Dragon Ball Super Exposes Just How Monstrous the Saiyans Were
The Dragon Ball Super manga gives a glimpse at the Saiyan race waging war, and their battle tactics aren’t exactly worthy of Vegeta’s high opinion.
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Warning! Spoilers for Dragon Ball Super chapter 77 ahead!
The latest chapter of Dragon Ball Super offers a look at how the Saiyans operated under Frieza’s leadership, and the story proves that Saiyans really were worthy of their terrible reputation around the galaxy. There’s long been a bit of a disconnect between what Saiyans were said to be, and what they’ve been shown as in the story. Goku is said to be an outlier, with his good-natured behavior attributed to literal brain damage as a child. The arrival of Nappa, Vegeta and Raditz as the first other Saiyans shown indicated that most members of Goku’s species were rough-and-tumble mercenaries, with the very few of them who were still alive working under Frieza. Frieza conquered the Saiyan homeworld of Planet Vegeta long before that, however, and during that time period he had millions of Saiyans working under him.
The Saiyan’s M.O. was essentially to send a child to a planet, wait for the child to take it over, and then sell off its resources to the highest bidder. They considered a single Saiyan in Great Ape form to be sufficient to conquer almost any planet, so dispatching more than one was extremely rare. However, under Frieza’s command entire armies of Saiyans were deployed against the Namekians and Cerealians, with many of them entering their Great Ape form the moment they landed.
Chapter 77 of Dragon Ball Super shows the brutality of the Saiyan attack on Cereal. They immediately begin tearing down structures and killing whomever they can get their hands on. A valiant attempt to stop them involves destroying the planet Cereal’s moon, which is not a bad strategy as the moon is essential to a Saiyan’s ability to reach the Great Ape state. Unfortunately, these Saiyans are just as ruthless in their humanoid forms, and continue slaughtering the population anyway. Only a single Namekian and a single Cerealian, Granolah, are able to survive, and that is only thanks to Bardock’s sympathy.
Seeing the Saiyans in action is a bit of an eye opener, highlighting just how different the Saiyans of Dragon Ball Super’s present are from their ancestors. Vegeta may see the Saiyan people as his proud warrior race, but a “warrior” race is really a matter of perspective—after all, what’s so honorable or warrior-like about wiping out a planet full of peaceful people who barely even resist? The power the Saiyans’ wielded was immense, but their use of it was indiscriminate, and not worthy of the proud memory that Vegeta carries. In a way, Goku has remolded the modern Saiyans into a true warrior race: proud of their abilities and eager to test themselves, but only interested in fighting those they see as being of equal or greater strength, and primarily for the purpose of growth, not conquest.
While fans occasionally wonder why Goku or Vegeta don’t simply use the Dragon Balls (or Super Dragon Balls) to wish back the Planet Vegeta, this incident may well provide the answer. While Vegeta has a respect for his father and his people, he also understands what they were and how dangerous they could be. Changing them and their culture to be more in line with how Goku and Vegeta live now might simply be impossible, and for Vegeta, it’s more important to remember them as proud warriors, rather than bring them back and be reminded of the cold realities of war. At least Dragon Ball Super has given the Saiyan race a second chance in Universe Six, and hopefully the survivors of Universe Seven’s Saiyans can help keep them from making the same mistakes.