The Saiyans are a powerful warrior race and play a central role in Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT once it is revealed that the main character, Son Goku, is actually a Saiyan.
The name is an anagram of yasai(野菜), which is Japanese for vegetable, followed by the suffix jin(人 or じん) which is a Japanese suffix for person. (This essentially means that "Saiya-jin" and "Saiyan" stand for "vegetable person".) (For comparison, American (citizen) is translated as Amerika-jin).
Essentially, Saiyan is a more direct English translation of the word.
All pure-blood Saiyans that appear in the series and related movies are named using puns on various vegetables.
The Saiyan race
Although the manga does not tell of the origins the Saiya-jin race, the complete history of the Saiyans was revealed in the Dragon Ball Z OVA. The Saiyans were a group of barbaric aliens who came to the Tuffle's cities to take their territory and technology. When the Saiyans first arrived they met the friendly Tuffles, an advanced scientific race who had no way knowing the Saiyans would eventually take the whole planet for themselves and destroy their race. One day a civil war broke out and the Saiyans tried many times to overthrow the Tuffles but were unsuccessful, although the Saiyans were bigger in size and much stronger, they were fewer in number compared to the Tuffles. What also gave the Tuffles a upper hand was that they had technology to read the power levels of the Saiyans and advanced weaponry to hold them off. Then one night the Saiyans were able to transform into Great Apes thanks to the fullmoon that only came once every twenty years, with this they finally annihilated the Tuffles and had the planet renamed (Planet Vegeta). After their victory the Saiyans built a rocket ship and traveled to a near by planet called Arcose were they meet the Arcosians (little is know about this race as they are only mentioned once in the series by King Kai), now the Arcosians had money and technology but the planet Arcose was a dump, so they hired a group of Saiyans to take over a planet for them and in return they would share their technology with them. Over the years the Saiyans also learned how to use the Tuffle's advanced equipment and become somewhat smarter and less barbaric, although they still lusted for fighting and destruction. At some unknown time following the Saiyan victory the planet was conquered or annexed by Freeza's empire and the Saiyans (like many other races) were drafted to serve as soldiers in Freeza's military. Because of the Saiyans' innate strength and penchant for violence, they were considered to be useful mercenaries and assisted in the conquering of many planets, or if assignment called for, eradication of the planet's population. (Even Saiyan children were considered powerful enough to conquer some of the weaker planets, such as Earth.) Eventually, seeing how quickly some of the more gifted Saiyan warriors were gaining power through battle, Freeza grew concerned with the potential of the Saiyan race and thought that they would grow strong enough to face him or even become the fabled Super Saiyans, able to defeat him in battle so the maniacal warlord destroyed Planet Vegeta, almost eradicating the Saiyan race. Only four pure-blood Saiyans survived the destruction, Kakarot (Son Goku), Vegeta, Nappa and Raditz as they were not on the planet at the time. Once the latter three discovered that their planet's destruction, Freeza lied to them that a comet had hit their world, and offered them continued employment in return for eventual wealth.The Saiyans were avenged when Son Goku defeated Freeza on Namek. Freeza later met his end on Earth when Future Trunks killed him. In the anime only, four more Saiyans survived the catastrophe, appearing in the Dragon Ball Z movies. Tullece, Broly, Paragus, and Tarble.
Planet Vegeta is the true homeworld of the Saiyans, they shared it with the Tuffles. Planet Vegeta was conquered by the Saiyans after the defeat of the dominant race, the Tsufurujin, an incredibly intelligent but physically weak race. Lead by Vegeta's ancestor, also named Vegeta, the Saiyans were victorious and took the Tuffles cities and technology and renamed the planet Vegeta.
After King Vegeta was crowned king it was prophesied that the fabled Legendary Super Saiyan would be born from his bloodline, later on in the series it was proven false and left Prince Vegeta with a deep wound caused by the humiliation.
The planet has a natural gravity that is 10 times that of Earth which helps give Saiyans a greater natural strength than most races.
After the warlord Freeza decided that the Saiyan race could potentially pose a threat to his tyranny, the planet was completely obliterated from space taking most of the Saiyan race with it.
Saiyans are outwardly very similar to humans, except for their increased natural strength, ability to manipulate Ki with great ease and their monkey-like tails. They are commonly seen to have black hair although there have been rare occasions when they have also been shown to have brown hair.
Pure-blood Saiyan hair never changes length or style once it has fully grown. This is not the case with half-breeds like Gohan and Trunks who are shown to have several different hair-styles throughout the series'. Both of Vegeta and Bulma's children inherited their hair color from their mother's side. Goku's children both have black hair like him, but then their mother Chi Chi also has black hair.
Saiyans also all have dark eyes though half-breeds do not always share this trait as Vegeta's son, Trunks, and daughter, Bra, inherited blue irises.
Similar appearances can be noted in:
- Goku's hairstyle and Raditz's eyes look like Bardock.
- Vegeta looks and sounds like King Vegeta, except King Vegeta has a beard and his hair is brown.
- Gohan looks like Chi-Chi(and as a teen, later Goku).
- Goten looks like Goku.
- Trunks is a male version of Bulma with slight similarities to Vegeta.
- Bulla looks like Bulma.
Saiyans tend to share common personality traits, even at young ages. Being a war-like people; they share an innate enjoyment for conflict and fighting; choosing violence over peace with other races. Saiyans are typically very aggressive and hard-headed, with short explosive tempers. They are an intensely proud people, with a society heavily based around honor and social hierarchy. Inclined to be arrogant at times leading them to allow enemies to gain advantages in battle for fun. It appears (as demonstrated by Vegeta, Nappa, and Bardock) they have a tendency to let their emotions get the better of them when roused in stimulating situations - resulting in them at times making rash decisions. They also appear to lack sympathetic emotions though by choice rather than nature shown by their relative lack of fear of death and uncaring attitude towards siblings, i.e. Radditz brutal beating of his long-lost brother Goku and Vegeta's indifference to his father's death. A possible reason for that (theoretically according to some fans) could be that their society was corrupted in that area as a result of generations of being under Freeza's occupation. Clearly, Vegeta nor Nappa never showed any signs of sympathy for their fallen comrade Raditz when he was killed, they merely laughed and stated that he was only a "weakling". Vegeta and Nappa themselves had a good degree of camaraderie between them, but Vegeta did not hesitate to kill Nappa later on when he displayed weakness by panicking at Goku's power. (However, in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, he himself claimed that he gave Nappa a noble warrior's death.). Also, Raditz implied in the storyline Fateful Brothers that Saiyans may have been uncaring and battle-starved due to having guilt, as he says to Gohan that he and his race did terrible things as punishment for their sins.
In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 Bardock is stated as being a good guy, (You can see by the color of his Dragon Ball in the Custom Characters menu) and in the movie special Dragon Ball Z: A Final Lonesome Battle Bardock is shocked and saddened at seeing his crew, as well as his best friend Toma slaughtered by Dodoria. Bardock's final words before dying "This is for all the people we killed in your name" also states that he wasn't all evil. After the destruction of Planet Vegeta, Bardock talks to Goku from the other side saying "I wish I could have held you in my own two arms". Bardock may possibly be the first Saiyan to show true emotions. Another indication is that in Supersonic Warriors 2 after meeting Goku in the Other World and helping him defeat Frieza and Cell, he offers Goku to help him take over the Other World, Goku declines and rather than trying to destroy him and do the deed by himself he peacefully accepts and promises he won't try to take over himself.
Though Saiyans share aesthetic similarities to humans, they are fundamentally different on a biological level, possessing many unique abilities.
Saiyans have a naturally higher strength than a lot of different species, essentially built for fighting. The naturally high gravity of Planet Vegeta develops their strength further making them considerably strong at young ages. Even weak Saiyans are capable of conquering most planets alone. Through tough training Saiyans are able to reach new levels of power and the more intense training and fights they go through, the stronger they become.
Speed and agility
Saiyans have great speed and agility. They also have much faster reflexes than an average human; reflexes so fast that they can avoid a bullet or energy beam without much problem. Super speed can easily be seen in their fighting skills; their movements occur in fraction of seconds which are not visible to human eyes. Their agility is also substantial in their battles and training. These movements can be improved by training, transformations, and other methods.
Saiyans possess a natural affinity to the manipulation of Ki energy allowing them to utilize flying and energy based attacks with incredible ease as well as unlock great depths of power when needed, or lending energy to others in battle when it's really necessary. Lost energy is regained by the Saiyan in a very short span of time, regardless of the amount of energy lost. Sometimes, the Saiyan's energy is doubled or tripled when regained, as hinted by Vegeta.
Saiyans are also noted for being ravenous trenchermen with seemingly insatiable appetites. Owing to their immense strength and intense aura, their energy and nutritional intake needs are a great deal higher than most human beings'. They are often shown eating plate after plate of food, resulting in many dishes piling up, often eating more food than logically possible. At the end of the 21st Tenkaichi Budoukai, Goku, when he was only 12 years old, hastily consumed a 50 course meal (57 in the dub) in one sitting. In Daizenshuu 4, it is stated that they have no preferences when it comes to food; this is hinted with Vegeta munching on the flesh of an alien creature on the planet he and Nappa were on before departing for Earth. Note that this is not restricted only to full-blooded Saiyans, as even the normally polite Gohan has been seen eating large quantities of food in this way.
All pure-blood and 1/2 hybrid Saiyans possess a tail, monkey-like in appearance and covered in brownish fur. The tail is a particularly sensitive area for Saiyans when grabbed or injured, it causes great pain to the owner, and temporarily immobilizes the whole body. However elite class Saiyans can train themselves to overcome this weakness - as did Nappa, Vegeta and also Goku (when he was preparing for the upcoming Budokai on Papaya Island, after being reminded by his grandfather at Baba's), and the tail becomes no more fragile than any other limb. The tail is very prehensile, and can be used to grasp things like many other primates. It has been mentioned in Dragon Ball that a Saiyan with a tail gains more power than one without a tail.
The tail also provides a unique gift in that it allows a Saiyan to transform into an Great Ape and potentially a Super Great Ape. If the tail is removed, this power is lost. Some Saiyans have the ability to grow back their tails at various times, but at some point in life this regenerative ability is lost. Gohan for instance, who is not even a pure blooded Saiyan, grows his tail back numerous times after having it removed. Vegeta has his tail cut off during battle, but it is important to note that he is an adult and it never grows back, except through artificial means in Dragon Ball GT.
Goku is similar, his tail is cut off many times in Dragon Ball (anime) (mostly to stop him from being an Great Ape and wrecking the city), that he also never gets his tail back while an adult. The exception to this rule is when Goku is transformed into a child in GT; it required the training of the Elder Kai to regrow his tail. This is presumably due to the influence of the dragon balls artificially suppressing his age. It is reasonable to conclude that Goku at that time was in fact a child only in appearance, hence explaining why his tail could not be re-grown naturally and required the Kai’s assistance. This is also supported by the fact that the magic of the dragon balls could be temporarily overcome by transforming into Super Saiyan 4, clearly showing Goku in his adult form.
Gohan is the only half breed Saiyan seen with a tail in the series. Other half breeds like Trunks, Future Trunks, Goten, and Bulla are not seen with tails, presumably because they were cut off at child birth to prevent them from transforming into Great Apes.
Healing (seikan power)
If a Saiyan survives a near-death experience through extreme injury to the body then when the body recuperates the Saiyan grows much stronger than they were previously, their body adapting to compensate for the damage dealt. The duration of recovery does not seem to hinder this ability as Saiyans have healed through natural, technological and mystical means and still gained substantial increases in strength. Saiyans also appear able to heal from injuries at a slightly faster rate than humans and possess a greater deal of durability to damage.
Aging and lifespan
Although Saiyans remain in their youth and prime longer than Humans, their lifespan is about the same according to Daizenshuu 4. As explained by Vegeta in the final chapter, they stay young longer so that they can enjoy battle longer. This is seen when Nappa, who was Vegeta's attendant when Vegeta was a child, is in his prime still long after Vegeta has become an adult, but in actuality Nappa is about 50 years old. Chi-Chi complained of this in Dragon Ball GT when Goku was reduced to a child, thus making the fact that she was getting older faster that much more apparent. This is again demonstrated in the GT finale when Pan is seen one hundred years later still strong but with gray hair despite being only a quarter Saiyan. Also some humans appear to lack any signs of aging (like Yamucha or Tenshinhan) so one can conclude that persons with greater power level and strength age slower than ordinary humans.
In regards to lifespans, it's implied by Old Kai that Saiyans, or at least Goku, may live for about a thousand years. This is shown when Goku grew back up into an adult; 100 years later he still looked like he was in his mid forties.
Their tail also grants a Saiyan special transformations. Though a painful weak-spot for lower-class Saiyans, the tail allows a Saiyan to transform into a giant Great Ape beast when looking at a full moon. The Saiyan grows incredibly in size and tenfold in strength while drastically changing in appearance. If the tail is removed, this ability is lost. In this state, some Saiyans have limited control, but their aggressiveness is at its peak and they often become mindless animals fueled by destructive rage. There is also the Golden Great Ape transformation.
Golden Great Ape
Golden Great Apes are the far stronger version of the Great Ape.
Main article: Super Saiyan
The very most powerful ability of a Saiyan however, is the ability to drastically augment their speed, strength and energy by transforming into a Super Saiyan. The ability is rare and difficult to achieve normally but gives the Saiyan incredible enhancements to their normal abilities. Saiyans possess several Super Saiyan transformations, each different in appearance and the power they provide. For the majority of the Super Saiyan forms, the Saiyans muscle mass increases slightly, their irises turn green and their hair turns blond/golden. In Dragon Ball GT however, a fourth form was achieved where the Saiyans body becomes covered in a reddish fur, the hair becomes darker and longer and the irises alter color (Although the eye color appears to be different for each Saiyan.)
Female Saiyans have never been shown to be able to transform into Super Saiyans, however Akira Toriyama has stated that there were no female Saiyans to transform until the introduction of Pan and she never had the motivation to transform. It is fair to assume that the same attributes apply to female Super Saiyans, increasing their physical abilities and altering their physical appearance in a similar way to male Super Saiyans.
Due to their healing abilities and the legend of the power of Super Saiyans, Frieza destroyed Planet Vegeta, causing the Saiyan race to border on extinction.
In FUNimation's more recent, remastered dub of Dragon Ball Z, when Prince Vegeta talks about the Legend of the Super Saiyan, he states that he never believed in it and that he thought it was just a myth. This conflicts greatly with Vegeta's proud, Saiyan personality and his upbringing by his father. In the original English translation he says that only his royal bloodline holds the key to becoming the Legendary Super Saiyan.
Saiyan reproduction is assumed to be similar to that of humans in at least one parent provides DNA to create the offspring. The only main full Saiyans seen, Goku, Radditz, Turles, Broly, Paragus, Vegeta and Nappa are never shown to have mothers so their true origin is unknown. However, since they can produce offspring with humans it is plausible that they share similar genes to humans and share similar reproductive habits. One female and (presumably) pure-blooded Saiyan named Seripa (Fasha in the FUNimation dub) has been shown(Although a number of unnamed female saiyans were seen too in a bar), but this was in the Bardock TV Special and thus its canonicity is questionable. However, it is noteworthy, that when Radditz tells Goku about the destruction of their home planet, he mentions that their parents died along with it.
When a hybrid of Saiyan and Human heritage is born, it is very common for them to posess extreme fighting potential. Generally the male hybrids are the most powerful, far exceeding the powers of their full Saiyan parent. It is also very common for them to develop the ability to transform into Super Saiyans at childhood. Due to their Human emotions and Saiyan abilities these hybrids have almost limitless potential, but with the exception of Future Trunks, don't tend to share the interest in fighting and becoming stronger than pure Saiyans like Goku and Vegeta do. Saiyan Hybrids tend to become easily distracted from training.
Other partial Saiyans like Pan seem to lack the qualities hybrids have, and age much more like Humans do, and have weaker power levels.
Saiyan families appear to be far different to that of a traditional human family. Children are kept in pod devices as infants and monitored by doctors whilst their parents are usually occupied on mercenary missions. Even as infants, their natural strength means that they are able to conquer planets like Earth single-handedly and so it is unlikely they spend much, if any time with their parents or siblings. Saiyans do tend to have close relationships with their friends/comrades however, with whom they do spend a great deal of time in battle. Of the (pure-blooded) Saiyan families seen, none have had close relationships except Prince Vegeta and his Father (and maybe even Paragus and Broly, to a lesser extent).
In the Bardock TV special when Bardock was asked by Seripa if he remembered what day his new born son was born. He replies, "No, but that was a long time ago," possibly referring to his elder son Raditz. She then goes on to say that it was the day before, and that he should go see him.
The Saiyan race is governed by a Royal family system lead by King Vegeta. King Vegeta lead the revolt against the Tsufurujin and the planet was named after him. It is assumed that he was the first King and it is mentioned that he was one of the smarter, more tactical Saiyans which helped lead the race to their victory. Vegeta, being the son of King Vegeta was a prince and undoubtedly next in line to the throne had the planet survived. Even though the Saiyan race has seemed to have vanished, Vegeta still refers to himself as "the prince of all Saiyans"
In the first Broly movie, Vegeta is named king by Paragus when he invites Vegeta to a new planet to rule as King, though he didn't have any form of coronation. He also calls Future Trunks "Prince Trunks" while Trunks argues with his father that Paragus is leading them into a trap.
Main article: List of Saiyans in Dragon Ball In addition to the name "saiyan" being an anagram of the Japanese word for vegetable, most pure Saiyan characters in the series also have names with vegetables puns-- either in English or Japanese. Furthermore, the Saiyan Royals are keeping in line with this, simply named Vegeta(ble).
List of full-blooded Saiyans
- Bardock: Father of Goku and Raditz, he is killed by Freeza.
- King Vegeta: King of the Saiyans and father of Vegeta and Tarble, he is killed by Freeza.
- Raditz: Brother of Son Goku, he is killed by Piccolo.
- Goku: The protagonist whose original Saiyan name is Kakarot (Kakarotto in original Japanese version).
- Vegeta: Goku's greatest rival and the prince of all Saiyans.
- Nappa: A large bald Saiyan who was Vegeta's partner and commander of Saiyan army, he is killed by Vegeta.
- Collifum: A large muscular Saiyan seen only in the pendulum room.
- Saegi: A short balding Saiyan seen only in the pendulum room.
- Zorn: One of King Vegeta's subjects.
- Turles: Main villain of Dragon Ball Z Movie #3. Looks just like Goku. He was killed by Goku.
- Fasha: The only female member of Burdock's team, she is killed by Boysenberry of Dodoria's Elite.
- Borgos: A large balding member of Burdock's team, he is killed by Grepe of Dodoria's Elite.
- Toma: A tall masculine member of Burdock's team, he is killed by Dodoria.
- Shugesh: A big overweight member of Burdock's team, he is killed by Tanger of Dodoria's Elite.
- Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan that is born every 1000 years, main villain of Dragon Ball Z Movies #8, #10 and #11. Killed by Goku, Gohan, Goten and Trunks.
- Paragus: Father of Broly, he is killed by Broly.
- Tarble: Vegeta's little brother who has a lack of fighting spirit.
List of partial Saiyans
- Gohan - 1/2 Saiyan, eldest son of Goku
- Trunks - 1/2 Saiyan, Son of Vegeta
- Future Trunks - 1/2 Saiyan, Son of Vegeta (Alternate Timeline)
- Goten - 1/2 Saiyan, Youngest son of Goku
- Bra - 1/2 Saiyan, Daughter of Vegeta
- Pan - 1/4 Saiyan, Daughter of Gohan
- Goku Jr. - 1/16, Grandson of Pan and Great-Great-grandson of Goku
- Vegeta Jr. - 1/16, Great-Great grandson of Vegeta
List of artificially created partial Saiyans
- Cell - Genetically created using cells from Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Raditz, and Nappa
- Majin Buu - After absorbing Trunks, Goten, and Gohan.
- Baby - Genetically modified Tuffle parasite, who takes control of Vegeta's body, creating a Tuffle-Saiyan Hybrid, of sorts.
- Bio-Broly - Clone of Broly
List of Saiyan fusions
- Gotenks (Goten and Trunks via the Metamarū Fusion Dance), (Names: Goten + Trunks)
- Gokule (Goku and Hercule via the Potara fusion earrings), (Names: Goku + Hercule)
- Vegetto (Vegeta and Goku via the Potara fusion earrings), (Names: Vegeta + Kakarotto)
- Note: Called Vegerot in the Viz translation of the manga. Spelled "Vegito" in the FUNimation Dub and Ocean Dub.
- Gogeta (Goku and Vegeta via the Metamarū Fusion Dance), (Names: Goku + Vegeta)