Great Ape (transformation)

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Great Apes (大猿, Ōzaru; FUNimation "Great Ape", Viz "Great Ape"; Literally meaning "Large Monkey") are giant, monkey-like creatures that Saiyans can transform into to increase their enormous strength. Originally in the series, the Great Ape was a transformation for Son Goku, being a parody of the Monkey King character named Sun Wukong from the novel Journey to the West. Later in the series, the Great Ape is revealed to be a transformation that is only accessible to characters who possess a Saiyan heritage.

The original Japanese name literally translates to "great ape", "giant ape", "king ape", or "large monkey", although Toriyama appears to be the first to have applied it to primates of very gigantic proportions.

Conditions for transformation[edit]

Goku looking at the full moon and then transforming into a Great Ape.

In order for the transformation to take place, a Saiyan needs to absorb at least 17 million Zeno units of Blutz Waves (called "Bruits ("Fruits") Rays" in the original Japanese dub and "Green-spectrum Radiation" in the English manga) through his eyes. Blutz Waves are found only in sunlight reflected by a moon or by a planetary body. Clouds, however, can block the Blutz Waves. Thus, in order to transform, Saiyans usually stare at a planet's full moon.

To achieve the transformation, Saiyans usually need to have their natural tails still attached. However, the tail seems to be only a catalyst, as Vegeta, while possesed by Baby and without having a tail, was able to transform using Bulma's Blutz Wave Amplifier. The tail may accomplish the same effect that the amplifier does: amplify the Blutz Waves in a Saiyan's body to a level high enough to achieve the transformation. A tailless Saiyan that transforms into a Great Ape gains a temporary tail while transformed.

Vegeta once made himself transform by creating a "fake moon" of energy called a Power Ball, which reflected the requisite amount of Blutz Waves. In the Dragon Ball Z film The Tree of Might, Turles did the same thing to provoke a transformation in Son Gohan. According to Turles, the Power Ball's residual effect would keep Gohan (and any other transformed Saiyan) in their Great Ape form for a limited amount of time even if the Power Ball is destroyed (which Turles did).

If a natural source of Blutz Waves (a full moon or planet) is destroyed, or the tail of a Great Ape is amputated, this would cause the Saiyan to instantly transform back to their humanoid form.

Appearance[edit]

Bardock and his team, transformed under Kanassa's moon, begin their attack. Fasha is on the left, while Tora is on the right.

A Great Ape's battle power is equal to the Saiyan's battle power prior to the transformation but multiplied by ten. The color for the Great Ape's fur is usually brown and their eyes are red. Saiyans in Great Ape form can also shoot an energy beam from their mouth in a manner akin to (and possibly an intentional mimicry of) Godzilla's nuclear breath.

A Saiyan loses the ability to reason in this form and will typically display berserk and destructive characteristics, even in the cases of the series' protagonists. They still seem to retain some sense of friend and foe deep within their subconscious, however, which can be awoken as has been demonstrated three times: first in the Vegeta Saga when Son Goku was able to tell Great Ape Son Gohan to attack Vegeta; second in Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might with a similar situation against Turles; and third in the Baby Saga when Goku recognized his family. Vegeta has shown that certain Saiyans of "Elite" status can learn to control their Great Ape forms, even being able to speak while transformed.

As the transformation causes the Saiyan to grow to several times their original size, the Saiyans wear special armor which can stretch to fit the Great Ape form and shrink back to fit their normal form (regular clothes are simply ripped apart). The transformation is also quite exhausting, as Goku and Gohan both pass out after all of them. Trained Saiyans such as Vegeta can go back to their original forms exhausted, but not to the point of losing consciousness.

A Great Ape's size remains mostly inconsistent throughout the Dragon Ball anime and manga. A generalization is that most average humanoid Saiyans can almost fit into the palm of a Great Ape's hand. Great Ape's apparent size varied from about 50 feet tall to almost 100. As far as Goku's first (shown) transformation goes, he is much larger in the anime than he is in the manga. In the Budokai Tenkaichi video game series, the Great Ape's size was significantly cut down to likely 25-30 feet tall, but they are still the largest characters in the game.

History[edit]

Dragon Ball[edit]

Great Ape Goku in Dragon Ball.
  • Goku first transforms when Pilaf seals him and his friends inside a chamber designed to amplify the sun's rays effectively cooking them alive when the sun rose but the full moon rose first so Goku proceeded to go on a rampage destroying Pilaf's entire castle. While Yamcha and company decide it would be best to stay away from Goku until morning, Goku suddenly left the castle and attacked them. Yamcha then decided to try and cut his tail, thinking the pain would cause him to faint. Fortunately, removing his tail causes him to change back to normal. Goku also mentions before transforming that his grandfather Gohan told him never to look at the full moon, and that Gohan was killed by a monster that comes out at the full moon. This implies at least two prior transformations. In The anime, Pilaf tries to fight Great Ape Goku before his plane crashes, machine gun fire only annoyed Goku, while a missile only knocked him out for a short time.
  • Goku transforms again during the 21st Martial Arts Tournament when his tail grows back, and once again the transformation saves him from being defeated. Although Yamcha is ready to try and cut his tail off again, Master Roshi comes up with a more permanent solution and uses a Kamehameha to destroy the moon. Interestingly, Goku recovers from this de-transformation and is conscious again before the (delayed) 10 count finishes.
  • Due to the lack of a moon, Goku never transforms again, however, a Great Ape appears as a representation of his hidden power possibly symbolising that he has become as strong as if he really was in his Great Ape form, most evident when he kills King Piccolo. By the time Goku is introduced as a young adult towards the end of Dragon Ball his tail is absent. When asked about this, Goku claimed Kami once offered to restore the moon in exchange for his tail to be removed.
  • A Great Ape also appears in one of Pilaf's nightmares early during the Red Ribbon Army Saga.

Dragon Ball Z[edit]

Great Ape Vegeta
A Saiyan transforming into a Great Ape.
  • We see Gohan transform for the first time when he's out in the wild. Once again the transformation proves to be useful in a way as it gets Gohan down from a high peak he was stuck on. Piccolo then destroys the moon and then removes Gohan's tail. The power Piccolo saw Gohan display in his transformed state caused him to become frightened by the idea of how strong Nappa and Vegeta would be in that state.
  • In the anime only, Gohan's tail grew back again, coincidentally during a time when Goku's space pod started projecting an image of the full moon in the night sky. Piccolo tries his best to stop him, but is unable to match the Great Ape Gohan. He eventually finds the source of the moonlight and destroys it, reverting Gohan back to normal. He then removes Gohan's tail once again. Several Homages to Goku's second transformation occur here, including Gohan transforming while being hit with an electrical attack.
  • As North Kaio told Goku about the history of the Saiyans, a flashback showed that the Saiyans were able to completely destroy the Tuffles by transforming into Great Apes due to a full moon that happened only once every 7 years (8 in the dub versions) and they exterminated the Tuffles overnight.
  • After Goku managed to overcome Vegeta's Galick Gun with his Kamehameha, Vegeta became furious and decided that he needed to transform. He soon took note of the lack of a moon (They had planned their arrival to coincide with the full moon in case transformation was needed). Unfortunately, he revealed that he was able to create a Power Ball to simulate the full moon's light, though this drained his power significantly. He then promptly transformed and overwhelmed Goku completely and nearly killed him. His transformation was halted by Yajirobe cutting off his tail.
  • During the same battle, Gohan's tail grew back and he used the Power Ball still in the sky to transform. While Vegeta was able to initially get away from Gohan due to his unfocused rage, Goku was able to help Gohan focus on fighting against Vegeta. Vegeta did surprisingly well against the beast, but was ultimately outmatched. He managed to cut Gohan's tail off with an energy disk, but then Gohan fell on him as he transformed back, which, coupled with all of the other injuries, forced him to retreat.
  • When Vegeta confronted Dodoria on Planet Namek, Dodoria told Vegeta about how Freeza got concerned about the Saiyans and destroyed them. A group of Saiyans were shown transforming into Great Apes and destroying an entire planet. A similar scenario happened in Dragon Ball Z: Bardock: The Father of Goku.
  • In "Goku's New Power", Vegeta's explanation of the legend of the Super Saiyan was a lot more detailed in the anime. It showed the Original Super Saiyan as a Great Ape with yellowish colored fur instead of the standard brown, implying that he had achieved the Golden Great Ape form. (see below)
  • While technically not an appearance of a Great Ape per se, Kuririn once commented on Future Trunks's Ultra Super Saiyan form being similar to the Great Ape (even saying to him after Trunks tells him to get his father to a safe spot not to scare him with that since "as far as he knew, Trunks was about to go Great Ape on him". Ironically, an actual Great Ape appeared in a montage told by Krillin mentioning his awe at the Saiyans' evolving powers.
  • After this point, there were no Saiyans with tails remaining and the Great Apes were mostly ignored for the rest of the series. It made one final appearance during Goku's Super Saiyan 3 transformation once again representing his hidden powers.

Dragon Ball GT[edit]

Main article: Golden Great Ape

Golden Great Ape Goku
  • When even Super Saiyan 3, Goku proves to be no match for Baby Vegeta, Elder Kai decides that the only way he'll stand a chance is to regrow Goku's tail. And while Goku is defeated once again, by looking at the Full Earth, Goku once again transforms into a Great Ape, but this time, he has become a Golden Great Ape. In this form, he seems to be able to overpower Baby Vegeta, but is too primitive to focus on fighting him. Eventually, Pan is able to get through to Goku and he undergoes the transformation into Super Saiyan 4.
  • No match for Super Saiyan 4 Goku, Bulma creates a Bultz wave machine to transform Baby Vegeta into a Great Ape, too. The beam works, and Baby Vegeta transforms into a Golden Great Ape instead, increasing his power dramatically. He reveals he is able to control his form, even able to use Ki based attacks. As the battle progresses, it becomes obvious that Baby Vegeta is slowly becoming more and more out of control. Eventually, Goku stops Baby by blasting his tail off.
  • Remembering what the Bruits wave machine did for Baby Vegeta, Bulma deduces that it can be used to help Vegeta reach Super Saiyan 4. The machine transforms Vegeta into a regular Great Ape and while he shows the classic rage expected from a Great Ape (he apparently was just having some fun) and promptly transforms into a Golden Great Ape; and then a Super Saiyan 4.

Films[edit]

Great Ape Goku in Dr. Slump.
  • Goku transforms into an Great Ape near the end of Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle. Interestingly, even though the film is set after Goku's first transformation, the scene plays out almost exactly like Goku's first transformation. Goku's transformation frees Yamcha and co from a dire situation, though, instead of destroying everything around him, he immediately chases after his friends. Yamcha once again grabs onto Goku's tail and although Goku isn't completely immobilized like last time, Puar is still able to cut Goku's tail off by transforming into scissors. A complete transformation and reversion sequence is lacking from this movie.
  • In the film Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, Gohan's tail grows in the middle of a battle with Turles. Deciding to have a little fun, Turles creates a power ball and makes Gohan look at it. Interestingly, he destroys the power ball while Gohan is transforming without having an effect on the transformation. Goku fights Gohan with little luck against the beast, but Icarus appears and is able to calm Gohan down. Turles, annoyed at what is happening, blasts away Icarus, causing Gohan to attack Turles. Turles is ready to take down Gohan with one attack, but Goku uses an energy disk to cut Gohan's tail off saving him from Turles' attack.
  • The TV Special Dragon Ball Z: Bardock: The Father of Goku starts off with Bardock and his team destroying an entire civilization as Great Apes. The morning after, they have a conversation about how much they remember of the night prior, and it is revealed that Bardock can apparently remember everything he does as a Great Ape, whether or not he has control of what he is doing is not said. Although technically they should be berserk, the entire team seem to be able to work together in Great Ape form, and refrain from attacking each other.
  • The film Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! features a Great Ape during the opening animation, as it is an updated version of the original intro sequence. Also Tarble has a tail but he does not transform in the special.
  • The remade Dr. Slump TV show featured a crossover with Goku during his time there where he transformed into a Great Ape and started destroying Penguin Village, although Arale did not find him threatening. Several attempts were made to bring him down, but it was only when Arale grabbed onto his tail and threw him into an open area that Goku transformed back, presumably from exhaustion.

Dragonball: Evolution[edit]

Oozaru in Dragonball: Evolution.

The Great Ape transformation appears in Dragonball: Evolution where it is revised so that it is not a Saiyan transformation, but instead a god named Oozaru who works together with Lord Piccolo to destroy the world before the latter is imprisoned. What happened to Oozaru after Piccolo's incarceration is never revealed. However he somehow bonds with Goku and after his eighteenth birthday during an eclipse Goku transforms into Oozaru. After transforming he sides with Piccolo once again by attempting to destroy Goku's friends, but it is not until he begins to fight against Roshi that Goku then manages to stop himself. Afterward he transforms back to his regular form and accepts that Oozaru is within him and then proceeds to battle Piccolo. The transformation that causes Goku to morph into Oozaru is during a solar eclipse rather than staring into a full moon, and Goku does not need a Saiyan tail to transform. It should also be noted that he is smaller than the Great Ape being that Goku's clothes still fit on him.

Video games[edit]

Great Ape Nappa in Budokai Tenkaichi 2. In comparison with other Great Apes, his forehead is much larger.
Great Ape Selypa in Budokai Tenkaichi 3.

Although the Great Apes are extensively large and have only physically appeared in the manga series five times, Great Apes have appeared in video games many times – albeit mostly in cutscenes.

  • In the first Famicom Dragon Ball Z game, Dragon Ball Z: Kyōshū! Saiya-jin, Vegeta's Great Ape form is the final boss. Earlier in the game, a Saiyan named Onion is able to transform into a Great Ape, which is a palette swap of Vegeta's form. Also, using a combination of "Tail" and "Moon" cards will allow Son Gohan to transform into a Great Ape, giving him a massive boost of power.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22, a special attack of Chibi Goku's allows him to temporarily transform into an Great Ape and thrash the opponent.
  • Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout features Great Ape Baby as the final boss. He was taller than the screen, usually only visible from his waist down. His mouth blast, death ball, and other Ki attacks only hit if his opponent was in the air. This character was only playable with the use of an external cheat device.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku featured Gohan and Vegeta's Great Ape forms in cutscenes.
  • The Game Boy Color game Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors featured Great Apes in cutscenes. After completing the game, it is possible to acquire a card called "Tail" that allows the character to transform into an Great Ape temporarily for a single attack.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai featured a Great Ape in the opening, as it is a 3D revision of the anime's opening. Vegeta's Great Ape form also appears in a cutscene.
  • Great Apes are featured in Bardock and Kid Goku's ultimate attacks in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3.
  • Players are given a very brief time to control Golden Great Ape Goku in Dragon Ball GT: Transformation. The final boss is Baby's own Great Ape form.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi is the first time the Great Ape is represented as a playable character in a fighting game, a generic Great Ape was used as a form for both Son Goku and Son Gohan. Vegeta's Great Ape form is also playable. While scaled down considerably, they are still the largest characters in the game. Although Great Apes in the anime are depicted as being moderately fast despite their size, in Budokai Tenkaichi, Great Apes are very slow (This is apparently to balance out the incredible level of damage the Great Ape characters can give).
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 features the generic Great Ape once more (serving Gohan's transformation in Dragon Adventure mode, although only Chibi Goku can transform into it in other modes), Other Great Ape forms included are Vegeta, Bardock, and Baby, as well as three Great Ape forms never seen in the anime or manga - Raditz, Nappa, and Turles. Vegeta was not the only one in Budokai Tenkaichi 2 to speak normally and have control of the power when in Great Ape form, Nappa had this ability as well being an elite which proves that Saiyan elites have control of this form and unlike the others Raditz's Great Ape form has longer hair that can distinguish him from the others.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 features all the Great Apes from Budokai Tenkaichi 2, in addition to King Vegeta's and Selypa's Great Ape forms. Like Vegeta and Nappa, King Vegeta also has the ability to talk in Great Ape form. Selypa's Great Ape form marks the first appearance of a female Great Ape in a video game.
  • Selypa's Great Ape Ultimate Blast move in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a rush move, making her the only Great Ape character with a rush move (Note: Janemba's base form is the only other giant character with an Ultimate Blast rush move).

Abilities[edit]

A Great Ape firing a mouth blast.
  • In Dragon Ball, Great Apes were just large and powerful, without any special abilities; they just rampaged about destroying anything in their way. They did, however, share the same weakness as a regular Saiyan in that they can be rendered powerless if their tail was squeezed tightly enough.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Great Apes became much more destructive with the ability to fire overwhelmingly powerful Ki Blasts from their mouths. Vegeta's speed was not affected by the transformation and he could still fly, despite his massive size.
  • In Dragon Ball GT, Great Apes gain the ability to breathe fire (a flashback shows regular Great Ape also breathing fire, so this ability cannot be attributed to the Golden Great Ape form). Baby Vegeta also shows the ability to use the same ki based attacks he could use while not transformed.

Techniques[edit]

Voice actors[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • When he fights Goku, Vegeta's battle power is 18,000. So when he transforms into a Great Ape, his strength increases by ten, to 180,000. This is equal to Goku's power level when he defeated Recoome and Burter on Namek after training in 100 times gravity.
  • In an episode of the Saiyan Saga, Vegeta suggests that the ability to make their own flash wave, thus evolving into a Great Ape was created by Goku's father, Bardock. However this line is a mistake as the line is only found in Ocean Group's dub.
  • Although it is called the "Great Ape", it is more monkey-like because of its tail.
  • The transformation is similar to how werewolves transform at the full moon.
  • In the Arabic dub of the series, Saiyans "summon" their Great Apes instead of transforming into them.

Gallery[edit]

External links[edit]