This is it! The final season, where everything comes together and reaches its spectacular conclusion. Lol, jokes, no there’s three more seasons to go after this one. Though this is often cited as being originally intended as an end to the series, just as Season Three was, it continued on. More on that next time. This though is often considered the peak for the series by many fans. There’s some great stuff to come later on but, for many, season six is the one that stands out. After the build up in Season Four and Season Five, this season gives us the epic crescendo that blows away the wildest dreams that fans had before it happened. Some plot threads that have been there since the beginning come good and it ends with a fairly decent sense of finality. So, what happens?
The early episodes are the calm before the storm. These episodes are spent setting the scene, spending a little down time with our beloved cast of characters and building up towards the beginning of the Cell Games. My real life watching of the series weirdly mirrors it. I watched the first five seasons – and wrote the first drafts of all my articles up to that point – in about 3 weeks. Lockdown was still in place at the time but I was working so that’s still quite a binge. It then took me 2 weeks to watch the first 10 episodes of this season. Obviously I couldn’t maintain my initial pace without a break and I knew that once things got going I wouldn’t want to stop so I took my time with the quiet ones. Giving myself a chance to get ready for the fights to come. Rightfully so in my opinion.
The Cell Games start with a bang, once the riff raff are cleared away that is. Goku steps up to take the first genuine crack at defeating Cell. “Wait a minute” you may be thinking “Goku, going first? That can’t be right.” well, it is right and it doesn’t disappoint either. There’s some great moves, twists and tricks at play as Goku and Cell both go all out to win. Cell breaks out some of the fan favourite techniques from throughout the series while Goku counters with some old & new tricks of his own. Showing off just how impressive his new mastery of the Super Saiyan (SSJ) form is. It’s high octane, super powered and so fast most of the Z warriors struggle to keep up. How fast are they going? Well, in classic Dragon Ball fashion the fight is framed for the audience by observers. You’ve got the Z fighters showing how much quicker the fight is compared to ones as recent as last season while Mr Satan, his acolytes and the ZTV news crew give the ordinary human view of proceedings… namely that it is too fast for any of them to see unless the fighters are standing still or an explosion is ripping its way towards them. They serve an important framing function but my god are they insufferable at times. Fortunately they aren’t the stars of the show so we don’t spend a lot of time with them, it just isn’t little enough time for my taste. Mr Satan in particular hits a little too close to home, his incessant babbling about how it’s “all light shows and tricks” is that little bit more annoying now that we live in an era where real-life idiots are crying about wearing masks in shops because of the “#Shamdemic”.
Why is this season regarded by many as the peak of the show? It isn’t Goku’s season to shine, nor is it Vegeta’s or Trunks’ or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s Gohan’s. Pushed over the edge by Cell and the Cell Jrs. The miniature versions of himself he creates to lay a beat down on the other Z fighters to torment Gohan. Gohan fulfils the promise we’ve known about from the start. He achieves that which Vegeta & Goku were unable to, he ascends. He achieves a power far beyond that of an ordinary Super Saiyan and without the drawbacks that saw Trunks get whooped last season. I’ll let the narrator of the series sum it up, he does it better than I ever could.
“It is a secret we have known before Gohan could even form words in his mouth, through fights with Raditz, the Ginyu Force, Garlic Jr, and even Frieza, we have caught glimpses of the child’s explosive power. But like an explosion it always vanished with the moment, it couldn’t be controlled, until now. At last the beastly power has been harnessed, Gohan has awoken. Now Cell will battle a warrior 11 years in the making, on the next Dragon Ball Z!” – Kyle Hebert, Narrator
The transformation of Gohan is absolutely total and stunning. The shift in his demeanour is chilling to watch. Gohan is totally in control, totally calm, too calm you might think and is absolutely lethal. After watching the Cell Jrs beat the living daylights out of everyone, everyone that Gohan cares about that is in attendance, it’s quite something to see just how easily Gohan deals with them once he’s ascended to Super Saiyan 2 (SSJ2). The expression on his face, it says it all. It isn’t a look filled with hate or anger, it’s a look of death. Cold, matter of fact, inevitable, unquestionable. A look that comes with the ability to back it up. As for the fight with Cell himself… Well, I suggest you watch it for yourself. It’s worth every second of your time and more.
My stand-out moment for this season is Gohan’s transformation for one reason above all the others – the scream. The voice acting in Dragon Ball Z is incredible, sure there are a few pronunciation or translation issues here and there in the original versions, but the quality of the actors themselves should never be doubted. The Japanese voice cast are rightly iconic and beloved but my experience is, of course, with the English dub from Funimation so that is my focus here. From Kyle Hebert’s narration to Christopher Sabbat’s Vegeta they all do an incredible job in what is actually a much more difficult role than many other Voice Acting roles. The screaming takes its toll and because it’s such an iconic part of the series they have to get it right and the actors give it their all to do so. Stephanie Nadolny’s scream for Gohan’s transformation is a stand out example of exactly this element of it and deserves to be highlighted. That’s why it’s my pick. Plus, Six Seasons in is probably too many in before finally dishing out praise for such an important element to the show.
Gohan fulfilled his promise at last, will the others be able to keep up in the next season or will he leave them all in his dust? Find out in my next article about Dragon Ball Z. And don’t forget that you can purchase the beautifully remastered Blu-Ray’s as individual seasons from Manga UK.