"Goku Strikes Back" is the twenty-second episode of the Vegeta Saga and the twenty second overall episode of the original Saban dub for the Dragon Ball Z series. It aired in first-run syndication on April 26, 1997.
Though severely outclassed by Goku, Nappa stubbornly refuses to give up, and continues to attack Goku. Goku dodges Nappa's attacks with minimum effort, blows away Nappa's ki blast with a kiai, and manages to land several blows on his opponent, one for each of his fallen friends. Napa almost loses control over his rage, but Vegeta angrily tells him to calm down and says he will have no chance of winning if blinded by rage. Nappa powers up to his maximum and fires a blast at Goku, who dodges into the air. Napa gives chase and briefly engages Goku in battle, impressing the young Saiyan, but still unable to best him. As a last resort, Nappa fires a Break Cannon, but Goku easily counters it with a Kamehameha wave and cancels it out, leaving Nappa in shock. Just as Goku prepares to use the Kaio-ken to finish Nappa before things get out of hand, Vegeta furiously orders Nappa to forfeit.
Consumed by rage, Nappa goes for Krillin and Gohan out of spite. Goku gives chase but quickly realizes he will not reach Nappa in time. As a final resort, Goku uses the Kaio-ken Finish and incapacitates Nappa by breaking his back and throwing his limp body at Vegeta's feet. Though Krillin congratulates Goku for defeating Nappa, Goku tells him that the extreme strain from the Kaio-Ken could have destroyed his body, which is why he took this long in using it to take Nappa out. Goku demands that Vegeta leave Earth and get Nappa medical help, but Vegeta refuses, and the final straw occurs when Nappa pathetically begs Vegeta for help. Outraged, Vegeta takes Nappa's hand into his own, but throws him into the sky and fires a powerful blast which hits Nappa and obliterates him completely, angrily telling him that perhaps Nappa wouldn't have been such a disappointment with his death.
With Nappa finally defeated, Vegeta sets his sights on Goku, who orders Gohan and Krillin to return to Kame House. Before they leave however Krillin suggests they take the fight to a different location as the battle could mess up their friends bodies if they came back to life. Goku questions how they could even be brought back now that Kami is dead and the Dragon Balls have disappeared forever. Krillin tells him that if he is able to beat Vegeta then he will clue him in on the details later. Krillin says his farewells to Goku as he descends to tell Vegeta that they are going to fight elsewhere.
As they fly off, Goku watches Vegeta out of his peripheral vision and wonders just how powerful Vegeta really is. Gohan and Krillin look on, wondering if Goku can defeat Vegeta, but nevertheless start their own journey back to Kame House. Gohan agrees, though he seems somewhat reluctant to do so. Trillin puts his hand on his shoulders and reassures the boy, and they fly off with Krillin telling Gohan that his mother will be pretty happy to see him after all this time.
Goku leads Vegeta to the Gizard Wasteland. Vegeta offers for Goku to join him, but Goku counters that he is fighting for Earth, and his family. Vegeta merely smirks and prepares to fight him. The two Saiyans begin to fight and appear to be evenly matched until Vegeta lands a few good blows on Goku. Goku realizes that he is facing an opponent who may very well be stronger than him, but is exited rather than worried. He briefly powers up to Kaio-ken x2 and manages to topple Vegeta, who quickly retaliates and boasts about having encountered a similar ability before.
- Nappa is killed by Vegeta.
- Goku fights Vegeta for the first time.
- Two major events are foreshadowed in this episode. First, Goku claims that, if Vegeta were not so evil, he would make a good sparring partner. This later comes to fruition, albeit it is not until Dragon Ball Super that they are actually seen sparring. The second is when Vegeta offered Goku the chance to replace Nappa as his partner, claiming that they would make a good team. This also comes to fruition in the Fusion and Kid Buu Sagas, where they team up to face Majin Buu.
- There is an episode by the same name in Dragon Ball.
- Interestingly, that episode was the beginning of his fight with King Piccolo and both episodes involve Goku's battle with the main villain of that particular saga.
- During their fight, Vegeta says "That Kaio-ken Attack is a nice trick, but I've encountered something just like it before!" to Goku. Though in a previous episode, King Kai states that no one was ever able to master the technique. Although this could mean Vegeta met/fought someone who used a similar technique.
- IMDb page for "Goku Strikes Back (1997)"
- Review of the episode's censorship
- Review of the episode's censorship
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