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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.