I'm one of the few that is relatively satisfied with how DBS's ToP has played out. I like that the tournament allowed for minor characters to shine after 30 years and the structure of the ToP caused the choreography to be different from most of the series prior to it. It's not perfect and I'd like to see how everyone else would fix their own issues but that'll be for when the tournament ends.
For now let's look at Gohan and what I think is the problem with him that sorta leaves him as a weird wet blanket at times. I'm okay with how he turned out in this tournament since he got a few moments to shine but it is one of the things that can be improved dramatically. So as a thought experiment I wanna see if I can fix Gohan.
Gohan started the series as a little kid who had no aptitude for fighting but could unleash tremendous power when angry. Gohan's story was more or less was him growing to be a capable enough fighter to wield the incredible power in the Cell arc. He was also clearly meant to be the successor to Goku so him being a stronger version of his dad by the end of the Cell arc is again fine. However, Toriyama ran into a big of a problem when it came to Buu. Gohan isn't the type of person to train in times of peace because he is a good kid who wants to be a scholar. This is a problem for the main character of a battle manga. To make matters worse it is more difficult to use rage as a boost since, no longer being a child, Gohan isn't naturally prone to super temper tantrums anymore. So he falls back on the Guru trick and unlocks Gohan's potential, turning him into a calm collected fighter instead of the rage filled SSJ2 Teen Gohan. He doesn't beat Buu but by the end he is the strongest unfused fighter so it's a fine note to leave him on, even if his last fight was bland.
Then comes Super and once again Gohan is chained down by what Toriyama sees as fundamental aspects of his character. He doesn't enjoy fighting and doesn't seek to improve himself by fighting so once again he falls back behind only this time it is worse as this is something we've already seen. Now the unlocked potential trick will feel like a lazy rehash if it didn't already to some in the Buu arc. On top of that we have the issues of how Ultimate Gohan looks. Unlike God or Blue, Gohan in the ToP looks basically identical to how he looked when fighting Super Buu so the audience doesn't immediately associate growth with him. He's stronger than he was then but why does he feel so much weaker? Compare that with 17 or Roshi. Neither of them are transforming or throwing out unreasonable techniques but we can feel how much stronger they are now than the last time we had seen them go all out. The final nail in the coffin is how Gohan fights. The Earthlings have a bunch of weird techniques for support, the Androids their infinite stamina and 17's barrier, and even Freeza has his tail and his own distinct way of fighting. Gohan? He's just Goku-lite at this point. He fights for a bit then launches a Kamehameha to finish a fight(or not). None of Goku's variety like Instant Transmission, Destructo Disk, Spirit Bomb, or his transformations nor do we get the impression that Gohan is interested in studying how others fight like Goku. He's the most bland fighter on the U7 team because there is basically nothing Gohan can do that Goku can't do better. This is obviously an artifact from when Gohan was accepting the torch while dealing with Cell but those days are long gone. Gohan needed to change but he really didn't.
So how would one go about hypothetically fixing these issues with Gohan? I don't believe Toriyama is necessarily wrong to want Gohan to be more of a scholar than a fighter but I also clearly believe the answer he and Toei came up with was unsatisfying. Training with Piccolo unlocking Gohan's hidden potential doesn't really help anything since he'll go right back to being the way he was when it is peace time. It shows no growth on his part. Instead I would have Gohan approach Piccolo for training and after a bit of it Piccolo tells Gohan he won't train him because Gohan doesn't have a reason to fight. Protecting your family is a good reason to fight to the death but it's impossible to build a lifestyle around. If Gohan is only going to bother being strong when the people he loves are in danger then he'll never really truly be strong.
Gohan should have to discover a love for fighting and not one like Goku or Vegeta. He doesn't have to follow in their footsteps to be a capable fighter. Gohan is not looking to surpass anyone nor to continually improve himself. Piccolo should instead order Gohan to study the Earthling fighters and why they still fight. Krillin wants to protect his family sure but its also a way of boosting confidence in himself ever since his introduction in DB. Fighting gives him the strength to believe in himself, though it does cause overconfidence. Tien is more interested in the techniques of martial arts and passing them down. He seeks to improve himself of course but he also wants to distance himself from the more vile teaching methods of the original Crane school. Roshi still wants to be an example to his students, the Androids want money, and Piccolo himself is the protector of Kami. And Gohan does have reasons to love fighting. Without it he wouldn't have met Piccolo or Videl. His parents wouldn't have met. And if Pan wants to be a fighter too then wouldn't Gohan want to be a part of that? Hell you can even breathe some more life into the Videl character and have her point out that she might like to learn even more new stuff to fight. It's better than what she currently has.
Because I think that the problem with Gohan isn't that he should hate fighting. It's that he hates hurting people. I think Piccolo should have tried to make Gohan understand this. And not only that but I think a reason Gohan is less effective, at least imo, is because deep down he still relies on his dad. He doesn't think he'll ever be as strong as Goku and this mindset causes him to limit himself. As such Piccolo should also give Gohan some crucial advice: you are not you're father and you can't keep comparing yourself to him. Gohan needs to find his own way of doing things instead of just the bland copy we have now. New techniques, a new approach, and something that we can recognize as being singularly Gohan.
Thankfully he has all he needs.
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Piccolo can discipline Gohan and make sure he is always in top form. He doesn't need to be a constant drill sergeant but a sensei who expects his student to be prepared and able to draw out his power via meditation. Videl can provide the loving support that makes Gohan want to keep fighting since it was what brought them together(and they can fight crime again). And Buu is literally the perfect sparring partner for Gohan because Gohan can't actually hurt him unless he is genuinely trying to kill him. I can't imagine Buu would object to it either since he likes fighting. Lastly, Satan himself. If there was ever an antithesis to Son Goku, it's Hercule. Hercule can provide a more creative list of things for Gohan to do since any crazy thing Hercule can speculate, Gohan could theoretically do. For example, the Megaton Punch that was used on 18. Satan lies and says it uses latent energy to create a delayed effect. Gohan could actually do that with ki control and we would buy it.
So what would this new Gohan look like?
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I'd make Gohan a fighter that almost purely relies on ki controlled strength and speed, forgoing most of the flashy blasts that others use. This goes hand in hand with the downplayed look of Mystic Gohan. It also make him a good foil to Vegeta. While Vegeta is a tank who can deal tons of damage and take tons of damage, make Gohan like a jet fighter. Faster, able to hit like a train, and lacking in stamina since he doesn't train as hard. Gohan should be able to push the abilities of his body farther than any other with the downside being that his new ki-blast lite training as left him as more linear. It honestly feels like FighterZ has basically already done this. Gohan's meh ki attacks are nothing next to this monster of a physical combo mixer that he is. Look how cool is in Fighterz.
It's distinct, it's fun to imagine being able to do that, and it lets Gohan finally escape the shadow of his father. And if he must have a Kamehameha, give him this one.
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Make it a case where Gohan needs to think back to Cell to let his full power erupt into a massive attack and he uses one hand to do that. You can even let him go into SSJ2 to get into the mindset so we can see SSJ2 Gohan again.
TL;DR Make Gohan a physical monster since he doesn't have many interesting techniques otherwise and let him train with Buu and Piccolo instead of just the latter.
Current Gohan would work as a character for a slice of life type anime, but for a series that's about fighting...
Not training during times of peace I can (reluctantly) give a pass since it makes sense for his character, but making him always goofier a la Great Saiyaman and shit, having Piccolo change Pan's diapers, etc... I would not have any of that.
Far as his fighting moves, they needed to give him back his Masenko and other signature techniques from back in the day. Otherwise with only Kamehameha, he is just a Goku lite as pointed out.
Aside from Piccolo, I would've also had him do some god training under Whis for a time in preparation for the ToP, but then again, I would've wanted that for pretty much any of the notable U7 fighters far as prep, where Piccolo and such at least have god ki by the end of their training, but that's another story... There's also Gohan sparring with Buu like you said, and we've seen how quickly Buu can get fit.
IDK There's lots of ways you can improve his character or execute it better than Toei did anyhow, but as it is now, Future Trunks (as of the Black arc) still feels like the the superior half-saiyan offspring character to me.
edit: Oh yeah, as we've also seen now in the manga, he has Piccolo's type clothing again for the ToP, which makes more sense than him still wearing Goku's orange ki, which he only wore in respect for his father during the time he was still dead in the Buu arc.
Last edited by Ridley_Prime on Feb 11th, 2018 at 11:38 PM
Well at this point, Gohan's biggest problem is that there isn't a specific role he really supposed to be in. If Gohan had a unique fighting style just for him or gave him a more sustainable goal for training that would at least have him up to par.
Sparring with Buu or Whis might help some but the latter seems like it would be a go to option for everyone.
Fixing Gohan is incredibly easy to do in the context of the ToP arc. Goku made Gohan the "leader" of the team, which laid down the groundwork for his role to be that of a strategist. Had this arc not given up on the alleged UBER IMPORTANCE of teamwork in favor of "OMG, look how STRONG JIREN IS!!!", we might've gotten a Gohan who has managed to put all of those years as a scholar to good use and combine his intellect with his fighting skills. U7's success could boil down to Gohan coming up with Hunter x Hunter level plans and schemes to prevail against the other teams and with most of U7 operating under his tactics.
Last edited by Dark-Kenshin on Feb 16th, 2018 at 05:15 AM
True, the direction was a problem with the anime ToP in general more than it was with current Gohan himself; ditching the initial promise of teamwork in favor of the couple main characters reaching a bigger number to match Jiren/U11... Even if Gohan still hadn't been ringed out, he wouldn't of gotten to do that much besides stall against Toppo and such, while Vegeta still would've beaten GoD Toppo. Maybe he would've had a 17 kind of moment against Jiren, but that would've been about it under the current climate.