Where did the powercreep really start?

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Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Doctor. » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:18 am

Most fans would argue that it started with Raditz and the introduction of powerlevels or, at the very latest, with Freeza and his multiple forms; the Cell and Boo arcs then exacerbated the problem. I would argue that it started much earlier around the Piccolo Daimao arc. Goku loses to a Piccolo using less than 50% of his power, then he regains his youth and becomes even stronger. Drum defeats Tenshinhan, who had beaten Goku the arc before, without much difficulty, only to get one-shot by Goku. Once Goku defeats Piccolo, he is toyed with by Mr. Popo, who states Kami is a thousand times stronger than himself. Next arc, Goku and Piccolo are far beyond Kami.

Because of the introduction of powerlevels, these seem like very minor boosts in strength because they have to fit into that 0-400 range, but take powerlevels out of the equation and you realize how ridiculous all of this is. It's around this time that the humans start becoming outmatched as well.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Hugo Boss » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:56 am

You are probably right. Tenshinhan wasn’t so far ahead of everyone like Piccolo did. Yamcha and Roshi could still give him some fight and Goku almost won without using some extreme method to get stronger.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips » Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:03 am

The characters were always tiered. It was always the new threat at the very top, Goku some ways below that, and then everyone else a rung or two below Goku. Nobody really noticed during OG Dragon Ball era because whenever a new threat was introduced, everyone moved up the ladder even if their positions relative to each other didn't change too much. The side characters would always complete the previous training Goku had so what really distinguished Goku from the rest of the cast was that he managed to earn the favor of powerful masters much quicker than anyone else. So long as the power gap was a question of training and self betterment, it meant everyone was potentially relevant even if Goku always managed to stay ahead of the pack.

So for me "powercreep" doesn't really set in until Freeza as that's when power became more about biology than about training and I think that's what other fans are picking up on. It's not just that the side characters are weaker than Goku, it's that they have no possible way of closing the gap. Super Saiyan is just too giant a power up and unlike the Oozaru it has no clear exploitable weakness. The new threat will always be above Super Saiyan which means at a minimum a character would need to be Super Saiyan level just to contribute. Previously, in the Piccolo Arcs, a human was still a threat. Piccolo even admits as much when Krillin stands up after receiving what Piccolo assumed was a mortal blow. All Krillin needed was training on par with what Goku had received to credibly challenge Piccolo. That can't be said of any post-Freeza threat.
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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by kemuri07 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:45 pm

It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:03 am
The characters were always tiered. It was always the new threat at the very top, Goku some ways below that, and then everyone else a rung or two below Goku. Nobody really noticed during OG Dragon Ball era because whenever a new threat was introduced, everyone moved up the ladder even if their positions relative to each other didn't change too much. The side characters would always complete the previous training Goku had so what really distinguished Goku from the rest of the cast was that he managed to earn the favor of powerful masters much quicker than anyone else. So long as the power gap was a question of training and self betterment, it meant everyone was potentially relevant even if Goku always managed to stay ahead of the pack.

So for me "powercreep" doesn't really set in until Freeza as that's when power became more about biology than about training and I think that's what other fans are picking up on. It's not just that the side characters are weaker than Goku, it's that they have no possible way of closing the gap. Super Saiyan is just too giant a power up and unlike the Oozaru it has no clear exploitable weakness. The new threat will always be above Super Saiyan which means at a minimum a character would need to be Super Saiyan level just to contribute. Previously, in the Piccolo Arcs, a human was still a threat. Piccolo even admits as much when Krillin stands up after receiving what Piccolo assumed was a mortal blow. All Krillin needed was training on par with what Goku had received to credibly challenge Piccolo. That can't be said of any post-Freeza threat.
I think this is absolutely right. Once it became clear that not only was Goku "special" even among the saiyans, but also when you take into account Saiyans penchant for growing even stronger once they recovered from a near-fatal injury, it was inevitable that Dragon Ball would turn into the Goku & Vegeta show.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Dbzfan94 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:43 pm

kemuri07 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:45 pm
It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:03 am
The characters were always tiered. It was always the new threat at the very top, Goku some ways below that, and then everyone else a rung or two below Goku. Nobody really noticed during OG Dragon Ball era because whenever a new threat was introduced, everyone moved up the ladder even if their positions relative to each other didn't change too much. The side characters would always complete the previous training Goku had so what really distinguished Goku from the rest of the cast was that he managed to earn the favor of powerful masters much quicker than anyone else. So long as the power gap was a question of training and self betterment, it meant everyone was potentially relevant even if Goku always managed to stay ahead of the pack.

So for me "powercreep" doesn't really set in until Freeza as that's when power became more about biology than about training and I think that's what other fans are picking up on. It's not just that the side characters are weaker than Goku, it's that they have no possible way of closing the gap. Super Saiyan is just too giant a power up and unlike the Oozaru it has no clear exploitable weakness. The new threat will always be above Super Saiyan which means at a minimum a character would need to be Super Saiyan level just to contribute. Previously, in the Piccolo Arcs, a human was still a threat. Piccolo even admits as much when Krillin stands up after receiving what Piccolo assumed was a mortal blow. All Krillin needed was training on par with what Goku had received to credibly challenge Piccolo. That can't be said of any post-Freeza threat.
I think this is absolutely right. Once it became clear that not only was Goku "special" even among the saiyans, but also when you take into account Saiyans penchant for growing even stronger once they recovered from a near-fatal injury, it was inevitable that Dragon Ball would turn into the Goku & Vegeta show.
Definitely. And by the time the humans got the same training, (with arguably better results), Goku got the next training method and then eventually SSJ. So i agree with Freeza / Super Saiyan as well.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Lionel » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:22 pm

It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips hit the nail on the head. Once geneticism became the foremost decision-maker for how strong a character is able to become, it became virtually impossible for anyone else that isn't a biological abomination like Freeza to challenge their gains. Notice that I said "virtually", however. I think if Toriyama had thought outside the box he might have been able to devise a way to keep them competitive. A combination of Kaioken and the hysterical strength phenomenon might have closed the gap. It certainly wouldn't be maintainable like SSJ, though, and I'd expect a condition similar to Goku at the end of the Saiyan arc to be rendered on anyone trying that sort of strategy.

No one is safe now. If anyone else tries to make inroads like Freeza and #17 have then there's going to be criticism laid out. Now the humans can't so much as surpass two casual trainers like Goten and Trunks who are comparable to Cell Jrs despite one having a genetically modified cyborg for a sparring partner and the other training rigorously in hazardous elevational conditions.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:53 pm

Lionel wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:22 pm
I think if Toriyama had thought outside the box he might have been able to devise a way to keep them competitive.
The thing is, Toriyama did think outside the box when setting up the post Freeza threats. 19 and 20 with their ki absorbtion abilities were a unique threat. They made ranged attacks next to useless and melee combat incredibly risky. 17 and 18 also mixed up the formula by supposedly having infinite energy supplies. And the Buu era villains had all sorts of strange magical abilities. But the solution to each new type of threat ended up being the same: go some version of super saiyan and then hit them with a big ki blast.
A combination of Kaioken and the hysterical strength phenomenon might have closed the gap. It certainly wouldn't be maintainable like SSJ, though, and I'd expect a condition similar to Goku at the end of the Saiyan arc to be rendered on anyone trying that sort of strategy.
There were a lot of options. Although personally I think it would have been cool to return to eastern mysticism like chi and prana (which the series eventually sorta does with stuff like Ultimate Instinct and spirit control) something as simple as making Super Saiyan a permanent transformation would have "solved" the issue too. If Super Saiyan is an awakening of power like what Guru does for Krillin/Gohan then there's no need for transformations or for any human's "base" battle power to exceed Goku's base power. It's the same pre-Freeza status quo. Plus, no one would ever need to ink Goku's hair again.

But, honestly, I doubt powercreep would have ever been noticed by the fanbase if the human cast had just stayed dead after Namek. With Vegeta becoming a permanent team member, Trunks being introduced, and Gohan coming into his own, there was a lot for the audience to keep up with. It's only because the humans were constantly brought back to get beat up that anyone noticed (that and baffling idiotic moments like Tenshinhan promising to catch up to Goku while he's training on Kaio's planet.)
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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Lionel » Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:11 pm

It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:53 pm
Lionel wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:22 pm
I think if Toriyama had thought outside the box he might have been able to devise a way to keep them competitive.
The thing is, Toriyama did think outside the box when setting up the post Freeza threats. 19 and 20 with their ki absorbtion abilities were a unique threat. They made ranged attacks next to useless and melee combat incredibly risky. 17 and 18 also mixed up the formula by supposedly having infinite energy supplies. And the Buu era villains had all sorts of strange magical abilities. But the solution to each new type of threat ended up being the same: go some version of super saiyan and then hit them with a big ki blast.
A combination of Kaioken and the hysterical strength phenomenon might have closed the gap. It certainly wouldn't be maintainable like SSJ, though, and I'd expect a condition similar to Goku at the end of the Saiyan arc to be rendered on anyone trying that sort of strategy.
There were a lot of options. Although personally I think it would have been cool to return to eastern mysticism like chi and prana (which the series eventually sorta does with stuff like Ultimate Instinct and spirit control) something as simple as making Super Saiyan a permanent transformation would have "solved" the issue too. If Super Saiyan is an awakening of power like what Guru does for Krillin/Gohan then there's no need for transformations or for any human's "base" battle power to exceed Goku's base power. It's the same pre-Freeza status quo. Plus, no one would ever need to ink Goku's hair again.

But, honestly, I doubt powercreep would have ever been noticed by the fanbase if the human cast had just stayed dead after Namek. With Vegeta becoming a permanent team member, Trunks being introduced, and Gohan coming into his own, there was a lot for the audience to keep up with. It's only because the humans were constantly brought back to get beat up that anyone noticed (that and baffling idiotic moments like Tenshinhan promising to catch up to Goku while he's training on Kaio's planet.)
It was a surface-level attempt, in my opinion. They could have elaborated on Gero's scientific approach to combat a whole lot more. Use biological and physics-based armaments against your opponents. I know Babidi had an interesting repertoire of abilities that could have theoretically made him an even bigger threat than his minions. Sadly that never came to pass because it would be uneventful if the Saiyans were teleported directly into a star and unceremoniously killed. Shin might have had to be relied upon as their opposing magical oriented character.

I don't have much familiarity with those subjects so someone like yourself would likely be in a better position to deduce how they might been applied to the humans' training philosophy. I just know that Toriyama neglects to even use Tenshinhan's inherent abilities like the Four-Witches technique and that's a shame because it could make for some interesting choreographic exchanges.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by kemuri07 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:12 pm

It's interesting looking at how other shows avoided the powercreep by simply having rules that makes it extremely hard for the main characters to trump everyone. Hunter X Hunter does a really good job of having a set of rules that all but ensures that Gon and Killua aren't the strongest ones in the room. Which gives the show room to play around with dynamics and even the overall tone of the show.


That becomes all but impossible in DBZ because it's whole bread and butter is having characters power up and get new forms. To it's credit, the manga of DBS tries to criticize the Saiyan's penchant for simply relying on brute force to win their fights, as well as a new villain that can't be fought simply by powering up.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:35 pm

I just wanted to add two notes real quick:

1)I think it's fine to have over powered leads. Lots of incredible stories feature them. Beowulf, Kenshiro, The Man With No Name. Leads that completely outclass 99% of everyone else in the story aren't in and of themselves a problem. Dragon Ball is in a unique situation because of its length and Toriyama's insistence on regularly bringing back the older characters even after the story had no more immediate need of them.

2) There's nothing wrong with changing the "power system" of your setting. (JoJo Bizarre's Adventure does it without so much as an explanation.) The audience isn't going to mind so long as the story stays interesting and engaging. No one reads a story for its magic system (I think. I might be wrong.) so if it's in the way of telling a compelling story there's good reason to change it.
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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by FoolsGil » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:30 am

The power creep started at the end of the Red Ribbon Arc, where Goku's 3 days with Korin led to a really humiliating defeat of Tao, followed by wiping out the entire Red Ribbon Army by himself

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by theherodjl » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:51 am

The powercreep has always been there, its been the point of DB once Toriyama decided to extend the story after Shenron was first summoned. That's why Roshi had an enormous, buff form to maximize his power and why Goku could transform into a giant ape. There was always some state of power that was vastly greater than what the characters would ordinarily walk around as, something that just blew the general degree of strength out of the water and made various characters obsolete. The problem was vastly exacerbated when the physiology of Saiyans was firmly established in-story but DB has always been about going above and beyond with introducing & exploring greater levels of power.
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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by BagetaSama » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:45 pm

Frankly, powercreep is just a direct consequence of a series that is very long and entirely based on strength. Each successive enemy must be much stronger than the last for tension to be created assuming that the protagonists do not lose any mechanics that increase their power. The only way powercreep wouldn't have gotten really crazy, is if the series were very short. That sort of "escalation" is inevitable and inherent to a series that is structured this way.

Like, even very early in the story we see extraordinary escalation. First, you see Tao Pai Pai, kill somebody who Goku had trouble with, with his fucking tongue. Dude was able to travel several times faster than a fighter jet by throwing a pillar and jumping on it. Then, you see Goku dominate him, train to become substantially stronger only to be essentially equal to Tenshinhan. Then you see Goku lose to Daimao, who was using less than half of his power, Daimao becomes young and dramatically stronger, only to lose to Goku. THEN, you see Mr. Popo render Goku to being complete fodder, who admits Kami dwarfs him, to the point where Kami is able to literally flick Goku way. Then, the next arc, you see Goku and Piccolo Jr so much stronger than Kami that even exhausted and severely damaged, Kami was still useless against them and suggests killing himself rather than attempting to fight the exhausted Piccolo. By the time of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai, you see that Goku must be at least dozens of times stronger than Tao Pai Pai was who dominated him a couple arcs ago.

Then you see an alien show up who dwarfs Piccolo Jr, only to find he is piss weak among these aliens, and his boss is 15x stronger than him. Then you see the next main villain is many thousands of times stronger than him, then you see cyborgs show up and dwarf him, so on and so forth. By the modern times of Toriyama's story, Goku can beat SSJ3 Gotenks in his Base form, and has 5 transformations above it. It just sort of keeps escalating, that's just the nature of Dragon Ball.

From the start of the series to the time Goku fights General Blue, you see a fairly gradual escalation of things, and frankly I think things started to escalate exponentially after that. So I guess I would say that's when the powercreep started, not that I really cared.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Lord Beerus » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:27 pm

If I had to pinpoint it down to one moment it would the reveal of Freeza having a BP of 530,000.

Such a stupid fucking thing to do from a narrative perspective, because it established right off the bat that main cast would need a HUGE power-up and/or transformation to have any chance of winning. And to no-ones surprise Goku got both a power-up and a transformation. It's even more galling when you take into consideration how insane of jump in strength Freeza (is base form no less) is compared to Vegeta at his most powerful in the previous arc. That was really the moment when Dragon Ball became a glorified power-up race, and unnecessarily narrowed the scope of utilisation of the cast in active combat.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by funrush » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:05 pm

The Saiyan arc, because that's the first arc to really put numbers to it. Before that it was like "x is stronger than y" but there weren't numbers to quantify the gap between x and y.

So in the Saiyan arc you have Goku at like 400 at the beginning, and he's near like like 8,000+ at the end of the arc. That's like a ~20+x increase in power!

When you were reading Dragon Ball, did you think that Goku's strength increased by 20x+ every arc? Of course not! So that's why Saiyan arc is my pick. The Saiyan arc is when it starts, and then it starts steamrolling when you get to the Freeza arc, since the final boss of that arc is like 120 million.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by miguelnuva1 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:43 am

The Trunks arc and the Android arc have a lot of bloat as well and I don't think people realize how much stronger Yardrat Goku is over namek Goku before he starts training.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Mireya » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:03 pm

The "thousand times" line by Mr. Popo is a dub line btw.

But honestly, we could have old Piccolo Daimao's gap over Goku as 3x or so considering he was superior even when using less than half power and it was stated by Karin in the Red Ribbon arc that Goku got many times stronger post the struggles he had to overcome to drink the water, so there were already quite a few layers overcome in the red ribbon arc with the "many times stronger" line, so taking the scouter numbers out of the equation, I think power creep in a sense of solid statements establishing that was already beginning to be noticed at that post Karin training point in time, but yeah, I think Piccolo's saga most significantly carved that, with young Piccolo being established as so far behind his old power that not even a comparison could be made between them.

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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by emperior » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:50 am

Powercreep started when power levels were first introduced. When the 23rd Budokai Tenkaichi was over, it always felt like the others could catch up to Goku. Well, actually even Goku’s power level at the end of the Saiyan arc felt like a level others could have caught up to (and, in fact, they did).
But then Freeza came, and not only was his normal power 530k (which works perfectly for the story being told, and I wouldn’t want it to be lower) but his full power was 120 million and that’s where powercreep fully kicked in.
The only way to defeat him was through Goku having to abuse his Saiyan genetics to increase his power, and that - alongside the powercreep - culminated with Super Saiyan (which is also when Zenkais stopped).

If Super Saiyan never existed, or if it never was a 50x increase in power - or even if Toriyama retconned it to permanently boost the base power and then only being a 2x increase over it - then other characters would have had a easier time catching up to Goku, if Toriyama wanted to. As power levels got dropped after Freeza.

The conclusion I draw is that powercreep happened because Toriyama wanted it to happen. He could have had the Earthling catching up to Goku in some ways if he ever felt like it.
And power levels are very important for the story which was told from Saiyan arc to the end of Namek, so I am not sure I would ever want them to never have existed.
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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by It_Is_Ayna_You_Flips » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:25 pm

emperior wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:50 am
The conclusion I draw is that powercreep happened because Toriyama wanted it to happen. He could have had the Earthling catching up to Goku in some ways if he ever felt like it.
I don't know if Toriyama really wanted it. He kept throwing the old cast members back into the story even have the powercreep had made the gulf so huge that even Vegeta was starting to fall behind. Why would he do that if he were purposely establishing power creep? We saw Roshi, when Tenshinhan flew off to try to hold back Cell, have a sad little moment where he " longs for the days where he was the world's strongest." So Toriyama was perfectly capable of giving characters meaningful, in character exits.

It just doesn't make sense to me.
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Re: Where did the powercreep really start?

Post by Sadala Elite » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:55 pm

It makes no sense why Toriyama didn't have Piccolo and the Humans learn Kaioken. That would have been an easy way for them to catch up. Just imagine Piccolo after fusing with Kami stacked with KKx20 on top, both the Android and Buu arcs would have ended sooner.

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