By Michael Pementel
One of the defining qualities that comes from watching shounen anime is that of inspiration – the spirit that excites us when seeing our favorite heroes give it their all against the forces of evil. Whether it’s Goku reaching Ultra Instinct against Jiren in Dragon Ball Super or Luffy going Gear Four while fighting Doflamingo in One Piece, the fight and motivation of these characters has been a remarkable source of emotion.
So, it’s only natural that we’d want to be like those heroes, right? Enter video games.
Gaming is a fascinating medium, one that allows players to immerse themselves into the narrative. By allowing players to control their favorite characters, anime games give fans the chance to use special attacks, fly through the air and battle monstrous enemies. Through this, video games and the anime they’re adapted from go hand-in-hand.
DONATE: Anime Heroes for Aussie Wildlife
For more than four decades, popular anime has found its way into video games. From the handful of Dragon Ball games on the Super Famicom to recent releases like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, One Piece: World Seeker and My Hero One’s Justice, anime has always been a part of gaming. These video game adaptations not only come with the opportunity to become the likes of Goku or Luffy but provide the chance for fans to explore and discover more about the worlds they love.
But video games can do more than that. In many cases, they can enhance the lore of the series they represent. For example, there have been a great deal of Dragon Ball video game installments that recapture exciting events from the show and build upon its solid foundation. Games like Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and its sequels stunned fans of the show who were watching on Toonami and set off a domino effect of anime fighters for years to come.
But the most intriguing titles among the Dragon Ball library are those that stray away from the tales we already know — and add depth to a not-so-canon extended universe. Take 2015’s Dragon Ball Xenoverse for example. The game offers players the chance to create their own character and battle alongside iconic Dragon Ball fighters in an entirely new storyline separate from the manga or anime.
and add depth to a not-so-canon extended universe. Take 2015’s Dragon Ball Xenoverse for example. The game offers players the chance to create their own character and battle alongside iconic Dragon Ball fighters in an entirely new storyline separate from the manga or anime.
These new inclusions created extra depth to the Dragon Ball universe, as the history of Future Trunks was blown open. Far from taking a risk with a property such as Dragon Ball, the Xenoverse titles are a brilliant idea for building upon the lore of the franchise.
In 2018, Dragon Ball FighterZ — a tag-team fighting game that also sports an original story — exploded onto the competitive scene. In combining iconic characters from the franchise with stunning cel-shaded graphics, Dragon Ball FighterZ made it easy to relive epic showdowns from the series. It even introduced a wholly original character, Android 21, who quickly became a favorite among fans.
But this kind of thing isn’t exclusive to Dragon Ball.
In My Hero’s One Justice, players can brawl it out with many of My Hero Academia’s awesome characters. The game’s story mode is centered around re-telling the events of season three but gives us a glimpse at what a future game based on the franchise could entail. With a sequel on the way later this year, the sky’s the limit on what comes next.
2020 will also see the release of the first Fairy Tail console game. From the trailer alone, it looks to be extremely promising for longtime fans. Taking place during the Grand Magic Games arc, players will be able to control a variety of characters across different guilds. Featuring missions based within the aforementioned arc, there are also plenty of side quests that function to extend the series’ original story in new directions. With the anime having recently wrapped up, it’ll be a great way to relive some of the series’ milestones while offering some unique content as well.
Even 2019’s One Piece: World Seeker provided new opportunities for fans of Luffy’s pirate crew from One Piece. The game sported an open world brimming with adventurous opportunity. It’s these types of games that really go the distance in making players feel like they’re a part of the world.
That brings us to the just-released Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, the latest from the team at BANDAI NAMCO. This re-telling of the legacy of Goku allows players to fly around, partake in side quests and meet new and familiar characters from the world of Dragon Ball.
As an open-world experience that also packs in the epic battles of the franchise, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks to be an extremely promising adaptation. With animation that feels ripped right out of the anime, players will get to embrace the full might of Goku, Gohan, Vegeta and a handful of others as they make their way from the Saiyans’ arrival to the defeat of Kid Buu.
With the examples above only the tip of the iceberg, there is clearly tremendous potential for what video games can do for anime. They can provide intriguing twists on original storylines or even introduce new depths to pre-established lore, all in turn enhancing what’s come before. Working together, anime and video games bounce off one another, creating endless possibilities for a series — even one long past its finale. But most importantly, they let us become the heroes we admire in a world we love.
Not a FunimationNow subscriber yet? Sign up now so you won’t miss out on all things anime.
Love creating content about anime? Pitch us a feature for Funimation Editorial!
Looking to chat about Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot? Head on over to the Funimation Forums.