Let's take a trip to the past shall we? A simpler time where heroes and villains of the Dragon Ball Z franchise fell within certain categories. Where viewers knew how serious a situation was based on the scouters that were attached to the side of certain characters' heads. Following the Freeza Saga, the idea of power levels fell to the wayside wherein Super Saiyans, Androids, and Majins took us to a place where levels themselves would most likely be in the hundreds of millions. Still, there was something to be said knowing just how powerful characters were and I'm here to argue that the time of power levels needs to return.
When Raditz first arrived on Earth in the first episodes of Dragon Ball Z, his scouter showed us that both Goku and Piccolo started at a base level of around 300 each but then moved into the thousand plus territory when they managed to charge up their respective energies. With Goku's brother having a level of 1500, viewers could keep those numbers in the back of their mind when it came to just how strong Piccolo's "Special Beam Cannon" actually was or just how much leeway Goku had in attempting to defeat his long lost bro.
The legendary meme of "IT'S OVER 9000!!!" was of course Vegeta exclaiming just how screwed Nappa was when it came to facing down a resurrected Goku. This exclamation also gave us a better understanding of where Goku was in relation to Vegeta, who has a power level of around 18,000 in his regular form, not taking into account his energy attack or in his Great Ape Form. When keeping this in mind, you could understand how much Goku managed to tower over Vegeta when he pushed his Kaioken to times three. It was all numbers and it DID work in terms of informing viewers of just how powerful individual heroes and villains were.
Where We Stand Now
I can't even begin to imagine what the power levels of Ultra Instinct Goku and Jiren could be. We're talking hundreds of billions, if not trillions, at this point right? Even still, without having these numbers, it's more difficult to think about just how characters manage to stand up to one another. Was Android 17 ultimately stronger than Golden Freeza? Had Krillin fallen behind Master Roshi during the Tournament of Power? How powerful WAS Vegeta's newest transformation in relation to Jiren? These are a couple of questions that could be answered if the Dragon Ball series still incorporated power levels into the franchise overall.
So how could we re-incorporate power levels back into the Dragon Ball franchise in a world of Gods and Ultra Instinct? I'm glad you asked!
So what would be the best way to bring "numbers" back into measuring characters' overall strength? Well going back to the original system established in early Dragon Ball Z just wouldn't be possible. When you have characters like Krillin potentially being in the millions at this point (maybe?), it would be extremely difficult for characters to start throwing the figures around. Instead, perhaps a new system could be created.
Maybe Xeno and the Gods themselves could have some measuring system that uses a different metric to tell us exactly how characters stack up against one another before they come to blows. These numbers don't necessarily even have to be in the series itself, rather as was the case with several characters in early Z, they could be printed in ancillary material for fan purposes. Wouldn't you like to know just how weak Yamcha at this point? I know I would!
What do you think of the idea of reincorporating power levels back into Dragon Ball? 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.