Babidi’s quite unlike any other villain in Dragon Ball, and not only because of how Majin Buu unceremoniously dispatches him roughly midway through the arc. Babidi is explicitly a non-combatant and instead of a Warlock who possesses better fighters with his magic. Babidi’s sorcery tapes into a person’s negative feelings, amplifying them and binding their soul to Babidi’s beck and call while also bestowing a power boost in the process.
Not all of Babidi’s minions are especially powerful. In fact, very few actually are; but it’s not their strength that makes them compelling antagonists, it’s the brief, hyper-violent role they always fill. The first half of the Majin Buu arc is home to some of Dragon Ball’s darkest storytelling, and it’s all thanks to Babidi’s sorcery.
- Yamu & Spopovich
Yamu and Spopovich are killed not too long after their introduction, with their role subsequently forgotten, but they ultimately act as the domino that knocks the Majin Buu arc into non-stop action until Pure Buu is defeated. Yamu never gets the chance to fight, but he should presumably be in the same league as Spopovich.
Spopovich is a former Tenkaichi Budokai participant who previously lost to Mr. Satan. He presumably allows Babidi to possess him both because of his weak mind and this resentment he harbors for Mr. Satan. Spopovich notably ends up fighting Videl, giving her a truly grotesque and uncomfortable beatdown.
Videl fights well, but Babidi’s possession is enough to raise a two-bit martial artist like Spopovich to superhuman heights. Spopovich even tanks a kick that should have snapped his neck, killing him on the spot. Spopovich and Yamu are killed following this event, having drained Gohan’s Ki and served their purpose in Babidi’s eyes.
Tonally, the fight against Yakon resembles the fight against Pui Pui, but it actually has grave consequences for the Buu arc. Vegeta has had his turn to fight, Goku steps up next to take on Yakon. Just like how Vegeta was teleported to Zun in order to fight Pui Pui, Goku is teleported to Yakon’s home planet, a land covered entirely in darkness.
The only way Goku can see is by turning Super Saiyan, but Yakon’s species can eat light– including Super Saiyan Ki. Trapped in a dark arena with Super Saiyan essentially locked out, Goku is forced to strategize around Yakon. Given Yakon’s long, sharp claws, this could be a potentially dangerous duel.
That said, Goku’s answer isn’t to fight through the darkness but to exploit a flaw. Goku triggers Super Saiyan and basically lets Yakon feed off him indefinitely. While Yakon is gouging, Goku briefly taps into Super Saiyan 2 (which Vegeta notices,) overfeeding & killing Yakon while wounding Vegeta’s ego in the process.
3. Pui Pui
Although Babidi kills Spopovich personally, he leaves Yamu to Pui Pui– the first possessed warrior the Dragon Team end up fighting inside of Babidi’s ship. The strongest warrior from planet Zun, Pui Pui is able to kill Yamu effortlessly, setting himself up as a force to be reckoned with.
The main cast are so powerful at this point, that these familiar beats don’t impress them. While Pui Pui killing Yamu would’ve been an impressive twist in the Namek arc, Goku, Vegeta, & Gohan are all seasoned martial artists who’ve had their lives on the line more than a few times by now.
It’s for this reason that the main cast takes such a calm and composed approach to Pui Pui. Vegeta ends up fighting Pui Pui, and even being teleported to Zun isn’t enough to slow Vegeta down. Without needing to even transform, Vegeta vaporizes Pui Pui with a single Ki attack, allowing the Dragon Team to descend further into Babidi’s ship.
Introduced as Babidi’s right-hand man, it’s easy to assume Dabra will go on to play a major role.
The King of Hell possessed by Babidi himself, Dabra’s mere presence is enough to showcase how powerful Babidi’s sorcery is. He’s also quite literally used as a benchmark for strength, explicitly mentioned as just as strong as Cell was during the Cell Games (which ends up being the audience’s tell that Gohan has indeed gotten weaker.)
Dabra’s big fight is against Gohan but said battle ends up going unfinished. However, Dabra ends up killing Kibito and petrifying both Krillin & Piccolo with his spit. Combined with his sword, Dabra has a fairly novel move set. It’s just a shame more wasn’t done with him.
During his fight with Gohan, Dabra comes to know of Vegeta’s harboring resentment towards Goku. Fleeing the fight, he informs Babidi that he’s found a new warrior for possession. Vegeta initially tries to fight off Babidi’s sorcery, but he ultimately gives– albeit with a caveat. Vegeta is so powerful at this point, Babidi’s sorcery has absolutely no effect on him mentally.
In fact, all Vegeta gets out of the possession is a power boost. That said, he does use Babidi’s influence as an opportunity to indulge his midlife crisis at the hands of Goku. Vegeta forces Goku into a fight he can’t refuse, and the two unexpectedly end up reviving Majin Buu in the process.
While Goku and Vegeta enjoy their fight early on, Goku finds it difficult to ignore both the looming threat & what Vegeta’s done. He eventually stops their fight to have a pleasant exchange of words, knocking some sense into Vegeta before Vegeta knocks him out cold and flies out to redeem himself through death.