Movie Reviews

Dragon Ball's Frieza Was Always a Terrible Villain, & Bardock Proves It

Warning: contains spoilers for Chapter 83 of Dragon Ball Super

The recent flashbacks in Dragon Ball Super have changed a lot of what fans thought they knew about Goku’s father, Bardock, but one of the biggest changes has to do with Frieza’s inability to keep his genocidal plans a secret from his soon-to-be victims.

As a character, Bardock was first created for the Dragon Ball Z anime, and didn’t appear in the manga until much later. Bardock’s first appearances in the anime gave him a much gruffer personality than his amiable son would have. His reasons for sending Goku away in a tiny space pod are also spawned from visions of the future where he sees the destruction of his homeworld and, in the moments before his death, a glimpse at the hero Goku would become and his ultimate victory over Frieza. While some of these elements were preserved in Super‘s manga re-imagining of Bardock, others have changed radically, like Bardock’s reasons for being suspicious of Frieza.

Related: Dragon Ball Super is Completely Justifying its Goku Problem

Chapter 83 of Dragon Ball Super by Akira Toriyama and Toyotarou changes a great deal about Bardock. Originally sent to the planet Cereal to help conquer it as part of a squadron of Great Ape-transforming Saiyans, Bardock runs into a woman and a small child, who remind him of his own family. Bardock tries to hide them, as they’re some of the only survivors, but he’s eventually forced into a confrontation with Gas of the Heeters. Despite the fact that the Heeters don’t seem to particularly like Frieza, they do have a lot of business with him, a fact which somehow let Gas in on what should’ve been one of the best-kept secrets in Universe 7: Frieza’s plan to wipe out planet Vegeta. And the Heeters doesn’t just know that the Saiyans may soon all be dead; Elec specifically mentions the “meteor” cover story that was fed to the handful of surviving Saiyans like Vegeta, implying a fairly intimate knowledge of the plan.

Frieza isn’t one for trusting others, especially not partners in a business deal who owe him little loyalty, so it’s a mystery how Gas became aware of this plan. The particular phrasing seems to suggest that Frieza has done this sort of thing before, but if that were the case, one would expect more Saiyans to be suspicious. Regardless of how he found out,  Gas tipped Frieza’s hand to Bardock, which eventually motivates him to launch Goku far away to Earth to ensure his survival. It’s a pretty substantial change from the visions of the future that the anime provided, but it’s arguably a better story. Now, Bardock is only able to save Goku’s life because he was willing to risk his own to save Granolah. Ironically, Granollah would go on to be a great enemy for Goku. There’s an element of divine providence to it that really fits the epic, mythical hero vibe Dragon Ball Super has been into.

The Bardock flashbacks in Dragon Ball Super have come to an end for now, just in time for a poetic rematch between his son and Gas at the very same location. Frieza’s loose lips about the Saiyan Genocide plans eventually came back to haunt him on Namek. The only question now is whether Frieza learned his lesson, or if Gas will have some similarly awful taunt ready for Goku in the present that can kickstart the next arc.

Next: Dragon Ball Super’s Saiyan ‘Weakness’ Could Change Franchise Lore Forever

Chapter 83 of Dragon Ball Super is available to read now on Viz’ Shonen Jump app!

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