Why Dragon Ball Z‘s Zarbon Is a More Sympathetic Villain Then You May Realize (and Why He’s My Hero)

Screw Vegeta, THIS is MY prince.
Source: Rhandi-Mask @ DeviantArt

So, I’m still on a bit of a Dragon Ball kick from the last article I wrote on the topic. Team Four Star recently released Episode 50 of DBZ: Abridged, I’ve been re-watching the original series when I can, and I just downloaded Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle on my tablet.

What’s more, the research that I did for that article turned up some details that got me doing deeper studies of the individual characters. Of particular interest to me was a villain that I was quite fond of – the elegant, but frightful Zarbon.

Now, I know I’m in a very small camp of people that actually like Zarbon. Most people I know balk at the idea of him being a respectable character. They hate the fact that he’s coded queer and seems very self-centered. But the information that I found was enough to make those traits more endearing (to me at least) and reaffirmed my fan status.

First, let’s start with Zarbon’s most dominant trait – the foppish antagonist stereotype. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this character in any medium, let alone anime. But, in the best stories (in my humble opinion), this trope of male characters acting more archetypically feminine is used to extenuate and/or cover up an important aspect of the character that will come into play later. The two that tend to come to mind when I think of this are James/Kojirō from Pokémon and Yuda from Fist of the North Star.

In James’ case, we often see him disguising himself as a woman a la Bugs Bunny and acting completely subservient to his lady partner in crime in Team Rocket Jessie/Musashi. However, it’s important to note that his cross-dressing is not portrayed as sexual, but as a means to an end; namely to complete whatever mission they are pursuing that day. As for his submissive nature, we are given multiple hints that he’s like this because he has legitimate feelings for Jessie and only wants to make her happy. In fact, the manga series The Electric Tale of Pikachu ends with the two tying the knot and a shot of a clearly pregnant Jessie (adorably enough, people who like to pair these two are often called “Rocket Shippers”).

As for Yuda, we see him constantly dressed in flamboyant garb and heavy make-up and surrounded by people who are forced to worship his beauty. We later learn that his evil actions are greatly influenced by the fact that he was utterly shown up by his former colleague Rei which started him down a path of self-hate. In other words, he surrounds himself with superficial beauty to hide the fact that he feels spiritually hideous.

From what I’ve seen I believe that a similar story is happening to Zarbon. Bare in mind that he is the prince of his home planet (the royal-looking cape and headdress aren’t just for show). As such, we can assume that he would be under great pressure to portray an image of grace and elegance to his people that would likely stick with him long after he was deposed by Frieza.

But even that doesn’t touch on the REALLY heartstring-tugging part. Take note of how differently Zarbon acts when he shifts to his “Monster Form.” He starts off respectable and honorable, but ends up displaying extreme machismo that errs on cruel barbarism, especially during the brutal headbutting sequence of his fight with Vegeta. It seems the transformation is psychological as well as physical. He even refers to the two forms as different sides of himself – “The Beauty” and “The Beast” respectively.

This is why I love Zarbon as a character so much. To be perfectly blunt, he’s using a coping mechanism to distance himself from a very cruel part of himself… a part of himself that I once saw in me in my youth.

I often catch flak for “not acting macho.” I enjoy body grooming (man-scaping if you will), I use make-up to hide scars and ache when I can, and I often will actively find ways to soften my image where ever possible. I do that because when I acted like the man others expected me to be, I was not proud of what I did.

I grew up in a rather ugly neighborhood with addicts, street toughs, and a terrible school (seriously, I don’t know another school with a 50% drop out rate). Of course, when you go to a high school whose principal was a football coach in your father’s day who encouraged his players to cripple the other team, you can’t rely on the grown-ups to help you against twisted people. My only option for survival was to be as mean or meaner than everyone else.

After I left public school to finish my studies at home and in college, I slowly started to realize overtime what I had done. I was short-tempered, pushed good people away, and was even a bit of a womanizer just to blend in with the scum I was living among. I took up the role of non-traditional male values as a way to distance myself from that life as well as to remind myself why I never want to be that man ever again.

To sum up the longest and most soul-bearing essay I have ever written, Zarbon, despite the acts of evil he committed under another man’s orders, is my hero because we share a common burden – we both err on the side of this…

… because we would sooner die than willingly become this…

… EVER. AGAIN.

Get Your Nails Did (And Other ‘Girly’ Activities That Guys Should Totally Get Into)

Source:toptenthings.com

“Oh, sure. YOU think I look silly, but at least I’m comfortable.”
Source: toptenthings.com

Gender roles, those social norms that we prescribe to others based on their sex, have been a topic of controversy for sometime but have been getting a great deal of attention recently. It was only a few months ago that the animated television show “SheZow” caused outrage among parents believing it was promoting a transgender agenda.

However, after considering the nature of this issue, one can’t help but think that perhaps we need to stop worrying so much about trying to fit men and women into perfect little boxes. In fact, there are a great deal of so-called “girly things” that men could benefit from.

Why Gender Roles Are Pointless

The nature of gender roles and whether they hold importance in modern society lends itself to one of the most polarizing debates of the current age. But the fact of the matter is this, gender roles were important back in the days when the men – with a biological predisposition to grow more muscle mass – were needed to work in the fields while the faster-maturing women were better suited to the emotional pressures of child-rearing.

These days, however, Transhumanist Technology is allowing us to surpass the limitations of our biology and place us on equal ground. Also, it’s hard ignore how horribly we are limited when following the codified law of our sex. Women seeking sexual and reproductive freedom are labeled as promiscuous and men are seen as lesser than a “real man” if they excel in anything other than what other men prescribe.

Humanity is quickly adapting – evolving past the need for gender roles. Soon, those who refuse the call of social evolution will find themselves falling behind and unable to cope or even operate properly. This is what happens to organisms that can’t evolve fast enough; they go extinct.

Now then, while there are certainly masculine themed activities that ladies can and should try, the sad truth is that this article is written by a predominantly male perspective and therefore lacks the right or the ability to speak accurately on it (The author wishes to encourage any female journalists reading this to supplement his article in this way). However, this means we can discuss what the guys can do in this particular way.

Paint Your Fingernails

It’s believed that the first synthetic nail polishes were developed in the 1920’s in order to conseal the dirt and grime that stubbornly refuses to leave the undersides of a ladies’ fingernails. That said, the archetypical male loves working and playing in the dirt. So why shouldn’t he make use of this tool that is openly available to everyone in the same manner?

Colored nail polish, especially the darker colors, are great at hiding the thick globs of goo that you have to scrape out from under your nails but lack the tools to do so effectively at the time. Colored nails also have the effect of drawing attention to certain aspects of the hand. For example, if you’re a man with large and powerful hands, nail polish can draw attention to your strong hands or soften them to make you look more gentle (you may have to experiment with colors and shade before you find the right effect).

Also, if you just don’t feel right flaunting technicolor fingertips, a clear topcoat can still protect your nails from being chipped and damaged by day to day work. That’s time saved filing down a nail so you don’t snag and ruin that favorite t-shirt of yours.

Shave More Than Just Your Beard

For all of those men looking to court a lady, know that many polls show that females don’t like hairy men or at least don’t appreciate hair in certain places.

The growing interest in male body grooming or “manscaping” has it’s basis in provable fact and statistics; people respond well to hair on the arms and legs of men complemented by light hair on the chest. However, hair on the back, underarms, stomach, and groin is generally repulsive. So it may behoove you to take the electric trimmer and straight razor to your bod.

Even if you aren’t concerned with looking your best, manscaping still has a hygienic advantage. Removing your body hair also destroys a potential home for odor-causing bacteria and hair dwelling bugs. So, stay clean and look good.

Wear A ‘Utilikilt’

Most men shy away from kilts because of their resemblance to a woman’s skirt, but the Scotsmen of the 16th century might have been onto something.

Medical science has uncovered a laundry list of health problems associated with wearing restrictive clothing like tight jeans up to and including infertility and digestive failure. So what better way to combat this with the least restrictive piece of menswear in history.

If you want to get in on the kilt craze, be sure to check out the folks at The Utilikilt Company. These modernized kilts run a little pricey but are built strong, intelligently designed, comfy, and will make the man concerned with image look plenty tougher. They also offer multiple styles for every occasion.

In Conclusion…

We live in a modern age where the idea of gender rolls is changing – possibly fading away all together. Much like we do with our laws, it’s time to re-evaluate what we call masculine and feminine. The Cult of The Macho is due for a revamp for the good of us all.