FEATURE: The Shadow Dragons in Dragon Ball GT Were A Brilliant Idea

 

 

The basic premise of the Shadow Dragon Saga is that, after so frequent usage of the Shenron wishes, negative energy corrupted and cracked the Dragon Balls. Normally, the Dragon Balls were supposed to be used every hundred years or so, allowing the negative wish energy to naturally dissipate, but since the invention of the Dragon Radar, they’d been used far more than they were built for. Thus, when Goku and friends try to summon Shenron to fix the damage from the Super 17 saga, Black Smoke Shenron came out instead. 

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Rather than granting a wish, Black Smoke Shenron unleashed seven Shadow Dragons — dragon manifestations of each of the big wishes of the Dragon Ball franchise up until that point. Goku and friends had to fight the Shadow Dragons to retrieve the Dragon Balls embedded in each of their forms in order to return Shenron and the orbs to their standard forms. The saga itself was… okay, it didn’t quite stick the landing for a number of reasons, but the concept is brilliant, maybe the greatest idea Dragon Ball GT had to offer. 

 

 

First of all, it’s a strong way to bring the Dragon Balls back as a central part of the plot, coming full circle from the beginning of the series — they journeyed for the wishing orbs and thus began the cycle of using them more frequently than they naturally would be. Second, the consequence-erasers becoming consequences themselves also made the stakes of the saga that much higher — can the Dragon Balls even be used after the battle? And the more important question: should they? 

 

 

Furthermore, the idea that each Shadow Dragon was a representation of a different selfless wish (save for King Piccolo’s youth wish Shadow Dragon) is such a rich story idea — a villain manifestation of good intentions is some real good ironic tragedy. How do you live with the destruction created by your wish to revive innocents who died in a previous incident? How do you even begin to approach that kind of morality mobius strip?

 

 

The Shadow Dragons as a concept are rife with thematic depth and potential, and like how Broly was brought into the main canon of the series via Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the Shadow Dragons deserve the same treatment. Specifically, a movie would be the best bet to give this concept another chance. The condensed story of a film’s runtime would better serve the Shadow Dragons idea, as you could trim it down to what matters: villains (or even just one villain) created out of the overuse of the Dragon Balls to clean up after other villains. 

 

 

 

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