Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Review! "It's Over 9,000!" When Worldviews Collide

It’s a safe bet that anyone remotely acquainted with Japanese manga or anime is familiar with the name Dragon Ball Z. For over two decades the franchise has been an undeniable phenomenon and marketing juggernaut, one that still draws in fans the world over. Its unequaled staying power continues to spawn countless DVD and Blu-ray releases, video games, apparel, toys, and – most recently – a brand-new anime in Japan, Dragon Ball Super.

Created by manga artist/writer Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Z not only managed to define a generation of anime fans, it reshaped the medium itself, paving the way for popular franchises like One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach.

Derek Padula, author of It’s Over 9,000, realizes what fuels the enduring popularity of Dragon Ball Z – it’s not the otherworldly settings, epic fight scenes, or world-shaking explosions, but rather the series’ deep-rooted themes and multi-faceted characters that have transcended cultural barriers. The franchise’s main players, Goku and Vegeta, are at the forefront of Padula’s analysis, exploring the moral lessons, individual growth, and inspiring trials that they undergo through a bitter rivalry and ultimate friendship. Looking at the relationship between Goku and Vegeta with an analytical eye really uncovers one of the most interesting – and powerful – character arcs in any anime series, past or present.

The title of Padula’s book also holds special meaning, of which he goes into remarkable detail to dissect. “It’s over 9,000!” was a mis-translated line said by Vegeta early in the Americanized dub of the anime, and went on to become something of an internet phenomenon and pop-culture meme. As Padula explains, this one line has an overarching, profound significance to the entire franchise concerning differing worldviews, class-structure, and a rich underlying mythology. Much like how Joseph Campbell related the allegories, myths, and archetypes explored in his masterful Hero of a Thousand Faces to George Lucas’ Star Wars saga, Padula provides an equally fascinating exploration of the themes in Dragon Ball Z, imparting insight into just how philosophical and sophisticated the source material truly is. 

For the Dragon Ball Z fan, It’s Over 9,000 is a must read; even those jaded by the series, or no longer feel the attachment to it that they once had, are highly recommended to give Padula’s book a look over – a newfound respect for the franchise is guaranteed. It’s a worthy read for non-fans as well who may take interest in the series simply by learning how insightful and layered Dragon Ball Z is. As a longtime fan of the series, it’s an eye-opener to read Padula’s captivating breakdown of the franchise’s mythology and his study on themes that carries over in everyday life. In reality, Dragon Ball Z is far more than a simple ‘action’ show, but something that relates to everyone who strives to better themselves and a discourse on the boundaries of human potential. 

Padula’s It’s Over 9,000 can be purchased online at or at in both physical print and e-book formats. This is one not to miss!

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