Once Dragon Ball Z ended, long after he intended, Akira Toriyama was finished with the franchise. Toei though, the company responsible for animating the show, wasn’t. They commissioned another show without any guidance from Toriyama, calling it Dragon Ball GT (Grand Tour). The show was a complete mess.
The story opens with Goku training Ubuu at Kami’s palace. Emperor Pilaf (who hasn’t been seen since the original show), breaks in to steal the Dragon Balls. Apparently there are black star Dragon Balls, that have been there the whole time. They’re the Dragon Balls for the universe much like the red star ones are for Earth. Pilaf says he wishes Goku was a child again and the black stars granted the wish, scattering across the universe. If they aren’t returned to Earth within a year, the planet will explode, or something. So chibi Goku, a completely emasculated ascot wearing Trunks, and Goku’s grandchild Pan (daughter of Gohan and Videl) travel the universe looking for the Dragon Balls. It was terrible.
Rather than continuing the tone of Dragon Ball Z, Toei opted for one similar to the original Dragon Ball, comic hi-jinx and whatnot. No one cared for it, as was evident by the negative feedback. Quickly the writers switched gears, returning the muscle-bro format of DBZ. Big strong bad guy was introduced, Goku eventually defeats him, then next even stronger bad guy appears.
DBZ was meant to end after the death of Frieza (or Freeza if you prefer). He was built up to be the big bad of the universe, and only with Goku becoming the legendary Super Saiyan was he able to be defeated. Toriyama kept the story going by introducing Cell. The conceit of bigger bad was stretched, but not to the point of tearing. The Cell Saga worked. Again, wanting to end but not, he continued with Majin Buu. Now the concept was broken. Super Saiyan 3? Really?
I can understand Toei wanting to try something a little different, as I’m sure they’ve noticed just how worn down the big bad guy fight motif was. They could have not tried at all, but that was out of the question. After the comedic tone didn’t work, they switched to back to DBZ mode. First Baby was introduced. How did Goku defeat him? By turning Super Saiyan 4 of course. Then, a new version of Android 17 was created who absorbed the human version of 17 to become Super 17. After defeating him, the Dragon Ball’s cracked, releasing seven monsters, each created every time a wish was made (if that was true there should be 46 some odd monsters). After some big battles, fusions, and Super Saiyan 4’s, Omega Shenron was defeated with a spirit bomb. The energy being pulled from everyone in the
If any of that sounded boring or awful, it was. Toei returned to a well no one wanted trying to repair characters that they neutered. Future Trunks is one of my favorite characters from the show, or in anime. Seeing him in cargo shorts, an ascot, and gloves while being forced to dance was just horrible.
Funimation knew how bad the show was, editing it for TV. The first episode was combined with the 17th, skipping most of the nonsense in space. Baby was already present, taking over Earth. While many American companies are often criticized for editing anime, I think this was the smart choice here, they knew their audience. The unedited version was released on DVD, though I doubt many cared.
DBGT was a waste. As a writer, it taught me to not listen to your audience, ending the story when it’s meant to. And to not bleed an idea dry.
Pointless or needed? What did you think of SS4? Comment below!
DBAF = Dragon Ball April Fools