Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Big In Japan Episode #12: Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Justin gets Derek to talk about Minmei again! How can this be!??!?! Find out by listening to Big In Japan's episode on Macross: Do You Remember Love? !!!

Big In Japan Episode #12: Macross: Do You Remember Love? - Download this episode (right click and save)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Justin's Top Ten Star Trek TOS Episodes Part 3

And now... my choices for the worst episodes of TOS.

3. The Mark of Gideon

There is a good episode here, it just didn't come together. Overpopulation is a subject worth exploring. But the story is simply full of too many plot holes. If Gideon is so overpopulated where did they find room to build an exact replica of the Enterprise. How did they get the blueprints for the Enterprise? If all they wanted was Kirk's blood why not just take it when he was captured, and then return him without his knowledge? Why not just colonize another planet?

It also doesn't help that the love interest is bland and has little chemistry with Shatner. Also, the back and forth between Spock and Hodin is so drawn out, uninteresting and frustrating. The entire episode is an exercise in frustration and totally illogical.

2. Plato's Stepchildren. 

This is the episode famous for the first interracial kiss. That doesn't make it a classic though. The way Kirk and Spock are forced to act... you start to lose respect for them. With Spock dancing over Kirk's body. Kirk being ridden as though he were a horse. It just goes on and on. Then you have some weird s&m stuff with the whip and hot poker. Is this supposed to be a fun, lighthearted episode? You may think so with all the shenanigans. Is it a commentary on the excesses of power? This episode never decides what it is. Michael Dunn is a treat to watch on The Wild, Wild, West but even he can't save this episode.

1. And the Children Shall Lead


As Youtuber Brandon Tenold might say, this episode is full of Kennys. Whenever i sit down to rewatch TOS i usually have to skip this episode. People want to complain about Spock's Brain. To me that episode is like a fun B-Movie. But this episode... man. Why is Uhura so concerned with looking old? Cause she's a woman? Cause women are vain? Get outta here. No one wants to get old. Why is Sulu afraid of swords filling the viewscreen. Because he has some skill at fencing? 

An interesting side note, the Gorgon was played by Melvin Belli who was an attorney and may have actually spoken with the Zodiac killer. As a fan of Star Trek and true crime i'm fascinated by this. 

Again, if there are certain episodes that grate on your nerves like a Ceti Eel then let me know in the comments section.  And stay tuned as i have several other Star Trek blogs planned. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fanholes Episode # 175: Derek and Dad!

Derek has an impromptu podcast with his Dad during a blackout from last year! Inspired by the Film and Water podcast's "Tales from the Movie Theater" episode, Derek asks his Dad about film's he remembers seeing at the theater or films he remembers taking Derek to go see! We also dovetail into stories about Comic Books and the days of Action Figure Collecting for a spoiled son! Check it out!

Fanholes Episode # 175: Derek and Dad! - Download this episode (right click and save)

Podcast Promos:
The Film and Water Podcast

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fanholes Episode # 174: Your App Sucks Balls Fan Expo!

Justin and Tony chat with Derek about his trip to Boston Fan Expo and what it was like meeting Mike live and in-person! Not to mention Amy Jo Johnson! Derek talks about meeting comic greats like Frank Quitely , Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Howard Mackie, Jae Lee, Dan Parent, Dan Khanna, Ed McGuiness, Humberto Ramos....and of course Jim Lee and John Byrne! BUT BE WARNED!!!! Derek Body Shames and Tony Man-Splains "Hot Cosplay"! Not for the faint of heart! Check it out if you DARE!!!

Fanholes Episode # 174: Your App Sucks Balls Fan Expo! - Download this episode (right click and save)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Justin's Top Ten Star Trek TOS Episodes Part 2

5. The Enterprise Incident

I'll be honest, i've always preferred Romulans over Klingons. This episode has an almost Mission: Impossible feel to it. Kirk and Spock must acquire the perfected Romulan Cloaking Device. Kirk acts unstable. Spock pretends to kill him. Spock engages the female Romulan Commander in an episode long game of cat and mouse flirtation. Kirk then pretends to be a Romulan, complete with pointed ears.

The female Romulan Commander would show up in several novels and comics over the years. I was especially happy to see the character return for the final two episodes of the fan series Star Trek Continues (who was actually played by the daughter of the original actress).

4. Arena

This was the very first episode of Star Trek i ever saw. I remember thinking the episode was alright and the guy with pointed ears was interesting. When the Gorn showed up they had my complete attention. I think that was the point i became a fan. This episode is, of course, infamous for Kirk fighting the Gorn and for his improvised weapon. Kirk's battle with the Gorn is one of those legendary Star Trek moments that has been referenced in various tv shows, and even commercials. Captain Sisko is a fan as well. When flung back in time to Kirk's era the one thing he wanted to ask him about was fighting the Gorn.

3. The Doomsday Machine

I feel this is an episode people think of if they consider TOS cheesy. I get it. The Constellation is actually just an AMT Enterprise model and it shows. And there is the Doomsday Machine itself. It looks like a Thanksgiving cornucopia. All i can tell you is when i first saw this episode i bought it. I bought the illusion they were selling. I also bought the performance of William Windom as a man devastated by the loss of his crew. A man bent on getting revenge even if it claims the Enterprise.

The Remastered version of this episode certainly made the space battle more dynamic, and the Doomsday Machine looks better. And yet, i prefer the original version. The Doomsday Machine, or at least other vessels of the same design have shown up in novels such as Peter David's Vendetta and in Star Trek Online.

2. Mirror, Mirror

This episode needs little introduction or commentary from me. It is the granddaddy of alternate universe tropes. You see it in everything from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys to Futurama. Even Hasselhoff had an evil twin with facial hair on Knight Rider. It is perhaps the most famous concept to come from the original series. Even non-fans know a lookalike with a van dyke must be evil.

The Mirror Universe continues to show up in comics, novels, video games and in episodes of DS9, Enterprise and Discovery. Of the many tie-ins one that stands out for me personally is The Mirror Universe Saga trade. This epic eight issue story was written before Star Trek IV and takes place immediately after the events of Star Trek III. I remember being a little kid, learning my library had comics and this was the first thing i found. I must have checked it out and read it a hundred times.

1. City on the Edge of Forever

This episode is usually number one or two on most top ten lists and for good reason. Like Mirror, Mirror i feel there is little i can add at this point which hasn't been said in fifty plus years. I will say that i really enjoyed the IDW comic adaption of Harlan Ellison's original screenplay. For years i only knew Harlan Ellison as a very angry man who was on the Sci-Fi Channel. I knew he had an axe to grind with Gene over how his script turned out. His script features many differences from the produced episode, one of which involves Yeoman Rand playing an active role. I've always been fascinated with unproductive scripts or ideas for films that never materialized.

Now, you may be thinking what about Space Seed? Amok Time? Trouble With Tribbles? Honestly, i was never crazy about Trouble with Tribbles. I feel it is very, very overrated. I know, i know. Its a fan favorite. I remember during the 25th anniversary marathon it was picked as the #1 best episode. I always thought City was better. And that was before i became a fan of the works of Ellison. And yes, there are episodes i've picked that may be surprising. All Our Yesterdays and Obsession. I like those episodes. These are just my personal picks. I know you have your own favorites. Everyone has different opinions. I like The Lights of Zetar. I think its a weird episode. It isn't exactly highly regarded by the fan community. But fan community or fan think means nothing to me. I like what i like.

So, if you agree or disagree with my list let me know. Give me your episode picks. As Derek, Tony and Mike will tell you... i can talk about Star Trek all day. Also, be sure to come back next week as i talk about what i feel are the worst TOS episodes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Justin's Top Ten Star Trek TOS Episodes

So i've decided to steal, er... i mean borrow a page from Mike's book. I will be counting down my top ten favorite Star Trek The Original Series episodes.

10. All Our Yesterdays.

I'll admit i've always been drawn to episodes were Spock acts out of character. There is something compelling about watching the cool and calculated Vulcan filled with rage or love. In this episode, while trapped in the past, Spock falls in love with the time exile Zarabeth. Also, Kirk is imprisoned for being a witch. This is also the penultimate episode of the series. And while Turnabout Intruder may be a mixed bag this episode is not. I'm clearly not the only fan of this episode as writer A.C. Crispin wrote not one but two novels that continue the story.

9. Obsession

Several times during the original series Kirk throws caution to the wind and pursues his own agenda. This is one of those episodes. Wrought with feelings of guilt Kirk is determined to hunt down and destroy the creature. Add to the mix the son of his former Captain who he failed to save. Chris Claremont featured the immediate aftermath of Lt Kirk's failure as a key sequence in the wonderful graphic novel Star Trek: Debt of Honor (which i have read so many times, my copy is falling apart).

8. Metamorphosis

Essentially, Ellie from the Andy Griffith Show merges with an energy being that has fallen in love with the inventor of warp drive. Ellie, AKA The Galactic Commissioner, is not especially likeable so you feel very little sympathy for her, or at lease i didn't. Even the actress playing her described the character as 'a mean bitch'. My favorite scene is when the merged being lifts up part of her dress which just happens to have a pattern similar to that of the energy being. She looks through the fabric and can still see Zefram as she once did. As a kid i always thought this was a really weird episode. As an adult i appreciate just how sweet but unusual this love story is.

7. Requiem for Methuselah

Being a fan of the Highlander franchise i may be predisposed to like this episode. Kirk, Spock and McCoy encounter a near immortal human who was such historical figures as Brahms and da Vinci. The idea of Kirk truly falling in love with a guest star is nothing new, you may even think Rayna is yet another in a long line of women involved with Kirk. But upon her death Kirk is so heartbroken that Spock takes it upon himself to erase her memory from his mind.

Captain Janeway would reference this episode while having her own adventure with a hologram of da Vinci. Flint would show up in several novels where he met Dr. Soong and fall in love with the android that was Data's 'mom'. Guy really had a thing for androids.

6. The Enemy Within

Much like director David Lynch i've been fascinated with the idea of doubles, evil twins or alternate versions of ourselves. I'm also a big fan of legendary writer Richard Matheson who wrote this episode. Episodes like Obsession and The Conscience of the King would peel back the layers of Kirk to show a manipulative and reckless side. This episode strips Kirk down to good and evil. I always felt the implication that the evil side is what allowed Kirk to make difficult command decisions to be extremely fascinating. This episode would figure largely in the novel Foul Deeds Will Rise, which also was somewhat of a sequel to the episode 'The Conscience of the King'.

Come back next week for the final five episodes. Will your favorites make the cut?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fanholes Transformers Tuesdays # 39: Dreamwave "Prime Directive"

Mike and Derek are joined by Shag Matthews of The Fire and Water Podcast as they discuss the very first Transformers comic mini-series released by the late Dreamwave Productions. Listen as the Fanholes shatter Shag's perceptions of this story and its artist- the Superstar Funana Transman himself, Pat Lee!

Download this episode!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Justice Not Entirely Dissimilar To Lightning # 3: Thunderbolts #2, Tales of the Marvel Universe #1, and Captain America #192

The Fanholes discuss the second issue of Thunderbolts and their brief story in Tales of the Marvel Universe # 1, as well as look back at Captain America # 192- the first appearance of Karla Sofen!

Download this episode!

Podcast Promos:
The Fantasticast

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fanholes Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em?!? # 28: TJ Special!

Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em?!? This episode, Derek is joined by special guest, TJ Damon (of the Quad M Podcast and the Enigma comic books series) to discuss some of TJ's favorite Marvel Comic Books!

Comics Discussed:
Captain America #253-254
Rom Annual #1

Fanholes Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em?!? # 28: TJ Special! - Download this episode (right click and save)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fanholes Episode # 172: Goddamn Cosplay!

Join Justin and Derek for a candid and unplanned discussion about Derek's trip to Denver Comic Con 2018. How Derek meets Kaiju No Kami and Cruelica Kain in person, watched the excellent documentary on the film Monster Squad, called "Wolfman's Got Nards", going to see Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson's panel, waiting in line to get autographs and commissions from comic book creators, meeting comic book Legend Frank Miller, the Milestone Comics 25th Anniversary panel, and of course Goddamn Cosplay! Check it out!

Fanholes Episode # 172: Goddamn Cosplay! - Download this episode (right click and save)

Wolfman's Got Nards
Trekker Talk

Also don't forget to check out the Kaiju No Kami youtube channel for more Denver Comic Con Coverage and Dollar Bin Reviews for Comic Book Video Reviews!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fanholes Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em?!? # 27: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Just in time for the new movie, the gang discuss the Ant-Man and Wasp: Small World mini-series and the Avengers: Origins one-shot which retells Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne's very first team-up!

Download this episode!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fanholes Episode # 170: Yamato Springwater!

The Fanholes get together to discuss the live-action feature film Space Battleship Yamato! Not only that, but Mike, Justin and Derek are joined by the Anime Freaks themselves! Doctor Bill Robinson and Gene Hendricks join the gang to talk Gamilas, the Wave Motion Cannon, Iskandar and more!

Fanholes Episode # 170: Yamato Springwater! - Download this episode (right click and save)
Podcast Promo:
Anime Freaks

Friday, May 11, 2018

Justice Not Entirely Dissimilar To Lightning # 2: Thunderbolts #1 and Incredible Hulk #449-450

A brand-new Fanholes spin-off show- Justice Not Entirely Dissimilar To Lightning! Listen as Mike, Derek, and Justin go through the entire saga of Marvel's Thunderbolts in chronological order, as well as examining characters' first appearances and other moments of historical importance to the team!

In the second episode- the guys discuss the very first issue of Thunderbolts as well as the first appearance of the team in the pages of Incredible Hulk #449-450!

Justice Not Entirely Dissimilar To Lightning # 2: Thunderbolts #1 and Incredible Hulk #449-450 - Download this episode (right click and save)

Podcast Promos:
Council of Geeks - 90s Comics Retrial

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mike's Top Ten Favorite Dragon Ball Characters

I’ve been a fan of Dragon Ball in all of its incarnations since first seeing the original Ocean Group dub air on syndicated Saturday morning TV and in that time, many of the myriad of characters in the franchise have left their mark on me.  This list will count my top ten personal favorites, taking into account Dragon Ball, Z, Super, the movies and specials, and even GT.

SPOILER ALERT: There are no characters from GT on this list.

Before I get to it, no list of mine would be complete without an honorable mention!

Honorable Mention- Beerus and Whis

Yes, I know this is technically TWO characters, but I feel they’re closely linked enough that they should share this space, even though both of them are well-defined and interesting in their own respective rights.  However, it is mostly their duo-act that leads to all their best moments in the series, and Beerus and Whis’ interactions with each other and the cast are always fun to behold.

As for Beerus, he took awhile to grow on me, and honestly I’m still a little uncomfortable being cool with a guy who casually destroys whole planets because he didn’t fancy the local cuisine.  However, when he’s not being an asshole, he has some delightful character quirks and serves as a great foil for both Goku and Vegeta.  He’s oozing with personality, not just because of his fantastic voice actors (both in Japanese and English), but also owing to his odd "hairless cat" character design and body language.  I guess I’ve come to think of Beerus as Galactus from the Marvel universe, if Galactus wasn’t usually so unapproachable on a personal level.  As the God of Destruction, Beerus’ role is a necessary one, even if he does come off as a total bastard while performing his duty sometimes.

Whis is subject of one of the best character twists in the franchise.  When we’re first introduced to him and Beerus in “Battle of Gods”, we are initially made to assume he is the subservient retainer to the God of Destruction.  At the end of the movie, it is revealed that Whis is in fact stronger than Beerus, and their relationship is basically the total opposite of what was presented.  Whis is Beerus’ teacher and basically babysitter, and later goes on to provide some training to Goku and Vegeta in “Resurrection: F” and Dragon Ball Super.  Much like Beerus, Whis is blessed with some great voice actors on both sides of the ocean, a standout character design, and a presence that commands your attention whenever he is on screen.

Like I said before, Beerus and Whis work best when they’re together and thankfully that’s usually always where they are.  Their antics are always hilarious to behold and both of them play off the rest of the cast beautifully.  I think their only major problem (aside from what I mentioned about Beerus above) is that they are both plot-breakers in multiple ways.  Both of them are strong enough to beat any opponents Goku and the rest have faced thus far, and thus their mere presence on the battlefield usually removes a fat chunk of tension.  Plus, Whis has the power to REWIND TIME for up to five minutes into the past, which kind of made the climax of “Resurrection: F” into a literal dues-ex-machina.

Still, I do enjoy them both and consider them the worthiest inclusions to the Dragon Ball mythos since the franchise was “revived” so to speak.  However, they just barely miss being in the top ten...

10.  Artificial Human/Android 18

Technically it should be “Cyborg” 18, as she’s part human, but Android 18 is pretty chill all around.  She's a money-maker and an arm-breaker, but thankfully not a life-taker… at least her main timeline’s self isn’t.  Her evil future alternate timeline self was just a murderous brat who eventually got what was coming to her, but the main 18 managed to develop into a decent person, probably in no small part thanks to Krillin.  That’s a big part of why I like 18- because I like Krillin, and if she likes Krillin, that must mean she’s cool, right??

I don’t want to define her solely by her relationship to Krillin, or even her brother Android 17, but she does tend to work best playing off other characters and those are the two she is closest with.  I suppose Akira Toriyama got a little lazy when it came to his female characters, because most of them end up the same way- “stick’em with a baby and dust your hands off.”  Still, by the time of Super it’s very evident that 18 is a loving mother to Marron and wife to Krillin and you can’t say anything bad about that.  She’s a lot more practical than her husband, and while Krillin will get involved in fights because it is the right thing to do, 18’s response is usually “does it pay?”  The two couldn’t be more different personality-wise, and that’s probably why they make such a good couple.

18’s also had great voice-acting throughout her entire animated career, both in Japanese and English, and a striking character design.  Those cold blue eyes, brrrrr…

I’d think 18 should be more mad about people referencing anime-only filler episodes than Krillin almost naming their daughter after his ex-girlfriend...

9.  Future Trunks

Cool anime hero with a tortured past and a sword!  Future Trunks checks a lot of superficial boxes for fans looking for a favorite character, but he’s got some actual substance to him.  Toriyama provided a lot of pathos and depth in Trunks’ backstory and tragedy definitely builds character in this instance.  It’s no wonder that Future Trunks is as popular as he is on his own, while present day Trunks usually needs his best bud Goten around to bounce off of.

A trope most comic book fans hate is when a completely new character appears and totally owns an established bad guy or upstages established good guys right off the bat.  Future Trunks is… almost guilty of that, but honestly I think Akira Toriyama was savvy enough to somewhat subvert that trope when he first introduced him.  First off, Trunks was revealed to be the son of Bulma and Vegeta, two well-established main characters of the series.  Talking in comic book terms, he’s a legacy hero!

Secondly, his utter dismantling of Freeza was actually fairly appropriate on a few levels and served multiple plot-related purposes.  Freeza, as charismatic a villain as he was (in Japan, at least), was well and truly spent as a character by that point.  Dying at the hands of Vegeta’s son had a certain amount of poetry to it and Trunks was avenging the Saiyan race as well as his pa’s pride.  On the plot side of things, it certainly helped sell the encroaching threat of the Androids if Trunks could dispatch Freeza so easily, yet couldn’t beat them.

So yeah, I give Future Trunks a pass on this trope, especially since the episode he kills Freeza is easily one of the best animated, scored and directed single installments of DBZ.  One of the first DVDs I ever purchased was a Dragon Ball Z release featuring that episode, and I must have watched it subbed in Japanese countless times.

The History of Trunks special is one of the better movies in the franchise and Future Trunks’ return to the series in Super injected a lot of life and interest into the plot.  I know for me personally, Super went from “just watching this out of franchise loyalty” to “MUST-watch” when the Goku Black arc began.  Future Trunks is just an electrifying character to have pop-up in any Dragon Ball product, and I’m happy to admit I think he’s super-cool too.

Heehee, remember this seizure-inducing commercial when Funimation was hyping his arrival when they originally started dubbing the Android saga?


8.  Freeza/Frieza

I, like probably most American fans, was first introduced to Freeza (or Frieza, as the English material insists on spelling it) in the Ocean Group dub of Dragon Ball Z as it aired in syndication on Saturday mornings.  And like most everyone, I thought Freeza was totally a woman.  I mean, there was the “lipstick”, the name, and of course- casting a female voice actress as Freeza’s dub voice.  It wasn’t until I watched some grainy fansubbed VHS episodes of the original Japanese version that I saw Freeza referred to as male.  Hearing his haughty, mocking, and admittedly-effeminate voice as performed by the incomparable Ryūsei Nakao, I finally “got” what they were going for with this character and was able to enjoy him (at least, in Japanese) henceforth.

The English dubs screwed up Freeza’s character for years, until casting Christopher Ayres as his voice in Dragon Ball Kai.  With a more accurate translation and Ayres’ fantastic performance, English-speaking audiences finally had a Freeza that was worthy of Toriyama’s original concept of the character.  Sadly, Ayres had to retire from voice-acting due to some serious health issues.  His understudy and replacement for Freeza’s English voice- Daman Mills, has done a fine job replicating the performance however, and even adding his own unique flair to the character.  These fine and worthy dub voice actors have salvaged Freeza’s image in the West nowadays.  Add that to the fact that English fans got to experience Ryūsei Nakao’s Freeza in “real time” as it were by watching the official weekly Japanese stream of Dragon Ball Super, and Freeza’s finally regarded with the respect he deserves all over the world.

There is a reason Freeza’s widely considered the best villain in the entire franchise, and when he’s played right, you can see why.  He’s the one responsible for blowing up Planet Vegeta and bringing the Saiyan race to near-extinction, so his importance to the series as a whole is without question.  Freeza’s personality, his charm and etiquette masking an elitist sadism, is what truly makes him so compelling and fun to watch.  I’m glad that once Dragon Ball was “revived” so to speak, they realized that Freeza should have a presence again, and “Resurrection: F” and Super have certainly put him front and center again, making him a “contender” once more.

Indeed, in the most recent video game, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Freeza’s one of the main POV characters in the story mode and he’s an absolute joy to follow around.  With his newly-attained Golden form, he no longer has to kowtow to guys like Cell or Buu who used to have vastly-superior power over him.

Isn’t that just delightful?  OHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!!!

7.  Artificial Human/Android 16

Unlike Androids 17 and 18, 16 actually CAN claim the “Android” descriptor, being as he is entirely artificial and not half-human.  16 is a character who actually got more fleshed out in supplementary materials than he did during his time on the show.  His physical appearance and personality were based on Dr. Gero’s deceased son, who died fighting for the Red Ribbon Army that Goku eventually destroyed.  This information, which was never revealed in the manga or anime, adds another dimension of depth to Gero’s motivations and reasons for revenge on Goku and serves to make 16 an even more tragic character than he already was.  His “gentle giant” persona and love of nature was contrasted with his cold, unyielding directive to find and kill Goku.  Sure, maybe Toriyama was recycling some of Android 8's earlier character beats with 16, but 16 is easily the more memorable guy overall.

Of course, what probably comes to most people’s minds when it comes to Android 16 is his death at the end of the Cell Saga, where he serves as the catalyst to Gohan’s unleashing of his hidden potential.  His role in one of the most dramatic and important scenes in all of Dragon Ball is usually overshadowed by the scene itself, but you do have to spare some regard for how well Toriyama defined 16’s character in the brief time he was active.  He was pretty much the perfect person to be in that moment and speak those words to Gohan.

I always thought 16 looked cool, and he had good voice performances on both sides of the ocean, although his initial Funimation dub performance by Jeremy Inman took the “robot” thing a bit too far.  He’s one of my favorite guys to play as in Dragon Ball FighterZ, and his role in that game’s story mode has upped his profile with fans a bit.  16’s self-sacrificing nature is on full display even in gameplay, where he can activate his internal bomb and take out an opponent at the cost of his life (well, 99.9999999999% of his life.)

6.  Yamcha

No lie, Yamcha was actually my first favorite character in the franchise.  This was when I first started watching the original Ocean Group dub of the first thirteen episodes of Dragon Ball in syndication.  Back then, the character pool was kind of limited, and when me and my cousins wanted to “play” Dragon Ball, I got Yamcha, one of my cousins was Goku, and the youngest cousin got stuck with being Oolong.  Yamcha was pretty cool in those days, the roguish desert bandit with a sword who could unleash the speed and fury of a wolf.  Plus, he had a relatable weakness- a fear of girls, which was something ten year-old me could probably understand.

Of course, as the years passed and I saw more and more of the series, Yamcha became progressively less impressive and cool as he was surpassed by Goku and virtually everyone else.  The ability to punch with the power of a wolf shockingly took a backseat to firing energy blasts that could level mountains... go figure.  Yamcha’s string of defeats and humiliations led to the fans themselves treating him as a joke, and nowadays that perception of him is actually made manifest in official media.  Still, I’ve always had a soft spot for the poor guy, and I think I’d prefer to laugh with Yamcha, and not at him.

Even though there’s still a lot of fun at his expense in it, I did enjoy his “spotlight” episode of Dragon Ball Super.  Much like in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the baseball-focused episode of Super is a total hoot and Yamcha gets to demonstrate his skills in a field that Goku and the rest are utterly clueless in.  He does get some moments to shine in it, but of course… his history of failure is never far behind poor Yamcha.

Yamcha was originally voiced by Tōru Furuya, who is also the official voice of Amuro Ray in Japan. Being the big Gundam fan that I am, that obviously adds some cool points to Yamcha.  He is one of my mains in Dragon Ball FighterZ and as the Honest Trailer for the game puts it, Yamcha is surprisingly “Not Garbage?” in it.  There is quite a lot of satisfaction in overcoming Vegeta’s Final Flash with a precisely-timed Neo Wolf Fang Fist- Yamcha’s level three super move.  So I’ll continue to champion Yamcha like that- being good with him in a video game… because he sure ain’t doing anything to improve his image by himself!

 5.  Bardock

The animated special “Bardock: Father of Goku” is probably one of my favorite single things in the Dragon Ball franchise period.  It’s just a fantastic production all around and Akira Toriyama liked it so much that he declared it canon to the manga as well.  Of course, I mean the original Japanese version… the Funimation English dub was made in a time where more precise translations and keeping the original music and tone of Dragon Ball was less of a priority than it is now.  It is this first portrayal of Bardock that makes this list here- a typical, low-class Saiyan gifted almost by happenstance with sporadic glimpses of the future.  These visions drive him to attempt and save his race from their impending and tragic fate… which he is ultimately unable to prevent.

As originally portrayed, Bardock had no real heroic leanings, simply seeking revenge and survival.  He doesn’t even really seem to give a crap about his newborn son Kakarot- the Saiyan who would grow up to be Son Goku.  Even as he meets his fated death at Freeza’s hands, the last future vision he receives is that his son will eventually avenge their race and defeat Freeza… and that’s all that would appear to matter to him.  However, as the franchise marched on and Bardock’s character was appreciated by more fans, more fiction featuring him was produced, which all gets a bit away from what made Bardock such a compelling and honest character to begin with.

The “Episode of Bardock” animated special from 2011 puts forth the notion that Bardock was sent back millions of years into the past at the moment of his death.  He wakes up on a primitive planet Vegeta, fights a great ancestor of Freeza, and becomes the first Super Saiyan, thus spawning the legend in the first place.  Leaving aside the basically-unexplained time travel plot device, making Bardock a Super Saiyan- the FIRST one to boot, actually kind of makes him LESS unique.  Mostly because almost EVERY modern-day Saiyan in Dragon Ball becomes a Super Saiyan at some point, but also because being a legendary super-warrior was never what Bardock’s character and story was originally about.

There’s also “Dragon Ball: Minus”, a prequel manga story written by Toriyama in 2014 that basically retcons the Bardock Special out of existence.  In it, Bardock is presented as having a wife, being a loving husband and father, and purposefully sends Kakarot away from Planet Vegeta in a pod to spare him from Freeza.  My fellow Fanhole Derek likes to joke that the original Funimation English dub of Dragon Ball Z made it seem like Goku’s dad was very similar to Superman’s dad Jor-El.  Whelp, Toriyama seemingly decided to make that even more so in this comic.  It’s a weird little story to have been produced, especially considering how Toriyama reportedly loved the Bardock Special so much as to consider it canon to his own manga writing.  Most people, myself included, definitely prefer the animated Special version of Bardock’s tale

So yeah, I think Bardock’s a great character… if you basically ignore any fiction featuring him past 1990.  I’m glad that his appearance in the Dragon Ball FighterZ game only uses his Super Saiyan transformation during a level 3 super move because ordinary grunt Bardock is BEST Bardock!

4.  Cell

Cell has always been my favorite villain in Dragon Ball… mostly because the Cell Saga is my favorite story arc.  Time-travel and robots… I guess that’s just the Transformers fan in me.  Cell isn’t really a robot though- he’s a “bio-android” to be precise, and I really enjoyed how distinct his three main forms were made in the story.  His first Imperfect form was creepy, predatory and cunning… and the introduction to it was accompanied by a suspenseful tone that Dragon Ball seldom strikes.  In the anime especially, it came off like a horror movie as the heroes tried to work out who and what Cell was before Piccolo finally came face-to-face with it, er… “him."  I felt his insectoid body design and inhuman face lived up to all that build-up and mystique surrounding him.

Cell’s second, or “Semi-Perfect” form became more of a swaggering brute-like character that was honestly a little harder to take seriously thanks to his froggy-face.  However, his Perfect form was and is one of my favorite character designs from Toriyama.  The wings, the lizard-like patches on his skin, even his “Pope Hat” gave him a very distinct silhouette and presence.

Personality-wise, Cell’s just as theatrical as Freeza is, albeit in a different way.  Freeza’s more about being overly polite and composed in his sadism, while Cell favors grand gestures and spectacle.  They both share the same “sore loser” streak though and crack up when things aren’t going their way.  Cell’s also basically Gohan’s arch-nemesis, and the two actually make convincing foils for each other with their conflicting personalities.  Since Gohan’s a little farther up this list (SPOILERS!), it’s only natural I’d like the guy who was involved with Gohan’s most important scene in the entire series (along with Android 16).

Cell’s got a great, booming Japanese voice actor in Norio Wakamoto, but I also really enjoy Dameon Clarke’s English dub voice for his Perfect form as well.  Clarke adds another layer of that theatricality I mentioned above to Cell’s character in his performance that makes the bio-android seem a bit more charming in English.  As for that business in GT when he absorbed and then had to “crap” out kid Goku… let’s just forget about that, okay?  Like… with the rest of GT.

3.  Kuririn/Krillin

Back when I first got to watch some Japanese fansubs of Dragon Ball Z as a lad and decided I was King Shit Otaku for doing so, I remember I used to insist on calling Krillin “Kuririn”, as his name was transliterated in the subs.  Of course, I was also somewhat ignorant of the nebulous relationship between the “L” and “R” sounds in the Japanese language, and I usually mispronounced the name as “KUR-RIN”.  Oh how I derided the English dub for pronouncing it “Krillin”… but I guess they were about as close to getting it right as I was.  I still tried to spell it “Kuririn” whenever I typed it out, even if I always left out the “i” in the middle of his name when saying it aloud.  And hey… the Dragon Ball Super manga adaptation actually acknowledged my confusion in a recent chapter!

In whatever case, Kuririn is best bud to Goku, an honorary older brother or uncle to Gohan, and just generally a stalwart companion to whomever was in his presence.  He wasn’t ever the strongest, quickest, or even smartest guy… but Kuririn’s bravery, determination, and heart were a key ingredient to many victories throughout the series.  While he’s overshadowed greatly in power by most of the others, never underestimate the value of having Kuririn at your side in a fight… even if it’s just to toss you a healing Senzu Bean.

Kuririn’s also aces when it comes to comedy relief, even in the middle of a life-or-death struggle.  He added much levity to many serious situations and it’s near-impossible not to root for this guy… or not feel devastated when he is hurt or dies.  It’s no coincidence that Goku’s two greatest eruptions of rage in the series occurred right after Kuririn was killed.  The little monk just inspires that much loyalty and love from his friends and family.

Kuririn’s English dub voices have been okay for the most part. I think I hold a soft spot in my heart for Terry Klassen’s portrayal and his apparent catchphrase for the character- “This is nuts!”  Mayumi Tanaka’s original Japanese performance is pretty distinct however, and she adds a lot of the character’s heart.  Speaking of, I’ve really enjoyed the spotlight Kuririn’s received in Dragon Ball Super, and the focus on his family life with Android 18 and Marron.  Nice guys might finish last, but I think Kuririn still ends up with a win in the end no matter what happens.

2.  Son Gohan

From a pampered little four year-old crybaby to savior of the universe one-and-a-half times running, Gohan had a long journey throughout Dragon Ball Z.  That’s probably why he’s fairly popular with most fans, as many got to “grow up” alongside him as the series progressed over the years.  Gohan’s simply a more relatable character than his dad is, having more down-to-Earth and “normal” character flaws and foibles.  Whether it is overcoming his fears, dealing with an overbearing parent, or simply not wanting to hurt people, Gohan is a lot more human than Goku beyond just the literal sense.

That human side of him is what made it so easy to make a lifelong friend of someone like Piccolo, utterly changing the way the former Demon King lived his life.  With his earnest attitude, Gohan makes easy friends of anyone, really… it seems like even Vegeta has high expectations of him on many occasions.  His innate likability and pure heart make it that much more rewarding when Gohan succeeds or fulfills these lofty expectations placed on him.  Indeed, one of the dramatic high points of the entire franchise is Gohan finally unleashing the hidden potential that has been within him since his debut and saving the planet from Cell at the age of eleven (with an able assist from "Ghost Dad", of course!)

Even when he’s older, Gohan seems to have it more “together” than his father in matters other than fighting.  While Goku loves and values his family, they’re also clearly not the primary focus in his life.  Gohan, on the other hand, treats his wife Videl and daughter Pan as the center of his universe.  Goku stumbled onto his “hero” role almost by accident, but Gohan loves being actively heroic… to the point where he made up his own superhero identity as the Great Saiyaman.  Gohan thinks all his theatrics as Saiyaman are completely awesome and cool and staunchly defends this persona to anyone who raises an eyebrow.  I mean… wouldn’t you?

After Goku’s death in the Cell saga, Akira Toriyama intended for Gohan to be the main protagonist for the remainder of Dragon Ball, as he didn’t envision it continuing for much longer anyhow.  Indeed, the first half of the Buu saga does make it seem like that will be the case, but Toriyama changed his tune towards the end and shifted focus back to Goku.  While the story is traditionally that he was receiving a lot of fan mail that had readers wanting Goku front-and-center again, Toriyama has gone on record admitting that he simply wasn’t sure where else to take the character of Son Gohan at that point.  The end of the Cell saga did really seem like the culmination of Gohan’s character and a good place to end the series overall, so I guess I can see where he was coming from.

While his “Mystic” upgrade during the Buu Saga was certainly impressive, Toriyama felt the only place Gohan could go from there was down, and the character’s later years are marked with some disappointing showings.  Despite this, Gohan’s popularity hasn’t decreased among the fanbase, and when Dragon Ball Super entered the Tournament of Power story arc, one of the things that was most looked-forward to was Gohan’s return to significance on the battlefield.  Even if he never reached the dramatic highs of the Cell Saga again, he remains one of my absolute favorite characters in the franchise.

1.  Piccolo

My favorite Dragon Ball character is Piccolo, or “Piccolo Junior” as he is sometimes referred, being the son/reincarnation of the Great Demon King Piccolo that met his end at Son Goku’s hands.  While he started off as a straight-up villain who was intent on avenging his dad and killing Goku, Piccolo has gone through a lot of growth and development as a character since then.  I was first introduced to him through the Ocean Group dub of Dragon Ball Z, and even though I hadn’t seen or even been aware of his history in Dragon Ball up until that point, I think it was pretty clear to me what Piccolo was about from the outset.

His team-up with Goku to fight Raditz was one of the first significant times I took note of a fictional trope that I’m quite fond of- what I like to term the “Rival Fusion”.  Rival Fusion is when two enemies must put aside their differences and fight side-by-side against a larger threat to them both.  After seeing Goku and Piccolo take on Raditz together, I knew that this was a dramatic set-up that I would always find awesome.

As I continued immersing myself in the Dragon Ball franchise, Piccolo rather consistently remained as my favorite character.  Obviously, he has a distinct look and presence, some rather unique special techniques, and a chill attitude.  He was pretty much Vegeta before Vegeta was Vegeta… although I guess you can say that about Tenshinhan too… and most other Dragon Ball villains.  Piccolo eventually softened through his mentoring of Gohan and became a trusted ally and friend to Goku and the rest of the cast.  He still maintained a ruthless edge to his tactics and a lack of mercy towards his foes that the others (aside of Vegeta) lacked.  In fact, one of the little joys of the Dragon Ball Z movies is seeing Piccolo dispatch many hapless henchmen of the main villains in some pretty brutal ways.

Of course, there’s another side to Piccolo… get him out of his element or put him in everyday situations that he’s completely unfamiliar or uncomfortable with and you usually get some comedy gold.  It’s really quite the testament to how much his character has grown over the years when you put the Piccolo who took pleasure in torturing a crippled Goku in the 23th Tenkachi Budokai next to the Piccolo who babysits for Gohan’s daughter Pan.  Watching Pan, his brief stewardship of Goten and Trunks during the Buu Saga, and helping Beerus and Vegeta pull the wool over Goku’s eyes in regards to Monaka are all pretty entertaining moments in Piccolo’s history.  However, my absolute favorite extended Piccolo comedy bit is the anime-only filler episode of him and Goku being forced to get their driver’s licenses.

Another reason I quickly attached myself to Piccolo from the fore was thanks to Scott McNeil’s distinct and stellar dub performance in the English version.  Toshio Furukawa’s original Japanese performance is also solid and memorable, but Scott McNeil just tended to add this demon-y rasp to his take on the character that really made it unique.  Chris Sabat’s Piccolo… well, at first I kinda hated his forced-sounding performance, but he slowly adapted it and made it sound more natural by the Buu Saga.  Nowadays, I can tolerate his Piccolo, but back in the days when Funimation’s in-house dub had just debuted, Sabat just seemed like such a step down from McNeil.  Still, it was useful for generating several amusing Internet memes, chief among them… Motivational Piccolo.

So yeah, Piccolo’s my favorite character and I think I’ve been through the entire cast while constructing this list.

Yes, Piccolo, ALL OF THEM.

Thanks for reading!