In Anime Ichiban, we take a look at our writer’s totally personal, totally subjective, possibly biased, and possibly stupid opinions regarding anime associated affairs.
Woah, hey. If you’re one of the people who read part one of this piece a month ago; I’m sorry for the wait! I forgot that I was in the real world and not currently working on Namek Time (I’m still not sure if the planet has exploded or not). Thank you for your patience. Without further ado, let’s visit my top 5 moments in the original Dragon Ball series!
Last time, we ended on the moment of Vegeta’s redemption. Today, we shall start at the beginning of his path to enlightenment.
5) A Prince’s Dying Plea! Avenge Our Race, Kakarot!
Frieza is a bad dude. For chapter after chapter (or episode after episode) we witnessed the Z-Fighters struggle against this tyrant, with little-to-no effect. Frieza was always holding back his power, always had another form to go to that would miraculously wipe away any damage he’d been dealt by the odd lucky blow.
Desperate, Vegeta demands that Krillin give him a fatal wound. Saiyans are capable of undergoing a process known as a zenkai, which enables a huge boost in power if they can survive a near-death experience. Krillin reluctantly does so, and after some hesitation the young Namekian, Dende, heals the saiyan warrior’s wounds. Vegeta is confident in his newfound strength; he’s the Super Saiyan of legend! Frieza has no chance now-
And then Frieza, in his true form, bodies the saiyan prince. Yeowch, that has to sting. The manga’s narrator notes that, after Vegeta’s strongest attack was deflected, the saiyan prince loses the will to fight for the first time in his life.
Shortly thereafter, Goku arrives on the scene, fully recovered from prior wounds and having received a massive zenkai boost of his own. Vegeta, laying broken and bruised on the ground, recognises that Goku, not himself, is the Super Saiyan. Vegeta taunts Frieza… who proceeds to put a hole through the prince’s heart.
Goku berates Frieza; Vegeta couldn’t even move, let alone act as a threat to the space tyrant. Vegeta, with his dying breaths, tells ‘Kakarot’ that he’s a fool, that if he lost his sentiment he could truly become the legendary warrior. He tells Goku that Frieza was the one who destroyed their race and their homeworld. He destroyed them out of fear of the Super Saiyan legend, despite the saiyan race’s loyalty to his regime. Vegeta, crying, implores that Frieza must die by a saiyan’s hand. Then, he dies.
Goku buries his rival, realising that Vegeta must have loathed being used for all those years due to his saiyan pride. This is the moment Goku decides to accept his heritage as an alien warrior. He calls on Vegeta’s pride and makes it his own, forever tying his own life with the saiyan prince’s, and vows to destroy Frieza for all the lives the tyrant has taken. This is also the moment where Vegeta, for the first time, truly shows his humanity. He’s vicious and he likes to kill, sure; but he’s been a pawn of Frieza his whole life. He dies hoping beyond all hope that Goku can make Frieza pay for his crimes against the saiyan people.
This is one of my favourite moments in the series, as this is where both saiyans become more like the other. A mutual, if occasionally begrudging, respect is born.
4) A Legend Fulfilled!!
And so, Son Goku begins to battle space emperor Frieza. The battle is long and hard; despite Goku’s newfound strength, the changeling reveals that he still hasn’t been using his full power. As soon as he does so, the fight becomes incredibly one-sided. His strongest attack, a Kamehameha powered up by a twenty-times Kaioken boost, only bruises Frieza.
Things look bleak. Goku’s running on fumes; his only hope is the Spirit Bomb, an attack that borrows energy from living things. Goku not only gathers the energy from the Planet Namek, but takes from other nearby planets too. It’s his only possible hope to defeat Frieza. Piccolo, Gohan and Krillin help distract the tyrant for precious seconds, as the Spirit Bomb grows. Then, in a last desperate act, the son of Bardock brings the energy ball down on Frieza’s head.
Screaming, the alien warlord plummets into the ocean, consumed by energy. The battle’s won.
Only, it isn’t.
Shortly after congratulating Goku, Frieza rises from Planet Namek’s emerald oceans, bruised and snarling. In a split second, he places a Death Beam through Piccolo’s chest. Goku screams at Gohan and Krillin to run, but Frieza denies them. With the wave of a hand, the space tyrant telekinetically grasps Krillin and pulls him into the air. And, in the blink of an eye, the small human explodes in a ball of fire and smoke.
Goku shakes. He is filled with hopelessness and rage. For the first time in his life, he feels truly powerless–and that is the trigger he needs to become all powerful.
His black hair, dark as coal, flushes with a royal golden hue. His body surges with bright golden-white light, and his dark irises shift to an electric teal.
Goku tells Gohan to take Piccolo and get back to Earth, before he loses control over himself. Frieza aims his finger at the fleeing half-saiyan child, but before he can release any ki, the golden-haired saiyan from Earth appears in front of him, gripping and crushing his hand.
Gohan realises that Vegeta was right.
His father, Son Goku, was the Super Saiyan, the legend that Frieza feared all his life.
3) Frieza Defeated!
The battle between Frieza and Goku goes on, but the tables have turned significantly in Goku’s favour. Frieza can’t land a single attack of his own accord, and when Goku lets him get a hit in, the saiyan simply shrugs off one of the tyrant’s most powerful blasts.
Desperate, Frieza realises he has only one chance; to blow up the planet itself. The alien can survive in the vacuum of space; Son Goku, even with his newfound powers, cannot. Frieza throws a crackling red ball of energy at the planet, and detonates it’s core. In five minutes (FIVE. WHOLE. MINUTES), Namek will explode.
Goku smirks. That’s more than enough time to defeat the tyrant and escape. Even when Frieza begins to use his full power, Goku always has the edge. Becoming more and more frustrated as victory slips from his clutches, Frieza utilises the Death Saucer technique, a more-ominous version of Krillin’s razor-sharp Destructo Disc that are capable of tracking the saiyan. Goku easily avoids the slicing plate, before eventually knocking the tyrant down to the ground and appearing behind him. As Frieza struggles to stand, Goku shouts at him to stay down, but too late; Frieza’s own Death Saucer slices through him, cutting him in half just above the stomach.
Frieza, from start to finish, caused his own downfall. He destroyed the saiyan race, instigating the rise of the Super Saiyan. He toyed with his foes, allowing them to remain alive and become stronger, so sure he was of his own infallible strength. It’s only right that his own attack would render him in two.
Frieza begs Goku to help him. Despite his rage, Son Goku is a good person. He lends Frieza a little bit of his own energy, so that Frieza can attempt to escape the worst of Namek’s detonation. An argument could be made that he wants Frieza to survive so that he can fight him again in future. Regardless, Frieza immediately goes back on his word and uses the energy to fire a crimson energy blast at Goku’s retreating back. With a wave of his hand, Goku’s golden energy overwhelms the blast and consumes Frieza.
Frieza is defeated… (until he comes back later and gets sliced to pieces by Trunks, featured in part 1 of this article). The Super Saiyan is victorious, and Dragon Ball’s greatest battle is over.
2) Break Through The Limit! Demon Days Are Over?!
It’s time to step back in time. Son Goku, a small teenage monkey-boy, faces off against the Demon King Piccolo. Goku’s always sought a challenging fight, but this is the first time it’s really got personal; King Piccolo killed his friend, Krillin. Sound familiar?
Hey; don’t fix what ain’t broken.
To cut to the chase; Goku gets beaten up. Goku gets a power boost thanks to a small cat person’s poison water, and returns to challenge King Piccolo once it looks like all hope is lost for his friends.
The Demon King is confident in his power, especially thanks to his renewed and eternal youth thanks to a wish from the Dragon Balls. He’s shocked when Goku easily blocks his attacks and tosses him through a nearby building with next-to-no effort. The young saiyan moves so fast that neither King Piccolo nor Tien, an onlooker, can keep up with his movements.
Goku realises that Piccolo hasn’t been using his full power, and demands that he does so. The Demon King’s body crackles with ominous energy as he reveals his true strength, though reluctantly, as he notes that doing so reduces his lifespan (though, given he now has eternal youth, this shouldn’t be a problem, surely?). King Piccolo’s newly confident, but Goku also reveals he hasn’t been using his own full strength.
The two battle evenly, tricking each other with feints and diverted attacks. Moreso than many later fights in the series, this is a battle of wits and skill, not just brute power (although the city does get exploded by a huge brute blast). The two whittle each other down, until Goku can barely move, a leg out of commission. Still, he’s confident of his victory; King Piccolo’s used up most of his power now.
Thinking fast, Piccolo extends one of his stretchy green arms and grips the now-drained Tien by the head. He threatens to kill Tien if Goku dares to move, gripping the three-eyed human’s skull. Goku can’t be responsible for the death of another friend. The Demon King lifts a rock from the ground and with a huff, and a puff, blows it at Goku’s other arm, breaking it. Then, the same happens with Goku’s other leg, knocking the martial artist to the ground. The young saiyan is surely defeated now!
King Piccolo drops Tien, assured of his victory, and hops into the air. With a fearsome grin, the Demon King plummets towards Goku, intending to pulverise the teenage warrior in one final blow!
Goku is defiant; the fight isn’t over, because he still has one arm left. He fires an energy wave at the ground, propelling him into the air with ferocious speed. King Piccolo can do very little to stop the martial artist’s ascent, who summons up all of his energy for one final, fearsome, million-miles-per-hour punch.
Son Goku bursts through King Piccolo’s body. The demon is defeated.
As Goku falls to the ground, Piccolo laments his defeat with his dying breaths. Still, he manages to smile. His legacy isn’t finished.
With the last of his own energy, Demon King Piccolo spits up an egg and sends it flying into the distance. He would live on in his son and partial reincarnation, Piccolo Jr, known to most of us as simply Piccolo. He implores his unborn son to avenge his death, and explodes.
I ranked this fight higher than the fight with Frieza for one reason. Despite their similarities, and that much of this sequence reads like a prototype of Goku’s later battle with the alien, the focus here is still on technique and smart fighting rather than ever-inflating power levels and new hair. While Goku’s battle with Frieza is iconic, it signified the true end of skill-based combat in the Dragon Ball series and the start of ever-escalating numerical values to signify strength and combat prowess.
1) Beam Clash!!! Birth of an Eternal Rivalry!
Here we are. The number one scene in all of Dragon Ball.
Goku and Vegeta’s first encounter on Earth is a vicious one. Prince Vegeta wants immortality to wish for an eternity of conflict. Once he gets his way, the Earth is gone. Son Goku has trained for this encounter for months in the Other World, after his noble sacrifice to ensure the defeat of his brother Raditz.
Goku easily dispatches Nappa, Vegeta’s subordinate, using his new power and one of his new skills, the Kaioken, which forcibly increases his strength and speed but risks damaging the user. Frustrated, Vegeta disposes of the crippled Nappa by blowing him up. The Z-Fighters are shocked by such heartlessness, and we get insight into Vegeta’s character; he cares only for strength. Nappa was weak, so he had to go.
Goku and Vegeta fly to a new location, and the battle ensues. The low-class saiyan is repelled by the prince’s battle ability, and even with the Twofold Kaioken he cannot match the elite-class warrior. Goku would rather blow himself up, so he increases the Kaioken to Threefold. The fight changes direction, with Goku battering Vegeta around, but his own body begins to break down. He has to end the fight soon.
Vegeta is furious. No low-class saiyan should be able to touch him, let alone make him bleed his royal blood. The Prince bursts into the sky, his body crackling with venomous purple energy as he vows to destroy the Planet Earth for producing a warrior capable of damaging his pride.
Panicking, Goku assumes the Kamehameha stance as the Kaioken eats away at his body, charging his own iconic energy beam as dust and rocks rise around him from the intensity.
Both saiyan warriors scream defiantly and release their energy blasts, Vegeta’s purple Galick Gun against Goku’s blue. The waves clash in the sky, and the resulting struggle is blinding. Neither warrior seems to be gaining the upper hand, until Goku decides to bite the bullet. He goes a step further beyond what he was ever supposed to use, and uses the Kaioken Times Four.
His blue blast widens, overpowering Vegeta’s energy and engulfing the saiyan prince, sending him flying up into the higher atmosphere.
The fight doesn’t end here, but for me, this is the moment that solidifies the dynamic between the two warriors. Goku, the low-class warrior, struggled his whole life to attain a power capable of challenging Vegeta’s elite status, and Vegeta realises that his place as the strongest saiyan in the galaxy isn’t as secure as he first thought it was. This entire fight is the sequence where Son Goku and Prince Vegeta start their journeys as two warriors who learn from each other throughout the whole series. For that reason, this scene is my number one moment in Dragon Ball.
Honourable Mentions: Gohan triggers Super Saiyan 2, Majin Vegeta vs. Goku, Final Flash, Vegito, Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken (Dragon Ball Super), Krillin vs. Bacterian, Goku vs. Jackie Chun, Roshi’s Original Kamehameha, Bulma shooting Goku.