Step into the Grand Tour, Cha La your Head Cha La, power up to over 9000, and bow to the Prince – here are the top 10 Dragon Ball moments.
I saw a great meme that pretty much what sums up what’s about to happen here. It had the difference between girls and boys growing up:
Girls at 7: Saddle Club, Boys at 7: Dragon Ball Z
Girls at 14: Gilmore Girls, Boys at 14: Dragon Ball Z
Girls at 21: The Bachelor, Boys at 21: Dragon Ball Z
Okay okay, so we know that Dragon Ball is a series that has fans across both genders, but it’s funny that no matter how many guys I talk to, the Dragon Ball series still holds a soft spot in our hearts even in our adult years. For both guys and girls who are fans of the series, I think it’s because we originally watched the versions of the show that were edited for kids, and then grew up to realize there was a lot more of a mature theme to the source material. It only became more interesting to watch the remastered editions of Dragon Ball Z, to hear GT’s original soundtrack, to hear the redub for Kai, and to go back and revisit the original adventure adapted from the tale of the Monkey King.
Dragon Ball is a series that was masterful at character progression like no other show before or since. Great fight scenes, interesting characters, a blend of science and martial arts, and giant lasers coming out of aliens that blow up entire planets and solar systems. Many reviewers call Dragon Ball Z and its counterparts the best animation series of all time. Classic.
So after a more serious entry last time addressing the sexual elephant in the room, here are my top 10 Dragon Ball moments from the series. Because I’m a nerd. And a grown man. And still love popping this series on every one and a while to revisit the tale of the Saiyans. Here we go.
Also, the series is around 30 years old, but just in case… spoilers.
Honourable Mention #1: Gogeta fights Janemba (Dragon Ball Z Remastered)
Pictured above. The Dragon Ball Z movies were all pretty cool, but Fusion Reborn was great because it was one of the few that you could actually see fitting into the main storyline. Dealing with Vegeta’s regret in life, seeing SSJ3 Goku wreck Janemba’s first form, and finally seeing the fusion dance between the two most powerful characters in the series resulting in a 60 second KO – this was a highlight from the movies, and worth an honourable mention.
Honourable Mention #2: Piccolo uses Hellzone Grenade on Android 17 (Dragon Ball Z Kai)
Another really cool moment that just slides out of the top 10 – Piccolo who is now fused with Kami is equal power or stronger to Android 17. During his fight with #17, he uses an attack that seems to miss two times in a row. #17 gets frustrated that Piccolo keeps missing him, and then turns around to realize Piccolo has surrounded him with energy balls with no escape, and is fearful for his life for the first time. Would have ranked higher except the impact of the moment is ruined by #17 using his force field at the last minute. Boo.
#10: Piccolo blows up the moon (Dragon Ball Z Ocean Dub)
I think this was probably the original standout moment for me when I think of the Dragon Ball series, and possibly what got me hooked on the series as a whole. Piccolo, the Namekian warrior from outer space, discovers that his new pupil, Gohan, is part Saiyan, and as such is transformed into the Oozaru form by exposure to the moon. In a desperate attempt to stop Gohan, Piccolo powers up an awesome attack he never uses anywhere else in the series and destroys the whole moon. It was a display of power that hadn’t been seen yet in the series, and it was something I had never seen in a cartoon before when I saw it as a kid. It really set the tone for the over-the-top action that is Dragon Ball.
#9: Goku trains with Mr Popo and returns 3 years later (Dragon Ball)
For me, the thing that is so interesting about Dragon Ball is the progression of characters and their abilities. After defeating Piccolo, Goku travels to Kami’s Lookout and receives training at the hands of everyone’s favourite genie, Mr Popo. 3 years later, Goku returns to his friends as a teenager, with unknown ability to his friends and to the audience. The training of Goku introduces us to a whole slew of techniques that the series had never featured before, and would be the ultimate reason why Goku had an edge on so many of his opponents in the rest of the series. The pay off when we finally see how much Goku has mastered his new techniques at the age of 15 was so rewarding, and when I want to rewatch the Dragon Ball series, I start again here.
#8: Goku fights Cell in the Cell Games (Dragon Ball Z Kai)
This is what Goku voice actor Sean Schemmel refers to as his favourite moment in the Dragon Ball series. Here you see the usually more even tempered and good natured Goku actually seem to lose it a bit and threaten to blow up the earth with a Kamehameha if Cell won’t face his attack. All Goku’s friends freak out, and for the first time the audience sees a side of Goku in combat they haven’t really seen before. At the very last minute, Goku uses his Instant Transmission in combination with his energy wave and lets Cell have it. Fantastic moment of suspense. Also, I just really enjoyed this whole fight – in particular the way Goku powers up from his base Super Saiyan state with that cross armed pose, and especially the revisiting of old Dragon Ball staple moves like the Multi-Form technique and Kienzan. Loved it.
#7: Final Flash (Dragon Ball Z Kai)
My brother always tells me I root for the bad guy. It’s definitely true in Dragon Ball as Vegeta would have to be my favourite character – expect to see him a few times on this list. In a desperate attempt to do something against Cell’s new perfect form, Vegeta loses it and uses his newest technique that he developed in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. A shock to the audience and those watching it, Vegeta is able to damage Perfect Cell who appeared to be unstoppable. Even Cell exclaiming “Oh no!” before it hits just highlights the impact of this moment. Love it.
#6: Kid Buu vs Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z Remastered)
Another Vegeta moment. Content that Goku is the only one who stands a chance in one on one combat against the psychotic Kid Buu, Vegeta challenges Buu while Goku takes some recovery time. Kid Buu becomes exasperated by the stubborn Vegeta who just won’t be defeated. Even though Buu is more powerful than Vegeta in this form, he begins to question himself after seeing how resilient the Prince of Saiyans really is. Always makes me laugh, and is ultimately the moment of true redemption for Vegeta.
#5: The Shadow Dragons (Dragon Ball GT)
I know, a list that actually refers to Dragon Ball GT. Don’t hate me. Not so much a specific moment as it is the whole premise behind the Shadow Dragons. At the end of Dragon Ball Z, Old Kai warns everyone continually they should not repeatedly use the Dragon Balls the way they have throughout the series, warning of a great danger if they keep it up. Finally the whole series culminates with a great twist that didn’t even involve Toriyama, in that indeed the repeated use of the Dragon Balls and their negative energy led to the creation of the Shadow Dragons. Such a cool concept. While most of the fights are pretty lackluster and a bit drawn out, it’s great seeing Nova, the 4 Star Dragon, respecting Goku after having so much heritage with him and his family, and also SSJ4 Gogeta warn Omega that his joke attack will annihilate every cell in his body, only to fire streamers at him instead.
#4: Mystic Gohan descends (Dragon Ball Z Bruce Falconer edit)
Okay, so the remaining 4 are moments that make me want to rewatch Dragon Ball any time I think of them, they’re really that great.
This is one of the scenes that the original US broadcast version actually did better than any other version, mainly because the music and the voice acting perfectly capture what an amazing moment this is. This is one of the rare occasions where the Japanese soundtrack I feel detracts from what’s happening here. After fighting a losing battle against Super Buu, Piccolo, Goten and Trunks are working out what to do when a bored Buu falls asleep during the fight. Piccolo becomes shocked when he senses an amazingly high power coming, warning of a new enemy. When he sees the familiar orange gi, he exclaims, “I don’t believe it, it’s Goku!”. The audience and Piccolo are amazed to see that it is actually the new and improved Gohan, who has now finally grown into a brave and courageous young man, finally ready to take on this threat. Piccolo as Gohan’s mentor is absolutely blown away to see the little boy who used to cry in the face of every fear, who now walks towards his enemy with the boldness his father had demonstrated in his life.
I said Dragon Ball was great because of the amazing character progression, and to me this is probably one of the biggest instances of that. The boy has become a man. Stellar.
#3: Vegeta turns Super Saiyan and destroys Android 19 (Dragon Ball Z Kai… but really, any of the versions)
Yes, I love Vegeta, and this was a triumphant moment for any of his fans. Finally fulfilling his destiny as the Saiyan Prince, Vegeta ascends to Super Saiyan, taunts #19 like no tomorrow, and destroys the unknown android threat in a matter of moments. And in Kai, the updated English dub finally got to feast our eyes on Super Vegeta’s Big Bang attack (because they finally call it by name).
I also love Piccolo’s commentary during and following the fight. I love it when the series talked about the mental and technical aspects of a fighter’s approach to battle, and Piccolo making note of Vegeta’s arrogance and taunting made it so much more fun to watch.
#2: Yamcha vs Hero (Dragon Ball English Dub)
Out of all the amazing fights and rivalries in the Dragon Ball series, this is without a doubt my favourite fight in the whole series. I know, you’ve probably never heard that before, but hear me out. Yamcha, who was still considered very strong towards the end of Dragon Ball, squares off against the unassuming nerd Hero. Hero has somehow made it through the preliminary tournament rounds by continually making clumsy moves that either knock out or ring out his opponents. During the start of the fight, Yamcha gets frustrated when the clumsy moves of Hero seem to be working on him. All of a sudden, Hero announces he has a surprise and knocks Yamcha off his feet at light speed. Kami has entered the fray using the body of Hero, and teaches the audience and Yamcha a lesson in never underestimating your opponent. This is probably also the last fight in the series before the over-the-top dial got turned all the way up, so the fight was still heavily focused on techniques and martial art form, slowly introducing a whole new fighting style which would become a norm in the series. The build, exchange, animation, dialogue and delivery are all on point.
If you haven’t seen this fight or don’t rate it much, give it another watch and give it a chance. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.
#1: Gohan turns Super Saiyan 2 (Dragon Ball Z Japanese version)
The ultimate moment of progression in the series. The soundtrack of Spirit vs Spirit makes this unreal. Pushed to his absolute limit, Gohan loses it and reveals his SSJ2 form. Just watch.
So many moments left out, but the Dragon Ball series has so many memorable moments. And yes, I am a fan.
What about you? What were your favourite moments? What did you think of these ones? Any moments in DB Super that you think are worth checking out?
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