If there is one DBZ character I love as much as Vegeta, it’s his son, Trunks. While his name is idiotic (but, given that Bulma named him, is unsurprising) Trunks is one of the best characters in the Dragon Ball series.
Wait. Which Trunks am I talking about? Future Trunks or Kid Trunks?
Both of them, actually (though I will admit to a slight bias in Future Trunks’ direction, because he’s bad ass). Even though they are (technically) the same character, they are not actually. Kid Trunks and Future Trunks are both Trunks, but very different versions of him, having lived in different times and circumstances that had a direct effect on their behaviour. The question is… who did it better To answer this question, we are going to take a similar approach to the one I took when I wrote about Vegeta’s development as a character: from the perspective of an English major. In light of that, we’re going to be analyzing the one, defining moment that makes Kid Trunks and Future Trunks very, very different – the Androids and whether or not the Z-Fighters were able to stop them.
DISCLAIMER: I am not referencing Dragon Ball: GT at all. That Trunks was very similar to Future Trunks, and it’s basically being retconned with the release of Dragon Ball Super, anyways. And yes – I can ignore GT. And I am. And I will. Good day to you, sir.
Future Trunks grew up during the storm that was Androids 17 and 18, in an apocalyptic world where the pair were running rampant and destroying whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. In Future Trunks’ timeline, Goku died of a heart virus and Vegeta, his father, was killed by the Androids alongside the rest of the Z-fighters. This, unfortunately, included Piccolo, which means Kami also died and the Dragon Balls no longer existed and so could not be gathered to wish the Z-Fighters back to life to deal with the threat. Only Gohan remained, and Future Trunks looked up to him like a father. Gohan trains young Trunks and takes him under his wing for 13 years, trying to teach him how to transform.
That is, until Gohan, inevitably, was taken from Trunks. In one of the most heartbreaking scenes in anime history, Gohan is killed by 17 and 18, triggering Trunks’ transformation into a Super Saiyan. Trunks had lost nearly everything at this point (of course, Bulma was still alive, which was a small consolation.) This is when they came up with the plan to send Trunks back to the past to save Goku and, perhaps, the world (before we find out he actually traveled back to a different universe.) We all know what happens afterward – Future Trunks singlehandedly kills both Frieza and King Cold and sets the Z-Fighters on the path to take out Android 17 and 18 before they destroy everything and everyone. (At some point in time, he comes in contact with Tapion and is trained by him, as well, and is given his iconic blade.)
Throughout all of his trials and tribulations, Trunks grows up into a cautious, solemn young man who seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is extremely troubled by his past, to the point where many believe he is affected with post-traumatic stress (displayed in the episode “Unwanted Discovery” and completely understandable, given his background). Having grown up with only his mother and Gohan for support, he is much more down-to-earth than his younger counterpart. Future Trunks is very much a product of his tragic environment, the result of living during the End Times. He comes into the series as a dynamic character – a character who grows and changes and is flawed – but he develops further. When he first encounters Vegeta, their relationship is strained. Trunks wants so badly for his father to be a hero, and Vegeta just isn’t (yet). Future Trunks has such an over-inflated view of the father he never knew that when Vegeta rather ostentatiously falls short of the standard set for him, Trunks is forced to choke it down, and his identity is compromised because of this. This could also be said of Goku. Trunks views Goku as a big damn hero, but is shocked to discover than not only is Goku not there when Future Trunks returns three years later, Goku didn’t even take the medication Future Bulma had given him to prevent the heart virus until it was nearly too late to save his life (and thus change the timeline, which was Future Trunks’ entire goal). Future Trunks is met repeatedly with this kind of information, not to mention changes in the timeline caused by his first interference at Goku’s landing site, which nearly cripples his confidence in his quest to stop the Androids before they destroy everything. As such, he is a near polar opposite to his much younger counterpart, Kid Trunks.
Kid Trunks grew up with both Bulma and Vegeta because of Future Trunks’ intervention (regardless of Vegeta’s complete lack of paternal skills). As a result, Kid Trunks is a different character altogether. He is simultaneously spoiled rotten and selfish (traits shared with Bulma), irritatingly prideful and cocky (attributes gained from Vegeta), and an unrelenting prankster. Kid Trunks is, to put it mildly, a punk ass. Having grown up in a world of relative peace and luxury, he developed into a different person altogether. Unlike Future Trunks, Kid Trunks is overeager, over confident, and ready to fight. Kid Trunks becomes a Super Saiyan at the age of eight with no trigger other than his own will to transform (which, of course, shocks Vegeta, who worked for years to achieve the same thing his son earned in a matter of moments). He grew up without the threat of the Androids (hell, he KNEW 18, since she married Krillen). He grew up without any real threat until Majin Buu, and that fact shaped who he was – he had almost everything Future Trunks did not, and it resulted in a completely different personality. Kid Trunks is a flat character, but he has the potential to grow into a dynamic one (he is a kid. Kids tend to develop more dynamically as they grow, and Kid Trunks has some growing to do yet.)
So who did it better: Future Trunks of Kid Trunks? Personally, my money is on Future Trunks. He comes into the series as a dynamic character and still manages to grow over time (check him out in Xenoverse!) While Kid Trunks is still a kid and has a lot of growing to do, Future Trunks is ready for the next big step, and has shown the capacity to grow with it and adapt beyond it.
Agree? Disagree? Let me now in the comments!