This is by far the worst season. Firstly, there’s getting over the big disappointment that Gohan grows up to be (although his mother is probably happy now), plus there’s very little fighting compared to other seasons. The few fights that are in this season are not up to par, and there’s a complete lack of an overarching story.
Really though, this season was written mostly as an introduction to the new era of the Z Fighters. Everyone has aged by seven years at this point. Kids are adults and babies are kids and the adults have pretty much stayed the same. Although in Bulma’s reintroduction she’s dressed like an international superspy, which I think we all saw coming.
The lack of action is probably intended to give the audience time for a breather before getting into the next round of epic battles, which resumes in the following season. This is also a much more light-hearted season, focusing more on comedy and warm family moments. Which makes the disturbingly violent end of the season even more jarring. I’ll talk about that more later.
The first few episodes are the best section of the season. The Other World Tournament is entertaining. Most of the fights are comedic, but there’s one or two that have good action. It seems the entire South Quadrant of the universe is made up of pro-wrestlers. Must be fun.
After that it’s the introduction to Gohan’s highschool life, which takes up the majority of the season until talk starts of the next World Martial Arts Tournament, which we get to see a little bit of, then the season ends with a bunch of weird exposition leading into the story arc of the next season.
The character Sharpner is strange. He’s designed to be the hot jock who gets all the girls and intimidates everyone. But then he gets the most mundane, irrelevant dialogue, and chuckles smugly to himself as he says them. How do you take a line like “He was probably on a TV spelling bee” and make it sound like a cocky threat? Sharpner found a way.
Side notes on the teachers: The English teacher in Episode 200 changes during commercials. Also the science teacher in Episode 201 looks and sounds like Sean Connery trying to play the part of Albert Einstein.
Another observation I made about this season is how blatantly it makes fun of various nationalities. Most of the characters, I’m assuming, are either Japanese or American, and have fairly generic physical traits. The Chinese are the only ones who look Asian. There is a particular audience member at the World Martial Arts Tournament who has a thick Scottish accent, which completely disappears the next time you see him. And Killa talks like a black version of King of the Hill’s Boomhauer.
Anybody who felt sorry for Krillin being the universe’s punching bag in previous seasons should take a good, careful look at Season 7. This is why the universe has been so hard on him. First, he decides it would be a good idea to take his young, attractive wife and live with Roshi. You know, the old guy who is always chasing after young, attractive women? The guy who is the only name I have to mention when warning you of sexuality on the show? That guy. Second, Krillin decides it’s a good idea to raise his daughter in the same house as Roshi, a daughter who is going to grow up at some point, and who is the daughter of Eighteen. And third, remember Krillin’s ex-girlfriend from Season 4, Marron? The light-brained, sleazy clone of Bulma? He names his daughter after her.
It’s as if the universe foresaw how stupid Krillin was going to be later in life and smacked him in the head proactively.
And if you’re wondering how Krillin and Eighteen ended up together, so am I. Perhaps it’s explained in the manga, but not in the show. I’ve also noticed that he has hair now, so my suspicion is the Dragon Balls. That she would be with him by choice would be believable if she ever actually showed affection toward him, but she doesn’t. There are minor hints of her not wanting him to die, that’s as close to a loving relationship as I can see between them.
Modern audiences might be confused by all of the cameras in the World Martial Arts Tournament being destroyed, since people can just use their phones. Dragon Ball is set in the future but was made in the 80’s and 90’s. So it’s set in a future before phones could do that. …
General Inappropriateness: Chi-Chi has a flashback to her childhood where she acts and dresses like a kinky slut. I haven’t gone over the original Dragon Ball series yet, so I can’t explain or defend why Chi-Chi used to be like that as a kid. Her father is practically half-Viking, so maybe she picked it up fashion from her mother.
Sexuality: Roshi tries to grab Bulma’s butt.
Language: Hell mentioned as a location. The F-U fist pump.
Substance Use: A number of the characters smoke.
Violence: In addition to the usual violence, which there is actually less of in this season, there is the unfortunate matter of the unnecessarily brutal violence against a young woman toward the end of the season. The abuse is not sexual, it’s just a lot nastier than what we would normally see on the show, and it goes on for a long time. I’ve actually had to set aside some time in this review to address it in more detail, because it is a problem for viewers.
Episodes 216 & 217
It’s so annoying that I even have to talk about this. I wish this wasn’t in the show. I see it as an ugly and unnecessary blot at the tail end of what was otherwise intended to be a very light-hearted season. To have this here is confusing. But there it is, and I do have to talk about this because, without an understanding of the Japanese honour system to provide context, one can easily lose a degree of respect for the so-called heroes of Dragon Ball. I know I did.
Part of the problem is that I don’t like to see women getting beaten. I think most of us would agree. I don’t like to see torture in general, but when it’s against women or children it’s even worse. Violence doesn’t bother me in the context of warriors and competition, and this is the World Martial Arts Tournament after all, so even the kind of violence that Dragon Ball is known for should be acceptable in this context. But somehow these two episodes are an exception. What starts off as a fight turns into little more than a prolonged torture sequence that is particularly disturbing to watch.
The other part of the problem is how unwilling her fiends are to step in, and how long the beating goes on due to a lack of interference. There are several specific moments where a fight like this would normally be called. In the UFC a fight is called once it’s clear that one of the competitors is unable to intelligently defend himself. Videl insists on continuing the fight, and then doesn’t defend herself. So one can argue that she brings this on herself. But a big and perfectly understandable frustration with western audiences will be the good guys refusing to step in.
The thing is that western and Japanese ideals of honour are very different and foreign to each other. We tend to admire the Japanese honour style, even if we don’t understand it, because there is a strong sense of deep-rooted respect for your fellow man, but it doesn’t always look that way unless you know the language of it.
The problem is, we watch these two episodes and we see a young, helpless woman being mercilessly beaten to near death by a sadistic bastard who appears to want nothing more than to make her suffer, and most of that is true, but that isn’t how Videl sees it. Videl sees herself as a combatant who is willingly pushing as hard as she can through a losing battle against a much stronger opponent. Despite her appearance, and what she is reduced to by the end of the fight, she is a warrior at heart, and a warrior doesn’t quit. That’s what’s going through her head in these moments, not “I’m just a helpless little girl – why won’t someone rescue me?” Despite how badly she’s losing she is determined to see the fight through to the end.
It is her honour as a warrior that the Z Fighters are concerned with, not her physical pain. That is why they do not come to her rescue. They honour her warrior’s heart too much to interfere in a fight that she willingly chooses to continue.
That won’t fly here. In the west when we see a woman getting savagely beaten by a man, we step in. That’s what our sense of honour demands. And arguments of right or wrong aside, I would be right there with you. I may be able to understand some aspects Japanese honour, but I don’t always agree with it. My stomach won’t handle that. But hopefully you can at least understand the reasoning of the Z Fighters even if you don’t agree with them.
Quote of the Season
“I don’t have time to play Super-Hero. I spent all morning working out my arms.”
The first of two ill-conceived attempts at a Broly sequel.
I big part of what made the action in Broly, The Legendary Super Saiyan so popular was the spectacle of having all the best Z Fighters get together to take on this heaping mountain of muscle who breathed explosions. So the decision that the sequels should have Broly go up against two kids seems a bit left field, and works about as well as you’d expect. The action is largely disappointing, with a little bit of good action once Gohan arrives. That’s about all I can say for it.
The premise is that Broly survived the destruction of New Vegeta in the first movie by climbing into a nearby escape pod immediately after Goku busted him open. The escape pod brought Broly to Earth where he lay in ice for seven years until Goten’s crying wakes him up and then he goes on a rampage. Also something about a village of people who worship a dinosaur.
The village assumes our heroes are intruders until Videl clarifies, “We’re not intruders – my name is Videl,” which makes everything better.
Speaking of the village there is a guy who set himself up as the prophet and does a lot of rabble chanting. Like…a lot. It got annoying. Another thing that might be considered religious is Goten bowing to the Dragon Balls while calling for Shenron. That’s not how it’s normally done but Goten hasn’t seen how it’s normally done.
I found it funny that Trunks’ wish is for the same thing that Eric Cartmen gets after inheriting a million dollars.
The movie is almost pointless except that it is the first opportunity to see Adult Gohan put up a good fight against a strong opponent, which is something you won’t see for the entire seventh season.
General Inappropriateness: Boys urinating.
Nudity: Baby Saiyan junk (from Broly’s memories).
I would place this movie between Episodes 207 and 208, based on the story, though I suspect it was made a bit later because it assumes that Goku and Goten have met. It also seems to assume that Gohan and Videl are closer.