ByDylan Balde, writer at Creators.co
1 part anime nut; 2 parts Nintendo junkie. 3 parts Disney fan; all parts artist, cosplayer, Deadpool, and human nitroglycerin. @dylanbalde
Dylan Balde

Previously dubbed “Limit Breaker,” or the ultimate Saiyan form, “Ultra Instinct” is the latest of Goku’s many transformations. The form has been much-anticipated by fans since episode descriptions were leaked, and relentlessly teased by Toei since the first promotional artwork was released. Fans speculated on the nature of this new form: is it another Super Saiyan transformation? Is it achievable through training or anger? Or both? The answer, it seems, is neither.

First glimpse. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]
First glimpse. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]

The specifics behind the form remain a mystery, but what we do know is Goku achieved this mostly by chance. During his battle against Jiren the Gray (a.k.a. the Tournament of Power’s most formidable combatant), his Spirit Bomb backfires, imploding on him. The Pride Trooper had pushed the full force of it back without moving an inch — presumably taking Goku with it.

For a moment, everyone assumes the worst: Goku is probably dead. But he’s not. Several moments later, the arena begins to shake. A beam of light cuts through the heavens to the ground, revealing a new Goku, with flowing black hair and silver irises, faster and stronger than ever before.

Effortless. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]
Effortless. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]

This new Goku is quick and silent, his ki described as fiercely hot, yet “frighteningly calm.” This version of him is capable of dodging energy blasts with surprising ease, of blocking simultaneous attacks without looking, and of fighting on par with Jiren — who's said to be even stronger than most Gods of Destruction. Gohan describes his father’s movements as peculiar, unlike anything he’s seen before. This is not the Goku his friends and family are used to.

The display causes considerable distress among spectating gods. Surrounding angels begin to watch with heightened interest. Beerus looks dumbfounded. How is a mortal suddenly so powerful? How is he constantly evolving with every move?

Unusual for Goku. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]
Unusual for Goku. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]

We don’t know. We do know the form is incomplete — much like the Super Saiyan God transformation in Battle of Gods, Episode 110 provides only a taste of the divine, not the complete state. The “Ultra Instinct” transformation collapses after several minutes and Goku eventually reverts to his base form.

Previously God-Exclusive

As the name implies, the “Ultra Instinct” transformation assumes complete mastery of self-movement and allows the user to act and react completely on instinct, particularly in a battle setting. It allows for seamless movement at breakneck speed — the ability to move correctly and accurately without thinking, or even acknowledging a feeling or any kind of thought. Essentially, the user fights with an empty mind, with the body seemingly moving by itself.

Free-flowing movement. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]
Free-flowing movement. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]

“Ultra Instinct” is not a Saiyan-exclusive form, however, and it wasn’t previously a transformation. The original practitioners of the form were presumably the gods and angels, and it is attainable by anyone that is strong enough to complete it. Goku is the first mortal to achieve it temporarily through a transformation — most others, like Whis and certain Gods of Destruction, have “Ultra Instinct” as a permanent form (hence there is no transformation), as evident during the Golden Frieza arc, when Whis was training Goku and Vegeta, reacting to their attacks without necessarily having to acknowledge any external stimuli. Beerus also uses an incomplete version of the same form during a gods-only Zen Exhibition match in Chapter 28 of the manga, enabling him to fight and respond to attacks without even looking.

Close. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Shueisha]
Close. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Shueisha]

The form apparently used to be a god-exclusive state, previously only attainable by gods and angels. The crowd reaction in Episode 110 also implies the form is not easily achievable, even by Gods of Destruction.

According to Whis, Goku achieved “Ultra Instinct” temporarily when his own willpower collided with the Spirit Bomb, allowing him to absorb the energy and momentarily fill his depleted reserves, similar to an adrenaline rush. That desire to resist destruction allowed Goku to eventually “break through his own shell, into the deeper potential within himself.”

Never backing down, even in the face of certain death. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]
Never backing down, even in the face of certain death. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]

But how much is that potential, exactly? For Goku, the possibilities seem endless. Last time, he was able to successfully mimic a technique traditionally reserved for Gods of Destruction. But this time, he didn’t just copy a god; he became one, albeit temporarily. Does this mean becoming God of Destruction might just be in the stars for ? Maybe it’s not a theory anymore.

A Force Unto Itself

“Ultra Instinct” might just be the most powerful form in the universe, not just to date, but ever. The angels and Gods of Destruction are the strongest beings in the franchise, and if “Ultra Instinct” is what they use, you can bet that just might be the form that finally beats all other forms.

Goku versus Jiren. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]
Goku versus Jiren. 'Dragon Ball Super' [Credit: Toonami]

Move over, Super Saiyan Blue. Kaio-Ken x10 was fun while it lasted.

What do you think about Goku’s newest transformation? He’s had so many over the years, but do you think “Ultra Instinct” just might be his last one?

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