As most of the fandom seems displeased with the direction that Gohan’s story arc took, we need to ask ourselves why so many people dislike a once much-loved character. In my quest for
For me personally, I loved Gohan. He was an amazing character and showed so much potential, and honestly how could he not? Half Saiyan son of Goku, the boy seemed destined for greatness.
Most of the fandom agrees that Gohan used to be an incredible character…. but things took a turn. I think everybody’s glaringly wrong about the reasons why though, considering how they talk about what a let-down it is that he chooses not to fight anymore.
Yes sure, Gohan opting out of battles was a major deal breaker for me in the start too… but I feel like in his entire character development that’s perhaps only the natural course for his character.
We saw this boy thrust into battles from such a young age, forced to fight against formidable foes and spectate on some of his closest friends and family get hurt or die. It’s honestly understandable that he chooses to be an academic and family man, it makes sense! What wouldn’t make sense would be to thrust him in the middle of a battle every time the opportunity presented itself.
In a long running series like Dragon Ball, characters tend to take on a life of their own and act according to their own agency, they develop beyond what the writer might have initially intended-and that’s okay. Gohan simply does not want to be a fighter, and that’s fine, but his character development shouldn’t have to suffer because of it.
There are so many examples of great characters within the show that don’t fight, take Bulma, for an example. She doesn’t fight. But nobody complains that she is a bad character.
And before people try to come at me with “Well Bulma never was a fighter, but Gohan used to be, and now he’s not.”
I don’t think the problem is as simple as that, if you think about it Gohan never was a fighter either. Infact, he only fought out of necessity, he had to, the situation demanded that he fight.
What i’m trying to say here is that character development is so much more than how strong a character is, there is plenty of room for solid characterization as long as it feels natural and organic for the character.
If anything, the writers forcing Gohan to fight merely for the sake of giving him screen time is a great disservice to his character.
“The Great Saiyaman” presents itself as the perfect example of this! He has no business being The Great Saiyaman. I haven’t met a single Dragon Ball fan who approved. Everybody dislikes it, and most people think they dislike it because it’s cliche or corny, but it’s really not that. That’s not why you dislike The Great Saiyaman, even if you think it is. It has more to do with characterization and narrative construction. Jacko is corny too, but Jacko is awesome.
The reason Great Saiyaman doesn’t work is because it’s horribly forced and out of character. It comes across as disingenuous, a way for the character to still remain relevant, rather than letting him naturally take on a role in the narrative.
Before you bring up the tournament of power, that’s very different. It makes a lot more sense for one, Gohan would choose to take on that responsibility to help his universe and friends, it’s consistent with his character.
Despite this though, I think it’s important for the writers as well as the fans, to realize that Gohan doesn’t have to fight to be a great character. Bulma and Beerus are perfect examples of how a character can offer something to the narrative or story in a metatextual sense as well as be of assistance to the Z Fighters. They both act according to their character, within the rules of the narrative, and the fans generally love both of them. It would be great to finally see Gohan become more of a regular and consistent character in the series, in a new role that’s more true to his authentic self.
There’s no reason his skills as a family man and academic couldn’t help the core fighters in their conflict, and there’s no reason he can’t rise to the occasion and fight when it feels natural and right.