The Dragon Ball series has serious power levels problem, and it's been allowed to grow and fester for far too long. Pretty much everyone in the fandom knows what the issue is: between the end of Dragon Ball Z and the end of the Dragon Ball Super anime, certain character became way overpowered (Goku, Vegta), while others got no development at all (Gohan, Piccolo). Dragon Ball Super took things to the extreme, introducing an entire multiverse of fighters that can stand toe-to-toe with Goku and Vegeta in their new Super Saiyan Godly forms. Even the Dragon Ball Super's manga just acknowledged how ridiculously far behind a lot of characters currently are, in terms of power.
So how can Dragon Ball fix its power levels problem? Well we can definitely tell you that the answer is NOT overpowering all the other characters around Goku and Vegeta - or vice versa, trying to strip away the powers that Goku and Vegeta have achieved. The key here is re-structuring and re-balancing the entire Dragon Ball series - and here's how it can be done:
Break Up The Gang
First things first: it's been circulating Dragon Ball discussion threads for more than year now, so let's just put it out there: it's time to break up the Dragon Ball ensemble. Half of the series' power levels problem is too many of these characters - of radically different power levels - still hanging out with one another.
Goku, Vegeta, and their entire Dragon Ball Z crew have been living nice and happy together on Earth - but it's time for that era to end. Whether it happens in the current manga arc, or somewhere down the line, this merry little band has to be split up.
Goku Is Going God
Goku always breaking his limits, reaching new powers, and ultimately saving the day, has been the staple of the Dragon Ball series ever since the first time he went Super Saiyan in DBZ. However, Dragon Ball Super has pushed things so far with Ultra Instinct (a technique only gods and divine beings achieve) that it's hard for Goku's schtick to keep working like it has.
With his mastery of Ultra Instinct (in the current manga arc), Goku is basically going god. As a character he's grown to big, and too strong, to be compared to just about any other of the Z-Fighter crew, so it's time to put him in a category all his own. Goku needs to step up to the next plane of existence (the god realms) and have his stories and battle set squarely in that arena, against other fighters (like Jiren) who are his true equals. That way, even great power is brought back down to an even keel, relatively speaking.
Z-Fighters: Defenders of Earth
The original Dragon Ball series had plenty of martial arts action and intrigue without crazy Saiyan power-ups, and there's no reason it can't be that way again. The Earth of the Dragon Ball series is a wild place with any number of threats, be they evil organizations (Red Ribbon Army), technology run amok (Dr. Gero's Androids), or mystical/supernatural phenomena (the Demon Realm). More to the point: Earth is still home to a set of Dragon Balls that need defending, and characters like Goku and Vegeta have simply gotten too big for that kind of job.
Having stories focused on the Z-Fighters of Earth comes with the opportunity for a lot of great genre-blended Dragon Ball storytelling. The key is that by focusing on threats more on the Z-Fighters level of power, the stakes and intrigue would be much greater.
Vegeta: The Ultimate Mortal
So if Goku goes godly, and the Z-fighters continue Dragon Ball adventures on Earth, where does that leave Vegeta? Answer: anywhere he damn well pleases. Vegeta has one goal: achieving greater power, and the latest Dragon Ball Super arc has made it clear he no longer considers "greater power" to mean simply copying what Goku has done first. Vegeta is now studying on Planet Yardrat to master techniques Goku never bothered to unlock, finally making Vegeta his own unique fighter for the first time.
Since Vegeta now knows Instant Transmission, there's an entire multiverse he can explore, fighting other mortal warriors and threats that are too big for the Z-Fighter crew, but too small for Goku's new godly role. Unlike Goku, Vegeta's family ties would keep him coming back to Earth, while his massive power would gain him access to the gods too, making him the perfect bridge character for the series.
Widen the Character Focus
Dragon Ball could easily balance out its obsession with jumping power levels by spreading out laterally, instead of constantly climbing vertically. We've talked about Goku, Vegeta, the Z-Fighters... But Dragon Ball has become even bigger than that, by now. Broly, Bardock, The Time Patrol - even the villains - have all grown massive fanbases over the years, and deserve some time to shine in the series, properly.
Seeing how Broly learns to harness his rage and develop his powers; or how Jiren learns the value of teamwork; or how those Universe 6 Saiyans (Kale, Caulifla, Cabba) achieve their own Super Saiyan transformations (or new ones!), would keep fans occupied for years.
Keep the Battles Scaled
If you can't see the point being made it here, let's summ it up: the way to fix Dragon Balls power imbalance is to:
- Split the characters up into groups of different power levels
- Maintain that scale.
It's the latter part that's important. If, say, the Z-Fighters are facing a threat on Earth that pushes Gohan, Piccolo, Tien, etc. to the limits - Ultra Instinct Goku can't just show up and save the day in two hits (like in the latest manga). The weaker characters should have to fight, bleed, and even die on their own, while the stronger fighters have to do the same, against threats equal to their power.
Crossovers With Meaning0comments
...Of course, just because we're saying that various characters of Dragon Ball need their separate corners, doesn't mean they should never come together again! Like any big franchise, Dragon Ball needs "event" moments, where the separate parts come together in one big Marvel-style crossover. It's in moments like that - the biggest ones - where someone like Goku should make a grand reappearance, in all his godly glory, or Vegeta show up after a long absence, to save everybody's butt (even Goku's).
What do you think - how should Dragon Ball fix its power levels problem? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
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