Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Discussion regarding the entirety of the franchise in a general (meta) sense, including such aspects as: production, trends, merchandise, fan culture, and more.

Moderators: Kanzenshuu Staff, General Help

I Live Here
Posts: 3599
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:20 pm

Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by Zephyr » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:01 pm

Everyone lately is keen to point out how the Tournament of Power in Dragon Ball Super utterly wasted all of the potential it had with its 80 fighters, but I think people are forgetting about the original unsung heroes of wasted tournament potential: the Tenkaichi Budokai contestants.

In Chapter 30 of Akira Toriyama's iconic Dragon Ball comic, Kuririn tells Son Goku that the tournament sees "martial arts masters" (my emphasis) gather from all over the world! The Turtle Sage tells them that although they'll be entering, they're not aiming to win it, since "life just isn't that easy" (my emphasis); he later calls such a prospect "improbable". Son exclaims that there will surely be "lots of strong guys" (my emphasis) at the forthcoming competition. All of this is presented as a very big deal, and Son Goku and Kuririn push themselves to their limits in anticipation.


Let's begin by identifying all of the mishandling that went on with the contestants for the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai.

As the preliminary matches are about to begin, an announcer exposits that there are "137 masters from around the world" (my emphasis). In the hall itself, we see a wide array of fighters who never even get to fight! A gorilla man, a panda man, a fox man, dudes in all manner of martial arts uniforms, the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man, a tiger man, someone who looks like Frankenstein's Monster, and even a voodoo witch doctor.

The first "master" we actually see fight is a really, really big guy, in what looks like a wrestling outfit. Son takes this guy out by merely poking him! This is such a waste. We don't get to see any of the special techniques that this martial arts master has spent the last five years (according to the previously mentioned announcer) cultivating. Kuririn's first match is against one of his former bullies. There's so much potential for them to have a well written fight, where we learn about their relationship, and come to appreciate the stakes at play in Kuririn's emotional state. Instead, he's taken out with a single kick! We don't even get to see the other one fight. Goku's next opponent is defeated in a single hit as well, and Kuririn's outright surrenders!

Goku's next opponent then introduces an exciting sounding new fighting style: Lion-Fang Fu. Toriyama communicates to the reader that there is no way that "this lad" (in reference to Son Goku) can break through it. Yet, right after, Goku breaks through! Amidst this immediate contradiction, Toriyama only bothers to show us one attack and a single dodge from this promising school's repertoire, before Goku trips him and throws him out of the ring; what's the point of introducing an entirely new style of martial arts, if you're not even going to show it off? Kuririn's next opponent (a cool looking bear-type dude in a karate outfit) isn't even given any focus! Kuririn fights him in the background while Goku and Yamcha catch up. Chapter 35's opening narration claims that it's "astonishing" that they got through the preliminary matches, but this is a textbook case of bad writing, because nothing Toriyama showed in any of the fights was astonishing at all. All we saw was a bunch of martial arts masters get eliminated before they could even name their fighting styles (and the one who did get to name his didn't even get to show it off).

Don't even get me started on the so called "masters" who made it to the finals. First up is Bacterian, whose strength Yamcha describes as "a legend among martial artists" (my emphasis). His fighting style is described as abusing his stench to force opponents to cover their noses, so that he can get in free attacks. This is a cool fighting style, but it's wasted by pitting him against the one character who doesn't have a nose. Yeah, it's played for laughs for a minute that Kuririn forgets that he doesn't have one (somehow :roll: ), but it's dumb because as soon as he "remembers" that he doesn't have one, he easily wins (this is something Toriyama can't even stay consistent with, since Kuririn later smells a diamond that Bulma gives him). What happened to Bacterian's "legendary strength" that we were promised?

Yamcha's waste goes without saying. He doesn't get to land a single hit on Jackie Chun, and he's rung out without any physical contact even being made. Yamcha was one of the main characters one arc prior. He deserved to have a better showing than that. Now he's just relegated to another audience member. This would be less egregious is we'd at least seen him get some of the wins he got during the preliminaries. Instead, we're just left to imagine what kinds of legendary battles Yamcha might have had against these martial arts masters.

Namu is a great character. We get to see his backstory and understand his motivation and goals. However, Toriyama really mismanaged the matchups. He should have gone up against Giran, so they could have an epic "honor" versus "cheating" fight, and the Turtle Hermit could have gone up against the seductive Ran Fan, his natural foil. It could have been a great moment of growth for the invincible old master, to have to overcome his lecherous tendencies in order to win the fight. Ran Fan herself is another waste of potential. Like Bacterian before her, she has to rely on gimmicks in order to fight, despite ostensibly being a martial arts master (something we're consistently told that everyone here is).

The rest of the matches are mostly fine. It's good that Goku loses, because he has to lose before he can win. Next time around, he'll definitely beat Jackie Chun in their inevitable rematch, and definitely win the tournament.


Next, let's look at how the contestants at the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai failed to live up to their potential.

Bora is a strong fighter, who is felled in battle against the legendary assassin, Tao Pai Pai. Goku's quest for his grandfather's Four Star Dragon Ball becomes an afterthought to his crusade to return this fallen warrior to life. Eventually, he succeeds, and Bora rises from his grave. Bora says that they will meet again, and tells Upa to become as "vigorous and courageous" as Son Goku, which Upa agrees to. In the Super Exciting Guide, Toriyama reveals that ki is made up of several different types, including genki, yūki, and shōki, which can be translated as "energy", "courage", and "right-mindedness", respectively. In other words, by telling Upa to become as courageous as Son Goku, he is telling his son to reach Goku's yūki level, to become as powerful as him. Any reader paying attention will be picking up on this: Toriyama is promising us that Upa and Bora will be big players in the coming story.

Yamcha then tells Goku (and the reader) that he will be training under the Turtle Sage, and that they will meet again at the next Tenkaichi Budokai. While everyone thinks they won't see Goku for five whole years, the Muten Roshi says that because of the big turn out this last time, they'll be holding it after only three years this time. After three years pass, while on the airplane traveling to the tournament grounds, Puar even proclaims that Yamcha will surely win this time. Kuririn is also boastful about his own chances, while Jackie Chun (in reality, the Turtle Hemit himself) and Son Goku (whose incredible solo training is made a big deal out of) are also considered big contenders. At the tournament grounds, the Crane Hermit proclaims that his two students will be the stars of the show instead. With Upa and Bora as dangling plot threads from the previous arc, we've got our clear 8 finalists. Surely, however, since the stage is even bigger this time around, even more martial arts masters will be showing up (182, to be exact; 45 more than last time). This means that we're bound to see some really great and interesting fighters, martial arts schools, and special techniques at play in the preliminary matches, even if we know who the final eight are going to be.

This time around, we indeed see a lot of interesting faces in the preliminaries, who, unfortunately, don't even get to fight. A lot of the anthropomorphic animal fights from last time return, and are joined by a leopard man, a rhinoceros man, a rabbit man, a boar man, a frog man, a lion man, a gargoyle, a weird and cool bull/dragon hybrid man, a robot with a cape and a bat symbol on his chest, a pair of Chinese vampires (and I'm not talking about Chaozu), dudes with mohawks, a cyclops, and some that I don't even know how to describe.

Yamcha's first opponent is a man with a face and mustache eerily reminiscent of a certain Tao Pai Pai (only with an added mohawk). Kuririn's first opponent is a lage man, with a blocky face and very fluffy hair. Tenshinha (indeed, the "Jerkiest Under the Heavens", who Son Goku is clearly set up to defeat in the final round), has his first bout against a sumo wrestler. Jackie Chun's first fight is against a strong looking bear man. All of them are defeated before they can show off any cool martial arts techniques.

King Chappa is perhaps the greatest blunder here. Yamcha describes him as "god like", and winning the last tournament in which he participated without being struck once! Yamcha is convinced that Goku stands next to no chance, and Jackie Chun (in reality, the Turtle Hemit himself) is largely in agreement. We're surely in for one hell of an opening bout for Goku! Goku manages to land a hit, but Chappa then busts out the legendary "Blow of Eight Fists". Props to Toriyama for actually showing it this time (rather than just invoking its name, like the Lion-Fang Fu of yore), but it doesn't even do anything. Goku leaps into the air, and Toriyama does a huge asspull by making Goku be able to slow his fall using his breath. Like wtf?

Toriyama then rushes through the rest of it, having Kuririn take out a crocodile man, Yamcha dispatch a guy with a gi that bears the same aforementioned bat symbol on its back, and Goku defeats one of Kuririn's former bullies, but there's no lip service at all paid to Goku fighting on Kuririn's behalf, or anything like that! We only see the other one in the background of certain panels. And just like that, we're done! Wait..... Doesn't it feel like somebody is missing? No sign of Upa or Bora anywhere! Well hey, maybe Toriyama is going to surprise us, and they'll be finalists, and we just somehow didn't get to see them at all.

Sike! It's just some wolf man and a skinny dude with fluffy hair. The wolf man might be cool, though. A fitting opponent for Yamcha! Ah, no. Instead, he's angry at Jackie Chun, rather than the fighter who appropriates his peoples' likeness for martial arts techniques. Instead, Tenshinhan is up against Yamcha. It's a cool fight, where (despite eventually losing) Yamcha gets to show off his improved Wolf Fang Fist, as well as show that he can use the Kamehameha!

Next up, "Man-Wolf" (very creative....) faces off against Jackie Chun (in reality, the Turtle Hemit himself). It turns out that the grudge he holds is because Roshi blew up the moon during the last tournament. That's actually pretty cool! The solution is dumb, though. He hypnotizes Man-Wolf to think that Kuririn's bald head is the full moon, and it works! This is dumb, because it implies that if Goku, or any Saiyan, was sufficiently hypnotized, they would be able to transform into a great ape. Speaking on the fight itself though, Man-Wolf is also a self-proclaimed 30th level blackbelt in kenpo. If Toriyama knew what he was doing, he would have at least had Man-Wolf show off some cool named attacks. Instead, he just makes some basic swipes, which the Turtle Sage easily dodges.

The Chaozu fight is wasted potential across the board. Both he and Kuririn have to rely on stupid tricks. Chaozu can't win without abusing his hypnosis, and Kuririn can't win without tricking Chaozu into counting with his fingers. We came to see a martial arts match, not a circus.

Panputto is absurd. He's called the "Genius of Martial Arts", who has toppled the other two greatest martial arts tournaments in the world. The emcee proclaims that this will be a "Legendary Clash of Incomparable Power Houses!" Instead, Panputto shows off a few lame punches and kicks, before Goku takes him out in one blow. Tenshinhan says that Goku did a lot more, but as we all learn in English class, you're supposed to show rather than tell. Toriyama should have taken notes.

Next up, Muten Roshi and Tenshinhan face off. It starts off really great, with both fighters pulling out some cool tricks. But then, Jackie Chun just ups and surrenders. He doesn't even give it his all. He doesn't use the Kamehameha, the Phony Drunk Attack, the Nighty Night Baby Attack, or even the fan favorite Bankoku-Bikkuri-Shou. Moreover, he says earlier that he had even been training during the last three years, meaning he probably had some new techniques as well! So not only does Roshi not show off everything he had to offer, Goku never got his rematch with him.

Goku still doesn't win the tournament this time around. This means that there will definitely be another one later on. Natural storytelling. Likewise, Upa and Bora haven't shown back up, but surely they'll come to the next one. Natural storytelling.


Lastly, we come to the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai.

Between these two tournament arcs, Goku meets Yajirobe, someone who is about as strong as he is. Surely we'll see him again at the next tournament? After Shenlong is restored to life, he informs everyone that Goku will meet them again at the next tournament, after training with God himself. This inspires everyone! Surely, they will all show off some cool new things at the next tournament.

This time around, there are only 72 participants (that's 110 less contestants than last time). Less people showed up because the matches last time around really raised the bar, meaning that only those "supremely confident in their abilities" came this time. Chappa is here again, confident in his abilities to avenge his prior defeat! He doesn't even get to show off whatever improvements he might have made to his "Blow of Eight Fists", because Goku takes him out with a poke.

A lot of cool looking faces who still haven't had their chance to show off their special techniques in fights return, and are still not given their moments in the spotlight (in fact, whatever paltry focus some were given is even further reduced). Some who actually got to fight before are reduced to purely background characters. Kuririn's former bullies are here once again, and they're relegated to background characters once again.

Tao Pai Pai comes back, which is awesome! Unfortunately, we don't really get to see he and Chaozu fight. It's over in one off-panel blast. There goes any potential Chaozu might have brought to this tournament. Unlike Upa and Bora (who are still nowhere to be seen), Yajirobe takes the first step toward delivering on his potential, by showing up! Unfortunately, he's unceremoniously eliminated with a single attack.

Moving onto the finals, we begin with Tenshinhan and Tao Pai Pai. This could have been a really cool match, seeing two members of the Crane School face off against one another, seeing what kinds of crazy Crane techniques they might pull. Instead, Tao Pai Pai just resorts to cheap tricks, and Tenshinhan quickly dispatches him. Chichi's fight with Goku is abysmally short as well. Although some lipservice is paid to her using the Turtle School's fighting style (something that isn't supposed to exist), nothing about the Ox Demon King's fighting style. It was a huge wasted opportunity to not have Gyumao participate here vicariously through his daughter. Other than that though, no real complaints in the finals. Everyone else pulls out all of the stops, and brings out some really interesting techniques and strategies.


In conclusion, while the Tournament of Power is wasted potential from top to bottom, it doesn't hold a candle to the Tenkaichi Budokai. Across three tournaments, dozens upon dozens of really cool character designs, relationships, backstories, techniques, and martial arts schools were utterly wasted. Too much telling, rather than showing, and far, far, far too many broken promises.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Who do you think didn't live up to their potential in the Tenkaichi Budokai? Any preliminary contestants who didn't get their deserved spotlight who I neglected to mention? Any broken promises that slipped under the radar? Discuss!

User avatar
Namekian Warrior
Posts: 18805
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:23 am
Location: VA

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by ABED » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:26 pm

Chaozu and Yajirobe are the only ones I can think of. I like both characters and of those you mentioned, they are the only ones I could see Toriyama doing something more with.
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott
Happiness is climate, not weather.

User avatar
I Live Here
Posts: 3395
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:38 pm

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:51 pm

A lot of the fights in the Strongest under the Heavens tournaments, particularly the 21st were suppose to be comedy.

The preliminary battles were just suppose to show how strong the heroes had become. The juxtaposition of these small little rascala easily defeating their much larger opponents with ease. And yes we did see some of Yamucha’s fights like him against the Wolf or his sparring sessions while Goku and Kurilin were being trained by the Turtle Hermit. So we were shown (not told) how strong Yamucha was. This is why Jackie Chun defeating him with ease worked so well. It raised the bar to show just how good Muten Roshi really is. Of course when you “Worf” a character as often as Yamucha they eventually become a joke but since this was the first real instance it wasn’t a problem.

Bacterian vs Kurilin was 100 pecent gag. Poor Kurilin has to fight such a stinky gross guy but LOL Kurilin don’t have a nose and his unhygienic foe surrenders when Kurilin farts on him. Not especially funny material but doesn’t take itself seriously enough to care. Unlike Son Goku, Kurilin’s real time to shine during the tournament was the preliminaries when he easily dispatched of one of his seniors who mocked and bullied him and beat him up during his pre-training days

I’m not a huge fan of Ranfan at all to be honest. The only other female fighter to participate in a tournament outside of Chi Chi and 18 and Videl and she’s just “sexy gag” character and stock female character who uses her sexuality to get ahead because wimmin amirite fellows? That said I do think it was good match against Nam because it showed how serious he was and dedicated to his mission. I’m glad we didn’t get Jackie Chun vs Ranfan because “Roshi can’t control himself around women and has to grope them at every opportunity” is a tiresome gag

Goku vs Giren I actually liked this fight. Goku was obviously OP compared to the non-Jackie competitors so giving him an opponent who could avoid a ring out because he had wings and able to bind Goku with his special technique was pretty fun.

Kurilin vs Chun and Goku vs Nam were both just okay in my opinion. But oh my God is the Goku vs Jackie Chun fight some top notch stuff. Easily the best stuff we’ve seen at this point and will for a while.

As for the 22nd tournament. I’m whatever with Chappa. It partially was okay to show how strong Goku had become but Chappa seemed even less like a threat than Giren and Nam. Even in the story it was obvious because the real conflict was Goku almost being cheated out of his match.
We were never suppose to think Chappa was a challenge

Chun vs Man-Wolf was alright. Another gag fight we weren’t suppose to think too hard about

Tenshinhan vs Yamucha was again another battle where Yamucha gets fucked over to show how strong the guy that Goku will eventually face is. Since this is the second time it almost wouldn’t work. What made this fight work is the ending when Tenshinhan mercilessly and needlessly breaks Yamucha’s leg. It showed what a real asshole Tenshinhan was and that he was a perfect foil to Goku (at the time)

I have no problem with the Chaozu vs Kurilin’s fight either. The fact that Kurilin beats him with math (because Roshi taught his boys basic education and Crane Hermit did not teach his boys that stuff) was to prove his point that Roshi is a much better teacher than Crane Hermit. And it was nice seeing Kurilin being forced to show some cleverness.

Jackie Chun vs Tenshinhan also did the job. Roshi forfeiting the match worked because Roshi only ever entered to make sure the boys knew there was bigger fish out there. Roshi being a mentor to Tenshinhan and helping him realize the way he had been taught by Crane Hermit was wrong is some of Roshi’s best stuff

Goku vs Kurilin was honestly also a lot of fun. These two are best friends and their mutual respect for how far the other has come is adorable.

If I’m being honest I wasn’t as big of Goku vs Tenshinhan as I was Goku’s other two final matches. Still pretty entertaining.

And now my favorite arc The 23 Budokai.

Tenshinhan vs Tao Pei Pei, well to be honest Tao Pei Pei served his purpose in the Red Ribbon army saga and Tenshinhan completed his redemption in the Piccolo Daimou saga. This fight was easily my least favorite but still it was nice for Tenshinhan to face the man he once respected and now saw for the scum he truly is.

Goku vs Chi Chi? Was so much fun. I’m sad Chi Chi settled for being an education mama because she could really move. Yeah she was obviously no match for Goku but her swift moves and attacks were some really under appreciated fight choreography

Yamucha vs Shen. Well let’s be real Yamucha was a joke at this point. Oh well

Piccolo vs Kurilin was solid. Obviously Kurilin had taken Yamucha’s spot as the guy to be stomped by the guy Goku will face in the finals.

Goku vs Piccolo Jr? Easily my favorite fight in the original Dragon Ball maybe one of the entire series. It’s just brutal. Had this been the series finale it would have beem great way to end things.

User avatar
Namekian Warrior
Posts: 18805
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:23 am
Location: VA

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by ABED » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:19 pm

MasenkoHA wrote:Goku vs Piccolo Jr? Easily my favorite fight in the original Dragon Ball maybe one of the entire series. It’s just brutal. Had this been the series finale it would have beem great way to end things.
One of my favorite moments in the battle is when Goku has been shot through the chest, and both arms and legs rendered useless and still tells his friends not to help. He's so sure he can still win. Sure, we know it's true and he wins in decisive fashion, but man does he ever have faith in his abilities given the circumstances.
The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds. It's to be within reach.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott
Happiness is climate, not weather.

User avatar
Born 'n Bred Here
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:38 pm
Location: The tallest tower in West City

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by KBABZ » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:19 am

Is this where I say Videl for the hundredth time?

Since we're on brutal fights, while it isn't in a TB, one of the most gut-wrenching moments for me was when Daimao slowly breaks Goku's limbs with the rocks. The amount of agony Goku is going through at such a young age is terrible. The shot that sells it for me is when a rock coldly thunks onto the ground with a line of blood hanging off of it. Eeeesh.

User avatar
Kicks it Old-School
Posts: 8842
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by RandomGuy96 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:06 am

I'm genuinely not sure if this thread is serious or if it was constructed as an elaborate joke mocking people who thought that the ToP (particularly in the manga) "wasted" characters.
The Monkey King wrote:
RandomGuy96 wrote:
dbgtFO wrote: Please elaborate as I do not know what you mean by "pushing Vegeta's destruction"
He's probably referring to the Bardock special. Zarbon was the one who first recommended destroying Planet Vegeta because the saiyans were rapidly growing in strength.
It was actually Beerus disguised as Zarbon #StayWoke
Herms wrote:The fact that the ridiculous power inflation is presented so earnestly makes me just roll my eyes and snicker. Like with Freeza, where he starts off over 10 times stronger than all his henchmen except Ginyu (because...well, just because), then we find out he can transform and get even more powerful, and then he reveals he can transform two more times, before finally coming out with the fact that he hasn't even been using anywhere near 50% of his power. Oh, and he can survive in the vacuum of space. All this stuff is just presented as the way Freeza is, without even an attempt at rationalizing it, yet the tone dictates we're supposed to take all this silly grasping at straws as thrilling danger. So I guess I don't really take the power inflation in the Boo arc seriously, but I don't take the power inflation in earlier arcs seriously either, so there's no net loss of seriousness. I think a silly story presented as serious is harder to accept than a silly story presented as silly.

User avatar
The Time Traveller
I Live Here
Posts: 3451
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 1:32 pm
Location: UK

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by The Time Traveller » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:41 am

This has me imagining how intense the Cell Games could have gotten if out of nowhere Chappa-O, Namu, Giran, Panputt, Hacchan and Tsuru-sennin with new students showed up out of nowhere to fight Cell.

User avatar
Dr. Casey
Posts: 786
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2007 7:05 pm

Re: Tenkaichi Budokai Contestants Who Wasted Their Potential

Post by Dr. Casey » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:34 pm

I've always strongly felt that Chaozu vs. Tao Pai Pai should have been on-screen; given the minimal amount of involvement Chaozu has in the series, I don't think any opportunity to focus on him should have been passed over.
Princess Snake avatars courtesy of Kunzait, Chibi Goku avatar from Velasa.

Post Reply