Twenty years ago on November 19th, 1997. The final episode of Dragon Ball GT aired on Fuji TV. Marking the end of a historic over 10 year run of Dragon Ball on television in Japan. Interestingly enough outside of the video game, we would not be blessed with a new Dragonball animation. However, we did until well over 10 years after GT cancellation. So, no matter what the end of GT was.
We all know it was the end of an amazing era, but what is surprising to me is that. Ever since the end of GT, there has been so much misinformation and so many lies spread about what GT was.
These include lies about how it was created, how it ended, why it ended, Toriyama’s involvement and so much more. So as we look back on 20 years of GT’s cancellation and the end of the original run of the Dragon Ball anime.
On this edition of Dragon Ball, I will give you some in-depth facts and dig deep into the roots and the secrets of Dragon Ball GT.
This is not about whether or not you like or dislike GT. That’s not what we’re doing with this post. Instead, I’m going to give you the entirely true story of GT. Including the rise and the fall of Dragon Ball GT with a plethora of new information.
The fandom needs to be aware of all this when discussing Dragon Ball GT Canon. We’re going to hit you with some big Revelations on this post that many folks had no idea about. Also, to destroy many of the pieces of misinformation that have plagued this series.
Unlike most of Dragonball and Dragonball Z. Dragonball GT was not adapted from Akira Toriyama’s manga.
Dragon Ball GT Manga and Dragon Ball Z Manga
But ironically enough, the story of GT begins with the manga everything goes back to manga.
On May 23rd, 1995, after 11 years of being a publication. Akira Toriyama’s Original Dragon Ball Manga came to an end.
With the Final Chapter which featured a 10-year time skip for the defeat of Majin Buu, where Goku and Uub. The Reincarnation of Uub would meet up and would fly altogether and that would be the end of the story of Dragon Ball.
This event was culturally significant, not just for Dragon Ball before Japan. Toriyama had been writing manga pretty much non-stop since the late 70s and that’s in addition to working on video games.
While working on other projects. He had been writing Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump Non-Stop. Obversely, the man needed a break, and thus he chose to end his super popular Dragon Ball Manga.
One of the biggest loads of crap that I’ve seen people actually saying is that. Toriyama created the character of Uub and Bra off in the manga for GT.
That is complete nonsense. Dragon Ball GT would not even be an idea until several months later. Dragon Ball GT would not premiere on television until February 7th, 1996.
Those characters were created by Toriyama to end the manga and he had no plans of continuing the story at the time. However, the issue was that Dragon Ball had become such a huge hit at the time.
It was viral and got lots of mainstream popularity for 10 years, that the staff from Toei Fuji TV Bandai. They all wanted the Dragon Ball animated to continue in that golden time slot of 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights. Even after the manga and is serialization.
Dragon Ball GT Characters
So, sometime in the fall, the producers of the anime knew something. They knew that the Dragon Ball Z portion of the story was almost over and they pitched the idea to Toriyama himself. And the editorial staff over at weekly-shonen-jump about creating a new anime.
That would be set during the 10-year time skip in between the fight with Majin Buu and the end of Dragon Ball Z. Featuring the next generation of characters, that’s right. Dragon Ball GT was originally picked to be set where Dragon Ball super is set now.
Unfortunately, after some debate. It was decided by Toriyama and the staff at Jump magazine set it after the final chapter of the original manga. Therefore, the staff reduction on Dragon Ball GT began.
However, this time the staff at Toei did not have a manga to adapt into an anime. So they had no original story. So they had to create a story and this time there will be various different players involved in the creation of the story.
In the early days of Dragon Ball GT. Toriyama was absolutely involved in those meeting. If anybody tells you they don’t know what they’re talking about. Because not only did Toriyama come up with the name Dragon Ball GT. Which stood for Grand Touring or Grantor.
Toriyama of course, being a huge car Enthusiast. But not only that, but he also designed all of the initial character design for Dragon Ball GT. Including Vegeta’s mustache which ironically enough it was Toriyama’s daughter who made the suggestion to Toei.
They shaved Vegeta’s mustache later on in the series that was covered in Daizenshuu.
Toriyama also designs some of the early planets that Toei had come up with for the adventures of Goku, Pan, and Trunks.
DragonBall GT Conon
In a 2005 interview with Kozo Morishita talks about the early meeting with Toriyama about GT. The Toei staff would give Toriyama plot outline and he would check them off if he liked them. Then, he would approve of them. So, those who think that Toriyama had no involvement in GT is wrong.
Toriyama approved the initial story of Dragon Ball GT in the Dragon Ball GT Dragon boxes. There were interviews without Sushi Maya, and Kozo Morishita, where they both discuss the early days of GT. Also, they talk about the idea behind turning Goku into a kid again. Which was Toei’s idea as well as censoring the series around Goku, Pan, and Trunks?
This, of course,e would be to mirror. The roots of a Dragon Ball was original with Pan taking over the role of Bulma and Trunks taking the role of Yamcha.
Just to have another fighter there.
Turning Goku into a kid again was done for two reasons. Number one, because they wanted to give familiarity to Goku photo app. How it used to be at the beginning of the series. Number two, because the anime staff felt that at this point in the series.
Goku had grown far too strong, and they had to figure out a clever way to make him weaker. So, yes there was actually a power scaling reason as to why Goku was made into a kid again.
Of course, the other big reason is that they knew having a child protagonist would always draw in the kid. There’s a reason why in Dragon Ball every time that they have a kid grow up a new kid takes over.
Goku grew up, they introduced Gohan, Gohan grew up, then when Goku was dead they introduced Goten and Trunks.
All Dragon Ball GT Transformation
It’s been strategic storytelling in Japan to focus stories around young kids. That’s why you always see younger people kind of getting the spotlight for a little while. That’s why Goku became a kid again and Toriyama was okay with it.
Also, in the initial meeting with Kozo, they wanted to focus the story around the next generation of Fighters like.
Goten, Uub, Trunks, and Pan. But by the time the series was moving. It was determined by the creative team to keep the story focused on Goku.
Because the story of Dragon Ball is the story of the life of Goku. That’s at least there perspective.
Many years later in an interview, Toriyama stated that he felt that Dragon Ball GT was a grande Side Story.
And a lot of people took that quote as Toriyama essentially erase GT from any sort of continuity.
Saying “well, it doesn’t really it’s not my vision let’s just watch it together and enjoy”.
Which is pretty much what he said, but what you have to understand is that back in 1996.
When this show was first being planned. This was the legitimate anime only continuation of Dragon Ball before any of the stuff that we have now.
Dragon Ball GT was the sequel to Dragonball and Dragonball Z without question.
That’s how it was perceived that’s how it was produced. Now, we have a different situation in fact.
In the December issue of Jump Magazine of 1995. Toriyama unveiled his design for Gildo of GT.
It was his design and two months later in the February 96 issue. Which was published just a few weeks after Dragon Ball GT premiered on television?
Toriyama would make history and many people in this fandom land. The vast majority have no idea.
GT Final Season 1 Episode 1
No idea how significant this is now in this magazine.
Furthermore, Toriyama talks very candidly about the end of the manga and about the anime only continuation of GT.
Saying that he’s looking forward to seeing where the story is going to go. And he says that in his mind Dragon Ball had been over already for several months.
Nonetheless, just because of the staff and all the fans of Dragon Ball it would continue in anime form.
This issue of Jump magazine was so historic because it would be the last time that Toriyama would draw Goku for years.
The last time he would touchback the manga drawings.
That was kid Goku from GT. So, this was Toriyama’s goodbye after putting in so much time to the series.
Let’s be real, we don’t exactly know why Toriyama and Dragon Ball end when he did.
However, one theory that makes the most sense based on interviews, based on his schedule during the time.
As well as based on the way the manga was running is that Toriyama was burnt out. like I said earlier that he has been writing manga non-stop since the late 70s. He needed a break. He’s already a millionaire for many, many years. So, it wasn’t about the money.
The story was finished and he just handed it off the Toei to keep the Dragon Ball Spirit going with Dragon Ball GT.
On February 7th, 1996 Dragon Ball GT begins airing of Fuji TV. There were several production changes that were made to GT two differ from Dragon Ball Z.
The series was written by the Toei staff by Toriyama but it was approved by him for those early episodes.
Dragon Ball GT would run for 64 episodes until it ended November 19th, 1997.
We never know until a few years later after the series end.
Why GT Series Was Canceled?
But Dragon Ball GT was not originally supposed to be 64 episodes. It was presumably supposed to be even longer than that.
In the summer of 1997 Dragon Ball GT was canceled and the end of the series was wrapped up. They came up with an ending and they finished off the Arc with the Shadow dragons. That would be the end of Dragon Ball for several years.
However, the question is why did Dragon Ball GT gets canceled.? Was Dragon Ball GT not popular did the ratings go down was the lack of Toriyama involvement the reason why it went down.?
What was the real reason GT was canceled we’ll get to that right now?
The common reason that cited by many Dragon Ball GT fans of the canceled series is that the series just wasn’t popular. Also, the ratings had declined, that’s what many of us were told for many years.
However, when you do a lot of deeper digging in a lot more research into what was going on back then in Japan. You come to find some very interesting Revelation that kind of not being the case.
Therefore, the highest rated episode of Dragon Ball GT episode 2 is a 19.7 rating. While the lowest rated episode was 21 it did 9.6. Now one could sit there and they could Pond what happened here.
One of the biggest theory is that, fans who tuned the GT not want to see Goku become a kid again.
GT fans weren’t interested in that storyline. They weren’t interested in the Space Adventures and they just didn’t care about the initial three lines of Dragon Ball GT.
What I find really interesting about that is in the interview with Kozo Morishita. He confirms that even those on staff thought of that.
However, it was a bit underwhelming. Kozo Morishita says that they originally made 26 episodes worth of plot outline.
Right when they got done with the final script for episode 3. They realize that the travel episodes are not going to be that interesting.
No matter how long they keep doing them. So they had to quickly figure out a way to shift the series into being a little bit more like Dragon Ball Z.
For example with the machine mutants and Baby, and the characters that would be the villains for the series.
They also had Tsuyoshi designed a brand new transformation for Goku and that would have become Super Saiyan 4.
Toriyama did not Design This Tsuyoshi did with the idea being that they would make him into an adult again.
This was to temporarily to showcase the maximum power he had achieved in that form.
However, they wanted to emphasize his strength this was the idea from them.
Now, what I find interesting about the interview is that he talks about those early episodes not being that exciting.
Which was ironically enough the talk of the Dragon Ball fandom way back in the late ’90s.
Both in the Japanese and American side of the fandom folks back then on the internet in the early days of message boards.
They were discussing how those early GT episodes were boring to them. And this opinion about those early GT episodes was so influential, that FUNimation caught wind of it.
Which is why when they would go on to dub Dragon Ball GT. They would actually release the episodes out of order.
What they do is skip the first 16 episodes of GT and instead they included a brand new edited recap episode called a Grand Problem.
This would recap the first 16 episodes of GT because they thought that if a started with episode one.
Many fans would be bored from the get-go, so they started with episodes 16.
Later on, they would go back an episode of Dragon Ball GT called the Lost episodes.
Because even FUNimation themselves feared that people would not be interested in it.
GT Ratings In Japan
However, is that what happened in Japan. Well, there are a few factors that we have to look at here to examine what actually happened to GT.
The first thing you have to understand is that the idea of Dragon Ball GT ratings going down is kind of a myth.
When you look at the ratings for Dragon Ball GT from start to finish they fluctuate they go up they go down.
Then went back up again. Were the ratings close to Dragon Ball Z.? Absolutely not, but if you look back at the history of the entire franchise and not just the radio.
Including the manga sales, the decline in popularity of Dragon Ball did not begin GT. It started in the Buu arc.
Right around Dragon Ball Z episode 218, which is the highest rated episode of Dragon Ball Z.
After that, it was all downhill from there. There was an upward trend in the Cell Saga probably because of how popular Gohan had become.
To where people were interested in the stories passed the Cell Saga. But at some point in the Buu arc, Japanese fans checked out.
In terms of manga popularity, the most popular time during the Z portion of the run was the Frieza Saga.
For the anime, it was the Cell Saga but with both of them, the Buu arc began to decline slowly.
People still watched it they read it but it wasn’t quite the same.
So, the series had already been on the way down before GT even began. There’s one key thing that you’re probably wondering.
Why do you keep bringing up manga if there’s one thing that I want fans to understand about Dragon Ball is that.
Japan is not like everywhere else and there are several cultural differences between them and the West. Case in point, the importance of Manga is serious business. You have to understand that in Japan manga is significantly more culturally important then mainstreaming anime.
In some cases, especially back in 1997 the success of an anime is not predicated specifically on the rating.
The same thing goes for Dragon Ball Super. It’s the combination of merchandise and if there’s manga at sales as well.
Well, you see with Dragon Ball GT there was no Munga counterpart. That probably did make a difference as far as the popularity of GT at the time.
It’s really is a combination of merchandise sales and sponsorship. If Bandi is making money, Toei is making money. You see, it’s always a money situation. They making money, all the companies have to be together with Synergy for series to be successful.
And with GT, they did not have that same Synergy that they have with Dragon Ball Z.
Always remember, especially back in 1997 before all this technology that we have today.
That manga was the centerpiece of Japanese entertainment. Manga is where everything started and everything else is just extra.
For example movies and anime. Manga is the full form of entertainment in Japan.
Well, how about this, one for a shocker right around the end of Dragon Ball Z.
DBZ would not be the only major series to come to an end. Dragon Ball, You-You Hakusho, and Slam Dunk. Three of the biggest manga of the 90s came to an end at the same time. Which sold million. They all came to an end right around the same time.
As a result of three very popular Shonen manga coming to an end. Jump magazine went into a business slump. It wasn’t until the popularity of One Piece came that jump would come back into prominence several years later.
However, it really didn’t pick up steam until a few years later.