I know I’ve fallen behind when it comes to talking about the most recent chapters of the Dragon Ball Super Manga. But in all honestly, it’s because there hasn’t been a whole lot going on. It’s just been a whole lot of fighting, mixed in with a sort of confused jumping around of the focus character between the three leads of the arc: Granolah, Vegeta and Goku.
I say Goku last, because up until the arc’s more recent revelations, he really seemed to have the least skin in the game. The story is obviously focused around Granolah and his misguided quest for revenge, it also continues to develop Vegeta and duality of feeling remorse for his previous actions coupled with the need to throw that feeling away to master his new power.
For once, it felt like Goku didn’t really have any real reason to involve himself in this big old mess aside from the fact that he likes fighting strong guys, which leads him into realising that Granolah is a nice guy deep down to probably needs saving from the Heeters. All of that was until this arc put his father; Bardock in the the mix in a major way. His actual true introduction into the storyline as far as Manga canon is concerned.
An involvement that unlocks memories in Goku’s mind, helping him recover from the bump on his head he suffered as a baby and remember Toriyama’s retconned events of him getting from planet Vegeta to Earth, as seen in Minus and the Broly Super Movie. Something some Dragon Ball commenters online aren’t happy about.
Or at least they were four weeks ago when I started writing this post…
Dragon Ball is a series that has been running for a hell of a long time now, and as with any story that goes on for so long, certain events will get altered, recontextualised and retconned. From a personal standpoint; I also preferred when Goku was less of an anime Superman and his presence on Earth was little more than dumb luck.
It’s more indicative of Goku’s character being one that turns his back on his race and legacy and one who carves his own path as an individual. In the original story, Goku was sent to Earth because the Saiyans thought he was worthless due to being weak. Everything he achieved, despite that was to spit in the face of what the Saiyan race deemed worthwhile.
Today, the lore has introduced us both to Bardock and Gine; unusually soft-hearted Saiyans who sent their child to Earth in order to protect him from the tyrant Freeza. It inherently makes Goku’s personality less unique to him and more of something he inherited from his parents. And also makes Raditz seem much more like the black sheep of the family rather than Goku, which was the angle the story was going in during the first two arcs of Z.
This new status quo has been knocking around for years at this point. Since 2014 in fact, so here’s where I pivot and say that I don’t actually think it’s that big of a deal that Goku suddenly and finally has his memories of his parents returned to him after all these years.
We’re arguably at a point in Goku’s story at which being a Saiyan is of as little consequence to his life than ever. He’s drive to master and create his own style of Ultra Instinct is something anyone could arguably work towards, all his Super Saiyan transformations purely being stepping stones to the point he’s currently at.
I think Goku is at the point of his life that he is truly comfortable in his own skin, not that Goku has ever been anything but that. But I really don’t see the recovered knowledge of where he came from having any major impact on his life at this point. In fact, when this flashback is over, I wouldn’t be surprised if Goku simply brushes it off and forgets all about Bardock and Gine. Just like he pretty much has with Raditz.
I can see why some people are feeling a little irate about this development, but honestly the change I wasn’t too keen on has already came and gone. We’ve had almost a decade since Minus came out to come to terms with it and at this point this revelation seems more interesting than anything. Goku is a character who famously doesn’t really change at all throughout the entire run of his story.
But during this arc, he has been somewhat more mature and level headed during a lot of the confrontations he has found himself hurled into. Maybe because the story has nothing to do with him. At it’s core, this is a story arc about revenge, a subject both Granolah and Vegeta know all too well. With one of them being mired in it enough to give up almost their whole remaining life for it and the other having worked past it and now regrets the actions revenge drove them to when they were a younger man.
The whole Bardock element of the story almost feels like a tactical insert to drag Goku back into the events of the story and give him a reason to care about what’s going on with the Heeters at a level that both Granolah and Vegeta do. Which I do actually think is a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like the idea of Goku having some knowledge of his parents. And I inevitably also believe that it won’t change him at all. Where I think it’s a mistake is that it robs the focus of the story from Granolah and Vegeta and redirects it back towards Goku, who as I said before, has basically no skin in this game.
And yet, we’re at a point in the story where it feels like Goku is the only person left to put a stop to Gas and his misguided worship of his older brother Elec. I’m not even try to predict where this story is going at this point, it’s taken so many strange twists and turns that I couldn’t begin to imagine. But the story inserting Bardock into the story feels like a mistake to me.
Not because it’s bad for Goku’s character or a continuation the “dismantling of what made Goku exceptional in the first place”. I just feel like it’s an intrusion in a story that shouldn’t be focused on Goku at all, and yet, without him really having to lift a finger, he has butted in in a way that makes me think that it’s going to be Goku that once again saves the day with poor old Vegeta and Granolah sitting on the side-lines getting that old thumbs up once again.