Dragon Ball is a series that everyone needs to experience once in their life. Growing up I thought Dragon Ball was just a bunch of grown men punching the life out of each other. It’s why I never decided to get into the series until now. Experiencing it for the first time as an adult opened my eyes on how brilliant Akira Toriyama is and allowed me to wholeheartedly say that “Dragon Ball is my all-time favorite anime”.
Aristotle’s 12 Virtues
There are many themes to Dragon Ball that stand out from the crowd, being the King of all Shounen Anime. After analyzing OG Dragon Ball and recording the entire experience from start to finish (still need to get into the fillers) I finally noticed how the entire series represents Aristotle’s 12 Virtues which are:
- 1) Courage
- 2) Temperance
- 3) Liberality
- 4) Magnificence
- 5) Magnanimity
- 6) Ambition
- 7) Patience
- 8) Friendliness
- 9) Truthfulness
- 10) Wit
- 11) Modesty
- 12) Justice
Behind a comical anime that made nose bleeding the norm, and having an animal companion as a best friend, here’s looking at you Puar and Yamcha, there can be so much more meaning to it if you look hard enough. Anime doesn’t have to be overdramatic to tell a good story. You don’t need shock value or the extremes to have interesting characters. Dragon Ball doesn’t rely on drama, but when there is drama it hits you in the gut harder because you don’t expect it to happen.
All 12 Virtues are present in Dragon Ball. I’ll be digging deeper into this for an Analysis Video one day, but as of right now think about what each virtue might represent for each character, even the villains heading toward redemption/atonement.
Life Values and Morals
Dragon Ball has morals and values behind its crazy dialogue and world. Comedy can do that. Sometimes comedy can hold core values of a story together better than a series focused on values. Much of its values come from the dialogue exchange between the characters like Bulma and her relationships or even Pilaf and his ambitions. Good writing relies on strong characters, but even stronger dialogue. And Dragon Ball does just that with not just wit and humor but with a heavy focus on the values of life.
One scene that was perfectly fleshed out was when Goku reunited with his grandfather Gohan. The exchange between that scene was so heartwarming because it was “real” and not overdone. While there was excitement behind that scene, the warmth you felt from the reunion was as if you were there in the moment.
Another scene that will always stand out as a perfectly fleshed out scene is Tien Shinhan winning the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament. How he looked on with awe as people cheered and surrounded him while Master Roshi told him to take responsibility for his new “fame”, it all was so natural and humble that you were there in every second of the scene.
Dragon Ball is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a series that will always stay near and dear to my heart as my #1 Favorite Anime due to many reasons, but mainly the reasons above. Coming up I’ll plan on creating video essays about the themes of Dragon Ball and taking that series apart piece by piece. You can also expect to catch our Dragon Ball Reactions on Patreon and also our Dragon Ball Z Reactions (that we just started).