Ah, the Senzu Bean. The green bean that keeps the characters lean. Introduced in the Red Ribbon Army arc, the Senzu Bean became Dragon Ball’s get out of trouble quick card. Whenever the heroes were down for the count, a Senzu could always help out. What should have been an overpowered tool, however, became an interesting part of the series’ narrative structure.
Realizing just how useful Senzu Beans were, Toriyama created a Senzu shortage, using them exclusively for drama. Sure, characters had them, but they only had so many. Easily one of the most interesting and under-analyzed aspects of the series, Dragon Ball just wouldn’t be the same without Senzu.
10 Senzu Beans Keep The User Full For Ten Days
Despite how they’re used nowadays, Senzu Beans didn’t originally heal the user. Rather, they were simply a way of staving off hunger. One Senzu Bean is the equivalent of ten days worth of food. It wouldn’t be until the Demon King Piccolo arc where they would take on their other properties.
Interestingly, said arc actually showcases both properties at play. The Senzu Bean fills up anyone who eats it for ten days while also helping them of any injuries. From there on out, however, the ten-day filling isn’t mentioned again. Not that it would matter considering how much more intense the series gets.
9 The Senzu Crop Dried Out In Trunks’ Timeline
Trunks’ future is bad enough as is. Not only are most of the Z-Fighters dead, but he and Gohan can barely keep up with the Artificial Humans, struggling in every battle they fight. Worse yet, History of Trunks reveals that the Senzu crop has completely dried out by the time Gohan loses his arm.
Presumably, the onslaught from 17 and 18 ensured that Karin wasn’t able to grow anymore Senzu (if he even managed to survive in the first place.) Gohan is left to ration out the few Senzu Beans he has left, giving up a potential Zenkai to keep Trunks alive.
8 Goku Giving Cell A Senzu Bean Was A Smart Move
Easily Goku’s most derided move in the history of Dragon Ball, the Saiyan gives Cell a Senzu Bean in order to keep his match with Gohan “fair.” It isn’t until Piccolo calls Goku out for misunderstanding Gohan that Goku realizes that he just put his son in extreme danger, believing Gohan would love the thrill of a challenge.
Here’s the thing, though, this wasn’t that stupid a move. Goku spends all fight allowing Gohan a chance to watch Cell’s style. When it comes time for him to step down, Cell is naturally upset. He wants to fight Goku, not Gohan. In giving Cell a Senzu Bean, Goku shows Cell that he’s serious about Gohan, ensuring Cell keeps him alive long enough to properly fight rather than just killing Gohan so he can fight Goku again.
7 “Senzu Bean” Is A Redundant Name
The name “Senzu Bean” may roll off the tongue rather nicely, but it’s not exactly Funimation’s best localization. In Japanese, “Senzu” translates to “hermit bean.” As it is, the name “Senzu” already conveys exactly what it is to a Japanese audience, but the name isn’t quite as clear in English.
As a result, Funimation’s “Senzu Bean” translates to “hermit bean bean,” not exactly the most accurate or cohesive localization. That said, it does make some degree of sense as to why Funimation would add “Bean” to the end of “Senzu,” but calling it Senzu would have honestly been fine enough.
6 Goku Exhausted The Senzu Crop By The Saiyan Arc
Characters use the Senzu Beans quite a lot over the course of the series, to the point where Karin is constantly needing to regrow his entire crop because the Z-Fighters keep exhausting it. While this makes sense during the Cell arc, Goku had more or less exhausted the entire crop by the start of the Saiyan arc.
It’s in this story arc where Karin stops providing Senzu Beans on the regular, instead forcing Goku to ration them out. Perhaps not coincidentally, Karin’s Senzu stock depletes after Yajriobe moves in. A character whose first act when meeting Karin was shoveling a fistful of Senzu into his mouth. Oops.
5 Senzu Beans Never Appear In Dragon Ball GT
Despite appearing at least once in every arc after the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai, Senzu Beans did not make a single appearance in Dragon Ball GT. To put this into perspective, this is roughly eight consistent years of Senzu Bean use that ultimately ends up getting completely ignored in GT.
This isn’t a case of them being phased out by the end of the series either as the Senzu Beans are used during the Boo arc, the last arc in the original series. There’s no way Toei would have forgotten either. For whatever reason, GT’s writers simply chose never to use Senzu Beans again.
4 Senzu Beans Taste Like Fish And Feel Like Celery Stock
Senzu Beans don’t look particularly appetizing, being a regular old green bean and all, but Yajirobe seems to like them well enough. No one in the series complains about how they taste either, although that does make sense considering they typically only eat one bean at a time.
In terms of texture, though, they’re less bean and more celery stock, which makes an already not particularly appealing bean all the less so. Interestingly, Yajirobe claims that Senzu Beans taste like fish at the end of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai. A bean that tastes like fish and feels like celery stock? Not exactly fine dining.
3 Senzu Beans Have An Uncooked Texture
Even worse than just feeling like celery stock, Senzu Beans apparently feel utterly uncooked. Which does make sense considering they aren’t cooked for consumption and are instead eaten raw, but it’s still a very strange distinction that ensured audiences won’t be gearing to eat a Senzu Bean anytime soon.
That said, it’s perhaps better for Dragon Ball that Senzu Beans aren’t a delicious treat. Martial arts is all about pushing oneself, even in the face of discomfort. Senzu Beans fit rather well philosophically as they are. More importantly, it’s just funnier if Senzu Beans don’t taste good and feel gross.
2 Senzu Beans Can’t Heal Scars
When it comes down to it, Senzu Beans can only do so much. Sure, they can patch up nasty wounds and might even regrow limbs if Gohan in the Trunks TV special is to be believed, but they won’t be getting rid of scars anytime soon. Yamcha, Tenshinhan, and Future Gohan are all scarred characters who eat Senzu Beans and all of them keep their scars.
This makes sense on two fronts: the first, these are characters designed with their scars in mind, it would be silly to get rid of defining features that make them recognizable. The second, scars in real life don’t go away just because the wound is healed.
1 Senzu Beans Can’t Grow Inside The Room Of Spirit And Time
In response to how long it seems to take Karin to grow his Senzu Bean batches, some fans have suggested he simply grow the crop inside of the Room of Spirit and Time, a room in another dimension inside of Kami’s Lookout where time flows differently. One day outside is a year inside.
Here’s the problem, though: the Room of Spirit and Time is incredibly hostile. Not only does it get no rain or sunlight, it’s also a mix of incredibly humid and intensely cold at night. There would be no logical way of growing any type of plant inside.