So as it turns out, despite having the notes for the update I had planned for today, my ability to focus is drastically undermined by the crash I’m experiencing from an abundance of productivity over the course of this week. As a result, I’m going to go off topic again to discuss something I find both strange and intriguing.

 

Come to think of it, a lot of DBZ's villains parallel Superman's in some way. I smell an international lawsuit!

Man, if you thought the origin story of Superman was weird, wait until you get a load of Japan's take on it.

Dragon Ball Z Kai.

 

Now for anyone who’s not a member of my generation, I’m going to start by trying to explain vaguely what Dragon Ball Z is. Woof, this is going to be tough.

 

Well Dragon Ball Z is an anime from the late 80’s that was dubbed into English and became popular here in America during the 90’s. I’d venture a guess that it caught on to main stream American culture more than nearly any other anime. This guess is based largely on the percentage of strangers I’ve talker to who are familiar with the series to some degree, but all things considered it seems like a reasonable test.

 

Anyway, the story of Dragon Ball Z picks up where another anime, Dragon Ball Left off. Dragon Ball was largely an action-adventure anime with some strong martial arts influences. It was the story of an unusual boy (with a tail) who was found by a farmer Clark Kent-style and raised by him. After his caretaker’s mysterious death, he’s found by someone hunting for Dragon Balls, magical spheres that can grant you one wish from a dragon if you gather all seven of them together.

 

The one constant about Dragon Ball Z villains is that they're gross-looking and you're glad they're not real.

Alien, robot or alien-robot? You decide!

Dragon Ball Z itself focuses much less on the Dragon Balls and more about the characters. The protagonist from the last series (named Goku) discovers that the reason he had a tail was because he’s actually an alien. Goku discovers ways to tap into his alien heritage to increase the arbitrary number (called a power level) that determines how intimidating you are to boastful villains. With some minor help from friends he gathered along the journey of the first series, as well as a villain who eventually discovers a heart of…silver maybe, Goku defends the Earth against aliens and robots.

 

So for anyone who tried to watch this series as episodes were being released, you’re probably familiar with perhaps the most annoying feature of this anime. The incessant stalling. You know how on reality shows like American Idol there are results shows that drag on and on, stretching one fact you want to learn into a painful hour of television? Yeah, Dragon Ball Z invented that. I distinctly remember a part of the story where Goku was supposed to show up and help his friends not die at the hands of an alien tyrant and his army and someone stating “he’ll be here in five minutes”. It took him no less than three episodes to arrive. Maybe now you’ll look at Ryan Seacrest in a new light…nah, who am I kidding?

 

However, within the last few years, whoever is in charge of Dragon Ball Z had a very interesting idea. They re-edited and re-released the series under the name Dragon Ball Z Kai. You’re probably wondering, “What changed when they edited it?”. To be honest? Almost nothing.

 

I hope you like shirtless, grunting men, because that took up a ton of time before Kai happened.

There's an old joke that goes, "How many Dragon Ball Z characters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "Just one, but it will take them five episodes".

Let me clarify, the story doesn’t seem to be altered in any significant way, but they cut out all of the unnecessary stalling bits so now the show is almost pure action, excitement and story.

 

It’s a really interesting idea, and I wonder if it will ever have any merit for American television. I mean, they already have recut versions of movies here in America. Seriously, how many distinct versions of Blade Runner are there?

 

Since I’m already in tangent town, I’ll say what I’m really thinking about the concept of “Kai” editing. I would like to ask my hero, Eiichiro Oda, to consider releasing such an edit for one of my all-time favorite shows, One Piece.

 

Great, now I have to explain One Piece…no, you know what, explaining One Piece is super easy. One Piece is about pirates who have super powers. They’re mostly all trying to procure money and/or fame, some by finding the deceased king of pirates’ hidden treasure, but honestly pirates with super powers is the gist of what you need to know.

 

Honestly, I’ve never seen a TV show on this epic scale. Eiichiro Oda has created an actual entire world populated by unique islands, cultures, technologies…it’s almost like he traveled to another world, came back and made an anime based on his notes. It’s preposterously immersive.

 

Not to mention the fact that One Piece has some of the most creative uses of super powers I've ever seen.

If the idea of "pirates with super powers" doesn't make you at least vaguely interested in watching a show, then you and I probably won't be very good friends.

Now that I’ve penned a few verses for my love song about One Piece, it’s time to tie up this mess of an entry. You see, I had the good fortune of getting into One Piece on the ground floor. I was a Shonen Jump subscriber and read the manga (aka Japanese comic book/graphic novel) on which the show is based as it was first being translated into English. Because I love the show so much, I’ve often tried to get my friends interested, but I’m usually met with some resistance.

 

I can understand why, even setting aside the fact that to be current on the show you’ll have to watch in Japanese with subtitles, which can get tiring even for people who can deal with subtitles, there’s the issue of length. As of this writing, there are 537 episodes of One Piece. Assuming an average runtime of 22 minutes, that’s almost 197 hours of that show, which has just passed a self-imposed halfway mark.

 

As much as I love One Piece, I have to admit that there’s an awful lot of filler, recap, clipshows and just generally unnecessary material along the ride through its 537 and counting episodes. Someday I think it will be best for everyone if we trimmed some of the fat and made this great series more streamlined and accessible for the masses.

 

Then I can finally make my friends understand all of my obscure references! Nah, who am I kidding?

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