Dragon Ball: In Defense Of Super Saiyan 3

In the long run of Dragon Ball, Goku has undergone a huge amount of transformations. Whether it be going Super Saiyan for the first time on Namek while fighting the villainous Freeza, learning Super Saiyan 2 following the Cell Saga, or tapping into God Ki in Dragon Ball Super with Super Saiyan Blue, each of these transformations have become iconic in their own right. Then, there is the black sheep of the family, a transformation that is seen as being completely ridiculous by many and we're here to defend it. Yes friends, it's long past time that we had the talk about why Super Saiyan 3 is a fantastic transformation in the history of Dragon Ball Z.

To tear into the meat of the subject, we'll break down our points one at a time and walk you through just why this long haired, no eyebrow having transformation can stand on its own two legs:

The Introduction

Every time we see a Super Saiyan transformation for the first time, the stage has to be epic. The first level of Super Saiyan is still considered by many anime fans to be the single greatest transformation not just in the history of Dragon Ball, but in anime in general. With Super Saiyan 2, the franchise took things up a notch by having Gohan achieve the form in a dramatic unveiling against the biological nightmare of Cell. Enter Super Saiyan 3.

Dragon Ball SSJ3 Defense
(Photo: Toei Animation)

Vegeta was dead. Majin Buu was resurrected. Gohan was missing. The only thing that was left to stop the insane pair of Buu and Babidi was a resurrected Goku, who had a new transformation up his sleeve. The first time we experience this power up, we get an absolutely titanic experience. Goku begins screaming for several minutes, with the sheer force of his ki shaking the planet beneath him. It's still to this day considered to be one of the best scenes in the series, regardless of what you think of the transformation itself.

The transition from two to three was inter cut with Goku travelling in his mind's eye to his Oozaru form and his childhood, seemingly tapping into his Saiyan roots to unleash the third level of Super Saiyan. It's a dramatic scene to be sure and does a fantastic job of showing that in this form, Goku means business.

The Roots

The Saiyan people aren't just a race of warriors, they're a race of brutal fighters that are basically one step removed from cavemen. It was only until Freeza shared his technology with them that they begin travelling across the universe and searching for planets to plunder. Their main transformation, prior to Super Saiyan of course, was changing into giant apes! Super Saiyan 3 pulls from that idea, changing Goku into a wild haired, villain-esque appearing warrior, with his pronounced brow bringing him closer to a caveman than a sophisticated martial artist.

Much like Super Saiyan 4 from Dragon Ball GT, 3 seems like the natural progression of the Saiyan race, wrinkles and all. Certainly makes more sense than their hair turning blue!

The Appearance

Goku's hair and brow changing so much is a big reason that many are stand off-ish about the form, but it endears itself to us because of it. Whereas the difference between levels one and two are sometimes difficult to tell apart, with simply some lightning and hair gel effects added into the mix, Super Saiyan Three is a beast all its own. In recent years, it has gotten the shaft, especially having only been given a very brief appearance during the Tournament of Power, but the savage design and demeanor change for Goku go a long way.

Ultimately, the third level was never really given its due as with the previous two sagas before it, the Super Saiyan levels were instrumental in defeating Freeza and Cell, whereas Buu wasn't beaten solely thanks to this new form. Maybe that, and Gotenks' general hilarity as a character who was the only other character besides Goku to really wield it in continuity, are some of the reasons why it never managed to stick.

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What do you think of Super Saiyan 3? What is your favorite transformation in Dragon Ball history? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and Dragon Ball!

Dragon Ball Super currently airs its English dub on Adult Swim during the Toonami programming block on Saturday evenings, and is also available to stream on Funimation and Amazon Video. The Japanese-language release of the series is complete, and available to stream on FunimationNOW and Crunchyroll. The manga has chapters that can currently be read for free thanks to Viz Media, and Dragon Ball Super's big movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.