When Worldviews Collide: Goku versus Vegeta
The “It’s over 9,000!” video seems simple and humorous, but there’s much more going on behind the scenes than the viewer may be aware of. Part of the popularity of “It’s over 9,000!” stems from an underlying theme present throughout Dragon Ball—the power of an individual’s untapped potential—which manifests in clashing worldviews, conflict and polar character development.
Considering that both Goku and Vegeta are full blooded Saiya-jins, why do they oppose one another? In order to fully understand why the scene depicted in “It’s over 9,000!” is so important, we need to delve into the two worldviews and the warriors they produced.
In Part 2 you will learn how “It’s over 9,000!” shows the dichotomy between worldviews colliding and points to several underlying themes inherent in Dragon Ball Z and our own humanity.
You will see that it’s not as simple as “good guy” fights “bad guy.” You’re about to discover exactly why Goku and Vegeta were destined for conflict and why the scene depicted in “It’s over 9,000!” is such an important part of the Dragon Ball story.
Growth through Conflict
There is no growth without conflict. And there is no greater conflict in story telling than an ideological, classbased, external vs. internal, hard vs. soft, fist-to-fist brawl! It is through conflict that Goku and Vegeta are able to increase their power level and refine their character.
The primary cause of conflict in Dragon Ball comes from differences in ideological mindsets, whether it’s the difference between the Turtle School and Crane School ethics or Piccolo Daimao’s desire to conquer the Earth and Goku’s decision to stop him. These worldviews collide and cause violent, combative conflicts.
The original Dragon Ball is a mix of fantastical Kung Fu legends with Japanese and American pop culture. Dragon Ball Z introduces aliens into the fold, complicating things further. At this point it shifts from different factions on Earth fighting against one another, to all of Earth united against an alien threat. There are now two worldviews in conflict–earthlings who believe in a person’s inner potential, and aliens who judge a person at birth.
On Earth, everyone is born more or less equal and has the potential to rise up and shape their own lives. A person is not limited by their genetics. Earthlings judge others by their actions, and the spiritual warriors on Earth intuitively feel the power of others expressed at any given moment, whether it’s positive or negative.
They look upon others holistically and understand that everyone has ups and downs, like a wave, so it is important to see past current behaviors and believe in their potential.
In contrast, the aliens believe that people are fixed at birth and will amount to nothing more than what they start with. There is no amount of hard work that can overcome their classification. The Saiya-jins have an altogether different worldview from the earthlings because theirs is a paradigm built on social structure maintained through power: Where strength is all that matters. The Saiya-jin society was assimilated by Lord Freeza when he subjugated their civilization. He placed their already power based social framework into an even larger power based social hierarchy, with himself at the top. Suddenly the Saiya-jins not only had to compete with themselves for the position of top monkey, but also the other aliens and mutants within the Empire. It’s a place where life and death are determined by power level alone, measured and judged by an external scientific device called the Scouter.
The universal life energy called ki bonds these two worldviews together. Daoism and East Asian martial arts state that ki is found in all forms of matter throughout the universe and can be cultivated by anyone. Both cultures use their own form of mind-body science to develop and refine ki. Ki is a subtle language that everyone understands, yet they understand it in different ways owing to their different self-cultivation systems.
In the case of Goku and Vegeta, not only are they both ki cultivation practitioners, they’re also full blooded Saiya-jins. They love to fight, push themselves in extreme challenges and almost die in the process, only to rise up stronger. Deep in their Saiya-jin sub-conscious there is no greater joy or purpose in life. Nevertheless, they are completely different in how they view themselves and others.