Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball franchise has its fair share of iconic moments, but if you ask any fan of franchise what their favorite moment in particular is chances are it'll be Goku's very first transformation into Super Saiyan in the fight with Freeza. This transformation was the result of weeks of build up, and felt like the natural extension of every one of Goku's battles through the series thus far. But in trying to capture that same magic with SSJ2, SSJ3 and so on, the Super Saiyan transformation itself no longer feels special.
With Dragon Ball Super's Galactic Patrol Prisoner arc providing a new villain that made Super Saiyan a non-entity almost immediately, it seems like the franchise is trying to tell us something that might be tough for some fans to hear. It's time for Dragon Ball to leave the Super Saiyan form behind and explore what Goku, Vegeta, and especially Gohan can do when they are forced to fight smarter rather than harder.
To put it bluntly, it's been a long time since Super Saiyan has been impressive. Super Saiyan 3 was noteworthy for its stark visual contrast to the other transformations, the same argument can be made for Super Saiyan 4, and even Super Saiyan God made an impact thanks to what it took to get to that initial transformation. But that luster quickly wore off as the franchise revealed it had hit a ceiling, both metaphorically and literally.
The follow-up to Super Saiyan God was revealed to a lackluster response overall. The franchise couldn't even be bothered to build up Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan toward a noteworthy debut, and seeing that it was nothing more than a blue variant of the original transformation didn't help much in that case. In fact, every variant on this after had very little impact on the narrative overall as Goku and Vegeta's increases in power was met by increasingly stronger villains.
Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Kaio-ken and Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Evolution had brief debuts, and quickly became irrelevant due to their incremental boosts in power not meaning much in the long run. Super Saiyan no longer carries the weight it once did, and deep down fans know this too. Consider Ultra Instinct, the transformation with the biggest response in Dragon Ball Super.
Sure we probably would have accepted a name for it along the lines of "Super Saiyan Instinct" or something like that, but being free of the Super Saiyan moniker made the build up to its reveal a lot more compelling. It wasn't just Goku slowly figuring out how to reach a new level of power he already had an idea of, but instead a technique that was (literally) out of his realm.
Because it was so outside of his (and our) understanding, Ultra Instinct managed to tap into the same nostalgic feeling that each Super Saiyan transformation had been chasing after. It was a dynamic transformation that felt like seeing Super Saiyan for the first time. That brings us to the fight with Moro. The Galactic Patrol Prisoner arc has been so well received by fans thus far because it's already left Super Saiyan behind.
Because Goku and Vegeta don't have this transformation to rely on, they can't fight or train the way they're used to. They have been forced to go back to the drawing board and figure out a smarter way of fighting. Without Super Saiyan, the fights in the series have already been more compelling, Earth's fighters are getting attention, and for the first time in a long time, there's no clear way to the end of the arc.
To keep Dragon Ball Super feeling oh so fresh, keep leaving Super Saiyan behind. Unless you want to give up Goku and Vegeta completely, this is really the only option. But what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or talk to me directly about all things anime and other cool things @Valdezology on Twitter!
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