Dragon Ball is one of the most popular, if not the most popular anime series of all time. If you’ve never heard of it then you must live under a rock! Nah, I get it. Not everyone watches cartoons, but you know what? I do. I watch Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Super, and when I’m really really really bored I might even watch Dragon Ball GT (but not for long cuz it sucks).
Anyway, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball world is pretty expansive and covers a lot of time. There are people as powerful as gods, actual gods, dragons, wishes, alternate universes, time travel, flying, afterlives, aliens and all sorts of other cool stuff.
The Dragon Ball universe also has some problems, plot holes mainly. But this blog isn’t about filling in DB plot holes, so I’m not gonna talk about that.
Spoiler Alert: Dragon Ball Future is not the title of the next DB Series.
What is Dragon Ball Future?
Dragon Ball Future is an idea for a series of blog and vlog posts. It’s an alternate look into the Dragon Ball universe from a transhumanist perspective. The purpose is to share transhumanism, longevity, and self-preservation ideas by showing how they might apply in popular anime.
But the real purpose is just to have fun.
So much of the breakthrough research that takes place goes unnoticed. But I wonder what would happen if we combine research and technological breakthroughs with something the world already loves, Dragon Ball.
Well, I dunno about you, but I wanna find out, so we will. We’ll start with today’s post first. But before we get to that, you’ll definitely need to know a little about Dragon Ball, so if you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend you watch it. Most episodes are found on YouTube, and there are other places to watch online as well.
Start with Dragon Ball which naturally progresses into Dragon Ball Z and eventually into Dragon Ball Super. If you run out of episodes, then watch Dragon Ball GT. Dragon Ball GT was made before Dragon Ball Super, but it’s an abomination that Akira Toriyama has mostly ignored in favor of Super’s alternate timeline of events.
Oh by the way, if you want to check out a historical timeline of events click here.
Does Dragon Ball Happen in Our Future?
Okay, let’s take our first steps into the transhumanistic elements of Dragon Ball. For a show that starts off in the middle of a forest with a small boy who’s more caveman than human, it’s interesting to think about where and how the story takes place. At first glance Dragon Ball looks like any other cartoon with light undertones and a playfulness meant for kids.
In reality the show is set in a futuristic world or perhaps an alternate universe from our own in which a great deal of progress has happened in regards to evolution, artificial intelligence and other complex ideas. When attempting to put the time in perspective to our own world set in 2016, I’d say the story takes place roughly 20 to 40 years from now.
We’ll go deeper into all of the pieces of the Dragon Ball world that suggest this timeline later. For now you can just imagine what 20 years in the future looks like and then compare it to the show. Keep in mind Dragon Ball aired in 1986 which puts it just 3 years behind the very first cell phone which came into existence in 1983. What I’m saying is some stuff may seem dated by today’s standards.
Hopefully that gives you an idea of what the setting looks like. Flying cars, communication devices, robots, strange-shaped buildings etc. Growing up with Dragon Ball was strange in a way because nothing really seemed out of place despite the fact that most of what happens isn’t currently possible. But then again, that’s what cartoons are all about, right?
Is Goku Transhuman?
We’ll talk in depth about Earth’s futuristic elements again, but for now let’s stick with the first episode since it puts everything in place for the rest of the story. So we’re in the forest / mountains with a young boy with a tail named Goku. He’s a happy-go-lucky kid who makes friends with everyone and everything, but he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when the time calls for it.
So Goku makes his way through the forest to his house where he lives alone. Inside he notices an orange ball on the table with 4 stars. This is Goku’s dragon ball and it was given to him by his grandfather. When the ball starts to glow, Goku assumes his grandfather who has since passed must be trying to talk to him. At first it’s strange, but he quickly accepts it as fact.
The glowing dragon ball represents the first transhumanist element of the story, which I’ll explain in just a bit. After Goku gets over the glowing ball he realizes he’s hungry. Goku gets hungry a lot by the way. So he heads out to find food. Unfortunately he comes across an angry sabertooth tiger instead. Suddenly he becomes the food he set out in search of.
Now we get a glimpse at something that would baffle the mind if seen in real life. Goku does what most people would do if faced with a sabertoothed cat. He runs. But there’s something different about how Goku runs compared to a typical human. Goku runs faster! In fact, he runs so fast he out runs the tiger before escaping into the river to live another day.
Already we can start to wonder if this kid might be genetically enhanced or perhaps augmented in some way. Is he a cyborg? Is he an alien? Is he some kind of evolved human? Whatever he is, he’s fast!
Super Fast, Super Strong & Super Smart???
Having made his getaway, Goku gets out of the water and strips naked. Not only is he fast, but he’s smart. He doesn’t have any supplies to catch food, so he uses his strange monkey tail as a lure and goes fishing instead!
But is Goku really incredibly smart?
Not so fast. As we later find out, it’s not that Goku is super smart. It’s actually that he’s been trained really well for survival by his grandfather. For now we can rule out intellectual augmentations.
But what about super strength?
After a few seconds of fishing, a gargantuan tuna leaps from the water. It’s far larger than Goku and should easily crush him or maybe swallow him whole. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, he expertly evades the massive mackerel and with a single powerful kick, kills the fish instantly! With dinner finally caught, he drags the fish behind him and sets off for home again.
On the way home Goku has more problems. For starters, he gets hit by a car driven by a teenage girl named Bulma. Getting run over spells certain doom for most humans, but not Goku. Not only is he perfectly fine, but having never seen a car before he goes on the attack. Goku charges the car and lifts it over his head before chucking it aside.
Bulma, still in the car, is totally caught off guard by Goku’s strength. It freaks her out so she pulls a pistol and shoots the kid she believes is a monster. Unfortunately for her, the bullets only sting him and piss him off. Goku, who has never seen a girl also believes Bulma is a monster too. He charges her ready for the kill, but she quickly explains that she’s a human being which puts an end to Goku’s onslaught.
The rest of the first episode centers around Goku and Bulma and their upcoming journey to collect all 7 dragon balls so they can call the eternal dragon who will grant them one wish. When they finally set off on their adventure, Bulma tosses a small pill-sized capsule to the ground that explodes into a motorcycle and they ride off together for the first time.
So, Did You Spot Any Futuristic Elements?
The first episode shows us a kid with ridiculous strength, speed and power who could be augmented, cybornetic, or even alien (but what is alien except for another version of a potentially conscious / evolved species?).
We also meet characters who seem other-worldly, and get introduced to fantastic technologies that don’t currently exist. Finally we learn the story of the dragon balls and the eternal dragon who grants one wish. Perhaps it’s magic, but what if it’s just another technology that’s simply far beyond what even the current Dragon Ball era understands?
Goku shows a perfect example of this kind of thinking when he asks Bulma how she tamed the “monster” which was really a car. He asked how she got it to do what she wanted it to do. Clearly Goku believed the car was alive, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was simply a piece of technology he didn’t understand.
Something else to note is the ease with which Goku rides the motorcycle later in the episode. Like the car, he doesn’t understand this technology, yet he learns incredibly fast and in seconds figures out how to make it drive full-speed ahead. Often humans fear traveling to the future because they might not understand futuristic life, but I think there’s a good chance we’d find some way to learn, adapt, and figure it out.
As you can see, even just the base storyline has tons of transhuman, immortalist, and longevity aspects. From here on out we’ll explore those many exciting storylines and other “what if” scenarios to push the entire Dragon Ball universe to the edge of it’s limits and perhaps open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking about the world.
Oh, and for future posts I’ll probably make videos, so if you’d like to follow my YouTube channel for life extension / transhumanism posts you can do so here.
Until next time!
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