The Origin of Super Saiyan Transformations in Dragon Ball
Possibly seeing the transformation into Super Saiyan for the first time is one of the moments that ‘Dragon Ball‘ fans remember with more desire and with sparkles in their eyes. The Super Saiyan design with spiky blonde hair and light eyes is one of the most iconic in manga and anime, and it later also opened the way for a whole avalanche of transformations and new levels of power.
But the truth is that the origin of this design was almost more practical than anything else. Since the concept of purebred Saiyans was introduced, in addition to the monkey tail (and its respective transformation), the common element they all have is their black hair, which also does not change shape or grow. So in order to give more importance to this transformation, they began by changing their hair.
Speed is your best friend
By changing the color from black to blonde (or white, in the manga), you already have the visual blow and it is an impressive variation to see, with what that when Goku or Vegeta transforms it is appreciated quickly. But the other reason was even more practical: making life easier for Akira Toriyama’s assistants.
Typically, mangakas have a small group of assistants who help them run the weekly or monthly pages. These wizards are in charge of all kinds of tasks, from drawing backgrounds, placing hatch patterns… and yes, also filling in the blacks. This task was absolutely tedious for the person in charge of filling in all those black spaces.
Practicality at its finest
“The main reason was to save time because dyeing Goku’s hair was a very laborious task for the wizard doing it. And since it was also a very intuitive way to show that Goku had gotten stronger, we killed two birds. one shot”, explained Toriyama in ‘Dragon Ball Comedy No. 01’.
By making this small change, assistants gained a lot more speed when inking, speeding up the pace of work and gaining a little more visual impact during combat. From this point on, more changes were also made to the inking of the series, and the characters’ clothing and hair tended to be drawn almost always in white to save time.
Other transformations would come later, such as Super Saiyan Blue and Goku’s Ultra Instinct, but without this first big step, we would not have had all the ones that came after… and above all, the joy that this poor assistant who was in charge of inking took away.
Dragon Ball is not just a manga or anime series, it is a cultural phenomenon that has left a lasting impact on popular culture. Thanks to this small and practical change by Toriyama and his assistants, one of the most iconic and recognizable transformations in manga and anime was born.