My son and I started watching Dragon Ball a few months back. This got me thinking about energy attacks and the overall power structure that was introduced in this series. Also, how it differs from what I use:
- I work with a magic system, which has a central energy source that exists within everything. Trained or untrained people can manipulate this energy to create spells that vary according to their will.
- Dragon Ball has an energy system, which has a central source called Chi (Ki). It exists in everything. Trained or untrained people can manipulate this energy to enhance their physical abilities and create various energy-based attacks. The power depends on skill and willpower.
They are very similar, but the big difference is that energy attacks in Dragon Ball are less complicated and varied. At least, on the surface. Nyx can hurl fire around in the form of balls, beams, waves, fists, and whatever else she imagines. Goku tends to have beams and balls for the most part. Nyx can change her element while Goku remains with his Chi/Ki energy. So, Nyx kind of wins on versatility, but Goku certainly takes the crown when it comes to pure power output. I’ll admit that the Dragon Ball characters are much more destructive than most of mine because of their energy and power level system.
The concept of energy blasts is rather strange too. We’re so used to there being a bigger explanation or a variety of visuals that these beams and orbs can all blend together. Yet, those who love the series can identify each one fairly easily. Usually by the hand gestures and poses, which is similar to a caster conjuring a spell. Again, we find ourselves seeing how similar these things are.
I think energy attacks like the Kamehameha and Destructo Disc are harder to do in a novel than more visual mediums. Having a small variety of beams go bouncing around can be both confusing and boring. This is why casters will have elemental attacks, illusions, defenses, shape-shifting, and any number of spells that can be described in detail. This paints a better picture using only words. With an energy blast, it can always be seen, but there isn’t as much vividness, especially if multiple characters are making the same types of attacks. This can work if you don’t want complicated action scenes, but it’s a problem for someone who uses them as a staple of their style.
As you can tell, I’m torn on the whole thing. I think for novels, a more detailed magic system works best. Graphic novels, movies, video games, and cartoons can work with a Dragon Ball type of energy system. Does seem like such a minor aspect that I’m trying to pull into a week long topic though.
So, what do other people think of this topic? For those who have no experience with it, what does it look like from the outside?