in a few weeks Dragon Ball Super: Superhero will be released in theaters. The movie focuses on the army that can’t figure out a clue (the Red Ribbon Army) and another attempt to unleash some devastating androids with a twist: Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 call themselves. Superheros What excites me about the film is how all the promotional material puts Gohan front and center. The second official trailer even ends with a narration from Piccolo telling Gohan that he has the potential to become the most powerful being on Earth. It looks like the movie will have a lot of Gohan giving it his all, which makes me think of my favorite. Dragon Ball Z saga of all time: the Cell Saga.
Like many anime fans, I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z. I still remember waiting years to see the follow up to Goku’s arrival on Namek, leading up to his iconic battle with Frieza and the first time we saw someone go Super Saiyan. I really enjoy the Frieza Saga and everything that came before it (let me tell you how stressed I was during Goku vs Vegeta), but it was what came after Frieza that really made me appreciate the progression of Dragon Ball Z history. Cell Saga not only gives us one of the most terrifying villains in the franchise, but also pits our heroes against some pretty monumental challenges while presenting us with something that didn’t seem possible: a world without Goku.
Having power doesn’t mean you’re ready to use it
After Cell reaches his perfect form and defeats our heroes (more on that later), he proposes a tournament. Here, he hopes to face the strongest warriors Earth has to offer. To everyone’s surprise, Goku doesn’t seem all that concerned about it, laughing at the fact that Cell is actually stronger than him. That’s because Goku knows that Gohan is the one who can defeat Cell. He relies on it so much that he offers Cell a worn out Senzu Bean at the end of their fight (more on that later, too).
In the long run, Goku is right about Gohan being strong enough to defeat Cell. What he doesn’t take into account is the fact that Gohan is a boy who isn’t ready to engage in battle like his father is. All the times Gohan has fought they have been driven by anger, not an actual desire to fight incredible threats. This is something Piccolo has to point out to Goku, commenting on how Gohan it is strong, but he’s a scared kid who has no idea why his father isn’t doing anything to stop someone as malicious as Cell from hurting him.
Interestingly, this is something Chi-Chi pointed out about a thousand times, though it’s usually ignored because the world needs to be saved. However, at this moment, Goku realizes how bad it is that he put Gohan into battle with a full-powered Cell. While it’s easy to criticize Goku for not realizing this as Gohan’s father, this is a man who has been fighting monumental battles since childhood. This isn’t just because Saiyans love to fight, it’s also because Goku is someone who has been raised to be the savior of the world. However, Gohan is not, nor should he be, as Piccolo addresses the fact that he is an 11 year old. Even worse? He is a boy whose father deliberately let the menace reach maximum heights just to show how strong his son is.
The price of being too proud
There are so many moments where this saga could have ended but someone’s pride got in the way. Vegeta purposely allows Cell to reach his perfect form so he can fight him at his best. I will say that this moment shows how smart Cell is, as he deliberately pushes Vegeta’s pride to convince him to let him absorb Android 18.
So now we have to deal with Perfect Cell, which could possibly have ended if Goku had NOT given him a Senzu Bean after their fight. But, like I said, he gives Cell the bean so he can have the full power of it when he goes up against Gohan, so it’s a fair fight. This leads into that conversation with Piccolo I mentioned along with Cell making smaller versions of himself (Cell Jr.) that are strong enough to take on EVERY SINGLE Z FIGHTER. Eventually Android 16 says some parting words to him. to Gohan. He encourages him to let go and fight for the ones he loves. This prompts Cell to kill the android, and Gohan snaps, transforming into a new Super Saiyan form.
In this new form, Gohan can absolutely screw the shit up for Cell…only he inherited that Saiyan pride as well, choosing to let Cell suffer rather than kill him outright. This leads to Cell (now back in his imperfect form) deciding to blow up the entire planet, much to Gohan’s dismay, as he realizes that he should have killed Cell when he had the chance. Goku ends up taking the hit in it, teleporting Cell off Earth and dying in the process.
There’s always hope
While previous sagas had sort of a countdown clock to disaster, near the end of the Cell Saga things really feel hopeless. Goku is gone, Cell is stronger than ever, and before Gohan can face him, he is injured after saving Vegeta, who had tried to fight Cell after Trunks was killed. Gohan is forced into a one-handed Kamehameha showdown, which seems like he’s prolonging the inevitable.
However, even in the afterlife, Goku still believes in his son, although this time he offers encouragement that doesn’t lead him to feel scared and alone, he pushes Gohan to defeat Cell, with the help of everyone else (particularly Vegeta). ). It’s a good circle back to how this all started. Trunks came from the future to warn everyone of a timeline that Goku was no longer in. In Trunks’ timeline, almost everyone was killed, the world left devastated without Goku there to lead the charge. Instead of things ending in tragedy in our current timeline without Goku, things end on a positive note. Gohan and the rest of the Z Fighters are still there and can make sure the world is protected from evils like Cell.
For me, Cell Saga is the one that I felt had the most important lessons in the series (although I’m also a fan of Vegeta coming to terms with his feelings towards his family in Majin Buu Saga). It always felt like Dragon Ball Z I was leading up to this moment with Gohan, and I loved how that moment came with Goku realizing how much pressure he was putting on him. Honestly, it’s a good examination of the hero’s history and how young these characters in charge of saving the world are. Goku has been at this since Dragon Ball. Gohan has been at it in some capacity ever since he was kidnapped by his own uncle Raditz, quite a traumatic start to discovering your superpowers I might add.
The Cell Saga feels like the one where several key players had much-needed moments of clarity, making it my all-time favourite. Dragon Ball Z history.
(Featured Image: Toei Animation)
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