Plot: I'm going to be quite honest... the plot's rather simplistic in terms of storyline. However, the characters have strong mannerism; there's great emphasis on development. Basically, there's some dilemma being faced... people join forces and battle this threat; Also, the search for Dragon Balls places heroes and villains against one another; each having their own desires for obtaining the balls.
Story: The essence of the series is to convey a solid storyline, intertwined with sheer brutality... well-animated fighting... and emotional sequences... there's a commonly seen pattern of events building to climactic, pulse-pounding revelations.
Music: I can say one thing about English version music: it's bad. They're plain techno tracks that don't match the great emotion... with minor exceptions... most are lame. However, the DVD releases have included the original Japanese version music, which is a GREAT positive; those extravagant tracks are the sheer saving grace as the show's BGM. There's such emphasis placed on each strike of a limb, every twitching nerve; everything perfectly coincides. Bravo to Shunsuke Kikuchi for writing these brilliant pieces; especially the likes of "Kyoufu no Ginyu Tokusentai," and "Tenka Wakeme No Chou-Kessen"... examples that bring the scenes to life.
Battles: Some conflicts are rather long and tedious. I didn't enjoy the scuffle between Gohan and Cell, for example. That two-way Kamehameha was quite annoying. Nor was it enjoyable to witness the childishness of a candy battling Super Buu... that's rather lame, to say the least. However, there's enormously brutal instances littered with bone-cracking, back-breaking action that makes up for it. Personally, my favorites are, respectively:
1. Zarbon versus Vegeta - Zarbon transforms into a demonic beast and completely dominates Vegeta with a systematic ferocious head-butt combination, gripping choke holds, and a devastating pile-driver that sends Vegeta plummeting.
2. Recoome versus Vegeta, Goku, Gohan, and Krillin - Recoome tosses Vegeta like a rag doll, incapacitates Krillin with a single kick, and unleashes an array of blasts against Gohan before paralyzing him, and is in turn downed by Goku's swift hit.
3. Android 19 versus Vegeta and Goku - Android 19 takes the opportunity to savagely suck Goku's energy as a heart virus weakens the warrior... until Vegeta intervenes, proceeding to shred off 19's arms and relentlessly decapitate him.
4. Spopovich versus Videl - Videl's attack generates no effect on the muscle-bound Majin-inflicted Spopovich, who mutilates Videl using bone-smashing maneuvers.
Characters: They're all well-layered, exquisitely designed, and encompass radiant back-stories. Ultimately, my favorite characters are villains. In particular, Zarbon and Dodoria; they redefined the substance of villainy and are perfect plot devices due to butchering the Namekian warriors, elders, and children. In essence, they portray brutality; the more treacherous a character, the more I'd find them captivating. Their suggestion to Frieza to eliminate the Saiyan race pretty much sets the entire story in motion. They meet a grisly fate... which makes me love them even more. There's others I love, the likes of which include Cui, The Ginyu Force, Android 19, Spopovich, Dabura, Pui Pui, Nappa, Raditz, and Frieza... but Zarbon and Dodoria remain my favorites throughout the series run.
Sagas: The series is divided into three primary sagas: The Frieza debacle, the Cell scuffle, and the Buu era... all three have redeeming qualities... my least favorite's the Cell Games, where the main antagonist challenges the main protagonists to a tournament (I found this idea rather dull in comparison to the rest; it was less engrossing in terms of ferocity)... I was rather neutral for the Buu saga in terms of progression since the main antagonist was a bumbling goo monster... fine for children maybe, but for the serious viewer, not very appealing... Ultimately, I found the Frieza saga to be best, beginning with the Saiyan conflict between Raditz, Nappa and Vegeta... to the three-way guerrilla war making a battlefield of Namek, where Zarbon, Dodoria, and Cui take on Vegeta, who later joins forces with the protagonists to take down the Mercenary Squadron of the Ginyu Force... and the eventual rise of the Super Saiyan, Goku... who faces Lord Frieza to halt the tyrant's threat. This was Akira Toriyama's masterpiece; the epitome of the series at its zenith. Of course, like many series, the ending couldn't live up to prior expectations... it was rather low-key and without rising tension.
Moral: Everyone takes something away when they watch it; be it last impressions or a complete understanding of the piece... I have obtained, to my knowledge, the best viewing experience an anime can offer. Giving mankind such an honorable taste of morals, it remains unparalleled. The actions of subduing one's own greed and desires to find a common goal, and sometimes choosing to do things one would detest for the overall betterment makes this series genuinely riddled with moral overdose.
Overall: As a highlight to anime history, the series should be judged on all levels; not its eventual decline. The Frieza saga portrays Toriyama's vision as he had originally grafted it, without altering anything based on fan preference. It was the initial concept to which the series unfolded; The struggle of good versus evil portrays the wicked with emotion; Frieza has feelings of his own, and the audience has the chance to comprehend him; his fears and his agony; and come to an understanding with the decisions he made out of his own fear of someday meeting a warrior who'd surpass him. And from Goku's perspective; to give into one's anger and become the thing you hate or remain oblivious to cruelty... the definition of a hero's quest to stand against the evil that destroyed his race, his planet, and the very struggle to sustain the love he's gained and contain the silent thunder that boils within.