Dragon Ball Z Abridged — When the Parody Outshines the Source
If it was legal, it would probably be a TV show
I remember when I discovered YouTube in 2005, its debut year. It was so timid, with random videos about all kinds of stuff with no focus whatsoever, no ads or recommendations or, frankly, any other ethically questionable practice YouTube is recognised for today. And you know… it was even peaceful, as in watching videos in peace without literally anything disturbing. It was simple and fun, but I need to stop talking about what is lost forever. Regardless, I don’t know how many people expected it to become the juggernaut it is today (definitely not me). One of YouTube’s greatest “exports” is parodies; whether it’s about a music video or a famous TV show, the site has all kinds of parody series. But my favourite, or better yet, the only parody show that I genuinely liked, is Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
Dragon Ball Z Abridged is, simply put, a parody of the ever-so-popular Dragon Ball (I suppose I don’t need to explain what that is?), and a successful one at that. So much that minor characters from the original anime became even more popular after their depiction in the parody. The show was supposedly praised for its satirical depiction of the show, often pointing out the various plotholes found in it, among other things. I liked the show so much that I consider it better than the anime itself, but I’m not a DBZ fan, so I would be saying that. I’ll explain why I think the parody is better than the show later.
But despite how popular it was, the fate of a fan-made show is never that of glorious success, and that mostly comes down to legal reasons. IP holders don’t like it when other people use their intellectual property, even when it’s non-profit. Supposedly, nobody likes it when their proud work is overshadowed by something that makes a joke out of it, even if it is in good heart. But being a fan-made show, Dragon Ball Z Abridged was constantly faced with legal issues. Eventually, TeamFourStar, the guys behind the parody, announced that the show was cancelled in 2020, even though more content was to come. I liked the show, and when it was cancelled, I realised how much it sucks to live on Earth. But as I always say… it was fun while it lasted.
One word: characterisation
What I especially like about Dragon Ball Z Abridged is the characterisation, and I think it’s one of the standout features of the show. The most shining example of a good characterisation would be none other than the protagonist himself, Goku. A character that, aside from the fighting prowess, is often known for his gluttony and timid nature, Goku sometimes makes questionable choices, making him seem dimwitted. The parody doubled down on those traits by making the parody version hilariously stupid and not just gluttonous but downright obsessed with food. The execution of it all was just wonderful! The other characters are great, too, but I can’t name them all.
Through characterisation and a clever narrative, the parody appears to have a greater story-driving element than the original anime, which seems to be more focused on fighting and random plot devices. This is why I like the parody so much, and that is because it puts more emphasis on the story than the source itself, which is a bit odd when you think about it. But enough talking about how great the show is.
Although it’s somewhat moot since the show was cancelled, how many people who are not English speakers do you think were aware of the show? The show had many options for subtitles, but the voices were always English. I wonder… could the show be written in a different language and still be funny? That’s a real issue?
Start with one culture and then go to the other
As I said, the show is dead, so there isn’t really a point in doing this… but I’ll do it anyway.
First off, there should be the consideration that if DBZA is to be dubbed in a different language, which language would it be? I’d probably say that Spanish is a reasonable consideration because it’s a popular language in the United States, and it’s relatively easy to learn (definitely easier than Japanese). Now, would it be funny? I can’t say, but I know that I wouldn’t understand anything because I don’t speak Spanish.
The main problem would be not the creative issues presented with recording different languages for a non-profit project but how would it come off legally. The IP holders wouldn’t like it, and it would be funny, too, since it’s a parody in English about a show that’s originally in Japanese, and now the parody has a Japanese dub. That would be ironic enough, but once again, no point in examining a dead subject… even though I wish it weren’t.
Do you miss DBZA?
Because I do! I think TeamFourStar did an all-around good job with the parody, so much that if I watched it on television, I would never get the idea that this was made by a bunch of random fans somewhere in the world as it could pass off as an actual TV show. That is… if it wasn’t for the obvious fact that the footage is that of Dragon Ball Z. But that doesn’t matter, write down what you liked about DBZA. Or, better yet, tell us if you think that the cancellation could’ve been prevented. Oh, what a world that would be…
Dragon Ball Z Abridged is a great parody of a very popular cartoon. It’s still available on YouTube even though they don’t produce more episodes. If you’re a DBZ fan, then you’d probably like it. Then again, even if you’re not a DBZ fan, like me, then you’d still probably like it (nothing against DBZ, but it’s not my cup of tea). So… watch it if you have the time.
I wish there were more episodes, but there can’t be, and it was always a problematic situation because of all the legal bullshit. As for a dub for the parody, I don’t know. The English voices are good enough as it is.
TeamFourStar also has other stuff on their channel, so… you might want to check it out.