Dragon Ball is a series that most anime fans have at least heard of, if not actively explored. The series is full of colourful and memorable characters, but few have such a firm place in the hearts of fans as Gohan. Because the original Dragon Ball anime didn’t get released in the west until years after Z had run its course, to western fans the story often feels more like it’s about Gohan growing into, and beyond, his father’s shadow.
Though he is first introduced to us as a child, by the time the manga’s original run ended he was a grown man with all the responsibilities and issues that come with that. Unlike many in the show who stay more or less the same from their first introduction, Gohan has some of the most drastic development of anyone, making him the perfect subject for this week’s Hump Day Husbando feature.
Who is Gohan?
Throughout Dragon Ball, Gohan grows up into one of the few responsible members of society that Dragon Ball has produced. Goku fails at his singular attempt at holding down a job in Dragon Ball Super. Vegeta lives off his wife’s fortune and spends his days either training or brooding. Piccolo might be a good babysitter at times, but he also spends most of his days in various wastelands staring off into the middle distance. Other than Krillin, Gohan is the only one with a job that doesn’t involve punching mountains or exploiting his obvious superpowers to win at baseball.
The young nerd becomes a scholar, something he expressed an interest in since he was a child. It is a perfectly noble profession and one that affords him and his family a peaceful, comfortable life. His life isn’t about training for the next threat or pushing himself to a new level of power, but Gohan doesn’t seem to mind. He doesn’t mind letting the world get saved by other people if it means he can spend some more time with his wife and daughter. Though that might end up changing when the upcoming movie, the unfortunately titled Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, comes out in April.
Why we love him
In many ways, Gohan is the hero that Dragon Ball is continually crying out for. He lacks the selfishness of his father or the bloody past of Vegeta. The role of hero is one that he willingly steps into when he creates the criminally underrated Great Saiyaman persona in high school. But that isn’t the real reason we love this nerdy goofball. Despite a childhood that is filled with trauma and chaos, including spending a year in the wilderness with only Piccolo for company or care, he grows into a kind, affectionate husband and father.
Dragon Ball is not a franchise built around romance. It was originally a comedy-adventure series that grew into a martial arts show before being about beam struggles and transformations. Which makes Gohan’s development seem almost accidental as a result. Toriyama might have considered giving centre stage of the manga to Gohan at one point, but it isn’t a role that suited him. Despite everyone around him telling him differently, Gohan chose to be a husband and father first and a fighter somewhere down the list.
Why you’ll love him
Gohan might not have the heart of the warrior like his father did, but there is still steel just beneath the surface. When forced, he can still unleash some pretty impressive power on his enemies. If I have just one wish for the upcoming movie, which shows him getting serious about fighting the Red Ribbon Army for the first time since he was a child, it is that we see him pushed to protect those he loves because that is the story that makes Gohan the most interesting and compelling character in Dragon Ball.
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