WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Dragon Ball Super manga by Akira Toriyama, Toyotarou, Caleb Cook and Brandon Bovia, on sale now in English through Viz Media.
The Dragon Ball Super manga series has continued far beyond the anime, with its first storyline after the anime’s climactic Tournament of Power introducing the magical supervillain Moro. Able to draw raw energy from everything from individuals around him to entire planets, Moro quickly proves himself more than a match for Goku and Vegeta as they join the Galactic Patrol to stop his latest rampage.
When Vegeta first confronts Moro on New Namek as the villain menaces the Namekians for their Dragon Balls, he decides to take a surprising strategy straight from Piccolo’s playbook in an attempt to learn more about his sinister opponent.
To atone for his own crimes committed against the Namekians, personally slaughtering an entire village during Dragon Ball Z‘s Namekian Saga when he was still an outright villain, Vegeta opts to fight against Moro before Goku. With his magical abilities, including telekinesis, and displaying a surprising amount of combat strength despite his advanced age, Moro holds an early advantage over Vegeta as the battle between the two begins.
Powering up to Super Saiyan God, Vegeta endures a brutal beating at Moro’s hands, but remains standing and refuses Goku’s offer to step in and take his place. Over the course of the fight, Moro showcases his ability to draw power directly, including New Namek’s energy against Vegeta, before revealing he is after the Namekian Dragon Balls to restore his full power and continue his conquest of the universe.
Having heard Moro’s master plan, Vegeta stops his extended feint and transforms into Super Saiyan Blue to turn the tables on Moro and take the fight seriously. Vegeta delivers a mighty blow to the surprised Moro, sending the villain flying, and prepares to finish him off — only for Moro to arise and reveal that he was quietly holding himself back too.
Increasing his energy consumption, Vegeta, Goku and the Namekians begin to fall faint, with Vegeta unable to transform back into Super Saiyan Blue as he and Goku are savagely knocked around by Moro before the villain decides to resume his hunt for the Namekian Dragon Balls and leave the defeated Saiyans in his wake.
This idea of feigning defeat in order to coax out the villain’s grand plan is a strategy that Piccolo notably performed when he first fought Cell in DBZ. Even after fusing with Kami, Piccolo found himself at a noticeable disadvantage fighting against Cell in the villain’s imperfect form, resulting in Cell destroying one of Piccolo’s arms.
As Piccolo stood down from this debilitating injury, Cell revealed he had traveled back from his alternate future to locate Androids 17 and 18 and absorb them to achieve his perfect form. Piccolo then quickly regrew his lost arm and took his fight against Cell more seriously, with the intent to destroy him, before Cell used a Solar Flare to escape and continue his hunt.
The idea that the Saiyan Prince would even pretend to be defeated is something that the Vegeta of DBZ would never even consider given his immense narcissistic pride. However, the Vegeta of Dragon Ball Super is an older, wiser figure that sees the merit in putting others’ wellbeing ahead of his own vaunted self-image. Unfortunately for both Vegeta and Piccolo, both of their opponents ultimately escaped after revealing their respective grand plans. However, in the case of Dragon Ball Super, it demonstrates just how much Vegeta has grown since his villainous debut at the start of DBZ.
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