“Work hard, study well and eat and sleep plenty. That’s the Turtle Hermit way to learn.”
Master Roshi, Dragon Ball
The Miraculous Conclusion! Farewell, Goku! Until We Meet Again!!
So we have finally made it! After 8 weeks we finally come to the end of my journey looking back through Dragon Ball Super and trying to find some meaning behind the relationship between Gods and Mortals. I mean it’s mainly been an excuse for me to re-watch the whole show and squee about the highlights but I’ll keep the pretence up for just one last week 😉 .
So the final score for who was the better team in my analysis was:
Mortals: 4 – Gods: 1
It was pretty much a one sided battle throughout with the Gods mainly coming across as lazy, uninterested, manipulative and childish dickheads, whereas our heroes always seemed to be pushing themselves to be/do better and to transcend what they thought they were capable of. This is where we find what I believe is the main message of Dragon Ball Super, maybe even all of Dragon Ball in general.
What is Given VS What is Earned
Yes I believe that the main theme running through perhaps all of Dragon Ball is that no matter the circumstances of your birth/origin there is nothing stopping you reaching the highest height and challenging your “superiors”. Another way to put this title I suppose could be “Birthright VS Struggle” and we’ll get into why below.
From the very beginning Goku is presented to us as a country bumpkin. Raised in the mountains by his Grandfather and with no education in anything other than punching things, Goku has always been judged to be a “clown” or just plain old dumb. There was even a period in Dragon Ball where Goku couldn’t tell the difference between boys and girls, which gave us an… awkward moment where Goku freaks out that Bulma’s balls have been “lost”… don’t ask. The point is, Goku has always been shown to be pretty dumb.
Yet time and time again Goku surpasses the expectations of everyone around him. Especially those who think they are Goku’s superior in some way or another, but this goes back even before Goku was raised on that mountain by Grandpa Gohan. You see we now have a better look at Goku’s origins on his home planet of Vegeta, before it was destroyed by Freeza.
In the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie we are shown how Goku escapes the destruction of his homeworld. You see Goku is sent offworld by his parents, Bardock and Gine, because they suspect that Freeza is about to wipe them all out. But it is what Bardock says before launching young Kakarrot (Goku) off into space that grabbed me. When Gine asks Bardock why he’s doing all this as it’s “not like a Saiyan man to care about his children”, Bardock replies.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m constantly fighting, destroying and I’d actually like to save something for once. Especially someone who was judged to be a lower class warrior, like my Kakarrot”
Bardock, Dragon Ball Super: Broly
“Some who was judged to be a lower class warrior”, even at birth Goku has had his work cut out for him and this “lower class” thing would pop up again and again. Goku was never expected to be great but that was ok, he was just going to have to prove them all wrong.
During the beginning of that movie we are shown two parallel kings, King Vegeta of the Saiyans and King Cold of the… Cold Force. King Vegeta is so proud that his son (the prince) has tremendous latent battle power and looks forward to seeing him become the next King Vegeta. The King however is infuriated to discover that a lower class baby (Broly) is sharing a nursery with his son and when he finds out that this baby has even greater battle power than the Prince he has the baby exiled. It is his son, the Prince, that should be at the top.
King Cold on the other hand is a retiring space emperor who is letting his son Freeza take over from him. Now I’ve already covered a lot of Freeza’s story in a previous post so the only real thing I need to add here is that during Goku and Freezas original fight on Namek, Freeza reveals he has never trained a day in his life. He didn’t need to, why should he? He’s the strongest there is, he doesn’t need to life a finger.
So we have two royal children who deserve to be the best because… their dad was a king?
Freeza’s arrogance in his abilities would eventually result in his death (both of them) because he never questioned his place in the universe, his father was the strongest in the universe and now he is stronger than his father so therefore no-one can stand in his way.
Then we have our other Prince, Vegeta. When Vegeta first arrives on the scene as a villain at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, practically every other sentence is about how “elite” he is because he’s the Prince of all Saiyans! Over the years his inferiority complex towards Goku would lessen slightly but even now Vegeta talks about how he can’t let Goku overtake him because he is the Prince. Now I have written about this before in a seperate post to all this madness so I’ll some it up quickly.
Eventually after living on Earth and raising a family, Vegeta comes to accept Kakarrot as a friend (though he’ll never say it out loud) and they have a mutual respect for each others abilities. Vegeta never quite lets go of the pride that comes with being “The Prince” but he has accepted that he and Goku are on an even playing field (just don’t tell Goku).
After Vegeta is beaten, during his first visit to Earth, his pride takes a tremendous knock and he vows revenge. But it isn’t long until he has to team up with our heroes against Freeza and just when Vegeta is convinced that it is he that will fulfil the ancient prophecy of the “Super Saiyan”, Goku comes along and beats him to the punch.
Yes a lower class moron was the one that would attain the title of “Super Saiyan” first and boy did that sting for Vegeta. It was his right as the Prince to be the strongest.
But this is the thing that Goku does best, he may be looked down on by those around him but he doesn’t care. He works hard to break through his own limits because he knows he has them and that is the important distinction. Goku was never fed the “you are the best” rhetoric that tainted Vegeta and eventually proved the downfall of Freeza. Goku knows he has limits and that’s the fun part to him, if he has limits then he can break them and keep pushing himself further.
Then after some messing around we get to Beerus and the Gods/Angels/Zenos of the multiverse that Goku needs to prove himself to this time around. Right from the start Beerus is shown to be a lazy, greedy, childish God who neglects his duty to the universe. Apparently bored of his duties, Beerus is happy when Goku shows him that there are mortals out there who could one day be his rival.
Now Beerus is a bit different to Freeza and Vegeta up there. As far as we know Beerus isn’t royalty and he almost certainly earned the title of God of Destruction.
We are shown in the Tournament of Power that people are chosen to be a God because in said tournament, Toppo accepts his position and transforms. Now the important thing I want to note here is that Toppo was very strong before he accepted his new “job” but Freeza had him easily beaten, that is until he accepts his new divine role. After transforming, Freeza can no longer land a hit on Toppo so it is pretty safe to assume that once you accept the role you gain a vast amount of power. A perk of the job I guess.
The point is, no matter how strong Beerus was before he became a God it is (almost) undeniable that he got a massive power boost from it. We also know that Beerus has had this job for millions of years so he has had plenty of time to get used to this power, and apparently also bored by it. Beerus squanders his position in the cosmos and seeing himself at the top of the pyramid, everyone is literally beneath him. He kills for bad manners, he kills for bad food and he kills when he throws a temper tantrum.
And then comes Goku. This puny Earth dweller is able to work with his friends to rise to a new divine plain and challenge the so called God. And while Goku doesn’t outright beat Beerus, he does show the God that mortals are capable of a lot more than he believed and the Earth is spared.
Now this is another important point to bring up. Goku always works with or for his friends. From the beginning of Super, Goku is raised up to divine ki by his friends and it is those same friends and family that push Goku to achieve Ultra Instinct in the Tournament of Power four arcs later. I suppose the message remains the same, what is given vs what is earned, but what is an important addendum is that you don’t have to struggle on your own. Jiren even acknowledges this when he is beaten at the finale of the tournament. Trust is Universe 7’s power.
Anyway, let’s get back on track.
The next major villain is our friend Zamasu and his “Zero Mortal Plan” and where to begin. Zamasu is born as a lower God and not only sees himself as above mortal life, but he believes that mortal life is worthless. They are a plague on the Multiverse and they should all be wiped out… So he does just that.
I think Zamasu is a great example of what happens when ultimate power goes unchallenged for to long. Beerus eventually came around after seeing what mortals could be capable of whereas when Zamasu sees what Goku is capable of, he snaps and decides that everyone like Goku should die.
And again, despite all of Zamasu’s boasting about being a “Divine, Immortal God” and trying to lay his justice upon the universe. It is Goku and his mortal companions that show that even when the higher ups use cheats and tricks to rise higher (Zamasu fuses with an alternate, evil Goku to boost his power), it is Goku and Vegeta’s determination to be the best that kept them matching him every step.
And just to ram home the “togetherness” I brought up earlier, the thing that ultimately defeats Zamasu (ish) is the human races’ faith in Trunks to win the day and save them.
Then in the Tournament of the Power, Goku shows once and for all that his hard work and determination has pushed him right to the top and beyond almost all of his superiors.
Ultra instinct is a technique that can take millennia to achieve, let along master, yet Goku achieves the form three times in forty two minutes. This is a perfect example of complacency in regards to privilege, why should you aim higher when you are convinced you are already at the top?
For example, Beerus is already one of the strongest beings in existence and instead of training with Whis on a regular basis he spends most of his time sleeping or eating because what is the point of getting stronger? He’s at the top of his pyramid, any extra effort is just a waste of time that could be spent sleeping.
Whereas Goku is willing to keep pushing himself and it isn’t even to be the strongest in the universe. It is to find the limits of his own power and then in most cases, break through those limits with a new haircut and keep pushing even further.
Like I said right at the start of this adventure, Goku is the epitome of the “self made man” and it is still shining true now. While others around him are convinced they are the best because of birthright (princes, emperors and Gods), Goku is convinced that he isn’t the best Goku he can be so he keeps pushing until he finds that Goku… And then he’ll probably kick his ass.
So what has Dragon Ball Super and Goku’s adventures taught us then?
The lesson to take away is that you should always aim high because the ability to reach those heights is within you. Don’t let circumstances of your birth, position in life, strength, intelligence or money convince you that you can’t do it. If you are willing to work hard enough there’s nothing that can get in your way.
Even those that look down on you are surpassable and it is arguable that from your lower position you are better suited to challenge yourself. Knowing you are at the bottom shows you you’ve got nowhere to go but up.
Then of course you’ve got friendship and value in your loved ones. Goku has left most of his friends behind in terms of power and despite this he has never stopped believing in them and caring about them. Goku may now be training with the Gods and the most powerful beings in existence, but that doesn’t stop him going back to Master Roshi (his first Master) and training with his best friend Krillin.
So ultimately it comes down to this:
You are the one who puts your limitations in place, believe in yourself and you can push yourself to new heights. Always remember those who helped you and don’t look down on those “beneath” you, they are the reason you’ve reached so high.
Thanks for joining me on this journey through analysing Dragon Ball Super. It’s been a long time since I’ve started this and despite getting general writer’s fatigue, it’s been a blast to go back through this show and share my thoughts on it. I’m really looking forward to Dragon Ball returning to our screens and maybe you’ll have to put up with even more squeeing from me about the monkey boy from space who can rebel against the Gods.
I think I’ll take a break from over-analysing anime for a while… Although the relationship between wish fulfilment and boredom in One Punch Man has some potential… Fuck.
Until then though, thanks for reading and take care of yourselves. Peace.
One last time I will leave you with the new version of “Cha-la Head Cha-la”. It’s been a blast ❤ .