Real Name: Unknown
Android Model Type: New
Year of Activation: 774
Character Design By: Akira Toriyama
Voice Actress: Houko Kuwashima (Japanese) Jeannie Tirado (English)
WARNING: This review will contain SPOILERS for the game Dragon Ball FighterZ, so if you want to remain spoiler free until you complete the game yourself, I sincerely suggest skipping this post. That all being said, let’s begin with the biggest spoiler of them all.
Android 21 is not an android.
Of course, this is far from world-shattering news as a great many “androids” created by Dr. Gero are anything but. In truth, Dr. Gero created four distinct android types; Mechanical, Biotechnological, Bio, and New Type.
As one can surmise, the Mechanical models are all true androids being entirely machine inside and out though their appearances and mannerisms can and have been based on actual people. The Biotechnological models could be more fittingly labelled as cyborgs or even modified humans as some, like Androids 17 and 18 have little to no robotic parts and have simply had their organic matter reconstructed. So much so in fact that while they don’t need to eat, they do still to keep hydrated and are incredibly long-lived due to their now slowly deteriorating cells.
Cell is, as of the time of this post, the only true known Bio-Android, whose body was constructed via genetic engineering. It is one of the many reasons why Cell, despite having been made by a majority of humanoid samples of DNA looks the way he does.
While Android 21 is similar to Cell in that she too is a genetically altered being, her creation differs from his own by one simple fact. Cell, for all that he was created to become the “perfect” fighter, culminating in a final form that had the potential to become stronger, is nothing more than a prototype. Though not stated outright, it is heavily implied that the same bio-engineering technologies and techniques utilized in his creation were then later perfected and used on her to make her a far greater powerhouse than Cell could ever hope to become.
That is, if that was Dr. Gero’s actual intent…
Android 21 was not created for war or for violence, but is, more likely, the end result of Dr. Gero trying his damnedest to ensure that the last person on Earth that he cares for will not die without putting up one hell of a fight. However, via intentional application or by a hereto unknown design flaw in the original augmentation and later bio-engineering process, Android 21 considers herself to be less than ten years old.
True, she is both physically and intellectually an adult, and a certifiable genius outclassing even Dr. Gero, but all of the memories of the life she had are completely gone but for certain feelings towards the man himself and the son they had lost that still echo faintly in her heart.
It is actually the sole reason she sought to reconstruct Android 16, because in her search of trying to find out who she was and what her purpose could be, she had found out that his template was based on her son and so wanted him by her side and told him, in no uncertain terms, that she wanted to treat him as family.
Like Cell, Android 21 is composed of all of the Z-Fighters, possibly even Future Trunks, alongside Frieza, Cell, and both versions of Majin Buu, the more amicable and friendly “Fat” Buu and his previous and far more violent “Kid” Buu form, which is considered as two separate entities thanks to Buu’s permanent absorption of Grand Supreme Kai.
Having Frieza’s cells, Android 21 is able to switch between her former human form and her actual true form pictured below. In either form, she has incredibly powerful regenerative powers, able to completely heal within seconds and thanks in no small part to the combination of cells from Piccolo, Cell, and both versions of Buu.
Of course, one must also take into account that thanks to Frieza’s cells and those of Vegeta, Goku, Gohan, Goten, and both versions of Trunks, Android 21 has not only an incredibly high endurance, but anything that forces her to regenerate only ensures that she receives an even greater boost in strength thanks to the saiyan Zenkai Boost that increases their power the more they are driven to the point of death.
Of course, that’s not taking into account the power she possesses thanks to the Majin Buus and Cell, namely her ability to turn people into sweets and eat them to not only further her regeneration, but grant her a boost in power equal to that of the eaten warrior.
Thus we get to the point where I try to make sense of Android 21’s “master plan” as Dragon Ball FighterZ villain but in truth, she didn’t actually have one. At least, not the real version of herself. Recall how I stated that Cell was utilized as a testing ground for the bio-engineering techniques and tools before being utilized on Android 21?
Well, here’s where things get really interesting… See, the Cell we know is not the Cell from the mainstream timeline. That one was destroyed whilst it was hardly more than an embryo by Krillin and Future Trunks while the one that is here is from an alternate future wherein he killed another version of Trunks from alternate timeline that… Okay, to put it simply, time travel shenanigans.
My point though is this. Without the means of testing out the bio-engineering tools and processes fully through Cell, Dr. Gero’s super-computer had no other choice but to utilize what it had learned to further enhance Android 21 and had, inadvertently, created an extreme flaw in her design.
Like Majin Buu and Cell, Android 21 can absorb people for energy and to enhance her own strength, but the combination of these cells alongside the faulty implementation resulted in those cells going haywire. Basically and contrary to Cell and Androids 17 & 18, Android 21 does feel hunger and while she managed to ignore that hunger for nearly a decade, it grew to be so powerful it actually generated a separate personality much like Fat Buu and his evil side.
To try and find a “humane” way to curb it, Android 21 created “flash clones” of all the Z-Fighters plus a handful of villains they had faced. Unfortunately, while the clones have all the skills and techniques of the originals, them having been rapidly aged up makes them less than ideal meals, mere “junk food” to the “organic” originals.
Eventually, Android 21’s evil side completely took over and went a step further by way of using the Namekian dragon balls to bring back Frieza, the Ginyu Force, Cell, and surprisingly Nappa, and transport them to Earth before utilizing a device created by Dr. Gero that would weaken all of the strongest fighters on Earth to a point where they would be “ripe for the picking.” She likely also released all of the flash clones as a means of drawing out the originals into the open and as something of a “snack” between actual meals.
Thankfully, Android 21’s evil side didn’t take into account that she also fit into that strong fighter category and was summarily repressed long enough for the true Android 21 to finish creating the artificial soul and dual linking system as another means of supressing her darker half and curbing her continually growing hunger.
From there… well, that goes into spoiler territory that I won’t delve into beyond this. That and the ending of the game, and Android 21’s story, is so damned bittersweet and tragic that I still get choked up on it…
Out of all the characters in the entirety of the Dragon Ball series, from the original fantastical story to the out-of-this-world Z to the often panned GT to the aptly named Super… Android 21 is my favorite character of the franchise, tied with the likes of Android 18 and Piccolo for a multitude of reasons.
But the one reason above all others, the very reason that put bade me to even make this character review in the first place… is that she wants to do good. Now, I don’t mean just in the sense of being a good person and possibly having a family again but in the most literal sense of the phrase. She outright says that when her evil side is dealt with, she wants to first try to find a more permanent cure for her hunger and from there go on to utilize the same technologies that created her for the betterment of mankind.
Do you have any idea how unbelievably rare that is for a genius of Android 21’s level, one whom perfected technologies far beyond anything anyone else had ever come close to completing, even the original creator, to actually be selfless with that technology?
I mean, this is the exact opposite of the “Reed Richards is Useless” trope! The trope wherein persons possessing the means of creating world-shaking technologies, refuse to allow those technologies to be utilized by the common people not because of some fear of the right devices falling into the wrong hands, but because it either never occurs to them to distribute them to the masses or because they simply don’t want other people to use them!
But Android 21, a being that is quite literally the most powerful being on Earth… Who has the potential to give even Lord Beerus a better workout than Goku… Doesn’t want to increase her power, doesn’t want to keep on being a fighter, or seclude herself away as some means of protecting people from the danger of her existence. She wants to fix herself to not be that dangerous so that she can go out into the world and help it and its people in any way that she can, however she can.
That’s… That’s just so…
… I have more stories than I can ever hope to remember. Seen heroes rise and fall, seen what the best and worst of people from all walks of life, from the fictional to the factual, are capable of… and this is the first time that I have ever truly, aboslutely, and fully been so endeared by a character of any kind, never mind one from a video game and one that is not meant to truly be an immersive story-line of RPG quality.
While there is no official confirmation as of yet, it is my sincere hope that not only will we see a continuation of the FighterZ game, be it a direct sequel or future DLC because the game really is that good… But that we may also see Android 21 back to the potential she could have had rather than the reincarnation route Goku was going for at the end of the game.
After all… the Android 21 of the mainstream timeline was the one constructed by the faulty data in Dr. Gero’s super-computer… Who knows what had become of the one in a certain alternate timeline…