Why Vegeta’s Redemption Makes Him Greatest Anti-Hero:
Vegeta is the Prince of all Saiyans. Born of Royal Saiyan Heritage, the hot-blooded warrior has come a long way since his days as a stooge for Frieza. He no longer kills just for fun. He has become the second strongest warrior of his universe. Always seen in the shadow of Goku, Vegeta has had more than enough reason to drive him-self to push past his limits and surpass the strongest warrior in the Dragon Ball Universe. Having had major ups and downs throughout his character development arc, Prince Vegeta has become such a fan-favorite because of how relatable his stories sound. And frankly, we believe Vegeta is a way better character than Goku, perhaps one of the best in the entire anime industry.
Back in the days, having a villain turn over a new leaf was a sight as rare as a blue moon. When Vegeta was revealed to be the big bad wolf in the Dragon Ball Z series when he first appeared in the scene, nobody would have thought that he would not only become a part of the Z Fighters but also become Goku’s closest ally after a span of around two decades. Vegeta was the reason many of the Z Fighters died when he and Nappa first landed on Earth. He was an entirely different person back then. A brash and brutal warrior, Vegeta never had time for affection and emotion. After bettering the good guys, he ended up slowly being pulled over to their side during the Frieza saga.
Vegeta’s path to redemption and salvation was already underway way before anybody had realized. It looked like Akira Toriyana had big plans for the character even before anybody could have anticipated anything. As a character, Vegeta has grown from a lone wolf to a team player. And now he sits on a throne way higher than Goku’s.
Vegeta’s original intention of going after the Dragon Balls was not to gain power and rule the world. It was to become invincible so that he could rid his people of the tyranny of Frieza. He wanted to become immortal so that he could beat the inter-galactic dictator in his own game. That is why he came to Earth and that is again why he traveled to the Planet of Namek.
There is a reason why Vegeta is so angry and vengeful all the time. He was powerless when Frieza destroyed his planet. The Saiyan Genocide resonated well with him, and not in a good rhythm. Vegeta hates being caught with his pants down. So all his life, he had played along to the ruse of being nothing but a crony henchman to Frieza’s whims and fancies, looking for the perfect moment to strike. A Saiyan grows stronger after each and every fight. Vegeta would push himself into fights he would barely even survive and that helped him gain strength and power beyond any Saiyan ever. Frieza also helped feed into his fate. Vegeta went to Namek to look for the Namekian Dragon Balls to find enough power to escape that loop. Immortality was supposed to be the key to his salvation.
When Vegeta finally realized that he is hopelessly outmatched against Frieza, he showed a side of himself we had never seen in our lives. Vegeta revealed to Goku that he is the way he is because he was forced into a life of brutally harsh eternal servitude by Frieza, who molded him into the vengeful man he is today. Before dying, Vegeta implores Goku to stop Frieza and end this endless cycle of mayhem, so that no other person is made to go through it all over again. That was the beginning of the end of the Old Vegeta and the birth of a new one, who would mature into Dragon Ball’s Number 2 Warrior that we know and love today.
Goku’s death on Namek put Vegeta on a warpath. The Dragon Balls were used to bring everyone who died at the hands of Frieza back to life and on Earth. Vegeta was amongst the resurrected. Before his death, Vegeta had already put Goku on a pedestal as his eternal rival. Little did he know that his pride in not being able to surpass Goku then will forever be what drives him to greater levels of power! Not long after being resurrected, Vegeta caught up to Goku after achieving the Super Saiyan transformation.
Vegeta grew to become more human that Saiyan as the story progressed. His obsession with overthrowing Goku did not just make him stronger but also filled up that gaping hole in his heart which was the result of being manipulated by Frieza for years. Soon after he became an official part of the Z Fighters, Vegeta realized the importance of Friends and Family. Even though he detested Goku for being more powerful than him, he would be at his beck and call if he ever needed him.
In the Cell Saga, Vegeta showed that he was not just a friend and ally to Goku but also a good father and husband. Trunks’ death drove him into a fit of rage during the Cell Games. He lost his cool and almost screwed up Gohan’s attempt at killing Cell. After apologizing to Gohan for his recklessness (a rare feat for Vegeta), he ended up sacrificing himself to hurt Cell enough for Gohan’s Father-Son Kamehameha to end Cell’s rampage once and for all.
His Anti-Hero saga took a turn for the better during the Majin Buu arc. True Vegeta had developed feelings for Bulma and Trunks but he believed deep down that affection was the reason he had grown weaker and was not able to surpass Goku ever since. The evil sorcerer Babidi gave Vegeta Majin powers and Vegeta accepted it willingly.
Vegeta believed that if he could return back to his dark former self who was brutal, singularly focused, and ruthless in his ways, maybe he would find in him the strength to unlock his true potential as a Super Saiyan warrior. If not for Majin Vegeta, the fans would have pretty much forgotten that inside all that clutter, Vegeta is still a character of Machiavellian Nonchalance. In a rare display of love, Vegeta would willingly give up his Majin Powers, hug his son, join forces with Goku and give up his life to protect the Earth.
In the end, Vegeta became Earth’s guardian angel. A person who was once a brutal barbarian that had no regard for life would become its very protector. Vegeta’s transformation into anime’s greatest anti-hero was complete.
But is his story reaching an end? We are here to say that it is still continuing with amazing vigor and pace. In Dragon Ball Super, after finally managing to become Goku’s equal, he saw himself again coughing up the dust left behind by Goku’s trail-blaze when Goku achieved Ultra Instinct. After finally letting go of his desire to master Ultra Instinct like his rival Goku, Vegeta unlocked Super Saiyan Blue’s final form – Super Saiyan evolved. If Dragon Ball Z was about Vegeta coming to terms with his past, Dragon Ball Super is about Vegeta coming to terms with his future in the Dragon Ball Universe.
Let us see what the Galactic Patrol Prisoner arc has in store for our Saiyan Prince. Goku is having a tough time-fighting Moro. Maybe this time as well, Vegeta surprises us all as he has for the last couple of years.
The last Dragon Ball arc to have been featured in the Manga is the Galactic Patrol Prisoner Saga. Released in the year 2018, the Manga is still on-going and again sees the Dragon Ball Universe in grave danger from an ancient enemy that has broken free of its prison. The official synopsis for the arc reads:
Galactic Patrol Kidnapping. Following the ordeal surrounding Broly, Goku trains with Vegeta in the Gravity Training Room. … Vegeta asks why he needs Buu and Merus explains that a dangerous criminal has broken free of the Galactic Prison and in order to recapture him they need the assistance of the Grand Supreme Kai.