The Dragon Ball series is known for its power-ups, new forms, and transformations, a common theme in many Shonen manga. Dragon Ball Z introduced iconic forms, like Goku’s Super Saiyan transformations.
Goku’s initial Super Saiyan transformation is a standout moment. Subsequent transformations became more impressive, but not all lived up to the hype. For instance, Frieza’s third form. Frieza has several forms, with the third being weird.
The concept is interesting, inspired by the movie Alien, with Frieza having a large, xenomorph-like head. However, it didn’t work well. This form didn’t seem much more powerful and looked cumbersome, limiting his mobility in combat.
However, Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball manga, has a simple explanation for all those unusual transformations that occurred in the series.
Akira Toriyama’s Spontaneous Creation of Frieza’s Transformations in Dragon Ball Z
“I didn’t start out with any plans to have him transform of course, but midway through I thought it might be cool to make it look like a bluff and then have him transform for real. Probably at that point I also thought of giving him a sleek design in the end.”
“I’m in the habit of giving characters progressively more complex and tough-looking forms, then finally making them really sleek. After all, it’s awful drawing them once they get all complex. (laughs) Complex guys are terrible when you have to draw them for weeks on end… Cell was a ton of work, with those darn spots of his.” (laughs)
He further added about Frieza’s third transformation:
“I hadn’t planned on that either. (laughs) I was like “That’s kind of a lot; I should’ve just had him say ‘two times’ instead.” (laughs)
Toriyama expressed regret about the frequent transformations in his work. When he wrote Frieza saying he had three transformations, he later thought it might have been better to say “two times” instead.
Akira Toriyama’s Creative Process in Dragon Ball Storytelling
In the interview, Akira Toriyama also explained his creative process, saying he didn’t plan everything from the start. He said:
I kind of liked forcing everything to come together, since that way it made it seem like I had really thought deeply about everything. (laughs) I don’t plan things out right from the start; instead, when I think of how to make the story come together, I basically just go “Hey, I bet I could use that thing.” With characters too, I’m like “Hey, that guy’s still alive… maybe I could use him.” So it ends up seeming as if I’ve been thinking about the story for an incredibly long span of time.
The creator further explained that he comes up with ideas as he goes along and figures out how to make the story work. If he feels a story arc isn’t working well, he tends to end it quickly. For example, when fans didn’t respond positively to Androids 19 and 20, he replaced them.