Super Saiyan (超サイヤ人, Sūpā Saiya-jin) (abbreviated as SS) is an advanced transformation assumed by extraordinarily adept members of the Saiyan race in the Dragon Ball franchise, as well as Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball parody manga, Neko Majin. Three further transformations succeed Super Saiyan (two in manga canonicity), and the premier Super Saiyan form has three additional branch states. Also, Saiyans in this form who stare at the moon and trigger their lunar transformation become Golden Great Apes, the Super Saiyan alternative to the Saiyans' Great Ape form.
The ability to become a Super Saiyan was once considered to be a myth, because it had not been performed for over one-thousand years, until Goku accomplished the feat while fighting against Frieza on the Planet Namek. Despite only being told through legend, Frieza, considered to be the strongest being of his time, became paranoid over the possibility of truth behind the legend of the Super Saiyan, as evidenced by the constantly growing power of the Saiyan race. Because of this fear, Frieza drew the conclusion to destroy Planet Vegeta, and with it the Saiyan race (although four Saiyans were established in the manga to have survived the genocide), in an effort to erase the Saiyans, and with them their legend.
According to Goku, the Super Saiyan transformation comes in response to an experience of intense desire. In all known cases, the form has been initially triggered by either desperation or indignation. Any other conditions are unknown, and motivation tends to differ; Vegeta achieves the form through sheer frustration at his original inability to achieve it, especially over Goku. As Saiyans train during Dragon Ball Z, they discover uncharted levels beyond Super Saiyan. The appearance of a Super Saiyan is different in each form, more so in the fourth and final form.
In the main series, all living Saiyan-blooded males following the Frieza Saga manage to reach at least the first level of Super Saiyan. Akira Toriyama's reason for never having any female Super Saiyans was that neither Pan nor Bulla had the incentive to transform, and that he never drew female Super Saiyans because he couldn't figure out what they would look like. The Dragon Ball GT Perfect Files implies that Pan has the potential to transform and might have become a type of Super Saiyan never seen before.
The first Super Saiyan transformation occurs when a Saiyan who has reached his natural limit loses himself in a fit of rage. However, the transformation must be triggered in response to a great need, in Goku's case to defeat Frieza. While physical change is not too drastic, the power output increase is colossal, said to increase the user's power by 50 fold. The most noticeable change is that the Saiyan's hair becomes golden in color and seems to stand on end, giving it a rising, flame-like appearance. Natural eye color temporarily changes to a greenish-blue and the muscle tone becomes more defined and the skin tone becomes lighter. As the natural floodgates of the body are opened with the transformation, excess energy is radiated from the body in the form of a pulsing, flame-like aura. There is also a marked personality alteration, where the Saiyan becomes unusually aggressive and more prone to acting on impulse. The first character to achieve the Super Saiyan transformation in the series is Goku, in the midst of engaging Frieza.
It was theorized in the film Super Android 13! that these Super Saiyan transformations prevented Goku from performing his Spirit Bomb technique. One must be pure of heart to perform the technique, and as a Super Saiyan, Goku's heart is full of rage, although not necessarily contaminated by evil. In the film, when Goku becomes a Super Saiyan after gathering power for his Spirit Bomb, he loses control of the energy and instead absorbs it into his own body. During the Kid Buu Saga, Goku assumes the transformation only after successfully creating and throwing the Spirit Bomb.
Usage and power
When Goku transforms in response to his best friend Krillin's death at the hands of Frieza, his power grossly outclasses the evil tyrant's, a feat made more impressive by the fact that, prior to the transformation, Goku was no match for him. The form is said to originally multiply the Saiyan's power by 50 times its normal amount.
In order to combat Goku's sudden burst of strength and power, Frieza released all natural bodily inhibitions and utilized 100% of his power. Though he seemed to gain the upper hand, he loses face when he realizes that his attacks are no longer debilitating, with Goku merely shrugging off his most forceful blows. This was because in his 100% final state, Frieza had gained power and speed, but also gained increased energy consumption to the point where his damaged body could no longer handle it.
Future Trunks would later arrive from the future along with the ability to transform, much to the astonishment of Vegeta and other present company, and dispose of the synthetically restored Frieza, and his father, King Cold with great ease. In the film Cooler's Revenge, Goku uses his Super Saiyan power to defeat Cooler, Frieza's older brother, thus finishing off the family and bringing the saga of Frieza to a complete close.
Some time later, Vegeta also achieves the Super Saiyan transformation, possibly due to his belief that he had pushed himself to his utmost limits without actually transforming. It would thus be anger at himself that would trigger the intense emotion required to transform. With this new power under his belt, Vegeta confronts and overcomes Android 19 and Dr. Gero. However, when the true androids of Future Trunks' grim prediction, Android 17 and 18, arrive, they easily defeat both Vegeta and Future Trunks' Super Saiyan forms.
The limits of the Super Saiyan transformation were pushed even further with the introduction of Cell. At this point, Vegeta, Future Trunks, Goku, and Gohan had all spent time in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, advancing to new Super Saiyan forms to combat the androids and Cell. The Super Saiyan's standard output of power would be outclassed by the second and third stages. Unlike Vegeta and Future Trunks who make use of these stages, Goku and Gohan work to perfect the initial transformation, prompting their transition into Full-Power Super Saiyans, the concept of making the Super Saiyan form no different in energy output than the basic form of the user's body. The initial transformation and its advanced levels are later rendered obsolete by the introduction of a far more powerful level, Super Saiyan 2 (which is the form used by Gohan to defeat Cell), followed by Goku's introduction of Super Saiyan 3 during the Majin Buu Saga, and finally, Super Saiyan 4, introduced during Dragon Ball GT.
Goten and Trunks, born from Goku and Vegeta respectively, attain the ability to transform at a remarkably young age, again to widespread surprise from the main cast. Their fusion form Gotenks, seen late in Dragon Ball Z, has the ability to transform into all three levels of Super Saiyan in the series (although he has only ever been seen assuming the first and third forms), with the combined energies of Goten and Trunks balancing out the high ki consumption of the transformations.
In the special The History of Trunks, Future Gohan is shown to have gained the Super Saiyan transformation, possibly after witnessing the Z Fighters being slaughtered by the androids. After he is killed, we see Future Trunks transform for the first time, thus showing his original transformation. In the film Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan, the Saiyan Broly is also shown to harness the original Super Saiyan transformation, which is what he uses to battle Goku for a few moments. He also uses it against Goten and Trunks in Broly: Second Coming.
- The original Super Saiyan
- Future Gohan
- Future Trunks
- Goku Jr.
- Vegeta Jr.
Premature and advanced levels
- False Super Saiyan, a pseudo-Super Saiyan form resembling a glorified Kaio-ken, with a yellowish surge of aura.
- Ascended Super Saiyan, the second stage of Super Saiyan.
- Ultra Super Saiyan, the third stage of Super Saiyan.
- Full-Power Super Saiyan, the state of mental and physical perfection of the Super Saiyan transformation itself, rather than an advanced stage.
- Super Saiyan 2, the second Super Saiyan transformation.
- Legendary Super Saiyan, a level of Super Saiyan which magnifies its user's strength capacity, without drawbacks. Only one Saiyan capable of assuming the transformation is said to be born every thousand years.
- Super Saiyan 3, the third (and in manga canonicity, final) Super Saiyan transformation.
- Super Saiyan 4, the final Super Saiyan transformation. This is the only form not to be designed by Akira Toriyama; rather, writers at Toei Animation designed the form exclusively for Dragon Ball GT.
- Before the Super Saiyan concept debuted in the anime series, the term is used in "Stop Vegeta Now!!" by Vegeta, who describes Gohan as "Kakarrot's son, the little super Saiyan."
- Also, long before the Super Saiyan concept or even Goku's origins as a member of the Saiyan Race debuted in the franchise, Launch had a similar transformation to a Super Saiyan (with the Green eyes, blonde hair, down to even the increased aggression)