Friday, May 24, 2024

Are the Dragon Ball Z: First Strike Films Canon?

March 28, 2021 by  
Filed under Anime, News, TV/Film/Movies

( Dragon Ball is one of the most beloved anime franchises of all time. It has been around for almost 40 years and was one of the most important series when it comes to the spread of anime in the west over the past 30 years.

As with most long-running anime franchises, it has its share of films. These films often fall outside of series’ continuity and would pretty much amount to filler.

The First Three Dragon Ball Z Films in the West

Dragon Ball Z’s first three films were actually chopped up to be included as filler episodes between dubbing breaks on the 90s. At the time, episodes were often dubbed up until a certain point.

Often times, this was in the middle of a saga as opposed to the end. To give viewers something new before rolling the saga back to the beginning—or even the whole series—the films or original video animations (OVAs) were shown.

This would take up two episodes and always seemed out of place even if it was awesome to see more Dragon Ball Z.


Dead Zone

Originally released in July 1989, Dead Zone was aired in two episodes in December 1997 just before the series went back to the start of the Namek Saga. Of the first three, this was my favorite and also featured in part during the “Rock the Dragon” opening.

Dead Zone is one of two films from the First Strike trilogy of films that could actually be canonical if you were trying to fit the films and series together.

Falling between the two series halves, it can be looked at as a prequel adventure to DBZ even though it exists in an alternate timeline. It’s the perfect balance between fast-paced exciting fights in a pre-Kaioken and sci-fantasy Dragon Ball.

Seriously, this works as a prequel. It doesn’t step on its own toes, there are no critical continuity issues, and the characters are presented as being properly powered for this period.

DB is a franchise that will have you scratching your head trying to make sense of the introduced characters. It becomes super annoying when it’s characters who have no actual background in the series being introduced as being a menace back then or being more powerful than canonical foes.

It’s even more annoying when these characters are in a film that could actually fit into the canonical storyline easily. Thank goodness for the term “alternate timeline” and for Master Roshi to fill in the plot holes.

The World’s Strongest

This was a fun film where Gohan actually joins in the fight against foes. It follows the Z Fighters as they face off against Dr. Kochin, Dr. Wheelo, and the Bio-Men.

Dr. Kochin uses the dragon balls to wish for Dr. Wheelo’s lab to be thawed out. Before his death prior to the events of DBZ, Dr. Wheelo has his brain transported to a powerful cyborg body.

There are critical timeline issues with the rest of main series but it’s considered canonical within the timeline.

According to a timeline constructed by fans using the official guidebooks and the DBH official site, Goku, Gohan, Krillin, and Yajirobe defeat Vegeta and Nappa on November 3rd.

After finding out about dragon balls on Planet Namek and a spaceship that Kami (God, Piccolo’s other half) used to arrive on Earth, Gohan and Krillin leave the hospital on November 7th.

By November 14th, Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma leave Earth while Goku leaves on December 18th. There is nowhere in the timeline where The World’s Strongest or Tree of Might could’ve taken place.

It’s a throwaway adventure with good fight scenes. If anything, this could’ve been the jump off point for an entirely different telling of Dragon Ball Z that doesn’t involve the excursion to Namek.

Tree of Might

In continuing with the “First Strike” collection of films and more timeline disrupting films, Tree of Might has the unaccounted-for-Saiyan Turles arrives on Earth with his crew of miscreants.

Their goal is to plant the Tree of Might on Earth to absorb all of the planet’s energy. Eating the fruit of the Tree grants the consumer a large boost in power, so it’s a very sought after relic that no one in the Dragon Ball universe mentioned until this film!

As with every DBZ film, Goku and the gang spank the villains and we even get a Spirit Bomb that actually does its job! That’s always nice to see.

Timeline-wise, Tree of Might falls within that month between the end of the Saiyan Saga and the start of the Namek Saga. Actually, it’s included as part of Namek Saga even though there’s no way the Z-Fighters had time for this battle on Earth.

Again, Goku is still severely injured while Gohan and Krillin have healed up and left for Namek. They’re present in the film along with Z-Fighters who were killed by Vegeta and Nappa.

I will give it points on dope fight scenes and a better animation quality. If Tree of Might was to be placed anywhere it should’ve been in the downtime before the Androids’ arrival.

Verdict: Only Dead Zone Is Canon

Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone is the only film of the “First Strike” trilogy that could be considered canon. There are zero issues with its placing and could be considered episodes 0 and 0.5 of DBZ.

The same can’t be said about The World’s Strongest and Tree of Might. Their timeline placing just doesn’t make sense at all.

Moving both deeper into the timeline would probably clear up some issues but there would still be the matter of Goku being able to go Super Saiyan post-Frieza.

That means Turles and Dr. Wheelo would’ve easily been dispatched by Goku and company.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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