Monday, October 5, 2015

A DBZ Fanboy vs. Akira Toriyama part 1: Spirit Ki vs Godly Ki

In my opinion, Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods was an awesome movie because it introduced something new into the series.  Resurrection 'F' was also awesome, but this time because it added a ton of action, most of it from fan favorite sub characters.  I find Dragon Ball Super to be a mixed bag with some awesome episodes featuring new content, good animation, and fresh fight choreography while others are the complete opposite and horribly dragged out filler filled affairs.  But all of this new Dragon Ball content has a set of glaring flaws in common and they share these flaws with...gasp!  Dragon Ball GT.

So first I'll share my vision of what I thought Akira Toriyama could have done to improve a series that I thought was on a downward spiral.  These ideas are from before BoG was even a thing.  I came up with these improvements in 2010.  So this will be a list of what I thought made DBZ so great and how to get them in the show again.

1. Ensemble Cast.

So the first thing that stood out to me about DBZ, as a kid was this cool looking and strange cast of powerful characters.  Remember how exciting that 90's intro was with everyone fighting and doing signature techniques?  The new DBZ series should have gotten back to using these characters, these fan favorites.  What made the original cast of DBZ so appealing was the diversity of them all in how they fought and how different and colorful they looked.  Tien fought like a martial arts technician, Krillin flipped around like a nimble monkey, Chiaotzu did weird stuff, Goku was balanced, Gohan would snap, Piccolo was a beast and Vegeta used dirty tricks and powerful finishing blows.  Now everybody that matters is a Saiyan and they all have golden hair and fight very similarly.  We didn't even need to see the original Z fighters win to be fans of them.  The fact that they all pitched in, gave it a try, and looked cool doing it was enough.  I always thought Tien and Yamcha were really cool even though they've never actually defeated anyone in DBZ (unless you count the filler Ginyus and Otherworld guys which I often do).  The only thing Toriyama and Toei need to do for characters other than Goku and Vegeta is give them someone to fight on their own level.  Why can there only be one fight at a time in DBZ?  Even in 2010 and before I saw this simple fix.  But if Toei and Toriyama think there's no value to be found in the old characters then they can at least make some really cool new characters to take their place.  We just need more diversity than two protagonists with the same abilities and transformations.  The reason for the decay in the initial ensemble cast of Z is due to the next thing that needs to be fixed...

2. Power Level Scaling.

I'm specifically referring to power level inflation.  It was already pretty broken by the time the Buu Saga rolled around.  Though it started to get really busted in the Frieza arc when characters like Vegeta were making instant 10x jumps, Piccolo making between 10x -- 286x jump, Krillin's potential 16x -- 70x jump, etc.  At least everyone was competitive here, and I like how the anime made the humans on Kaio's planet keep up too.  It made more sense seeing as how Piccolo made such incredible gains there (or not if you choose not to believe).

I actually liked the power levels during the Cell arc when everyone was relatively near one another.  I wished we got a more extended Android arc with the levels as they were when Vegeta fought #19 and Piccolo fought #20.  I wished Toriyama had created the movie cyborgs here so the others got a chance to fight in an arc without Goku.  That would've been rad!  The power level inflation got super busted once Super Saiyan 2 entered the picture during the Cell Games, well even before that with the Mastered Super Saiyan form or rather Full Power Super Saiyan.  By the time the Buu saga rolled around, I could clearly see how badly the unbalanced power level scaling ruined the show.

Characters who once helped drive the show forward suddenly became useless because they weren't in league with the new super strong baddie or because they didn't have another transformation to grant them more power.  Even characters that had gotten new forms and power levels in the current arc became instantly useless once the villain reached a new level of power and that just kept compounding making lesser characters even more useless.  Look at all the Buu Saga powerups as an example: Majin Vegeta, Gotenks Fusion, Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks Fusion, Mystic/Ultimate/Full Potential Gohan.  All of those powered up characters were cool for about 5 minutes then instantly became useless once Buu powered up or got a new form.  All the development (especially Gohan's) thrown out the window in favor of more powering up.

Spirit Ki (my fanboy concept)

So that brings me to my first improvement for the show.  The introduction of god ki.  That's right, I thought of it waaaaay before it was revealed in BoG.  Only I called it holy ki, or spirit ki.  It's not the most original idea and I actually may have gotten the idea from Yu Yu Hakusho, the sacred ki.  Anyways Tien really inspired me with this one, cuz how broken is the Kikoho?  Answer: ridiculously broken.  No matter where you put Tien's PL, there's no way he should have been able to hold down an enemy that was exponentially stronger than a Super Saiyan.

So spirit ki was born in my head and Tien had learned a way to use it to attack through normal ki.  It allowed him to compete with the top level fighters again.  Actually, I had made a villain come into play who has this spirit ki to wreck the strongest Z warriors because spirit ki could bypass normal ki, causing more damage than normal.  In my concept, it didn't even take a lot of spirit ki to defeat an opponent of even SSJ3 Goku's level, just a concentrated dose of it.  You can think of it like Pokemon, spirit ki is "super effective" against normal ki while normal ki is "not very effective" against spirit ki.  So it was up to Tien to teach his fellow Z warriors the basics of spirit ki to defeat this new villain and now all the Z fighters are on equal footing again and we can introduce new concepts into the show to keep it fresh, like possibly infusing spirit ki with elements or something.  This also fixes the inflated power level scaling since new villains can simply be really good at this spirit ki.  Not all villains have to be gods now.  I was even toying with the idea of spirit ki originating on earth as something that allowed humans to fight devil gods from the demon realm.  Maybe Tien's alien ancestors came to earth to teach it.  Who knows, but the idea can go anywhere.  How did Tien learn the Kikiho anyway?


Instead Toriyama uses a variant of this concept called god ki and it seemed to do very similar things to my own spirit ki concept.  So I was super excited to see that and it looked like Toriyama was onto something interesting.  I didn't have super high hopes since I saw a lot of things in BoG that were indicative of the show's worst traits like the simplistic (and horribly convenient) Super Saiyan God ritual (pure hearted saiyans, really!?)  But the god ki concept held strong.  Only gods could do battle with gods and godly ki is on a whole other level than normal ki.  That all worked out nicely, until...

Frieza's intergalactic training gains (aka, damn he's strong!)

Resurrection 'F' threw that whole concept out the window.  In four months of training, Frieza not only surpassed all of DBZ's major villains, who were eons ahead of him in strength.  It flies in the face of all the ridiculous gains made by all the other characters over the years.  He also surpassed the new gods of universe 7, Goku and Vegeta who are both in the same realm of strength as Beerus the god of destruction (though Beerus is considerably stronger still.)  Why Toriyama didn't have him train for a little longer than that and with some other godly being is beyond explanation.

So as it stands now, even someone with a bunch of regular ki can trounce all over someone with godly ki as Frieza did for a good portion of RoF.  So that previous theory of god ki nullifying normal ki goes out the window.  I'll tell you BoG and RoF were great movies, but they were filled with so many sloppy plot holes, errors, and missed opportunities.  I still love them though, but only when I turn my brain off.  And hey, Toriyama and Toei at least got #1 right in RoF.  The ensemble cast looked so amazing in that fight along with the newcomer Jaco who was even weaker than most of the Z fighters, but still fought admirably and stylishly.

Next time we'll go over the ways the Dragon Ball series can be improved with a simple exploration of its existing backstory, powers, and techniques.  Think Tien's true alien race, Frieza's home planet, the Namekian book of legends, the planet of the Metamorans, Dabura's demon realm, the different ways ki can boost abilities, the applications of kaioken for the rest of the cast, etc.

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