With a universe of uniquely designed races and worlds, multiple and
simultaneous plotlines and over 250 characters, it is easy to believe that
there are some things in the massive expanse of Dragonball that are
superfluous (not needed, disposable), especially when you’re talking about a
little kiddy destruction cartoon seemingly created by some short Japanese
guy hyped up on Manga.
But as the highly intellectual being that I fancy considering myself to be,
I know this is not true.
It is my task, in writing this analysis, to determine the purpose and place
of the, apparently, ‘dead-weight’ characters in the series such as Master
Roshi, Krillin and Yamcha who seemed to no longer have any real part in any
of the action after they are surpassed by their… superior counterparts (King
Kai, Vegeta and Videl, respectively).
To do this, we must turn to renound critic Susan Snyder’s literary criticism
of Shakespeare’s King Lear, “A Modern Perspective.”
In this essay, Snyder states that minor characters, in all literary works,
serve to intensify the emotional impact (pathos) on the audience that heroes
(Goku, Vegeta etc.) experience when they are immersed in an inner or
external conflict by way of some sort of literary device, such as comic
Snyders says that main characters are felt as all the more heroic when they
“triumph over absurdity and random cruelty.”
Therefore, in actuality, minor characters like Krillin who seemed to have
lost an obvious role in the plot actually gain a much more important role
when they become physically invalid.
When Krillin is surpassed by Goku under Master Roshi’s training, he is set
on the backburner. From then on, he is used purely as comic relief. For
example, in the Garlic Jr. Saga, in the episode when both Piccolo and
Krillin are almost unconscious on the ground on Kami’s lookout and Piccolo
is clinging to life, Krillin says, “I’ll get up… As soon as I can feel my
legs.” This offers a short comic relief to their dire situation, but
immediately, Krillin gets up and the fight goes on, though he gets the crap
beat out of him. By doing this, Akira Toriyama utilized Krillin to
momentarily segment the heat of the situation in order to build up the fire
even more so we don’t get desensitized. For, if we were to be exposed to a
full ½ hour of non-stop destruction, we would probably walk away from the TV
or change the channel from pure exhaustion. (Some people will think I’m an
idiot for saying that because they think that they only watch DBZ for the
destruction, but you try and watch a full un-dubbed, uncut episode of some
hardcore anime chock full of blood, guts, gore and mutilation and see if you
like it! If you do, I will personally refer you to a mental hospital).
Anyway, I got off in a short tangent there, but in summary to this example,
Krillin magnified the emotional effect of his situation by segmenting the
conflict. In this way, Toriyama could pile on more and more destruction
without having you lose interest. No one wants to watch an hour of pure
Not meaning to go off on a tangent, I also want to mention that the reason why Dragonball/Z/GT never has a single major
climax is because there are so many characters, and because Toriyama tries to have them interact all the time, there is
never any clear focus in the series, and not enough horrible chain of events to provoke a climax. This is one of the few
(heheh) flaws in DB. Also, it’s just so frikkin huge, it’d take a million years to tie everything together.
Another, less dense perspective to minor characters is that the minor
characters actually form a little clique with themselves. In DBZ, Master
Roshi becomes a sort of wise man to the group of people who aren’t fighting
(Bulma, Chi Chi, Yamcha etc.)
Anyway, I hoped you gained something from this mess of things. Now, when
your mommy’s asking you what you’re doing, you can say you’re reading a
criticism about Shakespearian works. Ha ha….