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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
f there’s one thing worse than great television shows that are made into movies, it’s when they are spun off into other, inferior shows. This is the case with “Dragon Ball GT,” an anime that very much wants to be remembered as part of the “Dragon Ball” timeline, but will likely go down as an unnecessary continuation that hurts the brand more than it helps it. As the bastard child of Akira Toriyama’s popular franchise, “DBGT” just doesn’t retain the same magic that made the previous two series so wildly enjoyable. Some of this has to do with the absence of Toriyama himself (who’s only contribution was as a consultant), but it’s the overall execution that ultimately proves the most troublesome. There’s a little thing in the industry that we like to call “fan service,” and though the people behind “DBGT” had their hearts in the right places, their minds were not.
The story picks up several years after the end of “Dragon Ball Z.” Goku has just completed a year-long training session with Uub, but before he’s able to return to Earth, he happens across Emperor Pilaf summoning Shenron with the Black Star Dragon Balls. When Pilaf accidentally wastes his wish by transforming Goku into a kid, however, his dream of world domination slips through his fingers once again, as the Dragon Balls are scattered throughout the universe. Goku doesn’t appear to be too phased by his transformation, and it’s a good thing he isn’t, since there are more pressing matters to attend to. As it turns out, these Dragon Balls are different from the ones used in the past, and unless they’re returned to Earth within a year, the planet will be destroyed. Goku volunteers to track them down with the help of Trunks and Goten, but when the latter is left behind and Goku’s granddaughter Pan sneaks on board instead, the trio embark on a wild goose chase through space.
Unfortunately, it’s not as much fun as it sounds. The first half of the season (the 16 episodes that weren’t originally aired on Cartoon Network) are painfully boring, as they mostly consist of the trio planet-hopping, getting into trouble, and generally acting like a bunch of juveniles. That may be expected of Pan, who’s almost as annoying as Gohan was as a kid, but there’s absolutely no excuse for the way the other two act. Goku and Trunks come off as mere caricatures of their former selves, and the fact that they have trouble defeating villains half as strong as those they’ve faced in the past makes “Dragon Ball GT” seem more like a carelessly written fan creation than an honest-to-goodness continuation of the “Dragon Ball” story.
The second-half introduction of Baby is a major improvement, but he’s really no different than fan favorites like Cell or Majin Buu, and his effortless defeat of Gohan, Goten and Vegeta (seen sporting a sweet mustache in the first episode) only further treats those characters as a joke. It’s bad enough that they hardly appear throughout the season (unless you count Baby taking over Vegeta’s body), but to have them so easily defeated is kind of like spitting in the face of the fans. It’s one of many disappointing revelations that have caused debate since the show first premiered. I get that they were trying to blend the childish humor of “Dragon Ball” and the action of “Dragon Ball Z” into one super-show, but it just doesn’t work as well as you’d think. Hardcore fans who still haven’t seen the series definitely need to make a point of doing so, but heed my warning now lest you be disappointed.
Special Features: This is where things get really bad. Funimation has been slipping lately when it comes to the bonus material on their releases, and with the exception of textless songs and trailers, there isn’t a single thing on here that can truly be considered special. How about a featurette on the differences between the three series or audio commentaries with the cast? Something. Anything. Please.