When it comes to the powerhouses of Dragon Ball, a fairly predictable crop of characters tends to come to mind. Goku, of course, is the protagonist, with OVER 9000 different transformations (each more powerful than the last). Then there’s one of his best-known enemies, Frieza, the little space-mutant with the audacious golden form. These are characters we’ve known, loved and marveled at it action for decades.
More recently, Jiren has arrived on the scene and turned our understanding of everyone’s power levels on their heads yet again. This mysterious warrior debuted in Dragon Ball Super and he’s a real force to be reckoned with. Hold on to your Kamehamehas, here come ten incredible facts about Jiren.
Well, that’s a doozy of an entry to kick off with. As Dragon Ball fans will know, the Gods of Destruction are… well, as Ron Burgundy of Anchorman fame once said, kind of a big deal. Heck, you don’t even need to be a fan to know that a being called a God of Destruction isn’t going to be someone you want to mess with.
The Destroyers, as they’re also known, work with the Supreme Kais (Gods of Creation) to maintain the balance of the various universes of Dragon Ball. Needless to say, they’re also incredibly powerful fighters. Nevertheless, they’ve previously been forced to acknowledge that Jiren is one of very few mortals that have been able to best one of their number in combat.
While it’s a heck of a thing to be deemed stronger than God of Destruction, let’s not get carried away here. As we know, there’s a different Destroyer for every universe, each from different species (unlike the Supreme Kais) and boasting wildly different power levels. There’s a sort of unofficial hierarchy among them in that sense. When we say that Jiren is more powerful than the Destroyers, then, there’s actually a piece of small print there: he’s more powerful than one specific God of Destruction: Belmod, Universe 11’s Destroyer.
As reported previously over on TheGamer, Beerus is said to be stronger than Belmod, so it’s tough to say where Jiren would stand with the Gods of Destruction in general.
As we know, Goku is a formidable fighter in his own right, felling opponents that seemed to outclass him on countless occasions. He’s performed incredible feats alone, but oftentimes, he’s supported by super-strong allies like the Z-Fighters. By contrast, Jiren does not believe in teamwork or relying on allies. Traumatized by the losses he sustained in his past, Jiren sees companionship and togetherness as a sign of weakness, believing that the only person upon whom he can rely on is himself.
While this lends further credence to his personal abilities as a fighter, it’s a bleak world view that holds back his true potential.
When Jiren made his Dragon Ball debut during the Tournament of Power, he was a real enigma. Over a little time, though, we were able to piece together his story. One defining characteristic of Jiren’s is that he’s a member of the Pride Troopers (hence his distinctive black-and-red outfit, their uniform). The Pride Troopers are a heroic band of fighters from Universe 11, committed to protecting their galaxy from threats. It’s a cause that Jiren takes super seriously, as he is nothing but an honorable fighter.
When Goku exhausted himself trying to hit Jiren with his ultimate power, Jiren refused to take him down while he was debilitated, indicating that he respects worthy opponents. Perhaps more than potential teammates.
While Jiren can be arrogant and distant, he’s also an inherently moral man who fights with honor. Interestingly, though, he’s prepared to put all of this aside for the one thing most important to him. As Vermoud tells Cae in “The Man Named Jiren:”
"Jiren is a man who is completely devoted to justice. He never acts on any of his own desires or interests. And no matter how evil a villain he's up against, his absurd conviction is such that he won't ever kill them. But there is one thing... He has a wish that he'd even be willing to set aside his convictions to have come true."
What is this wish? Well, as Comic Book reports, his greatest desire (and Super Dragon Ball wish) was to bring his lost master (one of the many tragic losses of his past) back to life.
On the surface, then, we’re looking at another of those godly, justice-driven, unshakable warriors. That’s not a character trope we’re exactly short on in manga and anime, is it?
Scratch the surface, however, and you’ll discover that there’s much more to Jiren. You will not like him when he’s angry.
While he’s been seen to truly revel in a challenging battle, against an opponent worthy of his strength, he’s not above getting rattled. When winning is everything to you and losing is unthinkable, the prospect of defeat is too much to bear. When he feels himself struggling in battle (as rarely as that happens), he enters a fierce, unrelenting, barbarian-like state. In Marvel terms, he Hulks out.
When video games are ported or movie adaptions of books are made, the same old question arises: how does it stand up to the original? With something like Harry Potter, it was inevitable that the movies would have to cut all kinds of content that featured in the books. Who’d want to sit through a fourteen-hour movie that was absolutely faithful to the source material?
Well, just about every Harry Potter fan. Sorry, that was a bad example. The point is that things are always going to be a little different, and that’s certainly true of Jiren’s conversion from the manga to the anime. In the manga, he’s a lot more outspoken, fleshing out his own backstory and motivations in a way that the anime simply didn’t have time to do.
Well, maybe that’s doing Jiren a bit of a disservice. As we’ve already seen, the Pride Trooper is a proud and honourable fighter, but he does have one trait that contradicts all of this a little: his arrogance.
Being a fighter who values only victory, he doesn’t just want to triumph over his opponents. He wants to establish him dominance over them. During the tournament, he revelled in the opportunity to toy with Goku. First, he shrugged off Super Saiyan Goku’s attacks, which was not a good sign for our hero at all. Goku’s Super Saiyan God form even proved useless, and Jiren actually hoisted him out of the area by his hair (in a classic Frieza-like move).
Now, this one’s a bit of a grey area, granted. Over the course of Dragon Ball, we’ve seen several Saiyans demonstrating their ability to survive in the vacuum of space. Generally, that’s not an effortless thing (they can’t actually breathe out there, and can only survive briefly, depending on Ki and such), but it’s a handy talent to have in a pinch.
Jiren is no Saiyan, of course, but he’s also demonstrated this ability. Heck, he’s gone one better: as the Dragon Ball Wiki reports, he’s able to fly at tremendous speeds and survive in space for protracted periods, rendering any sort of spacecraft largely unnecessary (especially as he’s not going to have any friends to take along for the ride).
Let’s be frank, here: what’s a major anime/manga character without a beautifully OTT ultimate move? From Kid Buu’s Planet Burst to Legendary Super Saiyan Broly’s Omega Blaster, there are a whole lot of these sorts of attacks in Dragon Ball, and they are for only the most melodramatic moments. We’re talking Top 10 Anime Battles material only.
Goku, being the star of the show, also has his own ultimate attack: the Spirit Bomb (actually devised by King Kai). During their encounter, he uses the technique against Jiren, who is not only unharmed but actually reflects the attack back at Goku. This makes him the only foe to ever bounce the attack back, and only the third who has ever survived it at all (the others being Frieza and Vegeta).