How relatable is Vegeta?

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LoganForkHands73
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How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by LoganForkHands73 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:35 pm

People always like to project themselves onto characters they love. A whole generation of kids saw Son Gohan's struggles in overcoming his strict scholarly upbringing and constant abuse from dangerous situations until he finally unleashes his hidden power to beat up the bullies. Fans relate to Goku's never-give-up attitude.

Vegeta is insanely popular, this goes without saying. But the question is, how relatable is he to you? His circumstances are pretty unusual, even by Dragon Ball standards -- he's royalty from an extinct alien society. His initial role was to provide an upper class foil to Goku and he was portrayed as pure evil. Quite hard for an average comic reader to project themselves onto. However, as we all know, he undergoes an extremely long and satisfying arc over the course of the franchise that I'm sure many of us can relate to, even if the scale of his struggles, flaws and redemptions are vastly greater than ours.

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by Magnificent Ponta » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:49 pm

Vegeta isn't in the least relatable, but to oversimplify horribly, his broad appeal has nothing to do with relatability. At base, it's that he's a badass. I know people love the character for additional complexities, and I don't deny them at all, but (again, to oversimplify) this is basically it - even his redemptive arc is only really 'relatable' if you divest it of most of its actual detail and abstract it as coming to terms with a rivalry.

I think the one character in Dragon Ball who really has 'relatability' as a key and enduring part of their character appeal is probably Krillin.

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by 90sDBZ » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:02 pm

He becomes relatable after Namek, because he's no longer a straight up villain but is consumed by feelings of inadequacy, and desperately wants to prove to himself and others that he's the best. He measures his self worth purely by his level of achievement, and sees himself as unfit to live if he isn't top dog.

His defeat by 18 and subsequent depression really serve to humanize him. He failed and hated himself for it, then regained his resolve and vowed to do better, which he did before failing again and ending up back to square one. I'm sure many of us have felt this way at one time or another.

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by nickzambuto » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:12 pm

I think Vegeta is very relatable in the way that he is a man who knows exactly who he is. He is able to scream loudly “I AM VEGETA THE SAIYAN PRINCE” without shame or hesitation. Imagine being able to shout your name at people and into the sky proudly. That’s knowing exactly who you are, which is something we all want. In this world many people are trying to “find themselves”, you hear that a lot, but Vegeta has found himself and holds an extremely strong sense of his own identity, who he is and what he can do. His extreme self belief and pride isn’t something that’s easy to keep, he gets humbled and humiliated constantly and that is where the relatability comes in, but no matter how bad things get, he always knows who he is and therefore what he should be able to do. That is the aspect where I relate and aspire to be like him.

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by Yuli Ban » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:32 pm

I just wrote about relatability, so see if he fits the mold:

https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/commen ... at_really/
Here's a prime thought. Relatability is not really defined by how common and average a character is but more by a central axiom: relatability is when a character does something the reader would do or would like to do for the same reasons we'd like to do it.

I say this because I recently encountered some writing advice that said to make your characters relatable and the extent of its detailing was to add "common" or "average" traits so this character is more like me.

Ouch.

Besides, the logical endpoint of that is to do what video games between 2000 and 2015 did and make basically every protagonist a brown-haired middle-aged white guy (or, to be "diverse" the same but a black guy). You know, the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with. Except I don't drink.

"Everyman" ≠ "relatable." At least not on its own. Relatability is defined more by common shared values and interpretations of experiences. Everyone shits, but what's relatable is when you have to take a piss and walk into a bathroom in which someone recently dumped arse but have long since evacuated, and you're all alone until right as you're walking out and someone else is coming in and clearly since you were the only sod in there, you're now sure they're thinking you're the culprit.

An Everyman with student debt and mild alcoholism might be "average." What's relatable is when he finds a $500,000 lottery ticket, plans to invest it to become a billionaire, and instead spends it all on fast food and Amazon while dreaming of a brighter future and never actually doing anything differently.

I'd relate far more with a squid than a generic designed-by-committee Everyman if that squid pounced on an anti-mask radical Karen screaming at a courtesy clerk trying to politely inform them about store policy while all the Everyman has is beer-stubble, post-grunge, and angst about his wife.

Indeed, if you want a character to be liked by readers, then one surefire bet is to make them a "catharsis character." This means that they engage in actions that readers would love to do or actually would do given the circumstances, if consequences were no obstacle. Basically a low-key power fantasy; more like a catharsis fantasy.

This doesn't necessarily mean they do good; just enact justice. Justice isn't always legal. If a corporation buys the rights to a lake, it's illegal to force them to share access. But most people's schadenfreude kicks in when you get an Erin Brockovich to force them out.

You read something infuriating, filling you with indignation or at least deep annoyance? Guess what: many other people find it infuriating too. Why not have a character encounter something just like it, react similarly, and actually do something about it? Tension relieved, readers clap en masse, and the student's name was Albert Einstein. Because we all want to be Albert Einstein.

I'd rather read a story with an out-of-touch privileged royal fop who nevertheless reacts to things similarly to the way I would than a generic Everyman blank slate. They don't have to have even remotely the same personality as me. If anything, I'd find it far more interesting if a character so distant and foreign still proved relatable in key ways, doing certain things for the same reason (or similar reasons) as I do them.

Indeed, I think it was Karl Pilkington who passingly mentioned on one of his unconsented journeys across the world that what really drives home relatability is when vastly different sorts of people do the same thing for the same reason— a hunter-gatherer tribesman from Papua New Guinea clad in leaves, sticks, and body paint still kicking up his legs and having a drink at the end of the day just like you or me just to unwind and enjoy what time he has at home before tomorrow.

TLDR Relatability has nothing to do with who your character is, but rather what they do and— more importantly— why they do it. A blank-slate working-class Everyman is not automatically relatable.
Addendum:
I'm obviously not against the Everyman. I'm just abusing him to make a point. Theoretically, the Everyman ought to be the most relatable of all character archetypes. Indeed, he is... when you actually portray him as a downtrodden Everyman and don't just fall back on the trope in order to handwave why the character is a completely mediocre zero-personality Dude™ who is more a vehicle to exposit the plot or even a vehicle for the audience to Self-Insert without breaking suspension of disbelief.
Another person mentioned that Krillin is the most immediately relatable character. That's true Everyone is probably a Krillin, in that he does exactly what most people would do in the situations he's in. He messes up the same way most men would, reacts to his best friend dying and later recovering as most people would (except with superhuman strength in the latter, throwing himself in a hug with the strength to push both of them out of a plane). The anime and especially the 90s dub went a bit too far in portraying this relatability as cowardice and weakness, but most people understand who he is.

For Vegeta, what he has is the aspirational side of relatability. That is: sheer endurance and a fairly loose moral code with physical strength that can cash any check his mouth writes until he bets against the house itself. Most people adore that confidence and wish they could have it. He's so dedicated to what he believes in that it nearly kills him multiple times long before he ever reaches the battlefield. And yet it's often not enough.

Have you ever studied for hours and hours and still only get a C or B on a test? Or put in hundreds of hours in a job, only to get unceremoniously laid off?

Now imagine being a super elite noble of a war-crazed, fascistic alien race who was the most powerful member of said race when you were just a child, and then you get surpassed by a mentally deficient peasant who also turns out to be your Messsiah. Then you also reach that Messianic form through pure willpower and inner desire, throwing everything else away in your life except for this one singular passion— and then proceed to spend the rest of your life losing to people far stronger than you, playing second fiddle as the warm up.

It sounds unrelatable, but in a smaller way, we've all been there. We've all put in hours and days and weeks for something only to lose it or fail. Plenty of people believe deeply in themselves, only to be broken by someone superior who barely regards them.

And then you pick yourself back up and try again. Many people would give up but would love to keep going. Vegeta actually does. He even admits defeat and keeps on going. That's what I mean by an aspirational relatability.
Last edited by Yuli Ban on Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:48 pm

Apparently he was relatable enough that he was easily the most popular character as far as the Toonami audience was concerned. With Future Trunks probably a close second.

Granted my favorite character as a kid alternated between Gohan and Android 18

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:15 pm

I, too, would use my immense spiritual power to commit genocide across the cosmos.

I, too, swear at vegetables.
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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by GreatSaiyaJeff » Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:22 pm

I think what made Vegeta relatable was more of how much he trained but Goku with his natural talent would surpass him. This came more from the Buu arc when he went on a speech on how no matter how hard he pushed himself, he could never keep up with Goku's talent for fighting.

So in a way I can see why people can relate to that aspect of the character. I do hope others don't relate to his other parts of his character. Well other then being a dotting dad to Bra.
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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by Vijay » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:03 pm

Dude's hilarious 😂✨ when he panics or abt to get his ass whopped

Vegeta is masculine to start off. His headstrong attitude & "don't give a damn" persona is unique. Never before have I seen such a cunning, selfish, evil & heartless baddie in any cartoon/anime when I was a kid or even last 10-12 years ago. In Namek/Frieza Arc dude was easily the driving force and MVP. Dude turned from evil villain to likable anti-hero purely by the fact dude has single-minded purpose. And he'd go to any lengths to accomplish them. Besides, he had great fights & feats to support his actions. He isn't all talk and no show.

Android/Cell Arc was no different. Dude single-handedly shouldered the whole show & it was rewarding to watch him as SSJ, then later as ASSJ. His cocky persona and consequences of it are wonderfully done...

Majin Vegeta from Boo Arc is nothing short of spectacular. His growth & moments prior to facing Goku & Majin Boo were epic. Badass while at the same time, emotional.

Ultimately it's the execution. If an author has confidence in his character & imbues him with non-stereotypical, non-cliche traits...Vegeta would the product 👌✨

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by Saikyo no Senshi » Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:44 pm

Well the dudebros find him insanely relatable. Just look at all those shirts with his edgy lines and shit lol. And, also a very important fact is he gets the hot girl thanks to his hyper masculinity.

On a positive note though, I think him working hard and still not being able to surpass Goku kind of gives him the "underdog" status and people find that inspiring, especially people who are in competitive fields. So, yeah I'd say he is relatable.

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:07 pm

Saikyo no Senshi wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:44 pm
Well the dudebros find him insanely relatable. Just look at all those shirts with his edgy lines and shit lol. And, also a very important fact is he gets the hot girl thanks to his hyper masculinity.

On a positive note though, I think him working hard and still not being able to surpass Goku kind of gives him the "underdog" status and people find that inspiring, especially people who are in competitive fields. So, yeah I'd say he is relatable.
Vegeta is--in the minds of his dudebro fans--basically Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai: completely out of touch and toxic.
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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by Locust » Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:54 am

In the past, I had a lot to the feelings of "working really hard, but feeling like you're never getting anywhere" - so I absolutely did feel very attached/related to this character when I was younger

I notice a lot of people in the manga/doujin scene really like him, and call him their favourite Dragon Ball character - maybe we just can't escape the feeling of "ah I'll never surpass this artist I admire" lmfao
But that's JUST A THEORY
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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by LoganForkHands73 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:32 pm

This was kind of a low-effort threadstarter that just popped to my head one evening, so I guess I ought to elaborate my own thoughts.

I think the one driving thing that humanises Vegeta, the one thing that's truly the root of all of his insecurities and flaws, is his need for recognition. He wants to be recognised so badly. His characterisation as a wandering space pirate, shortly thereafter clarified as a soldier in Freeza's Army, was very laidback until he was pushed or insubordinated, hardly the hair-trigger-tempered grandiloquent we come to know throughout the Android arc. Although this was simply a case of characterisation steadily marching on into new places, it works because most of the Z-Fighters simply don't care to indulge Vegeta at all. It visibly kills him. No matter how hard he works, no one's willing to say, "Wow Vegeta, you're the best". And why would they? He's not the best, and worse, he's a total arsehole. At least under Freeza's command, he was feared by many and his gradual rampage through Freeza's generals saw him gain that admission of defeat from those he killed.

When we get to the Buu arc, Vegeta's midlife crisis leading to him giving into Babidi's temptations works perfectly because you fundamentally understand his mental state in the build-up to it. When he finally goes Majin, why he takes the risk isn't even in question. It's why I hate that stupid "Majin Piccolo" fake fan rumour so much. No other character would have worked in that situation, certainly not Piccolo. Even Toriyama understood that.

In some ways, I relate to Vegeta's desire for prove himself, though obviously not to the extremes that he goes to -- he's a larger-than-life fictional character after all. I've felt somewhat underestimated most of my life even though I'm fairly privileged, so sometimes I get that insecurity of wanting to surprise people and show them what I can really do, or have done. But we all inevitably fuck up sometimes, and it hits harder when you feel you have things going for you. So like someone else said, when Vegeta cries or gets depressed after losing to Freeza, Android 18, Cell, Jiren, whoever, you fucking feel it. However, what's aspirational about Vegeta is that we can't always have the willpower to get up after a beating, dust off and still have the nerve to say "fuck you, I'm the Prince of All Saiyans" like he does.

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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by DBZAOTA482 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:40 am

He's only relatable in the sense that 'hard work hardly working' but in a negative way. He's way too uptight and is constantly comparing himself to other people.
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Goku didn't die in GT. The show sucked him off so much, it was impossible to keep him in the world of the living, so he ascended beyond mortality.
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Re: How relatable is Vegeta?

Post by preds4343 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:38 pm

Uhm, he's not relatable at all.

I mean, if you ARGUE it, he's only kinda relatable, but that's it...

He still killed innocents, is an alien with a widows peak, has powers humans would considering godly (As well as actual God powers), etc etc...

I guess his receding hairline, his prideful arrogance, as well as the fact that he's a family man are the only real "relatable" things about him. That's it.

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