Dragon Ball versus Naruto

TL;DR: Both are great and horrible for different reasons.

Over the past thirty years, one could make the argument that two franchises have stood above their contemporaries, at least in popularity. We'll get into story and all that fun stuff later, but I have a stage to set. Now, where was I? Yes, two franchises have withstood the test of time to the point that one, thirty-one years after its inception, is receiving a new anime series. As you can tell from the graphic that started this op-ed, I'm referring to Dragon Ball and Naruto. I'll set some ground rules for comparing these two mega-franchises.

  1. There will be no lengthy story/arc recaps. Go watch the series/read the manga if you're pressed. You should come into this with basic knowledge of the entire series.
  2. This won't devolve into a flame war/troll war of "ZOMG! GOKU SSJ3's KAMEHAMEHA BEATS NINE-TAILS NARUTO'S ULTIMATE JUTSU! FUX DA H8RS! NARUTO IS FOR WEEABOOS" because...no, just fuck that noise.
  3. We will focus on Dragon Ball as one franchise (encompassing DBZ (not GT because fuck GT), the movies which were canon, etc.) and Naruto as one as well (encompassing Shippuden, the Boruto spin-off series, etc.)

Now, the thing that Dragon Ball has, throughout its run, over Naruto, is its humor. Both series start out as somewhat slapstick-y action manga/anime with a headstrong character who doesn't know his own strength/lineage/destructive power. As the series progress, Naruto loses a lot of this humor, and replaces it with sheer badassery. Said badassery includes the deaths of many characters. Said deaths are usually pretty perma-death, thus discussing the real-world applications of superpowers (read: not, like, Superman shit. More like nukes and never-ending-war because of constant perceived threats and so on). Dragon Ball, even in its most-volatile moments, doesn't full-on pull an NGE (or even, to an extent, Gurren Lagann at times during the Anti-Spiral arc) and toss the humor out the window for GAR-manliness and/or psychobabble times 9000 (had to). I mean, let's look at the Cell saga. While people are dying and shit, one person who remains in the midst of things is Hercule/Mr. Satan. 

Yeah, you have a guy with no real powers, in the middle of one of the biggest shit storms in the history of ever, with a camera crew acting as if he's God and saving the world. You don't see that in Naruto much as the series goes on. It's not a bad thing, because, again, crazy action and deaths that mean something are great to have in anime. However, when Naruto stopped being as slapstick-y, it became a bit generic. It becomes like "random shonen anime/manga #41003.

However, on the flipside, we get character development out the ass for most of Naruto's characters. I still, at times, question why the fuck does Krillin follow Goku and company especially considering he is weak as fuck. "Destructo Disc"-ass ni--man, he's weak. Funny at times, but weak. Videl is fucking useless. No, screw everything else. If you think that Videl had a point, at all, during any point of the DB series, GT be damned, you need to walk the fuck away. The "Great Saiyaman" saga was just...no. Fuck that shit. 

Naruto gave just about every villain, even the one you'd see for only five seconds in episode 375 in the background, a backstory. And every hero had complexions to them other than "me good, me punch bad guy, everyone cheer. Yay!" But, inversely, at times, readers and viewers got so much information about characters and backstories and plots that it was a sensory overload. And not the good kind, like when you watched the finale of the aforementioned Gurren Lagann (seriously. Watch that series. Now!). With Naruto, at points, you've got to go back to the beginning of the damn series to get a point that's made in chapter 700. Which, again, is cool, but after a while, you say "ehhh, enough already."

Ultimately, the battle between Naruto and DB is like choosing cheese pizza from Pizza Hut and cheese pizza from Domino's. They're both great in some ways, and they both can be balls-out amazing. However, if they both stay out too long, you run the risk of them becoming pure, greasy shit that you have to eat because you ordered them. For many, Naruto and/or Dragon Ball were their starter anime. So, you kind of feel obligated to see your starter through--even if it takes over thirty years. 

However, at this point, I'm personally exhausted of both (even though Boruto and Dragon Ball Super do seem like they have potential). Both have their great qualities, but also have somewhat shit flaws attached to them. If you like ninja anime that ultimately take themselves more and more serious as the story progresses, until they're a shadow of their original selves, Naruto. If you like slapstick-y karate/kung-fu where your good guy is always going to win with mostly no problem even if he's been sliced in half, Dragon Ball


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