Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dragon Ball Z and Naruto really, really suck

Eh, who am I to get all uppity about anime? For years I watched anything and everything, and that included a few episodes of Dragon Ball Z. Looking back, there was a lot of crap. And by a lot, I mean metric buttloads. And by metric buttloads, I mean somewhere in the neighborhood of hundreds. I'd pick up a title and watch the first few minutes, or maybe even the entire episode, and decide to toss it or give it a shot. Naruto was one of the ones that lasted about 2 minutes. In that time, it was quite clear that it was typical of a well-defined genre, replete with stereotypes and cliches. Dragon Ball Z is the same genre. Actually, Dragonball Z might've defined the genre. Another example would be Yuyu Hakusho.

In Japan, these shows and comics target a demographic of a boy somewhere around the age of 14. In my view, it's probably younger. While it may be argued that Japan's school system is heads and shoulders above the American public school system, there's no denying that these shows are for children.

As an aside, I think animation, anime, comics (sequential art), and manga have great examples that show what the mediums are capable of. There are plenty of adults, myself included, who watch/read regularly and, the field is populated with adults of great and varied talent that regularly tell great and varied stories. They are works of consequence and significance. From other things I've written, at least that much should be evident.

Back to Dragon Ball Z and Naruto, anyone can see the animation quality is very poor. Even if it weren't, the writing is poor. It's ultra-simplistic and has no bearing on reality, literally or metaphorically. With Dragon Ball Z, I know all the characters are flat and uninteresting. From what I read about Naruto, the characters are just a bunch of stereotypes.

A friend of mine argued that it promotes training and struggle. True. But does that require thousands of pages and hundreds of episodes? Not hardly. A single one-on-one battle might take 3-5 episodes, and that's just for a minor villain. Dragon Ball Z has no plot. Well, no complicated plot. It all revolves around some villain of the episode/week/arc. Some new flashy attack is learned, and then Earth is saved.

I haven't watched enough Naruto to know what their "training" entails, but I'm sure "flashy attack" training is replaced by "ninja attack" training. I recall reading about a ninja training school in Japan. A real ninja came out to demonstrate some of his skills for a school promotion. That seems like it'd be an important time not to mess up. He ended up embarassing himself and giving up. In short, I'm guessing whatever "ninja attacks" they're learning, there is no real world equivalent, and it may as well be a "flashy attack".

Another show I gave up on was Slam Dunk. It's a show about high school basketball. A single game might take about 4 episodes. One thing that separates Slam Dunk from Dragon Ball Z, though, is that I actually think I learned a good bit about basketball from watching it.

I find it absolutely appalling that a grown person could watch this dreck. It's even more amazing that they try to defend it as having any worth. Knowing it's fluff and admitting as much at least has some acceptance of reality. These shows just tend to spawn apologists. My friend is 23. Another friend is 27 (I think) who also loves the show.

A friend I had when interning loved Dragon Ball Z. He'd tape it every day and wouldn't miss an episode. I pointed out how crappy the animation was, how poorly the fights were choreographed, and how thoughtless the storylines were. The next day he came in and said he couldn't watch anymore. That seems like a rational response.

I guess what this is really about is that it's okay to like Dragon Ball Z and Naruto (and its ilk) when you're a child because you're expected to like childish things. I guess I won't go so far as to say that when you grow up you should cast it aside, but what really bugs me is people who defend it when it's quite obviously crap and they should know better. They are, with a straight face, saying that shows like Dragon Ball Z are great works of art that carry tremendous meaning. It blows my mind.

18 comments:

Deals On Wheels said...

I completely agree. It is like watching cartoons that have taken steps backwards since we were kids. They are horrible.

My stepbrother absolutely loves them, and when he was younger, I can remember how crazy he was about that whole Pokemon thing. Again, horrible...absolutely horrible. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about how horrible they were.

Gabe said...

Haha, well, I guess that just goes to show that everyone just likes different things... Even the Pope likes Pokemon! I happen to have liked Pokemon, once upon a time. I still do to an extent, but I can't watch the show anymore.

Hopefully your stepbrother's grown out of it by now. I just have problems respecting people who like Dragonball Z.

Pokemon, tho... that's forever! :)

Deals On Wheels said...

*Alas*

My stepbrother's previous fasination with Pokemon has morphed into a love of the whole Dragon Ball thing.

Ug. Horrible.

Gabe said...

The original Dragonball was actually quite hilarious. Nothing groundbreaking, but not nearly as insipid as Dragonball Z. Actually, if you've ever heard of it, it's somewhat related to the Chinese story "Record of the Travel West". My own recollections of the original story are a bit faded now, but I remember liking them. I'm sure there are a lot of translations available, and even a few subsequent cartoons based on it, including another anime called "Saiyuki", I believe.

Anyway, hopefully your stepbrother will grow out of it. But I wouldn't worry too much. As my friends show, you can go on to lead a normal life even with such a debilitating lack of sophistication ;)

Tsuta said...

Well, many people have many preferences. I, myself, love Naruto. But I hate Dragonball. -shrugs- I wont bother defending anything, because I'm not like that. But I also won't degrade anything. I admit, the anime of Naruto isn't quite up to par for me, the manga is better. Eh. Whatever. There is better out there as well, you just have to sift through a few bad anime to get to it. =3

Gabe said...

Well, of course you should do what you want. I, myself, have given up on sifting. The signal-to-noise ratio was just completely unacceptable. And as you say, there are much better things out there.

While I obviously won't be able to convince you of just how much Naruto sucks, my advice to you is to find things in a way that doesn't require the randomness of watching anything and everything. If you were anything like me, you probably see all these fansubs and whatnot and want to give anything a chance. Even if you have time/bandwidth to waste, there's gotta be something better to do with it...

As you get older, you'll naturally become more sophisticated and more discerning. Or you'll be like my idiot friends.

Deals On Wheels said...

Right...so you both watch Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. I mean, you watch them enough to have opinions on the level of "horrible" that they fall under (categorically speaking, of course).

For me, they are all I-would-rather-be-kicked-in-the-head-repeatedly-than-watch-this-crap kind of horrible. And I don't even know the difference between any of them (except that on Pokemon there is that one almost cute character who's name is something that sounds like a sneeze...Achoo, maybe?). They are all the same level of horrible, at least in my book. Ug. I have a migraine just thinking about it!

Gabe said...

Yeah, they certainly are horrible... I can sort through some different levels of horrible for you, but I doubt that you'd care to read it :)

The real problem is it's a childish thing. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you recognize it for what it is, but a lot of people either refuse to or insist on remaining at that level of appreciation.

I think it's a real hindrance to anime's/manga's acceptance to the uninitiated (and thereby the perception of anime/manga fans/consumers). Who knows? It may even be a hindrance to the advancement of art.

So way to go DBZ/Naruto fans! Way to keep everyone down!

Deals On Wheels said...

It cracks me up that you sound so academic in your discussion of Dragon Ball Z and Naruto.

This whole conversation has made me giggle...

Gabe said...

Well then... mission accomplished :)

adrian said...

fuck all the people that hate dbz and naruto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.more than 1 trillion watch dbz and naruto.so for all the haters you better respect it you dumbasses

Anonymous said...

Awww yeah! DBZ is da bizomb! Even if we convert all the population of the Earth that ever was to DBZ's power level, it could never reach the awesome awesomeness of DBZ's power level, which clearly is well above 1 trillion. I mean, we'd have to get a mathematical genius like Paulson to even come up with a number larger than 1 trillion to compete with the awesomeness of DBZ. DBZ FOREVER!

TEXASBOY 187 said...
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TEXASBOY 187 said...

NOT QUITE SOMEWHAT HUH WELL HERES SOME INFO FOR YA................. HERE GOES I DONT KNOW WHAT YALL ARE TALKIN BOUT!!!!!! NARUTO IS ONE OF THE BEST ANIMES I HAVE EVER SEEN AND YEAH IT MIGHT HAVE ALOT OF FILLER EPISODES BUT IT STILL IS THE SHIZZNIT AND DRAGON BALL SUCKED BUT Z AND GT WAS AND STILL IS THE SHOW THAT BASICALLY STARTED ANIME IN AMERICA BESIDES NINJA SCROLL THE MOVIE THEY STILL MAKE MONEY AND NARUTO:HURRICAINE CHRONICLES IS EVEN BETTER THAN THE FIRST ONES ALL 9 SEASONS OF THEM YEAH THEY REALLY SUCK HUH ALL TEN YEARS OF EM' AND ALSO IT IS THE LONGEST RUNNING ANIME EVER WHICH WILL BEAT DRAGONBALLS WHICH IS WAY OVER 200 EPISODES YALL ARE JUST HATING ON THE TWO BEST ANIMES EVER THOUGHT OF AND I WISH BOTH CREATORS OF THOSE TWO SHOWS WOULD GET TOGETHER AND MAKE THE MOST AWESOME ANIME EVER FOR MY EYES WOULD EVER IMAGINE TO SEE THANK FOR THA POST L8R

Anonymous said...

Texasboy 187: You do your compatriots no service by speaking on their behalf.