Dragonball Super is the latest series in the beloved anime franchise. It has fans all around the world and has been around since its first appearance in manga form in 1984. Through the years it has had various characters that have appeared in movies and TV series. There are female characters in various capacities. All through the years viewers have seen super saiyans. They are mostly male, but that has changed now. It seems Dragonball Super will have its first female super saiyan. This is more significant than some fans realize. It means women characters will be given more roles than just minor support. Chi Chi was at one point a martial artist, but has settled into a domestic role. Bulma was never a fighter, but was important and helpful being the creator of the dragon radar. Android 18 is a fighter, but has not trained seriously. Videl seems to have given up martial arts. She could be making a comeback in this upcoming arc. Pan at this point in the series is still a baby and not a fighter yet. The currently unknown Saiyan in the series is rumored to be from universe six. The preview for episode 76 exposed her in super saiyan form. What also should be noted is the character design. This new female character when transformed looks immensely powerful. Her muscles resemble Broly’s and fans now believe she is related to that character in some way. This does not seem possible, because Broly is not exactly cannon. It is too early to tell, but it could be a homage to Broly in this series. The depiction of a muscular body type rather than a slim one is a progressive and creative decision. The character is one of many that are generating interest this season. This character will either be an antagonist or a protagonist, but it marks a major change in the role of female characters in the Dragonball universe.
This new character will may be hard to classify in certain tropes. Strong women fall into various tropes either being negative or positive. The amazonian beauty presents the strong or muscular woman as a role model. The brawn hilda is more pejorative depicting them as unpleasant or grotesque. From the little footage available it is hard to say if this new character could fit into any of these tropes. Her regular form does not look strong, but when the transformation happens she looks bigger than Goku.
The difference is her face does not become altered and the torso still contains feminine proportions. She is not exactly Broly in a dress, but her biceps could rival his. The character does not fit into either category of the strong woman tropes. This may not be an awful development and could allow for more creative possibilities. The hope is that the writers will make the character interesting and not resort to the same stereotypes or formulas done ad nauseum . There also is a possibility of another trope that befalls many strong female characters ( in both the physical and mental definitions). The capable woman is killed, when it would seem that she has the skills to survive. However, death in the Dragonball universe seems to be undone by wishes from the dragonballs. Whether protagonist or antagonist characters sometimes make there way back to the series.
The hope is that this new character will be given some development. The series has a tradition making fun and entertaining characters. She needs to be more than just a muscle head fighter. Each character has a specific personality. Goku’s carefree attitude, Vegeta’s temper, Krillin’s loyalty, and Picolo’s wisdom are their trademarks. This new character must have a signature as well.
The fan reaction to this character seems divided. There are fans who are excited to see new characters and this one has become one of intense fascination. The more negative response is that there are fans who hate the character design and claim that female super Saiyans are not possible. There is no reason why there cannot be. This character is from another universe in which the Saiyans were not killed by Frieza. It is only fair to give the character a chance and watch the story arc before making such judgments. There are some who say that this makes the series more insane than usual. The series at its core has always been rather strange. The Dragonball series is in many regards a parody and homage to other action anime and elements of Asian myths. The series combines comedy, action, fighting, and adventure. Along with the amalgamation with peculiar characters it makes the manga and anime unique. It is excellent that it continues to reveal a much wider environment. While male fans may not be comfortable with a muscular woman character or a female super Saiyan, they could change their minds depending on the success on this story arc.
The question remains why did it take this long to have a female super Saiyan or another serious female fighter? Too many are quick to say sexism, but this may not be the case. They appear in DBZ video games. Although Pan is just a baby she has the potential to become one. It has been rumored that Akira Toriyama just had difficulty designing a female super Saiyan to his liking. The fan art community has already produce renditions, so it can be done. These range from fan art from characters based off the show or movies as well as DBZ inspired original creations.
Toriyama and Toei animation want to produce a high quality character. This may be the reason it took so long. This is more significant than some people realize. It is the first time women characters are being presented out the traditional tropes ( damsel in distress or token female ) or merely being support characters of no major consequence. The female characters that did fight or play important roles were reduced to the background ( Videl, Android 18, and Bulma ). Dragonball Super does attempt to give most of the characters both minor and major screen time. This unknown female Saiyan is progress in the right direction. The point is to make your female characters just as interesting and lively as your male ones. They should not just be present for no reason.
For female Dragonball fans this should be a joyous occasion. There is now another female hero that you call one of your favorites. Andriod 18 appears to be in the Survival tournament form what can be gathered by the promotional images. This is what keeps the franchise fresh and exciting. It is willing to experiment in different ways. The future seems unclear, but it will be a surprising story arc. If she written right this unknown female Saiyan could become one of many popular Dragonball characters.