Dragon Ball Super is currently sitting at a major crossroads, which is proving to be both an exciting and frustrating experience for fans. At the center of Dragon Ball Super's current power-up quest is Ultra Instinct, a divine state of battle that's faster than conscious thought. Goku famously manifested Ultra Instinct for the first time(s) during the DBS Tournament of Power arc, and thanks to the manga Ultra Instinct's next evolution is now on the horizon, as Goku has entered a life-or-death training regiment to master the technique. A perfected form of Ultra Instinct is all but inevitable, but there's still one major question fans have: If Goku goes full Ultra Instinct, can Gohan do the same?
Given what we currently know about Ultra Instinct, there are some valid questions and concerns as to why Gohan may or may not be able to access the technique. Let's break it down:
So far, Saiyans are the only mortals known to have achieved Ultra Instinct. And so far, just one Saiyan has been able to reach that goal - much to the surprise of the gods (Grand Zeno, Beerus) and angels (Whis, Grand Priest) who themselves struggle to achieve Ultra Instinct. There's nothing that says the nature of Ultra Instinct makes Saiyans the only mortals capable of reaching it - but on the other hand, there's nothing that says the technique isn't unlike Super Saiyan or Super Saiyan God, which are definitely powers unique to Saiyans. Still, Ultra Instinct is clearly defined as less of a transformation and more of a state that a fighter manifests, when he/she can go beyond conscious thought and emotional distress in battle. That kind of a clarity and serenity isn't inherently limited to a specific race, but is simply a level of control most mortal fighters can never achieve.
So Can a Half-Saiyan Achieve Ultra Instinct? Granted, as a Half-Saiyan, Gohan has been able to achieve Super Saiyan 1 - 2 just like Goku, but his power set gets a lot murkier from there. While Goku made the jump to Super Saiyan 3 in Dragon Ball Z's Majin Buu Saga, Gohan's powers took a turn when his latent power was unlocked by Shin; since that time, Gohan's power has taken on a unique signature all its own. In preparing for Dragon Ball Super's Tournament of Power, Gohan boosted his latent powers even higher in order to compete against the fiercest warriors in the multiverse. During a sparring session with Goku, it was made clear that even without significant transformation to his physical form, Gohan's latent power is now able to stand against Goku's Super Saiyan Blue power (though a Kaio-Ken boost gives Goku the clear advantage). So, Gohan is not all lacking in the power to reach Ultra Instinct, and presumably with the right divine teacher (an angel), Gohan could probably unlock Ultra Instinct - perhaps even faster and more completely than Goku initially did.
In the end, Gohan Doesn't Need Ultra Instinct, though... It's not a new revelation to say that Dragon Ball Super has largely ignored the next stage of Gohan's power - or at least the anime has. However, when the Dragon Ball Super manga did its version of the Tournament of Power, Akira Toriyama and his mangaka protege Toyotaro took some additional time and space to tease where Gohan's power is headed next. In fact, when Gohan powers up his latent abilities for a tournament match, we get this clear foreshadowy exchange between him and Goku:
Gohan: "Well dad, this is me at my current full power."
Goku: "Nice, but don't you still have to go Super Saiyan?"
Gohan: "No, I have a new goal now: an ultimate form that no Saiyan has achieved before. And I'm gonna pursue this form by going down a different path. "
In the end, that's probably the real question to ask here: not can Gohan achieve Ultra Instinct, but rather should Dragon Ball Super go down that path. We've already pointed out that Dragon Ball is ready to give Gohan and Earth's Z-Fighters their own spinoff series without Goku and Vegeta. If Gohan becomes Earth's primary Saiyan defender and hero, using him to introduce a whole new kind of power into the series would be much more novel than simply following in Goku's footsteps. Yet again.
What do you think?
The Japanese-language and English dub releases of Dragon Ball Super are now complete and available to stream with FunimationNOW and Crunchyroll. Viz Media is releasing new chapters of the manga at a monthly rate that can be read entirely for free through the Shonen Jump digital library, and Dragon Ball Super's big movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Fans in Japan are also able to enjoy fresh non-canon adventures from the franchises with new episodes of Super Dragon Ball Heroes' promotional anime series.
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