Chaos unchecked: the psychology behind why Majin Buu is such an intimidating Dragon Ball Z villain

The opposite side of the spectrum from Cell

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • April 14, 2018 at 7:53 p.m. PDT

With the booming popularity Dragon Ball FighterZ has seen since its launch back in January, I felt digging a little deeper into a few of the characters so many of us have loved and appreciated for so long would be appropriate.

I did a story on the psychology of Cell a few days ago, and spoke on the balance between order and chaos, a concept I most recently read about in Dr. Jordan B. Peterson's book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Cell's appeal comes, in part, from his representation of the extremes of order. Alternatively Majin Buu represents the opposite as he stands as a metaphor for chaos unchecked. Such an archetype is not all that uncommon in our nerd culture neck of the woods, undeniably most prominently highlighted in DC Comics' The Joker.

If you've read the Cell article then you're aware of the necessary balance of order and chaos and how riding the line between both is the perfect place for us as humans to be. To do so is to have one foot planted in the security of the known and one foot moving toward the potential for change, growth, birth and exploration of the unknown.

Going too far in either direction will result in negative consequences, and that's exactly what the Dragon Ball creators hit on in their creation of these iconic villains.

Peterson details this in his book, "In its positive guise, chaos is possibility itself, the source of ideas, the mysterious realm of gestation and birth. As a negative force, it's the impenetrable darkness of a cave and the accident by the side of the road. It's the mother grizzly, all compassion to her cubs, who marks you as potential predator and tears you to pieces." (p. 41)

One of the very first things we note about Buu is the pink goo he's made out of. Neither really a solid nor a liquid, I suppose our best bet would be to deem Buu's body some kind of an amorphous solid.

Able to stretch, separate and morph, you really won't find much in the way of straight lines when it comes to Buu's physical design. Where Cell is a rigid series of perfectly ordered building blocks, Buu a giant pile of bubble gum, relatively formless and nearly infinitely malleable.

The pink villain's personality oozes chaos as he lives almost exclusively in the moment, looking to immediate gratification with little thought for the future. His childlike speech is high pitched and limited to just a few basic words as he pursues unchecked indulgence in his two favorite things: blood or sweets... and sometimes both simultaneously.

Again we can look at the character's theme for further representation of his metaphor. I have Super Buu's theme linked here because it's my personal favorite of his various forms, but all of them are similar insofar as our purposes here.

The innocence of the near lullaby intro is immediately betrayed by the looming undertones that quickly build and become the main focus. As soon as the song springboards from the intro it's riddled with dancing note progressions that seem to pop in from various and unpredictable angles.

Constant twists, turns and spirals come to mind as the theme progresses. Close your eyes and give it a listen:

Video source: Ravneet Dhatt.

Very much landing in the realm of the id, there isn't much in the way of structure, plans or rules for Buu, and instead we find the chaotic pursuit of instant gratification.

It's generally harder to identify with Buu than it is Cell. The latter's more sophisticated and detailed expressions give him more of a human air (though we all certainly can appreciate the allure of a good chocolate bar instead of a well balanced dinner, or the instant want to destroy something during a sudden surge of frustration or anger).

As a result, Buu comes off as a little more threatening and a little scarier than his more ordered counterpart, and much of the villain's memorability comes more from the fear he inspires.

Feel free to chime in with your reactions in the comments below, and if you'd like to talk politics on a fighting game site because you saw a name you associate with politics, well, you can do that too. (Buu would certainly prefer it that way.)

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