Dear earthling, this is a series called the Dragon Ball ABC. Every week we take a letter of the alphabet and take a look at a character or a thing with the biggest influence on the Dragon Ball universe we all love. So if you’re into Dragon Ball you better buckle up, because we’re bringing you 26 weeks with peeks into the amazing world of Dragon Ball! Since we’re diving into some of the nitty gritty of Dragon Ball, an obvious spoiler warning applies!
First of all, I'm sorry to all of you who missed reading this ABC last week. The flu got me good on Wednesday and lasted until last Tuesday, but luckily that's all in the past now. So let's get back in the rythm of things, because this week we're covering the first canon villain and it is perhaps the most iconic one in the entire Dragon Ball universe: Frieza!
Google Dragon Ball villain rankings and Lord Frieza consistently ranks among the top 3, if not 1st place. There is a reason Frieza is one of the few villains to be brought back consistently, while not being turned into a far more friendly character like Vegeta or Buu. There are plenty of reasons Frieza is such an excellent villain and potential remains to bring him back even after the Dragon Ball Super series has ended.
But let's start at the beginning. Frieza is first introduced as a tiny, demon like character. Sitting in a flying chair and accompanied by a fat crab person and a long haired toy boy, Frieza's first impression isn't all that scary. That quickly changes when Frieza destroys some Namekian villages, easily disposes of a gang of Namekian warriors and subsequently rips off the arm of Nail. Clearly enjoying the carnage and destruction, Frieza is revealed to be a total psychopath who enjoys violence and terror. However, he is not the batshit insane type which is what makes him fascinating. Frieza generally acts in a calm and reserved way and although he does not have to strategise much due to his immense power, he never really appears to make any uncalculated moves. The only time he ever seems to lose control is when his opponent is overpowering him. He shares the same firm belief in his own superior power as Vegeta and shares the same disbelief with the Prince of all Saiyans when someone appear to be stronger than him.
His high level of self control also allows him to be an extremely cruel character. Frieza takes pleasure in discovering people's weaknesses and subsequently exploiting them, torturing his opponents both physically and mentally. While we had seen such behavior before, like when Raditz kidnaps Gohan, Frieza takes it to the next level. Anyone who watched Dragon Ball Z can likely remember the scene where Frieza lifts Krillin into the air right in front of Goku and Gohan and then blows him up. Frieza's cruel nature is also humourly reflected in his idea of hell. After his death, Frieza is sent to hell, which in his case is a happy world full of singing and dancing animals. While Frieza is the main advocate of his race in the series, there are multiple other occasions where other members of his race display the same behavior. Characters such as Cooler and Frost show the same evil intent and ruthlessness as Frieza.
As for his overall impact on the Dragon Ball universe, two things stand out. The first being that he pushed Goku to Super Saiyan and thus directly contributed to arguably one of the biggest moments in manga and anime history. The fight and the build up to the Super Saiyan moment also add to this legacy. The fight famously took over 4 hours, covering 18 episodes, while the claim is that the fight only took 5 minutes. It gave birth to the "next time on Dragon Ball Z.." meme.
Second, Frieza pushed Dragon Ball over a dark edge and showed that it could create and handle a truly dark villain. That added an extra layer of depth. Next to the spectacular fights and over the top enemies you now also had this pure evil character. Someone that is not 'corruptable' by Goku's kindness, someone that even tries to take advantage of Goku's good nature. The other side of that coin shows us a character that pushes Goku to the very edge of his personality. No one would've been surprised if Goku had killed Frieza, considering all he was put through. Frieza is a true test in character for Goku, if he really is the knight in shining armor we all know and love. Besides Goku, other characters are also not safe with Frieza. Since he will exploit people's weaknesses, loved ones are in true danger when Frieza targets someone when most of the time side characters are relatively safe unless they actually join the fight.
As emperor of the universe, Frieza is also thoroughly connected to many aspects of Universe 7. Frieza obviously employed the Saiyan race in his army and humiliated King Vegeta in front of his son before destroying their planet. This whole string of events also unknowingly led to Goku arriving on earth and eventually becoming the legendary Super Saiyan. Meaning that ultimately, Frieza was the author of his own demise. This gives Frieza's arch a classic "what goes around comes around" theme where evil ultimately fails because self destruction is an inherent part of evilness.
Time for a little fan theory to wrap thing up this week. As Frieza proudly proclaims during the Namekian saga, he has never trained a day in his life. In fact, he hasn't even fought a serious fight in his life before fighting the Z-Warriors since there was no need to do so. Frieza was born with a natural immense strength. When he returns to fight Goku in Dragon Ball Z: Ressurection F and at the start of Dragon Ball Super, he only trained for 4 month after being ressurected by his minions. In these 4 month he gained a form stronger than Goku and Vegeta's Super Saiyan Blue forms. Frieza loses because it is an attained form and not a naturally gained form and he does not know how to maintain this form long enough. However, the bar has been set by Frieza. His Golden form is incredibly strong.
That leaves the question, what if Frieza made serious work of training. What if he trained reguarly over a long period of time. Frieza's potential to become stronger, perhaps even stronger than Beerus, could exist. At the very least he could gain control of his Golden form and be able to use it for a longer period of time without wearing himself out. Anyways, all of that seems unlikely to happen in Dragon Ball Super, considering the series is going to end soon. However, it leaves plenty of room for one of the fan favourite characters to make another future return without it turning stale just yet.
Now for something crazy, we'll leave you with the entire 4 hour fight between Frieza and Goku.
What do you think about Frieza? How iconic is he to you, or not? Leave a comment or check out the other parts of PlanetGoku's Dragon Ball ABC.
See you next week!