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Tag: Dragon Ball Analysis

Dragon Ball Super 0

Toppo: Pride Trooper of Destruction

As the Tournament of Power reaches its conclusion, I am constantly reminded of Dragon Ball Super’s 7th ending theme: An Evil Angel and Righteous Devil.  Towards the end of it, there’s a line that goes “Justice and evil both carry the same gun”.  I couldn’t help but think about the song when Toppo tells Frieza that “Justice…is worthless now” during their battle and Toppo’s resolve (to become a God of Destruction and forego his morals).  The theme of justice is played with Toppo throughout the Universe Survival Arc. Toppo is a proud warrior of justice; leading his Pride Troopers to battle after battle in the name of all that is righteous.

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From analyzing Toppo’s personality, he holds justice, morals, and honor with the utmost respect.  He fights fairs: preferring honest play over cheap tactics.  This is shown when Toppo snapped on Android 17 for attacking the Kamikaze Fireball (during their transformation).   He questioned the motives of the Tournament, The Grand Priest, and Zeno-Sama.  Toppo doesn’t feel right about fighting in a tournament designed to wipe out multiple universes; a tournament in which countless lives will end upon each universe’s erasure.

Toppo and his Pride Troopers initially entered the tournament to punish those who they deemed “evil”.  While survival was ideal, targeting evil doers were their prime goal. However in episode 104 of Super, Toppo started to change his mind.  With seven of his men gone and his universe at risk of deletion, Toppo decides that the Pride Troopers must kill their ideologies of justice and ethics in order to live.

There’s no place for justice and heroism in a war of survival.

Towards the end of the tournament, Toppo is struggling against Andoird 17.  After analyzing 17’s combat style (and discovering 17 has infinite energy), Toppo decides to end his battle with 17 with one blow.  However, he fails and is forced into a beam struggle with the Universe 7 warrior.    During the struggle, Frieza attacks Toppo from behind.  Frieza taunts Toppo while blasting him with Death Beams. Bored with Toppo, Frieza attempts to blast Toppo off the battlefield; enveloping him with overwhelming energy.

Despite the struggle, Toppo survives but is heavily wounded.

Frieza taunts Toppo once more.  He mocks the man, calling him trash.  He then points out how shameful it must be for Toppo to have his prized uniform of justice in shreds.  It’s here where Toppo snaps.  Coldly, Toppo replies that justice is worthless.  After seeing his men fall and the destruction of six universes before him, Toppo comes to a resolution.  Justice is worthless.  It has no use on the battlefield.  Justice doesn’t translate to survival.

In order to survive,  Toppo gives up on justice.  This same man who praised it with pride now sees it as a waste. A liability even.  Toppo decides to ascend to godhood: A God of Destruction.  Destruction – like war – is neutral.  It doesn’t care about silly ideas like good or evil, justice or injustice.  All it cares for is annihilation and death.

What good are both justice and playing hero if both things never ensure survival?

‘There’s only one difference between heroes and madmen: It’s whether they win or lose.’

-Lambdadelta, Umineko no Naku Koro ni

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Dragon Ball 0

The Pride of Vegeta: Ego is the Ally.

“Indeed, I am arrogant.  But, to me, that’s precisely what my pride as a Saiyan is!”

After his ego and pride were belittled by Jiren, Vegeta felt that he had to defend who he is as a person.  As a proud Saiyan Elite prince, Vegeta dedicated his life to the art of combat, surpassing others, conquering planets, and of course – breaking his limits.  It shouldn’t  shock anyone that Vegeta took offense to Jiren’s criticism.  Is Vegeta arrogant?  Perhaps to some. However, I don’t see it as arrogance. I think he’s confident and prideful of what he has accomplished over the course of his life.  After all, he has every right to act as such. Vegeta earned his high self-esteem and self-worth through hard work.

Hard work thanks to his greatest ally: His ego.

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All champions have big egos.  Without a big ego, they would have never become a champion.’
From Victor Pride’s article The Importance of Having a Big Ego

Why does Vegeta have a big ego?  Well, it stems from a few factors. Prince Vegeta is a Saiyan.  Saiyans are naturally physical, competitive warriors.  Vegeta is also a paragon and of royal blood.  He achieved master-level combat skills and knowledge as a child.  Seeing his power, King Vegeta (his father) took him under his wing and the two conquered (and destroy) planets for years.  Now mind you, Vegeta did all of this before he hit puberty – and he wasn’t finished yet.

Even as a child, Vegeta proved himself to be an outlier.

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Being controlled and abused by the tyrant Frieza also impacted his ego.  The Saiyans could have been a prosperous race if it wasn’t for Frieza.  Frieza murdered King Vegeta.  He betrayed the loyalty the Saiyans by killing them and destroying their planet.  Following that, he reduced Vegeta’s status to that of a common, low-ranking lackey – completely disregarding his royal heritage.

To say Vegeta was bitter towards Frieza’s treatment is an understatement.

Then, you have the case of Kakarotto – or Son Goku.  Son Goku was thought of a low-class Saiyan who would never amount to anything (in the eyes of the Elite Saiyans).  Vegeta was disgusted at Goku (due to Goku’s kindhearted nature – unnatural for Saiyans).  He didn’t view him as a real Saiyan – nor worthy of becoming a Super Saiyan.  Even after believing that Goku was the Super Saiyan of legend, Vegeta held resentment towards Goku  for obtaining such status and power.  Vegeta was convinced that only he – a  royal Saiyan Elite – deserved the title and power of the Super Saiyan.

It was his birthright.  And Kakarotto took it away from it.

Yearning to not only obtain the Super Saiyan transformation but also surpassing Goku, Vegeta spent three years’  training to acquire his goals.  He worked mercilessly – even to the point of death. It was at that point of near death is where Vegeta finally gained the power of the Super Saiyan.  After years of pain and suffering, the prince reclaimed his title of the prince of three Saiyans.  He even “surpassed” that blasted Kakarotto!”

(And by surpassed I mean Goku caught the heart virus and was out of commission for most of the Andoird conflict. Therefore, Vegeta was the strongest due pure “luck” on his end).

Vegeta didn’t stop there.  Super Saiyan wasn’t enough to quince Vegeta’s competitive thirst.  After Goku told Vegeta that they must go beyond Super Saiyan, Vegeta took this chance to prove himself as the superior Saiyan.  Vegeta trained for another year in the Room of Spirit and Time (or the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for you FUNimation weebs). Then, he gained power that exceeded Super Saiyan: Super Saiyan Grade 2 (or simply, Ascended Saiyan).

Vegeta yet again surpassed Kakarotto!  Oh, how Vegeta praised himself for his efforts. And then a few hours later, Vegeta was curbed stomp by Perfect Cell. See, Vegeta – although proud of yet another accolade – let his ego get the best of him.  Cell tricked Vegeta into obtaining his Perfect form and made the Prince his bitch.

That was funny.

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Let’s fast forward seven years.  With Goku dead, Vegeta had nothing better to do.  Well, besides training (because of that competitive nature).  Vegeta got news that Goku was returning to the living world for the 25th Budokai Tenkaichi Tournament. He sees this as a chance to finally beat Goku once and for all.  See, Vegeta never got over the fact that Goku was the better warrior.  Vegeta was envious that Goku achieved so much (despite him being a low-class Saiyan).  Vegeta wanted to prove once and for all he was the best.  And he could have if shit didn’t go south during the tournament (the Majin Buu and Babidi conflict).  During the Majin Buu conflict, Vegeta allowed his jealousy to get the best of him and let Bababi brainwash him into Majin Vegeta.

All because he wanted to show his superiority towards Goku.

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The evil prince has returned!  At last, Vegeta could dominate Goku in combat…by killing a bunch of innocent people and allowing the release of Majin Buu.  Then Vegeta realized that his ego is problematic and that he had to sacrifice himself to take out Majin Buu – all because he fucked up.

Okay, so maybe Vegeta had some minor issues with his ego.

In the real world, high-level athletes, performing artists, and businessmen are viewed as egotistical. Their self-sense of pride are off-putting to some – but they have the right to be prideful.  These people pour countless hours into their craft.  Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of our time, is viewed by many as arrogant. But when you won six Championships rings, brought money to your team’s city, and created a multi-million-dollar brand, you earned the right to be arrogant.  Kanye West, a rapper hated for his ego, won over 92 awards over the course of his career.  He better be egotistical. Entrepreneur Tai Lopez, (in)famous for his “Here in My Garage” video (where he showcased his then-new Lamborghini)   was criticized for showing off the luxury sports car and the thousands of books in his personal collection.  Then again, when you are the investor and advisor to over 20 successful multi-million dollar companies,  I think it’s okay to show off your trophies – and how you earned them through knawledge.

These guys have earned the right to be egotistical, cocky, and arrogant, whatever you wanna call their high levels of self-esteem.  Why?  Because these guys worked their asses off to get to the levels of where they are today.  Vegeta is like that.  Vegeta worked his ass off to maintain his Prince and Elite status.  He dedicated his life to push himself beyond his limits. He earned Super Saiyan 1, Ascended, Super Saiyan 2, Super Saiyan God, and Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan.

It’s understandable to see why Vegeta was angry at Jiren’s remarks about his ego.  Vegeta had to back up his pride – the thing that drives him to better himself.  Vegeta himself stated that he can never throw that away.   It what makes Vegeta.

Vegeta is an arrogant man.  And what’s wrong with that?

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‘Being humble doesn’t work as well as being aware.’

-Drake, (From his 2014 single The Catch Up)

 

FURTHER RESOURCES:
The Importance of Having a Big Ego:
https://boldanddetermined.com/big-ego/

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday (the inspiration for the article’s title):

DISCLAIMER: I am not associated with Amazon nor Ryan Holiday. I do not make any money off this.

Dragon Ball Super 0

The Emotional Brilliance of Dragon Ball Super Ep. 118

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The word “tragedy” for the episode title of DBS Ep. 118 is fitting.  Beerus losing his twin brother, Champa.  Universe 2 was destroyed e despite their cheer and support for their team.  Piccolo had to defeat warriors of his own race to survive. Valdos was in grief as she saw her hand pick warriors and good friend Champa disappear from existence.  And finally, Vegeta’s anger as he saw once again, his proud warrior race destroyed.

This was truly tragic.  Hiroshi Yamaguchi’s genius writing of Episode 118 should be celebrated and analyze. He graced Super with such emotions that haven’t been felt since the Future Trunks arc.  It must be brought up!  Since I love me some good writing, I decided to break down why this episode is so brilliant. Let’s go!

PART 1: The Beautiful Power of Love

‘Without love, it cannot be seen.’
-Ange Ushiromiya, Umineko no Naku Koro ni

 

Episode 118 opens up with the revelation that Team Universe 2 was broadcasting the tournament to their citizens. The people watched in despair as Ribbranne admits she – and the rest of the Kamikaze Fireballs – were defeated.  She begs her beloved fans to cheer on the final three warriors with their supportive love.  As requested, they start to cheer and send love. The power of their love empowers Zaolin, Zarbuto, and Rabna and pushed them to defeat Universe 7.  They mentioned that the weight of Universe 2’s love is a heavy burden, but they must bear it to save their universe.  This shows us that  Team Universe 2  is loved by this fans.  This can be proven not just story-line alone, but visually as well (as many of their fans were wearing t-shirts  with members of Team Universe 2 printed on them)

With this power of love, Team Universe 2 takes charge towards Team Universe 7.

Time passes and Universe 2 is struggling. During their last stand, Zaolin, Zabun, and Rabunra summons a black heart of love.  I love the symbolism used in this seen.  Obviously, the heart is the symbol of love, but one should note the color of the heart: Black. Going by color theory, the color black is used as a symbol of death.   If an Universe loses in this tournament, they’re erased.

Being erased means death.

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Universe 2 explains how the Black Heart entraps its victims with it crushing, unbearable weight.  The weight of the hearts forces itself to sink to the ground. We can take two things from this.  One: the weight of this heart is the burden that Team Universe 2 must carry to protect the people they love. It represents the trust, faith, and love of the people has towards them.

Two: The sinking is symbolism of Universe 2’s defeat and death – not the defeat of Team Universe 7.  You see, Goku is a simple man.  While he (barely) understands the power of love, he prefers guts and spirit over it.  He’s not going to let love bring him down. And so, Goku overcomes the burden of Universe 2 with a Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken Kamehameha.  The Kamehameha breaks overpowers Team Universe 2, knocking them out of the ring.

Universe 2 is defeated – and destroyed.

 ‘It’s so beautiful.  The moment before imminent destruction.’
Sailor Saturn, Sailor Moon Infinity

Universe 2 has fallen.  Yet, despite destruction approaching, they accept their fate with grace.  The Universe 2’s citizen still happy and celebrating their warriors. The Kamikaze Fireballs perform one final formation; thanking their fans for their loving support.  Then, we have Kakunsa’s final line:

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It’s like the real world: When a love one dies, it is just their body that is dead. The precious memories, love, spirit, support, and bonds, they are still alive in the hearts of the people they touched.

Those feelings will never die.

Universe 2 kept their pride, spirit and love to the bitter end.  They refused to wallow in grief.  Instead, they chose to show love.  They reminded true to themselves, touching the hearts of those they impacted.  A sad approaching event turned into short lived happiness and grace.

PART 2: The Emotional Connection of Universes 6 and 7

While the destruction of Universe 2 is depressing, the true tragedy lies in the destruction of Universe 6: Universe 7’s twin universe.  Bear in mind that members of Universe 7 have personal connections with Universe 6 (Goku and Hit having respect towards one another, Vegeta as Cabba’s mentor, etc.).  In the real world, fans have grown to know and love Universe 6 since their introduction during the Unvierse 6 vs. 7 Tournament arc. Seeing Unvierse 6 being destroyed was a heavy toll for the fans.

 

After Universe 2 charges at Goku and Andorids 17 and 18, there is a scene where Champa is mocking Universe 7 (as Goku is struggling to fight against Universe 2) Valdos chime in to remind him that Universe 6 is at near defeat and follow up with her usual jests and jabs.But   More on that later.  Let’s focus on Piccolo first.

 

Piccolo (along with his son Gohan) are struggling against the Universe 6 Nakemians.
Gohan and Piccolo’s victory over the Nakemians means that Piccolo will, by proxy, wipe out his own people.  Nakemians from another universe, but they’re still Nakemians. Back in DBZ,   Piccolo had to liberate his people who were suffering under Frieza’s rule.  For Piccolo to have to wipe out his own race is a heavy burden – but it’s either his universe or theirs.

The Universe 6 Nakemians go on the offensive against Gohan and Piccolo.  The father/son duo is overpowered, with Gohan jumping in to protect his mentor and father figure. .  Piccolo asks for Gohan’s forgiveness (as he let the fear of the Nakemians’ overwhelming power get to his head).  This mirrors Dragon Ball Z when Piccolo had to risk his life to save Gohan’s.  To see Gohan protecting Piccolo can be consider full circle in this sense.  The two regain their composure fire back at the enemy.


Gohan, along with his (real) father  Goku, both charge up their respective Kamehamehas against their enemies in unison.  Both engage in a beam/energy struggle against Universe 2 and 6.  Gohan is grabbed by Pirana in a failed attempt to stop and attack Gohan.  Piccolo backs Gohan up with a Special Beam Cannon, stopping them. At the climax of the distinct Father-Son Kamehameha, Gohan and Goku overpower their enemies at the same time.

Universes 2 and 6 have dropped out.

The defeat of Universe 6 is a victory for Universe 7, but it’s not something to be celebrated.  As I mentioned earlier, Universe 6 and 7 are twin universes.  Members of Universe 7 (such as Goku and Vegeta) formed personal relationships and bonds with members of Universe 6.  Goku lost Caulifia – a girl he promised he would train and mentor.  You can even say that Caulifia looked up to Goku as an older brother. Piccolo defeating Universe 6 means that he – by proxy – helped wiped out members of his own race.  Vegeta was promised by Cabba that he’ll give him a tour of Planet Salada to see the Saiyans of that race.  Vegeta was longing to visit the King of the Saiyans of that race; since Vegeta himself is of royal blood.  Vegeta will never have get that chance (assuming he does not win the chance to use the Super Dragon Balls).

What make this disheartening and tragic for Vegeta is that this man just witnessed the total destruction of his people once again.  Vegeta grew up experiencing the Saiyans of Universe 7 suffering and dying under Frieza’s rule.  To find out there were full-blooded Saiyans still existing in other universes made him happy.  Now, they’re gone.

He isn’t happy.

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Then there’s the tragedy of  Beerus and Champa.  Yes, the twins did fought and get into arguments, but they’re brothers; that’s natural.  While they didn’t show it, you can tell they still loved each other.  Even if Champa was being goofy towards Beerus at the bitter end, he still loved him. Even if Beerus was stoic about his brother’s death, you can’t say he wasn’t hurting inside.  Beerus want to show it, but he has to keep it together for his team’s sake.

And that’s hard.

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‘I was always thinking of you.
The reality that squeezes my heart
I was always longing to see you
And I’ll continue to forge ahead with that memory’
70cm Squared  Window by Rottengraffy (DBS ED 10)

 

The destruction of Universe 6 reminds me of two lines from the full version of  Dragon Ball Super ED 7 “An Evil Angel and Righteous Devil”.   The first: “Either destroy yourself or destroy everyone else.”  Piccolo had to destroy Pirana and Saoneru.  Gohan, a man who finds no joy in being maliece and hurting/killing others, had to help Piccolo do it.  It was either their universe losing, or defeat Universe 6.

The second line reads “Winning or losing doesn’t benefit anyone – Everyone is simply hurt, crying at the end.”  I’m reminded of this line by Valdo’s grief of losing Champa.  Yes, she did make jabs and jokes at him. Yes, she did call him out on his bullshit at times.  But she did care about him.  She did enjoy his presence…even if she made fat jokes towards him from time to time.

It’s safe to say that those two were good friends, maybe even best friends.

This is Dragon Ball and no good popular character stay dead or erased forever.  There’s the chance that somebody will use the Super Dragon Ball to bring everyone back to life and everything.  I just wish with the emotional driven episode we got with Hiroshi Yamaguchi’s writing that this arc could had been a series finale arc.  Perhaps Toei should had introduce this tournament arc after there was an arc were we got to know all the universes in this tournament a little better.

Just to have that stinging pain of losing them in the Tournament of Power/Unvierse Surivivial arc.  Even people who hated Universe 2 (myself included) were upset and sadden by their deaths.  They went out carefree and happy.  They stay true themselves and rather than cry and complain about hteir last moments of life, The Kamikaze Fireballs and Hellios decided to just be graceful and be themselves.

That in itself, is tragic.

That’s the emotional brilliance of Episode 118. This is why many of us are consider this as the best wrirrten episode of the tournament so far.  It reminded us how the emotional power of Dragon Ball in general.  Dragon Ball is a simple Shouen  action battle anime series that’s more logical than emotional.  But there are times were the emotions do reveal themselves and they hit hard when they’re showcased.  I hope Hiroshi Yamaguchi returns to Super to write yet another emotional episode.  His writing surprising works for Dragon Ball Super.

He deserves so much respect for this episode.