Anime, Opinion

The Bad Rap: The Great Saiyaman

I have an affinity for anime characters that people enjoy hating on. What can I say, I guess I just love the unusual, and thankfully for me, anime is chock full of the unusual.

Case in point, today’s installment of The Bad Rap is a character arc my brother and I have a full blown argument about AT LEAST once a year. Yes, you read that right – a character arc, because there is no denying that the character himself was badass and relevant to the overall story. We are talking about Dragon Ball Z’s Gohan, but more specifically, we are discussing his super secret alter-ego The Great Saiyaman!

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Gohan as the hero of justice, The Great Saiyaman!

Let’s have a bit of a refresher since this arc was first released about 27 years ago. So we begin seven years after Gohan whooped Cell’s ass during the Cell Games. Our boy is a teenager in high school at this point, and he is only trying to live his best life as normally as possible while dealing with the public school scene. But you know living a normal life ain’t Gohan’s style, so he defends the city as a secret crime fighter on the side.

As you can imagine, this gets pretty dangerous for him since being found out could have some nasty consequences for his social life at school. You know how high school can be. So, Gohan, with the help of Bulma, design a sweet crime fighting ensemble that hides his identity and allows him to serve justice raw to the evildoers of his city, thus becoming The Great Saiyaman!

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My dude has the best moves for letting those criminals know what’s coming for them!

I think Gohan just really struggled with being a socially awkward teen. I mean, can you blame him after the kind of childhood he had?? He had great intentions when he donned that suit, but the moment Videl started nosing her way into his business, it all just began falling apart. Granted, her nosing began before the amazing costume change and the heroic phrases, but that’s neither here or there. It is my full belief that Gohan needed this identity as a way to move from being the alien killing hero he became as a child into this new normality of being a teen in a world that still couldn’t understand what he was. As silly as the arc was sometimes, I like to think that this was just his way of trying to form his own identity. Saiyaman might not have been a fan favorite for most, but I always saw it as a neat psychological look into a character that had progressed so damn much through the series.

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What do y’all think? Do you agree with my brother that The Great Saiyaman was unneeded and a weird step back for Gohan, or do you also believe this arc went to show you a developmental process for a complex character in a lighthearted way? Or do you have a completely different opinion altogether? Let us know in the comments – we want to hear from YOU! ✌

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