Dragon Ball: Goku’s Search For The Perfect Rival

Goku has gone through plenty of rivals over the years. What’s behind his search for the perfect adversary?


  • Dragon Ball is about the themes of getting stronger, adventure, and overcoming physical limits.
  • Goku’s mindset is to constantly improve and be stronger, influenced by his early teacher Master Roshi.
  • Goku’s search for the perfect rival and his desire to be stronger is more important to him than reaching one single peak.



Dragon Ball first and foremost is about a story of getting stronger, adventure, and eventually becomes about overcoming your own physical limits. From Gohan’s explosive anger, to Vegeta’s Pride in his Saiyan heritage, all the way back to Goku’s simple drive to be stronger; Dragon Ball has always been about these themes mixed together. In the case of Goku, many people think that he wants to be the strongest in the universe, when really he just wants to keep improving on being stronger.

It may seem like an odd distinction to make, but it is something that Goku was taught and reinforced by his early teacher Master Roshi; Goku would internalize that life lesson which says that there will always be somebody stronger, pushing Goku to want to learn more and be stronger as a martial artist and combatant. With that said, how long has his search for the perfect rival taken him, and why being stronger is more important to him than objectively reaching one single peak?

The Early Journey Towards A Rival

Dragon Ball- Goku Namek Saga

Son Goku is strong, even as a child he was an abnormal young man with strength to break bricks and even become a Giant Ape, but despite his strength it is his mindset that has pushed him to find stronger and stronger rivals to push him towards greater heights. From Yamcha’s first appearance, to Tienshinhan’s initial standing as a student of the Crane School, and even Piccolo Jr. as his ‘nemesis’ for a while, Goku has been challenged by powerful individuals that pushed him to become stronger. It isn’t until the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai where Goku becomes the strongest on Earth, but even then, he never stopped training for greater heights with Piccolo always around the corner at the time. Of course, by the time the Saiyan Saga rolled around, Goku strived to be an even stronger opponent against the Saiyans, including Vegeta, who would later on become his perfect rival in most senses of the word as well as another obstacle to overcome.

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However, Son Goku’s mindset is more important in this case as opposed to just simply the powers and techniques he learns. Vegeta, during the Saiyan Saga at least, used to proclaim himself as the strongest; Vegeta believed he was the strongest, so he never believed he needed to learn anything or the idea that anybody beneath him could challenge his authority and power without being fearful.

This mindset is what lead to his defeat in many of the following arcs as well, from the Saiyan Saga to the Buu Saga until he cast aside the evil in his heart. As soon as he believed he had reached a peak in each of those arcs, he had been humbled and reminded that there was always someone stronger than him around the corner. In a way, Vegeta was the perfect rival to Goku by showing where he needed to grow as well as pushing Goku to use techniques that he otherwise never had before. However, Goku was always one step ahead of him from there on forward because of the mindset that spurred Goku to become stronger. Goku’s mindset to become stronger meant he had no reason to stop training, which meant he was better prepared against the evils that happened in the Frieza Saga.

Why Being Stronger Was The Point

Dragon Ball - Goku's Training Pose

Needless to say, Goku and Vegeta became rivals all the way through their struggles and strife, with the difference that both of them have taken the mindset to grow stronger as opposed to staying comfortable as the self-proclaimed strongest. They never stopped training, and because of that they grow to god-like strengths and gain new, impressive techniques. In that sense, the point of finding a perfect rival for Goku was about finding somebody who had the same mindset as him. Someone who would give him a reason to keep training and becoming stronger, constantly tipping the scales in different more radical ways. The themes of getting stronger and rivalry are explored with Goku and Vegeta, and Goku had achieved a perfect rival at the time thanks to his own mindset.

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Of course, many fans might consider this mindset to be confusing considering how Goku is objectively usually the stronger opponent in most confrontations. As well as his constant victories over the bad guys as a whole, which prove to be a result of many fans potentially missing the point. Goku versus Vegeta was on the losing end, and the story knew this. Against Frieza it was an uphill battle until his transformation. However, the common thread is that Goku surpassed his physical limitations and kept getting stronger because he believed there would always be someone or something stronger than him. In that sense, Dragon Ball Z’s Goku is inspirational due to this staple of the Shōnen protagonist.

Dragon Ball Z is available to stream on CrunchyRoll.

Fuente: successacademy.edu.vn
Categorías: Anime

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