Think back to the very first time you watched the Frieza Saga of Dragon Ball Z. Think about the feeling of surprise and overwhelming awesomeness you felt when Goku transformed for the first time. He went from a dark-haired fighter to a golden-haired Super Saiyan, a warrior of Saiyan legend. This legendary form was the one thing that Frieza feared the most, and with good reason, Goku kicked butt as a Super Saiyan. Goku tore Frieza apart, completely dominating the intergalactic tyrant.
But, the Super Saiyan form turned out to be more than just a cool transformation and power up, the Super Saiyan form completely changed the franchise, amping things up to new levels. The Super Saiyan form became an integral part of the Dragon Ball franchise after the Frieza saga. It raised the bar of the series and made nearly every fight ten times as awesome. The Super Saiyan form itself also became a staple of pop culture, every young fan wanted to be a Super Saiyan and even those who didn't watch Dragon Ball Z knew what Super Saiyan was. With how much it changed the series, we thought it would be interesting to dig up some of the facts you may not have known about Super Saiyans.
15 WHY SO BLONDE?
Ever wonder the reason why a Saiyan's hair turns blonde when they go Super? Here's a hint, it's not because it looks cool, though we're sure that factored into it. The real reason behind the blonde hair comes from the manga of Dragon Ball Z, and how long it took to color in the black ink of Goku's hair.
When Akirya Toriyama was coming up with how the Super Saiyan form was going to look, he already had the idea to make Goku's hair stand upward, but had no plans of changing the color. However, since he was tired of coloring in Goku's hair and wanted a way to save time for both him and his artist assistants, he came up with an idea. Instead of filling in the black of Goku's hair, Toriyama just left it white, leading to a gold color for the final design.
14 POWER MULTIPLIER
Casual Dragon Ball Z fans might not know that the Super Saiyan form isn't actually an increase in power, it's a multiplier. This is to say that when Goku or Vegeta rage out and go Super Saiyan, their power level isn't being raised to new levels, it's being duplicated, so to speak. What's the difference exactly? Well, this means that the power of a Super Saiyan depends on the Saiyan's base form power.
The Super Saiyan form is a x50 multiplier, and the next two levels multiply that base power even further. This is why the form was so feared by Frieza, since Saiyans were already born with such high power levels, if this power level was multiplied, then he wouldn't stand a chance. Because of this power multiplier, the Super Saiyan form can be even stronger with training of the base form.
When Goku first went Super Saiyan, the transformation was triggered by his anger, thanks to Frieza killing Krillin. From then on, we learned that going Super Saiyan was triggered by strong emotion, usually anger. Gohan had to learn to go Super Saiyan by imagining Frieza killing his family, and he went Super Saiyan 2 because Cell killed Android 16. In The History of Trunks, we learned that anger triggered Trunks' first transformation after he witnessed Gohan's death.
But, it's not just anger that can trigger the transformation, as shown by Vegeta. In a flashback to how he achieved the Super Saiyan form, we learn that after being unable to defend himself against a meteor shower, Vegeta was infuriated. He hated himself for not being strong enough, and this powerful self-loathing was enough to trigger his first transformation.
Akira Toriyama is kind of known for constantly throwing new elements into the mix of the Dragon Ball lore, often retconning the crazy world and story. Very recently, Toriyama introduced the concept of S-Cells. Toriyama stated that S-Cells are the cells needed to turn Super Saiyan, but it's a little more complicated than just that.
See, when a Saiyan has enough S-Cells, they are able to go Super Saiyan, but they still need the anger or emotional trigger to actually utilize those cells. Thus, even if a Saiyan is angry enough, they won't be able to go Super Saiyan without enough S-Cells. Where do the S-Cells come from exactly? There are two methods to gain them. The first is by having a gentle nature, which produces more S-Cells in the body. The second method is by increasing one's power level, which will gradually increase S-Cells over time.
11 IT'S HEREDITARY
Actually, there is a third way to have the necessary S-Cells to go Super Saiyan, good genes. Well, to be more clear, the production of S-Cells in a Saiyan's body can be inherited by their parents. There are two reasons for this. The first is that a Saiyan who has a high number of S-Cells can pass on that number to their offspring, making it easier for them to go Super Saiyan.
The second reason only relates to half-breeds in the series. See, since Gohan, Goten and Trunks are half human, they are more likely to be gentle-natured, and less likely to give in to the battle-hungry, ruthless nature of their species. Thus, half-breeds are not only stronger, but they are more likely to be able to go Super Saiyan, since their human genes help produce more S-Cells.
10 THE FIRST FEMALE SUPER SAIYAN
For the longest time, the Super Saiyans were a bit of a boys club, but things have changed in Dragon Ball Super. The reason for the lack of female Super Saiyans in Dragon Ball was due to Toriyama having trouble coming up with how one would look. Take that as you will, but it resulted in all the Saiyans in the world of Dragon Ball being male.
However, that all changed with the introduction of Caulifla, as well as Kale. Though all the Saiyans of universe 7 were wiped out, leaving only two full-blooded males left, the Saiyans of Universe 6 are still alive and well. After meeting Cabba, we meet two other Saiyans from universe 7, Caulifla and Kale. After Cabba teaches her how to go Super Saiyan, Caulifla became the first female Super Saiyan in the series, Kale following right behind her as the second.
9 DELINQUENT KIDS
The mark of a true Super Saiyan is, of course, golden, spiky hair. This transformation is a bit of a jarring change from the usual black hair (or in the case of Trunks, Purple) of Saiyans. That said, it's only a temporary change and represents an increase in power that was used to protect the world countless times. And yet, despite how many times the Super Saiyan form has been used for good, Chi-Chi despises when her sons use it.
Why is this? It actually has to do with Japanese culture. In Japan, delinquents are known for bleaching their, thus blonde hair is heavily associated with criminal behavior in teenagers. This is why when Chi-Chi sees both Gohan and Goten as Super Saiyans for the first time, she cries, afraid that her boys have turned down the wrong path.
8 THE LEGEND OF THE SUPER SAIYAN
When the concept of a Super Saiyan was first introduced, it was thought to be nothing but a legend, a story that Vegeta had told. No one believed Super Saiyans to be real, as there had not been a one in over 100 years. Yet, Vegeta aimed to become one, telling Nappa that gaining immortality might be the key to this form.
The interesting part about the legend of the Super Saiyan was that it wasn't exclusive to just the Saiyans. The Namekians knew of Saiyans and had heard/spread legend of the Super Saiyan, and their book of legends even had a section about the first Super Saiyan god, which Shenron mentions in his explanation of the Super Saiyan god ritual. This is perhaps because Frieza heard the legend of the Super Saiyan from multiple sources, he thought that they might actually exist.
7 GOLDEN GREAT APE
Speaking of the legend of the Super Saiyan, there's actually some debate over what the first Super Saiyan was like. When Vegeta was telling the legend of the Super Saiyan, there was an anime-only sequence that depicted what one might look like. This Super Saiyan appeared to be a golden-colored Great Ape, looking completely different from the real form.
This version of a Super Saiyan might have just been what Vegeta imagined the form to be, since, at the time, the greatest power in a Saiyan's arsenal was a Great Ape transformation, so Vegeta might have thought this was the next level up. However, it could also imply that the very first Super Saiyan was actually a Golden Great Ape, a transformation that was explored in Dragon Ball GT. That said, GT is now considered non-canon, and this version of the Super Saiyan form might never be seen again.
6 GOLDEN TAILS?
While we're on the subject of the Great Apes, the form is what made Saiyans think that their tails were the source of their power. This is because Saiyans can only turn into Great Apes with the glands that are located in their tails. Saiyan tails were eventually forgotten about as the series progressed, and as a result, there are no Saiyans or half-Saiyans that currently have tails.
This also means that there are no Super Saiyans with tails, and there never have been in the canon of the series. Though this concept was explored in GT, the mostly loathed series is now considered non-canon. With GT out of the way, we have never seen a Super Saiyan with a tail (i.e., Super Saiyan 4). It may not be a particularly important fact, but it is an interesting one nonetheless.
5 THE YOUNGEST SUPER SAIYANS
When we discussed S-Cells, we mentioned that a Saiyan can pass down their S-Cell count to their offspring. Because of this, as well as the gentle nature of humans, the half-Saiyan hybrids are thought to be potentially stronger than their parents. For example, Goten was able to go Super Saiyan when he was just seven years old, making him the youngest Super Saiyan out there.
Trunks wasn't far behind and may have been able to go Super when he was seven as well, though there's no telling. However, what's even more interesting is that Gohan's daughter, Pan, might break that record once more. Pan has shown tremendous power while still an infant and has even flown out into space before she could even walk, meaning she might be on the road to being the youngest Super Saiyan ever.
4 THE SECOND SUPER SAIYAN
Goku was the first Saiyan to go Super in over 100 years, and he was the first Super Saiyan to be introduced in the series. Though Vegeta would eventually achieve the form, he wasn't actually the second Super Saiyan to be shown in Dragon Ball Z. That title actually goes to his son, Trunks, or more specifically, Future Trunks.
Future Trunks was the second Super Saiyan to be introduced into the series -- and what an introduction it was! When Frieza showed up with his father, and a new, upgraded cyborg body, he thought he was hot stuff. He thought he didn't need to worry about Super Saiyans, but he was wrong. Future Trunks showed up and went Super Saiyan, killed Frieza's army and father, then easily sliced the villain to pieces with his sword.
3 PERSONALITY SHIFT
Saiyans are already naturally battle-driven; they crave a good fight even if they are gentle-natured, but when they go Super Saiyan, baser instincts seem to take over. This results in a noticeable personality change. When Goku first went Super Saiyan, he went from being the kind-hearted hero that he normally is to a ruthless, hot-headed warrior.
During his fight with Frieza, Goku rushed into things and fought with a primal energy, and he's not the only one who had this change in personality.This change in attitude is actually illustrated by how Sean Schemmel, Goku's English voice actor, approaches voicing his different forms. With each different Super Saiyan form, Schemmel makes his voice deeper and more serious, making the change in personality that Goku experiences much more apparent.
2 EYE OF THE SAIYAN
Akira Toriyama makes a lot of interesting choices when it comes to the transformations of Dragon Ball Z, something we already covered in the origins of the Super Saiyan form's blonde hair. Another choice that he made with the form was how the character was drawn. This sounds obvious of course, but when you look at the effect it has, the changes become much more interesting.
We all know that Super Saiyans' hair stands upwards on top of turning gold, and we also know that their eyes turn a greenish blue, but did you know that the shape of their eyes is also changes? This change is much more noticeable in Goku and his sons, but the rounded parts of their eyes are edged off when they are Super Saiyans. This is done to make them look more angry and intimidating, as the resulting scowl has a much more menacing effect.
1 PURE OF HEART?
We mentioned earlier that Saiyans have a change of personality when they go Super Saiyan, and apparently this has a much stronger effect than you might think. See, a Super Saiyan is much more bloodthirsty and violent than their base form, and as a result they cannot be pure of heart. How do we know this? Spirit bombs.
In Dragon Ball Z, we learn that a spirit bomb cannot be created unless the user is pure of heart, as it is required to gather the energy for the attack. When Goku was gathering the energy for the Spirit bomb to defeat Kid Buu, he was in his base form, thus implying that his Super Saiyan form is not pure of heart enough to form the attack. That said, it seems to be possible to fire the attack in Super Saiyan form after the energy is gathered, as this part does not require a pure heart.