The Return of Gohan – Dragon Ball Super
Dragon Ball Super’s 100th Episode
As a tribute to Gohan and the 100th episode of Dragon Ball Super that premiered last Sunday morning, I thought it fitting to write a Dragon Ball related feature, especially considering this site is everything Japan. I have been a fan of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z over the past 17 years or more, I grew to love most of the characters that appeared throughout the series. Unforgettable personas who continued to appear throughout the show, from the likes of Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, Piccolo, Goten and especially Gohan. Gohan, a main character in DBZ, who become increasingly more important, especially through the Cell and some of the Buu saga.
Just a warning for those who have not watched the Dragon Ball Super series yet, the following paragraphs contain major spoilers about key Dragon Ball Super plot points. So, please proceed only if you are already familiar with the current story line, I wanted to warn you first.
The Dragon Ball Super Series So Far…
Rewind to July 5, 2015, Akira Toriyama has just commenced his first new Dragon Ball animation series since Z, Dragon Ball Super. Since starting the series he has completed 4 separate sagas, including Beerus the Destroyer, Golden Frieza, Universe 6 and the Future Trunks story arcs. And as we speak, they are currently airing the Universe Survival series.
From the outset, Gohan starts from where we left him at the end of the Buu saga, he still has his ultimate form, but recently would not have trained so hard. Especially in these peaceful times, where his wife Videl has recently fallen pregnant, due to give birth to their baby daughter Pan. From this point in the story, he appears to gradually loose his fighting power, spirit and overall relevance to the development of the series. Given this, we progressively see subtle hints of his desire to become more powerful and return to training, but ultimately these events are overridden by overarching developments in the main story.
The Dragon Ball Super storyline begins with the Beerus the Destroyer saga. During his hibernation, Beerus has had a vision, the Legendary, but forgotten existence of a Super Saiyan God who will bring an end to his rein. Beerus, who seems troubled by this premonition, visits the Earth to try to search for this Super Saiyan deity. After threatening to destroy the planet and a confrontation with Buu and some of the other Z Fighters who offer little resistance, he is met with by Gohan. However, even the might of Gohan’s ultimate form offers little in the way of a challenge for the God of Destruction. Beerus quickly overpowers Gohan and handles him with the minimum of fuss.
As DBS develops into the Golden Frieza story line, we again see the Z Fighters outnumbered and in another impossible situation. Frieza is at the helm, and he is accompanied by 1,000 of his henchman. Gohan, who still appears to be the strongest of the group, makes short work of most of Frieza’s loyal warriors. Meanwhile, Goku and Vegeta are busy training with Whis, being trained to achieve a new and ultimate transformation and to obtain god like power. Gohan, confronts the strongest of Frieza’s henchmen Tagoma, and whilst he is tested a little in his normal form, after finally turning Super Saiyan he quickly dispatches of him.
During this fight, Gohan quickly realizes he is unable to tap into his full power, due to lack of recent training. Frieza, who is back to seek revenge on Goku and the planet Earth, tries to use his death ray to eliminate Gohan, but he is once again saved by the Namekian shield Piccolo. As the saga ends, we see Gohan once again approach his original mentor Piccolo for further training. To return to his original power, and so that he can’t protect the earth, his beloved family and friends …
Moving into the Universe 6 saga, there is a scene where we see Goku recruiting warriors. As they fly over to Piccolo and Gohan, we seem them squaring off and it is implied Gohan will join the team of 5 members for the Universe 6 and 7 tournament. However, again Gohan fans are left exasperated, as it appears his work commitments still exceed his will to return to the fighting stage. In this scene, we even see Vegeta admit Gohan has the most potential in terms of raw power to support Universe 7’s cause. Yet, they are forced to substitute Gohan with Piccolo and Buu, which means we are never able to see just how far he had developed from his training.
In the Goku Black arc, it almost seems like Gohan has given into his instincts and instead returned to scholar and family life. For example, there is a specific episode where future Trunks visits Gohan and his family, at this point he realizes that Gohan is happy in his current life, spending quality time with his family. As a result, Trunks feels he must do the same, cherish his current family and community, but first protect them at all costs.
During the final scene in the Goku Black series, there is an interesting interaction during Trunks final farewell. As he is returning to a new timeline via his time machine, he comes across Gohan and Piccolo. This time though, Gohan appears to be much bigger and beefed up, when compare to his previous scenes. He is also seen sweating and breathing deeply, and accompanied by Piccolo, Gohan fans could not help but explode in excitement, thinking he had secretly returned to training. Again, however we were left high and dry, as there was no additional story element to suggest that Gohan had returned to his original form and strength.
After multiple side story lines, we are finally given some hints that Gohan may become relevant again. First in the exhibition fighting tournament between Universe 7 and 9, which main purpose is to a serve as a preview to the Tournament of Power. In the second fight, Gohan finally gets his opportunity to shine and fight seriously, his first time in a long time. As he squares off with Lavender from Universe 9, we see him put in an extraordinary situation, losing his sight due to Lavender’s poison attacks. Against all odds, and with time running out as the poison consumes his body, he albeit briefly comes out on top. Whilst the win was only fleeting, it was still a win, even if the Grand high priest declared the match a draw.
Following the exhibition match, we see Gohan and Piccolo finally get serious in training and preparation for the imminent Tournament of Power. Piccolo who seems to have also found an upsurge in strength, pushes Gohan to his limits. He slowly evolves through his Super Saiyan 1, then 2 forms, until finally returning to his ultimate form. In this form, he is clearly stronger than Piccolo, yet despite this he still drops his guard at the most inopportune time. In any case, it was exciting to see the re-emergence of the boy wonder and I wait in anticipation of his continued evolution.
In a final show of strength, Gohan was advised by Piccolo to seek his ultimate challenge. A showdown between him and his father Goku. In terms of Gohan and DBS, this event was clearly the most important in terms of his importance to the arc and character development. In the final fight, it is suggested he is at least on par with Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue form, but still no match for his SSB Kaio-ken form. Despite this, the story demonstrates Gohan’s new found commitment and determination to reach a new level of power and transformation beyond his father.
Obviously, DBS has focused on the two main protagonists, Goku and Vegeta predominantly throughout the series, and I love seeing the development of these characters. How they have developed both in moral and character, and attaining new levels of power through their different forms. Similarly, I have enjoyed seeing the reappearance of Future Trunks, and his continued enhancement in strength. In saying that, keeping the other characters relevant is also vital to the success of the series, including the likes of Piccolo, Goten, Trunks and especially for Gohan. Therefore, I hope they can find ways to expand on these characters and better integrate them into a future saga.
Gohan’s New Form
Ultimately, we are yet to see Gohan’s full potential in the Universe Survival arc, and if the ending credits are anything to go by, I am really looking forward to his contribution to Universe 7’s cause. I expect him to at least survive till the end of the tournament, and from the glimpses of power that we have seen, I think he will be there for the long haul and will participate in some key battles, perhaps with the likes of Hit or Toppo. In any case, his current strategy of not exerting any unnecessary energy is a good survival tactic, but I am still keen to see him get more involved in the action, remain relevant to the story and finally attain his new form.
I would be highly keen to see what others think about Gohan’s future development, so please feel free to post your comments below.