Dragon Ball‘s two new Super Saiyan forms have created a problem for the franchise moving forward. Back in the glory days of Dragon Ball, transformations were series highlights; dramatic moments that paid off long-term story arcs and are remembered for years to come. Goku first triggering his Super Saiyan form, Gohan surpassing his father while fighting Cell and the drastically different Super Saiyan 3 are all standout scenes in the anime world. Part of the reason these transformations have endured so well in the memory is because they were all given enough space to have the desired impact. The gaps between the main 3 Super Saiyan forms in Dragon Ball Z were long enough so that each debut appearance felt special.
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The new Dragon Ball era has introduced 2 brand new Saiyan modes. The first arrived in 2013’s Battle of Gods, and gave Goku a new red-haired form that was achieved via cooperation with his fellow Saiyans, putting him on a more even level with Beerus, the universe’s God of Destruction. The new look was striking and the epic transformation reminded fans of what they had missed about the Dragon Ball world, while simultaneously making the step-up in power between Super Saiyan 3 and the new Super Saiyan God abundantly clear.
The problems began with sequel movie, Resurrection F, which abandoned the red Super Saiyan God form for a brand new blue-haired upgrade. Not only did this new change come so soon after the previous one (in narrative terms, at least), but it removed the spotlight from the original Super Saiyan God after only a single showing. Unlike the classic series, this took away from the drama and grandeur of Saiyan transformations, making them feel commonplace rather than like special events. Even worse, Goku and Vegeta’s first time transforming into their blue forms occurred off-screen. This raised many questions as to how Super Saiyan Blue was achieved and what its relation was to the standard red mode, causing confusion among fans that still hasn’t fully been cleared up. Dragon Ball relied on lengthy exposition to explain Goku and Vegeta’s blue new look, when showing viewers would’ve been both more useful and more entertaining.
Having such a close gap between Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue also meant that there was no discernible gap in power between the two, especially compared to the older levels. Fans hadn’t seen enough of the red form to figure out its placement on Goku’s overall scale of transformations and Dragon Ball itself couldn’t seem to quite decide either. At first, Super Saiyan Blue was presented as the higher version of Super Saiyan God, similar to how the original Super Saiyan mode upgraded Goku‘s regular state. More recently, however, the series has retconned this explanation, now claiming that Super Saiyan God can be faster but the blue form is stronger in shorter bursts, further muddling the situation.
As things stand, Goku and Vegeta both possess two Super Saiyan God transformations that they seem to use in conjunction with each other – Blue the optimum and Red dragged out in specific situations. While a somewhat cumbersome solution, this balance is preferable to giving the original Super Saiyan God an off-screen burial with little in the way of explanation. The real answer, however, would’ve been to resist rushing into a new transformation in Resurrection F and stick with the red form for a while longer, showing Vegeta’s initial multi-Saiyan hand-holding transition and then building up both he and Goku to their new blue forms over a longer period.
Perhaps the lure of a new range of blue-topped merchandise and action figures was too much to resist, or maybe the studio figured another Super Saiyan transformation was the best way to create buzz for their new release. In either case, rocketing through the hair colors hasn’t helped Dragon Ball in the long run.
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