As strange as it is to get into talking about Dragon Ball Z in “seasons•bCrLf rather than arcs, it’s exciting enough for me to see that FUNimation’s release of Season Four contains two of my favorite arcs in the series, so I guess it’s a win/win situation for everyone. Now, it’s completely understandable if you’re just now visiting this site, scratching your head with uncertainty and wondering if the crazy cats at Otaku USA are all writing about Akira Toriyama’s epic tale of fisticuffs because we appreciate it “ironically.•bCrLf Those fears were hopefully quelled—our sincerity reaffirmed—if you got a chance check out issue six’s mega DBZ feature, written with gasoline-soaked, explosive love by myself and that raving madman Daryl Surat.
Season four kicks off with one of the easiest arcs to get someone into Dragon Ball Z with, the Garlic Jr. Saga. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. After all, getting someone into DBZ past the 100-episode mark seems kind of fruitless. Still, this pint-sized tale is a fraction of the length that most sagas run, and brings a throwback adversary into the fray. Things don’t start with our heroes in disarray this time, as they’re all enjoying a much-needed vacation after the harrowing events that preceded these episodes. Everyone’s hanging out all peaceful-like, and even Krillin has nabbed a cute and bubbly girlfriend, even if she is one of the dimmest bulbs he could have pulled from the pantry.
This all changes when Garlic Jr. escapes from the Dead Zone, unleashing his plan for world domination against the unprepared masses. The trouble begins when, with the help of his spicy crew, he begins to spread the dreaded Black Water Mist, a dense purple fog that turns anyone that inhales it into a mindless slave to his burgeoning empire. Naturally, this won’t stand, and our ever-faithful heroes unite to spend the next nine or ten episodes ridding the world of pint-sized evil. The expected DBZ battle drama occurs in the proper order here, from fighting minions to the bad mamma-jamma Garlic Jr. transforming into something much, much larger.
If it ain’t broke, right? This is classic Dragon Ball Z, and has really held up well over the years as an individual saga. I suppose it’s largely attributed to the fact that it’s so self-contained and condensed in comparison to the rest of the series, and from the prologue to the stature of its villain, it brings back a hint of that original Dragon Ball humor, despite the fact that we’re well beyond the point at which Toriyama would have preferred to end it.
After that, a quickly snuffed return of Frieza, along with his father King Cold, transitions into the start of one of DBZ‘s most epic tales, and this time around they’ve got plenty of heavily-warned preparation time. It all begins when the warrior that snuffed Frieza and Cold’s plan begins to elaborate on things that could only be inside the noggin of someone• from the future (gasp)! Revealing himself as fan-favorite Trunks—the fully-grown son of Bulma and Vegeta—he’s returned to warn all of the fighters that a group of androids are approaching, harbingers of the type of world-wiping doom they’d all do well to stop as soon as possible.
What this boils down to is a handful of training episodes, followed by a relentless fourteen or so shows chock-full of battling and vicious beat downs. It’s not nearly as concise as Garlic Jr., but the androids are some of the more interesting foes to appear in the Z saga, serving as a pretty menacing prelude to Cell, the baddie we’ll be hanging out with for most of the next season.
Make no mistake, the content of season four is way past the Toriyama Meridian—the point he would have rather called it a day and moved on to other projects. It’s apparent in some areas, but all in all it’s really difficult to dog this series. Maybe part of it is nostalgia, or some mind-rotting delusion triggered by those years drenched in sugar coated DBZ afternoons, but sitting down to watch a handful of episodes is never a chore, and the series will always remain one of the best shut-off-your-brain action legends out there. I’ll gladly watch season four and beyond until the day some haggard Future Me flies into my window and tells me that doing so will completely destroy the planet.
Perhaps even that won’t stop my wild and careless ways!