A Sad Dragon Ball Theory Says Gohan's Fight With Ginyu Force Gave Him PTSD

While only six years old when introduced at the start of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the strongest fighters in the entire Dragon Ball franchise. From becoming the first character to achieve the Super Saiyan 2 transformation during the Cell Games Saga to unveiling his own powerful twist on the Saiyan combat state after undergoing a ritual by the Elder Kai, Gohan rivals even his father Goku in terms of raw power. However, fighting some of DBZ's most terrifying villains from such an impressionably early age was always virtually guaranteed to take a mental toll on Gohan, and a new fan theory suggests a childhood battle on Namek served as a particularly scarring event in Gohan's developing psyche.

While Gohan was already a relatively seasoned warrior by the time he arrived on Namek, having been trained rigorously by Piccolo for a year during the Saiyan Saga and playing a prominent role in the resulting battle against Nappa and Vegeta, Gohan suffered his first potentially mortal injury on Namek. After being frustrated at every turn by Vegeta, Gohan and Krillin in recovering the Dragon Balls, Frieza summoned his elite unit the Ginyu Force to collect the Dragon Balls and decisively eliminate the three fighters thwarting his efforts. And while the heroes managed to defeat the first member of the Ginyu Force, Guldo, it was the subsequent fight against Recoome that was a traumatizing episode for Gohan.

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Recoome was able to shrug off every attack Vegeta threw at him and mercilessly beat the Saiyan Prince within an inch of his life. Realizing that if Vegeta was killed, they would also be killed, Krillin and Gohan set out to rescue their frenemy, although Krillin was subdued with a single hit. As the last hero standing, Gohan bravely stood his ground against Recoome, but every attack he tried proved largely ineffective. The skirmish ended with Recoome breaking Gohan's neck with a brutal kick; the boy's life was saved when Goku arrived in the nick of time to give his son a healing Senzu bean before finishing the fight against Recoome and the majority of the remaining Ginyu Force singlehandedly.

A fan theory on Reddit by user jmerridew124 has recently resurfaced, with the Redditor positing that Gohan modeling his superhero career as the Great Saiyaman years later was a way to conquer the pain, fear and trauma left unresolved from his harrowing battle against Recoome on Namek. Just like the Ginyu Force, Saiyaman is prone to adopt cool poses, with some of Gohan's poses as Saiyaman echoing the types of audacious poses that the Ginyu Force assumed moments before beating Gohan and his friends to a bloody pulp. While Gohan doesn't address the association directly and seems in good spirits about the whole thing, there's a clear stylistic similarity between the two.

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Gohan has had to do quite a lot before even hitting his teenage years, playing a vital role in battles for the fate of Earth and the wider Dragon Ball universe. Gohan's fight against the Ginyu Force was his first near-death experience, but his decision to use similar poses as Saiyaman could really just be a boy who finally gets the chance to embrace his powers and fantasies in his own approach to become a bonafide superhero. While Gohan hasn't mentioned the Ginyu Force much since that battle on Namek, the fight could have left an unspoken impression. Just how traumatic the episode was, given how far Gohan has come since, remains one of DBZ's many unanswered questions.

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Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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