In recent weeks Dragon Ball Super has been slowing down some what setting up the pieces for the Universe Survival Arc, focusing on some smaller characters and trying to justify their inclusion on the team. Instead of going for pure power there is an element to strategy going on as well something that we haven’t seen from Dragon Ball in literal decades. Hell the closest thing I can think of in terms of “strategy” is Vegeta’s plan to defeat Majin Buu which was little more than to get Mr. Satan to make the Genki Dama REALLY big.
However during these down moments we have had a few pretty interesting scenes that are certainly setting up future elements in the arc. One such feature has been explaining that not all these characters are really as useless as they first appeared. One issue with Dragon Ball Z was most characters save the Saiyans never grew in strength, even Piccolo fell by the wayside by the end of the Cell Arc. Becoming a glorified bystander as the strength of the enemies grew by leaps and bounds.
This is not the case in Super with multiple characters including even Krillin (even though his makes no sense) getting a substantial power up. This is very apparent in Majin Buu who has unlocked a new form for the first time since Kid Buu by training, implying his power which was already among the best previously is likely approaching that of the Super Saiyan Blues. Even Android 17 got in on the action when went toe to toe with Super Saiyan Blue Goku and held his own. I guess push ups, setups, and plenty of juice really does work.
However with every passing episode fans were left to wonder when the character most in need of a tune up would finally get his due. This of course is referencing Dragon Ball Supers biggest whipping boy Gohan. Well with Episode 88 Fans have FINALLY gotten our wish. To understand why this is such a big deal for many you have to go back a bit.
At the beginning of Dragon Ball Z Gohan was a wimp, he was useless, and single handedly responsible for the death of his mentor. Over the course of the show though Gohan grew more and more competent eventually becoming a hero greater then his father. In short while fans grew up Gohan grew up with us he was our surrogate.
However Gohan didn’t stop there despite becoming rather soft between Cell and Buu Gohan was reborn to fight Majin Buu. With his potentially being fully unlocked Gohan become “Ultimate Gohan”, according to Akira Toriyama the single most powerful non-fused fighter in the entire series to that point. This means the only fighters stronger are Super Buu + Gohan or Vegeto. That is it nobody else.
However following that Gohan fans would undergo a long period of despair as the young hero would fall by the wayside. In Movie 13 Wrath of the Dragon despite taking place only a few months following the defeat of Buu, Gohan in his Ultimate form could do little to harm the main villain. It took Goku as Super Saiyan 3 to finish the job, despite I repeat Gohan being confirmed to be stronger then Goku or ANY Super Saiyan 3.
Following that came the train wreck that was Dragon Ball GT. Where the Ultimate Form and really the Super Saiyan 2 form was completely forgotten all together, Gohan wasn’t even the most prominent half Saiyan anymore he was replaced by the far inferior Trunks. Now before Trunks fans jump down my throat, remember this was “Kid” Trunks not his admittedly amazing and bad ass “Future” Trunks counterpart.
Through all this fans easily could take solace in the fact none of that was canon (except GT was canon for a time and remains an alternate canon Dragon Ball still draws from hello Super Saiyan 4's in Xenoverse). Though admittedly this was a strong argument, as well Dragon Ball GT forgot about A LOT of stuff, like Vegeta’s hair never supposed to change. I’m still sour over that one.
That was all supposed to change though with the return of Akira Toriyama to the franchise, he’d remember Gohan! Right? Well it is kind of mixed as Battle of Gods once again saw Goku assume his role as the center of the series as he tends to do in movies, he is Goku. However even after this fans got a rude awakening with Resurrection of F’ where it was revealed Gohan had become so weak he struggled to turn Super Saiyan.
Let’s unpack this for a second, Gohan who was the single strongest fighter at the end of Dragon Ball Z struggled to go Super Saiyan. A transformation Vegeta once not incorrectly referred to as “the legendary transformation of the Saiyan race reduced to a childs plaything”. This not only made Gohan weaker then anytime he had been since the Android Saga but it made him weaker the Piccolo, the surviving Androids, Trunks, and Goten. He was so bad he fell to mooks, things even Roshi could handle somewhat (lets just let that go).
This status quo continued all the way through Super. Though there were always hints things may be a little different as it has been hinted for months Piccolo would take Gohan under his wing and train him up again. Well with the approaching Universe Survival Arc we have finally gotten to that point.
While through his fights in recent times Gohan has unlocked the power of both Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan 2, putting him on about par with his power during the beginning of the Buu Saga it seemed Ultimate Gohan had been forgotten. Until Piccolo mentions during training “Super Saiyan? That’s not your best is it?”. Finally pushing Gohan far enough to reach the peak of his power in a scene that made me smile as much as the Super Sayian Blue - Kaio Ken x 30.
However Gohan’s training isn’t done as Piccolo explains no mater how strong he becomes Gohan has one fatal weakness. He’s cocky, he always lets his guard down at just the wrong moment allowing his opponent to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Just like how the weaker but smarter (he did have Piccolo absorbed at the time) Majin Buu was able to take down Ultimate Gohan. However Piccolo vows to stamp this out of him in time for the tournament along with making Gohan even more powerful then he has ever been.
With this episode behind us and only a couple of fighters remaining I’m very excited for the upcoming arc once it goes into focus. As we have also gotten our first look at what is likely the “Female Brolly” that has been teased for weeks now. Furthermore the Team Universe 7 is putting forward seems much more powerful then they did at first brush, as both Majin Buu and Android 17 seem to have power reaching that of a Super Saiyan Blue. Piccolo himself manhandled a Super Saiyan 2 a form still among the best in the universe and now the promise of an Superior Gohan. Things are heating up in Dragon Ball Super and I can’t wait to watch.
You can Legally Watch Dragon Ball Super on Crunchyroll or Funimation Now every Saturday Night