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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"It's Over 9000!" When Worldviews Collide

Anyone that's into Dragon Ball Z is well aware of the famous "It's over 9000!" quote. Heck, even those that don't dig anime have more than likely been exposed to this meme at one point or another because, well, the saying has become not only a large part of Dragon Ball lore but pop culture. But for those not in the know, a little background information.

It's over 9000 is a line of dialogue spoken by Vegeta after reading Goku's power level via scouter, a device used to calculate the reading of one's strength. After announcing the reading to his partner, Nappa, Vegeta removes his scouter and crushes it in frustration.

Labels. Categories. Class. You know, it really does suck but the sad fact is, we as human beings are always tossing one another into little boxes, placing limits on what we think people are capable of. What's worse is that we also do this to ourselves sometimes through a lack of confidence or we let the words of others stifle our growth. So what does a Saiyan prince crushing a scouter have to do with us? Well, when examined on a deeper level, everything.

Written by Derek Padula, "It's Over 9000!" When Worldviews Collide takes a look at the famous line through a microscope, dissects it and demonstrates just how much a sliver of dialogue can have a huge impact on our everyday lives, not just by means of being a popular internet meme, but by speaking volumes about our potential to reach higher levels.

I've been a fan of DBZ for over a decade now and I never dreamed that Vegeta's famous line could hold so much depth. Not only that, but the rivalry between Goku and Vegeta, one of the most famous in the history of anime is examined in detail in this book and shows just why the differences these two posses not only makes them the fascinating characters that they are, but ultimately better individuals for it.

DB as a whole is full of cool fight scenes and since Goku is the main character, there are more than a few instances where he shows up to save the heroes from getting their collective cans killed. But one of my all-time favorites has to be when he returns from the dead, races towards the battlefield to aid his friends in battle against Nappa and Vegeta, only to find that out of the six of them, Gohan and Krillin are all that remains. Goku, is understandably, quite angry at this sight and much to Vegeta and Nappa's disbelief, Goku unleashes some chi that's powerful enough to cause the very ground they are standing on to tremble.

All of Goku's friends know that he's insanely strong but since Vegetta and Nappa don't really know Goku the way they do, they are baffled by his new found strength, although this has more to do with their habit of classifying than anything else. See, Goku in their eyes is a "low class" Saiyan, not fit to be on the same battle plane as Vegetta and Nappa, who, conversely, are "elites." It is inconceivable for this low class Saiyan to posses such power. Nappa, who is clearly in denial says that the scouter's number can't be right and charges at Goku, who is quick to show the brute just how futile his "elite" strength is against him. The scenes in question can be viewed below.

Goku delivers some pretty heavy blows to Nappa, but the thing he bruised the most wasn't his body. It was his ego, his pride. Goku's over 8000/9000 power level is a big fat middle finger to everything that both Nappa and Vegeta believe in. There is no way a low level fighter like Goku should be able to match elite fighters like them, at least this is the belief they hold.

Now apply this situation to real life. How many times have you had someone underestimate you, second guess you, look at you through a scouter's lens and believe that they've got you pegged and that there isn't anymore to you than what they can see? This sort of thing has happened on more than one occasion to all of us. There is nothing quite like showing others that you are more than the sum of your parts, that your power level exceeds 9000.

This book also talks about the worldviews that Goku and Vegeta hold. Goku, despite being a fellow Saiyan like Vegetta and Nappa and thus, is an alien like many of the other beings in the DBZ world, was raised as an earthling so naturally, his worldview is vastly different from theirs. Unlike most Saiyans that are brash, cold and non sentimental, Goku is a kind, compassionate person that cares greatly for his family and friends. Growing up on Earth, Goku was also taught that his potential was limitless, a worldview that clashes greatly with what the Saiyans and other aliens seem to believe. The reason Vegeta and Nappa are so shocked at Goku's strength is because he was deemed a weakling and would never progress beyond that. Goku obviously showed them otherwise.

DBZ may be a fictional manga/anime series but if I took anything away from it while reading this book, it's the much needed reminder that it we posses boundless potential for growth and self improvement. If Goku is always pushing himself to be better and surpass himself, why can't we?

I picked this up as an e-book for under $4 and I loved it so much that I ordered the paperback off of Amazon. The book really is that good. If you're a DBZ fan, you really need to check out It's Over 9000! It will make you look at the series in a whole new light.

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