The Women of Dragon Ball Z

I am a huge Dragon Ball Z fan. I’ve read all of the manga and love the series. But it’s sexist and I know I’m not the first person to say so. This is an overview of the women in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. More specific instances of sexism for each character will be addressed in future blogs.

The women of the series are mainly minor characters and are always in relation to a male, never standing on their own.  Goku, the lovable hero whom I adore, is married to Chi-Chi (far left women in yellow and purple). Although Chi-Chi is introduced early on in Dragon Ball, when both she and Goku are children, she is not a recurring character until she marries Goku at the end of Dragon Ball. Then she is defined by her constant worrying and obsessive parenting methods. She is an example of the hysterical woman trope in addition is only being discussed as a mother and wife for her major parts in the series. When she was introduced she was a daughter and a future love interest. Until I began to look into feminism, I admit I found her funny most of the time.

Bulma (blue haired woman on the right) is more of a major character. She was one of the first people Goku met in Dragon Ball and to the creator of the series Akira Toriyama’s credit, he created a woman who was highly intelligent. She makes the gadgets of the series and could have been a major player in the various conflicts to save the world, but instead her intelligence is overshadowed by the fact that she is a shallow teenager and later a shallow woman. The dragon balls, when all 7 are gathered together, grant an individual one wish. At the start of Dragon Ball, Bulma is collecting the dragon balls to wish for the perfect boyfriend and her motivation ends there. Although a genius with technology, her character is played for laughs where she is either fantasized about my the lecherous Master Roshi (old bearded man with sunglasses, far right) or molested or sexualized because she is female. This is meant to be funny, but borders on soft pornography as Dragon Ball is full of jokes that are highly inappropriate and disregard the female characters.

Eighteen (blonde woman on the left) is introduced much farther into Dragon Ball Z. She is an android made from a human base, and for a while she is stronger than almost any male character in the series. But because she is so strong she is distanced from being a woman and masculinized. Listen to the voice actor portray Eighteen in the Dragon Ball Z Movie History of Trunks Her voice is deep and unlike the voices of the other female characters. She is not drawn as big chested as either Bulma or Chi-Chi and her eyes are slanted and evil. This was partially remedied when Nickelodeon reintroduced Dragon Ball Z as Dragon Ball Z Kai (editing out useless episodes to create a more streamlined series). In Dragon Ball Z Kai, Eighteen was voiced by someone with a more female sounding voice, although she was still drawn the same as in the original and never looked feminine.

The last major female character is Videl (short black haired woman in pink and white). She is brought into the series towards the very end and is both the token female and the faux action girl.  Videl is a competent fighter against petty criminals, but she is nothing compared to the main male heroes of the story. Her purpose is the female love interest for Goku’s son, Gohan and she looks to Gohan to train her. The short hair is a symbol that she is a strong woman, but she cut her hair in an effort to prove herself to Gohan, not because she found the symbolism relevant for her own growth and development. Videl annoys me more than any of the other female characters in Dragon Ball Z. Not only is it too little too late for Akira Toriyama to be introducing a strong female character, but it hurts that this is such a failed attempt because she is the only character who had potential to be an action girl.

My main problem with the Dragon Ball Z story lines is that there is no need to discriminate against the women of the series. For what the manga and anime hoped to achieve, the series did not need to be peopled with strong females, but the women who were represented could have been treated with more respect. Nothing would have been lost  if Chi-Chi was a character in her own right, if Bulma was not degraded to a sex object, if Eighteen was treated as a woman instead of evil, and if Videl was an action girl. If anything the show would have garnered the respect of both male and female fans who could enjoy the series for its otherwise fun characters and wacky yet intense plot lines.

102 thoughts on “The Women of Dragon Ball Z

  1. This looks like it could be interesting.

    Also to be fair Toriyama does also treat many male characters poorly.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. You’re correct, Akira Toriyama does perpetuate stereotypes about men through his male characters, but it is never debilitating to their character arcs or a viewer’s respect of them. The only characters who are there just for laughs are Master Roshi and Oolong. There’s a much longer and more in depth answer to this and I’ll be making a specific post in regards to your comment in the near future. Thanks for taking an interest.

      • Sure.

        If you notice of the characters, in the picture many members of the original cast are excluded. Its pretty much only Krillin, Mr .Satan, the saiyans, and their wives. The girls were really only there to create Male Saiyans at that point, the only exception being 18. Bulma was even rushed into a relationship with Vegeta just to create Trunks without making a new female character.

        Interestingly, 18 is also the only female character who scores high ratings on Japanese character polls.

      • Thank you for your insights. It had never occurred to me that the women were only there for saiyan baby production, but you’re correct. I have my own opinions on the Bulma/Vegeta relationship but I’ll get to that when I discuss Bulma as a character. Could you send me a link to the Japanese character polls? Thank you!

  2. Here’s the result of the Forever poll in order of top to bottom.

    Majin Buu
    Android 18
    Mr. Satan
    Korin(Joke movement by people on the 2chan)
    Master Roshi
    Tien Shinhan
    Android 17

    There have been other polls with about the same results(minus Korin, who was a joke vote). Excluding 18, all the female characters rank lowly. Chi-Chi have never made it into the top 20.

    What is your opinion on the Bulma/Vegeta relationship in brief?

    • I’m surprised by that list. Goten? His existence bothers me.

      But, Bulma/Vegeta. In brief I can see them together and for me it never seemed convenient or as just a way to introduce Trunks. As I’ll describe in the post I’m putting together about Bulma, you know enough about her home life to see how oblivious her parents are and (although it’s not discussed) this has potential for an interesting way for Bulma’s character to develop. I can see Bulma/Vegeta because I can see how lonely they both could be if Akira Toriyama would have openly given Bulma a character arc. I don’t mind them together at all.

      • In real life Hiromi Tsuru(voice of Bulma said the switch to Vegeta was hard to adapt too. Toru Furuya(voice of Yamcha) was bummed out by it and said what about Yamcha. Toriyama didn’t even respond to it and gave the implication he didn’t care about Yamcha.

        Plus why would Bulma when Yamcha was very willing to marry her(he talks about wanting to get married all the time). There’s also that Bulma hated Yamcha going out in the wild and risking his life, wanting him to be more normal, so why would she be okay with Vegeta doing the same?

  3. DBZ is the only show where they actually have the main characters be all males and not have the women kick their asses all the time. Just because all the women aren’t powerful doesn’t mean it’s sexist. Every other show I watch the second main character is a woman who can beat every guy up. So, that’s what makes DBZ unique. Not sexist.

    • Err..I wouldn’t say that’s the reason it’s viewed as sexist. I think part of it has to do with how women are portrayed in the series…often as sexual objects. 😦 Bulma was really intelligent…she built a time machine for goodness’ sake but she’s still reduced to a sexual object and shallow woman for the most part since it seems that her butt gets more attention than her brain does.

      • Only Bulma was ever treated as a sexual object, and only in the early gag days of Dragon Ball. She invented the Dragon Radar come on, that is a prominent invention that was used for the entire series. Capsule Corp was big and we see capsules being used everywhere in the world. It had token dirty jokes as a gag manga but even that went away when the series turned full battle shounen.

        Chichi, Videl and 18-Go were never treated as sex objects.

        Dragon Ball is not the kind of manga to appeal to the hot-blooded teen looking for sex, anyway. Other series are much better for that, since Akira Toriyama’s character designs aren’t particularly sexy.

  4. Sure, it might seem a bit sexist on rare occasions, but I wouldn’t condemn it too hastly –
    If every characters weren’t girly, it would exclude them from the serie, you have to admit that pretty much every characters of the Dragonball serie are pretty stereotypical in a way.

    You could say all of them are sexist, Yamcha wants the Dragonballs to overcome his fear of females. Master Roshi and Oolong are pervert and a lazy money-grabber, So Bulma certainly isn’t the embodiment of selfishness there.

    You could also say it portrays everyone in a perverted way… what about all the parts where Goku is naked? Everytime Master Roshi lays his hand on a woman, he get his ass handed to him, y’know!

    Finally, I don’t think Bulma is always ”relying” on any male character, she’s pretty courageous and even manage to get rid of the 2 mercenaries from Frieza’s army by herself. Sure she’s not as strong as Goku, but It’s like asking why there aren’t any male characters starring in Totally Spies to me.

    • You’re correct that DBZ employs tons of stereotypes for both genders, and if you read my other blog post on The Men of Dragon Ball Z, you’ll see that I talk about that as well.

      I disagree with you however, that if the characters weren’t “girly” they would be excluded. That’s entirely why the show is sexist. In order to justify including female characters at all the female characters must fit a gendered role to supplement the male characters. Dragon Ball Z is sexist towards men and women, but equal opportunity sexism is still sexism. In fact, it’s worse. Bulma may be courageous and intelligent, but she’s not treated with respect most of the time.

      And in response to your example: Totally Spies could have used male characters. As it stands, TV shows like DBZ or Totally Spies only play into gender stereotypes in real life. Men naturally want action shows, women naturally want shows that are more feminine in nature.

      • I’m confused here – you state your problem with Android 18 is that she is portrayed as overly masculine, and state her breast size and ‘slanted, evil eyes’ as reasons for this. Generally, athletic women do have smaller breasts, and I’m really not sure now ‘slanted, evil eyes’ are a specifically masculine trait; the fact that you have that opinion seems tellingly sexist in itself.

      • I understand what you mean and wonder if I have just been unclear in my post about my point. What I mean to say is that compare Android 18 to the other women of DBZ and she’s drawn in a style more similar to the male characters than she is to the female characters. The way she is drawn reflects the idea that she cannot be both “traditionally feminine” (using Bulma or Chi-Chi as the norm of DBZ women, for instance) and be a fighter. Being a fighter puts her in a more “traditionally masculine” role, as seen by the art style and as heard by her voice (in the original DBZ, DBZ Kai has a voice actor who sounds more “feminine”). I hope this clears things up!

    • Yes, the character treats women poorly, but Akira Toriyama doesn’t put it in a context to say that what he does is morally wrong. It’s played for laughs and that is why he is as much to blame as his character.

      • What? Of course toriyama puts it in the context. That’s why roshi can’t ride the nimbus, because he is not pure of heart because he is a pervert.

      • Are you saying that for it not to be sexist, Roshi has to go to jail or die a horrible death for his lechery?

  5. Videl is a very strong character by the way. She is actually the kickass action packed girl you wish she was. The thing is that the Dragonball “Z”” portion of the story is written in such a way that only a small number of people can eliminate larger threats.

    • The series had already gone down hill by the time Videl was introduced, but as I said in my post, it was too little too late. I think she was a half-assed attempt to connect with a female audience even though there already were female fans of the series. Except Videl wasn’t introduced to be on par with her male counterparts. She was introduced to show Gohan had become a teenager and needed a love interest. She is way more the love interest character than she is the action girl.

  6. Bulmas actually cool as hell to!! Shes not scared of adventure and she knows how to get what she wants. Shes extremely smart and beautiful. The guys want her but shes probably more then they could handle.

    • Yes, Bulma’s incredibly smart and she’s pretty adventurous, but she’s set as the opposite of the male characters. She is a classic example of “the woman problem”: namely, what do we do with a female character? She is at once the rational one to the fighter-instinct bull-rushing men, and at the same time the hysterical woman. She is there to highlight the admirable qualities of strength, bravery and endurance of the men while possessing none of these qualities in large quantities herself.

      • I think the female characters are fine as character, but the main problem was that they tended to be much less developed then the male characters and/or downgraded to a passive role.

        The latter also happened to the non-saiyan characters.

      • I agree that the non-saiyan characters were treated poorly as well, but there’s a contradiction in that the female characters can not be fine as characters and also be much less developed and given a passive role.

        In addition, a majority of the non-saiyan characters were still given active roles because most of them were still fighters. They were literally active characters, even if their actions didn’t help win the battles.

        I think that a lot of Akira Toriyama’s characters were lost to highlighting the main characters and that in itself is wrong, but I think there is a lot to analyze about the way the women of the series are treated.

      • Well, I kinda disagree on most of the non-saiyan characters being given active roles. It was really only Krillin and Piccolo that got to do anything, while the others were lucky to get dialogue at all.

        But I do agree that the female characters were in general less developed or delved into, and were mostly just turned into one note stereotypical housewive roles, often with their negative qualities focused on.

        A good example of the negative qualities being focused on is Bulma being the only person who wanted to abandon Goku in the General Blue Arc.

  7. I agree overall, but there are some points I disagree with. Bulma being shallow and making a rather dumb wish is more because Dragon Ball was a comedy manga at the time. Remember Yamcha wanted to wish his shyness away. Also I do not see the problem with 18 being drawn evil, as she, like so many characters in Dragon Ball, started as a villain. Also I do not see that there is a problem with her being masculine. Other than that, I agree. Dragon Ball has a rather strict view of how both men and women should be and behave.

  8. This has made me re-think about DBZ. In fact, your elaborate opinion makes me realize just why DBZ irks me, enough for me to stop watching.

    But before I found this post, I was caught up in a moment of admiration, because I like how temperamental women can be. Like men aren’t the only ones who can be angry and seemingly crazy with power. I’m a woman myself and I won’t let just anyone (man or woman) stop me from expressing my emotions.

    Still, you have a valid and thorough opinion here! I like it. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you’re able to relate this back to your own life. I think the thing to think about is that neither sex is more temperamental than the other, like you said, and that we learn gender behaviors through shows like DBZ for instance. Thanks again for the words of encouragement.

  9. Thanks for your article. The lack of strong female characters and the stereotypical roles of the women in the show irritated me a lot, especially after DBZ started.

    Now to be fair, there were some parts of the “sexuality” shown in Dragonball that I found refreshing:

    The naturalness of nakedness for Son Goku, his asexual view of the world, those are great, especially in the first series. I even respect the display of inappropriate sexual desires that are so often avoided in other works, but it’s just too much. I wouldn’t mind some of the sexual character flaws of Roshi, if they wouldn’t be used for comedy way too often and if he would at least acknowledge them and try to restrain himself.

    Bulma had so much potential I thought, even Chi-Chi could have been interesting, but Toriyama just can’t write a decent female character.

  10. I think that the only two things I can add to this conversation is one that Dragonball is a Japanese thing, and Japan still suffers quite badly from sexism- more than the west, apparently. This doesn’t excuse it, but it’s an insight into /why/ it’s the way it is.

    Secondly, this was originally a shonen manga. It reflects the psyche of the target audience rather well, I think, and young teenage boys tend to have the kind of gender views expressed in the show. Another popular shonen manga is Bleach, where the female characters are often made the subject of crude sexual humour, or are often masculine-ized. (The exception to this is Unohana who is just… Scary)

    Good article though and I agree with your points! I’ve not seen DBZ since I was a kid and I watch the Abridged series on youtube (which is probably more sexist if anything, but they didn’t have much to work with! 😛 )

  11. Akira Toriyama has told many when he first introduced the series; he could not draw female bodies they were the hardest for him and that is why there are few main ladies that are involved with that males. But I do some what see the point you provide.

    • Thank you, I did not know that. Still, as with all art forms it is important to not only know your weaknesses but to improve upon them. I do not think that is a suitable excuse. But again, thank you for sharing that information!

  12. I agree with all except the eighteen comments. I think eighteen was very attractive in the anime and I knew alot of who agree. Eighteen was the best female character in this show. True she started evil, but she turns good later. Your critiques of the other female characters, especially bulma, are pretty spot on though. I know this post is supposed top be about dbz and not dbgt but I was also frustrated at how pan never became super sayian, especially after seeing how easy it was for goten and trunks in the world tournament saga.

  13. They say that pan can’t become super saiyan because she has only 1/4 saiyan blood. But that doesn’t fly cause goku jr is 1/16 saiyan And he becomes super saiyan. It just seems like he didn’t want a female super saiyan. Mabey because they are “too hard to draw”. It’s dumb though. I’m a dbz fanboy and I think a female super saiyan would be cool.

    • I have a friend who is also ticked off that Pan was never a super-saiyan. I purposely avoid DBGT so I can’t speak too much on the matter, but as far as I can tell, Toriyama just did not want a female super saiyan. Thanks for the comments and your take on Android 18.

      • Pan is 1/4 Saiyan. That’s why she can’t transform. And Toriyama CHOOSED pan to be a girl in the first place. And he chose her to be a tomboy. not like Bulla. He could have easily chose it to be a boy. But he was quite a fair man. Reading your blog has convinced me how careful Toriyama was in chosing his characters and being fair to everyone.

      • Ok. There is a problem with that logic. If you ever finished watching gt you would know that both goku jr and vegeta jr went super sayian and they are 1/16 sayian. Your argument that pan can’t be ss because she is 1/4 sayian just became folly.

  14. I hate to say this but you are not a dbz fan cause if you were you’d know the reason he female characters are weak is because they are human most of the main male characters no all the main male characters are a human like alien or half breed which were bred for combat NO human not just the women are evev a percent as strong as them and chi chi even being a worrier and human goku is afraid of her dont rly know why but he is so ya the women in db have alot more strenght then you think

    • You are correct,the female characters are human (discounting Pan and Android 18). However that is not an excuse for denying them agency or using them as jokes. Although Bulma does contribute to the plot, she is treated as a sex object throughout DB. As for Chi-Chi, the strength you describe is not strength but a harmful stereotype of men being afraid of their wives. This stereotype portrays women as nagging characters who hinder their male partners and force them into submission. This stereotype encourages hatred of women.

      I do not ask that the women of DBZ all be fighters because inevitably that would lead to action girls like Videl who jump into a fight then back of the way when it comes to plot and character development. (For more information on this I recommend the article “Why I hate Strong Female Characters”

      Thank you for your comment.

  15. I’m sorry, but I found myself very annoyed by this. You are obviously a feminist. Any point of view that is brought up is automatically sexist, even if it contradicts other points you have made. First of all, this is an anime. What exactly do you expect? Every anime I’ve seen has portrayed men and women in almost identical ways. Men are nervous around women and become surprisingly weak. Women are hysterical in many situations and very mean and aggressive towards men.

    Dragon Ball was meant as a comedy with few serious parts. It made both males and females look ridiculous. Bulma was a very strong and intelligent female lead in the series. Sexuality was part of the humor, and it was not always at Bulma’s expense.

    Dragon Ball Z took a different route. It was more about action. Would you like to have seen the women of Dragon Ball Z getting beaten to near death all the time? I think that would have garnered a much larger outcry of how women were treated in the show.

    Bulma even served a pretty big role in what was probably the most popular saga of DBZ.

    It was evident pretty darn early in the series that aliens (Saiyans and Piccolo) would be the only ones capable of fighting the enemies. To expect Bulma and ChiChi to fight Cell but not Yamcha or Tien is just crazy. Humans in general were an inferior race in DBZ, not just women.

    You state that you wanted women to be fighters. Well, in comes 18. No wait, that character is sexist too. She’s too much of a fighter, kind of. You don’t want to sexualize Bulma but 18’s breasts are too small. They should have been like EVERY other anime and made all the women have FF breasts. That’s realistic. And how exactly are her eyes evil? Because they’re slanted? Dr. Gero made her look similar to her brother and they happened to be evil when they were introduced. If her eyes were round maybe you would have complained that she was too feminine to be a real fighter.

    Videl is Videl. She was introduced to be the love interest of an older Gohan. Is he not allowed to have a love interest? Do you think it more realistic to have him fall in love with some girly girl? That is not how he was raised and it’s simply not in his genetics. All the Saiyans fell in love with feisty women. It is in their nature. Videl was not a supreme fighter because that would make no sense at all. She’s human. She’s very strong for a human but is limited by her genes.

    Sorry to continue on an old thread but I had to say something. You had good points but I think you let your feminist side show too much.

    • Yes, I am obviously a feminist. That means I care about just and equal representation for women in all aspects of life and media. Just because animes and mangas have traditionally portrayed men and women along a gender binary does not mean that this portrayal is alright or should continue. By favoring tradition over progress we are inhibiting the road toward gender equality.

      I agree that DB is a comedy, that’s why I enjoyed it so much. And I agree it made men and women look ridiculous but consider that it made men and women look ridiculous in situations which highlighted their gender roles. The bumbling man in front of an attractive woman and the sexualized hysterical women are harmful stereotypes against both genders and should be reconsidered when used for comedy.

      When I say I want female fighters I mean I want women in more roles. If your argument is that the female characters are mostly human and that is the reason they are weak, fine. But would it have been so difficult to create a female saiyan? Why couldn’t Raditz be Goku’s sister instead of his brother? Why couldn’t Vegeta’s second in command be a female saiyan instead of Nappa? Why couldn’t Vegeta be a woman? The plot would not have changed and audiences would see women who occupy all spheres of life, even villainous ones. If these women are now beat up, it would not be violence against women but violence against villains. The reason they are being attacked is not because of their sex but because of what they stand for. The same would apply if there were more female fighters on the Z team: if they get beat up they are getting beat just the same as their male counterparts.

      When I critique 18, I say that she is allowed to be a villain because she does not fit the standards of femininity given to Bulma and Chi-Chi. She is portrayed as more masculine (as you say, looking more like her brother and therefore modelled on a man) and it is understood that this is why she is allowed the role of a fighter. The character has given up her femininity for strength and this is a terribly harmful lesson to teach men and women.

      And finally, Videl. You say it right: Videl is Gohan’s love interest. Think about that. Videl is created FOR Gohan. She is not her own person and only exists to serve a male character. It is not about her personality so much as her flat existence. Also, calling women feisty is inherently sexist as it is only a term used to describe women.

      There is no such thing as letting my “feminist side” show too much because every side of me is feminist.

      • Hit here, personally, I don’t think 18 has not given up her feminine side, for example she keeps buying clothes even while going to fight, and she is having a family at the end. In fact, she fuses the feminine and masculine sides of her really nicely.
        Besides, it’s an 80’s show, so I dont think it’s fair to hold it accountable for
        the 2010’s gender views on it. I should be more worried about the contemporary anime shows.

      • So if not for tradition’s sake, let’s talk biology. The manner in which these men and women behave in these made up universes is lightly based on genetic makeup. I’m sure you are aware of the male tendency to think logically compared to the emotional tendencies of women. I hope you are not a feminist that thinks this is strictly traditional. If so, I implore you to do some scientific research on the side of your opposition to broaden your horizons, even if you still do not agree. The way these men are “afraid” of women is just a cartoonish exaggeration of real life. Being a married man of many years I can tell you that arguing with my wife over something she feels strongly about is just a waste of time. The female’s emotions take over and the logical side gets pushed away in a sense. She remains true to her stance even if she knows I am logically right because she will start to intertwine sensitivity in with the problem. She has admitted to this so this is not the ramblings of some male chauvinistic pig. Every man I know that has been married for any significant amount of time knows this “rule.” Women also tend to get more emotional during certain periods of life. This is especially true during motherhood. Their overprotective nature takes over and everything else seems insignificant. These ideas are portrayed in this universe of make believe and extreme exaggerations of our lives. Keeping with this “tradition” is just keeping with reality as we know it.

        Why do we need to change these shows to reflect something that is not true or recognized by the masses? “Highlighted their gender roles.” I don’t think anime producers are concerned with appealing to the few. They will continue to make their shows however they can sell it. These are the roles of our race. I know this aspect supports your argument but I am just trying to point out that these shows are probably not going to change any time soon.

        On to the Dragon Ball Z debate.

        Vegeta being a woman would absolutely have changed the plot, what with his son being Trunks and all. So Bulma would have had to have been a male which would have changed the entire dynamics of Dragon Ball and the Frieza saga. If female Vegeta would have gotten together with a different male character then Trunks would have never traveled to the past to save the planet. Vegeta would not have been training for the androids’ appearance because she would have been taking care of her newborn son. She would not be the prince of all Sayians for obvious reasons. I don’t see how Vegeta being a female can even a valid argument. As with the other Sayians possibly being female; they all ended up being pretty weak and were mild plot fillers. That would have upset you even more. Let’s make Goku a woman. Who does he have children with, Vegeta? Master Roshi? Krillin? There’s no way to make this work without completely going back to the drawing board and making an entirely different show.

        ChiChi was hysterical most of the time because any normal woman in her position would be. Her husband was constantly being targeted for assassination and her son was being beaten to near death. Her state of mind is completely justified. Also, she was typically more than willing to take on the bad guys and was a pretty decent fighter when she needed to be. She just fell victim to the inferiority of the human race.

        As far as 18, I still can’t wrap my head around any reason you would be upset with this character. It’s not like they had her running around in a suit and tie. The girl wore a skirt and beat the crap out of all the males at the time. Dr. Gero wanted a fighter, not some girl to gawk at. You harp on getting away from stereotypes and gender roles but complain when this actually happens. The character gave up her femininity for strength because that is exactly what happens. It’s science, not sexism. Also, as Minc pointed out, she was constantly worried about her look and frequently took time away from destroying the planet to find something fashionable to wear. As far as character modeling; she and her brother look alike. That being said, I think her brother is more feminine looking than she is masculine.

        How is Videl not her own person? We learn a lot about her personality. She was hell-bent on being a local hero by being a crime fighter. The public and police counted on her. She was the focus in as many episodes as possible after she was introduced, just like many of the male characters. The show was about the fighters, not the housewives of Earth’s heroes. It’s no mystery why they did not show Videl much after the fighting really began. You want her to be something that she isn’t. She wasn’t going to be going head to head with Buu for the rest of the saga. What is so wrong with her settling down with the man she loves? You are being sexist by saying that she is there to serve Gohan. Many women decide to settle down and be housewives and stay at home mothers. It is their choice and they usually enjoy it. Saying that women shouldn’t choose to take this path is sexist.

        Feisty is absolutely not a term used to describe only women. Look up the definition. In fact, I think I have heard it used in relation to males more than I have females. You seem to fixate on one attitude and justify everything you see to make yourself angry for your cause. Allow yourself to be open-minded. I can see your point in some of these but you are really reaching in some cases.

        I have one final point for now. I do not believe you actually feel that Dragon Ball Z is so extremely sexist. If you felt so strongly you would not have enjoyed the shows enough to watch them through as you did. I think you saw an opportunity to complain about something you feel strongly about and decided to pick on an old show that you figured people wouldn’t argue much with. There have been a number of shows, anime in particular, where I couldn’t stand how the males interacted with the females. You know what I did? I stopped watching them because dedicating time to entertainment that I don’t enjoy is a waste.

      • Why couldn’t Vegeta be a woman? Hmm. Let’s think about this rationally. Vegeta is a character who is above all defined by his physical inferiority to Goku. One of the main points of his character development happens in the Buu arc where Vegeta basically admits that he’ll most likely never be as strong as Goku. Imagine what would have happened if Vegeta was a woman in that instance. You’d be sitting here writing the same damn article and calling Dragon Ball sexist again: “How come female Vegeta has to be weaker than the male Goku? That’s sexism and patriarchy! blah blah.” Not every show needs to be a politically correct smorgasbord that represents everybody up to perfect social justice warrior standards.

      • I don’t think Vegeta is defined by his physical inferiority. I think that is his major flaw and one of the many ways he is a fascinating character (someone who pushes himself to be the best, but ultimately cannot achieve that goal). If Vegeta were female, she could have the same arc and it would be just as powerful. Great female characters are not defined by being perfect (those would be Mary Sues) but by their imperfections and the reality in which they are rendered.

        And maybe if more shows were more conscious of topics such as race, gender and sexuality these topics would become normalized.

      • Feminism isn’t really about equality. It’s like you’re always seeing something wrong in everything as Josh pointed out.

        Feminism has proven itself over and over to favor women and not put them on equal footing with men. Feminists always point out every flaw they see in the representation or treatment of women, and that everything should be perfect, as you have shown. While conveniently ignoring that men are neither treated or represented perfectly either. But somehow, it’s okay for men but not for women.

        That’s why feminism is inherently flawed.

        Embrace egalitarianism instead.

        However, the better idea is to accept that men and women are not equal, they are different and there is a reason why women should be treated differently and men should be treated differently. I’m all for giving equal opportunities, but realistically this isn’t possible because women are physically and mentally different from men. There are times perfect equality simply isn’t possible.

        As a manager who has handled many employees and many of whom went on maternity leave, I can assure you that you wouldn’t want me to be fair and not let the women go on maternity leave when they had a baby. Men and women are not the same, face it.

        That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect women (or men) — far from it. But the feminist movement has really gotten out of hand and simply demonizes everything.

  16. Things are quite simple. Dragonball is fair to males and females too. Bulma is a genius and she’s the smartest around. For me that means a lot because i think intelligence is the most important quality. Yeah she’s treated as a sexual object but Roshi and Ulong are perverts, so it puts males in a bad perspective for amusement. Launch is also pretty bad-ass. Videl is stronger than Mr Satan, 18 is stronger than every human, and also pretty bad-ass. Chi Chi dominates Goku in the family, in the only family we see for the fact. How many shows do you know where a female rules the family, and a female character is the genius?
    If you make a female Vegeta then less people are going to relate to your character. It’s very simple. How many girls would relate to a woman obsessed by being the best and training 24/7?Or are you upset you can’t relate to any of the girls in the show? If you want to make a show succesfull it’s good to have characters that people can relate to. If you want equality than why don’t you want female Cell or female Buu? If that would happen you would have said the show is sexist.
    Feminism is dangerous if you use it as a lens to see the world through,and it might distort perception. If the show was sexist you would have spotted that before knowing about sexism and feminism. You would have felt something is out of place. And please read Josh’s comment again, he really has a point.

  17. I was going to argue about Android 18 looking masculine, but after your additional explanation in the comments here, I have to agree. She does look more androgynous than probably any other woman in the series, and while I don’t think that itself is a bad thing (I think she’s also more attractive than any other woman in the series), it gives the nasty impression that she’s only a good fighter because she isn’t a “proper/real woman”.

  18. Hello I have to make comment on your assessment of Bulma(my fav character). Bulma is not a shallow character at all. There are a mixture of aspects to her personality that I think are very interesting. Yes she’s intelligent, yes she is the daughter of (and future) CEO to the wealthiest most successful corporation on Earth, yes she is strong, Loud, makes decisions for her self. These are traits that I see in Bulma. I love the fact that she is conceited and I think it says something about a woman who can complement her own beauty and genius without any false pretenses of humility (she toots her own horn thankyouverymuch). I also think its a great quality that she wishes for a boyfriend and openly chases and flirts with handsome guys throughout the show. Yes she has been used for fan service (especially early on in the show) but she can give it back just as good, reacting to handsome guys and generally not being afraid to approach men. That is a huge step for a female character pursuing her own sexual desire, without just becoming ‘the girlfriend’ for the main protagonist. And remember Bulma is not your average human female; brilliant beyond her species, wealthy, adventurous– it would seem that average people don’t understand her(hence why she decided to wish for a boyfriend). I think teen Bulma is an awesome character. She is a direct challenge to constructed femininity on so many plains -She’s a CEO, a Genius who can do good on her own, A Beauty, A woman who goes for what she wants, And she likes her handsome men. I think thats pretty deep

    My true criticism of DBZ and female characters is that they don’t truly develop these women. Like Bra and Marron for example.

    I think 18 is a good character for where she stands. She loses her edge once her character becomes less relevant. I can’t make any comments on her physical appearance(Which I think is beautiful) or her voice. But she is strong, cutthroat, shrewd when it comes to money, loving to her child and husband and her twin. she is cool and fashionable.

  19. I hope that when you’re referencing voices, you’re not using the dub. For that matter, I hope you don’t use dub material to form your opinions, because the dub is rather known for having dumb dialog. To be honest, I don’t see Dragon Ball as being particularly sexist to either gender. Perverts exist, as do naive and kind-hearted people. I have to disagree with your above response to someone else that all of the characters fit a stereotype: Gokuu doesn’t really fit any, and to some extent, neither does Vegeta. Gokuu is not an idiot, he’s only ignorant about many things because of a highly sheltered upbringing. However, when he’s introduced to a new concept, he tends to understand it fast and very well. In his case, this is more evident with his battles where he is a tactical genius and very inventive. He also can’t be said to be the kind-hearted stereotype. He was prone to vengeful anger, and often lost himself in it when he was younger, to the point that he was much less reluctant to kill his opponents. Gokuu is simply a character who has grown and matured through his training.

    Similarly, I don’t see the women of the series as being negatively stereotyped. You say that Android 18 has a smaller chest as if that’s a bad thing, when in fact the bad stereotype involves big-chested women being nothing but comic relief and sex objects. It’s actually normal for a more active woman to have a slightly smaller chest though. Either way, Android 18’s feminism isn’t played down just because she has a smaller chest. Also, none of the women in the series actually have ridiculously huge breasts, which quite honestly, is something to be thankful for in a shounen series. To get back to stereotypes though, Bulma has larger breasts than the other women of the series and is not portrayed as an idiotic sex object. She is a genius and a generally very helpful part of the team. Moreover, she does not dress provocatively just for the hell of it like many of the females of modern anime, ie her clothes are actually functional in spite of making her look good. ChiChi is not particularly big-breasted and is still one of the strongest women on Earth, probably second only to Videl as of the Majin Buu arc.

    As a final note: Videl is too strong-willed and intelligent of a girl to have cut her hair just to prove herself to Gohan. In fact, she probably understood what he had meant and embraced it when had time to actually think about it, as opposed to her initial reaction of being angry that Gohan hadn’t brought it up because he liked short-haired girls better. That first reaction, btw, was what came off as idiotic and shallow. Either way, to me Videl always looked stupid with the pigtails. They made her look childish and temperamental as opposed to competent and reasonable. In fact, the haircut probably had a lot to do with her change in attitude as of that point. She stopped being aggressive towards Gohan and became a more well-rounded character. Also, it isn’t true that Videl can only fight petty criminals. She held her own against Spopovich for quite a while, and he was an abnormally strong human.

    • Bulma and Chi-Ch are close to the size actually (regardless of what Goku said).

      Chi-Chi is also actually far stronger than Videl (and a lot stronger than most people seem to realize). She mastered the Turtle Hermit style (which is about overcoming the human wall) and has demonstrated strength, speed, and skill that surprised Muten Roshi himself… in addition of her style resembling his Turtle Hermit style. Not to mention the Shockwave Fist (Kobushi no Shōgekiha) move Goku used to beat her was not only way more brutal than the attack Goku used to OHKO King Chappa (a guy that Jackie Chun/Yamcha were actually worried about Goku facing at the prelims of the 22nd Budokai) at the same tournament, but was a move that Kami taught him and even when Goku was afraid he used too much energy she still got up barely hurt.

      Videl, on the other hand, is a fairly normal human (outside her ability of bukujutsu and minor ki control) who just happens to be stronger than her peers (who are completely ordinary) plus her father by an unknown amount and I wouldn’t call Spopovich abnormally stronger either… sure, he got a significant power boost from Babidi’s spell but he could barely control the powers the spell gave him. Videl could be stronger than Chi-Chi as a kid without her weapons (which I’m even doubting) but no way is she stronger than Chi-Chi as a teen/adult.

      Anyways, I dunno if I’d call Toriyama-sensei sexist at all (at least not compared to most Shonen)… as he admitted it’s easier to draw and write male characters since it’s more within his comfort zone. He probably doesn’t know what to do with the female characters… but then again, the same can be said for just about every character that’s not Goku or Vegeta to some extent.

  20. Thanks you for writing this post. I recently went down memory lane and re-watched the series. I have been a long time fan of the Manga and series, but I remember (even as a young girl) getting very uncomfortable with certain scenes. I still love DB and DBZ. I think the plotting and world building is amazing. However, the female characters (in my opinion) needed a little bit more development and respect.

    I can only think that Akira probably didn’t foresee a lot of women watching this show. He wrote mainly for young boys.

    Love you insights!


    • Thanks so much! But writing for boys is in itself a problem because we’re automatically separating people by gender and assuming what “boys” and “girls” will like and respond to (and assuming everyone fits neatly into the boy-girl binary). In order to move forward with progressive media we need to write for people not genders.

      I appreciate your thoughts!

  21. I’ve always thought DBZ was sexist. In GT, Pan never became a Super Saiyan, despite having the Saiyan blood. Some people claim it was because Toriyama said he didn’t know how to draw them, but others claim he said females can’t become Super Saiyans. I really hope that the latter isn’t true, but given how DBZ treats its female characters, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. I also think that with just the right amount of tweaking, the female characters really could have been so much better, all except Chi-Chi, of course. She was dead on arrival from the moment Dragon Ball Z started. In my fanfiction The Second Chapter, I am gonna be adding a ton of new female fighters, such Launch, who trains with Roshi, Lime, who trains, and I’m even using other minor side characters and giving them their own story. Plus the main heroine can really kick some ass too.

  22. I don’t agree chichi is a character in her own right in is a strong woman as well as adult Bulma. Let me start by saying dragon ball was made as a gag manga much like Akira Toriyama earlier manga dr. Slumpy the characters all had major flaws on purpose as a gag. Goku was made a idiot but has a kind heart , yamacha is afraid of woman but is a fearsome theft, the roshi is a a pervert but a master, Bulma is a love hunting teenage girl but a genius and chichi falls in love easily yet is one of the most fearsome fighter on the show. When the spin off was made (dragon ball z) there gags were just minor flaws (other then Roshi)

    chichi become a strong in fearsome mother of Gohan and goten based off of the Chinese stereotype tiger mom giving her all to her children and keeping them above water as a radish farmer as goku runs off doing what ever he wants. Her dream was to have a normal family in for her sons to be a working members of society unlike their father.

    Bulma become less focused on love and more on her business because she was the head of a company she broke up with yamacha who become nothing and married vegeta who she fell for because his pride and willingness to work hard. As well as him being similar to her having arrogant personality due to them both being born with a sense of entitlement. Without her the z warriors would be screwed a lot of times she even build a machine that give vegeta the ability to become a saiyan 4.

    18 was a villain she was made to take over the world but become good after falling for krillin who was the first to treat her like a human. her personality is of a antisocial teenager because that’s probably what she was before gero kidnapped her, most of the major voice cast are different from the original because it’s different voice actors what does her voice have to do with sexism? She is the the strong one in her relationship often more worried about money and her family then anything.

    Videl was made to Connect mr satan back into the series and to wrap up Gohan life like they did for goku that’s why she is pretty much is a more arrogant chichi .

    The manga and anime has better example of woman then men, goku has almost never been in his children life, vegeta showed little to no love to trunks till he was 8, yamacha is a homeless dead beat, krillin is weak welled, Roshi is a lonely old man with a turtle and a pig and mr.satan is famous because a lie and can’t even hold his own in a fight.

    • I’m not sure which character you mean. Chi-Chi’s there in the back, but if you mean in the front of the picture, the character with the black hair and the red shirt is Krillin (who grows his hair out later in the series). the only other black haired character on the left is Videl with the short black hair and pink outfit.

  23. Bulma’s original wish was a lifetime of strawberries(as silly as that is), then it was about the perfect boyfriend for a little while before getting together with Yamacha.

    Yeah, Bulma was joke character a lot but still an extremely influential one in the series who drove the plot from the start to finish. She found goku and enouraged him to leave. Globe trotting around the world to find the dragon balls was her idea, with her dragon radar that she created. Through her goku learnt the world. And it’s not even just DB: She found and fixed the space ship which got the heroes to Namek, invented a time machine that literally saved dbz verse, and was one of the reasons why Vegeta turned a new leaf.

    • That is all true and I appreciate your comment. Yet, by this account, she is useful to the plot only to enhance the storylines of the male characters (Goku and Vegeta). It’s not that she’s not brilliant and shown to be so, but it’s that her brilliance furthers male character development not her own.

  24. Ugh, of course. Women can’t accept this is how many women actually are like. Not every woman is a bra burning lesbian. That’s their choice and the creators choice. He happen to have wanted the characters like that you can’t force every cartoon to make every character to make everyone happy so they don’t get pouty that there’s not a character that’s like them.

    • I’m not sure where you got the bra-burning lesbian part. There are many lesbians who wear bras and many who don’t but that has nothing to do with DBZ.

      I’m not asking for characters who are like me, I’m asking for characters who are fully fleshed out individuals who go beyond the stereotypes of what women “supposedly” act like.

      • I think the female characters in dbz are very fleshed out. You have Burma who started out as am adventuring, gun toting badass who hit on every hot guy who came across her. Then she created almost every tool the gang needs, from spaceships to energy beams. She is a woman who took hold of her sexuality 100%, helped out the group and knew what her strengths and weaknesses were. I like her especially. The women and men don’t necessarily have to be fighters. .. The saiyans pretty much hijacked that. But the characters are pretty dynamic. There certainly aren’t any ‘good girls’ or damsels. Granted I think there is alot of laziness and repetition in the dbz plot but I can’t say that it’s horrendously sexist.

      • You’d be hard-pressed to find characters in Dragon Ball who are “fully-fleshed invididuals” who go beyond the stereotype of whatever it is they are.

        Gokou is nothing more than a meatball battle shounen lead. Heck, I think he created the stereotype.

  25. This is incredible! such a shame that men think this sort of thing is okay to do to women. This brought back memories of playing Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 and how women continue to be dismissed as lesser creatures. In the game, every character has a special attack used to defeat their enemy. Videl’s “Special attack” is being helpless and being saved by her hero Gohan. See below:

  26. This is incorrect from the second paragraph. Bulma was her own character at the very start of Dragonball. She did not need a man to be her own character, even if her character started off just wanting a boyfriend. But she’s silly that way the same way everyone else in the series is silly.

    The fact is, Toriyama was a gag manga artist (see Dr. Slump) so of course pretty much everyone in the series, Gokou included, is played for laughs.

    How was 18-Go not treated as a female, when Kririn went out of his way to save her and marry her? She was not treated as evil. She is, like Vegeta, Tenshinhan, Piccolo, and even Yamcha, and heck even Majin Buu, a villain and antagonist until she joins the good guys.

    Another fact of the matter is that Dragon Ball is a shounen manga, targetted at a male demographic. It’s not overtly chauvinistic or misogynistic than any other media.

    You’ve just been brainwashed by this dumb feminist movement that demonizes everything. You even say it yourself. “Until I began to look into feminism, I admit I found her funny most of the time.”

    Good game Feminism.

    • What I’ve always put question marks behind is why 18 can’t have her redemption arc. Piccolo and Vegeta both have great ones. You see on screen how they learn compassion through Gohan, and through his family, Bulma and Trunks; and it takes them multiple arcs to turn from evil guy to good guy (Vegeta especially).

      With 18 everything happens off screen. She is a sorta evil character who is bored and wants to kill Goku which is treated as a game. She kinda appears to like Krillin from the start, but then dies before anything happens. Krillin wishes her back, and then we’re 8 years later and she’s suddenly good and married. WHU-…?? What happened in-between to turn her good? Where is her character arc?

      I can’t comment on Yamcha or Tien, as I’ve not watched DB; but DBZ does seem sexist to me.

      Heck, in DB Super, 18 stays at home while Krillin goes to fight Frieza’s goons. What is the logic in that, when 18 is way stronger than Krillin could ever be?

      • That is very legitimate. Thank you for raising the point. We don’t see her development on screen. It’s as if because she’s female it’s expected that she can’t stay evil, whereas for the male characters, we get to watch them change. Their emotional arcs are just as central to the story.

  27. I used to be obsessed with DBZ. But yeah it is darn sexist. Why can’t their every be a female Super Saiyan or a powerful women who doesn’t get chickified or killed. Chi-Chi, to me, seems like one of those obsessive fangirls in shonen that always get the guy even though she and said guy dont have any chemistry (which annoys the crap out of me). And then is later turned into a nagging housewife when realistically she should just divorce Goku, take her kids and move on. Bulma and Vegeta are overrated and kind of a toxic couple. I’ll never forget how Vegeta didn’t bother to save Bulma and baby Trunks when her ship crashed. And how he destroyed hundreds of people at the Tournament arc just to provoke Goku. and they’re STILL together! I just can’t… 18 and Krillin are basically the “Nice guy gets the girl” trope. 18’s also a heck of a lot stronger than Krillin but the writers rather have her stay in the kitchen (grr… I’m looking at you resurrection f). Videl gets the tar beaten out of her (tw: her fight is basically torture porn) to fuel Gohan’s man rage so he can turn super saiyan and join the others to fight buu. After she loses the tournament she wants to date him, never fights again, and becomes a housewife. She also helps turn Goku into SSG because of her pregnacy. Oh yeah and Launch crushes on Tien?? And Toriyama forgot about her. Lastly, Trunks and Mai. Their relationship is forced and disgusting. Ugh this rant is making me wish this series would just die already.

    • The Trunks and Mai relationship is absolutely gross and a wasted opportunity. With these new worlds and universes full of new saiyans and other powerful alien races out there in Dragon Ball Super, Toriyama had a golden opportunity to introduce a female character who, yes, was Trunks’ potential love interest, (Trunks really shouldn’t be left single and alone to fight all the bad guys in his timeline) but who was more than that. She could have been a female saiyan. We could have finally had an active female Z-fighter. One with saiyan blood, who although not as powerful as Goku and Vegeta (of course I’m not asking for a new hero to outshine the originals), could have gotten (insert poop emoji) done on the same level that Gohan and Trunks can, able to actually defend herself and others against villains more powerful than Yamcha, and would have been useful in Trunks’ apocalyptic timeline. She would not have been the passive wife/mother worrying on the sidelines and could have been an interesting character. But instead of bothering to take the time to create an interesting NEW female Z-fighter character around the same age group as Trunks with saiyan blood. Toriyama takes the lazy (and slightly creepy) way out by taking a boring, irrelevant, powerless underdeveloped human woman character from Dragon Ball who is OLDER THAN BOTH BULMA AND VEGETA, hastily makes her underdeveloped character arc and backstory into a mess of asspulls that are a convenient last-minute cop-out for the writer but a sloppy, illogical, cheap mess for the audience, and recycles her into the new series for the sole purpose of making her the companion/future mate of an important single character young enough to be her child, inserting a whole bunch of embarrassing adult/prepubescent child love triangle scenarios into the show. All those hoops and logical gymnastics to avoid creating a decent new female character to be a part of the series just because Toriyama isn’t as good at things that don’t have to do with Goku, gods, monsters, and Kais. And the ending to the Trunks/Mai arc was such a mess- their world was destroyed, so now they have to go live in a world where a copy of themselves already exist. I am so fed up with this aspect of the story (acutally, Dragon Ball Super isn’t that great. It’s better than but less logical than GT) that I’m considering just developing my own little character and story as a nice little palate-cleanser/brain-bleach treatment as a remedy to the return of Future Trunks and Mai arc that just ended. A lot of people just can’t take this story seriously, (and are hoping Toriyama makes some statement about it being a light-hearted non-canon side-story like GT) and I’m one of them. This has become my #1 fictional thing to hate on with a fiery passion.

  28. Who cares … all you typical SJWs, -ist’s, and what not always find something to complain about. Enjoy the anime with all it’s flaws or just go watch something else. Your utopian dream where everyone is equal is stupid. People are different, men and women are different, accept it. Stop applying labels to everything for judging and just accept that life is not perfect. I enjoy differences because it helps me see different sides and to appreciate things from different points of view. Conformity is stupid as is groupthink!

    Quit your whining, grow up, and just stop watching the show if you don’t like the characters. I don’t like eating natto; I don’t go around whining about how it smells like dirty feet or has the consistency of mucous, no I just refuse to eat it.

    • I do enjoy the anime with all its flaws. If I didn’t enjoy it, it wouldn’t bother me so much that Akira Toriyama does not know how to write or treat female characters. People are different, yes, but that doesn’t mean people should not all be treated with dignity and respect. And the sooner our media reflects a culture of equality, the sooner our lives can reflect back that media.

    • Here’s what defensive fanboys never seem to get: Anime, movies, books, music- all forms of entertainment are put out for public consumption. Because of that, the pubic- including fans- are going to judge and comment on these products. These products are open to criticism. Consumers are going to watch, read, play, or listen to something and form opinions about ‘Hmm, I like this thing about the anime/album/book, but don’t care for or can’t stand this particular element over here, and here’s why”. That’s just the way it is. People are always going to have opinions about their entertainment, and people have the right to wish for improvements in their entertainment. Why shouldn’t fans and others continue to watch or listen to something but still have criticisms about what would make the story or album better? The way fanboys and fangirls always try to shut down criticism (and critical thinking) about entertainment with the “Stop complaining and just don’t watch/read/listen to it then” argument comes off as childish. It’s also an argument that can easily be turned around: If you can’t bear to see an author or artist’s product that you like being criticized, maybe don’t read comment sections on the internet about them, and if you don’t like hearing inequalities or stereotypes in entertainment being pointed out, even in the nicest of ways, why come to a blog that is obviously going to do just that?

  29. Listen here you all are complaining “women aren’t properly represented” in dragon ball z. Obviously you no very little. First lets just use your logic against. In this case DBZ is degrading towards men. Every single man in the show is muscular and powerful. Even the nerd Gohan is still powerful in his own right. This can be offensive because not all men can be muscular. See how silly you sound. Also what’s wrong with a female villain being evil? She has a twin BROTHER just as evil. You never once did complained about that. Anyways what you have to realize is that DBZ is a genre called Shounen and basically it just means anime/manga for young males. Think about the demographic here. What would young males rather see a bunch of muscular men beating the ever living crap out of them or a bunch of really muscular women beating the ever living crap out of each. It’s obvious which one will sale more. Also Bulma although she never fights she is probably on of if not the most important character in all of Dragon Ball Z. One she met Goku and allowed him to go on this journey. If it wasn’t for Bulma nothing in the events of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z would have taken place. Also Akira Toriyama can write strong female leads just take a look at Dr. Slump.

  30. Yeah, it’s sexist, but it’s also fun.

    …well, at least the original Dragon Ball is. Sexism hardly has to do with what’s wrong with Z though.

  31. Depressing how many comments you got here that are flat-out anti-feminist.
    I’m someone who enjoyed the series at first, but was turned off by how… Depressingly racial it was. As I thought about it more, I came to understand the exact same kinds of problems with its depiction towards women. It’s frustrating that a series like this hasn’t moved into the twentieth century.

  32. You claim to be a fan of the Manga and yet you didn’t mention Launch at all in your article. I’m skeptical. You’re trying to apply values that some feminists in the west have to an anime from 30 years ago.

  33. I agree with the commenter who said the Trunks/Mai shipping is gross and forced. With the new worlds and universes full of new saiyans and other powerful races in Dragon Ball Super, Toriyama had a golden opportunity to introduce a new female saiyan around Trunks’ age group. Yes, she would have (and should have) ended up Trunks love interest, but she could have been an active female Z-fighter who, without being as powerful as Goku or Vegeta, may have been able to get things done on the same level as someone like Gohan or Trunks. But instead of creating an interesting new female warrior, Toriyama takes an irrelevant, boring, bland, unnecessary powerless aging human villain from Dragon Ball older than both Bulma and Vegeta, hastily adds a few transparent, sloppy, illogical asspulls to her backstory so that she magically has a younger body and is no longer evil, and recycles her into the new series for the SOLE PURPOSE of giving an important male character young enough to be her son a helpess gun-wielding damsel to start a family with, and inserts creepy child/adult/child love triangle scenes into the show. How lazy. It’s my number one fictional thing to hate on right now, and this arc of super ended in such a sloppy, way that ruins the story of future Trunks to the point that a lot of fans say it’s hard to take seriously and are hoping it gets dismissed as a non-canon side-story like GT.

  34. You should watch Dragon Ball Super. Although it’s not as good as DB/DBZ, it has more prominent female characters. Bulma is featured in quite a few episodes. She isn’t so much involved in fighting as in developing technologies, orchestrating events, and befriending the gods. Probably some of the best humor in DBS involves Bulma defying Beerus. Vados is another female character, although she and champa play more of a side role. And I wish she had more screen time.

    Probably our new favorite character is Whis who’s “girly” or “gay,” which is a refreshing take at an interesting character with a different personality.

  35. You shouldn’t complain about how poorly treated are the female characters when you have male characters like Yamucha or Yajirobe. Bulma is one of the best characters in this franchise. Besides Goku, who is… obviously the main character she was the best one. And she is not a fighter. Yes she may be a support characters but her presence is felt throughout the whole franchise. She, as a support character did even better than any fighting character did as a fighter. And as many people said. Indeed DB is a show targeted at boys. Just tell me please how sexist is Sailor Moon or WITCH for boys ?

    • The thing is that in a show based on fighting, that is how a character’s worth is measured. You literally win or lose and gain or lose respect based on how strong you and how good of a fighter you are. I agree that Bulma is incredibly iconic, but being iconic does not mean you are infallible against critique.

      I never watched Sailor Moon, but I loved WITCH. Can you tell me how a female led diverse cast of magical women is sexist against men? Also, sexism (like racism) does not run both ways. There can be gender bias against men and boys, but sexism is more about the oppression of women based on the the systems in place that give men power. Women can be sexist against other women, for instance. But women cannot be sexist against men. Women can have a gender bias against men, however. The implications of sexism is more that a group in power utilizes that power over another sex.

      • Nope. here you got it wrong. DB as a franchise is not only about fighting. At the beginning it was more about adventure. And the Dragon Ball quest was more like Bulma’s quest with Goku being there just because she needed help and he wanted to know the world and fight stronger opponents. Of course the major story arc villains are usually defeated either by Goku or his son. This is not sexist… it’s just that they are the main characters.

        “I agree that Bulma is incredibly iconic, but being iconic does not mean you are infallible against critique.”

        Goku as a main character is even more criticized than Bulma. He has issues. He is not a hero but a crazy dude risking everyone’s life just to have a better opponent. He neglects his family and there is even this gag throughout the community about how Piccolo was a better father to Gohan.

        About the sexism thing. I was obviously sarcastic when i asked you how sexist are those 2 shows against boys. Of course they are not. They are just targeted towards a feminine audience and that’s why they have a female lead cast.

        I just tried to expose the situation to you. You said that our Dragon Ball, which has a male lead is sexist against women but WITCH, which has a female lead is not sexist against men ? My point is that not even one of these 2 shows is sexist. It’s just targeted to some kind of audience. DB to boys and WITCH to girls.

        Now about the sexism not working both ways. Look. Maybe you have a definition for sexism but that definition works only for you and it’s only in your mind and your view about this world.

        The most accepted definition about sexism is: “prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender.” PERIOD

        It doesn’t involve what advantages or privileges has a gender over another or what gender is supposed to be sexist over the other. If you as a female have any kind of prejudice or bias, as you said, against the male gender, then you are sexist. PERIOD

        “but sexism is more about the oppression of women based on the the systems in place that give men power.”

        Oppression of women, no matter where on what it is based on, is indeed a form of sexism. But, between being just another form of sexism and, as you want to see it, defining sexism there is still a big difference.

        Oppression of women is not the sexism as a whole. It’s just a form of sexism just like oppression of man or discrimination of man for various reasons is also a form of sexism.

        Let me give you a scenario. Let’s say i am the president of a powerful nation. A male president. I doesn’t matter if i am in charge. As long as your view or opinion on me is based on my gender then you are a sexist. It doesn’t matter if your position is lower than mine. Of if i have the power and you don’t. Sexism is sexism no matter the position or the gender.

        Your view about what sexism is does not matter to the rest of the world. The accepted definition will always be acknowledged and used when it’s the case for real sexism. So your opinion on what sexism is doesn’t matter.

        So as long as there are shows with female lead characters which are better and above the male characters in their show you shouldn’t talk about Dragon Ball.

        Now i wonder. What really would make you happy ? Dragon Ball should suddenly change it’s lead character into a female one… and Goku should become some deuteragonist ? If this were to happen i could see a lot of girls who love Dragon Ball cursing this decision. Because you don’t have to be the same gender as a character to like the character or the show itself.

  36. I’m anti-3rd wave feminism and i completely agree with you. You took the words right out of my mouth of why i hate this series. I thought that people would use 18 as a counter-arguement, but you helped me with your reasoning as she’s masculinised. And it’s not just young boys that like dragon ball z, it’s grown-ass men in america. It’s the most popular anime in the west because it was first. Everytime i see it referenced i want to die from cringe for various reasons. Also, have you seen that early toriyama manga from before db? It’s disgusting and vile. It starts off with a red-eaded woman that looks exactly like bulma, who wants to stop crime. But every time she tries she gets raped and sometimes money thrown at her. This happens i think 3 times in 1 issue. Toriyama disgusts me. Thanks for reading

    • I did not know the earlier stuff that Toriyama wrote. Thanks for the information. I don’t hate DBZ and that makes it challenging for me to be a fan and still offer a critique. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  37. Seriously there is no aspect of dragon ball
    First of all all of the stereotypes youve mentioned are accurate and there aren’t any scenes that actively degrade women and gender equality.

    About chi-chi “constantly worrying and obsessive parenting methods” most mothers of reckless and impulsive children are like that. There is nothing untrue to the stereotype and the reason she is solely depicted as the wife character is because thats exactly what her character is… the wife character. She is meant to support goku, gohan and goten as well as scold them for their moments of fault.

    As for bulma being treated as a object for sexual fantasy for master roshi that isnt because she is female it is to uphold the japanese stereotype that old men are really perverted which is where the humor is held. Also calling her “shallow teenager and later a shallow women” isnt accurate at all. Early the first series bulma starts dating yamcha despite not knowing too well, but she is only doing what most teen girls do and thats looking for a maintable relationship. And when she becomes an adult and marries vegeta, vegeta is actually one of the best husbands in anime. In one scene bulma was backhanded by beerus and in response vegeta challenges the god of destruction in her honor. Her choice in vegeta makes her a respectable character

    As for 18 i dont have much to say except alot of highly athletic women are often somewhat masculine so the stereotype fits reality

    And lastly videl.
    Videl isnt depicted as being particularly stong compared to male characters because a) she is only human and the current strongest human female is chi-chi who was raised into fighting by ox king and b) videl hasnt been training as long as other characters nor does she ever face powerful opponents to surpass her limits like goku and vegeta have. Also she didnt cut her hair to prove herself to gohan, gohan told her long hair can be distracting during a fight so to be a better fighter she cut it.

    Theres nothing sexist about dragon ball especially with the later introductions of characters like 21 and caulifa being stronger female characters

    Also according to dragon ball lores almost all races that wouldve had strong females (namely the saiyans and namekians) have all been wiped out with few survivors so thats the main reason for the lack of strong females

    • We can come up with any number of reasons for why Toriyama’s female characters are not as strong as their male counterparts, but let’s consider that this is a flaw of Toriyama’s world. It’s a fantasy world with its own rules. There is no reason to not create that world where Videl did train as long as the other characters or fought stronger opponents, or a world where Chi Chi continued to fight as well as take care of her family. There’s no reason there couldn’t be a DBZ world where any of this and more isn’t possible. The fact that Toriyama’s world reflects sexist stereotypes regarding women (and men in the case of perverted Master Roshi for instance), is the fact that Toriyama reflected our world with all its layers of sexism.

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