Dragon Ball Sub vs. Dub: The changing motives of Goku vs. Vegeta’s first fight ending explained!

Dragon Ball Z
The first fight between Goku and Vegeta is one of the best fights in anime! Pic credit: Toei Animation

I watched the Saiyan Saga on Crunchyroll for the first time a few days ago! The dub did an excellent job explaining the plot and informing who the characters are without info-dumping.

But when compared to the sub, it feels like a different story, especially when you watch the final episode. Goku feels different in the sub, and I love it!

We know Vegeta will become one of Goku’s greatest friends and rivals. But before the internet was around, most fans were stuck watching Dragon Ball Z every afternoon.

Goku asks Krillin to spare Vegeta’s life after three of their friends die, and the Dragon Balls stop working. And Goku knew that Vegeta wouldn’t hesitate to kill everyone if the situation were reversed.

But he still asked, and Krillin gave in to him because Goku was why the Earth survived. I love both versions of this fight, but the sub feels better.

Dragon Ball Z
Goku has to use telepathy to beg Krillin to spare Vegeta! Pic credit: Toei Animation

Mercy (Dub)

Goku is the main character and has always been presented as a good person. So wanting to spare Vegeta’s life, or any villain, wouldn’t be out of character.

But the English dub played things too safe. So Goku uses Piccolo’s change of heart as one of the reasons to spare Vegeta.

He also insists that showing mercy and a better way to live is the answer. What Vegeta needs is someone to show him a better life.

Being compassionate is the correct thing to do, and killing Vegeta wouldn’t be justice. But, unfortunately, neither Goku nor Krillin was wrong.

It’s unclear if Vegeta can hear Goku, but he didn’t waste time trying to escape. But, of course, he still took the time to say he’d be back to finish what he had started.

But Krillin let him have the last word, and Vegeta finally passed out as the pod left Earth.

What a waste (Sub)

Both versions have Goku remind Krillin that he’s also a Saiyan. But Goku’s reasons are more selfish in the original version.

He wants to fight Vegeta again! Unfortunately, many fans don’t realize this, but Goku lost to Vegeta in their first fight.

Thanks to the Kaio-ken, Goku did score many blows and eventually forced Vegeta to transform into a Great Ape. But Goku pushed his body too hard and had to rely on his friends and Gohan to finish the fight.

And that was why he wanted Vegeta to live. Vegeta represented a new goal for Goku. He proved that Goku wasn’t the strongest and still had room to grow.

Goku understood that he was being selfish for asking Krillin to spare Vegeta. But Krillen said it was okay for Goku to be selfish every once in a while.

Goku even says he’s wrong to ask, and Krillen says that next time Goku fights Vegeta. He has to crush Vegeta with overwhelming force.

Where the dub was for mercy and teamwork, the sub is about Goku being the one to beat Vegeta by himself. Krillin also brings up Piccolo, and Goku agrees that Vegeta isn’t the same as Piccolo.

But he wants to train and face Vegeta again. So Goku gets excited whenever he sees a strong opponent.

It doesn’t mean he likes that person or wants to use them as rivals. But Vegeta forced Goku to wreck his body, and he also broke most of Goku’s bones.

And though Vegeta didn’t know it then, he was one of the reasons Goku went into space!

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