Warning: Spoilers for Dragon Ball Super chapter 88Trunks’ main motivation for taking on the first major bit of conflict in Dragon Ball Super‘s newest arc is addressing one of the franchise’s biggest problems – the lack of relevant romance.
In chapter 88 of Dragon Ball Super by Akira Toriyama and artist Toyotarou, Trunks is compelled to investigate some so-called “strange folk” that are meddling with the Capsule Corp’s helper-bots because they are preventing his love interest Mai from going to the movie theaters with them that weekend. Earlier, he had asked Mai if she would go see a movie with him on Saturday, and even though she said it wasn’t her thing, Mai ends up clinging to the excuse that Pilaf made about them being inundated with work since their helper-bots keep getting meddled with. So Trunks comes to the conclusion that if he stops whatever is happening to the helper-bots, then Mai will be able to go on a date with him.
Although rudimentary, chapter 88’s attempt at making romance the main source of conflict is a refreshing change for the series. The only real exceptions are with Vegeta when he first sacrifices himself to protect his family from Buu in DBZ and when he reveals to Goku in Dragon Ball Super that he has only been fighting alongside him because it was serving the best interest of his family. Of course, Vegeta’s love for his wife Bulma isn’t his only motivation in these cases. Even though she plays a major role, Vegeta also wants to protect his son. In fact, when he sacrifices himself in DBZ, Vegeta only expresses his affection toward his son (because Bulma isn’t there). As a result, Vegeta’s sacrifice comes across more as the adoration of a father than a husband’s love for his wife.
Dragon Ball Finally Has a Chance to Get Romance Right
Partially what made Vegeta’s marriage to Bulma controversial was that there was really nothing definitive that explained why. This may have led to some intriguing fan theories, but because Dragon Ball never actually showed Vegeta courting or wooing Bulma, their romance was never allowed to become a major plot point. Although other relationships abound in Dragon Ball, Goku and Chi Chi’s marriage is the most egregious. There’s no doubt that Goku loves Chi Chi, but the franchise has never made their relationship a major source of anything substantial in Dragon Ball. In fact, the only times in which their marriage affects the actual plot are when Goku disrespects his wife’s wishes. When Gohan was growing up, Chi Chi always wanted Gohan to study and communicated her fear that he could turn out like Goku. But rather than respect her wishes, he Goku went over Chi Chi’s head to involve Gohan in dangerous adventures. Of course, communication is a two-way street, and Chi Chi has never truly listened to Goku’s side of the story, either. Whenever he’s tried to stand up to her, she always ends up intimidating him into submission.
Dragon Ball has mostly convoluted romance by focusing more so on fatherly love or the downsides of marriage. Never has the series made Goku or Vegeta’s love for their respective wives act as their main or only motivating factor for their actions. Even though Trunks’ feelings for Mai are inappropriate in Dragon Ball Super chapter 88 due to her actual age, at least his actions are in service of hopefully connecting with her on a romantic level.
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Dragon Ball Super is available on Viz.com.