Know why? Because he breaks Goku. And you say “so what, other villains beat goku to a pulp”. Well, you’re mistaking me. Vegeta doesn’t just beat Goku, he breaks him.
There is no super shounen bullshit. No “everything i’ve got!” last-ditch ultimate move, no “~share your energy~” everybody-contributes malarkey, no suddenly-relevant legends, no self-sacrificing heroism, no miracles. Hell, most of those come up and Vegeta just beats the shit out of them.
The main character spends half the fight in a crumpled heap with Vegeta occasionally jumping over and kicking him in the ribs. Mr. Hidden Powaaaaahhhh gets his shit wrecked no matter how mad he gets. All their Super Special Mystical Twaining is useless. The Everybody Helps technique fails completely. Even Oozaru doesn’t work - Vegeta cuts off his tail before the beast really damages him. It’s only the pure dumb luck that Gohan happened to land on Vegeta that finally brings him down.
It’s a beautifully brutal fight that outdoes everything before and after, and it’s completely dependent on who Vegeta is: the complete opposite of everything “shonen”.
I love this. Really. Always the most brutal, desperate fight in all DBZ to me, for both sides, completely different from anything else. Putting aside Vegeta’s own short-sighted judgements, genocidal sado-masochist behaviors and shortcomings which is partly the reason he was brought down, from a viewer’s overall perspective, from “the good guys’” perpectives, this awesome fan from Kanzenshuu summed it up in the sense of plot, power and techniques for me.
In my view, he does not just break him in that sense. In DB you have power and guts double or tripple or x10 some guy’s, of course breaking him and all his friends is easy. First, i’ll talk about the grand one-on one battle itself. Vegeta breaks him psychologically and thoroughly. He put Goku’s moral grounds and way of fighting to test, challenge them, and breaks them down.
Now Goku was always a fearless manchild who was innocent enough to think he could try to fight anyone regardless of their power and evil. He got excited when the “master of power and evil”, Frieza was mentioned, stood fearless and bold in front of Cell who he himself thought “had no weakness”, loved fighting with the evil Kid Buu, when they DID break him, make him fearful it’s because he realized their power is too overwhelming for him to protect the Earth LOOONG into the fight. Vegeta breaks him when they are just starting. I have had a pretty long post about how he breaks Goku THAT way during their fight. If you don’t mind copying, check it out.
Goku had always fought out of instinct and enjoyment, and the REAL thrill of fighting itself without the need to win. He’d always been the strongest of all Earthlings, but at the same time, always willing to put aside his ego and been willing to learn, to empty his cup and taste the other’s tea like a real martial hero. But in this fight, he kinda showed a mighty need for WINNING - he gave it his all, trippled his power irrationally, not caring about his teacher’s words and his own body after the attempts. ”Anything is better than dying” I remember being shocked at this change in his attitudes, completely different from his other fights both before and after.
Goku in this fight does not care about his own body and rationality. He lost BOTH his calm head and his serene, peaceful heart. He fights for his pride, fights to WIN, and this caused his downfall - just as Vegeta’s his own in EVERY fight in DBZ ever, may i be reminded. (OMG did Goku actually BECOME Vegeta?)
A good question to consider is, what caused this difference in Goku’s way of fighting? Why is he so..broken? Well, Vegeta went crazy as fuck during the fight starting from when Goku punched him. He would kill Goku right there. Kill him or lose the Earth. But hold it.
Vegeta breaks Goku BEFORE the fight begins.
When Goku was done with Nappa, he says this
I wouldn’t say Goku do this thing every time because of mercy. He just doesn’t need to kill. Here Nappa could not fight anymore, he wouldn’t push it. If anything Goku is being high and mighty here, thinking Vegeta would run for his life or at least , if he really was powerful enough, leave Nappa there and get it on with him. Nappa even said thanks in hope and grate that Vegeta would help him. But what does Vegeta do? He kills Nappa because Nappa was useless. With this big grin on his face (in the anime a liplick is added to make it worse) He does not just kill him out of humiliation that the Saiyan Nappa let himself be wasted, he fucking RELISHES the thought of killing him.
Poor Nappa had no idea.
Goku was scared shitless right there. Mostly of the power. but i don’t think that’s the only reason. Vegeta is a creature unlike anything he had known and will ever know. Vegeta does not accept help and “mercy”.or use a dirty move like Piccolo nor run away like him (and Jeice in Namek Saga) nor care about his companion. He kills Nappa so he can look good standing ALONE in this battle field against three of them. That’s the most horrific thing about him that even Frieza doesn’t have when fighting with Goku (or haven’t had any chance to have thanks to Toriyama, i don’t know)
And so the fight begins and Goku was broken both in and out - IN because of Vegeta’s input, OUT because of Vegeta’s power and Goku’s own fault. After he lay beaten completely, Vegeta just went on and destroyed every attempt they three made on him. They are so heavy Even Vegeta thought he reached his limit.
His “explaination” for this brutality:
PRIDE PRIDE PRIDE PRIDE.
It’s always his pride. Pride causes all of his downfall (defeated by Goku’s Kamehameha and EVERY main villain later on), but it’s also pride that keep him fighting on and on and standing tall like this without begging or fighting cowardly. After being whooped head-on by the Genki Dama, slashed by Yajiobe and brought down by an Ozaru, he wouldn’t beg. He tried to escape not because he’s scared of them, but was pissed because “forced to retreat” in humliation. Even Frieza begged for his life (and in his fight with his “master”, Vegeta was dumb struck by fear, but in the end his pride STILL shone) I call that HARDCORE. Vegeta was broken both body (look at that) and soul (HE KILLS HIS OWN COMPANION OUT OF FUN) but his pride was not. When it comes to Vegeta’s pride, break it and you break Vegeta. if you don’t break it, it breaks you.
In the end, the only reason Goku could unbreak himself and calm down and ask to fight Vegeta again is because he had his friends to help and Vegeta got his pride wounded and couldn’t fight anymore.
Krillin says it best about Saiyan Arc Vegeta :
(Krillin says EVERYTHING best when it comes to whatever arc Vegeta, really)
Very very nice. It´s been long since I last read good meta on DBZ. A pleasure to read!