To say that Dragon Ball is pretty fantastic is an understatement—it’s really quite out there. Underneath the layers of fantasy, however, one will find Chinese cultural concepts as well as some science that has echoes in the very real, very modern world of today.
These are some of those Dragon Ball Z concepts and ideas that we’ve seen more or less come to life — including the closest matches we have with our technology today.
One of the coolest pieces of tech on Dragon Ball Z is the scouters sported by the likes of Vegeta to measure a being’s power levels (“It’s over 9000!”). While the whole idea of Ki that scouters measure is still up for debate, the idea of eye-level wearable tech is actually starting to come-to-the-fore. While iterations like Google Glass aren’t quite there yet, they’ve conceptually been proven to be possible and with more functionality than simply scanning a person.
What made Capsule Corp’s slew of products particularly cool was the idea that from something small you could poof and get something large and functional. In the series, we’ve seen capsules transform into homes and vehicles among other things.
In the real world, we’ve made leaps and bounds when it comes to miniaturization technology. Smartphones are essentially computers in your hands. Even cars are starting to get the miniaturization treatment with bonus points for automation.
Androids and Robots
Androids Sixteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen are some of the most popular antagonists in the show. These androids were powerful beings that proved capable of going toe to toe with super-powered heroes. In the 80s and early 90s, such concepts were the stuff of science fiction.
Nowadays, we’re starting to see leaps and bounds being made with robot technology. We now have robots that walk, talk, think, and even reason. Again, not quite there with the android integration, but it strongly seems to be heading in that direction.
Saiyan Space Pod
Over the course of many Dragon Ball Z episodes, we were tantalized and teased with the impending arrival of the Saiyans. They aimed to achieve this with their powerful and potent personal travel space pods. This concept lined up perfectly with the excitement of the first manned space flights in a time when it was only a dream reserved for professional astronauts.
Pods aren’t quite a thing, but privatized space programs are. They might cost an arm and a leg, but they certainly allow common folk to see the stars and maybe dream of being mighty Saiyans themselves someday.
The beauty of the science behind Dragon Ball Z isn’t so much that they’re starting to see analogs in real life. The beauty lies in the visionary imagination that dreamed up these things long before the real world caught up.
In a certain sense, they allow for some degree of connectedness and relatability with a series that is more fantasy than reality. That we are starting to see them come to life isn’t just a great nostalgic call back, it’s also a sign of the exciting times we now live in.