive special training. It will take a year for the two other Saiyans to reach Earth. They are Vegeta and Nappa, who considered Raditz a weakling. So it's obvious that Goku will have to become stronger, as will Piccolo and Gohan. Of course, Goku was already way stronger now than he was in the original series (which is saying alot), and so were Krillin and Yamcha. The two of them will also have to get much stronger, so they, along with a few other people I never heard of (Tien, Chiaotzu, and Yagirobe) go to train with someone called Kami, who I also don't know, but I guess he created the Dragon Balls. Also, it turns out that at some point in the past, Piccolo had separated into two beings, and Kami was his good half, or something. Even though he looks way older than Piccolo. Um... I dunno though, maybe this is just because of the way Nameks reproduce. (There are, by the way, no female Nameks.)

Anyway, Vegeta and Nappa want to find the Dragon Balls so they can wish themselves immortality. And of course they also want to kill everyone on Earth, I suppose, but they can't be too destructive, as they don't want to risk destroying the Dragon Balls. They are confronted by Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu. Yagirobe doesn't seem reliable, he was out talking to the media, claiming he was the leader of the group, telling them what was going on, and making a pig of himself, while staying well away from the actual fight. Meanwhile, Bulma, Puar, Oolong, and Roshi are all gathered at Roshi's house, watching events on TV. And the Ox King shows up with Chi Chi, as well. And I guess Roshi's friend the turtle was there, too. And at some point some old witch who I guess is Roshi's sister or something shows up with a crystal ball, which comes in handy when the TV gets busted.

Anyway, the Saiyans reveal that Piccolo is from a planet called Namek. He looked like an alien, but didn't know his own origins. Well, while the fighters wait for Goku to return from King Kai's place, they have to fight Nappa, who is extraordinarily powerful. Several heroes die (or as they say, are sent to the next dimension). But eventually Goku shows up, and defeats Nappa. Then he has to fight the much more powerful Vegeta, with some help from Krillin and Gohan. They barely manage to defeat him, but he escapes in his space pod, to recuperate.

Well, our heroes wanted to wish their friends back to life, but... they needed to go to Namek to acquire new Dragon Balls. (Kami died at the same time as Piccolo, and since he was their creator, they disappeared when he died.) They were going to use Nappa's pod to get to Namek, but... that didn't work out. So, Kami's servant, Mr. Popo, takes Bulma to an old spaceship that belonged to Kami, and taught her enough of the Namek language to use the ship's voice-activated controls. And she, Krillin, and Gohan took off for Namek.... However, it turns out there is already a group of aliens there who are also looking for Dragon Balls, for their own nefarious purposes. They're led by Frieza, the leader of the organization Vegeta and Nappa worked for, who is apparently the most powerful warrior in the universe. Meanwhile, Vegeta has recovered his strength. In fact, he's much stronger than before (Saiyans get stronger with every battle, win or lose- or maybe just when they lose, I dunno), and has learned some new tricks because of his battle on Earth. He now heads to Namek to find the Dragon Balls, and once he finds them, he plans to take down Frieza.

Goku, back on Earth, spends some time in the hospital after his battle with Vegeta. But soon he, too, regains his strength. And Bulma's father, Dr. Brief, the head of Capsule Corp, modifies the ship Goku had arrived on Earth in as a baby, and programs a course to take Goku to Namek to join his friends. During the journey, he'll continue training to increase his strength, knowing Vegeta is even more powerful than before, and that Frieza is even more powerful than Vegeta. Meanwhile, Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo show up at King Kai's place to train, themselves, so they'll be ready to help out once their friends wish them back to life.

Back on Namek, Frieza's group has already collected five Dragon Balls, but Vegeta manages to get one for himself before Frieza can find it. And Krillin and Gohan befriend a young Namek named Dende, who takes Krillin to meet the Eldest Namek, Guru, who gives Krillin his Dragon Ball, as well as awakening dormant power that Krillin wasn't even aware he had within him. (Guru later did this for Gohan as well.) Meanwhile, Vegeta fought Dodoria, one of Frieza's henchmen, who revealed that Frieza had actually destroyed the Saiyan homeworld, fearing that eventually some of the most powerful Saiyans who worked for him might together become powerful enough to defeat him. Vegeta sends Dodoria to the next dimension, but later he fights another henchman, Zarbon, who defeats Vegeta... at least for the moment.

Meanwhile, Frieza summons a group of five super-powerful warriors called the Ginyu Force to come to Namek and fight the Earthlings or whatever. Krillin and Gohan team up with Vegeta to fight the Ginyu Force and later Frieza himself, who turns out to be far more powerful than they thought. But first, Goku shows up on Namek and helps defeat the Ginyu Force, though he is seriously hurt in the battle, and must spend some time in a rejuvenation tank or whatever. Um... I should also say the Dragon Balls change hands a number of times, before finally Dende helps Krillin and Gohan summon the dragon. And apparently the Namek version grants three wishes instead of just one. They wish Piccolo back to this dimension, then wished him to Namek. And I forgot to say, there was a Namek named Nail who fought Frieza and lost, but now Piccolo fused with him so they'd become one much more powerful being, who later joined Krillin, Gohan, and Vegeta in their fight against Frieza.

Yes, I'm forgetting lots of things, saying stuff out of order. Um... Guru died before the third wish could be granted, and the dragon balls all disappeared. However, when Piccolo was wished back to life, Kami also came back to life, so I guess there would be dragon balls on Earth again. And also I should say Goku turned out to be something called a "Super Saiyan," which is something Vegeta himself hoped to become....

And that's all I can say so far. There's a long way yet to go in the series. And as expected, I still prefer the original series. But I guess this one's interesting enough that I'd like to see more of it eventually. Unfortunately, Toonami Jetstream ceased to exist, so I stopped watching the series, obviously. I should say there are also various movies I've never seen and at least one or two other series I've never seen. Not sure if I'm even interested in subsequent series, but I'd at least have to finish this series before watching them. I should also mention that there's a recut version of DBZ called "Dragon Ball Z Kai," and I'm not sure whether I'd prefer to watch that or the original, or whether it even matters.

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