Let’s not mince words, shall we? The Dragonball: Evolution movie sucks. This is a fact. It’s not being screened for critics. It was written by a scab during the Writer’s Guild strike. It has almost nothing to do with the original manga or anime. Plus, it’s modeled after the goofier, less popular Dragonball instead of the more action-packed, insanely popular DBZ anyways.
I know many of you TR readers aren’t fans of DB — and many of you just hate anime, period. I gotcha. DB‘s not my favorite anime series. I don’t think it’s brilliant. But I do think it’s very, very good, and it deserved a hell of a lot than Dragonball: Evolution. What drives me most crazy about the movie is that had it been good, maybe it could have shown people why I and so many others think DB and DBZ is so great — which is, really, all I think that any nerd really wants out of the movie of his or her favorite franchise. So screw Evolution — here are the 10 scenes that make DBZ one of my favorite anime series, mostly because they are totally insane and pretty damn awesome to boot.
10) Majin Buu Eats the Devil
In the final major saga of Dragonball Z, the evil wizard Babidi and his minion Dabura — who, despite being called Dabura, looks exactly like the devil and is referred to as the king of hell — summon the creature known as Majin Buu. Buu is fat and not very bright, so how do they establish his power? By having Buu turn the devil into a cookie… and eating him. It’s surprisingly effective.
9) Meet the Ginyu Force
Almost diminutive and having a voice like an elderly woman, Frieza is the ruler of most of the galaxy. His fiercest, most feared warriors are the Ginyu Force. They are each more powerful than anyone on Earth. And they are total idiots. Sure, they tear their foes apart like fresh bread, but they still strike these ridiculous poses in a parody of sentai shows like Power Rangers. Frieza’s utter embarrassment at their antics is the icing on the cake.
8) Goku’s Family Reunion
Dragonball Z began with a bang — specifically, when Goku’s brother Raditz suddenly arrived to announce that Goku was an alien called a Saiyan, who had been sent to destroy all of humanity. It’s hard to convey the original shock of this twist, since most folks only know DBZ, but basically, creator Akira Toriyama utterly transformed what had been a very wacky adventure series into an action epic. It’s like if mid-way through Friends, Chandler found out he was an assassin… and suddenly the rest of the series focused on him killing people. The change was so big, the Japanese TV network decided to call the series DBZ instead of just Dragonball — the manga kept the original name the entire time.
7) Goku and Piccolo’s Driving Test
At this point, Goku and Piccolo have saved the universe and can blow up a planet. Yet, Goku is still at the mercy of his (kind of horrible) wife Chichi, who forces him to take driving lessons, despite the fact he can fly. After countless episodes of fighting for the sake of the galaxy, this episode was a great reminder how DBZ could still be incredibly goofy.
6) Trunks Kills Frieza
When Goku fought Frieza on planet Namek, it took a mind-shatteringly long 19 episodes (which would have taken more than three months to air in Japan); the last seven of which were supposed to cover 5 minutes of time. This battle is a significant reason people think DBZ can be kinda slow. So a few episodes later, when Frieza returned with cybernetic upgrades and his more powerful dad King Cold, fans were legitimately frightened that round 2 would take forever. Not to worry — fan-favorite Trunks suddenly arrives from the future to cut Frieza into tiny pieces and then incinerate the pieces in about 60 seconds (he kills Frieza’s dad, too). It remains one of the most satisfying moments of television ever aired.
5) Krillin Vs. Bacterian
Remember how I said the original Dragonball series was wacky? Check this scene where Goku’s pal Krillin fights the horrible Bacterian, master of body odor and the stink-palm, in the world’s martial arts tournament. If you fast-forward to 5:45, you can see how Krillin defeats this menace–by remembering he has no nose. Seriously. Although no one ever commented on Krillin’s lack of a nose before or after this scene, and although Bacterian’s attacks had been affecting him totally, Krilin suddenlyrealizes they shouldn’t affect him at all and trounces his foe. And then farts in his face. Because payback’s a bitch.
4) The Human Extinction Attack
Most folk in Dragonball Z transform, and the chubby Majin Buu was no exception. So how could they establish the new, leaner Buu was more powerful and evil than his predecessor, who had eaten the devil? By having him kill every single person on Earth with one martial arts move, aptly called “the Human Extinction Attack.” The fact that move has a name–as if it’s going to be used more than once–is the best part. It’s a bar of evil that no other villain, anime or otherwise, has ever gotten close to reaching.
3) The First Wish (for Panties)
There’s absolutely no moment that encapsulates how utterly goofy the original Dragonball was than the first summoning of the dragon. The evil but highly incompetent Emperor Pilaf had collected the dragonballs and summoned the dragon; his wish was going to be to rule the world. Not thinking ahead, he has Goku and his pals imprisoned nearby, which allows Oolong the pig to shout a wish first — for a pair of girl’s panties. Yes, the show that would end with a villain killing every being on earth with a single attack began with a perverted pig, faced with a chance to receive anything, yet asked for a pair of girl’s panties. Then he wore them on his head.
2) Vegeta’s Mid-life Crisis
Most of Dragonball Z features the rivalry between Goku and Vegeta, the prince of the Saiyans. Although Vegeta becomes a classic anti-hero, the bad guy who joins up with the good guy to face a greater evil — first Frieza, then Cell, then Buu — and even though he eventually marries Bulma and has a kid (Trunks, the one from the future who killed Frieza! Whee!), he’s always seething that Goku is always more powerful than him. So when the wizard Babidi offers him more power if he’s willing to be enslaved, Vegeta has a Saiyan mid-life crisis and accepts, immediately killing a few hundred innocent bystanders and challenging Goku to a long-awaited rematch. DBZ fans salivated at this fight, which was pretty much as awesome as we’d all hoped it would be.
But fast-forward to 4:15, because that’s what fascinates me. Here, Vegeta not only talks about the despair of trying so hard to catch up to Goku and constantly failing for his entire life. Furthermore, he talks about waking up one day and realizing how he’s gone from the brutal, youthful prince of the Saiyans to a simple family man, a transformation which bewilders and terrifies him. It really is a miod-life crisis, and Vegeta’s return to evil is just as desperate and pathetic as any middle-aged man buying a sports car. Now, I admit I’m fascinated with heroes that fail to meet the heroic ideal, but I think this scene is genuinely heartbreaking, and proves that Dragonball is more than action or wackiness, that there’s a heart and soul beneath that made it so damn popular all over the world.
1) The World’s Most Badass Candy
Let me try and make this as simple as possible: Goku and Vegeta have used the fusion technique to become Vegito in order to fight the meaner, Human Extinction-using Majin Buu (who’s dressed funny because he’s eaten some of the good guys and absorbed their power and, uh… clothes). Remember how fat Majin Buu turned the devil into a cookie? This one turns Vegito into a small piece of coffee-flavored candy… which proceeds to beat the ever-loving shit out of Buu. It actually goes so far as to scream “EAT ME!” and then fly into Buu’s mouth… and out the back of his throat.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.