Over the weekend I decided it would be an excellent time to catch up on Dragonball Super. With the news of a new transformation on Twitter and enough episodes to binge watch, it was time to jump back into the universe Goku built. Little did I know I would find more interest in the story within the story than I would the actual fighting.
The Story Within A Story
It’s easy to think that Dragonball Super is just the continuation of the Z saga. Characters get stronger and fight bad guys. But the real story takes place outside of the fighting. It’s a story about friendship and what happens when you grow apart from your friends.
Goku, for all his training and superpowers, is an asshole. More specifically a narcissistic, asshole. He has devolved into a one-dimensional character, only caring about the next fight. What used to be a team activity has become a solo effort.
If you look at the Z roster, Goku is the only one sticking to the original script. Goten and Trunks live the life of your typical 10-year-olds, Krillin is a cop, Gohan is a professor, Tien is a kung-fu master with a dojo, Yamcha – well no one knows what Yamach does, Piccolo spends his days playing spades with Dende and Buu hangs with Satan eating candy. Hell, even Vegeta has begun to make the transition from Saiyan warrior to stay at home dad. Everyone has a life except Goku. It’s an interesting dynamic that has a few lessons.
The Power Of Focus
Goku’s success comes from his ability to focus on one thing and one thing only – Fighting. It’s the reason he’s the greatest fighter in the universe. Goku is proof that success comes from complete focus. Yes, one could say he is the greatest based on genetics, but that is only one part of the equation. The other is intense training and his focus on the goal of becoming the strongest. But his goals and methods of achieving them come at a cost.
The Cost of Focus
Since the beginning of Super, Goku has found one way or another annoy or alienate his friends. Unless it’s in the context of fighting, he really can’t relate to anyone. There’s a point in the series where Goku decides to train for the Tournament of Power. He wants to train with Vegeta who is waiting for the birth of his daughter. Goku, who isn’t trying to take ‘no’ for an answer, tries to convince him to leave. At one point he says something along the lines of ‘well you’re not physically having the baby so come on.” It’s quite unbelievable. I imagine telling my friend he shouldn’t see the birth of his child and hang out with me instead and him telling me to get the hell out of his face.
The show has found ways to make Goku’s reckless abandon to achieve his goal work in his favor. Every time Goku brings someone out of their lives to fight, the show makes it seem as if that person wanted to fight all along. Take Krillin, a person who has no business in the Tournament of Power, yet we find him and his wife there anyway. The same can go for Gohan, a family man who finds himself away from his family to fight. Hell, take any of the characters that aren’t Saiyans or retired, there is no way these people should be anywhere near a ring. Somehow Goku has brought them along for the ride. Not because he needs them. He doesn’t; they are just stepping stones for his own goals. And as the show goes on, his decisions become worse and worse—The Tournament of Power, bringing Frieza back to fight with the team; At some point, this is going to get someone killed, and when it does, he’ll just say “we can use the dragon balls to bring them back,” as if someone wants to go through that process in the first place.
Dragonball Super will continue to be what we know the series for – heroes on a continual quest to get stronger to defeat stronger villains. It’s a never-ending, but an often enjoyable cycle. But what if it wasn’t just about a pursuit of power? What if Goku’s desires had some consequences? Like Chichi leaving Goku after the tournament because she can no longer put up with his shit or his constant need to be stronger finally gets someone killed, and this time it’s permanent. The show is going to end with Goku becoming a god; it’s only logical conclusion. I just wish there was a price to pay for his “success”.