Dragon Ball Z is an anime series that revolutionized the genre, earning endless praise for its intense battles, compelling characters, and awe-inspiring transformations. These captivating elements have kept devoted fans hooked, but that doesn't mean the series is without its flaws. While Dragon Ball Z excels at raising the stakes and delivering surprising plot twists, bringing the story to a satisfying end is no easy feat, especially for a franchise that spans hundreds of episodes over several decades.
Each installment in the Dragon Ball series has faced its share of challenges when it comes to crafting a fitting conclusion. Some endings feel abrupt, while others may come across as inauthentic to the characters and the overall narrative. Despite this, Dragon Ball Z has always been more about the journey than the destination. Nevertheless, just when it seems that Dragon Ball Z is on the verge of achieving a strong and gratifying finale, its protagonist, Goku, interferes and disrupts what could have been a truly cathartic conclusion.
The Focus Is Put Back On Grounded Martial Arts
Dragon Ball Z soars to such magnificent heights that it's easy to overlook its humble beginnings, where Goku couldn't even fly. The inclusion of extravagant energy attacks and Super Saiyan transformations is not inherently problematic, but at times, these dramatic elements can hinder our connection with the characters as relatable human beings. The original Dragon Ball, on the other hand, embraces the essence of martial arts, emphasizing strategy and inner strength. These principles are best exemplified during the World Martial Arts Tournament, which many viewers consider the pinnacle of the original Dragon Ball series.
The poignant conclusion of Dragon Ball occurs with Goku's triumph in the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. It feels fitting for Dragon Ball Z to follow a similar tradition, albeit with Goku now assuming the role of a humble spectator. After all the grandeur of the Buu Saga, with fusion, Super Saiyan 3, and Super Spirit Bombs, it's appropriate for Dragon Ball Z to return to the fundamentals of martial arts, as originally intended for the series' conclusion. However, Goku disrupting the festivities in a self-centered and distracting manner represents a regression rather than progress.
The Arc Begins Celebrating The Next Generation Of Heroes
Dragon Ball franchise chronicles Goku's incredible journey from childhood to grandfatherhood. Despite being the perpetual protagonist, Dragon Ball Z often hints that Goku's prime days are behind him and that he could serve better as a mentor or a proud observer to the next generation of heroes. Given Goku's renowned reputation in the World Martial Arts Tournament, it wouldn't be surprising if the final tournament revolved around a friendly showdown between Goku and Vegeta to determine the strongest.
Dragon Ball Z demonstrates praiseworthy restraint by excluding Goku from these events and instead focusing on battles involving younger fighters like Goten, Trunks, and even Goku's granddaughter, Pan. There's a satisfying sense of completion as Goten and Trunks step into the spotlight, assuming the roles Goku and Krillin once held during Dragon Ball's conclusion. However, all this progress and forward-looking momentum get disrupted when an impassioned Goku interrupts the proceedings to test Uub's strength. While Goku's recognition of Uub's latent abilities does show consideration for future fighters, he still manages to steal the spotlight and come across as the hero in that moment. Even in the Dragon Ball manga, Uub is likened to a young Goku rather than being allowed to stand as a distinct and unique character on their own.
Uub Doesn’t Establish Himself As A Character Yet
All of the conclusions in the Dragon Ball series have an awkward and abrupt feel to them, but Dragon Ball Z's ending continues to perplex viewers. The introduction of characters who suddenly become immensely significant can be indicative of weak writing. While Dragon Ball Z introduces some exceptional latecomers, Uub's design feels uninspired, especially considering his supposed status as a pure-hearted reincarnation of Kid Buu. Fans aren't necessarily frustrated by Goku's decision to prioritize training someone else over everything else. The problem lies in the fact that this prodigious student is an entirely new character, devoid of any connection to Goku or the audience. Goku's wholehearted investment in Uub feels incredibly premature. At this point, Uub could even be an enemy trap, but Goku's eagerness for a powerful disciple overrides common sense.
Goku's enthusiastic approach wouldn't be so dismissive if Dragon Ball Z had taken more time to develop this relationship. There is absolutely no reason why Goku couldn't have observed Uub from a distance before making such a drastic decision. Making this choice after weeks of gathering information would have been less irresponsible than doing so in mere minutes. Additionally, Goku could have easily trained Uub alongside Goten and Trunks, rather than isolating himself from his friends and family for an indefinite period. Goku's definitive departure feels like an artificial way to conclude Dragon Ball Z, rather than following a storytelling path that would make more sense. A joint training session involving Goten, Trunks, and Uub would have held greater value than Goku's overbearing presence in the life of a stranger. It would have been less intense for Uub to learn in a group setting, rather than one that could potentially vilify Goku. Ending the series on such a sour note contradicts the idea that Goku prioritizes his family and friends above all else.
Future Stories Practically Ignore These Events
One way to salvage a disappointing conclusion is by delivering an exceptional beginning in the successor series. However, in the case of Dragon Ball, two opportunities to make up for the polarizing ending of Dragon Ball Z were wasted. Dragon Ball GT initially introduced Uub as a significant character, but he was quickly sidelined and forgotten. On the other hand, Dragon Ball Super made a conscious effort to position itself before Goku's departure with Uub, avoiding the need to address or retcon events, despite wanting to disregard this narrative choice. Although Dragon Ball Super included subtle hints about Uub, the overall structure of the series prevents his effective utilization, despite his potential.
The mishandling of Uub in Dragon Ball makes Goku's actions at the end of Dragon Ball Z appear even more careless in hindsight. It feels impulsive, and none of the Dragon Ball sequels make sufficient effort to justify this decision. It's unfortunate that such a promising conclusion is undermined by Goku's constant need for the spotlight.