I’ve been torn on the subject of Dragon Ball for most of my life.
Very few series have attained the stardom it has, yet from a story perspective it isn’t too phenomenal. So what exactly drives people to adore it?
Is it just childhood nostalgia, or something deeper?
I think for many children, Dragon Ball and its subsequent continuations, was an inspiration.
Showcasing a cast who, no matter the odds, continued to focus on self improvement and continual growth. Regardless of how powerful their opponents were, they kept trying to get stronger and stronger, to protect their friends and family, almost never for personal gain(except perhaps Vegeta from time to time) .
That indomitable will that drove many of them to stand up to a myriad of increasingly powerful foes, no matter how outmatched they were, is sadly lacking in most of our day to day interactions with people.
I don’t think anyone can watch Gohans pain and see him internalize it and use it as fuel to finally attain super saiyan 2 for the first time without feeling some kind of wild exultation at his accomplishment.
We all look for mediums in our life, whether through books or film or games, that can fill that deep seeded need we have for inspiring heroes, people we can look up to during hard times and use a guiding light out of the darkness that can overwhelm our lives.
As children, we gravitate to these stories. Although Dragon Ball can be incredibly dumb at times, it still is incredibly motivating.
At least it was to this little boy, who is re-watching the entire series from the beginning while travelling, and loving it just as much as I did as a child.