Last night I watched something on YouTube I loved so much I just have to gush about it! It had to do with Dragon Ball! But not… the Dragon Ball you might know! I am talking about a series that has not been discovered by that many people yet! I am talking about Dragon Ball R&R. That’s a lot of balls mentioned in this opening.
What is Dragon Ball R&R?!
Now I am a sensible little Pinkie and before I gush about the latest episode I shall give you a little explanation of what this series is about..because believe me.. this requires some explaining. When I tell you that R&R stands for both rest and relaxations as well as Ranch and Raditz, I am sure you scratch your head. Raditz isn’t that the guy that was as weak as a Saibaman that got owned within like five episodes?! You know Goku’s brother?! That is right! The point goes to you!
Raditz was killed my Picollo’s Makankōsappō technique. Or how it’s know amongst the dubbers, the special beam cannon. I never liked that name. I mean it always felt so thin… hardly something you shoot from a cannon, also I am not sure what made this beam special?! Well it had multiple colours and swirlies so.. sure.. but the literal translation of Demon’s penetrating killing light gun , kinda sounds cooler…though a friend of mine who lives up north just giggled because I used the word penetrating.
I got a bit of track there! This story is not about THAT Raditz… well kinda… but instead of being killed by the Demon’s Penetrating Killing Light Gun, the guy turned good! You see this series is created by the voice actor of Goku in a little series called Dragon Ball Abridged. On his own YouTube channel he dabbles in a lot of “What If” Stories. Including my personal favorite and long since concluded series. What if Raditz turned good. It explores the scenario where Goku does that thing he does in befriending originally evil characters and turning them good.
He did this a few times when he befriended Yamcha, Tien, Piccolo , Vegeta and to a lesser extend Majin Buu, Android 18 and Android 17. The series of Raditz got so popular it produced a spin off show, that appears on a “it’s done when it’s done schedule on Masoko X (Goku’s voice actor in DBZA) ‘s channel, set in a time of rest and relaxation. The time after the Buu Arc and before the Battle of the Gods movie (the super series definatly started at the Universe 6 arc.)
Who is Ranch
To appreciate this series you first kind of have to watch What if Raditz turned good! At least up until episode episode 7! The eight one is where the series goes into the territory of God Ki and R&R takes place before that. While R&R focusses a lot on Raditz it’s main protagonist is Ranch! Raditz what if daughter. She would be the cousin of Gohan and Goten, being fairly close to the latter in terms of age!
She would also be the daughter of Launch, the most forgotten about dragonball character, who had the power to go blond waaaaaay before the majority of the cast did. Launch is either a sweet innocent woman with blue her and a clumsy demeanour or a cold mercenary and thief, mostly known for her appearance through the original series. While this is a major plot point of the “what if series” on R&R the focus really is on their happy family life, and in doing so this series gets a wholesomeness. And even if Ranch started of as a side character to a alternate story of two originally throw away characters, she is an amazing addition to the dragon ball world.
Ranch is a female saiyan done right! While Kale and Caulifla are solid enough characters, mostly Kale is lacking some credibility as she is mostly just nostalgia pandering and fan service towards fans of the original Broly, before he actually became a amazing character. Ranch has much more depth, personality and struggles. You can see some traits of both Raditz and Launch in her and maybe excluding future Trunks ( before Goku Black) the best Hybrid saiyan I have seen. Already great in the original what if that gets deepend more in this show, in a fascinating audio manga that tells us self contained stories centered around her and her Pappa but also is not afraid to highlight and deepen some other characters we know and love.
Rest and Relaxation
Dragon Ball is a bit of an odd series and mainly in the story of Z there were plenty of “filler”. Fake Namek and the Garlic Junior Saga were horrible and did not happen. Yet on occasion the show strikes gold. One of the examples in the show’s original runs is now titled “The Driving Episode” in which Goku and Piccolo try to get their driver’s license. It just was super cute and mundane but still Dragon Ball in a sense. Dragon Ball Super did this once again with the Baseball episode. Another great filler like episode that was just so heartwarming and wholesome that you can not help but to love it.
R&R is like a series of that. “What if Dragon Ball had a slice of life spin off”. Masoko seems to know his OC’s (at this point I am gonna call Raditz or at least this Raditz his OC as well.. because it is not the throwaway token character Toriyama made Raditz but an actually fleshed out guy we can root for) very well and also the other existing characters. He also knows what made the driving episode and the baseball episode work and has captured that magic in this series very well.
While Masoko reprises his role as Goku (as he did with team 4 star) we do not really get the Abridged Goku, we get a take on Goku that is somewhere in between Sean Schemmel’s version and the abridged version. Something that in my opinion is very close to the sub’s original. Serious when he needs to be, but also relaxed and fun loving. As he should be. His voice work in the series .. like always is great but Courtney Meeker, the voice of Ranch and Afghani as the brother of Kakarot both are great talents as well that give this show some great backbone. Amanda Hufford playing Launch completes the happy little family and while her blue Launch can be a bit laid on a bit to thick, I could not help but go Awwww, each time she voices a line.
Lawrence Simpson as Masako’s real name is managed to cast some great and upcoming voice talents and auditions regularly each time a new character appears in the script. Always asking for people to go with their own interpretation so it never feels like someone is trying to much to sound like an original voice actor or a DBZA character. Mostly selecting these characters on the sound of their regular voice instead of their screams pays off as this feels like it’s own thing throughout and really makes the story a joy to follow. After I am done with an episode I do feel relaxed and I still feel I watched Dragon Ball.
Stand Alone Stories
Like mentioned earlier, each episode is very much made to watch as a self contained story, that loosely flows into the next. A great format because these episodes are few and far apart. This once again shows that Lawrence Simpson really knows what makes this type of content work. How to structure these episodes. Because of how low key it is a small teaser of what to come is all we need to wet our appetites for the next episode yet are not turned off by the long wait. Now let’s take a peak at these stories.
Episode 1 : A Fusion of Fancy?! Trunks and Ranch join Forces!
This “Pilot” episode is my second favorite of the series so far..but all episodes make it to my top 5! In this episode we see the kids taking a closer look at fusion. Since there are three now it makes sense that they would. In this episode they hold a fusion contest among themselves to see which makes the best fusion, Gotenks, the classic we all know and love (except when it comes to gacha games) Ranten, the male dominant fusion between Ranch and Goten or Raunks the female dominate fusion of Ranch and Trunks.
Goku and Raditz function as the judge..but in typical Goku fashion he wants to join this measurement of strength and even ends up fusing with Raditz into Goditz. This is the only episode that contains actual Dragon Ball fighting and it is great.. yet lighthearted. A perfect episode toe edge us over into the more wholesome territory. There are some clever fighting moves and intresting combinations of techniques like the Final Friday and the Double Kamehameha that really please each Dragon Ball fan.
Episode 2: The Final Cut Goten’s big decision.
Ranking number 4 out of 5 for me this episode deals with a heartfelt issue that I feel the show itself should have addressed. Goten notices he is the weakest of the Saiyans and feels like he will be left behind. Existing only as a way to boost either Trunks or Ranch, he feels like he lacks a own identity which Raditz confirms telling him he is basically just a little Goku. So he starts to wonder if he should change his hair and his looks a bit. In this episode we see a great performance from Jenna Kathleen as Goten and Amanda Hufford as blonde Launch. It really helps giving some depth to Goten and make him feel like a unique character that has his troubles.
It is a great episode that only is held back a bit because of the feeling that it is kicking in an open door. The advice Goten gets is to “just be himself” and while I get that he is a kid and it seems new for him, it all feels so obvious that it loses just a bit of it’s shine. Still it is sincere and it is nice to see the smaller aspects of the dragonworld addressed. This still is a 7.5 out of 10 for me it just shows how good some of the other episodes are.
Episode 3: A Misunderstanding? Gohan’s Peace Offering
This episode has the unfortunate honour of being my least favorite episode. Number 5 out of my top 5, and I am fairly sure that when episode 6 comes out, this one will not be among my favorites anymore. A 6 out of 10 for me, so it’s still a solid one that I can’t help to find less consistent than other episodes. Ranch gets very upset that Gohan looked away. Feeling said she is not recognised by her cousin makes her run away from home and be upset.
While she is away Raditz flashes back in his past, and Piccolo offers Ranch some guidance. This is one of those Slice of Life tropes I dislike. “The Silly Misunderstanding” and I felt the characters were less consistent than they normally are. Raditz is pretty logic driven and Ranch got a lot of those traits so it seemed weird she would get upset over something as silly as this.
While this episode should highlight Ranch it is actually Goku who takes the spotlight. He fixes this little family problem using his Instant Transmission in the most inappropriate way possible. He just barges into peoples live and snatches them along to further his agenda.. which seems hilarious and quite like Goku. Forgetting that phones exist. Unfortunately by that time we have already lost half the episode in another form of inner crisis. I probably would have liked this episode more had it not directly followed Goten’s inner troubles or had they been inversed in order. Stacey Cotham who protrays Chi-Chi , who is very prominent in this episode just plays her a bit to flat lacking her spunk.. and I think the that is the perfect analogy for this episode.
Episode 4: STRIKE! Yacha’s Curveball! With an 8/10 this was a great episode to me!
Such a great episode! Perfectly balancing the kids and Yamcha in a exciting but still slice of life like episode. Yamcha is about to retire from playing for the Tai Tan’s in baseball when his manager is trying to fix this final match in an attempt to disgrace him and forcing him to stay. While the parents are learning abotu baseball.. and visiting Yamcha’s matches for both the very first and last time, the kids move into the stadium’s catacombs to deal with the manager played by Geekdom101.
Hook the manager is kinda weakly voice acted by this Dragon Ball Youtuber , he just doesn’t seem that believable preventing this from being a 10/10 episode. Otherwise this one is amazing. Stanley Kuschick voices an amazing Yamcha and the story is just really touching. It was so nice to see Puar again and see Yamcha get some closure. He fades into obscurity after he got knocked out by Android 20..mostly being just a cameo in the rest of the show. The story written by Lawrence Simpson and his team here.. send Yamcha off in the sweetest way. Including introducing a potential romantic lead for the guy near the end. You can really feel the love for the character here.
Episode 5: Respect Your Roots, Kiddo! A Glorious Story of the Saiyan Race!!
The currently last and absolute best episode in this series for me! I was really blown back by it. In this episode Raditz tell his three children (yes I forgot to mention he had two sons as well.. but they aren’t really in other episodes because they are toddlers, Daikon and Mooli. Goten and Trunks show up to listen in is as well. As Raditz tells the tale we quickly find out he is not really telling the whole truth but his version of it.. to make himself look better.. as the children comment on the weird twists in the story. This episode feels so in character for every single character.. like how Raditz makes Vegeta look bad in the story every chance he gets and how Trunks calls him out for it it is fantastic. There is so much love for the characters here and also for the franchise.
The way the kids poke fun at the plot holes in Toriyama’s lore feels lighthearted but sharp and like something kids would point out. I laughed at the silliness. Yet this episode moved me to tears. We see Raditz think back on Bardock and Gine, his and Goku’s parents and while Goku completely forgot about them Raditz did not. He misses them, remembering his father and mother say they were proud of him. It ends with the most beautiful family moment and Piccolo and Raditz reflecting on their parents and parenthood! This episode feels like a love letter from a man to his OC and the franchise that inspired it and that is what Dragonball R&R is to me!
With all the what if’s lasting about fifteen minutes and R&R episodes being around the length of a regular anime episode, within a timespan of about four hours you can enjoy one of the greatest Dragon Ball fan fiction series out there! That in some ways feel even more real to me than the orginal! Check out Masoko X’s youtube channel for a very strong series! I shall leave you all with the intro to each episodes! Which will link you to the right channel! Remember I love you all! Keep smiling and let’s make the internet a happier place!