Dragon Ball is without question a smashing hit of a franchise that remains a wonder to the world.
Being one of the most popular manga and animes to date, the series has gained a cult following. It started in 1984 with the first release of the manga, and also in 1986 with the premiere of the action-packed anime. But what is it that has entranced millions of people of all ages across the globe? Is it the explosive battles between forces of immense power? Is it the lovable and colorful cast of characters that bring nothing but fun to the viewer? Or maybe the gut-wrenching story of friendship, trust, and moral responsibility?
Perhaps it is a combination of all. Though, a more prominent aspect of the anime are the villains, more specifically, how similar they are to the heroes. So much so, that many times these so called “villains” are not so villainous, but rather heroes waiting to blossom.
With the arrival of the “Universal Survival” arc in the latest series of the franchise, Dragon Ball Super, we find creator Akira Toriyama at work yet again with a seemingly favorite trend of his. The previous installment, Dragon Ball Z, showcased a number of these villains-turned-heroes (i.e. Piccolo, Vegeta, Majin Buu). Dragon Ball Super continues adding to the list with the return of past villains such as the cool and collected Android 17 and the ruthless space tyrant Frieza. Both 17 and Frieza were seen as formidable foes in the past, but can now be seen as potential allies in the newest arc.
It seems that the most common way for Toriyama to bring in such a dynamic is to present a common goal and/or enemy that cause the Z-Fighters to combine their forces with their enemies. This is not to say that the former villains change their nasty attitudes or bitter look on life. It also is a tactic that doesn’t change their morals necessarily, but improves the aspect of tolerance in both parties.
Toriyama definitely has an important message to tell with his characters. He shows that all one needs is open ears and the will to listen to be redeemed. For now, us Dragon Ball fans can only wait to see if the trend continues. Hopefully 17 and Frieza will join those who have turned to the side of light and righteousness in the end.