The Goku Black arc was arguably the most important story arc for Dragon Ball Super at the time of its release. After two story arcs that simply retold Battle of Gods and Resurrection F, and a half baked tournament that barely spanned a dozen episodes, the Goku Black arc was Super’s chance to prove to fans that Dragon Ball was still tense, Dragon Ball was still relevant, and Dragon Ball was still cool. Whether or not you think Super actually proves any of this with the Goku Black arc, one thing is clear: Super Saiyan Rage is really cool, right?
Not only does Future Trunks play an active role this arc, he actually gets a brand new transformation that lets him fight head on with the main villains alongside Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta. It’s a powerful, furious form that elevates Future Trunks above the other supporting characters, fitting for one of the arc’s three major leads. As expected in a series like Dragon Ball Super, though, great power brings with it many the secret. From its design, to what it represents for Future Trunks, to just how strong it actually is, Super Saiyan Rage is one of the most interesting transformations in the entire franchise.
By far the most significant change Super Saiyan Rage brings for Future Trunks is the fact that it turns him into an outright Demigod. If you had to give Dragon Ball Super a main theme, it’d have to be “the tangibility of divinity.” From Battle of Gods all the way to the end of the Universe Survival arc, Goku and Vegeta spend the entire series tapping into godly power in an attempt to break past their limits and match the divine in battle. We see this shift into godly power on a visual level when they turn Super Saiyan Blue. Specifically, the blue aura signifying a mixture of Saiyan Ki and God Ki. Future Trunks has a blue aura in SSR. Coincidence?
It is worth mentioning that despite having a blue aura, Future Trunks is only just a Demigod because he’s still leaking golden, regular Super Saiyan Ki.
Logistics on how this can be possible aside, it’s obvious from just looking at Future Trunks that he hasn’t tapped into God Ki properly, but has tapped into it just enough to take advantage of some of Super Saiyan Blue’s benefits. Remarkably, Super Saiyan Rage is the only instance in the entire series of a character only becoming slightly divine. Typically these things happen with a bit more absolution, but rules don’t really apply to Future Trunks.
Although it only lasted for one arc in the anime, Super Saiyan God was Goku’s way of closing the gap between him and Ultimate Gohan left over from Dragon Ball Z. With just one transformation, he went from a pitiful Super Saiyan 3 to a being with unprecedented power. Needless to say, Super Saiyan God was, and is, a big deal. For the average mortal to tap into Super Saiyan God levels of power, they’re going to need a pretty big boost. We’re talking Super Saiyan Rage levels of boost.
That’s right, Future Trunks’ SSR actually powers him up all the way past Super Saiyan God Goku.
If Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta struggle fighting against Zamasu and Goku Black, it goes without saying that Super Saiyan God Goku wouldn’t be able to do much damage. When Future Trunks turns Super Saiyan Rage for the first time, he actually puts up nearly as good a fight against both Zamasu and Goku Black as Goku and Vegeta did during their stint trying to stop them. Logically, this puts Future Trunks close to Super Saiyan Blue’s level without putting him entirely on it. Taking this into consideration, it’s clear that SSR Future Trunks has to be stronger than Super Saiyan God Goku.
You may be asking yourself, “how is this possible?” After all, Future Trunks couldn’t even defeat Super Saiyan 3 Goku in a spar just a few episodes earlier. Is Super Saiyan Rage’s power boost really so astronomical that it took Future Trunks from someone with just a Super Saiyan 3’s power level to someone who could surpass even Super Saiyan God? Well, yeah, didn’t you read the title of this entry? Whether or not it makes sense, (it actually does, but we’ll touch upon that later,) Super Saiyan Rage’s power boost is absolutely astronomical.
Before you start masking that keyboard, because Dragon Ball Super ruined the series’ power scaling, remember that a boost like this isn’t unprecedented. Goku goes from a Super Saiyan 3 to a Super Saiyan God in Battle of Gods, or did you forget? Future Trunks getting so much stronger thanks to Super Saiyan Rage is really no different from how the God Ritual affects Goku in Battle of Gods. It’s also important to remember that Future Trunks is a half-breed Saiyan, a tailless one at that. Those two factors combined ensure that he’s at a higher base level than either Goku or Vegeta right out the gate. If anything, it’d be weird if SSR didn’t make him so strong.
On the subject of Super Saiyan Rage’s power boost making sense, there’s more to it than Future Trunks just being a tailless, hybrid Saiyan, but let’s cover that detail first. From as soon as Gohan is introduced in the series, it’s established that Saiyans and Earthlings produce children with far greater potential than their own. Gohan can easily surpass Goku is he trains and he actually winds up the stronger of the two by the end of Dragon Ball Z. Tailless Saiyans have even more potential, explaining why Trunks and Goten could turn into Super Saiyans so easily in the Majin Buu saga.
There is one other detail that ensures Super Saiyan Rage makes sense, though: Vegeta. In the Goku Black arc, Vegeta trains Future Trunks. While the training isn’t meant to give Future Trunks God Ki, Vegeta does spar using Super Saiyan Blue. Since Super Saiyan Rage uses the God Ki derived from Super Saiyan Blue, it can be assumed that some of the Ki rubbed off on Trunks during his training with Vegeta. At the very least, sparring with a Blue Vegeta gave Future Trunks a better understanding of the inner workings of God Ki, allowing him to tap into it later on. Worth noting, Vegeta developed his God Ki through immersion training on Whis’ planet so there is a precedent of it being contagious, so to speak.
Unless your name is either Son Goku or Son Gohan, chances are you aren’t going to be defeating any main antagonist. Minor villains? Sure, go for it, all yours. Actual major villains with depth and complex motivations? You stay behind and watch Goku or Gohan save the day like the rest of us! Naturally, this is where Super Saiyan Rage comes in. If there’s one thing Future Trunks’ new form does right, it’s making him strong enough to defeat a major villain. He doesn’t have anybody’s help, Goku doesn’t cheer him on from the afterlife, and Vegeta doesn’t distract Zamasu so Trunks can get the finishing blow.
Merged Zamasu is actually immortal so Zeno has to come in and save the day, but that doesn’t change the fact that Future Trunks is the only character in the entire Goku Black arc to subdue the main villain.
Vegeta fails completely, doing absolutely nothing to Merged Zamasu; Goku get a few good shots in, and actually nearly beats him in the manga, but doesn’t have the stamina to finish the fight; and Vegetto Blue runs out of the time before he can finish Merged Zamasu off. Super Saiyan Rage Future Trunks just straight up rushes Merged Zamasu with his sword and cuts him in half, ending the fight right then and there. The aftermath is a bit more nuanced, but, for all intents and purposes, Trunks wins.
Although Super Saiyan Rage defines Future Trunks’ character arc in the Super anime’s version of the Goku Black arc, to the point where not having it would leave Trunks with an incomplete arc, the manga adaptation of Dragon Ball Super actually give Future Trunks a different power-up altogether.
Rather than have Trunks undergo a rage-fueled transformation that echoes the Cell saga at the end of the saga, Trunks instead reveals that he’s been made Kaioshin’s formal apprentice
This gives him the ability to heal Goku and Vegeta’s wounds ala Dende in the Frieza saga.
Is it underwhelming? Kind of, yeah. Does it make sense? Actually, it might even make more sense than Super Saiyan Rage. While SSR does make narrative sense, and we’ll touch upon that more in-depth in just a bit, Trunks being Kaioshin’s apprentice feels more in-line with the character and lore of the universe. Future Trunks has always played a support role in the series, and making him into an outright healer who can fight keeps him in the action while also respecting his natural power. Goku Black and Zamasu are also much weaker in the manga so a form like SSR would trivialize them completely. Which one is actually better, though, is reliant entirely on the type of fan you are.
Dragon Ball Super has this nasty habit of introducing new forms like they’re going out of style, and there’s a very weird, specific trend to go along with many of the new additions. What do Ultra Instinct -Sign,- Super Saiyan Evolution, and Super Saiyan Rage all have in common? They weren’t designed by Akira Toriyama. Allegedly. Obviously, with a claim as bombastic as this, it’s important to back it up with evidence, but I have something better than evidence for this claim: a lack of evidence. Or rather, a lack of concept art.
For just about everything Toriyama draws for the series, there’s a piece of concept art attached to it to prove he’s the actual illustrator. We got concept art for Super Saiyan God, Super Saiyan Blue, and Mastered Ultra Instinct all before the end of the series done by Akira Toriyama. We did not, however, get concept art for Ultra Instinct -Sign,- Super Saiyan Evolution, or Super Saiyan Rage drawn by Toriyama.
The implication, of course, is that Toei developed these forms for the anime to generate hype. Does this lessen Super Saiyan Rage’s impact in the story?
Well, that’s up to you. Does it truly matter whether or not Toriyama writes and draws Dragon Ball?
Super Saiyan Ikari, also translated as Super Saiyan Anger, or more commonly known as Super Saiyan Rage, isn’t actually as original as you might think, both in naming and how the form relates to previous transformations in the series. Weirdly enough, it’s not unoriginal due to some transformation you may have forgotten about in the series. It’s unoriginal due to a familiar transformation that was named differently for a video game. Which video game would go so far as to create a Super Saiyan Rage of their own? None other than the legendary Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku II for the Gameboy Advance.
At the end of The Legacy of Goku II’s version of the Cell Games, rather than turning into a Super Saiyan 2, Gohan transforms into the visually similar “Super Saiyan Rage.” Along with Gohan being in his Saiyan armor instead of Piccolo’s gi, it’s a notable enough change to make any fan raise their eyebrows. Here’s the thing, though, Super Saiyan 2 didn’t become the official name of the form until the Buu saga. As far as names go, Super Saiyan Rage fits it quite well. That’s not the only aspect that makes Trunks’ SSR unoriginal, though. Super Saiyan Rage as Super utilizes it is actually Super Saiyan 2.
If you break Super Saiyan Rage down to its aesthetic properties, it’s quite obvious that it’s just a more intimidating looking version of Super Saiyan 2 with an emphasis on Blue Ki. Future Trunks’ hair is the exact same in Super Saiyan Rage as it is in Super Saiyan 2; he has lightning wrapped around his body, a staple of the post-Super Saiyan 1 transformations; and his golden aura undergoes no change whatsoever, implying he’s still in some base related to Super Saiyan 2.
If the visuals aren’t enough for you, there’s also the fact that Super Saiyan Rage is straight up called “Super Saiyan 2” on merchandise.
If you own a Super Saiyan Rage figure, statue, or toy of Future Trunks, there’s a good chance it was actually just marketed as “Super Saiyan 2 Future Trunks.” Does this really mean anything, though? After all, you shouldn’t base your Dragon Ball knowledge off of merchandise. You should base it off video games! In Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Future Trunks’ Super Saiyan Rage model is literally just his Super Saiyan 2 form with a bit of blue added onto it. If the merchandise treats it as Super Saiyan 2, and the video games treat it as Super Saiyan 2, there’s a good chance it has more basis in Super Saiyan 2 than it lets on.
Characters don’t really get unique transformations all that often in Dragon Ball. Future Trunks gets Super Saiyan only a few chapters after Goku does; everyone gets Super Saiyan 2 during the time skip between the Cell and Majin Buu sagas, and Gotenks gets Super Saiyan 3 shortly after Goku shows it off for the first time. Dragon Ball Super sought to change that, though, giving the four main Saiyans unique forms. Goku got Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken and two versions of Ultra Instinct; Vegeta got Super Saiyan Evolution; Gohan tapped backed into his Ultimate power; and Trunks got Super Saiyan Rage.
As it stands, Super Saiyan Rage is the only form completely unique to Trunks. While we don’t see any other characters use Super Saiyan Grade 3 in combat except for Future Trunks, it’s implied that both Goku and Vegeta can use, but simply chose not to. Super Saiyan Rage is something only Future Trunks can use, and something we’ll likely only see him use. The circumstances surrounding the transformation are so specific that it's unlikely anyone else could properly trigger it. Honestly, as one of the four major Saiyans in the series, Super Saiyan Rage is a long time coming for Trunks. The kid deserves some special treatment at this point.
New transformations are always tricky to justify, especially with a fanbase like Dragon Ball’s. If the power up doesn’t make sense from a strength perspective, fans will go wild with rage. While Super Saiyan Rage might not make a lot of sense in regards to what Future Trunks is personally capable of, it actually makes quite a fair deal of narrative sense. From his introduction all the way back in the Cell saga, Future Trunks is established as a character who, first and foremost, represents hope. In the Cell saga, it’s the hope that the future will change. In the Goku Black arc, it’s the hope that the future can be preserved.
Future Trunks, carrying the emotional weight, the hope, of everyone relying on him, uses this as a trigger to transform into his Super Saiyan Rage form.
Where it lacks in power level and strength justification, it makes up for it in what actually matters in a story: narrative weight. Fans often forget this, but Dragon Ball is a story and a character driven one at that. The characters have always mattered more than who or what is stronger. In that sense, Super Saiyan Rage makes a great deal of sense and thrives because of it.
Given the circumstances surrounding Super Saiyan Rage, it’s a bit of a chicken or the egg situation, isn’t it? Did Future Trunks already have pre-established God Ki that gave him access to Super Saiyan Rage, or did Super Saiyan Rage open the path for him towards God Ki? No matter how you look at it, the fact of the matter is that Super Saiyan Rage utilizes God Ki. The question is whether that God Ki came before or after Super Saiyan Rage. Although there is no clear-cut answer, compelling arguments can be made for both sides rather easily.
On one hand, Future Trunks must have had God Ki. It’s a form that outright uses it, how could God Ki simply be bestowed upon him? Clearly, training with Vegeta allowed Future Trunks to take in essence of God Ki into his body, allowing him to transform when the time came. On the other hand, the God Ritual needed to be done for Goku so he could gain God Ki. While no ritual was done for Future Trunks, this does set the precedent that God Ki can evolve from regular Ki. It’s entirely possible that, in the heat of the moment, Trunks simply became divine in nature. No matter where you stand, only one thing is certain: it really doesn’t matter.
Taking into consideration that: Akira Toriyama did not design Super Saiyan Rage; Toyotaro did not include Super Saiyan Rage in the manga; and Super Saiyan Rage wasn’t even written into Dragon Ball Super’s outline, it’s safe to say that we probably won’t be seeing Super Saiyan Rage ever again. Ignoring the fact that Future Trunks has actively been written out of the series yet again, and bringing him back would honestly take a lot of narrative wiggle room to pull off, Toriyama is directly in charge of writing the next film meaning we're basically getting a clean slate from any “Toei-isms” introduced in Dragon Ball Super.
This likely means Ultra Instinct -Sign,- Super Saiyan Evolution, and, yes, Super Saiyan Rage are no more.
It is incredibly unlikely we’ll see any other character use and, should Future Trunks somehow return, we wouldn’t see it then either. The only way you’re going to see Super Saiyan Rage in new material is if the games decide to include it. Keeping that in mind, while it does appear in Xenoverse 2, it isn’t even playable. The form is seemingly so irrelevant to the greater Dragon Ball brand that it doesn’t even get playable recognition in one of the franchise's flagship games. That says quite a lot.
At its core, Super Saiyan Rage is a pseudo-Super Saiyan transformation that takes aspects from both Super Saiyan 2 and Super Saiyan Blue in order to mash them together into one Super Saiyan form. Super Saiyan Rage doesn’t skew in favor of either Super Saiyan 2 or Super Saiyan Blue, instead existing as an amalgamation of both. It’s a rather unique approach to a transformation and one unseen in the series up to this point. Or so you’d think. As you’ve already probably gathered, Toei’s taken the Super Saiyan Rage approach before. Specifically with False Super Saiyan in DBZ movie 4.
Also known as Lord Slug, the fourth Dragon Ball Z movie sees Goku turning into a “Super Saiyan.” These days, the form is just known as Pseudo or False Super Saiyan, but it’s actually shockingly similar to Super Saiyan Rage on a conceptual level. In the same way Super Saiyan Rage is an amalgamation of both Super Saiyan 2 and Super Saiyan Blue, False Super Saiyan is an amalgamation of Kaioken and regular Super Saiyan. It features the physique and color scheme of Kaioken, but with the properties and boost of Super Saiyan. It’s Super Saiyan Rage before Super Saiyan Rage ever existed.
As previously mentioned, instead of tapping into Super Saiyan Rage near the end of the Goku Black arc, Future Trunks instead reveals that he’s instead been made into Kaioshin’s apprentice and takes on a healing role for the remainder of the manga’s interpretation. Although it makes sense for the character and is given enough justification in the manga for occuring, it can still be disappointing for two reasons. The first, simply because it means Future Trunks doesn’t get a power-up that he arguably very much deserved. The second, because it means Toyotaro never drew his interpretation of Super Saiyan Rage.
Unless you managed to pick up a Japanese copy of Dragon Ball Super volume 5, that is. For the manga’s fifth release, Toyotaro drew an alternate cover depicting Future Trunks in his Super Saiyan Rage complete with Spirit Sword. Future Trunks does not get the transformation nor does he use anything resembling the Spirit Sword, but it’s nonetheless a nice nod to all the fans who loved the anime version of the Goku Black arc. Worth noting, the alternate cover also features Future Trunks on the spine art over Future Zeno. Hopefully Viz will bring the alternate cover over instead of the original, but only time will tell.
The Genki Dama, also known as the Spirit Bomb in Funimation’s English dub, is one of the two techniques Goku learns from Kaio, King Kai, during the Saiyan saga. The move quickly becomes one of Goku’s staples and he ends up using it in three of Dragon Ball Z’s four major arcs. While a common misconception in the fandom, the Genki Dama doesn’t use Ki to charge up. Rather, it uses Genki, life energy, to gather power. Genki and Ki are inherently different, but this also means that a Genki Dama like attack actually isn’t exclusive to what many fans know as the Spirit Bomb. This is seen clearly with Future Trunks’ use of Super Saiyan Rage, where, in a state of pure anger...
Trunks channels of the hopes and desires of everyone in his timeline into concentrated Genki that he transfers into his sword.
The idea of channeling Genki through a form is actually one Toei has used before in the Dragon Ball Z films. More than once, Goku charges up a Genki Dama, fails to defeat the villain, and then absorbs its power into himself. Future Trunks does the same thing with Genki while in Super Saiyan Rage. Of course, there is one key difference: Trunks is transferring the Genki into his sword.
An idea that actually originated in the short-lived MMORPG Dragon Ball Online, of all places, Future Trunks can transfer Ki and Genki into his sword directly thanks to Super Saiyan Rage. Although Dragon Ball Super doesn’t get into the logistics of the act, DBO basically describes the process as embedding your own Ki into the weaponry. Future Trunks, having an intimate connection with his sword, channels all the Genki he gets from his timeline and directly places it into his weapon, forging a new Genki based blade where the sword has previously broken off.
Although Future Trunks is specifically using Genki while using his “Spirit Sword,” so to speak, it’s theoretically possible that he can channel his own Ki into as well.
Genki and Ki are fundamentally different, but not to the point where they’re incompatible. Along with that line of thought, Genki is actually far harder to take control of. If Future Trunks can use Genki with his weaponry, logic dictates that he should be able to make use of the far easier to control Ki. Of course, he never gets a chance to as the Genki fueled sword accomplishes the job quite nicely, but it’s good to know that he could if he wanted to.
Biologically, if you even a little bit of Saiyan DNA in your body, you can turn into a Super Saiyan. Dragon Ball GT, even in its non-canon state, shows us that you can still turn Super Saiyan despite being mostly Earthling. Hybrid Saiyans, which is to say Saiyans with parents of separate species, do have certain advantages though. They’re naturally stronger, produce more S-Cells, and can transform with a greater ease. Maybe they can even tap into God Ki in a way that’s wholly unique to themselves. Perhaps Super Saiyan Blue is reserved for pure blooded Saiyans while Super Saiyan Rage is for hybrids.
If Future Trunks gains access to God Ki from sparring with Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta then this theory does make a bit of sense. Vegeta gets God Ki from immersing himself on Whis’ planet for months. He doesn’t outright fight, but he does live on the planet and do chores all while trying to gain an understanding of God Ki. Trunks outright fights a Vegeta with access to God Ki. It’s entirely possible in their training sessions that the essence of God Ki rubbed off on Trunks. Why then, was Trunks unable to turn Super Saiyan Blue? Simple. Since he’s not biologically all Saiyan, his body compromises and does an in-between. At its core, Super Saiyan Rage is just a mix of Super Saiyan 2 and Super Saiyan Blue, after all.
Dragon Ball Super gets really, really weird when it starts to deal with stamina. This is the very anime that spent the entire second half of the Tournament of Power forcing Goku to repeatedly build up his stamina in an attempt to master Ultra Instinct all while using far more stamina than he’s ever been shown using. It’s weird, it’s awkward, and it’s painfully hard to follow from a logistical point of view. That said, Super Saiyan Rage sure has a lot of stamina, doesn’t it? Whether it’s because Dragon Ball Super is weird with stamina or because Super Saiyan Rage is just that good of a form doesn’t matter. We’re giving this bad boy the Benefit of the Doubt™.
Assuming for just a second that Dragon Ball Super is deliberate in every aspect of its design, Super Saiyan Rage has a ridiculous amount of stamina to the point where Future Trunks might be overpowered. Not only can he fight both Zamasu and Goku Black multiple times without getting fairly tired, he can also charge up a Genki Dama through his sword, and then fight Merged Zamasu like he’s never broken a sweat the entire arc. It’s honestly nuts just how much Future Trunks does with Super Saiyan Rage. Whether it’s intentional is another matter altogether.
All of the arc in Dragon Ball, the Goku Black arc is perhaps the most tragic due to the mere fact all its problems were caused by the main character. If Future Trunks never went back in time: Goku would have never survived his heart virus; would have never sacrificed his life against Cell; would have never come back one day for the Buu saga; would have never defeated Majin Buu; would have never been around to fight Beerus; would have never gained God Ki; would have never fought in the Universe 6 tournament; and would have never caused Zamasu to see this as an insult to gods everywhere. There are a lot of layers here.
On top of that, Super Saiyan Rage ends up being the deciding factor that erases Trunks’ universe. Upon slicing Merged Zamasu in half, Zamasu begins to break apart, infecting the multiverse with his immortality… somehow. Due to this bizarre assimilation, Goku summons Future Zeno who, in an instance, erases the entire multiverse. It’s a dark and incredibly morbid twist that just puts the heroes at fault. If Super Saiyan Rage weren’t so ferociously strong, Merged Zamasu wouldn’t have been cut in half and Trunks’ timeline, the original timeline mind you, wouldn’t have been erased.
One of the core themes of Dragon Ball is the potential found in each passing generation. Master Roshi sees potential in Goku and Krillin in the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, formally retiring in the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai after releasing Goku and Tien Shinhan are the way fo the future; Goku recognizes his son’s potential in the Cell Games, formally passing the torch onto him; and Uub is later shown to have so much potential, Goku chooses to train him to be the ultimate training partner, bringing the Turtle School’s philosophy full circle. Naturally, this theme of the next generation also applies to Future Trunks.
From the start of the Goku Black arc, we’re shown that Super Saiyan 2 Future Trunks is strong enough to go head to head with a Super Saiyan 3 Goku.
In the manga, Goku even has to tap into Super Saiyan God to take Trunks out. Considering Super Saiyan Rage boosts Future Trunks to near Super Saiyan Blue levels of power, it’s clear that with some more training Future Trunks can go on to surpass both Goku and his father. Should Future Trunks find a way to tap into Super Saiyan Rage manually, he’d be able to boost it up to incredible levels, perhaps even putting him on par with Super Saiyan Evolution or Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken. From there, it’s just a matter of training hard and developing a new form.
Not only does Future Trunks outright defeat Merged Zamasu thanks to Super Saiyan Rage, it actually almost allows him to solve the entire Goku Black crisis before the two can ever merge. Shortly after turning Super Saiyan Rage for the first time, Future Trunks one shots Zamasu with a Ki blast and then lays down a massive beating on Super Saiyan Rose Goku Black. He doesn’t manage to actually defeat them, of course, but the fact that he was doing so well speaks volumes for the power of Super Saiyan Rage.
Theoretically, if Zamasu did not have immortality, Future Trunks would have been able to eliminate the moment he turned Super Saiyan Rage.
Without Zamasu in the picture, Goku Black would have nobody to heal him or fuse with. Even if Future Trunks were unable to beat Goku Black, Goku and Vegeta would have arrived and finished him off on Trunks’ behalf. For reasons that probably don’t need to be outright said, this would have been a fairly anticlimactic way to end the arc. After all, it’s the escalation of the Goku Black arc that makes it so memorable, for better or worse. Unfortunately, that means Super Saiyan Rage can’t save the day, and when it does it needs to have a catch.
Chances are, if you don’t like the overabundance of transformation in Dragon Ball then you’re not gonna like Dragon Ball Super all that much. While Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue stand out as the two major transformations Super added to the series, it’s important to remember that Super actually introduced seven brand new Saiyan based transformations, Super Saiyan Rage included. In comparison, OG Dragon Ball only had one through the Oozaru transformation, and we didn’t even know Goku was a Saiyan then; Dragon Ball Z had three with cadet branches for Super Saiyan 1 through the Grade forms; and Dragon Ball GT only had two: Golden Oozaru and Super Saiyan 4.
In chronological order, Dragon Ball Super gives us: Super Saiyan God in Battle of Gods, Super Saiyan Blue in Resurrection F; Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken in the Universe 6 tournament; Super Saiyan Rosé, and Super Saiyan Rage in the Goku Black arc; Super Saiyan Evolution in the Tournament of Power; and Mastered Super Saiyan Blue in the manga adaptation of Dragon Ball Super.
Not only is this an overwhelming amount of Super Saiyan based transformations, many of these forms only exist for a single arc before getting written out. If you need proof that Super is a hype machine first and a narrative second, look no further than this list of forms.
Discussing canon in Dragon Ball is tricky. Not only is there not a set rule of what is and isn’t canon for the series, but so many people have watched the anime over the manga that their version of canon often doesn’t take into account the author’s intent. Just by going off of what Akira Toriyama wrote during Dragon Ball’s decade-long serialization, Future Trunks does not turn into a Super Saiyan for the first time on screen. Rather, he’s already a Super Saiyan by the time the manga tackles The History of Trunks. It’s unclear whether or not Super uses the anime or manga version as a base, but this does mean Super Saiyan Rage is the first “canon” form we see Trunks get on screen.
Of course, since Toriyama likely didn’t conceive or design Super Saiyan Rage, it begs the question whether or not SSR is actually canon to the Dragon Ball experience. Dragon Ball Super is obviously intended to be consumed from the anime side of things, but Toriyama works more closely with the manga. Even then, if you want to get into the specifics, wouldn’t Toriyama’s plot outline for the series be the only true “canon” for Dragon Ball Super? When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what’s canon and what isn’t. Super Saiyan Rage is still a first for Trunks because it’s him getting a form that’s all his in a series with an emphasis on uniformity.
Logistically, Future Trunks and Kids Trunks are the same person, right? They’re both Vegeta and Bulma’s son, they were both born on the exact same day, and they’re both completely identical on a physiological level. Taking into account how time travel works in Dragon Ball, and the apparently non-linearity of time, it’s easy to assume that Kid Trunks will simply grow up into a more pampered version of Future Trunks. The problem with this train of thought is that it assumes the butterfly effect doesn’t apply to Dragon Ball. Future Trunks arrives before Kid Trunks was born, branching the timeline off in its own direction entity.
Naturally, while this still means Future Trunks and Kid Trunks are ostensibly the same person, it also means Kid Trunks isn’t guaranteed the same powers as Future Trunks. In a classic case of nature versus nurture, Future Trunks’ environment pushed him to reach new levels he would otherwise not reach. Super Saiyan Rage is a transformation bred from a very specific situation in a very specific environment. Kid Trunks’ life is too prim and proper for him ever to tap into God Ki on that same level. He simply lacks the emotional maturity and depth Future Trunks has. Not because Future Trunks is somehow more mature, but because a war-torn future forced Future Trunks to grow up fast.