For those of you who grew up in the nineties, like myself, you probably remember a cartoon called Dragonball Z. I don’t know about you, but coming home from school each day to watch Goku and the gang beat up the bad guys was a huge part of my childhood, and the childhoods of millions of others. It was unlike any other kids show on air at the time, for being one of the relatively few examples of Japanese anime on US airwaves, and it was fairly violent for a kids show, with blood spray, death and destruction, and almost every episode involving super-powered aliens beating the snot out each other. It appealed to kids for the same reasons shows like GI Joe and Transformers were big in the 1980s. It has lots of fighting, cheesy dialogue, interesting characters, a Shakespeare-esque sense of good and evil, and in the end, you know the good guys would always win. To this day, it retains a loyal fan base and is a powerful brand name in the media field, boasting a long string of video games, merchandise, books, and even a recent remake of the animated series.
Of course, like countless other things from pop culture, Dragonball Z has evolved into entirely new forms on the Internet. Ranging from the ‘It’s over 9000’ meme to petitions to destroy every surviving copy of Dragonball Evolution, to say nothing of countless fan forums, DBZ has already left its mark on the Internet. One of the most recent examples however, comes to us from the Abridging community. For those who do not know, Abridging is when someone takes a video, typically a childhood cartoon, and then proceeds to shorten it and redub it, usually for comedic effect. Countless videos of these can be found on places like YouTube, but the focus of this article will be the product of an abridging group called Team Four Star. The product: Dragonball Z Abridged.
With its respective members already famous on YouTube for their various projects, the final product of their joint effort truly is one of the best things spawned by YouTube. They really did a superb job on the series, and I would easily say that the production value and humor is on the level of anything you’d find on Adult Swim. The series draws its humor from several sources, including slaughtering the original series’ sacred cows, filling it with nerd/Internet humor, to it’s surprisingly witty dialogue. At the same time, they manage to keep the series true to its roots that people like myself who grew up with the original series can have some nostalgia to go with our laughter.
My favorite thing they’ve done is breathing new life into these characters that I loved as a child, and now take joy in seeing how they twist them into something new. Goku has the childlike idiocy he was famous for taken to entirely new levels. Frieza and the other villains have been made far more evil, and yet have gaping personality flaws that make them enjoyable to watch. My own childhood favorite, Vegeta, gets his wise-ass level tuned to eleven, as well as playing the straight man to many of the more insane cast members around him. And of course, Krillin exists for no other reason than to get kicked around by both friend and foe alike — only this time, he knows it. Even some of the more irrelevant characters from the main series have been recast in new ways. Nappa, who was previously just a muscle-bound juggernaut, has now been given the intelligence and personality of a small child combined with a string of Internet Memes tossed in for good measure. ridiculous things are done with Frieza’s minions, and certainly nothing you would expect. Most radically changed however is Mr. Popo, who was previously just a servant to Kame, has been given an almost demonic presence making him far more evil than any of the shows actual villains.
With 24 episodes, 2 movies, and continuing to grow, Team Four Star’s star continues to rise. Who can be surprised? Dragonball Z Abridged is hilarious, clever, and always makes you smile, whether it be because of the humor or the nostalgia. It quickly became a guilty pleasure of mine, and if you give the show a chance, it will win you over too. If you’re a fan of Internet humor, you need a laugh, or you have fond memories of coming home from school to watch Dragonball Z, go to their site and see why Team Four Star has me in stitches.