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Super Saiyan, Explained: All Dragon Ball Super Saiyan Levels in Order

Knowing all about Super Saiyans will transform your anime instincts tenfold!

Ever since its inception in 1984 by Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball has been one of the most influential and widely known anime and manga franchises worldwide. Its action-packed episodes, breathtaking battles, memorable characters, and intriguing storylines have captivated generations of fans. A quintessential part of the Dragon Ball universe is the concept of “Super Saiyans.” So, what is a Super Saiyan? Here’s what you need to know.

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What Is a Super Saiyan?

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In the Dragon Ball universe, technically speaking, the name saiyan is the English translation of “saiya-jin” which comes from Japanese characters written as a pun on the words “yasai/vegetable” and “yajin/wildman” and “-jin” which means “person” which literally means “vegetable person.”

Saiyans are an alien warrior race, and their legends always foretold the potential of a powered-up new form they could take known as “Super Saiyan.” This transformation bestows upon them immense power, vastly enhancing their combat abilities, and changing their physical attributes, such as hair turning golden and eyes turning green or blue. Typically, this transformation is triggered by intense rage, sorrow, or emotional desperation out of need.

This is the initial transformation first seen when Goku transforms during his fight against Frieza on Planet Namek after Frieza kills Krillin, Goku’s best friend. The power multiplier for this form is 50 times the Saiyan’s base power. This form is characterized by blonde hair, green eyes, and a visible yellow aura.

It is later learned that Saiyans with more S-cells can transform and the gentler their spirit, the more they initially have. After that, they can train to increase their battle power to gain more S-cells. After this state is attained, they can transform back and forth between their super saiyajin and normal forms at will, but they can also be knocked out of their super form if they take too much damage.

In manga and anime history, it’s the Super Saiyan that helped bring prominence to the most action-packed hyper fighting in the Shonen genre.

Ascended Super Saiyan / Second Grade & Third Grade

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These are not separate levels but powered-up variations of the initial Super Saiyan form. Super Saiyan Second Grade, displayed first by Vegeta, has more significant muscle mass and power than the basic form since the saiyan trains to send their ki throughout their body to increase their muscle mass.

The Third Grade, shown by Trunks, offers an even greater power increase but at the cost of reduced speed and mobility due to the forcing of their enormous muscle size.

Super Saiyan 2

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Originally referred to as Super Saiyan Fifth Grade, and mistakingly as ascended Super Saiyan in the dubbed series, this is the first true evolved upgrade over the base Super Saiyan form. In the manga and anime canon, Gohan is the first to achieve this newfound form in order to fight Cell in the Cell Games story arc.

This form naturally increases all aspects of the Saiyan user, with only minimal changes to their appearance. Other than additional large lightning crackles in their aura, this form looks identical to the Super Saiyajin form.

Super Saiyan 3

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Super Saiyajin 3 was the first form to radically transform Goku’s appearance by removing his eyebrows and bestowing him with a super gnarly long hairdo. First used by Goku in the battle against Majin Buu, this transformation is said by Akira Toriyama to be another SS variation, and there might be ways to train and achieve even more power while using less energy.

Either way, SS3 utilizes every ounce of Super Saiya-jin potential and power in regard to their ki. This form consumes plenty of its user’s energy and leaves them drained, so it must be used only in the most dire of circumstances.

Super Saiyan 4

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Created for the non-canon Dragon Ball GT spinoff series, this is the next form that Goku achieves in order to defeat the villainous Super Baby machine mutant. After Goku was told by Old Kai and Supreme Kibito Kai to let them pull out his hidden tail, Goku is revealed to be able to turn into a powerful golden great ape which means he can become a Saiya-jin 4 and gain access to primal power. 

In this form, Goku’s hair returns to its original black color but lengthens, and he gains red fur over his arms and most of his body. His eyes become golden-yellow, and his muscle mass significantly increases. According to Goku, he feels more savage and vulnerable to losing his temper, similar to a great ape, while having a golden great ape’s power and speed combined with a Super Saiyan’s.

Super Saiyan Crimson

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Introduced in Dragon Ball Super alongside the Universe Destroyer Beerus, this form infuses the Saiyan with divine ki, turning their hair and aura a fiery red. This transformation takes the power of Super Saiyan beyond SS3 into a cosmic realm.

Surprisingly this huge powerup had a very simple transformation by turning Goku’s hair, eyes, and aura red. That’s it. His hair doesn’t even grow or change shape at all. Although it’s a minimal new form compared to previous transformations, it comes with significant speed and power upgrades. It’s attained by performing a ritual involving six righteous Saiyans or special divine training provided by characters like Beerus or Whis.

Super Saiyan Blue

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After divine ki training with a deity in a natural state, this becomes the next progression after Crimson. It is first achieved separately by Goku first and Vegeta second during each of their training sessions with Whis. There’s no ritual shortcut to this form, it’s all about intense and long dedicated training.

This form brings back the flair of Super Saiyan by transforming Goku’s and Vegeta’s hair into their longer Super Saiyan hairstyles, but now it’s a vibrant blue. Surrounded by a bright blue aura, this form looks fantastic.

In the manga, Goku reaches a variation known as Perfected Super Saiyan Blue, which removed Goky’s aura. After that, Vegeta trains to achieve Super Saiyan Blue Evolved, which is an advanced form of Super Saiyan Blue with a darker shade of blue hair and a more significant increase in muscle mass, similar to the second-grade Super Saiyan.

Super Saiyan Rosé

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Though Goku (the real Goku) never achieved this form, it was Zamasu who stole Goku’s body from a different timeline that used the Super Saiyan Rosé form. This pink-haired power-up took Zamasu (who called himself Goku Black) up to the level of SS Blue making him one of Goku’s most dangerous enemies. The only other difference in appearance that form has is an dark pink aura with a red outer silhouette.

In the Dragon Ball Heroes video games, this form is powered up to SS Rosé 2, 3, and full power.

Ultra Instinct / Ultra Ego

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While not technically a Super Saiyan form, Ultra Instinct is the beginning of Goku’s most powerful form yet and was realized as the only way for him to defeat Jiren in the Universal Tournament of Power. It is a state of heightened awareness and reflexes that allows him to react to threats without conscious thought, and purely by his instinct. There are two stages: the incomplete form, known as Ultra Instinct Sign with a white aura, and the Mastered Ultra Instinct with silver hair and eyes.

Although the anime has not yet caught up to the manga, the manga shows Goku achieving “the completion of the secret of the self-centered” for Perfected Ultra Instinct (Autonomous Ultra Instinct), and “the true secret of the self-centered,” which allows Goku to tap into his emotions and use True Ultra Instinct. While in this style, Goku doesn’t need his aura activated at all times, and his hair stays in its base state without glowing highlights.

But this is not the limit for Goku. Since this form is derived from the Universal Angels, its calm and emotionless nature conflicts with Goku’s emotional drive for battle and to save others. Finally, it allows Goku to fight at his best with his Ultra Instinct but drains the most energy, severely limiting the amount of time it can be used.

Always in competition with Goku, Vegeta went a different route this time to match Goku’s level and learned “the secret of the self-indulgent” to unlock Ultra Ego and the power of universal destruction. Rather than silver, Vegeta’s hair stays the same style but turns Tyrian purple and gives him magenta-tinged eyes.

That is the solid foundation for Super Saiyan, explained: all Dragon Ball Super Saiyan levels in order. Armed with that knowledge, it’s time to read or watch some Dragon Ball Super and play the fighting video game and trading card game!

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Dennis Limmer
Dennis is a freelance writer for Twinfinite covering all things video games and anime since August 2023. A storyteller and artist who enjoys partaking in the art created by others and promoting culture.