Janemba was Dragon Ball Z’s embodiment of pure evil. Here’s how he surfaced and merged with the Z-Fighters’ greatest rivals.
Goku and the Z-Fighters have fought against many psyched opponents over the course of Akira Toriyama’s perennially popular Dragon Ball franchise. However, there’s perhaps none more sinister than Janemba. First appearing in the non-canonical Dragon Ball Z film Fusion Reborn, Janemba was literally the physical embodiment of pure evil, responsible for unleashing the souls of Hell on Earth before confronting both Goku and Vegeta in the afterlife. A formidable opponent, Janemba proved popular with fans and has since reappeared in many video game adaptations of the franchise, including more powerful forms after fusing with other fan-favorite enemies from across the anime’s history.
Fusion Reborn revealed the afterlife, which is overseen by King Yemma, used a machine to scrub incoming souls of any evil, to cleanse them as they entered his kingdom. Stored in a massive machine, an inattentive worker accidentally caused the machine to overload and explode, coating himself in the accumulated evil and transforming into Janemba. After trapping Yemma in a crystallized prison and freeing the irredeemable souls of Hell to wreak havoc on Earth, Janemba took on the appearance on a large monster that looked innocent despite his destructive, deadly nature, able to bend the laws of space by opening portals at will.
Dispatched to destroy Janemba, free Yemma and restore order to Hell, Goku finds himself outmatched by Janemba until he transforms into Super Saiyan 3 and seemingly kills the creature. This turns out to be misdirection, however, as Janemba takes on his own transformation, humanoid and wielding a sword capable of projecting a sharp energy blade. Overpowering both Goku and Vegeta, the two Saiyans are forced to fuse into Gogeta using the Fusion Dance and destroy Janemba once and for all, restoring the afterlife back to normal as the worker that was transformed into Janemba is cleansed of its evil influence.
The 2012 manga series Dragon Ball Heroes: Victory Mission by Toyotarou, based on the popular arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes, brought back Janemba, who was discovered by the Dragon Ball GT villain Baby in a divergent timeline. Using his ability to infect and merge with organic beings, Baby overtook Janemba to form Baby Janemba. The transformation proves brief, as the combined forces of Super Saiyan Beat, Gohan, and Goten alongside Super Saiyan 3 Gogeta and Trunks force the villainous pair to separate, with Janemba destroyed.
Similarly, the 2016 Nintendo 3DS game Dragon Ball Fusions brought Janemba back and merged him with another classic villain. The time-traveling hero Tekka discovers the final two Dragon Balls scattered across time and space located near a temporal rift guarded by Janemba in his original, cheerful form. As he transforms into his final form, Kid Buu appears and absorbs him, resulting in their merged transformation: Janembuu. Tekka’s team defeats the merged villain and their cloned henchmen, allowing them to gain the final two Dragon Balls.
The living personification of evil, even if non-canonical, Janemba is the most insidious opponent Goku has fought yet, craving only wanton destruction. Able to easily win over a Super Saiyan 3 and bend the laws of space to fight his enemies, Janemba is a threat requiring all the Z-Fighters’ greatest techniques to overcome. Merged with Baby and Kid Buu in overlooked, non-canonical pieces of the franchise’s lore, the villain is even more deadly and requires entire teams of Super Saiyan heroes to take him down, fighting fusion with fusion to menace the Z Fighters through time and space.