What Episode of Dragon Ball Z Does Goku Turn Super Saiyan for the First Time? (2024)

Summary

  • Goku's Super Saiyan transformation is one of the most significant moments in Dragon Ball history.
  • Goku debuts his Super Saiyan form in the fight against Freiza in the manga and the anime.
  • Despite obtaining more powerful forms, Goku's Super Saiyan mode remains his most iconic transformation in the franchise.

Goku's Super Saiyan transformation is one of the most significant moments in the Dragon Ball franchise and one of the most iconic moments in manga and anime history. This transformation has been discussed, referenced, copied, and parodied hundreds of times since. In fact, the form is likely one of the most famous anime visuals of all time, with even non-anime fans being familiar with the sight of the powerful and imposing golden-haired Goku.

One thing that makes Super Saiyan so memorable is how it was foreshadowed long before its debut. The term is first used by Nappa in the 240th chapter of the manga, "The Needs of the Many." In this chapter, Nappa notes children born to Saiyans and Earthlings may be way more dangerous than pure Saiyans, describing these hypothetical children as Super Saiyans, seeding the phrase in the audience's mind. This foreshadowing makes Goku's transformation even more iconic for fans as they see Goku truly begin go beyond his previous limits and continuously strive for greater power throughout the Dragon Ball franchise.

Updated on March 28, 2024 by Jennifer Roy: Even though Goku has taken on many iconic forms throughout the Dragon Ball franchise, Super Saiyan mode remains one of the most iconic transformations. This article has been updated to fit with CBR's current formatting guidelines.

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When did Super Saiyan debut in Dragon Ball Z?

The now-famous legend of the Super Saiyan doesn't appear until the manga's 265th chapter, titled "The Dragon Balls Change Hands." This chapter would be adapted into "Guru's Gift," the 54th episode of Dragon Ball Z. Later in the 280th chapter of the manga, titled "Super Saiyan?" Vegeta would further discuss the Super Saiyan concept, even pondering if Goku could be the one to take on the form. Anime viewers would be treated to Vegeta's declaration and a flashback hinting at the state during the 31st episode of the anime, titled "Goku's New Power." This foreshadowing, intensifies the moment when Goku finally transforms as the build-up makes it feel earned and preplanned from the start. Manga readers first saw the transformation in the chapter "Life or Death," the 317th chapter of the Dragon Ball manga that hit shelves on March 19th, 1991.

The chapter is one of the franchise's most heart-wrenching as it beautifully subverts audience expectations. Starting with Goku and Piccolo emerging from the ocean after unleashing the Spirit Bomb on Frieza, the chapter makes it seem like the evil has been defeated, and the dragon team has won the day. However, near the end, Frieza reveals he survived the attack and gets his revenge by shooting Piccolo with his Death Beam and then killing Krillin by detonating his ki. Seeing his friend being killed is too much for Goku, and he transforms into his Super Saiyan form.

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Fans would have to wait until the following week's chapter, "The Super Saiyan," to learn more about the form and see what it could do. This chapter featured Goku fighting Frieza, showing off the Super Saiyan form's immense power as he does. This chapter also confirms what Vegeta had previously said about Saiyans was true, making this a massive milestone in the story that totally changes everything about the characters and the world.

Fascinatingly, anime fans didn't have to wait long to see the animated version of the form because it would make its anime debut in June 1991. Goku entered Super Saiyan form in the episode "Transformed at Last," the 95th episode of Dragon Ball Z. The anime remains close to the source material as the order of events remain the same, and there's a bit more dialogue which intensifies the battle. After seeing his friends suffer and hearing Frieza threaten Gohan, Goku transforms into Super Saiyan form and tells Gohan and Piccolo to leave the planet. Like manga readers, anime fans would have to wait until the next installment to learn more about this mysterious new form. The next episode, "Explosion of Anger," adapts the battle from "The Super Saiyan" chapter of the manga. It shows Goku fighting Frieza, effortlessly crushing him with his new power while trying to retain control of himself.

Goku Also Goes Super Saiyan Outside Of Dragon Ball Z

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Due to how iconic and vital it is to the ongoing story, the transformation into Super Saiyan is in every version of the anime that reaches that arc. On October 18th, 1999, the Funimation dub version of the episode was first broadcast on American television. This version did introduce some changes, including changing the final inciting incident to Frieza making a joke about Krillin's death rather than threatening to kill Gohan, though the rest is kept intact. For obvious reasons, the episode was also kept in Dragon Ball Z Kai, the remaster and re-edit of Dragon Ball Z that aimed to remove the filler. However, due to some episodes being cut from this series, the transformation occurs in episode 47, titled "Awaken, Legendary Warrior! Goku the Super Saiyan!"

It should be noted that there was technically an earlier debut of the Super Saiyan form, even if modern viewers wouldn't count it as such. In the film Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug. After taking a beating from Lord Slug, Goku transforms into Super Saiyan form, massively boosting his power and allowing him to turn the tide of battle. This movie was released in Japan on March 9th, 1991, meaning it debuted merely 10 days before Super Saiyan form made its manga debut. However, the Super Saiyan form seen in Lord Slug looks and works very differently from the now-iconic Super Saiyan form, and it was never used outside this movie. Thus, today, the one-off form has become known as Pseudo Super Saiyan.

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In Dragon Ball Super, Goku has taken on new forms, including more powerful versions of Super Saiyan. Goku has also achieved Ultra Instinct form, which is perhaps Goku's most powerful form yet. The Dragon Ball Super manga even indicates that Goku might become a god or angel in the future due to his immense strength. However, despite Goku's ever-increasing power, Super Saiyan mode remains Goku's most iconic form.

The fact that Goku's original transformation into Super Saiyan is still so fondly remembered is a testament to its greatness. It is a beautifully executed moment that perfectly pays off a subplot that's been slowly building for a long time while perfectly fitting Goku as a character, showing how hard he fights for his friends and how keen he is to stop those who kill without remorse. Because of this, it's no surprise it's one of the most frequently talked about and referenced moments in manga and anime history.

What Episode of Dragon Ball Z Does Goku Turn Super Saiyan for the First Time? (5)
Dragon Ball Z (1989)

TV-PG

Anime

Action

Adventure

With the help of the powerful Dragonballs, a team of fighters led by the saiyan warrior Goku defend the planet earth from extraterrestrial enemies.

Release Date
September 30, 1996

Cast
Sean Schemmel , Brian Drummond , Christopher Sabat , Scott McNeil
Main Genre
Anime

Seasons
9

Studio
Toei Animation

Creator
Akira Toriyama

Number of Episodes
291
  • Anime
  • Dragon Ball
  • Dragon Ball Z (1996)

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What Episode of Dragon Ball Z Does Goku Turn Super Saiyan for the First Time? (2024)
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