“It’s Over 9,000!”
When Worldviews Collide
Copyright © 2012, by Derek Padula
Written and published by Derek Padula in The United States of America, all rights reserved.
Library of Congress Cataloging In-Publication Data
Dragon Ball Z “It’s over 9,000!” when worldviews collide / Derek Padula
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Martial arts – Comic books, strips, etc. 2. Heroes. 3. Good and evil. 4. Imaginary wars and battles. 5. Ethics, ancient. 6. Spiritual
life – Buddhism. 7. Fantasy comic books, strips, etc. – Japan – 20th century – History and Criticism.
PN6790.J33 – P2 2012
741.5952 – 23
Notice of Rights
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or
The author has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information herein. However, the information contained in this
book is sold without warranty, either express or implied. Neither the author nor its dealers or distributors will be held liable for any
damages to be caused either directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.
Rather than indicate every occurrence of a trademarked name as such, this book uses the names only in an editorial fashion and to
the benefit of the trademark owner with no intention of infringement of the trademark.
Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Kai, Dragon Ball Online, and all other logos, character names, and distinc-
tive likenesses thereof are trademarks of TOEI ANIMATION, Akira Toriyama, BIRD STUDIO, SHUEISHA, FUNIMATION, NAMCO
BANDAI, ATARI, and all other respective license holders unmentioned. This book was not prepared, licensed, or endorsed by any
entity involved in creating or producing the Dragon Ball series. It is an independent, unofficial work that has no connection to the
official license and is written within fair use guidelines.
Cover Art Illustrations by Javier Secano.
Book Design by Kat Marriner.
Index by Mary Harper.
The Original “It’s Over 9,000!”
The Original “Over 9,000!” Was Really “Over 8,000!”
“Over 9,000!” of What?
Why Is Power Level Important?
“It’s Over 9,000!” in the Real World
The Perfect Catchphrase
Part 2 When Worldviews Collide: Goku versus Vegeta
2.1 Growth through Conflict
2.2 Vegeta’s Perspective - Through the Lens of a Scouter
2.2.1 Father Figures
2.2.2 Human Nature in Action
2.3 Goku’s Perspective - Earthlings and Inner Development
2.3.1 Believing Before Seeing
2.3.2 Dynamic and Broad Energy – Not Static
2.3.2 He Who Conquers Himself
2.4 Vegeta Clashes with Others
2.4.1 The Evolving Eyes of a Super Elite
2.4.2 Loss and Gain
2.5 Goku Changes Those around Him
2.5.1 Goku meets Raditz! The Violent Clash Begins! Raditz Dies!! Goku Dies!!
2.5.2 It’s Over 9,000?! Impossible!!
2.5.3 Minds and Bodies
2.5.4 The Super Saiya-jin Will
2.5.5 Broad Minded Vision and Narrow Minded Vision
2.5.6 History Repeats Itself
2.6 Vegeta is Multifaceted
2.6.1 Blue, Red, and Gold
2.6.2 Vegeta Awakens!
2.6.3 “It’s Over 9,000!” Points to our own Humanity
2.6.4 Dragon Ball Inspires
2.7 The 3 Big Takeaways
Part 3 A Thin Slice of Dragon Ball
Transformation through Language
Symbols and Stories
Micro and Macro
Only a Thin Slice
Next Steps …
Buy The Dao of Dragon Ball
Read The Dao of Dragon Ball Blog
Write to the Author
About the Author
Over 19 Resources!
Dragon Ball Info
For the role of Vegeta I’m lucky that I didn’t have to go through an audition like I normally do. I was asked
directly to do his voice and I am very thankful for that.
However, there was this issue where whenever Goku fought with an enemy character, usually that character
died after 4 weeks. So I thought ‘Okay, I guess this guy is gonna die in a few weeks too,’ but I figured it would
be better to give this character my best shot, to breathe life into Vegeta and make him the ultimate villain.
In Japanese there are many different ways of saying “I” and “You” (similar to saying thou, thee, or ye in Eng-
lish, but Japanese has way more and each of them are used in different situations), and I was careful not to
use vulgar words that would make the character sound like some average villain. I intentionally used words
that would sound more sophisticated yet intimidating, as a consummate villain should.
As for “Over 9,000!”, to be honest, as a Japanese I’m not so sure what it is about that line that people like so
much and why it became so popular, hahaha. In fact, I would have loved for someone to explain it to me like
Derek does in this e-book.
But still, even though it was not my intention for that line to get so popular, me being the voice of that charac-
ter, it makes me very happy that people enjoyed it so much.
I feel very honored and lucky that I had the chance to play Vegeta, a character that is loved by so many people
around the world.
I am very grateful for that.
The Dragon Ball Z internet phenomenon known as “It’s Over 9,000!” went viral with over 7 million views on
YouTube in the late 2000’s. Dragon Ball Z “It’s Over 9,000!” When Worldviews Collide will explain the meaning
behind “It’s Over 9,000!”, its significant pop cultural implications in mass media, and provide deep insights
into what made the scene it’s based on so important.
If you have heard the term “It’s Over 9,000!” on the Internet or from somebody saying it in person, you may
have laughed, been a bit confused, or started saying it yourself! In any case I can tell you with confidence that
you’re still missing a lot of the story. In this e-book you’ll learn exactly why “It’s Over 9,000!” became so popu-
lar and you’ll discover what happens between two Saiya-jins when worldviews collide.
In Part 1 you will learn what “It’s Over 9,000!” is, where it originated, and how it became so popular in the
modern pop cultural landscape.
When Worldviews Collide: Goku versus Vegeta
Underlying themes prevalent in the Dragon Ball Z series make their debut in a meme. It is through scenes
of conflict in characters that these themes come to life and engage the viewer. Two of the most prominent
characters in the series, Goku and Vegeta, will be examined to show how their epic rivalry is a catalyst for
A Thin Slice of Dragon Ball
If “It’s Over 9,000!” represents a single letter of this evolving pop cultural language, than the Dragon Ball se-
ries embodies this unique alphabet. The significance lies in the community this creates, a language that is now
understood by millions of fans that contribute to the identity of the collective and the individual.
The “It’s Over 9,000!” phenomenon is thus a microcosm of the epic Dragon Ball phenomenon. This e-book is
just one of an even richer collection of stories that are further revealed in The Dao of Dragon Ball book.
The journey of “Over 9,000” miles starts with a single turn of the page.
series reached its peak in Japan from 1990 to 1996 and in the United States from 1999 to 2003. This e-book
gives an inside look into how one viewer transformed a typical Dragon Ball Z episode into a shorter clip that
exploded in popularity on YouTube, receiving over 7 million views. The content of this video inspired a com-
mon pop culture Internet joke, or meme, called “It’s over 9,000!” that spread around the world.
In episode 21 of Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta and Nappa, the two Saiya-jin aliens, have invaded Earth seeking the
dragon balls so that they can have their wish for immortality granted by Shenron (Chinese: Shenlong, 神龍),
the God Dragon. Goku, the hero of the series, stands in their way, and they want to determine Goku’s battle
power before they fight.
Vegeta uses his “Scouter” (Japanese: Sukautā, スカウター), an advanced energy-detecting device that tracks
the number of an opponent’s battle power level. Vegeta watches Goku’s number increase rapidly as it rises up
to power level 8,000 and then to over 9,000. Vegeta screams, “It’s over 9,000!” and breaks his Scouter in rage.
Over nine years after its premiere in the United States, a humorously edited video of this segment was placed
on YouTube and went viral. Through social media, “It’s over 9,000!” became a popular meme and is now a
global Internet term that people use to describe anything of high quantity.
This e-book explains the “It’s over 9,000!” phenomenon.
The Original “It’s Over 9,000!”
To better understand the “It’s over 9,000!” phenomenon, we have to review the source material that was used
to create it. Namely, the episode that the clip was taken from.
In the original
already caused great damage. Up to this point in time Goku has been training in the afterlife with the celestial
being, North Kaiō. After hastily returning to Earth, Goku speeds toward the battleground hoping that he can
make it in time.
When Goku arrives, he sees that many of his allies and lifelong friends have already died in the battle, and he
is extremely upset at the news. He “powers up” with anger and prepares for the fight.
The environment around Goku begins to react to his incredible energy. Vegeta’s Scouter picks up on Goku’s
The original scene of the American English dub occurs in episode 21 of the first season of DBZ, first aired on
April 26, 1997. Here is the dialogue:
“GREAAAAAAARRRGGHHH!” Powers up.
“Power level’s … 8,000. Huh? Now, it’s over nine.”
“YEAAAAAAGHHH!” Finishes powering up. The rocks levitating in the air fall
Takes the Scouter off his head. “It’s over 9,000!” Crushes the Scouter in his hand.
That’s the entire scene. It was just one of many in the 508 episodes of the Dragon Ball series and warranted no
special attention or recognition.
However, nine years later, an edited version was created by a YouTube user, Kajetokun, and posted on Octo-
ber 17, 2006, called “9000!! NINE THOUSAAAAANDD!” This innocuous 30-second clip was looped continuous-
ly, chopped up, slowed down, sped up, and made into a highly comedic two-and-a-half-minute-long video.
The original post on YouTube received over 5 million views as of June 28, 2009, and continued to spread glob-
During the rise of the meme’s popularity, the Japanator website interviewed Kajetokun on April 30, 2008.
Kajetokun said, “I had no idea it was going to get this big. Really, it was just a small little something I made
as an inside joke for my friends. My friend Patrick posted it on [4Chan.org’s] /b/, and then I ended up having,
like, 20,000 views the next day. Then Scott from VGcats.com front page linked [to] my video, and I woke up to
200,000 views.” It started to rise considerably from that point on.
As a result of its popularity, a previously nonexistent term became a searchable phrase. According to Google
Trends, search queries in the last quarter of 2008 for the shortened term “over 9000” rose steeply, especially
during the week of September 22.
The video was subsequently remixed, spoofed, and transformed by others, and it took on a life of its own.
Live-action scenes were filmed, 3D models were rendered, and random combinations of different versions
from various sources have been thrown together all over the Web.
See the Resources page at the end of this e-book for links to the videos.
the meme connected with non–Dragon Ball Z viewers in the humorous way that it was replicated, which was a
significant reason why it caught on like wildfire.
This creative act of sharing through social media resulted in something quite interesting. The video reached a
new demographic of Internet-savvy users previously unfamiliar with Japanese anime, introducing Dragon Ball
Z to millions more.
The Original “Over 9,000!” Was Really “Over 8,000!”
For most casual viewers unfamiliar with the Japanese version, they would have no idea that the term “Over
9,000!” was wrong to begin with. But it was! In the original Japanese anime, manga, and newly “refreshed”
version of Dragon Ball Z (known as Dragon Ball Kai) Goku’s power level was specifically stated as being “Over
(aired June 21, 2009), the scene proceeds as follows:
“YEAAAAAARRRRGGHHHH!” Powers up.
“Battle power is 7,000 … 8,000 … Impossible!”
“YEARGHHH!” Finishes powering up. The rocks levitating in the air fall down and
Takes the Scouter off his head. “It’s over 8,000!” Crushes the Scouter in his hand.
Why the difference in translation for the English anime?
The common answer available on the Internet is that the anime was dubbed in English as “9,000” because the
sound of “nine” worked better with Vegeta’s mouth movements than “eight.” This seems plausible because
dubbing companies frequently replace lines with ones they feel are more appropriate or synchronize better
Kakarotto (Kakarot in the FUNimation dub) is Goku’s original Saiya-jin name before being adopted
However, if you look at the actual animation, this isn’t so plausible. The mouth movements are simple and
both “eight” and “nine” could have been vocalized by the shape of Vegeta’s mouth. So it is unclear why the
change was made, and it could have possibly just been a mistake.
What is interesting is that years later, in 2004, during a redubbing of Dragon Ball Z’s early episodes, the sup-
posed mistake was replicated. FUNimation had years of experience with the series at this point and should
have been fully aware of the original Japanese phrase, voiced by Ryo Horikawa. Nevertheless, their Ultimate
Uncut Edition DVDs repeated the “It’s over 9,000!” line with their own cast, with Vegeta played by Christopher
Sabat. But fans were not as happy with this rendition as they were with the video clip used by Kajetokun in
the original video, where Vegeta was played by Brian Drummond of the Ocean Group voice acting company
from Canada. The reason most often given by fans for this preference is that they prefer Drummond’s over-
the-top extension of “nine thousaaaaandd.” Similarly edited “It’s over 9,000!” clips using the FUNimation
actors were not as popular.
As time passed and the fandom for “It’s over 9,000!” grew, FUNimation became very familiar with the meme.
They capitalized on it to promote their Dragon Box releases of the Dragon Ball Z series in 2009. The promo-
tional trailer was narrated by Christopher Sabat as Vegeta, who said, “Can you feel the Dragon Box’s power?
It’s over 9,000!”
Because Dragon Ball kept being rereleased in different formats, in 2010, FUNimation redubbed the scene
in English once again for the “refreshed” Dragon Ball Z Kai. But this time they dubbed two versions. In the
televised version, Vegeta said “It’s over 9,000!” while on the uncut DVDs he said “It’s over 8,000!” FUNima-
tion was well aware of the meme’s popularity in society and wanted the public to be happy, so they redubbed
it incorrectly on purpose because it was so popularly accepted to be “It’s over 9,000!” rather than “It’s over
8,000!” The DVD buyers were a smaller and more hard-core audience that FUNimation believed would prefer
the proper “It’s over 8,000!” Yet this caused a problem, as some of the fans actually wanted it to be “It’s over
9,000!” because of their adoration for the meme.
This means that FUNimation, one of the largest anime and voice-over companies in the world, changed the
way they did business in order to ride the wave of the “It’s over 9,000!” meme’s success. They were influenced
by a Dragon Ball Internet meme created by a single person’s video that went viral.
The fact that FUNimation successfully dubbed the line as “It’s over 8,000!” shatters the argument that it was
impossible for Vegeta to say “8,000” because of the mouth movements. They could have done it before in the
original dub, but if they had, then we wouldn’t have the term “It’s over 9,000!” today!
What does “It’s over 9,000!” even mean? Nine thousand of what?
If you watch the video or read the manga, you’ll see a unique-looking device attached to the side of Vegeta’s
head, called the Scouter. The Saiya-jin use the Scouter to detect and quantify a living being’s combined physi-
cal, emotional, and spiritual energy at a given time.
Scouters are used immediately after landing on a planet to scout the locations of possible threats or targets
of attack, such as powerful warriors or cities filled with people. How and what type of energy frequency it ana-
lyzes is unspecified, as is the unit of measurement. Supposedly it detects a life frequency, known in Japanese
as ki, and translates this into a number, which the Dragon Ball warriors in the original Japanese refer to as
sentō-ryoku (戦闘力). The term can be translated into English as “combat power,” “fighting strength,” “battle
power” or “power level.”
This ki (気, pronounced “kee”) is a Japanese term for a universal life force believed to be found in all beings,
and one that can be developed and strengthened through training. In East Asian martial arts and medical
theories, ki is found in every cell of the untold billions within the body, as well as in the combined life experi-
ence and spiritual energy of the being. The greater the life force (ki), the greater the power level.
can feel or see it. Through training in special exercise and meditation regimens, it is generally believed that
a person can become increasingly sensitive to ki. It has electric, warm, magnetic qualities, described as heat,
wind, or perceived as light, and it can push, pull, or flow like water. It is also related to a person’s inner spirit
and mood. In this sense, ki is a material substance, a life force, and an energy form all in one.
All beings in Dragon Ball have ki and it is simply a matter of training hard to develop it. After a certain point of
training, this energy can be projected out of the body as a material weapon or in various other ways, such as
self powered flight.
For reference, in Dragon Ball, the overweight yet physically active farmer at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z
had a power level of 5 before being killed by Goku’s brother, Raditz, who had a power level of approximately
Why Is Power Level Important?
strength of their own children at birth so as to classify them within their caste-based social order. Since they
are a warrior race, this is how they determine who is valuable and who is not.
and sent off to another planet because of his low power level. Vegeta is the royal prince and strongest of his
race, and Nappa is the general of the entire Saiya-jin army. The fact that Goku, a low-caste Saiya-jin, now has
a power level over 8,000 is a slap in the face to Vegeta and Nappa.
Nappa has a power level of 4,000 and Vegeta has a power level of 18,000. This is why Nappa freaks out while
Goku remains confident. It’s why Vegeta is so upset and screams “It’s over 8,000!” and then smashes his
Scouter. Vegeta isn’t afraid, he’s just especially surprised and annoyed by Goku’s rapid growth, because less
than a year earlier, Goku had a power level of only 334 while fighting against Raditz. And how could a low-
class Saiya-jin have such power? Goku’s incredible change was a result of his training in the afterlife with
North Kaiō, master of the northern quadrant of the universe.
In Dragon Ball Kai, Nappa gets beaten down and punched into a small mountain by Goku. He yells, “Damn you
to Hell!” to which Goku calmly responds, “I see now. As expected, you’re not that tough.” Nappa shouts back,
“I’m an elite warrior from a noble family! I won’t allow some low-class trash like you to make fun of nobility
like me! You’re gonna’ pay! I’ll freakin’ kill you!” Nappa’s self image and pride are threatened by Goku’s exis-
tence, and in order to validate himself, Nappa has to kill this “low-class trash.” In Dragon Ball Z, a warrior’s
pride becomes a matter of life and death.
End of Part 1 Sample
the scene between Goku and Vegeta was the result of their different worldviews colliding, the prelude to an
epic rivalry, and the fundamental source of their growth.