I recently finished reading the Dragon Ball manga. Yes, I know, I’m nearly 35 years late on reading it…and I know Dragon Ball and its sequel series are a ubiquitous part of anime culture. Well, I’m just starting it, so bear with me…
Anyway, early on in the manga, we’re introduced to a turtle hermit by the name of Master Roshi (Muten Rōshi). Roshi is a fierce warrior who trained Goku’s grandfather. He’s ridiculously strong, talented, a great teacher, and a disgusting pervert.
When I say pervert, I mean he’s absolutely gross. When Krillin wants to train under him, Roshi allows it because Krillin brought him a whole host of dirty magazines. He takes every chance he can to glance at Bulma when she’s around, despite her being an underaged girl when they first meet. He uses a shrink ray to spy on girls in the bathroom. There are also attempts at motorboating female characters. Roshi is gross and this attitude toward women as objects of lust is seen throughout the original manga series. It is still baked into the character by the time I started Dragon Ball Z, but it’s not quite as on display…yet.
But Roshi is also a heroic man who can be incredibly selfless. He trains Goku and Krillin in a manner to help them grow while keeping them humble. During the first “Strongest Under the Heavens” Tournament presented in the manga, he defeats Namu, a challenger from who enters the tourney to raise funds to buy water for his desert village. Roshi helps out Namu and provides him with the means to bring all the water his village would need home. And when Demon King Piccolo threatens to destroy the world, Roshi selflessly throws himself before Piccolo, knowing he will die to protect his friends and the world. He willingly lays down his life for the sake of others.
There’s a dichotomy of character we see with Roshi that, at times, is jarring. He goes from wise, selfless teacher to disgusting pervert, sometimes this shift happens at the drop of the hat. Humans are complicated and find themselves with this dichotomy, displaying both good and sinful behaviors. A perfect Biblical example for me comes in the form of King David. David was a selfless warrior who loved the people of Israel and the Lord. He strove to better his people in every way he could. He never once harmed King Saul, despite the fact that Saul aggressively tried to kill him. He served his people faithfully, but he was also awful at times. He spied on another man’s wife, had sex with her, got her pregnant, and tried to cover it up by getting the husband to sleep with his wife; when that failed, David sent this man to the front lines of battle to be killed and then married the woman (2 Samuel 11). David also had many other wives and concubines, displaying a lustful appetite that his son (Solomon) would take to an even greater degree. David fell short and was not a perfect person. David was gross at times, just like Roshi.
All of us are sinful (Romans 3:23). I, personally, don’t like displaying that sinfulness into the world and find myself keeping my awfulness including thoughts of anger, bitterness, or lust hidden. To the world and online, I present myself as kind and caring, but inside I know I get angry, bitter, and hold onto hatred I need to quell. This hidden version of myself is sinful, bitter, and problematic.
Is it better that Roshi and David allowed this sinful nature to be fully out in the open? Yes and no. Showing the awfulness to the world allows them to publicly acknowledge their bad behavior (David does so, though Roshi never seems to learn). Yet it also is still bad behavior on display publicly by a person in a position of authority; this is problematic. Not that bad behavior occurring in private is somehow better or worth admiring, but when a King or teacher—a person you are supposed to admire—acts sinfully, the people they lead may excuse it and potentially model said poor behavior. King David’s willingness to lust after many women led to Solomon doing the same. Solomon’s enormous harem of women led to his worship idols requiring child sacrifices. Solomon’s divergence from the Lord led to a full split in the Kingdom. There’s a sinful snowball effect as the next generation learns the bad behavior of the previous, especially when there are no consequences to their actions.
There are consequences, too, for Roshi’s bad behavior. The ladies of the Dragon Ball universe don’t take kindly to Roshi perving on them. They defend themselves against his behavior and provide him with smacks that he deserves. While it may not be the entire reason, forced consequences for Roshi may be a reason his two main pupils (Krillin and Goku) do not become the perverts their teacher was.
In the end, though, all of us have this sinful nature. While it may not be as blatantly on display as Roshi or David, the nastiness is still there and I know I need to continue to fight against these poor behaviors and thoughts. I know I lose that battle; Roshi does often. Yet, I still strive to better myself. Continuing down poor paths is never a good choice. So as I look to a leader, we all should try to emulate the leader where they are good and…not follow their bad behaviors (1 Corinthians 11:1).