I have no problem with Goku, in fact, I really like him. I want to update this before I get someone to send me angry emails and pictures of their concept for Kakarot turning into Super Saiyan 5. What I don’t like are static characters which is where Goku has been for a while is. Too popular a character to retire, and so he has to learn the same lessons repeatedly while getting prettier transformations to make new toys.
While I love Dragon Ball in every form, my favorite anime series is Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. It has an arch; things move so fast, characters learn their lessons and the ending brings it together beautifully. Dragon Ball has had four different endings so far, over a dozen movies, and now Dragon Ball Super is getting its own movies that populate that particular continuity.
They’ve been great so far, and Dragon Ball Super: Broly was a visually stunning film that recaptured much of the raw energy and creative combat that captivated so many of us when we watched DBZ as teenagers. But Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero? We’re getting into very, very exciting territory here.
If you didn’t already know, the anime movie Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is finally pumping the pauses on the universal ascension of the Saiyans, which culminated in the Universal Tournament arc where Goku used the Ultra Instinct technique to become the faithful savior of universe 11, jiren. The manga goes even further than that, as Goku finally learns to master Ultra Instinct and Vegeta unleashes the power of the gods with his own transformation Ultra Ego.
Time to stream: Dragon Ball Super: Watch Super Hero
This is all great, thematically many of these transformations suit these characters, especially Vegeta who brings out his destructive side and takes advantage of his Saiyan pride. But both the anime and the manga suffer from a similar problem, these characters have done this before.
Goku took advantage of his Saiyan pride to unlock the original Super Saiyan, a similar process unleashed Super Saiyan 4 in both Goku and Vegeta. Super Saiyan God took advantage of the Saiyan legend and sold a million new red-haired toys in the process.
I’m under no illusions about what Dragon Ball is, it’s marketing for toys and figures, and that’s fine. Look, I’m a Pokémon fan too, sometimes you have to ride the waves of capitalism if you ever want to have fun. But for me personally, I’ve seen the same ebb and flow of power with the flagship Saiyans, same mastery of techniques and the occasional new hair color but very little growth. Goku doesn’t seem to learn much, even in the manga’s Moro arc who takes such pity on his opponent that he gave them a sensu bean and nearly destroyed the Earth.
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Now let’s switch gears. Dragon Ball is too big to end, we’ll get another season of the anime at some point and these characters will be in it. But if we just get another enemy that looks like Cell (or God forbids Cell or Frieza from being brought back to life), Goku fights them and wins, takes pity on them, then gets defeated for his kindness to a new one. and stronger form? Boo. That stinks. Get new material. Yes, they are pretty much all shonen stories, but Dragon Ball has so many great characters, ideas and a universe of knowledge to draw from.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero instead focuses on Goku’s son, Gohan. While Goku, Vegeta and Broly train on Beerus’ planet, the Red Ribbon army resurfaces after years of secrecy to kidnap Gohan’s daughter Pan. With no one else to help, Gohan and Piccolo face the Red Ribbon army’s newest threat, two androids named Gamma 1 and Gamma 2. No Goku, no Vegeta, and no room for the same story ad neaseum. I don’t want that exact story either, but only with Gohan can we do better here folks.
What we have here is a chance to pass the torch, which we should have gotten after the original Cell saga, but Goku’s popularity waned, leaving both Goku and Gohan to languish in character development, constantly fluttering between disappointing and sometimes frustratingly bad. choices . Gohan constantly stops training despite repeatedly learning that he could be the strongest in the universe, so is this finally the push he needs?
If, in my perfect world, Goku and Vegeta were put out to pasture and become the gods of their universe after a particularly challenging enemy, what would be the future? Would it be the highly intelligent Gohan, who would use his strength and his wits to explore the universe with his daughter, help people and maybe even team up with Trunks and the Capsule Corporation to create new technologies?
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Yes, I just described Dragon Ball GT, but okay. But that was another situation where Toei was so desperate to cling to Goku’s mind that they literally brought his character back to a child.
I hope Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is a sign that other stories can be told in a universe with so much potential. Characters like Gohan are the perfect eyes to explore it, and it’s about time our boy learns his lessons permanently. Character arcs just feel good, watching someone learn a lesson is satisfying and seeing the consequences over time? Perfecto, Bellissimo, can’t get enough.
I think it’s time for Goku to grow up, grow old and gracefully hand over the baton to his deserving son, before learning his own lessons for good. I have no doubt that Dragon Ball will continue, but will Broly’s flashy images be enough if they can only recycle the past? I’m looking forward to finding out exactly what the future of Dragon Ball might look like.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is now in theaters. For more anime fun, here are our guides to One Piece characters ranked and Naruto characters ranked.