In the world of anime, there are few women more iconic than Bulma Briefs. Not only has she seen more screentime than almost anyone in the history of Dragon Ball, but she’s also the only female character in the show that has avoided the dreaded Toriyama Effect, which generally drains women of all their agency and usefulness once they have a baby.
Through her technological genius and sheer force of will, Bulma has managed to remain a relevant part of the Dragon Ball world through the original manga run and into Super, so it feels only right that we celebrate her for this week’s Waifu Wednesday feature.
Who is Bulma Briefs?
Dragon Ball is one of the most beloved and enduring properties in anime, and Bulma was there at the very beginning. In chapter 1, when she turned a corner in her car and nearly ran into a little kid, she was the thing that broke Goku out of his happy, isolated existence and set him on the path of adventure. For the first several arcs, Bulma shares top billing with the young martial artist and she plays a big part in the story even after the group has grown to tackle planetary threats.
As one of the richest people on the planet, Bulma is what Tony Stark would be if, instead of developing increasingly elaborate battle prosthetics, he focused on actually helping the world. Capsule Corp pioneers the capsule technology that allows vehicles, food, and water to be transported for a fraction of the cost and size. While Goku and the other fighters on the show might be focused on saving the world, Bulma and Capsule Corp are focused on making the world a better place. Bulma is the rarest of things – a billionaire who isn’t a terrible person.
Why we love her
No one grows and develops quite as much throughout Dragon Ball as Bulma. As one of the original characters, she is presented as youthful, whimsical, and sometimes very selfish. Throughout the show, those qualities don’t entirely go away, but she manages to mature in a way that none of the male characters in the show do.
While Chi-Chi becomes a nagging, overbearing cliché the moment she has a kid, Bulma remains an active member of the team clear to the end of the Buu Saga. She creates the tech the team uses to train and the suit Gohan dons to become the criminally underrated Great Saiyaman. It isn’t just her relationship with Vegeta that gives her value to the story; her own skills and talents are enough.
Why you’ll love her
Aside from being beautiful and a fashion icon, Bulma is easily the smartest and most capable character in the Dragon Ball cast. In fact, she is the only human character that remains consistently useful to the plot all the way through the Super anime. And on top of that, she is the one person in the galaxy capable of taming Vegeta and turning him into something slightly less murderous. I would argue that, despite being one of the two main characters of the show, the Prince of All Saiyans is more dependent on his wife for relevance than she is on him.
In a show where being a mother normally relegates characters to the background for the rest of their lives, Bulma bucks the trend through her brains, beauty, and force of will. That is why, no matter what form she takes or what ridiculous places Dragon Ball goes, Bulma will always be the main character in our hearts. Truly she is a waifu worthy of celebrating.
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