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Let’s get one thing out of the way: Krillin’s been pretty damn underpowered since Dragonball. Yeah, he’s definitely had his moments, but for the most part, when compared to the other prominent members of Z and Super, he’s B-list at best. Is there any redeeming quality to basically being the cannon fodder until Goku shows up?
Yes there is.
Absolute, Untouchable Bravery
Listen, Krillin’s quite possibly the most self aware character on any of the Dragon shows. Yamcha still has occasional delusions of grandeur, and to be honest, Tien can actually still kind of put up when he needs to (though we haven’t seen too much of that in Super,) but Krillin’s kind of a realist in that he knows he’s weak when compared to Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, Trunks…the list could go on.
But he still shows up anyway!
Krillin’s been there for basically every climactic battle that’s happened in Dragonball Z, and quite a bit in Super, as well. In fact, he’s often one of the first people to take a crack at whoever the big bad guy du jour is. He does this knowing, all the while, that he’s effectively one bad punch or kick from death. In fact, he’s ACTUALLY died, more than once! Other times he’s been beaten to near-death.
So what keeps him going? Pure, unadulterated bravery. The kind of bravery that comes only from loyalty. Loyalty to his friends, to the ones he loves, and those who care for him. His best friend, Goku, who he’s seen go from being a weird kid with a monkey tail to a literal god. Goku’s son, effectively his nephew, who he’s helped raise. Their former enemy, Piccolo, who Krillin travels to an entirely new planet just to revive.
Krillin is that friend who might not be as cool, or have as much money, or dress as nicely as your other friends, but he’s the one who’s going to show up when you’re stranded in a bad neighborhood at 3AM and no one’s answering their phones. He pulls up in his old jalopy that you have to start by rolling it downhill, and he’s got a fresh burger from McDonald’s with him.
Friendship is Powerful
Krillin’s friendship is the source of his strength. He’s often a reluctant combatant. He knows he’s outclassed, he’s not out to start any fights with demi-gods and demons. But when his friends are in trouble, Krillin puts everything he’s got into helping them. This bravery actually enables Krillin to do some powerful things, as well! He charges Vegeta, takes a piece off of Frieza, and stands up to Cell.
Listen, we’ve got a limited time here on this world. Krillin’s time is basically perpetually indefinite, given how often Earth gets blown up (or almost blown up.) Friendship is one of the most valuable things we have, and Krillin understands that.
Listen, I’m not saying you need to put yourself in harm’s way for your friends. In fact, I’d advise strongly against it. However, going the extra mile for them is a brave thing indeed. Loyalty inspires loyalty, and having allies in a word that sometimes seems set against us is invaluable. Demonstrating to someone else that you care enough for them to go outside of your comfort zone is a strong statement indeed, and one that you might find returned to you sooner, rather than later.
What is Bravery?
Bravery is willingness to endure pain or difficulty for a higher reason. Krillin’s higher reason is obviously loyalty to his friends, but there are other reasons as well. Commitment to a cause, self respect, artistic expression…all are great reasons to be brave. The important thing to remember is that operative word, endure.
Bravery isn’t chest-beating bravado. It’s not bragging, or boasting, or showing off. It’s not puffing your chest out, and trying to look tough. Bravery is the will to endure discomfort, knowing in advance that it is coming.
Bravery is standing up to a challenge that you’re worried you may not be able to withstand, but resolving to try your hardest anyway. Bravery is choosing the more difficult path because it is the better one. Bravery is going with the complicated answer, because you know that the simple one may be easier in the short term, but more hurtful in the long term. Bravery is doing what you have to do, even though it may be unpleasant for a while.
You don’t have to stand up to demi-gods and demons to be brave. Being brave can just be speaking up for someone you see getting picked on, picking up the extra slack at work when you know your coworker is having a hard time in their personal life, or offering to mow the lawn for a sick neighbor. It can be as simple as going outside your comfort zone to state a simple truth, or standing up to someone who’s discriminating against someone else.
If, in your darkest hour, you find yourself fearful and unable to act, remember that a four foot tall monk stood up to a perfect android, got kicked so hard he broke his damn neck, and still showed up to the final confrontation with the monster later on, so that his friends wouldn’t stand alone. If Krillin can do it, so can you.
Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace