I love the Dragonball franchise. In fact, I love it more than the Naruto series. Simply for the fact that, despite it’s ridiculous transformation from a show about a young boy going on adventures to aliens fighting gods for the sake of the multiverse, it has a somewhat more kept together lore. There are far less retcons. My biggest complaint for the series (and just to be clear I don’t read the manga) is that only Goku and Vegeta seem to really develop and grow. Perhaps I’m a little spoiled because Dragonball Z centered a lot of it’s story lines around Gohan (in a failed attempt to make him Goku’s successor as the protagonist) but watching the majority of the characters simply play the role of “written in audience” really bothers me. I remember when Krillin could go toe-to-toe with Goku, when Piccolo was the most terrifying force on Earth, and when Majin Buu was a demon said to wipe out all life. Now in this era of angels, destroyer gods, and the actual God of their series being characters, growth for the lesser characters is impossible in a series that lives and dies by it’s battles. The universal tournament allowed for some growth, but not in a real way. Hell, the Saiyans from the other universe got more character development then our own universe’s side characters. As a fan who grew up with this franchise, there’s some ideas I’ve had for years, and even though they’re impossible to do now, I just wanna talk about how cool I think it could have been.
1. Mentally Unstable Gohan
I loved how Akira Toriyama developed Gohan. Unlike most of the fanbase I always hoped he would get to live a life of peace someday. It was made very clear early on that Gohan only fought because of his father and a sense of moral responsibility. As a kid, watching him fully release his power against Cell was probably the coolest thing I’d ever seen, but as an adult, I think it’s somewhat tragic. He suffers a complete psychotic break, and starts killing his enemies, even toying with them. I think what would have been really cool would have been a story line that offers consequence for that. Perhaps Gohan swears off fighting because it still breaks him mentally, or even a story about him addressing all his trauma from all the death in his childhood. Hell, Goku visiting his son in a mental hospital would have been CRAZY right? Maybe something where Goten is protective of his powerful but delicate older brother?
2. Keep Goku dead during Buu Saga
Trunks and Goten are two of my favorite characters, especially after seeing how Future Trunks had to lose Gohan to become Super Saiyan and Kid Trunks did it with ease. Their friendship is absolutely wonderful and I can’t help but think about how cool the story would have been if Goku had left, Vegeta had stayed dead after his sacrifice, and Trunks and Goten were given the chance to be the heroes they’re capable of being, rather than spend a ton of episodes on fusion just for it to not actually stop Buu. Now these promising young fighters can’t even be in the tournaments in Super. They went from future protagonists to wasted potential, and I hate that more than anything else honestly.
3. Vegeta: Savior of Universe 7 Saiyan Race
In Super, when Vegeta meets Saiyans from another universe, he’s shocked to learn that their original home world still exists, since in our main universe, that planet has been gone a long time. Even more so, he’s shocked to hear that Sayains are peace keepers and live mostly happy lives. He even says he wants to know more. Then Goku meets some of those Saiyans and has the time of his life training them. I think a really amazing story for Super, especially now that Broly is around as well, would be to go to the other universe and see these Saiyans. They could teach Broly how to live happily and control his rage, help him heal from his trauma. Goten could go on adventures with Cabba and his group. Maybe they could even make an all new Saiyan home world and replace the lost Planet Vegeta, allowing Vegeta to prove he could be a benevolent leader, defend his people from Freeza and other evil forces, and finally be a king.
In all honesty, I know I’m probably asking a lot of a Shonen battle series, but considering how much the genre has grown over the years, if any series could break out of the mold, it’s the series that invented the mold. These heroes could be so much more than the overpowered fighters they’ve always been. Give them story arcs beyond punching and beam struggles, dive into more of who they are, who they want to be, give them impactful ways to effect the universe around them and further inspire their audience. We can’t aspire to be Super Saiyans, but we can aspire to be heroes.