The Fast & Furious franchise has always been about putting one’s ever-growing family first, and, due to that, those of us who’ve grown up watching anime can’t help but connect it to a staple of the animation genre: Dragon Ball Z. With Fast X just around the corner, it’s time to talk about how weirdly similar these two franchises are — despite Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) lack of glowing yellow hair, he has much more in common with Goku than you might expect.
What makes both of these franchises so fun and iconic is how they are not meant to be taken seriously. They have fully embraced the absurdity in their stories, and keep diving even deeper into it, despite their humble beginnings. So strap yourselves in and start focusing your chi because we’re about to dive in, too.
‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Dragon Ball Z’ Are All About — You Guessed It! — Family
How many times have we heard Dom say these words? It’s been more than two decades since The Fast and The Furious came out, the franchise’s very first movie, and he’s been making this point ever since. While he does have some immediate family, like his wife Letty (Michelle Rodríguez) and sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), his concept of this term is somewhat bigger. Like, a lot bigger, beginning with the inclusion of his inner circle of friends, meaning that anyone who proves loyalty is accepted into this select group. It’s impossible not to think of Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) immediately, but the list goes way beyond him, with Han (Sung Kang), Tej (Ludacris), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) just to name a few.
But we all know that Dom has a way of bringing people closer to him, and even some of his former opponents have joined his family. It doesn’t matter if a character is a villain or just an antagonist to him in the Fast & Furious franchise — everyone has a shot of securing a spot at the table for the Toretto’s Sunday barbecue. Such was the case with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Elena (Elsa Pataky), and even Dom’s actual brother, the estranged Toretto middle sibling Jakob (John Cena).
If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. In Dragon Ball Z, Goku’s family is also an ever-growing institution in that world. It began small, just him and his grandfather, Son Gohan. Later, it grew to encompass Bulma as they searched for the Dragon Balls together, then came Krillin and Master Roshi, and so on. He’s always been very good-natured and amicable, so making friends with Goku is easy.
It’s so easy, that he also shares Dom’s trait of forgiving his past enemies. One of the first and best examples is Piccolo. The Namek alien began his journey in the anime as an antagonist to Goku and nearly made our hero lose everything he had accomplished. Despite all that, when his son Gohan is born, Piccolo is the one who vows to protect the child from evil and teaches the boy a good deal in terms of martial arts and energy manipulation (what they call “chi”). Another great example of that is Vegeta, a Saiyan who is Goku’s nemesis. Their rivalry is never off, but they hold such respect for one another — both of them see each other as brothers. Vegeta even goes on to marry Bulma, who is almost like a big sister to Goku. We could go on: Android 17 also started off causing trouble and then went on to marry Krillin, Majin Boo was one of Dragon Ball Z‘s greatest villains, and then became one of its signature heroes and comic relief… It’s a pretty extensive list. Goku’s family doesn’t make Sunday barbecues like Dom’s, but, if it did, they’d need a very big table to fit everyone.
No One’s Ever Really Gone in ‘Fast and Furious’ or ‘Dragon Ball Z’
One of the best traits of Fast & Furious is that it’s not afraid to retcon itself. In F9, for example, it managed to do it twice in huge ways, bringing back Han and messing with the whole Toretto family tree by introducing Jakob out of the blue. (No complaints — we’re just glad to be along for this ride.) While in other franchises retcons can affect the audience’s experience and remove the weight of past events, in Fast & Furious we kind of expect it to happen all the time, by now — especially when it’s about bringing fan favorites back from the dead.
Han’s return was perhaps the biggest retcon, especially because the whole series timeline was rearranged so we could have two more movies with the whole squad. The retcon was simply because the audience took a liking to Han when he first appeared in Tokyo Drift, and the franchise didn’t want to keep the public from what they wanted. It wasn’t the only time someone was brought back from the dead, though. In Fast & Furious, the fourth movie in the franchise, Letty is also presumed dead, only to be revealed to be alive and well in the post-credits scene in Fast Five. We’ve also had Gisele be killed off, but, by now, who’s to say she’s dead, right? People keep coming back in weird ways…
That’s the same logic in Dragon Ball Z. There’s a complete disregard for death. Deceased characters are constantly coming back with no consistent explanation, with the anime constantly coming up with weird ways to justify bringing Goku back. Immortality is an easy premise of the show, what with the wish one gets from Shenron after collecting all the Dragon Balls, but still… We’ve seen Goku in the afterlife almost as many times as we’ve seen him alive.
There’s No Limit to Power in ‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Dragon Ball Z’
Both Fast & Furious and Dragon Ball Z come from humble beginnings. One was originally adapted from a Vibe magazine article about street racing in New York City, while the other started off as a weekly Manga in a magazine.
What no one would ever expect are the heights these two franchises eventually achieved not only in terms of popularity but also in the scope of their stories. With each new movie or season, the stakes get even higher than they already were. Fast & Furious began as a movie about illegal street racing and is now an action franchise with tons of espionage. Dragon Ball Z began as just Dragon Ball, with a simple story about found family and growing up, almost like a fable, and then grew into an epic and constant battle between good and evil.
Not just that, but their characters are also constantly “leveling up.” In The Fast and The Furious, we see some of the antics Dom can perform driving his 1970 Dodge, then we had the titular maneuver in Tokyo Drift, then people driving race cars on ice, and, in F9, we had cars in space. Cars. In space. So it is in Dragon Ball, too. We see Goku learning to master his abilities since childhood. He starts with the basics of the chi, then learns how to perform a Kamehameha, then how to achieve Super Saiyan powers, and he keeps leveling up from that. And, in both cases, so do the threats, so they have to keep up.
Of course, for us, none of that is a reason to discredit either of the franchises — quite the contrary. Those weird and fairly unbelievable traits are what make both Fast & Furious and Dragon Ball Z special, and why we keep going back to them.
Fast X races into theaters May 19. Check out the trailer below:
This content was originally published here.