Did Dragon Ball Super's Bardock Flashback Actually Matter?

Did Dragon Ball Super's big Bardock flashback arc actually matter? Fans were caught by surprise when the manga's new "Granolah The Survivor" Arc took a hard left detour into the backstory of Bardock and his battle on the Planet Cereal. On the one hand, the sub-arc about Bardock tied the history of Goku's father and Freeza with Dragon Ball Super' newest villains The Heeters, and its newest anti-hero warrior, Granolah. Then again, Bardock's legacy and the ever-complicated continuity retcons we're getting may not have been worth the outcome... 

Legacy of Bardock, Father of Goku

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(Photo: Shueisha)

As stated, the Bardock section of the Granolah Arc wasn't without point and purpose: the expanded history of Bardock brought Goku's father into much closer orbit with Goku's own heroic nature – not to mention providing deeper  foundation for Goku's unique ability to tap into legendary powers like Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan God. Bardock's fight with Gas also helped created narrative space for an entirely new interpretation of "Saiyan Pride," which could re-define the series in substantial ways, going forward. Finally, the Secret Saiyan power that Bardock tapped into to power-up and defeat Gas could be the common link that allows Goku and Vegeta to balance out the new divine powers Dragon Ball Super has been grooming them for, with a core that is uniquely Saiyan. 

So, if Goku walks away from the battle with Gas with a whole new perspective on being a Saiyan warrior, then this visit to Bardock's past would've been worthwhile, just for helping sync all these jumbled parts of the Dragon Ball Z/Dragon Ball Super mythos. 

The Problem With Bardock In Dragon Ball Super

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(Photo: Toei Animation)

While the biggest benefit of the Bardock flashback in Dragon Ball Super was no doubt the re-aligning of Goku's understanding of what it means to be a Saiyan, and both Goku and Vegeta taking on a heroic new understanding of what Saiyan Pride should be. However, in executing the flashback about Bardock, Dragon Ball Super also created some significantly big continuity problems that have been getting blown up in fan chat threads. 

The new logic of Bardock defecting from the Freeza Force during the Cerealian Genocide – but still remaining in Freeza's ranks until the destruction of Planet Vegeta – doesn't sit well with fans. The Granolah Arc even complicated things Dragon Ball Super had only recently retconned – for instance, the status of Bardock's tail. In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the retconned origin of Goku showed Bardock making the last stand against Freeza over Planet Vegeta, with his tail between his legs; yet the Granolah Arc in the manga showed Bardock lost his tail (with seeming finality) in his fight with Gas. 

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Fans who coming away with more new questions than answers – and some criticisms of how Bardock's flashback makes Goku look by comparison – have raised questions about what was achieved by the retcon. If they have to question the value of that storytelling choice – for a character who remained a non-canon fan-favorite for decades – then was the Bardock flashback successful at being anything more than some cheap dues ex machina for Dragon Ball to explain away those next big transformations. 

Dragon Ball Super releases new chapters online.