Dragon Ball: Why Android 8 Is So Important To Goku’s Story

The Dragon Ball story follows Goku from a young child to being a grandfather, and one of the most important steps on his journey is Android 8.

Dragon Ball’s Android 8 had a bigger hand in Goku’s development than he’s often given credit for. As the hero and protagonist of the Dragon Ball story, Goku is renowned for his laid-back, kind-hearted demeanor. Despite an endless passion for fighting and a magnetic attraction to formidable foes, the Saiyan also has a reputation for being incredibly forgiving, even towards those who might’ve eliminated his nearest and dearest. A prime example would be Goku’s eternal frenemy, Vegeta. Even after Yamcha, Chiaotzu, Tien, and Piccolo met their demise at the hands of the Saiyan invaders, Goku insisted on letting Vegeta go. A similar scenario played out with Frieza, who Goku still tried to spare during Planet Namek’s final moments, despite the murder of his best friend, Krillin.

Clemency hasn’t always been Goku’s forte, however, and as a child, he could be far more ruthless towards opponents. During Goku’s early quests seeking the Dragon Balls, he becomes an enemy of the Red Ribbon Army and begins systematically taking the evil organization down. It’s during his invasion of the Red Ribbon’s Muscle Tower that Goku meets Android 8. Initially ordered to defeat the young Saiyan, it soon becomes apparent that Android 8 is little more than a big friendly giant. The pair become quick friends and work together to save Jingle Village from General White.

Goku battles against General White with Android 8 watching on and, unsurprisingly, it’s the young warrior who comes out on top. But the battle is far more significant to Goku’s development than it might appear at first glance. Although it seems uncharacteristic today, Goku defeats General White and then moves to finish him off, saying, “if I don’t end this right now, he’ll never stop.” It’s left to Android 8 to talk some sense into Goku, who implores his friend, “if you give in to your anger, you’ll be no different than he is. Goku, you’re better than that.” Android 8’s compassionate words stop Goku in his tracks and convince him to spare the Red Ribbon Army villain. From this point forward, Goku begins to turn into the merciful figure fans know and love.

Goku puts Android 8’s lesson into action at the end of the original Dragon Ball series when facing off against Piccolo Jr., who he ultimately spares from Kami’s wrath. There are, of course, other events that contribute to Goku’s character growth and merciful attitude. Hitting his head as a baby removed that innate Saiyan bloodlust, and being raised by the good-natured Grandpa Gohan taught Goku manners, discipline, and kindness. Having a family with Chi-Chi also softened Goku’s temperament, especially his son Gohan, who grew to be an outright pacifist.

As demonstrated in his fight with King Piccolo, Android 8 didn’t completely extinguish Goku’s capacity to dispatch an adversary, but the cyborg certainly set him on the path to becoming a better person – someone who could allow his foes the benefit of the doubt, rather than going for the finishing blow. The Red Ribbon Army’s Android 8 is a fairly insignificant character in the grand scheme of Dragon Ball, making only a brief appearance during the Majin Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z. As such, Android 8 doesn’t necessarily get the credit he deserves for influencing Goku’s character arc as a Saiyan living on Earth.

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