What precisely is the issue with Mystic Gohan’s ultimate transformation? He’s one of the most powerful characters in the entire Dragon Ball saga, so what’s the big deal?
Many of the Dragon Ball franchise’s characters have adopted the reoccurring motif of physically transforming into even more powerful forms as they encounter increasingly formidable opponents. As one of the series’ most potent fighters, Gohan is no exception.
Gohan is Goku’s eldest son, and he shares many of his father’s Saiyan transformations, including the first two Super Saiyan forms; in fact, he was the first to go Super Saiyan 2.
However, at the end of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan had obtained the capacity to power up to a whole other condition, which had never been seen before in the Dragon Ball universe.
The transformation, dubbed Mystic Gohan or Ultimate Gohan by fans, sees the Saiyan warrior’s facial features and hair change slightly, similar to Super Saiyan transformations; however, unlike other forms, Gohan’s hair retains its natural black colour, and the energy aura emanating from him is a translucent white rather than the Super Saiyan’s golden hue.
It’s a form that outperforms previous Super Saiyan forms, allowing Gohan to compete with Goku at Super Saiyan Blue. Still, it’s also the most ill-defined Saiyan transformation in the entire franchise.
While training on the Supreme Kai’s world, Gohan accidentally unlocks the Ultimate form, liberating the imprisoned Elder Kai from the Z Sword. Elder Kai spends nearly 20 hours in a strange ritual to unleash Gohan’s full power, offering him the Ultimate Transformation as a thank you for liberating him. Gohan’s energy signature changes entirely as he powers up, rendering him unrecognisable from afar to his longtime tutor Piccolo.
Gohan effortlessly defeats Majin Buu in his current form in this changed state, causing the monster to flee. While later defeated by Buu after the creature absorbs Piccolo’s and a Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks’ powers and abilities, Gohan retains his enhanced power levels until the end of the Majin Buu saga.
Gohan hasn’t trained in years when Dragon Ball Super begins, resulting in a significant drop in his strength levels. As a result, when a reborn Frieza arrives to Earth, Gohan struggles to transform into a Super Saiyan and cannot complete his Ultimate transformation. Gohan regains the power to change into a Super Saiyan 2 as the series develops, and begins training for the Tournament of Power, the series’ final storey arc.
Shortly before the Tournament, Gohan’s strength has increased significantly, allowing him to transform back into his Ultimate state and become even stronger than before, bringing Goku to a halt and forcing his father to use the Kaio Ken technique while in his Super Saiyan Blue form to gain the upper hand over his son.
Simply told, Ultimate Gohan is the character’s most powerful transformation, far surpassing other well-known Saiyan transformations such as Super Saiyan 3 and Super Saiyan God. Gohan’s latent talents were increased to unseen levels by the Elder Kai’s magical ceremony, which was augmented by more training, effectively rendering Gohan’s prior transformations obsolete.
The manga makes the form even stronger, with Gohan in his Ultimate form defeating the mighty Kefla in her Legendary Super Saiyan form, a feat nearly accomplished in the anime by Goku, who was barely able to knock the fused fighter out of the ring in his Ultra Instinct state. The Ultimate transformation is a subtle technique to identify Gohan from his father and Vegeta with his own spectacular final form, signalling the complete potential of Gohan’s extraordinary talents on show.