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"I know I look like I can, Gohan, but these bulky muscles make it hard to move fast, and if I'm going to beat Cell, I can't have anything slowing me down. I may have great power, but what good is it if I can't catch my enemy? It takes more than brute strength to win a fight."
Super Saiyan Third Grade (超サイヤ人第3段階, Sūpā Saiya-jin dai san-dankai; lit. "Super Saiyan 1 3rd Stage") is the second branch of advanced Super Saiyan forms, achieved through intense training in the Super Saiyan form. This form is not related to the mastery of the Super Saiyan form (Super Saiyan Full Power). Like the Super Saiyan Second Grade stage, it is a forced increase in the power output of the initial Super Saiyan transformation. All natural inhibitions of the body are completely removed in this state, resulting in 100% utilization of strength and stamina reserves.
In this stage, the Saiyan is similar in appearance to the Legendary Super Saiyan form. The skin of the Saiyan may become slightly redder due to increased blood flow, and muscle size is increased to the point of impracticality. The Saiyan's hair grows bigger, spikier and spreads in different directions. The aura no longer flows upward, but flails outward, with surges of bio-electricity becoming more frequent and prominent. Sometimes, the pupils and irises may temporarily vanish during the transformation.
In the series, the Super Saiyan Third Grade form is discovered as an advanced stage of Super Saiyan Second Grade (itself an advanced stage of the Super Saiyan transformation) that further increases the physical strength of the Super Saiyan form. However, due to this form making the body so muscular and heavy, the ability to move freely is impaired and whatever speed boost the power up could have given is negated, making the Saiyan much slower than his ki would suggest. Due to this distorted proportion of speed and power, this transformation is useless against foes who were faster than the Saiyan to begin with - as is shown in the case of Trunks, whose brute strength exceeds Cell's own at the moment, but his speed remains inferior to that of his foe. In addition, the Saiyan's energy rapidly depletes due to the effort needed to simply maintain the transformation. Altogether, the negatives of this stage outweigh the positives.
Usage and power
Super Saiyan Third Grade far surpasses the power of a Super Saiyan Second Grade, though slows the user substantially. Believing that he surpassed his father Vegeta in strength, Future Trunks ascended to the 3rd Grade Super Saiyan form to combat Perfect Cell immediately following Vegeta's defeat. Although he managed to hold his own for some time, with Cell even admitting that Trunks surpasses him in terms of pure strength, Future Trunks was also unable to defeat Cell because of his inability to maintain equality in speed. Because of his inexperience with these transformations, Future Trunks did not realize that his bulky form would be an inhibitor of his ability to battle, a characteristic that was later noted by both Goku and Cell. Future Trunks was told by Cell that Vegeta was aware of this disadvantage as well and it was the reason Vegeta did not use the 3rd Grade Super Saiyan form. Also because of the weight of the muscles, it takes tremendous force and effort to move them. As such, the user will tire out very quickly in this form.
Cell has his own version of the form. He bulks up his muscles when he mocks Future Trunks for using the Super Saiyan Third Grade form. When Perfect Cell fights Super Saiyan 2 Gohan in the Cell Games, he ends up losing his temper and resorts to using his Power Weighted form to increase his physical power, which fails to raise his speed proportionately and help him win the battle.
The form makes a brief appearance in Dragon Ball Super, used by Future Trunks in his sparring match with Vegeta. Vegeta gets disappointed to see Future Trunks still relying on the form, calling it primitive, but is surprised and realizes that Future Trunks only pretended to use the form in order to trick Vegeta to attack and catch him off-guard, re-assuming his Super Saiyan 2 form afterwards.
Video game appearances
In Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2, this form is known as "Super Saiyan 1.5" and can only be used as Super Saiyan Future Trunks' ultimate move, which sees him simply using its massive power output to fire a powerful Finish Buster before reverting as soon as the move is complete. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, 3rd Grade Super Saiyan Future Trunks is called "Super Trunks 2" (as his 2nd Grade Super Saiyan form is called "Super Trunks"). This form also appears in Budokai Tenkaichi series and Raging Blast series, in them "Super Trunks" form is accurately portrayed, as body movement and the ability to charge energy are slow to the point of being hindrances, and comes complete with a signature technique called Inexperienced Power Up that mirrors Future Trunks' constant attempts at powering up. Both Future Trunks and Cell are playable in the Japanese arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes with this transformation.
- Krillin once referred to this form as Super Super Saiyan in the manga.
- It is hypothesized by Future Trunks that Vegeta is capable of using 3rd Grade Super Saiyan form, but refrained from using it against Perfect Cell, since he knew of its disadvantages. This is likely, as Goku immediately realized the drawbacks of the form after attaining it. In the English version of the manga, Trunks states "So that's why dad chose not to transform this way..." after Perfect Cell defeats him in his Super Saiyan Third Grade form, implying that Vegeta was capable of the transformation, but realized (as Cell and Goku did before him) that a transformation that only gives you brute strength is nothing if you cannot hit your opponent.
- Super also supports this as stated above. Vegeta is disappointed when he sees the transformation.
- Krillin once compared Future Trunks' Super Saiyan Third Grade form to a Great Ape, as he said that Future Trunks should not scare him with the transformation since as far as Krillin knew, Trunks was going to go 'Great Ape' on him.
- The Trunks anime comics list Cell as a user of this form and Daizenshuu 2 speculates about Cell's power-weighted form when talking about Super Saiyan Third Grade users, due to the similarities between the two forms.
- Super Saiyan Third Grade and Super Saiyan 3 are similar in the sense that both forms were equally as powerful if not more powerful then their opponents, in this case Cell, Majin Buu, and Kid Buu, but the forms caused too much stress on the body and required too much ki consumption, and as a result, the form was not used to defeat the villain.
- The anime version of this transformation's hair in Dragon Ball Z is not as tall or spiky as depicted in the manga. However, in the video-games and in Dragon Ball Super, the hair looks exactly the way it was depicted in the manga.