The Vegeta Saga, known as the Saiyan Saga in the Japanese and Ocean dubs, is the first saga from the Dragon Ball Z series. It follows the Piccolo Jr. Saga and precedes the Namek Saga. This saga aired in Japan in 1989 and 1990. It comprises US season 1. It was later included in the FUNimation Season One Remastered Box Set, which also includes the first 4 episodes of the Namek Saga and on the FUNimation Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Volume 1 Set.
Its main plot concerns the arrival of three humanoid aliens, known as “Saiyans“, toEarth, looking for Goku first, and the Dragon Balls later. The most powerful of these Saiyans is Vegeta. The saga covers the arrival of the first of these Saiyans, Raditz, and his fight against his brother Goku and Piccolo. It then covers the subsequent training and preparation for the arrival of the other two Saiyans, Nappa and Vegeta. Finally, it covers the fight between the Z Fighters and the two powerful Saiyans, culminating in the climactic battle between Goku and Vegeta. On the section which details the climactic battles of each saga, Daizenshuu 2 splits the Saiyan Saga into two halves: the Raditz Saga (which ends with the fight against Raditz) and the Vegeta Saga (which ends with the fight with Vegeta).
Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.
Arrival of Raditz
- Episodes 1-4
The Vegeta Saga begins five years after the events in the Piccolo Jr. Saga depicted at the end of Dragon Ball. A reunion at the Kame House reunites Goku with his old master, Master Roshi, and his friends Krillin and Bulma, who all have not seen each other in five years. Goku surprises everyone by bringing along his four-year old son,Gohan. Unfortunately, the reunion is interrupted by the arrival of a mysterious being, who identifies himself as a Saiyan by the name of Raditz. Raditz identifies Goku as Kakarot and berates him for not completing his “mission”. Further complicating matters, Raditz also claims that Goku is from the same Saiyan race as he is, and that he and Goku are in fact brothers. Goku and Krillin understandably think that Raditz is nuts, however Roshi reveals that there may be some truth to the Saiyan’s words. In a major turning point in the series, Master Roshi reveals that Goku’s adopted grandfather, Grandpa Gohan, found a strange space capsule in the woods containing baby Goku. As a baby, Goku was violent and ill-tempered, though one day he fell down a ravine and suffered severe head trauma, which in turn changed Goku into the happy, amicable child that everyone came to know and love.
This new revelation shocks Goku, who refuses to believe its validity. Raditz then goes on to state that Goku’s original purpose was to destroy all life on Earth, which he should have done in a matter of years after his arrival. Raditz also reveals that the Saiyans’ original home planet, Planet Vegeta, was destroyed by an asteroid some twenty years earlier, and that there are only four Saiyans left, including Goku. Finally, Raditz mentions that he needs his brother’s help in destroying all life on a distant planet. Goku refuses, which prompts Raditz to notice Gohan (who still retains his Saiyan tail), which leads Raditz to threaten the fate of the child. Goku tries to attack, but is quickly stopped by Raditz, who then kidnaps Gohan, and gives Goku an ultimatum; Raditz will kill Gohan unless Goku kills one hundred humans within the next twenty-four hours. With that, Raditz flies off.
Goku is clearly distressed at his situation, and vows to rescue his son; Krillin and Master Roshi offer to help him fight. Before they can depart, however, he is confronted by his nemesis Piccolo. Piccolo encountered Raditz after Raditz had first arrived on Earth, and was terrified by his raw power. Aware that they now have a common enemy, Piccolo suggests that he and Goku join forces to confront Raditz, which Goku hesitatingly agrees to. Bulma offers up her Dragon Radar so that Piccolo and Goku can track the 4-star Dragon Ball in Gohan’s hat, thus finding his location.
Meanwhile, Raditz arrives at his spaceship and locks the crying Gohan inside. Through the use of his scouter Raditz discovers that two fighters are approaching; as they get closer it is revealed that they are Piccolo and Goku. The duo face-off against Raditz, however they find that there is little they can do against the more powerful Saiyan. Raditz gains the upperhand and soars into the air, firing dual ki blasts out of his hands at Goku and Piccolo. Goku is able to dodge his, however Piccolo loses his arm.
Piccolo, unhindered, reveals that he has been holding back a new technique that he designed to kill Goku, however he decides that he will use it against Raditz. In order to give Piccolo time to charge the attack, Goku distracts Raditz with his own Kamehameha. Raditz is astonished that the two fighters can concentrate their power into single attacks, however he manages to neutralize the Kamehameha with ease, and then takes care of Goku with a blast of his own. Fortunately, this was all the time Piccolo needed, and he fires his new attack, the Special Beam Cannon. Despite the power of the blast, however, Raditz side-steps it. Goku takes advantage of the distracted Raditz and grabs his tail, which Goku remembers as being one of his own weaknesses as a child. Raditz is rendered helpless, however he appeals to his brother to let him go if he promises to leave the planet, which Goku does, much to Piccolo’s chagrin. Raditz predictably double-crosses his brother, and pins him down, breaking bones and causing Goku much pain. At that moment, Raditz’s space pod explodes.
Gohan, who had been watching helplessly from inside Raditz’s pod, manages to blow the pod apart upon hearing his father’s screams. Raditz’s scouter detects the child’s power level to be 1,307, substantially higher than that of Goku and Piccolo. The infuriated Gohan charges at Raditz, who is unable to react in time, and receives a swift head-butt to the chest, breaking his Saiyan Armor. Gohan’s power level soon drops back to 1; and Raditz realizes that Gohan’s power is affected by his emotions. Raditz quickly smacks Gohan aside, but is still physically hurt by the previous attack. Goku, using what little strength he has left, leaps up and locks Raditz in a full nelson. Raditz is unable to break free, and Goku tells Piccolo to try his attack again. Piccolo does not hesitate to comply, knowing that the beam will kill Goku as well; though he knows that Goku’s friends will most likely use the Dragon Balls to resurrect him, he is nonetheless satisfied with killing his archenemy. He fires off another Special Beam Cannon, and Raditz, held by Goku, is unable to dodge it again, and the beam penetrates through both Raditz and Goku, mortally wounding both of them. Raditz curses Piccolo, but commends his brother’s spirit. Piccolo informs Raditz that Goku will be wished back to life using the Dragon Balls. Raditz, with his dying breath, retorts by saying that the scouter on his head acts as a transmitter as well, and that the other two Saiyans will come to Earth and avenge his death. Piccolo, upset at Raditz’s cockiness, delivers an early deathblow to him.
In space, the remaining two Saiyans, Nappa and Vegeta, get word of Raditz’s death by the message transmitted to their scouters. Vegeta is intrigued by the Dragon Balls, and they decide to head to Earth to use them to wish for immortality (rather than wishing Raditz back to life, as Raditz had hoped).
Back on Earth, Krillin, Master Roshi, and Bulma arrive at the scene, to find Raditz dead and Goku dying. Though they can bring him back with the Dragon Balls, Krillin takes watching his friend die very hard. Shortly after he expires, however, Goku’s body vanishes. Piccolo takes that to mean that the Guardian of Earth, Kami, has plans for Goku in the Other World. Piccolo then surprisingly regenerates his arm, tells the others of the impending arrival of two more powerful Saiyans, and picks up the unconscious Gohan, with the intention of training the child to fight the Saiyans. The others protest, but can do nothing to stop Piccolo.
- Episodes 5-21
In the Other World, Kami brings Goku to King Yemma, to ask permission for Goku to travel down the Snake Way with the intention of training with the Lord of Worlds, King Kai. Goku asks if Raditz came here as well, and is surprised when Yemma sent him to hell without too much trouble. Yemma also grants this request, and Goku begins his long and perilous journey down the one-million kilometer Snake Way.
Kami also makes a startling revelation; that the previous viciousness of Piccolo is beginning to recede. Because he had noticed that Raditz had been sent to Hell instead of spending eternity trapped in limbo as what happens when one gets killed by a demon, he begins to believe that Piccolo’s fear of the Saiyans is making him grow a conscience.
On Earth, Gohan wakes up, but to his dismay, he is with Piccolo and his father is nowhere to be found. Piccolo informs the child of his father’s death and says that he intends to train Gohan for the impending battle with the Saiyans. Gohan objects, but Piccolo quickly shows him that he does have a great power inside him; but only for brief moments. Piccolo then abandons him, claiming that if Gohan manages to survive for six months alone in the wilderness, the real training would begin. Gohan struggles with being on his own, and after being chased by a dinosaur, manages to get trapped on a cliff by using his hidden strength. With no way of getting down, Gohan settles down for the night after eating apples secretly brought by Piccolo. He awakens in the middle of the night to find a large full moon awaiting him. Gohan remarks about how he’s never seen the moon so big. However, upon this revelation, he begins transforming into a Great Ape, the Saiyan equivalent of a giant ape (Kami had revived the moon again after permanently removing Goku’s tail in Dragon Ball). Piccolo, who had been watching nearby, is shocked at this new form, and desperately tries to discover the source of the transformation. Needless to say, Great Ape Gohan destroys the mountain he was on and begins rampaging the countryside. Piccolo recalls something Raditz has said about the power of the moon on Saiyans with tails, and realizing that the moon would act as an advantage to the Saiyans, he destroys the moon, instantly causing Gohan to revert to his normal state. Seeing the tail as a weakness, Piccolo removes it from the passed-out Gohan, and gives him a new set of clothes and a sword, before disappearing.
Meanwhile, Kami calls together the strongest fighters on Earth in order to train them for the arrival of the Saiyans. The fighters selected to train on Kami’s Lookout are Krillin, Tien Shinhan, Yamcha, Chiaotzu, andYajirobe. Six months pass, Gohan is surviving in the desert and Goku is still running down Snake Way. Piccolo decides that Gohan’s survival training is finished, and begins to personally train him. Also, in the original anime (it is removed in Dragon Ball (Z) Kai), the Saiyans destroy planet Arlia on their way to Earth.
Goku finally reaches the end of the Snake Way, and discovers a small planet “in orbit” above him. He leaps to the planet, but immediately discovers that despite its diminutive size, the planet has heavy gravity. After struggling to walk around the planet, Goku meets King Kai and his pet monkey, Bubbles. With only 88 days left before the Saiyans arrive, King Kai instructs Goku to chase and ultimately catch Bubbles, in order for Goku to become adjusted to the gravity. It takes Goku some time to accomplish this feat, but he does so in about two months. Also, in the Anime, Goku must hit a cricket named Gregory on the head with a hammer. King Kai then begins to instruct Goku on his two signature techniques: the Kaio-ken and the Spirit Bomb. Goku masters these techniques within a day of the Saiyan’s arrival on Earth. Unfortunately, King Kai realizes that even though Goku’s friends can wish Goku back to life, Goku still has to run all the way down Snake Way to get back to Earth. Goku, in a panic, telepathically instructs Master Roshi back on Earth to resurrect him. Master Roshi complies, having gathered the Dragon Balls over the past year, and summons Shenron, the Eternal Dragon of the Dragon Balls, and asks the Dragon to bring Goku back to life. The Dragon complies, Goku returns to life in the Other World, and immediately flies at top speed down the Snake Way. Then, one day later, the Saiyans arrive.
The battle against the Saiyans
- Episodes 22-35
Upon their arrival, the Saiyans Nappa and Vegeta immediately destroy the city they landed in. Vegeta, wanting to find the Dragon Balls, uses his scouter to determine the location of the strongest warrior on the planet, whom he presumes to be the one who killed Raditz. They head off towards Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo and Gohan sense the incoming powers, as well as several smaller ones, who turn out to be Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu. The Saiyans arrive. When Krillin arrives, Nappa and Vegeta also reveal that they came to Earth to use the Dragon Balls for immortality. The Saiyans recognize Piccolo as being a Namekian. This revelation about his true origin shocks Piccolo for a while, with Kami also realizing that his creating the Dragon Balls was some kind of racial memory from his Namekian heritage. Nappa decides to letSaibamen beat up the fighters first, and plants seeds in the ground, which sprout and become six small green aliens. Tien fights one first, and easily bests it. Upon seeing this, Vegeta deduces that the fighters are concealing their power and easily destroys the defenseless Saibaman for its incompetence. Yamcha goes after another Saibaman, and seemingly defeats it with a Kamehameha. However, it instantly stands up again and latches on to him and self-destructs, killing both of them. An enraged Krillin snaps and launches a devastatingExpanding Energy Wave blast that splits off into six separate blasts, one for each remaining Saibaman and one for each of the two Saiyans.
The blast manages to kill three Saibamen immediately, Piccolo destroys one that hid from the blast and tried to attack Gohan. Vegeta and Nappa also survive the blast unscathed. Nappa then decides to step up and battle the Z Fighters himself. Vegeta tells Nappa not to kill Piccolo, as that would probably cease the Namek from revealing the location of the Dragon Balls as well (they are under the belief that he is the only one who knows of the Dragon Balls). Nappa goes on the offensive, powering up a great deal and choosing Tien at random to attack. He actually knocks off Tien’s arm, causing him extreme pain. Krillin tries to rescue his friend, but Nappa stops him by firing at powerful attack straight in front of him. Nappa, distracted, fails to notice Chiaotzu coming up behind him. Chiaotzu attaches onto Nappa and self-destructs, much to Tien’s dismay. When the smoke clears, Nappa remains, with no harm to him. Chiaotzu sacrificed himself for nothing.
Tien, enraged, goes into an all-out attack against Nappa, who blocks all his attacks like nothing. Piccolo tells the others that once Nappa goes to the offensive, he will be unguarded, and they will sneak up and attack. The plan goes well until Gohan chickens out at the last second and runs away. Piccolo and Krillin, pretty much the only ones left, continue to fight Nappa, but are no match, even together. Tien, who is only alive through pure willpower, however, puts all of his energy into a final attack, a one-handed Tri-Beam. Unfortunately, this fails, and Nappa survives with only his armor damaged. Tien, who literally put his life into the attack, dies.
Nappa prepares to make the kill on all three, however Vegeta, who had remained on the sidelines, halts him. Vegeta has deduced that “Goku” is Kakarot, and wants Nappa to wait three hours for Goku to arrive to provide punishment for the “traitor”, planning to continue the fight afterwards regardless of whether or not Goku is there. Nappa reluctantly agrees, much to the puzzlement of the remaining fighters, as Nappa is much larger in stature than the diminutive Vegeta. Goku, who had been flying down Snake Way for two straight days, finally reaches the end of the road. Kami appears to transport Goku back to Earth, and on his way to the battlefield, he receives two Senzu Beans from Korin, eats one of them himself to regain his strength, and rides the Flying Nimbus towards the action to conserve energy. Unfortunately, the three hours are up.
The remaining fighters formulate a plan to weaken Nappa by grabbing his tail, as Goku had done with Raditz. This ultimately fails, when Nappa reveals that elite Saiyans have learned to overcome the weakness of the tail. He then hits Piccolo on the head when Piccolo learns that it is hopeless. Piccolo is rendered unconscious, and Nappa attacks Gohan and Krillin for a while. Piccolo regains consciousness, and exclaims that Goku is coming. Vegeta’s scouter picks up Goku’s power level to be 5000, which shock the two Saiyans. Vegeta knows that since the Fighters have the ability to change their power as they see fit, 5000 is most likely the lowest power that Goku is exerting. Vegeta then orders Nappa to kill everyone before Goku arrives, as a team attack might prove to be a disadvantage. When Nappa argues about the Dragon Balls, Vegeta tells Nappa about the existence of Dragon Balls on Piccolo’s home planet, Namek. Gohan urges Piccolo to escape as his death would mean the end of the Dragon Balls on Earth and subsequently kicks Nappa in the head, sending him crashing into a cliff wall. However, he only succeeds in making Nappa angrier. The enraged Nappa launches his powerful Bomber DXblast at Gohan, but before it hits, Piccolo jumps in the way and takes the blast full force, killing him. Before his death Piccolo admits with tears in his eyes how he had enjoyed training with Gohan and how his innocence made him soft, leading up to the events of him eventually sacrificing his life for the boy. Up above Earth, Kami vanishes as well, as his being is linked with Piccolo’s due to their history. Gohan’s rage explodes and he fires his Masenko attack at Nappa, who blocks it. This surprises Vegeta, considering that Gohan’s power level upped from a low 981 to 2,800. However, finishing the attack leaves Gohan helpless. Fortunately, Goku arrives just in time.
Goku splits up the remaining Senzu Bean and gives a piece each to Krillin and Gohan. Nappa asks Vegeta what his scouter says about Goku’s power level. Vegeta responds that “IT’S OVER 9,000!!!” (which has become a popular internet joke, despite being a mistranslation of the original 8,000), destroying his scouter in a fit of rage. After quickly realizing that everyone else is dead, Goku gets very angry and begins fighting Nappa. Nappa is no match for Goku, and Vegeta orders him to back down. Nappa complies, but decides to take out Krillin and Gohan instead. Goku cannot catch up to Nappa, so he uses the Kaiō-ken technique to ram into Nappa, breaking his back, and rendering him useless. Goku throws Nappa at Vegeta’s feet. When Krillin asks him what he did, Goku replies that Kaio-ken utilizes all the potential energy within him and multiplies his reflexes, speed, senses, and power. However, Goku then comments that Kaio-ken’s weakness is that it damages his body if multiplied to an extent he can not handle and this might even kill him by causing him to explode with the pressure. Nappa begs for mercy, but Vegeta throws him up into the air, and destroys him with a single concentrated blast. Vegeta then sets his sights on Goku.
Goku tells Vegeta that he wants to fight elsewhere so as to not destroy the bodies of his friends. They head off to a desert, while Gohan and Krillin fly back towards the Kame House. Vegeta implies that not many low-class warriors like Goku get to spar with the elite like Vegeta, but Goku replies that even a lower-class reject can surpass the elite if he tries hard enough. Goku and Vegeta begin to fight, and appear to be evenly matched. Vegeta tells Goku to release his hidden power, to which Goku complies. He engages the Kaio-ken, however Vegeta manages to defend against it. Vegeta powers up a great deal himself, and Goku uses the Kaio-ken x2, however, he still is not a match for Vegeta. Finally, Goku concentrates all of his energy into a Kaio-ken x3, raising his power level to 24,000, which worries King Kai. In this form, Goku gains the upperhand, and forces Vegeta to use one of his signature attacks. Flying straight up into the air, Vegeta powers up and unleashes his Galick Gun at Goku and the earth. Unable to move for fear of letting the blast hit the earth, Goku charges up to Kaio-ken x3 again and launches his own Kamehameha at Vegeta. The two blasts collide intensely, and Goku finally gains the upper hand by stepping up his Kaio-ken to x4. The Kamehameha overpowers Vegeta, who goes flying into the air. However, this leaves Goku’s body devastated.
Yajirobe, who had been hiding nearby the entire time, comes out to congratulate Goku, however when Goku says Vegeta is not defeated, he quickly hides again. Up in the air, Vegeta is enraged that Goku was able to surpass him and decides to transform into a Great Ape, however he discovers that the moon is gone. He flies back down to the ground and creates a Power Ball, that simulates a small moon at the cost of a significant amount of Ki. Vegeta then transforms into a Great Ape, however, unlike Goku or Gohan, he is able to remain in control of his body. Vegeta states that when a Saiyan transforms into a Great Ape, it multiplies their power ten-fold, and thus attacks Goku mercilessly. During this time, a shocked Goku has an extended flashback of his adoptive grandfather warning him of a monster outside during a full moon, Kami contemplating cutting his tail off, and finally remembers himself as a Great Ape destroying both Emperor Pilaf‘s castle and the stadium at the World Martial Arts Tournament, realizing that he was the one who destroyed both and crushed his grandpa to death. Goku manages to blind Vegeta with a Solar Flare and then attempts to create a Spirit Bomb, however Vegeta discovers it and shoots a Mouth Blast at him, causing him to lose most of the Spirit Bomb energy. Then he crushes Goku’s legs, leaving him paralyzed and unable to fight, and proceeds to crush him in his gigantic hands. Gohan and Krillin notice the strange power ball and rush back to aid Goku.
Upon arriving, Gohan distracts Vegeta while Krillin uses his Destructo Discattack to try and cut off Vegeta’s tail. Vegeta senses the attack, and dodges it. Yajirobe, however, proves himself to be useful by cutting off Vegeta’s tail himself. Vegeta reverts to normal, and is obviously upset. Vegeta decides to attack Gohan, but Krillin intervenes, and is quickly disposed of. Goku calls Krillin over to him, and tells Gohan to fight Vegeta. Gohan holds his own, but is clearly outclassed. Goku hands off the remaining energy he gathered in forming the Spirit Bomb to Krillin, and King Kai tells him telepathically to throw the Spirit Bomb at Vegeta when the moment is right. Vegeta backs Gohan into a corner, and Krillin is about to throw it, however Yajirobe yells at Krillin for waiting so long. Vegeta hears this and manages to avoid the Spirit Bomb, and it heads right towards Gohan. Goku telepathically yells for Gohan to bounce it off, since the ball can not hurt those who are pure of heart. Gohan succeeds, and sends the ball hurling back at Vegeta, who, having just evaded it once, has no time to react a second time. The ball hits him squarely and he is sent back into the air again.
Gohan and Krillin gather around the paralyzed Goku. Suddenly, Vegeta’s body falls from the sky. Krillin comments that he’s dead, although Vegeta is indeed still alive, albeit with power greatly diminished. Vegeta attempts to defeat everyone with a giant energy explosion, but it does little and only leaves him drained. He goes after Gohan when he realizes to his horror that Gohan’s tail has grown back. Fearing what would happen if Gohan were to look at the Power Ball he created, Vegeta attempts to chop off Gohan’s tail.
Yajirobe attacks the Saiyan with his sword, but this only distracts Vegeta for a moment, and Vegeta lashes out at the cowardly Yajirobe, knocking him into some mountains. Goku, telepathically, tells Gohan to look at the sky, which Gohan does, much to Vegeta’s dismay. Gohan transforms into a Great Ape, and, while initially attacking everything, begins to concentrate only on Vegeta with his father’s voice. After a beating from Great Ape Gohan, Vegeta manages to cut off Gohan’s tail with a Destructo Disc, however he has no energy left to move out of the way of the de-transforming ape, and is crushed by Gohan. When the dust clears, Krillin is the only one left capable of moving. He grabs Yajirobe’s katana that he dropped earlier, and staggers over to Vegeta, determined to stop him and put him down. Barely alive, Vegeta calls for his ship using a its control remote, however, Krillin gets to him before it arrives. Krillin is just about to kill Vegeta when Goku telepathically tells Krillin to spare him. In an emotional scene, Goku convinces Krillin to let Vegeta live because he had never fought someone so strong and this made him more excited than scared. Because of this, Goku desires to have a rematch with him someday; he also expresses a belief that Vegeta may learn mercy and reform as Piccolo did. Though understandably skeptical, Krillin ultimately decides to trust Goku’s judgment and lets Vegeta go. Vegeta vows to make Goku regret sparing him before he departs. The story is continued in the Namek Saga.