Dragon Ball Deserves Another Live-Action Attempt

By Christopher Isaac | Published

Like many people, I grew up getting introduced to anime through the Dragon Ball franchise and still have a soft spot for its story and characters today. Like many people, when the anime was adapted into Dragonball Evolution, I hated everything about it and couldn’t believe how horrible it was. That being said, that is not at all because Dragon Ball does not lend itself to a live-action movie, so I think it is time to give the franchise a chance to redeem itself.

The Same Problem That Doomed The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Some might ask why anyone bothers making another Dragon Ball movie when the first one became such an embarrassment. But much like the M. Night Shyamalan version of The Last Airbender, the fault for the end product lies more with the director than the source material. It just felt like director James Wong was not really a fan of the franchise and perhaps just wanted his name attached to what he knew was a major franchise.

Disregarded The Source Material

I don’t blame anyone for jumping at the chance to direct a Dragon Ball movie since it will immediately have the attention of the very large anime fanbase. But at the very least, the people in charge should be people who have seen enough of the show or manga to replicate its major elements. Dragonball Evolution immediately got things off on the wrong foot by whitewashing the characters, turning a clearly Asian character like Goku into a white high school student. That really set the tone that the movie creators were not interested in being faithful to the source material.

A Hard Franchise To Adapt In 2 Hours

One challenge in making a Dragon Ball movie that I think is understandable is that the most popular part of the franchise is Dragon Ball Z, but that isn’t a great starting point. The first part of the franchise is Dragon Ball, in which Goku is just a child exploring the world, and we meet all of the major characters right alongside him. By the time Dragon Ball is over, it is assumed that you already know dozens of characters and how the eponymous Dragon Balls work. It is a lot to introduce all at once for a movie.

Evolution Ignored Akira Toriyama

dragon ball z remake

But that only makes the failure of Dragonball Evolution all the more frustrating because they had the series creator, Akira Toriyama, on hand to consult and advise them. By the time the movie was coming out, Toriyama advised fans of the franchise to view the movie as an alternate timeline rather than a faithful adaptation because he knew the movie didn’t follow his advice. To have such a big advantage and ignore it is unbelievable. Especially since any new Dragon Ball movie will never have that due to Toriyama’s recent passing.

Dragon Ball Deserves Better

There definitely needs to be a better Dragon Ball live-action movie made at some point. The anime and manga are far too beloved and influential to be stuck with such a terrible live-action legacy. Avatar: The Last Airbender got somewhat of a redemption through the Netflix series that was worlds better than the movie. Now it’s Dragon Ball’s turn to get the treatment it deserves.