Before the days of Dragon Ball Super, Super Saiyan 4 was the pinnacle form of a Saiyan warrior, the final stage of their evolution that represented the future of Goku and Vegeta’s next-level adventures. While Super Saiyan 4 is one of the latest Saiyan forms introduced (comparatively speaking), it gets a classic redesign in a breathtaking piece of fan art done in Ukiyo-e style.
Super Saiyan 4 is a unique form in that it requires a full transformation before reaching that level of Super Saiyan. The only way someone can attain Super Saiyan 4 is if they have enough power to first become a Golden Great Ape, and then they have to have the mental strength to take control over that form. Once their minds overpower that of a raging beast, the Saiyan can then transform into Super Saiyan 4, gaining incredible power that was unparalleled at the time of its creation.
In a Tweet by user Justin96636, the artist posted a piece of fan art featuring Super Saiyan 4 Goku with a Saiyan Great Ape behind him. The image is striking as it is done in Ukiyo-e style, which is a genre of Japanese art that was prominent between the 17th and 19th centuries. While it is faithful to the source material of Dragon Ball GT, it is also a perfect tribute to Japanese art history and culture. Dragon Ball originated in the manga and anime styles, a more modern Japanese artform that has its roots in Ukiyo-e style, something that is made perfectly clear in this artwork.
It is fitting that this image takes the manga and anime style of Dragon Ball back to its roots in Japanese art culture as the form of Super Saiyan 4 itself does the exact same thing in Saiyan culture. Saiyans became a feared race of warriors because of their ability to become Great Apes, an ability they were capable of because of their tails. As the series progressed, the Great Ape form became nothing but an unnecessary piece of history as the Saiyan warriors had since moved well beyond the need for such a primitive form, no matter how powerful. Goku and Vegeta, who both had their tails removed, were able to reach levels of power that their ancestors couldn’t fathom, going all the way to Super Saiyan 3. However, in order to unlock an even greater form with Super Saiyan 4, Goku and Vegeta needed to revisit the history of Saiyan culture and understand how to access the powers of their past in order to better shape their futures.
This Dragon Ball GT artwork is a perfect representation of looking back at the history of a particular culture and uncovering the beauty of its past while applying it to the modern day. In this case, drawing Goku in classic Japanese style after he was introduced as a character drawn in modern Japanese style is a perfect tribute to the character and his real-world origins. However, more than anything, the image itself is simply jaw-dropping as Goku’s Super Saiyan 4 gets a classic redesign in new Dragon Ball fanart.
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