When I feel like I'm being overly scroogey when it comes to nostalgia bait or film and television, notice this link to the thing you liked! It's a jokey way of making a point, one that's why I'm not in show business. If all writers, showrunners, and filmmakers do is repeatedly deliver what audiences already know they like, nothing new will gain traction and anything worthwhile in a given series is put on the back burner. Read the original Dragon Ball, then
Prequels to the original work are especially vulnerable to the temptation to pander. So many pitfalls are consistently stumbled into by franchises that go back in time. All important matters are tied into the core cast, sometimes in a way that results in a smaller fictional world. Action, violence, horror, sexuality, technology, and other genre elements get ampped up, and the latter becomes easily the latter.
When Toei Animation produced the Dragon Ball TV special Bardock: The Father of Goku, it was established that the Saiyan race were loyal foot soldiers to Lord Freeza and his planet-conquering empire. They were so powerful that Freeza feared their potential of becoming the Super Saiyan of legend. Thus, he destroyed the Saiyans and their home planet, with only four Saiyans, including series lead Goku and his opponent Prince Vegeta.
When is Dragon Ball Z: Bardock the Set's Father?
In Bardock: The Father of Goku, set in the days before a Freezas strike, the titular character gets psychic abilities that allow him to see the destruction of his people and his sons' future on Earth. He fights an increasingly desperate struggle against Freezas forces to alter the fate of the Saiyans. In the background, his infant son Kakarot (Goku) is prepared for his journey to Earth, and a young Prince Vegeta is shown favor by Freeza.
From this description, it should be obvious that Goku's father was the one who made a doomed last stand against Freeza? And he just happens to have a unique ability that allows him to see events from the original Dragon Ball series? How many cheesy callbacks, borrowed lines, battle recreations, and unnecessary backstory might end up crammed into this special?
As it turns out, there is little variation.
The Father of Goku is Among the Best Prequels a Major Franchise Has Ever Gotten, according to Bardock.
The Saiyans arent stuffed with superfluous information about Freeza's planet-conquering organization. The Saiyans arent loaded with unnecessary information that undermines the nature of Freezas' betrayal. There are no wrinkles of pathos written into the Vegetas character, and Goku, being a baby, cannot do or be anything less than what Dragon Ball had already established: a low-class child with unremarkable ability who was sent off to an
When done correctly, prequels can be a joy to work on, and it may seem like a missed opportunity to demonstrate what manga author Akira Toriyama had already established by that point. However, what he created was enough to make Freeza's fear of the Saiyans, Vegetas' mixture of pride and bitterness, and Gokus's connection with both of them work.
Bardock Is No Goku
The main character in the special, who isn't required to pay much attention to the established cast, is a willing and eager participant in the planet-conquering trade, gleefully wiping out entire races without a second thought. At the beginning of the special, Bardock expresses his loyalty and patriotism for the Saiyans and their homeworld, but he never confesses to his many sins or concludes that his people are doing evil. He only rebels against Freeza
And those psychic abilities Bardock acquires at the start of the special? They are of no use to him. He learns what Freeza intends and learns what Goku will be up to on Earth, but they never help him win any battles or help him convince anyone else of what Freeza is up to. The rest of the Saiyans (who are also aware of doom, but unbelieved) are all believers.
Bardock has more in common with Vegeta and Freeza in his pride, brutality, and immorality than with his own son. Both are preordained by fate to be extraordinary; the special does not attempt to make them so. By chance, he hit his head, developed a pure and kind personality, and demonstrated himself worthy of higher power; except he had an encounter with an alien race that gave him psychic powers to torture him in his final days.
Bardock: The Father of Goku is a brief and unsettling tragedy, which is often relegated to the main character. Freeza was already concerned about the Saiyans, and he never learns of Bardock's name or has any reason to fear him as an individual.
The Special Allows for Unnecessary Fanservice
Bardock's dreams about Goku's future are repeated a few more times than necessary. Toriyama and Toei would eventually succumb to the prequel traps in the 21st century.
The Father of Goku isnt just for Dragon Ball enthusiasts, it's also for any series that goes back to the past. The TV special did almost everything right; Minus and Broly did almost everything wrong.