Growing up, I was allowed to watch one half-hour of television per day during the week. My parents thought my free time would be best spent either reading or figure skating. Seriously.
Childhood was weird for me and my brother. Anyway, my half-hour of television was sacred to me – all the other kids I knew could watch as much TV as they wanted, and would constantly talk about their favorite shows at school. Television was my window to normalcy. And through that window, I chose to view something that has forever imbued me with a true understanding of the word “epic”.
Every single day, five days a week, I would rush home from school in order to catch the 5:00 PM showing of Dragonball Z on Cartoon Network’s Toonami.
If you haven’t yet watched Dragonball Z, you may want to consider taking some time to reflect upon your life’s direction. Or lack thereof. I’m pretty sure there exist on the internet a number of live channels that livestream the whole series 24/7 – also, those dinky little message boards next to the video windows are comedy gold. I highly recommend checking them out.
DBZ brings the frisson like nothing you’ve ever encountered. I won’t get into its plot, as you should experience it for yourself if you haven’t, but here’s some quick backstory on the show.
Dragonball Z was originally written as a manga, and is actually a spinoff sequel to the manga series, Dragonball. Dragonball was featured in the manga publication, Shonen Jump, between 1985 and 1995, and was written and drawn by Akira Toriyama. Following the manga’s tremendous success, Japan’s Toei Animation decided to adapt the story, and its sequel, Dragonball Z, to an anime.
Suffice to say, the show took off in a very, very big way. Dragonball and Dragonball Z became the most popular anime shows of all-time, making their way to weird little reader-figure skater kids all over the western world and, consequently, mainstreaming the genre of Japanese Anime.
So yeah. It’s a pretty big deal. Go watch it if you haven’t. Now, for those of you who happen to be enlightened, let’s get down to brass tax.
We all remember the glory of Goku going Super Saiyan 3 for the first time, or Future Trunks returning back to his time and owning Cell and the Androids. Piccolo, Gohan, Vegeta, even Krillin – these guys get all the hype. And it’s understandable – I mean, they’re all absurdly dope. But there are plenty of awesome characters that Toriyama came up with that don’t get the street cred they deserve in my opinion. I’m here to throw them an internet bone.
Uub is 100% badass. At ten years old, he enters the World Martial Arts tournament on the slim hope that he can win the prize money and feed his starving village with it. And the noble bastard has no idea how strong he is when he enters. Through fighting with Goku, it’s revealed that Uub is actually the reincarnation of Kid Buu – who happens to be THE STRONGEST villain in all of Dragonball Z – and has his exact same power level.
Keep in mind that Kid Buu was having a blast defeating both Goku AND Vegeta at the same time just a few episodes before the arrival of Uub. That’s some serious strength. In fact, Uub is so strong and so good, that Goku decides to leave him – not his son, not Vegeta, but Uub as the protector of the earth in his absence. How does Uub not get more props? Probably because his appearance is right at the end of DBZ, and so we don’t get enough time with him to witness his personal brand of awesome.
If you watched Dragonball GT, like any true fan has, you saw Uub fuse with Good Buu to form Majuub, who is far and away my favorite character in the Dragonball Universe. Unfortunately, that’s not recognized as Dragonball cannon, but Uub deserves mad credit either way.
Dr. Briefs is probably the most underrated person on this list. Let’s set aside the fact that the empire he has built, Capsule Corporation, is pretty much responsible for most modern technology on earth, making the Brief family one of the wealthiest in existence. No, let’s just focus on the incredible things Dr. Briefs has done without worry for profit.
For one, how about building the most advanced spaceship mankind has ever seen in a ridiculously short period of time, based off of alien technology no one had ever seen or even conceived of? That ship is then utilized by Goku to travel to Namek and save his friends/the universe from Frieza. Had Dr. Briefs just taken a few more days things would have gone very differently for the Z fighters.
Oh, also, let’s not forget that he invented a machine that simulated increased gravity up to 400x that of Earth for our heroes to train under. One could argue a case for that invention being the sole reason Earth’s defenders are strong enough to face the enemies that keep popping up. Maybe that and the hyperbolic time chamber, but let’s be real, there are way too many limitations on that for it to be used practically.
Android 16 rules. He is such an interesting character. Initially, his only directive is to kill Goku – sounds like a pretty evil guy, right? Not really. Dr. Gero programmed that one and only goal into Android #16, but aside from that which he is all but forced to do, 16 is actually a gentle and peaceful soul.
He appreciates a nice landscape, he enjoys listening to birds chirp, and he has no desire to kill innocents like Androids 17 and 18 do. On top of that, he is the strongest android of the three, and we don’t even realize it until way after his introduction. What a humble dude.
Once Bulma reprograms him and removes his “kill Goku” directive, 16 plays arguably the most vital role in the Perfect Cell saga. When Gohan is getting his ass handed to him by Perfect Cell, who is really just toying with him in an attempt to unleash his full power, it’s the words and death of Android #16 that push Gohan over the edge and into Super Saiyan 2 ass-kickery. World saved. Thanks, 16.
So, yeah, Dr. Gero is a bad guy, and he’s dealt with fairly quickly. But he’s definitely an underrated bad guy. First of all, he was a human with absolutely no physical abilities, who turned himself into an android that was capable of taking on a super saiyan. That, in and of itself, is really all I need to say. But there’s more.
Turning himself into a powerful warrior was quite a feat, but Gero built the androids and Cell, who are some of the most powerful beings in the entire universe. The gravity of that accomplishment can not be overstated. An entire universe full of species millions of times stronger than earthlings, and Gero builds multiple machines – using earth’s natural resources – that are more powerful than almost all of them.
Let’s not even get into his work on Super Android 17 – more GT controversy – who was arguably even stronger than Super Saiyan 4 Goku.
Every Namek Who Is Not Piccolo, Kami, or Dende
Piccolo, Kami, and Dende hog most of the Namekian spotlight in DBZ. And it makes sense – they all play vital roles in saving the earth time and time again. They’re great. But let’s take a moment to look at and show some appreciation for their species, The Nameks.
As far as the Namekians go, Piccolo, Kami, and Dende – despite all of their wisdom – are borderline barbaric in terms of enlightenment. All Namekians are peaceful and quiet farmers, who raise families and crops and exist in perfect harmony. The eldest Namek inherently holds the most wisdom, and is looked up to the most. He may be the one that other Namekians go to for guidance in times of trouble, but there is no leader of the Namekian people – just a shared understanding of morality and purpose.
This all sounds well and good, right? Great, a bunch of hippie farmer folk existing in harmony. Cool. But it’s not just that. The Namekians have abilities that could so easily be exploited for personal gain, it’s not even funny. They are badass warriors – they’re way stronger than humans, can fly, and can re-grow limbs that have been severed. They can materialize objects out of thin air – you name it, profit city, and THEY CREATED THE DRAGON BALLS which – as you know – when assembled grant any wish to the wiser. And do not EVER use them unless in times of great need for the species or their planet.
There is no concept of exploitation for personal gain, despite having all of the means to do so. Tell me they don’t know what’s up.
Written by: Richard Reitzfeld