The ability to become a Super Saiyan was once considered to be a myth, because it had not been performed for over a thousand years until Son Goku accomplished it when he was fighting Freeza on Planet Namek. Though it was a legend, it, along with the saiyans constantly growing power, made Freeza, who was considered to be the strongest being in the universe at the time, feared the saiyans enough to destroy Planet Vegeta in the hope that the Super Saiyan legend would never be fulfilled.
The only certain condition to transcend initially to the Super Saiyan level is that a saiyan must be pure of heart, usually fiercely enraged, and of sufficient power. Any other conditions are unknown. As saiyans trained during the Z series, they discovered levels beyond Super Saiyan never seen before, completely unheard of. The appearance of a Super Saiyan is different in each form, more so in the fourth and final form.
In the main series, all male saiyans still alive after the Freeza Saga, with the exception of Radditz and Nappa (both of whom were are full-blooded Saiyans), manage to reach at least the first level during the course of the series.
The Saiyans are a race of warriors who were born on "Planet Vegeta". They have the appearance of a human with the exception of a tail. Full blooded Saiyans are born with a specific hairstyle that cannot be changed. Half-blooded Saiyans are able to change their hairstyle.Their demeanor is typically characterized with a desire to engage in battle.
They initially shared their homeplanet with a race known as the Tsufuru whom were more advanced technologically. Eventually the Saiyans dominated the planet and absorbed the technology of the Tsufuru into their culture. The character known as Freeza used the Saiyans as a weapon to dominate planets throughout the galaxy.
All full blooded Saiyans are born with the tail previously mentioned, it is unclear whether half-blooded Saiyans are always born with a tail. Those that are born with a tail can transform into Oozaru form.
Oozaru is a giant monkey-like creature that Saiyans can transform into. It literally means "giant ape" or "large monkey". 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.
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. An Oozaru'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, as Saiyans mature, they are taught how to reign in their instincts and retain normal congnitive functions as Oozaru. This explains why Son Goku and Son Gohan lose control in Oozaru form, as they never received this training and are at first unaware of this transformation. Saiyans in Oozaru form can also shoot an energy beam from their mouth, in a manner akin to Godzilla's nuclear breath. An Oozaru'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 an Oozaru's hand. Oozaru's are assumed to be around 50 feet tall.
During the development of the Super Saiyan concept, Dragon Ball's animation company (Toei) produced a movie depicting Goku's first Super Saiyan transformation. However, the form was later called Pre(or false) Super Saiyan (擬似超サイヤ人, Giji Sûpâ Saiyajin), which depicted Goku with his regular black hair, eyes lacking irises and the golden aura. His hair was elevated and reddish, because of the golden aura. Users do not seem to be in complete control while in this state. Apparently this form cannot be retained for very long. Goku uses this form in his fight against Lord Slug in Dragon Ball Z movie 4.
Super Saiyan (aka Super Saiya-jin)
The first Super Saiyan transformation happens when a saiyan who has reached his natural limit loses himself to a fit of rage. Even though the physical change is not drastic, the power increase is tremendous. The most noticeable change is that the hair is now a golden yellow and it is forced upward as if standing on end. The eye color changes to green and the muscles become more defined and toned. The Super Saiyan aura becomes steadily dancing waves of thick yellow flame. Behavioral change is also quite noticeable, the saiyan becomes more aggressive and temperamental than usual.
The first saiyan seen to reach Super Saiyan in the series is Goku when fighting Freeza. Through training, the negative effects of the transformation can be suppressed and controlled, resulting in a Super Saiyan who can suppress his energy and act normal as if he was not transformed. It was theorized in Dragon Ball Z movie Super Android 13 that these Super Saiyan transformations prevented Goku from performing his Genki Dama technique. One must be pure of heart to perform the technique, and as a Super Saiyan, Goku's heart is full of rage. In the film, when Goku became a Super Saiyan after gathering power for a Genki Dama, he lost control of the energy and instead absorbed it into himself.
ULTRA SUPER SAIYAN (aka USSJ)
The Ascended Saiyan or Ultra Super Saiyan (USSJ) is a form reached when Super Saiyans train hard, they surpass their basic limits of their original Super Saiyan powers. This state appears as a Super Saiyan, but with longer, hair that spikes further on end, making it more defined. The muscle mass on a saiyan also increases, which, however, isn't enough to slow the Saiyan down like the next level, USSJ2, and the Saiyan is still able to move surprisingly fast. The aura changes from a gentle wave of thick yellow orange flame pushing off the corona of the aura to an uncontrolled torrent of fire fierce waves of flame rising high and dancing around. The behavioral changes from the original Super Saiyan level to this one are apparent, as this state is known for its increased aggression even from the original Super Saiyan state.
ULTRA SUPER SAIYAN 2 (aka USSJ 2)
USSJ 2 is still the same form as Ascended Saiyan (USSJ), however pushed to its final limits. In the manga, it is often referred to as "The Super Super Saiyan", because of its maximized ki concentration. However, the more common name "Ultra Super Saiyan" is an unofficial term that was coined by English speaking fans of the series. It was introduced in the series as a possible advanced Super Saiyan form, but is only used in battle once by Future Trunks due to the form's substantial weaknesses. In the series, the USSJ2 grade was discovered as an advanced form of the USSJ form, that further increased the strength of the Super Saiyan form, but since this form is so muscular, the user's speed is greatly reduced. In addition to the physical inhibitions, the Saiyan's ki depletes rapidly due to the effort needed to maintain the transformation itself. USSJ 2's negatives outweigh the positives, so, even though the power increase is significant, any wise Saiyan will choose not to even bother with the form due to the speed and energy loss.
Thinking that he'd ascended his father Vegeta in power, Future Trunks ascended to this form to combat Cell, however was unable to defeat Cell because of his inability to maintain equality in his speed and power. Due to him increasing his ki, Trunks' muscle mass was increased to a point that drastically inhibited his speed. Because of his inexperience with transformations, Trunks did not notice that his bulky form would be an inhibitor on his ability to battle; a characteristic that was later noted by both Goku and Cell. Cell even demonstrated that he too could take on a form similiar to USS2 and Cell seemed to know of it's limitations.
This form appears as a USSJ type, but the muscle mass further increases. The hair becomes spikier, and the locks spread themselves out more than the previous forms of Super Saiyan. The now very wild, radiant aura sometimes surges with bio-electricity; rigid waves of flame, almost as if a crown of fire.
Full-Power Super Saiyan
Full Power Super Saiyan (超サイヤ人フルパワー, Sūpā Saiyajin Furu Pawā?) is not actually an advanced form of Super Saiyan, but rather a state of peace and physical perfection while at Super Saiyan. The state first appears in volume 33 when the character Goku had witnessed and experienced the substantial flaws of the advanced Super Saiyan grades. Goku concluded that complete mastery of the original Super Saiyan form was the best way to advance his abilities, and ultimately achieve greater power. As a result, he focused on training his body to suppress the negative effects of the Super Saiyan form, such as ki consumption and the emotional alterations; which he did instead of focusing on advancing his abilities forcibly like Vegeta and Trunks strived to do. By mastering the transformation, the Super Saiyan is able to retain transformation almost subconsciously from having minimal ki loss. By having less ki to contribute to maintaining the transformation itself, the maximum amount of ki can then be focused into the attacks. This complete mastery of the original Super Saiyan form results in a form known as the Full Power Super Saiyan.
The intention of this form is energy conservation rather than energy amount, so it is achieved through improving the general skill rather than increasing the ki capacity. This results in a Saiyan who is able to fight longer and more efficiently than with the USSJ or USSJ2 forms, and can even stay in this state for days without stopping as long they don't do anything too exhausting. This form is not confirmed to have any physical alterations from the original Super Saiyan form. Several alterations in the hair and aura are often noted by fans, however, these alterations can be debated as Toriyama had altered his art style as the series continued. In terms of strength, Full Power Super Saiyan incorporates full power of the USSJ2 transformation, making it undoubtedly the apogee of Super Saiyan. Due to complete mastery of the form, any muscle inflation is unnecessary to maintain high powerlevels, therefore the USSJ and USSJ2 forms become obsolete for a Full Power Super Saiyan.
(There is also the arguement that the SSJ's facial features (ie, the eyes) are different than a regular super saiyan's face (a regular SSJ's facial feature's have a very stern look even if their actual emotion is different, whileas a FPSSJ's facial features are more similar to the base form.).
Goku and Gohan are the only confirmed individuals to have achieved this state of Super Saiyan.
Super Saiyan 2
This stage is very similar to Super Saiyan in appearance, where the muscles do not increase much in their mass. Other physical changes include longer upright hair. The behavior effects are the same as an unmastered Super Saiyan and every physical change remains the same color as Super Saiyan. A Saiyan reaches a new level of power when he reaches this level, resulting in a larger aura that now has a very evident bio electrical field.
This form was first achieved by Gohan while battling Cell. The power of the Super Saiyan 2 skyrockets far beyond the power of Super Saiyan, USSJ 1, USSJ 2, and even Full Power Super Saiyan. For instance, against Cell and Bojack, who can both easily dominate those in the Super Saiyan level including the USSJ1 and USSJ2 forms, were easily defeated by Son Gohan in Super Saiyan 2. In addition, when Cell produced 7 Cell Jr.'s, each of the Z fighters were unable to fight evenly with every one of them (including Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks, who were all Super Saiyans--Full Power Super Saiyan in Goku's case though it should be noted that Goku was already extremely worn out from his fight with Cell), but Gohan took all of them out effortlessly on his own, and was unaffected by even their most powerful attacks as a Super Saiyan 2. It too can be triggered by powerful emotions (like it was in the case of Gohan) but is usually reached tough training (as it was by Goku during his training in Other World).
Super Saiyan 3
This form is the strongest of all Saiyan forms in the manga Dragon Ball series. This form is quite unique compared to the other forms because of the fact that it rapidly consumes its own energy which leads to extended levels of fatigue and exhaustion after using the form (to the point that a second transformation only hours after the first exhausted Goku to the point where he couldn't even stand). This happens so quickly that the saiyan is only able to retain the transformation for a short period of time, before the Saiyan's power depletes enough to force them to resort to their powered down form. This makes the form very hard to control for the user. Only Goku and the fused body of Gotenks are shown to be able to handle the immense power that the form requires it to manifest itself.
While Goku was dead, he could maintain this form for as long as he liked because he had an unlimited supply of energy, but once he came back to life his limited living body could not handle it for very long. The time is reduced even further when he is turned back into a child in GT were he can only hold the transformation for an even shorter period. Despite the major energy draining properties of this form, the incredible power and speed increase almost always makes this form worth it. The Super Saiyan 3 has back-long hair, no eyebrows and an intense aura, sporting numerous lightning discharges, much like Super Saiyan 2. If a tail is present on a Saiyan, its fur becomes gold in color. Curiously, while Gotenks acted normally, Goku acted more stern and serious, even having a lower voice in this form.
Super Saiyan 4
It is believed that the only way a Saiyan can attain Super Saiyan 4 is if he is a pure-blooded saiyan and can only be reached initially by transforming into a Golden Oozaru and then gaining conscious control over the form. Once this form is attained, it can be accessed at any point. This form was first achieved by Goku when battling Bebi Vegeta, and is only available to pureblooded Saiyans as stated by Vegeta. Somehow, the Rou Dai Kaioshin (Old Kai) knew of Super Saiyan 4 and its abilities.
In this form, the Saiyan's hair changes color (in Goku's case it turned black again, and Vegeta's original hair color has a tint of brown in it), the tail is present and the body and tail are covered in a shade of red fur. A Saiyan in this form also possesses a red shadow trim around the eyes and over the eyelids. The hair is lengthened. The Aura in this form loses the arcs of electricity, instead becoming pure fire with gleaming sparkles. The power and speed increase in this form is by far the greatest in the entire series. For example, while Super Saiyan 3 Goku was nearly unable to phase Bebi Vegeta, as soon as Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan 4, it became almost the opposite, with Bebi Vegeta being almost unable to hurt Goku at all.
This form also shows the ability of storing immense and increasing amounts of power, as is shown by Goku, who powered up twice, using the combined auras of other Super Saiyans. However, when Goku and Vegeta did fusion to become SS4 Gogeta, they were unable to maintain the fusion for longer than 10 minutes. A normal fusion is 30 minutes. A Super Saiyan 4 form increases power consumption and limits fusion. Oddly as a SS4 Gogeta received red hair, the reason for this is unknown.
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