It might seem strange to make a list of the top most irritating people on a given television show. But in the case of the anime series “Dragonball,” and its sequels “Dragonball Z” and “Dragonball GT,” the same characters that grate on the audience’s nerves are often the ones that find a way to endear themselves to their fans, sometimes for the very reasons that they are so annoying. This would make them some of the best, and worst, characters in the show.
A prime example of a character that is both irritating and a fan favorite is Hercule, known in the original Japanese version of “Dragonball Z” as Mr. Satan. Hercule is a classic bumbling dimwit with a superiority complex. He is known to the majority of Earth as a great hero and martial arts champion, though the truth is somewhat less impressive. The main character of the Dragonball shows, Goku, and his group of friends, the Z Fighters, are the real heroes of Earth, saving the planet time and again from all sorts of would-be conquerors.
Hercule utilizes good publicity, a few accidental victories, and some assistance from Goku himself to maintain his image. Since Goku doesn’t want to become well known around the world and prefers to keep a lower profile, there has been an occasion or two when he has let the people of Earth believe Hercule to be its true hero. In point of fact, Hercule couldn’t have defeated any of the villains that have attacked the Earth during the course of the series, although there has been a couple of times when he has assisted the Z Fighters by slowing down one of their opponents.
Yet, somehow, Hercule’s undeserved arrogance has created a base of loyal fans who maintain that Hercule is one of the best characters in the entire series. Indeed, he is not entirely incompetant; as a fighter, Hercule would do well against normal humans.
He just doesn’t stand a chance against either the Z Fighters (Goku and his network of friends) or their enemies. And although he has displayed a moderate amount of cowardice, such as in a tournament that pitted him against Android 18, who he agreed to pay off if she threw the match, he has also shown his more altruistic side. For instance, when Goku needed to gather energy for a special technique that would destroy his opponent, Hercule convinced the people of Earth to give up their energy to help. Perhaps, it is occasions like this that have made Hercule so popular among DBZ fans.
The Great Saiyaman, a persona that Goku’s son Gohan takes on in order to fight crime without being recognized, is easily one of the oddest characters in “Dragonball Z.” He’s also one of the most commonly cosplayed at anime conventions around the world. His over-the-top behavior can be matched only by that of Hercule, or by that of Hercule’s daughter Videl. Videl eventually adopts a secret identity and costume of her own, becoming the Great Saiyawoman, and she and Gohan fight crime together. They match each other’s oddball and unnecessary crimefighter poses and spout chessy catchphrases about justice.
Their odd mannerisms were a bit unnerving because they seemed so dissimilar from normal Z Fighter behavior. Additionally, the costumes they wore were brightly colored and corny, and yet Gohan felt that his costume was the most stylish thing in town. Such cluelessness seemed to be in direct contrast to Gohan’s intelligence, having spent much of his life focusing on his studies, but it may also be part of what makes his alternate persona so endearing to fans. Also, since Gohan is such a popular main character, he is easily forgiven for this phase in his life, and Videl is given the same amount of tolerance since she eventually becomes Mrs. Gohan.
The final entry in this list is not a single person, but a group of characters. Much like the Great Saiyaman and Saiyawoman working together, the Ginyu Force have their own set of corny poses and cheesy catchphrases. They even have matching costumes, although that is due to the fact that they were working for evil alien Frieza. The Ginyu Force is led by Captain Ginyu, who coordinates not only their attack strategies but also their fighting poses, which can often look like dance steps. The rest of the group is composed of Burter, Jeice, Guldo, and Recoome. Jeice is particulary popular among DBZ’s female fans because of how easily he slips into the bishounen category, despite his rough manner of speech.
Ginyu is the most interesting and has the longest storyline, not only because he is the strongest of the group, but also because his talent of switching bodies with his opponent allows him continue fighting even when he is injured or outsmarted. Each fighter in the Ginyu Force has his own special fighting dance, which, in addition to looking just plain silly, often interrupts the flow of the fights. These dances are even more difficult to swallow than those of the Great Saiyaman and Saiyawoman because these guys really aren’t meant to be liked. Of course, that doesn’t stop the occasional super-fan. There are more Ginyu Force fansites on the Internet than there are websites created in the name of a protagonist like Yamcha, which only goes to prove that sometimes the most irritating characters can also be among the most popular.