Last we left off, the gang was captured by the evil Lord Pilaf, who managed to steal most of the Dragon Balls from the group and is preparing to make a wish.
How will the group get out of this situation?
Let’s get this train rolling!
As the gang try to find a way to escape, they are threatened by Lord Pilaf to give the last Dragon Ball, although their threats are less than effective against the group.
Bypassing the threats entirely, Lord Pilaf just uses sleeping gas to get the last Dragon Ball, which proves effective.
As Lord Pilaf begins to summon the dragon, Goku uses the Kamehameha to make a small hole in the wall, which allows Pu’ar and Oolong to shapeshift through, though it seems to be too late.
The mighty dragon Shenlong appears and is ready to grant a wish. Thinking quickly, Oolong jumps in and wishes for women’s underwear, right before Lord Pilaf can make his wish.
It works, and the Dragon Balls scatter to the ends of the Earth, unable to be used or tracked for a year. Lord Pilaf is less than thrilled, so he traps them in a steel cell with a glass roof, intending to cook the group in the hot boiling sun.
They all try to escape, but to no avail. Pu’ar, in wanting to look at something pretty before their inevitable doom, looks at the full moon and Goku remarks that a monster appears during the full moon.
Everyone else is in disbelief, but Goku says that a giant monster appeared and crushed his grandfather, his house, and a whole bunch of other things. When asked what the monster looks like, Goku said that he doesn’t know what it looked like since he was asleep when it happened.
He also says that his grandfather told him to never look at the full moon, and the rest of the group put all the pieces together. They try to make sure that Goku doesn’t look at the full moon, but fail to do so.
At first it seems like nothing happened, but Goku quickly transforms into a giant ape monster, which on the plus side breaks them out of their prison, but on the minus side a giant ape is about to crush them
The ape goes on a rampage, and destroys Lord Pilaf’s castle and while about to crush Bulma, Yamcha remembers that Goku’s tail was a weak spot form him, and deduces that the same would work for the giant ape.
It works, and Yamcha has Pu’ar become a giant pair of scissors to cut off the tail, and that reverts Goku back to his human form.
The group sleep until morning, then agree to not tell Goku that he was the giant monster that killed his grandfather. They all are dejected at the fact that they have to wait a year to find the Dragon Balls again, but Yamcha and Bulma seem to hit it off romantically at the very least.
Goku wakes up, and while off balance from not having his tail anymore, he treks on like before. Now having to wait a year, Yamcha and Bulma decide to go to the city, with Pu’ar and Oolong tagging along, while Goku goes to Master Roshi so he can train.
They say their good-byes and head on their way to the next arc of the story.
Goku head to Master Roshi’s house, and after a pit stop at his house, he makes it and is assigned to bring a hot girl to Master Roshi.
After two failed attempts, a row boat makes it to the island, carrying a young bald boy who also seeks to be trained by Master Roshi, named Kuririn (Krillin as I will call him because I am dub scum).
Krillin appears to understand Master Roshi a bit better, and after presenting an offering of an adult magazine, is tasked along with Goku to bring a girl to the island.
The two boys look around for a while, until they encounter a woman who is being surrounded by police. Goku beats up the police and the two take the girl, Lunch, to Master Roshi. What they don’t know is that earlier Lunch was being actively pursued by the police, even shooting at them and throwing grenades, but switches personalities when she sneezes.
This goes over their heads as when Master Roshi takes a look at Lunch, he accepts the two boys as students.
Master Roshi takes the boys and Lunch to a larger island so that they can train more, and Master Roshi does a speed test of the boys to see how fast they can run.
Krillin is fairly quick, but Goku is faster than he is, and Master Roshi shows that he isn’t just an old pervert and he outpaced the two boys in no time.
The next test that Master Roshi puts the boys under is to find a rock with a specific symbol on it, with the one who finds it to be the only one to get dinner, with the two not getting dinner if they don’t find it in half an hour.
This chapter serves to show that while Krillin is not as fast or as strong as Goku, he is craftier then Goku. He manages to outsmart Goku and bring the correct rock to Master Roshi, meaning that he got to eat while Goku didn’t (although this was a blessing for Goku as everyone else got food poisoning).
The training actually begins when Master Roshi takes the two on a jog to deliver milk. I say jog, but it is a several kilometer run, skip, zig-zag, and climb up a mountain to deliver the milk.
When they reach the top of the mountain, Master Roshi tells the monk that they were delivering to that the two should be ready for the upcoming tournament in eight months if they keep up with their training.
The tournament is known as the Tenka’ichi Budokai, or “The Strongest Under the Heavens” tournament where the world’s strongest martial arts masters gather to see who is the strongest.
The training continues with more treacherous milk deliveries, plowing fields with their bare hands, eating, resting, construction, and swimming. Goku asks why they haven’t learned any moves yet, and Master Roshi says that they need to learn the fundamentals before they get to the hard stuff.
Master Roshi then tasks them that they will have finished their strength training when they can move a massive boulder (a second massive boulder as Goku could move the first one that Master Roshi moved).
As they finish their swim training and some bee training, they end their training for the day. Krillin asks if this is how their training will be, and Master Roshi says that they will do what they did that day for eight months while wearing a 20 kilo turtle shell.
Seven months pass and the two boys have gotten much stronger and they are able to move the boulder. Master Roshi then explains that the work that they had been doing was their fighting training the whole time, honing their bodies and the last month they spend doing the same training but with a heavier shell.
When the time of the tournament arrives, the boys are allowed to take off their shells, and to their amazement they are able to move much faster and jump incredibly high. With their training complete, they head to the Tenka’ichi Budokai tournament.
Goku and Krillin are given spiffy new suits on their way to the tournament and are given gi’s for the actual tournament.
Krillin is pretty anxious about the qualifiers, but after Goku’s first qualifying match, the training that they underwent actually seemed to pay off. Krillin even deals with some bullies from his old temple in a quick manner.
In no time at all the two make it through their qualifiers, and it is shown that Yamcha is also at the tournament, having gone through his qualifying match. Goku doesn’t recognize Yamcha at first since he got a hair cut, but the crew from the hunt for the Dragon Balls have all come to watch the tournament.
They all catch up, and soon after Yamcha, Krillin and Goku are called up for their actual matches. The matches are between Krillin and Bacterian, a man who has never taken a bath in his life, a man named Jackie Chun and Yamcha, a man named Namu and a woman named Ran Fuan, and Goku and a dinosaur person named Giran.
The first match of the tournament is Krillin’s match against Bacterian, and it doesn’t look good at all. The stench is so powerful that it alone almost knocks Krillin out.
That is until Goku brings up the very logical point that the smell is all in Krillin’s head since he doesn’t have a nose.
This works, and while Bacterian still puts up a fight, Krillin pulls out the win in the end, and that ends this three volume collection.
Dragon Ball is a classic story for many reasons.
It is famously a loose adaptation of the popular Chinese story “Journey to the West” with Goku’s name being the translated name for Sun Wukong, a prominent character of the original story.
Goku is the prototypical shonen protagonist. He is a powerful and cheery young boy, who isn’t all that bright when it comes to societal norms, but is a very capable fighter, which is helped by his incredible strength.
While he isn’t the brightest knife in the crayon box, he is quick to adapt when it comes to combat situations.
Bulma, while being primarily featured in the first half of the three volumes, is portrayed as a bright girl, if a bit selfish. She wants to use her wish to get the perfect boyfriend, and is willing to go through a lot of nonsense to get the Dragon Balls.
Oolong, being the first instance of a villain becoming a member of the team which will be a running theme of the series, is primarily used as comedic relief and can have some funny and amusing dialogue.
Yamcha is the second instance of an enemy turned ally and I do enjoy that he was actually a force to be reckoned with in this early part of the series. Knowing how much of a joke he is set to become in the future, it is good to see that he gets his due here.
Master Roshi is the archetypal perverted martial arts master, though he does have plenty of moment to show that while he is a lecherous old man, he still has plenty of gas in the tank to fight.
Krillin, although we only saw him in the second half of the story, is also given plenty of interesting character development, being a sort of trickster type learning to become an actually good fighter.
Seeing as there is a lot of combat in the series, the combat is well drawn and well paced, not dragging out for too long.
In terms of comedy, it is very easy to forget that Dragon Ball was originally a comedy action manga, and there are plenty of comedic moments that work very well. I am especially a fan of the references to Dr. Slump, author Toriyama Akira’s first major success in manga.
Now that doesn’t mean that all the comedy is good. Dragon Ball is an older manga, being published originally in 1984, and a lot of the comedy has become dated.
Part of that could be awkward translation, but there are some things where even the translation cannot be the sole factor.
For example, a lot of the perverted comedy that comes from Oolong and Master Roshi feel like products of a bygone era.
While plenty of the jokes are fine, it is the sex centered jokes that feel like they do not belong. I am aware of the fact that this was written in a different era, but there are some jokes that I feel have not aged well.
While I did enjoy the callbacks to Dr. Slump, if you are not aware of the series, then the jokes feel like they come from right out of nowhere.
Speaking of out of nowhere, Lord Pilaf and his crew were some very temporary threats. They were a force to be reckoned with for a whole five chapters. It would have been more interesting if they were set up earlier to make them more of a threat.
A lot of the threats of the manga were dealt with quickly, which is part of the comedy sure, but it made things that were supposed to be major threats into nearly non-threats.
Goku being a giant ape only lasted two chapters, it should have been a bigger deal. We spent three chapters with the boys trying to get Master Roshi a girl, we could have had at least one more with the giant ape.
I would highly recommend this series, especially if you want to enjoy a classic, action packed, and humor filled fun series.
I will always have time to look at Dragon Ball, it is a series that has been a big part of my life and that will never change.
As I mentioned on Wednesday’s post I will be taking the next week off, so I will see you in two weeks. What will I talk about then? Not even I know, that’s what’s fun about this.
So until then,
Heiwa to sayonara!