Manga Talk: Dragon Ball Part 1

Hello and welcome back to Manga Talk!

Starting today we will be taking a look at the first three volumes of one of my favorite series of all time, the legendary series Dragon Ball.

I will look at the first 18 chapters today and the next 18 chapters tomorrow, so unfortunately there will not be a Saturday Special this week.

However, I do hope that I can make this extra long Manga Talk great because I get to talk about Dragon Ball.

I will save the analysis of the manga for tomorrow, but still expect this to be a long summary. As usual there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS for the manga, but I’m hoping that won’t bother most people.

Let’s get started! It’s going to be a long one!


We begin the manga with the humble life of a kid named Son Goku, as he chops wood with his bare hands and goes to get some food as a young woman appears to be looking for something.

Goku catches a big fish and as he is heading home, he encounters the young woman driving her car, as she manages to swerve out of the way just in time.

Goku, thinking that the car is a monster, lifts up the car and tosses it to the side. The young girl exits the wrecked car and shoots Goku in the head with a gun, which only serves as a minor annoyance.

The young woman reveals that she isn’t a monster, she is a human and Goku says that this is the first time that he has met another person that wasn’t his grandfather, who is dead.

Goku invites the young woman, later to be introduced as Bulma, inside so that they can eat, and Goku introduces her to what he believes hold the spirit of his grandfather, a glass sphere with four stars.

Bulma is overjoyed and explains to Goku that the ball isn’t his grandfather, but is in fact one of the Dragon Balls. She shows Goku two more that she had found and explains that there are seven in total and once all seven have been gathered then a mighty dragon will be summoned to grant any wish.

Goku isn’t willing to give up his Dragon Ball, still believing that it contains his grandfather, Bulma convinces him to join her quest to find the other Dragon Balls so she can make her wish.

Bulma, not being able to use her car, pulls out a box filled with capsules and with a press of a button, a motorcycle appears and the two drive off.

During their journey, they encounter a dinosaur monster and this is where we see Goku’s size changing staff, along with more of Goku’s incredible power.

While they rest for the evening, in a house that was made by another capsule, we learn that Goku was alone in the mountains as a baby when he was found by his grandfather. Bulma, on the other hand, is on summer vacation from school and only has a month to find the Dragon Balls.

After Goku gets a lesson in anatomy, the morning comes and while Bulma is getting ready, Goku decides to get some exercise and starts to crush a big rock.

When he crushes his first rock, he works on a second, but it turns out to be a talking turtle. The turtle asks to go home to the sea, which Goku obliges.

After dealing with a tiger monster, the trio make it to the sea, and the turtle promises to bring back a reward and swims out and brings back an old man.

The old man turns out to be the Turtle Hermit (who I will call Master Roshi because I am dub scum) and for helping out the turtle, he gives Goku a flying cloud.

While Goku rides on the cloud, Bulma asks for her reward, but Master Roshi declines because she didn’t help Turtle back. He is willing to reward her if he is able to sneak a peak, which Bulma obliges because the reward she gets is another Dragon Ball…and the realization that she showed more than she intended.

The two travel on forward and find a village that is terrorized by an evil monster named Oolong that is kidnapping the girls of the village.

In order stop the kidnappings, and get a Dragon Ball in the process, Bulma and the villagers disguise Goku so that he looks like a girl.

When Oolong comes to retrieve the girl, it is revealed that he is a shapeshifter and when things go pear shaped, Goku is about to beat up Oolong when he needs to leave all of the sudden.

It turns out that Oolong’s true form is that of a short pig person, and appears to have a limited amount of time that he is able to shapeshift.

When Oolong returns to a monstrous form, and Goku shows his incredible strength again, Oolong shapeshifts and runs away with Goku giving chase.

Oolong’s shapeshift abilities time out, and Goku catches Oolong and manages to rescue all the girls that had been captured, who have been living lives of luxury with the money that Oolong had extorted from the villagers.

Bulma and Goku drag Oolong along to make use of his shapeshifting ability, and as they drive away they make their way to Fry Pan Mountain, home of the Ox King and the next Dragon Ball.

They run out of gas, and things get worse when Bulma realizes that she has lost her capsules, which means that they have no forms of transportation and no forms of shelter, meaning that they will have to walk the rest of the way.

They walk through the desert and as they rest, they are spotted by a cat named Pu’ar and a young man named Yamcha, who intend to rob the group.

Yamcha threatens Goku and the two get into a fight. Yamcha knows the staff that Goku has and asks what his grandfather’s name is, which is revealed to be Son Gohan, a well renowned martial arts master.

Yamcha does a series of powerful strikes to knock out Goku, while Oolong and Pu’ar have a bit of a shapeshifter duel, as the two went to the same shapeshifter school together.

Goku is on the ropes because of his hunger, and as Yamcha is about to finish the fight, until he spots Bulma. It turns out that Yamcha does not deal with women very well and makes a tactical retreat.

During the evening, Oolong uses his emergency capsule to make a double decker bus so the group can rest for the night. Shenanigans ensue, with Yamcha and Oolong learning about the Dragon Balls, and they set out in the morning.

Yamcha attempts another attack, using guns and a missile launcher to disable the bus, but Goku is well fed and able to defeat Yamcha quickly, knocking out one of Yamcha’s teeth.

Yamcha retreats again and decides that he will let the group get the Dragon Balls and he will swoop in to steal them all when they are all together.

He gives the trio a car capsule, but it is a car that has a tracker on it so that Yamcha and Pu’ar aren’t too far from the group.

The trio drive to Fry Pan Mountain to see that it is engulfed in flames. Oolong explains that the Ox King is a dangerous individual who guards the burning mountain as even he can’t make it through.

As Yamcha debates following the trio into a dangerous situation, a girl being chased by a T-Rex emerges and after she kills the dinosaur and attempts to kill Yamcha, he knocks her out.

The trio try to figure out a way to deal with their current situation, they are met with the Ox King himself, who is about to kill them when he notices Goku’s flying cloud.

It turns out that the Ox King was one of Master Roshi’s students, and what’s more that Goku’s grandfather Gohan was apparently Master Roshi’s best student.

The Ox King asks Goku to go to Master Roshi to retrieve an item that will have the mountain stop burning, and agrees to give Goku the Dragon Ball in return. He also asks Goku to find his daughter Chi-Chi, which was the girl that Yamcha knocked out.

Yamcha tries to make amends to Chi-Chi, but leaves when he sees Goku coming up. Goku picks up Chi-Chi and it is revealed that grabbing Goku by the tail is a weak spot for him.

As the two fly off to get help from Master Roshi, Chi-Chi becomes smitten with Goku. After asking directions from a dolphin, the two make it to Master Roshi’s house.

They ask for the item that they need, a fan called the Basho-Sen, which Master Roshi accidentally threw away. While the kids worry, Master Roshi decides that since he messed up, he will go to the mountain himself to put out the fire.

Master Roshi, after making a deal with Bulma, takes off his shirt to reveal his wizened old body and gets on top of a crushed wall.

He suddenly gets jet jacked and prepares to launch his signature technique: the Kamehameha, a beam of energy that manages to put out the fire (and destroy the Ox King’s house, but semantics).

Goku asks to learn the Kamehameha, and even after getting told no by Master Roshi, Goku tries it and makes a small beam. Master Roshi is impressed, even more so when he learns that Goku learned from Gohan. He asks Goku to come and train with him, which Goku agrees to when they finish finding the Dragon Balls.

The trio head off (after Bulma uses Oolong to finish her deal with Master Roshi), and stop in a village to fuel up. The villagers are terrified of Bulma, and after getting free gas and capsules, it is revealed that there is a group called “The Rabbit Mob” that run the town.

This is especially the case when Bulma gets new clothes and when it is revealed that she isn’t part of the gang, they aren’t given any mind anymore.

Some members of The Rabbit Mob come to harass the group, which Goku deals with soundly. The mob members call in their boss, a rabbit man with shades called Master Carrot. He lives up to his namesake as he turns Bulma into a carrot.

Master Carrot holds carrot Bulma as hostage, and Yamcha knows that without Bulma, they will not be able to get the last Dragon Ball.

Yamcha and Pu’ar swoop in, managing to get Bulma out of harms way and Goku manages to threaten Master Carrot into transforming Bulma back into a human.

As a way to deal with The Rabbit Mob, Goku uses his extending staff to take the group all the way to the moon where they are fated to make mochi for the rest of their lives.

As the trio make their way to the last Dragon Ball, they are attacked by a ninja dog in a robot outfit and an assassin woman who are under the employ of a man known as Lord Pilaf.

They make way with most of the Dragon Balls, save for Goku’s Dragon Ball, but the Dragon Ball falls within the grasp of Lord Pilaf pretty quickly as Yamcha picks up the group and they are all captured by Lord Pilaf.

To Be Continued…

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