ANIME & MANGA - Review
12:30 - 7th February 2014, by David West

Dragon Ball GT Season 1: Episodes 1-34

When evil Lord Pilaf manages to gather together the Black Star Dragon Balls, he accidentally wastes his wish by using it to change Goku from a man to a little boy. Rather than being outraged, Goku is quite happy being a kid again, but then bad news arrives from King Kai - if they can't recover all the Black Star Dragon Balls within one year, Earth will be destroyed. To make matters worse, the Black Star Dragon Balls have not been scattered around just one planet in the aftermath of Pilaf's ill-considered wish, they are now spread throughout the galaxy. So Goku, his plucky granddaughter Pan, and Vegeta's son Trunks blast off in a spaceship to find the Dragon Balls so they can save their home.

Dragon Ball GT has the distinction of being the first of the anime series in the franchise not based on one of Akira Toriyama's stories in the manga, but the fruit falls awfully close to the tree. The art style is unmistakeable and faithful to Toriyama, and the tone offers the same blend of silliness, melodrama and action. The series takes a little while to get up to speed, and the first fight scene doesn't arrive until the fifth episode - and even that is a gentle warm up compared to the huge, multi-episode battles that are part of Dragon Ball's appeal.

As the trio fly around the galaxy searching for the Dragon Balls they make a habit of coming to the rescue of people who are being oppressed, exploited or bullied by a variety of evil tyrants and powerful monsters. They typically try to resolve the problem with peaceful means, but it's usually just a matter of time before Goku unleashes his Kamehameha to knock the villains down to size.

The decision to return Goku to boyhood reflects the primary target audience for the series which is, without prejudice, children. It was no doubt tougher for kids to relate to a hero who was a grandfather, but now he's back on their level again: young, spritely and mischievous. He even returns to his old habit of taking his clothes off at fairly regular intervals and running around in the buff, which is portrayed with the innocence and unselfconsciousness of the very young.

Goku's granddaughter Pan is feisty and takes turns with Trunks being the brains of the group, planning missions and strategies and doing her fair share of the fighting too. Trunks is the oldest of the gang and provides the closest thing they have to a grown-up presence, although all the characters are fundamentally child-like in their impulsiveness, simplicity and total absence of cynicism. As the story develops, the trio are joined by Giru, a robot who helps them in their quest and serves as an additional comedy character as well as Dragon Ball detector.

The show originally aired in 1996, so the animation shows its age - no CG enhancements or 3D here - but that's all part of the retro charm of the franchise.

The story might be an anime original, but Dragon Ball GT fits seamlessly into the DBZ canon. There is plenty of comedy between the overblown battles and it is hard to imagine a more cheerful adventure where failure means an entire planet exploding. And you just know a new Super Saiyan form is on the cards. Classic, uncomplicated fun.
SCORE: 3/5
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