Dragonball Z is one of those shows that I grew up with and even though I love it to death I seem to have an endless list of flaws with it. But something that has really been on my mind recently is The Android Saga (Mostly because of TeamFourStar). What’s bugging me about it? The whole story is one giant incoherent mess! Okay so let me summarize the plot for you: A young man named Trunks shows up from the future warning our heroes that soon two Androids will appear and will be far more powerful than they can handle, two Androids appear as he predicted, but they turn out NOT to be the Androids he knows from the future, thus revealing two new Androids who quickly destroy the old ones, as well as freeing Android 16 along with them. These guys are our new villains for a little while until an entirely new villain comes around named Cell who is another Android that destroys the previous Androids and absorbs them to constantly transform into a new form. In the end he is killed by Gohan and everyone lives happily ever after.
So can you see the main problem here? This story is so inconstant, they can’t settle on what villain they want and change their minds over 3 different times. The reason for this is Kazuhiko Torishima, the editor of Dragonball Z who supposedly hated the original Androids, Androids 19 & 20 and made Akira Toriyama (Creator) change the villains midway through story, but thankfully it was still early days and there was nothing so far to contradict what had been set up, so he invented Androids 17 & 18. But Torishima still wasn’t happy and made him change it again to Cell. And hey, this brings us to our next problem, Cell is just a carbon copy of Frieza. Single villain who has multiple forms developed over the saga, starting out as an ugly first form, then a muscular form and finally a sleek and arrogantly powerful form (Another element forced on by Torishima). Because of this, the story really doesn’t develop a focus until the end, an ending that really had no build up to it of Gohan being the hero. Yes there was foreshadowing of his hidden potential but nothing concrete saying it would be unveiled in this storyline. So this story from a lot of perspectives, just doesn’t work, so I’m going to do something I haven’t really done before, I’m going to fix the Cell Saga by rewriting the story right here.
Okay so to start off with, we’re going all the way to end, as in, the future. The future that Trunks originated from shows everyone dead apart from Gohan, great, establishes the threat instantly and showing how powerful they are by actually succeeding. Then Gohan as the last hero of Earth and Trunks’ mentor dies, still doing great so far, fully sets up Trunks’ character arc here and his relationship with Gohan, not to mention just being a brilliant death scene. So then we see Trunks go back in time, warn everyone, they train but I’m moving Piccolo and Kami’s fusion scene to here rather than after the Androids show up, and then finally we see Androids 19 & 20 show up instead.
Now everything in this section is going to play out the exact same, but because we see Trunk’s future first instead of after the saga, it also adds that level of confusion and tension, we know these aren’t the androids but the characters don’t, so who the hell are they? Then finally when Androids 17 & 18 are introduced, we finally get answers on why it was different, Trunks created a butterfly effect (Still going along with the original shows canon) meaning things will play out differently in this timeline, this gets rid of any pre-destined events, paradoxical narratives, wibbly wobbly-timey wimey. Also, I’m getting rid of Android 16, yes he’s a great character and the only death in Dragonball to actually stick, but I’m afraid he just adds nothing to my version of the story, as well as Goku’s illness, because that’s another tired cliché of excuses to get Goku out of the way. So the Androids beat the shit out of everyone (Including Goku) and Android 18 never kisses Krillin (Because that was insanely dumb) but I am giving him the opportunity to be a bit of a badass and Solar Flare the Androids giving everyone a chance to escape.
So with our heroes outmatched with no chance of victory, Mr. Popo reveals the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, which can’t be used without a Guardian on the lookout and Kami forbid it while he was in charge because of what a place like that can do to someone psychologically (Otherwise why wouldn't they have used it before), thus Dende becomes the new guardian and they can train in there again. Now this is where I’m switching the line-up, in my version Vegeta and Goku go in there together first because they believe they have the best chance at defeating the Androids so it’s more important they train first. So while they’re in there, Androids 17 & 18 are tearing up the planet for the whole day. Now one of the bigger faults with Dragonball Z is that the Z Fighters never really did anything, and granted while they know they're not powerful enough to beat the Androids, they can at the very least distract them for a little bit. See this gives them a chance to show that they're not entirely useless and their bravery and stubborness means they just won't go down. So Piccolo, Krillin, Tien, Chiaotzu & Yamcha. Gohan & Trunks staying behind because it's too dangerous to risk their lives. Even though they have no chance at victory, the Z Fighters do not give up, no matter how badly they are hurt, and trust me, they get hurt, a lot. Eventually Trunks almost tries to fly down to help them, worried his future is starting to come true, until Gohan is able to calm him down and remind him blind anger never solves anything. Here Gohan reminds Trunks of the future version of him, and after he calms down he even jokes about how ever as a child he's still mentoring him.
Finally, the day is up and Goku & Vegeta exit the time chamber, stronger than ever, ready to take on the Androids. So they fly down and now Gohan and Trunks enter the time chamber together to train, the reason why I’m doing this is so we can actually get development of Trunks and Gohan’s relationship, seeing how even with their ages switched they are still very compatible, as well as seeing Trunks have to be Gohan’s mentor instead of the other way round like he’s used to, really creating a contrast there. So while they’re in there and training and bonding, Goku and Vegeta go to fight the Androids, arriving just before they kill the Z Fighters, giving them a chance to escape. Goku and Vegeta vs 17 & 18, and in typical Dragonball fashion the fight goes on forever, epic fight scene, multiple explosions and attacks, as well as seeing some good tag team from Goku and Vegeta, because even if the two can’t stand each other, they make perfect fighting partners, and having spent a lot of time together they’ve come up with some new strategies, really showing their relationship in a way we’ve never seen before, an actual mutual respect from one another.
The fight continues for several hours and just as it seems as though our heroes have won, Goku is killed from a sneak attack, leaving all of the Z Fighters in shock and Gohan sensing it all the way in the Time Chamber explodes with emotion. His hidden potential established long ago in prior sagas is finally unleashed, Gohan, at his young age is the most powerful Super Saiyan the universe has ever seen. Trunks is able to convince him to not exit the time chamber yet, as even with all of this raw energy, if he can’t maintain it and control it then it’s useless. This is where we see the big change, future Gohan let that initial anger and rage fuel him, form his fight around that which inevitably lead to his downfall, he wasn’t raised to fight on anger, but love for his friends and family, not to kill, but to protect, Trunks reminds him of that. Back on Earth, Vegeta is able to run away from the androids, badly injured and with his pride shattered, completely in shock over what happened and makes it back to the lookout. With Goku dead and the Dragonballs unable to revive someone who has already died (Cause I’m sticking to that rule), all hope seems lost. The Androids continue their rampage of destroying city after city with the Z Fighters spirits broken.
Eventually the Androids simply make their way to the Lookout to finish the job, the Z Fighters terrified to do anything, unlucky for the Androids, their time is up. Gohan and Trunks emerge from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, matured, more powerful than ever and ready to kick some ass. The fight begins, Gohan and Trunks versus Androids 17 & 18. With this fight we see the contrast from where these two started, Trunks was a whiney kid with no patience or sense of scale for how dangerous the androids were, and that version of Gohan was unguided and fueled by anger rather than love, letting his hatred get the better of him and clouding his true potential. Now the two are no longer mentor and student, in any sense, they are friends and partners, stronger than their fathers before them and prepared for their fight.
During the epic battle it looks as though Android 17 has the upper hand on Trunks, ready to finish him off, but Vegeta steps in front to take the blow, killing him, for the first time in his life he does something no one would have expected, him to act like a father. Finally showing pride in his son and Trunks respecting his father, he is more fueled to win the fight than ever, because this isn’t just Gohan’s story, it’s Trunks’ story as well. Now because it’s two heroes against two villains this is a fight we’ve never seen in Dragonball Z before, it’s always been Goku fights the big baddy while the others maybe deal with the henchmen. But there are no henchmen here and Goku is gone, a two v two fight like we’ve never seen before.
After a long and strenuous battle, they end it with that epic beam struggle, similar to Gohan vs Cell but with Gohan/Trunks vs 17/18. And like that battle, Goku’s spirit contacts Gohan to back him up, likewise Vegeta appears by Trunks to support him, with their spirits by their side, nothing can stop these two, the overpower the Androids and obliterate them into nothingness. The battle-is-won. With the fight over, Goku passes on the duty of protector to Gohan, now the strongest hero in the galaxy, there to protect Earth from any foes who dare cross them. With Trunk’s future no longer existing, he knows it’s not long before he disappears too. He says his farewells to Gohan and the team, happy he was able to help save the world, and asks Gohan to look after the baby version of himself, implying Gohan will one day have to train Trunks to be the next savior of the galaxy once Gohan’s time is up.
So as you can see with the version I’ve come up with there is more of a theme of passing the torch in the story, the villains are better established and there’s less inconsistencies and fully established and filled in character arcs, not just for Gohan but for Trunks as well, not to mention creating a better relationship between the two, as well as Goku and Vegeta for that matter, ending their arcs too. I doubt people would be happy with me killing off Goku in such an unceremonious manner, but the shock value was just too much to pass up, besides it still led to the development of other characters and no one would have seen it coming. Also yes I would have ended the Dragonball Z franchise here, but it wouldn’t be impossible to do another story arc.
This was a fun experiment to try and retell the story of one of my favourite shows, regardless of how awful it can be sometimes. And who knows, maybe I’ll do one for Dragonball GT sometime, because lord knows even though I love that series it has some serious plot issues.