Dragon Ball changes lives. That could be no clearer than with my current guest, Joshua, a Dragon Ball fan who relied on Goku to persevere.
A 23 year old man on the brink of suicide, the dark valley of life, he felt he had nothing left.
But he had Dragon Ball.
And that was all he needed.
How did Dragon Ball help Joshua pull through? Read on to discover the power of a positive spirit!
The Love for Dragon Ball Begins
Derek: Hi Joshua, thank you for taking the time to come on board and be the second guest of Dragon Ball Fan Focus. The first one with Monica went really well and now I want to share your insights with other Dragon Ball fans.
Joshua: Yeah, I enjoyed the first one and just your site in general. I like how you take a cerebral approach to what is really, you know, a show for 14 year old boys.
I love Dragon Ball, have always loved it, and will always love it.
I appreciate when someone can see past surface level assumptions. There is a lot more to it.
Derek: Thanks. I think I’m showing people something they’ve never seen.
When did you first start watching Dragon Ball?
Joshua: The first time I saw it I was 9 years old at my grandparent’s house. My cousin and I got up early and were watching cartoons on Saturday when it was still on syndication on the old WB Network. It was the episode where Goku is training in his spaceship as its coming to Namek, he’s got his legs tied up to the ceiling and he’s doing situps.
Once I was introduced to the characters, I really got hooked. Especially the character of Goku, who remains my favorite to this day.
Goku is Joshua’s Ideal Hero
Derek: What made you want to watch the episodes so many times?
Joshua: It had to have been how I connected to Goku.
He’s pure. He’s an ideal, in a way. Goku can’t really exist in the same way that a Christ figure can’t really exist, because it’s too good.
You see these types of characters crop up in fiction, from Superman to the various pagan religious figures. These god men are so pure, so good, that everyone around them improves just from being around them.
Derek: Right. That’s an astute observation.
Darkness Leads to Light
Derek: You have your own website called Dragon Blog. There are a lot of Dragon Ball sites out there, but yours is unique. How would you describe the goal or purpose of your site, and where did the idea come from? You mentioned in your comment on Monica’s article that you started the site as “self medication.”
Joshua: Well, yes.
I recently had to move back home because I lost my apartment and my job along with it. I didn’t want to hang out with anybody and was not in a good place, at all. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, or have anything to do with anything.
Initially the thought was, I want to rewatch all of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT, straight through in its’ canonical order, because I had never been able to do that before. I either get stuck at the Artificial Human Arc because it is SO boring, or I just watch Dragon Ball and don’t watch anything else because Dragon Ball is my favorite.
Joshua: Then I had the idea to do the blog so I could track my progress.
Derek: How long ago was this?
Joshua: Almost a year ago. It will be a year ago on May 25th.
Derek: Okay. So you were at home, living with your parents, and it sounds like you were very depressed.
Joshua: I wasn’t happy about anything in my situation.
Derek: You didn’t have a girlfriend or friends coming by?
Joshua: See the thing is, I could have, but I shut everyone out.
If there’s somebody who just hates the shit out of themselves, you’re not going to want to be around them. I get it. I don’t harbor grudges against anybody. My social life has improved a MILLION percent since then.
Derek: That’s good, I’m glad to hear that. So you were in a state of depression, very introspective and by yourself, in your room. All you have is Dragon Ball there. So what happens?
Opening the Door and Rising Up
Joshua: I posted the blog a couple episodes in, on Reddit, on the r/anime sub Reddit. The r/dbz one didn’t exist yet. I told them what I was doing. The response was interesting because it was positive!
Most of the comments were, “You’re going to do an episode a day? You’re going to be doing this until you’re an old man! You should really bump that up to 4 episodes a day.”
Derek: Dragon Ball is famous for being an incredibly long series. What did you have in mind? You know how long it is. It’s like running a marathon. But you just said to yourself, “I’m going to do it.”?
Joshua: That’s basically my approach. I’m just going to do it rather than sit around thinking about doing it.
Derek: Haha. But the most important thing is that you took the first step. And immediately you started feeling better. I find that very telling of the path of personal change.
Joshua: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I’ve done a lot in the past year since having the blog that I’m realizing more and more just how easy it is to pull yourself out of a funk if you just have the thought to do it.
Derek: That’s good advice. There might be other people out there who are going through the same thing right now. Is there a particular aspect of Dragon Ball that you think helped you through your depression?
Joshua: I think there are a few aspects of it. The first is my emotional connection to it, for having lived with it for more than half my life at this point. Dragon Ball is such an integral part of who I am and such a big thing that I love. For starters that’s always going to make me feel better.
And there are a lot of self improvement themes in Dragon Ball. It’s about Kung Fu and training and being the best.
It’s very encouraging to watch Goku and Kuririn run up those steps with Muten Roshi. Goku is huffing and puffing and is like, “I don’t think I can do this man, I’m going to run back down, or take a nap.” And Muten Roshi says, “Your grandpa used to do this every day.” And Goku is like, “Well I guess I’m doing this every day then!”
Derek: And it’s a great lesson in life to keep taking one step after another.
Joshua: The other thing is that it’s funny. It makes me laugh. That always makes you feel better!
Derek: That’s awesome. I completely agree. I know there are different mentalities in the world. Some people say that human beings cannot change once they reach a certain age. They get a fixed mentality and that’s it, and then those notions get stronger and stronger. But I have always been of the belief that people can change and do change. Dragon Ball is maybe the reason for that, or maybe I always felt that way and then Dragon Ball reaffirmed that idea again and again.
Joshua: I have to agree. If you’re doing anything right in your life, you’re always evolving and taking in new things.
Derek: So it’s safe to say that Dragon Ball is a meaningful series to you?
Derek: What has it been like to connect with other Dragon Ball fans, especially when you’re in that depressed state, when you’re by yourself in a room with a closed door, but you have a computer with a blog, and there are readers interacting with you. How did you feel?
Joshua: It shocked the shit out of me that anyone cared. That anyone would read what’s really just me rambling about every Dragon Ball episode. That people would even care about it.
Son Goku Endures
Derek: For someone who has never seen Dragon Ball, what would you say to recommend it? Why do you think someone should watch Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball Z?
Joshua: The first thing, do you like being entertained? That is an obvious yes for everybody.
Especially in Dragon Ball before we get to Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball is very much about being the best, self improvement and winning the tournament. Beating that unbeatable guy. Whether it’s Piccolo Daimao or Ivan Drago, it’s the same essential thing.
Derek: That’s fascinating because I’ve always been a huge fan of Rocky.
Joshua: Yeah, I love the Rocky movies, and it’s the same feeling I get from them. Watching this guy go from being nothing to being the greatest. Going the distance. I think Goku does that a lot during Dragon Ball, a bit during Dragon Ball Z and then it kind of levels off in the middle.
Derek: If I would compare the characters I’d say they’re both hard headed, kind of simple, and they go through a lot of hardships, and the way that they improve is by enduring. There’s a quote from Rocky VI, Balboa, where he says, “It’s not how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Joshua: And that is Goku’s essence. I was just watching the episode, Pathos of Freeza. It’s one of my favorite episodes. A lot of the beginning of the episode is just Freeza beating on Goku. But of course that is the same episode that ends with Goku beating Freeza SO badly that he starts chucking discs at him.
Goku takes every hit and shrugs it off, whereas every time Goku hits Freeza it beats him down that much more. So even though they appear to be equal, Goku is taking every hit in stride whereas Freeza is letting it frustrate him more and more.
Derek: Somehow Goku is able to endure all that and keep going. I think that’s the secret to his character.
Finding Your Inspiration
Derek: Do you think there are other Dragon Ball fans out there who have been inspired by the series, or received an emotional or spiritual pick-me-up when they were down?
Joshua: There has to be. It’s too geared towards that for there not to be. It’s too much of, for lack of a better term, a feel-good show.
Goku beats Piccolo Daimao, manages to get his friends back, everything works out in a way that is inspiring.
The Perfect Story
Derek: Why do you think that 15 years after the series concluded in 1997, there are still so many Dragon Ball fans across the world, and is still so successful?
Joshua: To bring it back to the beginning, I think it’s the perfect chemical compound for the type of story it is, or just a story in general.
Like your last fan interview, with Monica. Her favorite character was Vegeta. I like Vegeta, but I don’t think he’s even close to one of my favorites. But there are so many people who love Vegeta and get that out of the series.
Derek: It’s like there’s a character for everybody.
Joshua: Definitely. Whether it’s Piccolo, Gohan, any of the kids, Chaozu, Tenshinhan, or Yamcha. There’s just so many of them there. It’s a great show! It’s great, and that’s why people love it.
Derek: You’ve been a fan for a long time and you know a lot about the series, but if there were one question you’d like answered about Dragon Ball, what would it be?
Joshua: Why did he feel that was necessary? Why couldn’t King Cold himself just go to earth? Why do we have to have a still-alive Freeza and UNDERCUT everything else that had just happened in the entire series?
Derek: That is an interesting question.
Joshua: I’m sure there’s no good answer for it. Toriyama would be like, “Who’s Freeza?! I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
Derek: Yeah, he tends to forget.
Appreciating the Fans
Derek: I really appreciate you coming on and speaking with me. It’s nice to connect with other Dragon Ball fans in a way that leads to a meaningful discussion and also produces new insights. It’s not just an internet debate.
Joshua: Thanks, man! That’s kind of what I’m always looking for in Dragon Ball discussion boards, really. They tend to, I’m not going to be too broad, they do tend to devolve into screaming. Which is kind of like the show!
Derek: Yeah, I was about to say. Sort of makes sense.
Joshua: I enjoyed it.
Derek: Thanks, Joshua.
Take a Moment
Dragon Ball had an enormous impact on Joshua’s life. It’s fair to say that without Dragon Ball, he may no longer be here.
Stories like Joshua’s make it perfectly clear that Dragon Ball has the power to change lives. It’s a power that gives us an inner strength to look within, grow and mature. To endure hardship and be determined to reach the next level. It’s the ultimate power of spirit!
Be sure to visit Joshua’s Dragon Blog website and congratulate him on his 1 year anniversary!
Has Dragon Ball ever inspired you to be better, to endure and keep up the fight? Leave your comments below.