With Dragonball Super ending it’s run, it looks like fans of Japanese Animation are saying so long to Goku and his group of friends. The story of the simple-minded bumpkin who would turn out to be an alien, father, and the savior of the Earth and the universe has been around in some form or another since the original manga was first published in Japan in 1986 from writer Akira Toriyama.
So here we are 32 years later and the current iteration of the series, Dragonball Super, has wrapped up. Fans are lead to think this is Goodbye to their favorite goofball fighting machine that has become the ultimate symbol of strength for Otaku.
But this isn’t the first time we were lead to believe that.
Those of us who are in the older demographic of anime will remember when Dragonball had its original ending. One that many didn’t want to remember and the big reason Dragonball Super was even created. It was reviled, hated, and created out of greed more than any creative accomplishment or sense of story or completion.
It was Dragonball GT and there is a reason why it gets its reputation.
This takes Otaku back to 1996. Dragonball Z was HUGE in Japan and was just about to break loose on Cartoon Network in the U.S. With it would come a lot of money. But with so much merchandise and rights money, there had to be more! While Akira had been asked to keep things going with the mega-successful series, the artist and writer was not. He had shifted his focus to a different project. Some behind the scenes didn’t want things to end with all that Dragonball money coming in and things about to get better with the American market opening up. So what do you do?
Take the popular series and make the sequel yourself!
Yup, although it was given the stamp of approval by Toriyama himself, Broadcaster Fuji TV and Toei Animation decided to make the next series anyway. Thus was got the continuation of the Dragonball series in Dragonball GT. No one really knew what the “GT” stood for but the rumor was it was “Grand Touring”. All the old favorites would be back, although a little older. There was Goku, now a grandfather with his granddaughter Pan. Goku’s friends are there too some even kids of their own.
Except Goku is turned into a child again, you know just like from the original series back in the 80s! He gets to travel around with a slightly older teenage girl (Pan), and a young boy (Bulma’s son Trunks from the tail end of Dragonball Z) and a sidekick robot. It’s just like the original series all over again!
Yeah, this was the first 16 episodes in the series. What’s even worse is that when this series debuted in the United States in 2003 (do the math on that), they skipped right over this storyline. It was condensed down to a single episode until the English version of these episodes were shown in 2005. Not only were these episodes 9 years old at this point, but the rest of the Series had been dubbed in English two years earlier. Not that the fans were waiting for it.
But back to the show itself. The other 3/4s of the series featured the Earth being taken over by an alien presence that possesses the characters to fight each other, a superpower android, a gateway to hell bringing back all the previous dead bad guys from the show’s history, and evil dragons themselves. After all this, it is found that the Dragonballs have been overused the Dragon who makes them decides to leave earth and ask Goku to join him. That is how Fuji TV and Toei originally wanted to end one of the most well-known anime series in history.
Yeah, it didn’t work. The series didn’t get a whole lot of attention in Japan and got even less in the US. Back in the days before anime was streamed and simulcast over the internet, the DVD releases of this show didn’t finish up until 2005, by that point the audience had largely moved on and more forgot it even happened.
Thankfully Dragonball Super erased all that for fans. So while this may not be the goodbye that it appears to be for now, the series did make sure to fix a wrong that had been festering in fan’s minds for over a decade.