I’ll never forget my first time reading through the Dragon Ball series. I didn’t grow up watching it on Toonami, rather, I ended up getting to enjoy the entire series in manga form. Something not many people have been able to experience. I had no clue that Freeza was spelled differently, Kuririn was Krillin, and that the Genki-Dama was known as a Spirit Bomb. I came in free of judgement, and it was the most fun I ever had reading a manga. All thanks to the pinnacle of Dragon Ball Z, the Androids Saga.
Now, it’s easy to see why I love this saga so much. I’m a sucker for good time-travel stories, and why The Terminator is my favorite movie of all time. The saga begins when a future version of Trunks goes back in time to warn Son about the Androids, set to come three years from then. Their only goal being to kill Goku. Trunks changes the future in the current Dragon Ball timeline forever. Goku doesn’t die from the heart disease, and the Z-Fighters (I don’t like calling them this, but I have no other choice), are fully prepared for the Androids.
Son Goku’s heart starts to give out in the middle of the fight with #19, but luckily he has the cure. Super Saiyan Vegta makes his debut, resulting in a complete decimation of Androids 19 & 20. Problem solved, right? Goku will be cured, and Androids are nothing to a Super Saiyan Vegata. But here’s where it got crazy, where my blood boiled with excitement, not knowing what to expect.
Trunks time-travels again to help the Z-Fighters fight the Androids, with an end goal of figuring out how to beat them himself. But when he gets to the scene, it’s nothing but bewilderment. Trunks finds #19’s decapitated head, not having the faintest idea to what that he’s looking at. The Z-Fighters are fighting different Androids, as a result of Trunks’ time-meddling. It’s perfect. Just when Toriyama had the audience thinking that the fight was over; he was able to add even more suspense than the saga even started with.
I couldn’t help running to Barnes and Noble the second I could afford the next set of volumes. I absolutely could not wait to continue the story. When I finally got my hands on the next VizBig, I had to read it in the car, while it was dark. My iTouch light had to suffice. I needed to see what happened next.
Trunks reveals that those aren’t the same Androids in his timeline. Dr. Gero, Android #20, escapes to awaken the Androids that Trunks knows quite well. And of course, Vegeta wants Gero to awaken them. His Saiyan pride wants the next challenge. Pretty much everyone but Vegeta did their best to stop Gero, but it was too late. Gero awakened #17 & #18, to Trunks’ dismay. Gero was killed by his own creations, and they even went on to activate Android #16, who did not appear in Future Trunks’ timeline. Long story short, the Androids lived up to Trunks’ unrealistic expectations. No one stood a chance, even Goku knew he couldn’t. But what does Toriyama do? He pulls another villain out of his ass, ingeniously. I don’t know how he continued to do it!
Bulma, Trunks, and Gohan find an old time-machine, one similar to Trunks’. Near it, they find Cell’s shell. Instead of having the Z-Fighters train to destroy the machines, he created an even bigger threat to take them out. Granted, the Androids aren’t as evil as they are in Trunks’ timeline, but they’re easily more than anyone on earth could handle.
Cell’s made up of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Freeza, and King Cold’s genes. Apparently Dr. Gero got them with tiny robotic insects that no one could see or detect (like I said, ass-pull). He’s stronger than the Androids, but weaker than Piccolo/Kami. But as he revealed to what he thought was a dying Piccolo, absorbing Androids #17 & #18 will make him unstoppable.
What I love about Toriyama is how he’s able to make his obvious ass-pulls connect back to earlier events. The Androids and Gero only want to kill Son because of what he did to the Red Ribbon army back in the early days. It’s brilliant. Goku is paying for his actions, as the destroyer of a mega crime-organization should. This goes back to how everything thus far is a direct result of what happened in the past. The Saiyans led to Namek, which led to Freeza, and the Red Ribbon saga led to this.
Here’s where, for the first time, I started getting frustrated with Vegeta. Vegeta is easily my favorite character. From his antics of trying to get granted immortality, to admitting that Goku is number one, I love it all. Mostly. Him letting Cell go to absorb #18 after already getting #17 felt like a plot device. I know he’s a proud saiyan, and was very found of his new powers. But back when he was fighting along Nappa, when Goku was on his way to the fight, he wanted Nappa to kill Gohan and co. because he was afraid of their combined powers. Vegeta had to have known how strong Cell would get, no matter how strong he thinks is was. Starting to hold a grudge against a character I love wasn’t fun.
We then move to the final stage of the saga. I know it’s technically known as the Cell saga, but I like to lump them together. Considering the Cell/Cell Game saga is the direct outcome of Dr. Gero and the Androids. Cell gives the Z-Fighters 10 days to prepare. And within those 10 days Piccolo manages to waste a year of his life training only to be completely useless in the Cell Game! Way to go Piccolo!
Throughout Z, various characters have had the limelight, albeit all Saiyans, it’s why I love this series so much. First it was Goku and Gohan taking down Vegeta (Krillin almost got them killed), then Goku took down Freeza, Vegeta took out Androids #19 & #20, and now it’s Gohan’s turn to prosper. Ever since he was first introduced, Gohan’s been nothing but hype. Multiple characters have talked about how much potential he has, hell, the fact that he turned Super Saiyan damn near 10 years before Goku is enough proof of how powerful Gohan it. But he just doesn’t have it in him. Even in his fight with Perfect Cell, after Goku wasn’t able to beat him, he explains how he only fights because he has to. The world is relying on him; he doesn’t like to fight like his father. That conversation with Cell ultimately raised his character to a whole new level. Gohan ends up going Super Saiyan 2 to defeat Cell, finally taking his place as the strongest in the universe.
And that’s why this saga is as brilliant as Dragon Ball gets (no offense to Majin Boo). It has everything I love: time-travel, killer robots, and fantastic character development. I’ll even go as far as to compare Future Trunks and Bulma to John and Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise. Both families are on the run from killer robots. Dr. Gero essentially created Skynet with the super computer that made Cell. I know Toryiama was a huge movie nut, so I’d like to think that The Terminator had an influence on Dragon Ball. Even if it was only a little.