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Sure, Goku’s a terrible father. But you know who aren’t terrible fathers? Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta.

Recently, as Dragon Ball Super has been preparing for its next major arc, the series has been spending some time looking at our heroes in their roles as fathers–and it’s been an interesting watch.

The two part story across episodes 73 and 74 follows Gohan’s adventure surrounding the making of a Great Saiyaman movie. At first, Gohan has nothing directly to do with the project–after all, the public had no idea he was the titular superhero a few years back. However, as Mr. Satan is a co-star in the film, Gohan, along with Videl and Pan, get to go on set. Taking the place of a reluctant stuntman for a dangerous stunt, Gohan finds himself offered the position for the rest of filming–meaning that he will spend most of the action-filled film as the main lead. Gohan accepts, but not for the reasons you might think.

While nostalgic for his time as a superhero–it led him to meet his future wife after all–he decides to do the movie not for himself, but for his daughter. Gohan wants to show Pan that he did something cool in his otherwise mundane adult life as a teacher.

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As a child and teen, Gohan was instrumental in saving not only the world but arguably the entire galaxy. However, with the defeat of Buu, he gave up on the martial artist life and focused on becoming a respectable husband and father. While certainly willing to stand up and fight for the sake of the world, it’s clear by what we see in these two episodes, that he is fighting for Pan more than anything else.

When an alien takes over and transforms the lead actor of the film into a monster, Gohan, as the Great Saiyaman, battles it–and gets his butt kicked to say the least. However, due to his need to look strong for and protect his daughter, he powers through and wins. Becoming a father has made Gohan a stronger fighter and a better man.

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Krillin, the focus of the next two episodes, also feels the need to look strong in front of his wife and daughter. While genuinely happy in his role as a police officer, it is likely because he enjoys being the biggest fish in a small pond. It’s easy to forget, but Krillin is the world’s most powerful normal human; the hardest thing about catching crooks is keeping the collateral damage down.

But when Goku, an alien thousands of times more powerful than Krillin, wants to spar with him, Krillin rejects the offer. It’s only when his wife openly mocks him and his child innocently joins in that Krillin decides to go with Goku to train with their old teacher, Master Roshi.

As part of this training, the two travel to a magical island that brings your fears to life. For Krillin, this means facing many of the villains from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z–mainly the ones that killed him.

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While Goku may have started training as a fighter simply for the love of the fight, Krillin joined a monastery at the ripe old age of four. For him, being a monk and fighter was simply his way of life. Of course, as strong as Krillin became, he just got more and more outclassed as time went on. While Goku simply got stronger to match each enemy, Krillin only became more and more terrified.

On the island, Krillin learns to center his mind and overcome his fear. But, in the end, what drives him to return to martial arts training is the love he has for his family. He, like Gohan, wants to be a superhero to his kid.

Of course, these two stand in stark contrast in the father department when it comes to Goku.

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It’s no secret that Goku isn’t the best father–after his eldest son Gohan turned four, the longest time Goku spent with him was their year together in the hyperbolic time chamber before the Cell Games their three years together training for the androids’ arrival. The majority of the rest of the time, he was either dead, incapacitated, training, or simply taking the scenic route back from Namek. For Goten, it was even worse: He didn’t even get to meet his father till he was seven years old–as Goku chose to remain dead after the cell games. In Super, Goten is still little more than an afterthought in Goku’s life: All Goku wants to do is fight and train.

Even Vegeta is a better father than Goku, as is shown pretty clearly in the latest episode of the series. Goku, wanting to train with Whis, drops by Capsule Corp to grab Vegeta. However, as Bulma is pregnant and past her due date, Vegeta decides that he should stay by his wife’s side and witness the birth of his own daughter. Goku is baffled by this.

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When even the most arrogant and self-centered man in the universe–a man obsessed with being the strongest–decides to skip training for the sake of his family and you can’t understand why, you clearly aren’t winning any Father of the Year awards.

Seriously, a strong fighter he may be, but Goku is both a pretty terrible father and adult. But it’s nice to see that, in Dragon Ball Super, he is the exception and not the rule.

Dragon Ball Super is streaming on Daisuki and Crunchyroll with English subtitles and on Cartoon Network’s Toonami with an English dub.

Comments (13)
  1. Unless you’re seeing something I don’t DBS is only shown with subs online. Dubs are only on Toonami I believe and haven’t made it to Funimation or CR yet.

    • This was totally my mistake. I meant to type Toonami and wrote Funimation out of habit. Thanks for the correction.

    • You actually can watch the dub on adult swims website, and for many of the episodes you don’t even need a cable account, though it lags behind the toonami airings for obvious reasons.

  2. Actually the longest time goku spent with gohan was 3 years in between future trunks going to the past and android saga along with picollo

    • You are 100% correct. For some reason I thought that was only one year. I’ll update the article. Thanks for the catch!

  3. It’s always interesting seeing people laud Vegeta as a good father, completely forgetting the fact that this was a guy who didn’t care about his wife and son potentially getting killed during the early part of the Cell arc.

    And was willing to beat the hell out of his son simply because he had the audacity to second guess him over a tactically stupid decision that inevitably wound up killing him, heck this isn’t getting into the fact Vegeta wasn’t shy about beating up kids simply trying to save their planets.

    What a difference a few years and a case of selective memory makes.

    • I’d say Vegeta becomes a good father–though that’s not to say it’s an easy road for him. But by GT he’s willing to do things he hates, like say, spend a day shopping with his daughter, just because she asks him. Goku, on the other hand, is always pretty damn terrible at it.

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  5. To be fair I don’t think Goku even understands what a FAther is supposed to do. He spent over half his childhood raising himself. It doesn’t make your point less valid, I just wanted to point out that there is a logical reason why he does not seem to realize that you need to treat your kids differently than your friends.

    • Yeah, and on top of growing up in the wild with an adoptive grandfather whose way of raising him involved a lot of martial arts, Goku is an aromantic/asexual man who was tricked into marriage without even having a basic understanding of the concept.

      Plus, Goku’s friends never seem particularly interested in explaining what is expected of him (or why), so of course he doesn’t understand why Vegeta wants to be with Bulma when their daughter is born.

      I actually find it kind of funny that no one ever thought to pass it along to Goku that he had a second son in the years between Cell’s death and the Boo Saga. Considering that most of the core characters can talk to Earth’s “god”, who in turn can get in touch with Kaioh and other important people in the afterlife, you’d think it wouldn’t be much of a problem.

  6. Actually vegeta is a worst dad than goku in many aspects.

  7. I’m not fond of Goku now, and mostly share the view of this article. But I still want to say some words in his protection.

    1) Goku wasn’t brought up in society and wasn’t educated properly in social doings, which played a very important (though tragic) role in establishment of his character. If his Grandpa Gohan has survived, I’m sure things would have been better.

    2) As JediMB pointed out, “Goku was tricked into marriage without even having a basic understanding of the concept.” So while he really loves his wife and children, the combination of this and 1st factor made him care less about them from our, human POW.

    3) Goku stayed dead because he realized that his friends become too dependent on him.

    4) The last, and the most important factor in my mind? Plain poor writing. Many people think that Toriyama and Co. made Goku TOO childish, too selfish, too much anti-heroic.

    Overall I think that Goku isn’t a bad man. But he has enough flaws to make serious mistakes, and that’s exactly what happens.

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