A variety of teams appear in the world of Dragon Ball.
A good example of teamwork in Dragon Ball would have to be Frieza's elite troops, the Ginyu Force. These unique members with immense battle power gathered from all over the galaxy to form a cohesive unit under Captain Ginyu’s leadership. I'm sure many that many fans have imitated the iconic Ginyu Force pose, the symbol of said team's unity, with their friends when they were kids.
In addition, Androids 16, 17, and 18 are another well-known team. Even though they are all Androids created by Dr. Gero, they each have their own perspectives and behavioral characteristics. But despite their differences, the Androids never wavered from their shared goal of "beating Goku".
Just what was behind the cohesiveness of the Ginyu Force and the Android trio? We asked Ryo Misawa (Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, Okayama University), whose fields of study include organizational psychology with research interests in teamwork, for his insights on this topic. If we can learn their teamwork secrets, maybe we'll be able to figure out what an ideal team for the modern world looks like!
Interviewee: Ryo Misawa
Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Okayama University
Withdrew from the doctoral program in the Faculty of Human-Environment Studies in the Graduate School of Human-Environment Studies at Kyushu University with completed course work but no degree in 2009. Professor of psychology. Started his current position in 2021 after holding various positions, such as being a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nara. His fields of study are social psychology and industrial and organizational psychology. Notable publications include "The Psychology of Organizational Behavior" (Contributor, Kitaooji Shobo Publishing).
Interviewer: Shinsuke Tada
Freelance writer born in 1983 and the youngest of four siblings. Grew up watching the Dragon Ball anime every week without fail for as long as he can remember thanks to his older brother. Favorite bad guys are the Saibaimen.
—In this interview, I was hoping that I could ask you, as an expert in teamwork, a little about the power of teams of Dragon Ball.
Professor Misawa (Hereafter, Misawa): That’s a topic I wasn’t really expecting, so this is a bit of a surprise. I'm actually part of the so-called "Dragon Ball Generation" that read the manga in Weekly Shonen Jump since the beginning and became obsessed with all things Dragon Ball. I think that it'll be fun to consider this topic from a more academic lens.
—Thank you so much! First off, I was wondering if you could explain your fields of study a bit.
Misawa: The fields of psychology that I research are called organizational psychology and social psychology. The goal of my research is to study human consciousness and behavior across organizations and society and to make the patterns in them clearer. Specifically, the topics I research include issues in interpersonal relationships, and the leaderships, teamwork, etc. of organizations.
—We often use the word "teamwork" in daily conversation, but what is the real definition of the term?
Misawa: "Teamwork" can be defined as the work performed by a group of multiple people working together and interacting with each other via communication and other means. The opposite of teamwork is "taskwork", which is when individuals perform tasks independently.
Using the analogy of a 400-meter relay race will probably make it easier to understand. A 400-meter relay is carried out by a team of four runners. Each of those runners completes the "taskwork" of running 100 meters of the race. The job of handing off the baton to the next teammate is "teamwork". Both types of work must be accomplished to achieve the goal of running the 400 meters.
This is true for our daily lives, too. Working as a team requires both teamwork and taskwork. If both kinds of work are not completed, the goal of a team also cannot be achieved.
—What things are required to improve teamwork?
Misawa: Academically speaking, it’s believed that the "ABCs of teamwork" are a requirement.
A is for "attitude". The basis of teambuilding is members treating each other in a way that fosters mutual trust.
B is for "behavior". Behaviors such as communicating to convey ideas and monitoring to understand the status of a team are absolutely essential for improving teamwork.
And last, C is for "cognition". Are members able to see what's going on with each other? Are they sharing basic procedures and outlooks? This sort of unification also influences teamwork.
When assessing how successful teamwork is, you can identify what parts of a team are going smoothly and what parts could use improvement through these ABCs. For example, it doesn't matter how great the "attitude" is in terms of mutual trust and team unity. If they are not accompanied by "behavior" and "cognition", the team will not be successful. On the other hand, even if the "behavior" and "cognition" are great, if there are problems with "attitude", such as mistrust or a hostile atmosphere, all the members are going to end up exhausted.
—Next up, I'd like to ask you a bit about some teams that appear in the world of Dragon Ball. Representing Frieza's most elite troops, the Ginyu Force showed great unity as a team while working to fulfill Frieza's desire to gather all seven Dragon Balls and achieve immortality. How do you think they developed their bonds with each other?
Pictured clockwise from top right: Burter, Jiece, Ginyu, Guldo, and Recoome.
Misawa: Ahh yes, the Ginyu Force. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear their name is that impressive fighting pose of theirs, isn't it? Even in the pose the four subordinate members are centered around their captain, Ginyu. This shows that this is a team that really values systems and rules that promote a sense of unity.
In the real world, sports uniforms and even school club T-shirts are examples of things employed to promote a sense of unity among groups of people.
—The Ginyu Force is made up of members from all over the galaxy. That makes it a really diverse group, wouldn't you agree?
Misawa: That's right. There’s Jiece, who supports Ginyu as a sub-leader of sorts; Recoome, who’s the muscle of the group and the life of the party; Recoome’s partner in crime, Burter, who’s the fastest in the galaxy; and Guldo, who skillfully wields psychic powers.
In particular, Guldo differs greatly from his teammates. Although he doesn't have a staggeringly high Power Level like his teammates, he was able to become a member of the group on account of his special powers. In that sense, this team doesn't have a hierarchical formation based on just physical strength or pure Power Level. Even though there is a bit of a rivalry between them as they try to make their own skills stand out, they also want to make good use of each other's strengths and specialties.
And then there's the team leader, Ginyu. One scene that really left an impression on me was when he went to "take the best part" and claim Vegeta as his opponent. When his subordinates complained that this was unfair, he immediately respected their opinions and changed his mind. In this way, he helps builds his team's motivation while at the same time reinforcing that Frieza's orders must be obeyed without fail. You could say he's sort of an ideal middle manager that supports Frieza's forces.
—But in the end, Goku and Vegeta took out Guldo, Recoome, and Burter, leading to the collapse of the Ginyu Force. What were some of the pitfalls that lead to this?
Misawa: Unfortunately, it seems that Ginyu had a lapse in judgement at the very beginning of this exchange. Initially, he took the task of transporting the Dragon Balls upon himself and left his subordinates to decide whom to fight via roshambo. This was supposed to enable them to get to work quickly.
However, if they wanted to work the best as a team, he should have fought together with his subordinates as a team rather than having them fight individually. It can be said that he worked so hard to stand out on his own that he left things to his subordinates, which then lead to the team's failure. Furthermore, he failed to inform Frieza of the critical situation, and his plan to work alone with Jiece really backfired.
Using the ABCs I mentioned earlier, their "attitude" might rank a perfect 100%, but their "behavior" and "cognition" were probably lacking.
For the Ginyu Force, their fight with Goku must have been like nothing they'd ever experienced before. They probably could have handled it if they had utilized teamwork, but the team completely collapsed because of their inability to adapt to change. Perhaps the Ginyu Force was done in by pride from all their past successes.
—Next, I'd like to take a closer look at the teamwork of Androids 16, 17, and 18. They had the shared goal of "beating Goku".
Misawa: I'm not really sure if it's even appropriate to refer to the three Androids as a team. They did share a goal, but they didn't really give off the impression that they were "Team Android" or anything, nor did they cooperate in battle.
However, there are some very interesting depictions in the story. For example, to Android 17, defeating Goku is "a game". Since he thinks of it as being a game, having more difficulties along the way makes it more fun. To that end, he suggests driving, a more inconvenient form of travel, to get to the 439th Eastern District where Goku's house is located.
—So, Android 17 isn’t just focused on completing his mission; he also cares about the process. What kind of influence do you think this way of thinking had on Androids 16 and 18?
Misawa: When Android 17 says, "This is just a game." and "It's the little things in life that make it fun.", I get the feeling that he's not trying to order others around, rather he's trying to relate to them.
At the same time, 17 doesn’t force his beliefs on 16 and 18; in fact, we see him making an effort to respect their beliefs and opinions. I’m sure 16 and 18 found something appealing in this combination of "live and let live" and "sit back and enjoy the ride".
Android 16 is also shown to have a softer side in the way that he clearly loves nature and animals. It is perhaps due to this stance that Androids 17 and 18 never go out of their way to cause harm to animals or humans. Later, Android 16 expresses his feelings about his comrades, saying "I liked you two." and "It was nice traveling with you."
—So, the fact that they never interfered with each other’s values is what allowed these three to be a team.
Misawa: That’s what I think. These Androids were operating in a relationship where all members were essentially on equal footing. This sort of dynamic has important implications in the real world.
The reason is that nowadays, many organizations require a leadership style that respects and supports individual values. A team with a military-like pyramid structure can't really make use of individual perspectives. I think that the Androids have shown us what it is to be a team with a shared overarching goal, while working side by side to achieve individual results.
—Professor Misawa, in your opinion, what makes the ideal team?
Misawa: I think that teams in which each member can be in their element are good. No individual's potential is wasted, and as a result, the group as a whole gets stronger. I think this sort of team is ideal.
However, simply allowing individuals to exercise their potential doesn't lead to strengthening a team. The important thing is to practice the "ABCs" of teamwork through dialogue and cooperation.
Just like the Ginyu Force in the world of Dragon Ball, we in the real world will need to adapt to great changes and be able to face unknown challenges. To become more adaptable, it is essential to communicate and cooperate with other individuals that possess different strengths.
—I think that both the Ginyu Force and the Androids were teams whose strength lay in their sharing a clear common goal. On the other hand, real-world teams and organizations often have goals that are unclear or unshared. What sort of actions should such teams take?
Misawa: I think it's important to be mutually aware of each team member’s idea of a problem. What is perceived as a problem depends on an individual's perspective and way of thinking. Other members will probably consider things you would have never even thought of as being problems.
Try having a frank discussion about what the team views as a problem - it’s fine if this conversation starts with airing out grievances and complaints. Knowing what each individual considers to be a problem will help you see the bigger picture and get closer to identifying the true issue. And once you find that issue, you may just also find the shared goal your team needs to succeed.
This site includes machine-translated texts. Please be aware that you might find some unusual expressions that are difficult to understand.
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