Dragon Ball is a behemoth of a franchise, even for a Shonen. With a full cast of new characters being introduced and coming back for reunions rapidly, it can get overwhelming to remember who is significant and who is not. But I’d wager the parents of Son Goku, or Kakarot in the Saiyan tongue, are pretty important. Yet we’ve never seen Goku ever meet his father Bardock or his mother Gine, in the past 36 years of the franchise’s run. Or have we?
Dragon Ball has always been a huge part of the anime stratosphere, bringing the medium to mainstream audiences and cementing itself as a household name. But it never came under the Big 3 umbrella with Bleach, Naruto Shippuden, and One Piece. And that’s likely because already a monster in sales even when those franchises were starting. It’s so much older than them and still ongoing thanks to movies, new anime productions, and even games released nearly every year since 1984.
And so, the sheer number of characters in the story that we get to meet is nearly endless. From Martial Arts Extraordinaires to Aliens to literal Gods capable of erasing entire universes, the roster is jam-packed. To the point where you barely have time to breathe before some new all-powerful being is introduced. And yet we’ve only recently seen Bardock, the father of our bumbling protagonist Goku, reunite with his son.
We’ve personally seen Bardock before but never Goku and him in the same scene. This makes sense because, well, Bardock died in the Saiyan Genocide at the hands of Frieza when Goku was just a baby. So, when it was revealed in the ongoing Dragon Ball Super manga that the two have a chance encounter, people went ballistic. But how did this come to be? Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Why is Dragon Ball So Popular?
What’s so special about Dragon Ball is how it started as being the first anime experience for so many in the 90s. It was almost a given that if you were born a millennial, you had caught at least one episode of Dragon Ball and/or Sailor Moon by accident thanks to reruns. They are huge pop culture icons for a reason. And that’s why a lot of these early anime characters are so beloved, though maybe a few are as revered as Goku.
Goku was, like, the ultimate hero for so many boys growing up. He was dorky, funny but extremely powerful with a lot of heart. No wonder kids got invested in his story, he’s just an enjoyable protagonist. And his story is tragic, being the last of his kind and knowing nothing of his violent lineage, only to be confronted by it and the unknown yet still facing it full force and coming out on top.
This is why when it was revealed that sweet Goku was part of the brutal alien race known as the Saiyans, it was so dumbfounding. Because who could ever believe that the people that brought our baby Goku into this world were savage monsters? And Goku didn’t remember anything about them, making it even sadder.
Bardock: The Unconventional Saiyan
We’ve already seen Bardock’s history before, thanks to the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie. Surprisingly, for children as supremely powerful as Goku and Raditz, their parents weren’t even mid-level warriors in the Saiyan army. Bardock was strong for a low-level, sure. But definitely not as strong as his son Raditz. But where Bardock stood out more was his personality, which was a shift from the usual cold Saiyan fare.
Bardock was a great fighter, cold and ruthless but unlike a lot of Saiyans, he still retained some humanity, showcasing a calm and clear mindset during battles. He put his comrades first, a rarity amongst Saiyans, saving them from peril instead of letting them die. This made him popular amongst the lower-class warriors. And by the time Frieza came into power and subdued all Saiyans, Bardock was one of the few that still challenged him and was fierce in his independence.
On top of his tactician abilities, he was surprisingly compassionate. The bonds he shared with his friend, specifically Taro, where he would actively mourn their loss were testament to his different nature. And then there was his relationship with Gine, where they shared a genuine companionship and cared for one another beyond just being Goku’s parents.
Did Goku End Up Finally Meeting Bardock?
In a way, yes. We all know how timelines and multiverses are convoluted in the Dragon Ball universe. What is dead may not remain so forever. I mean, just look at how many times Goku has presumably died, only to come back from the dead every time with a new Saiyan form to boot. So even if they technically met thanks to unlocked memories, Goku still learned of their existence.
In the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie, we got to see Bardock and Gine as they are about to send off a baby Goku to Earth, to save him from Frieza’s wrath. This was our first instance of seeing all three together and their dynamic gave us an insight into what they were like.
In Chapter 77 of the Dragon Ball Super manga, we get even more exposition into the characters into the relationship between Gine and Bardock after he comes back from a battle. When he notices that Gine is no longer pregnant, Goku is brought before him, and he seems so astonished at the baby in front of him. This indicates it was his first-time meeting Son Goku, and this is also where he gave Goku his birth name aka Kakarot.
When Goku is made aware of this memory, it unlocks more and more of the mysteries regarding his origins. Suddenly, his parents were not some faceless savage creatures from a planet he never truly knew. They had personalities. They were his parents. They had names and gave him his own.
And when Bardock is unable to protect Granolah, he put into motion the current ongoing arc of Dragon Ball Super. It began with Bardock and looks like he’ll be the key to ending it too. Goku’s parents continue to impact him to this day.