Great Ape (大猿 Ōzaru, lit. Great Monkey) is a giant monkey-like creature that Saiyans can transform into to increase their great strength. The original Japanese name literally translates to "great ape", "giant ape", "king ape", or "large monkey", though Toriyama appears to be the first to have applied it to primates of such gigantic proportions.
Conditions for transformation
In order for the transformation to take place, the Saiyan still needs to have a tail, as the glands responsible for initiating the transformation are located exclusively there. He also needs to absorb at least 17 million zeno units of Bruits ("Fruits") Rays (called "Blutz Waves" in the English dub and Green-spectrum Radiation in the English manga) through his eyes, to initiate a transformation. Bruits waves are found only in sunlight reflected by a moon. If there is no moon, a planetary body will reflect the same amount of rays. The easiest way to achieve this is to gaze at the full moon. If any clouds covered the moon and/or a planetary body, it would block certain amounts of the radiation. Vegeta once made himself transform by firing a "fake moon" reflecting the requisite amount of Bruits Rays into the air, then staring at it.
In Dragon Ball Z movie 3, "The Tree of Might", Turles did the same thing to provoke a transformation in Gohan as a joke, for he knew he was powerful enough to handle him. According to Turles in the same film, the Power Ball's residual effect would keep Gohan (and any other transformed Saiyan) in their Great Ape form for a limited amount of time even if the power ball is destroyed (which Turles does). It can be assumed that, since it is so close to the planet, weather conditions do not affect the Power Ball's radiation output.
If a natural source of Bruits waves (a full moon or planet) was destroyed or the tail is amputated, this would cause the Saiyan to instantly transform back to their humanoid form. Additionally, during Dragon Ball GT, Bulma created the Bruits Ray Machine, which could induce the transformation on a Saiyan even if the Saiyan did not have a tail.
Characteristics of Saiyans in Great Ape form
A Great Ape's power level is equal to the Saiyan's power level prior to the transformation multiplied by ten. A Saiyan loses the ability to reason in this form, and will typically display berserk and destructive characteristics, even in the cases of protagonists. However, they still seem to retain some sense of friend and foe deep within their subconscious, which can be awoken, as has been demonstrated three times before (once in the Vegeta Saga, when Goku was able to tell Great Ape Gohan to attack Vegeta, second in the Baby Saga, when Pan got through to Golden Great Ape Goku to transform him to Super Saiyan 4, and finally when Goku helped Golden Great Ape Vegeta transform to Super Saiyan 4). Despite the lack of self-awareness, as Saiyans mature, they are taught how to reign in their instincts and retain normal cognitive functions as Great Apes. This explains why Goku and Gohan lose control in Great Ape form, as they never received this training and are at first unaware of this transformation. Saiyans in Great Ape form can also shoot an energy beam from their mouth, in a manner akin to (and possibly an intentional mimicry of) Godzilla's nuclear breath. As the transformation causes the Saiyan to grow to several times their original size, the Saiyans wear special armor which can stretch to fit the Great Ape form and shrink back to fit their normal form, Goku and Gohan don't have this since they live on Earth so the transformation rips their clothes apart meaning they revert to their normal forms naked. The transformation is also quite exhausting, as Goku and Gohan both pass out after all of them. Yet with trained Saiyans such as Vegeta, they can go back to their original forms exhausted, but not to the point of losing consciousness.
- In Dragon Ball, Great Ape were just large and powerful, without any special abilities; they just rampaged about destroying anything in their way. They did however share the same weakness as a regular Saiyan in that they can be rendered powerless if their tail was squeezed tightly enough.
- In Dragon Ball Z however, Great Ape became much more destructive with the ability to fire overwhelmingly powerful Ki blasts from their mouths. Additionally, Vegeta has shown that certain Saiyans of "Elite" status can control their Great Ape forms, even being able to speak while transformed. Vegeta's speed was not affected by the transformation and he could still fly despite his massive size. It is also said that a Saiyan's power is multiplied tenfold when transformed into the Great Ape.
- In Dragon Ball GT, Great Ape gain the ability to breathe fire (a flashback shows regular Great Ape also breathing fire, so this ability cannot be attributed to the Golden Great Ape form). Baby Vegeta also shows the ability to use the same ki based attacks he could use while not transformed.
An Great Ape's size remains mostly inconsistent throughout the Dragon Ball anime and manga. A generalization is that most average human/non-transformed saiyans can almost fit into the palm of a Great Ape's hand. Great Ape's are assumed to be around 50 feet tall.
As far as Goku's first (shown) transformation goes, he is much larger in the anime than he is in the manga. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi and its sequel, the Great Ape's size were significantly cut down but they are still the largest characters in the game.
- Goku first transforms when Pilaf seals him and his friends inside a chamber designed to amplify the sun's rays effectively cooking them alive when the sun rose. Goku proceeded to go on a rampage destroying Pilaf's entire castle. While Yamcha and company decide it would be best to stay away from Goku until morning, Goku suddenly left the castle and attacked them. Yamcha then decided to try and cut his tail, thinking the pain would cause him to faint. Fortunately, removing his tail causes him to change back to normal. Goku also mentions before transforming that his grandfather Gohan told him never to look at the full moon, and that Gohan was killed by a monster that comes out at the full moon. This implies at least two prior transformations. In The anime, Pilaf tries to fight Great Ape Goku before his plane crashes, machine gun fire only annoyed Goku, while a missile only knocked him out for a short time.
- Goku transforms again during the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai when his tail grows back, and once again the transformation saves him from being defeated. Although Yamcha is ready to try and cut his tail off again, Master Roshi comes up with a more permanent solution and uses a Kamehameha to destroy the moon. Interestingly, Goku recovers from this de-transformation and is conscious again before the (delayed) 10 count finishes.
- Due to the lack of a moon, Goku never transforms again, however, an Great Ape appears as a representation of his hidden power, most evident when he kills King Piccolo.
Dragon Ball Z
- We see Gohan transform for the first time when he's out in the wild. Once again the transformation proves to be useful in a way as it gets Gohan down from a high peak he was stuck on. Piccolo then destroys the moon and then removes Gohan's tail. The power Piccolo saw Gohan display in his transformed state caused him to become frightened by the idea of how strong Nappa and Vegeta would be in that state.
- In the anime only, Gohan's tail grew back again, coincidentally during a time when Goku's space pod started projecting an image of the full moon in the night sky. Piccolo tries his best to stop him, but is unable to match the Great Ape Gohan. He eventually finds the source of the moonlight and destroys it, reverting Gohan back to normal. He then removes Gohan's tail once again. Several Homages to Goku's second transformation occur here, including Gohan transforming while being hit with an electrical attack.
- As King Kai tells Goku about the history of the Saiyans, a flashback shows that the Saiyans were able to completely destroy the Tuffles: By transforming into Great Apes due to a Full Moon that happens only once every 7 years (8 in the dubs), the Saiyan race was able to exterminate the Tuffles overnight.
- After Goku manages to overcome Vegeta's Galick Gun with his Kamehameha, Vegeta becomes furious and decides that he needs to transform. He soon takes note at the lack of a moon (They had planned their arrival to coincide with the full moon in case transformation was needed) but unfortunately he reveals that he is able to create a power ball to simulate the full moon's light, though this drains his power significantly. He then promptly transforms, overwhelming Goku completely and nearly kills him. His transformation is halted by Yajirobe cutting off his tail.
- During the same battle, Gohan's tail grows back and he uses the power ball still in the sky to transform. While Vegeta was able to initially get away from Gohan due to his unfocused rage, Goku was able to help Gohan focus on fighting Vegeta. Vegeta does surprisingly well against the beast, but is ultimately outmatched. He manages to cut Gohan's tail off with an energy disk, but then Gohan falls on him when transforming back, which, coupled with all of the other injuries, forced him to retreat.
- On Namek, when Vegeta confronts Dodoria, Dodoria tells Vegeta about how Frieza got concerned about the Saiyans and destroyed them. A group of Saiyans is shown transforming into Great Ape and destroying an entire planet. A similar scenario happens in the Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku.
- while technically not an appearance of a Great Ape, per-se, Krillin once commented on Future Trunk's USSJ form being similar to the Great Ape (even saying to him after Trunks tells him to get his father to a safe spot not to scare him with that since "as far as he knew, (Trunks) was about to go Great Ape on him.". Ironically, an actual Great Ape appeared in a montage told by Krillin mentioning his awe at the Saiyans' evolving powers.
- After this point, there are no Saiyans with tails remaining, and the Great Ape are mostly ignored for the rest of the series, it makes one final appearance during Goku's Super Saiyan 3 transformation once again representing his hidden powers.
Dragon Ball GT
Main article: Golden Great Ape
- When even Super Saiyan 3 Goku proves to be no match for Baby Vegeta, Elder Kai decides that the only way he'll stand a chance is to regrow Goku's tail. And while Goku is defeated once again, by looking at the Full Earth, Goku once again transforms into an Great Ape, but this time he has become a Golden Great Ape. In this form he seems to be able to overpower Baby Vegeta, but is too berserk to focus on fighting him. Eventually Pan is able to get through to Goku and he undergoes the transformation into Super Saiyan 4.
- No match for Super Saiyan 4 Goku, Bulma creates a Bruits wave machine to transform Baby Vegeta into an Great Ape, too. The beam works, and Baby Vegeta transforms into a Golden Great Ape instead, increasing his power dramatically. He reveals he is able to control his form, even able to use Ki based attacks. As the battle progresses, it becomes obvious that Baby Vegeta is slowly becoming more and more out of control, eventually, Goku stops Baby by blasting his tail off.
- Remembering what the Bruits wave machine did for Baby Vegeta, Bulma deduces that it can be used to help Vegeta reach Super Saiyan 4. The machine transforms Vegeta into a regular Great Ape and while he shows the classic rage expected from an Great Ape, he apparently was just having some fun, and promptly transforms into a Golden Great Ape, and then Super Saiyan 4.
Movies and specials
- Goku transforms into an Great Ape near the end of Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle. Interestingly, even though the movie is set after Goku's first transformation, the scene plays out almost exactly like Goku's first transformation. Goku's transformation frees Yamcha and co from a dire situation, although, instead of destroying everything around him, he immediately chases after his friends. Yamcha once again grabs onto Goku's tail and although Goku isn't completely immobilized like last time, Puar is still able to cut Goku's tail off by transforming into scissors. A complete transformation and reversion sequence is lacking from this movie.
- In the Movie Tree of Might, Gohan's tail grows in the middle of a battle with Turles. Deciding to have a little fun, Turles creates a power ball and makes Gohan look at it. Interestingly, he destroys the power ball while Gohan is transforming without having an effect on the transformation. Goku fights Gohan with little luck against the beast, but Icarus appears and is able to calm Gohan down. Turles, annoyed at what is happening, blasts away Icarus, causing Gohan to attack Turles. Turles is ready to take down Gohan with one attack, but Goku uses an energy disk to cut Gohan's tail off saving him from Turles' attack.
- The TV Special Bardock: The Father of Goku starts off with Bardock and his team destroying an entire civilization as Great Apes. The morning after they have a conversation about how much they remember of the night prior, and it is revealed that Bardock can apparently remember everything he does as a Great Ape, whether or not he has control of what he is doing is not said. Although technically they should be berserk, the entire team seem to be able to work together in Great Ape form, and refrain from attacking each other.
- The film Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! features a Great Ape during the opening animation, as it is an updated version of the original intro sequence.
In video games
Although the Great Apes are extensively large and have only physically appeared in the manga series five times, Great Apes have appeared in video games many times - albeit mostly in cutscenes.
- In the first Famicom Dragon Ball Z game, Dragon Ball Z: Kyoushuu! Saiyajin, Vegeta's Great Ape form is the final boss. Earlier in the game, a Saiyan named Onion is able to transform into a Great Ape, which is a palette swap of Vegeta's form. Also, using a combination of "Tail" and "Moon" cards will allow Son Gohan to transform into a Great Ape, which gives a massive boost of power.
- In Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22, a special attack of Chibi Goku's allows him to temporarily transform into an Great Ape and thrash the opponent.
- Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout features Golden Great Ape Baby Vegeta as the final boss. He was taller than the screen, usually only visible from his waist down. His mouth blast, death ball, and other Ki attacks only hit if his opponent was in the air. This character was only playable with the use of an external cheat device.
- Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku featured Gohan and Vegeta's Great Ape forms in cutscenes.
- The Game Boy Color game Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors featured Great Apes in cutscenes. After completing the game, it is possible to acquire a card called "Tail" that allows the character to transform into an Great Ape temporarily for a single attack.
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai featured a Great Ape in the opening, as it is a 3-D revision of the anime's opening. Vegeta's Great Ape form also appears in a cutscene.
- Great Apes are featured in Bardock and Kid Goku's ultimate attacks in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3.
- Players are given a very brief time to control Golden Great Ape Goku in Dragon Ball GT: Transformation. The final boss is Baby Vegeta's own Golden Great Ape form.
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi is the first time the Great Ape is represented as a playable character in a fighting game, a generic Great Ape was used as a form for both Son Goku and Son Gohan. Vegeta's Great Ape form is also playable. While scaled down considerably, they are still the largest characters in the game. Although Great Apes in the anime are depicted as being somewhat fast despite their size, in Budokai Tenkaichi, Great Apes are incredibly slow (This is apparently to balance out the incredible level of damage the Great Ape characters can give).
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 features the generic Great Ape once more (serving Gohan's transformation in Dragon Adventure mode, although only Chibi Goku can transform into it in other modes), Other Great Ape forms included are Vegeta, Bardock, and Baby Vegeta (Golden Great Ape), as well as three Great Ape forms never seen in the anime or manga - Raditz, Nappa, and Turles. Vegeta was not the only one in Budokai Tenkaichi 2 to speak normally and have control of the power when in Great Ape form, Nappa had this ability as well being an elite which proves that Saiyan elites have control of this form and unlike the others Raditz's Great Ape form has longer hair that can distinguish him from the others.
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 features all the Great Apes from Budokai Tenkaichi 2, in addition to King Vegeta's and Fasha's Great Ape forms. Like Vegeta and Nappa, King Vegeta also has the ability to talk in Great Ape form. Fasha's Great Ape form marks the first appearance of a female Great Ape in a video game.
Fasha's Great Ape Ultimate-Blast move in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a rush move, making her the only Great Ape character with a rush move (Note: Janemba Base Form is the only other giant character with an Ultimate-Blast rush move).
- When he fights Goku, Vegeta's power level is 18,000. So when he transforms into a Great Ape, his strength increases by ten, to 180,000. This is equal to Goku's power level when he defeated Recoome and Burter on Namek after training in 100 times gravity.