Dragon Ball FigtherZ‘s story is far more than a rehash of past arcs. On top of being a magnificent fighting game, it provides a long, decent story mode that justifies bringing together all your favourite characters into one time and place. It also gives everyone a common enemy: Android 21.
She’s fearsome both mentally and physically. Android 21 can create other androids, and manipulate them. She possesses the scientific capacity to dampen everyone’s powers, and graft an extra soul onto someone’s body. Perhaps most scary is how reminiscent of Majin Buu she is, in that she can turn powerful beings into tasty treats, eating them and gaining their power.
Interestingly, we get three different versions of the Android 21 tale. The way these are laid out is slightly open to interpretation. They can be viewed as separate stories, or perhaps going back in time to get a better result. Each arc begins with a soul — in this case, the player — being trapped inside someone’s body. First Goku, then Frieza, and then Android 18.
There are however connections between the three arcs. Motivations in one might justify actions in the other. This is why Android 21’s arc might be considered the final and “true” arc. Read to the bottom for that version.
Warning: Below this line are spoilers for Dragon Ball FighterZ‘s Story Mode. Proceed at your own risk.
Super Warrior Arc
The first and shortest version of Dragon Ball FigherZ‘s story begins with Goku waking up to realise his powers are gone. Beerus and Whis arrive to explain there are mysterious “waves” sapping the abilities from powerful fighters. Goku can’t fly or charge up. He’s as good as a mortal human.
The next realisation is that there are hostile clones of every fighter wandering the planet. They have the same abilities and power of their likenesses. Each clone is an opportunity to defeat oneself, and Goku relishes the challenge.
In a key moment, Goku and Krillin come across a bruised and beaten Android 18. Dressed in a scientist’s garb, newly introduced Android 21 is looking after her, and says the nearby villain Cell is responsible for hurting her. This is enough for Krillin to launch into a rage.
Later it is revealed that Android 21 was cleverly pitting the two sides against each other while she gained enough power to take on everyone. Android 18 was fighting Cell on Android 21’s orders.
We also learn of Android 21’s ability to consume fighters in the form of sugary snacks. While she tries to blame the Red Ribbon Army for the clones, we find out Android 21 created them as a food source to gain supremacy.
By the time she reveals her true form, it’s too late for some of the most powerful characters.
Goku begins saving as many allies as possible and fighting clones to increase the abilities of the soul within him. While the Saiyans and their allies are out building a force to stop her, Android 21 manages to consume Cell, Frieza and his lackeys.
By this point, she’s eaten so many warriors she outclasses anyone individually.
After confronting her one last time, Goku uses Instant Transmission to travel to the realm of the Elder Kai so Earth won’t be damaged in the fight. Android 21 takes the bait.
After a tousle, it takes each hero’s iconic blast to take her down. Kamehameha is combined with Destructo-disc, combined with Masenko, and so on. Even Majin Buu’s “turn into chocolate.” The combination of energies is enough to dissolve Android 21 — at substantial damage to the planet they’re on.
In a final comment down the barrel of the camera, Whis hints that there might be more to the story and if the player isn’t satisfied they should look for answers.
Enemy Warrior Arc
In this version of the story, the player’s soul is inside Frieza — who is none too happy to be sharing his body.
Frieza’s primary motivation is gaining power. He has to defeat as many clones as possible to “sync” with the soul inside of him, and defeat those who would subjugate (or eat) him. Somehow, his rival villain Cell has managed to bend the soul inside him to his will. You — the player — are not so easily dominated.
Throughout the arc, we’re led to believe that Android 16 has betrayed Android 21, perhaps because of her power. She’s aware of this however, and is intentionally setting him up to fail with suicide missions.
This arc is also interesting because there are moments when Frieza has the upper hand, and could indeed destroy Goku — but for the conscience of the soul within him. He needs the soul’s cooperation to use his powers. Without that, he just stands there motionless. A frozen Frieza.
This creates a bit of a negotiation between him and the player. As you can imagine, he detests every second of it and tries to frame it as him “allowing” you to have some input.
Android 21 quickly becomes more powerful than any individual villain can handle though, so Frieza also needs to work together with Cell, and — heaven forbid — Vegeta. It takes a decent amount of verbal sparring, but the two eventually realise that united they stand, divided they fall.
It helps that Cell and Frieza witness first-hand what Android 21 can do to the clones. It’s effortless for her to turn them into candy and start munching.
In a final showdown, Frieza and Cell try to blast Android 21. Curiously, the “betrayer” Android 16 jumps in the way to save her. He’s rewarded for his efforts by Android 21 smashing him to bits with a giant orb. It’s intentionally confusing — this significance of this isn’t understood until the next arc.
When it’s clear that Android 21’s regenerative powers are out of control, Bulma tries to technologically counter the debilitating waves affecting everyone. This has a negative effect on most of the fighters, but Frieza, Cell and Goku all return to 100%.
It takes a simultaneous blast from all three of them to take her down, and the three argue over whose blast had a bigger effect. And of course, there’s no way these heroes and villains in the same spot are just going to walk away quietly.
The remaining fighters launch into an all-out battle that we don’t get to see, as the screen fades to black.
Android 21 Arc
This is the arc that might be interpreted as canon moving forward. It reveals the true motivations of Android 21, and fleshes out both her past and future. We’re presented with an Android 21 who is genuinely concerned about others, and the terrifying hunger within herself.
In this version of the tale, Android 18 is infused with the player’s soul. For some reason, the soul wouldn’t remain inside other candidates — Android 17 could only hold it for a minute or so.
Android 18 is enlisted to help Android 21 clear the planet of the clones and resurrected villains. Along the way, Android 21 is clearly struggling with something. Android 17 demands answers, and it’s revealed that she can barely contain her hunger.
It’s only in this arc that we actually see Android 21 attempt to stop herself consuming people. We learn that the companions of Android 21 are helping her to manage her urges and find a cure.
When Cell provokes her, she defends herself and loses control in the process. It’s too much for Android 16 to stop her, so the player’s soul has to transfer to Android 21 to help her control her urges.
While the player’s soul is inside of Android 21, it witnesses the internal conflict. There’s another soul inside of her causing trouble. We realise there’s a soft and hard side to Android 21, and it’s the soft side that created this version of Android 16 because he is an identical copy of her son.
All of a sudden, it’s clear why Android 16 sacrificed himself in the Enemy Warrior Arc. Despite the evil inside Android 21, he’s trying to save what’s good.
The softer side is currently dominant — but not for long.
Later on, this conflict reaches a breaking point. When Android 16 tries to stop his “mother” from murdering Cell, she launches an orb at him, killing him instantly.
Android 21 is so torn over this she literally splits into two versions of herself. One is capable of self control and mastering her hunger in the interest of decency. The other has completely given into her urges, and seeks to consume the powers of everyone else.
The obvious problem here is that the evil Android 21 quickly becomes more powerful than the good version. Especially after she eats Cell. In the next scene, she shows just how more powerful she is than in the other arcs.
All the remaining androids corner evil Android 21 in front of the machine creating the mysterious waves — who promptly swallows the remote capable of switching the machine off. Goku and Krillin arrive just in time to block an attack for a weakened Android 18.
Goku has to quickly use Instant Transmission to help his friends, but doing so in front of Android 21 allows her to learn the ability instantly, just as Buu did.
Once again, Goku brings the fight off-planet so Earth won’t be damaged. But this time, during the final fight, it becomes clear the only thing strong enough to beat evil Android 21 is a Spirit Bomb. The other fighters lend Goku their strength, but the new villain can still barely hold it off.
The good Android 21 tackles her evil doppleganger and both take the bomb’s full damage.
In this final arc, the future of Android 21 is left open. The remaining fighters acknowledge that she sacrificed herself for them, and start discussing how they could possibly resurrect her. So it’s very possible we’ll be seeing Android 21 again.