The Saiyan Race in Dragon Ball Z is a proud alien culture known for its abundance of mighty warriors. Saiyan strength is generational, with the children inheriting their parents’ strongest form as their baseline power – regardless of whether or not they’re fully Saiyan. In fact, because of their fathers, Gohan, Trunks, and Goten are all among the strongest warriors in the universe, despite being half Human. Going further, Dragon Ball GT‘s Pan and Goku Jr. are similarly powerful.
However, one Saiyan stands apart from the rest as being strangely disappointing. This particular Saiyan fails to live up to the expectations set by her elite father and brilliant mother, and doesn’t compares to her brother, one of the most powerful and beloved characters in the franchise. Despite everything pointing in her favor, Bulla Briefs manages to be the most underwhelming Saiyan in Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Super.
Dragon Ball as a franchise has very few female fighters. There’s Videl, Android 18, and later Pan and Kefla, but the male to female ratio is definitely skewed in one direction. The birth of Bulla – in theory – seemed like the perfect opportunity to even the scales. The daughter of Bulma, one of the smartest women on the planet, and Vegeta, the Prince of all Saiyans, seemed destined to outclass every half-Saiyan before her, including her brother, Trunks.
Yet, Bulla has never really done…anything. Granted, she’s only a baby in Dragon Ball Super but, even at the end of Dragon Ball Z, while Pan is competing in the World Martial Arts Tournament and flying around the planet, Bulla is watching from the sidelines. In Dragon Ball GT as well, despite having a bigger role, Bulla mostly serves as comic relief. The only exception is when she’s under Baby’s mind control later in the series.
However, in theory, that’s okay – it’s reasonable that not every Saiyan kid wants to fight. In fact, Dragon Ball has tons of memorable, vital characters who move the plot along without raising a fist. Dende, King Kai, and especially Bulma, Bulla’s mother, come to mind. Bulma was able to create time machines, tame a God of Destruction, and travel across the stars. Nothing in Dragon Ball would have happened if Bulma hadn’t developed the Dragon Radar. And yet, Bulla barely even lifts a finger in Dragon Ball GT, letting everyone else handle whatever’s going on.
But make no mistake: Bulla is capable of incredible power. In the Dragon Ball Forever guide book, series creator Akira Toriyama is quoted as saying Bulla (called Bra in Japanese) is quite strong. On top of that, the Dragon Ball GT Perfect Files guide book confirms that both Pan and Bulla are capable of transforming into Super Saiyans, under the right conditions.
What is so baffling, then, is why Bulla plays such a tiny role in the series. She has very little impact on the plot, outside of helping Baby power up along with the rest of the mind-controlled Z Fighters. The only time Bulla is ever shown as a combatant is in the game Dragon Ball Fusions, where she has an array of powerful attacks and even fuses with Pan, creating Bulpan. The game shows she’s capable of using her father’s techniques, including the Galick Gun and Final Flash. On top of that, she has her own technique called Maiden Burst, likely learned from Pan, who created it.
So why couldn’t she unleash the Final Flash on the legions of Hell during the Super 17 Arc, or fuse with Pan during the Shadow Dragon Arc to help fight the Dragons? Simply put, she didn’t want to. Or rather, wasn’t prepared to. Unlike her brother, Bulla was never forced to train and grew up with a much gentler Vegeta. He doted on her, spoiled her, and presumably taught her just enough about fighting to defend herself. Meanwhile, Bulla herself is known to prefer shopping over fighting. It seems Bulla is more of a Gohan than a Goku, satisfied with living a civilian life, free from the stresses of battle.
That said, Bulla has, rather ruthlessly, bested one opponent – and the savagery of the attack cannot be understated. Unsurprising for a spoiled child, Bulla is one of the few people to completely shatter Vegeta’s famed Saiyan pride. In GT, she absolutely demolishes her father by telling him his mustache – his new pride and joy – was garbage.
That brutal beat-down might not seem like much, but it shows Bulla’s potential to influence the narrative, even if she doesn’t like fighting. Bulla might be the most exciting – yet underused – character in Dragon Ball since Gohan, and there are a million different, interesting ways her character can go if the writers are willing to use her. Bulla’s best years may be ahead of her yet.
One Dragon Ball Saiyan is incredibly disappointing…when they really shouldn't be.