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Manga Guide

The Adventure of Tongpoo


The Adventure of Tongpoo Title Page

トンプー大冒険   ザアドベンチャオブトンプー

Tonpū Dai-bōken   Za Adobenchā Obu Tonpū

Tongpoo’s Great Adventure   The Adventure of Tongpoo

Chapter Information

Premiered: 29 November 1983 (Weekly Shōnen Jump, 1983 #52 Issue)
Corresponding: n/a

Availability:
Bird Land Press 19 (July 1985) — Bird Land Press 23 (January 1987) ; Akira Toriyama Preservation Society (fan club) newsletter
Dragon Ball Adventure Special (18 November 1987); mook
Akira Toriyama’s ____piece Theatre, Vol. 2 (10 March 1988); tankōbon
An Emperor’s Feast of Akira Toriyama, Vol. 1 (08 August 2008); bunko

Chapter Summary

“Planet 12”, the twelfth ship sent out to investigate alien planets, drifts through space with its sole crew member, Tongpoo.

Tongpoo is awoken from his sleep chamber, and after some incidents washing up and using a butt-cleaning device that takes up a significant portion of the entire space ship, he gets on with his mission of checking out this new alien planet. The only trouble is, however, that no planet is to be seen and the ship’s emergency warning is going off. Tongpoo uses the computer system to find out that engine number two is damaged, and the ship is set to explode in under a minute.

Scrambling to his scout ship and escaping just in time, Tongpoo figures he will have to just keep flying until he runs out of fuel and then swim the rest of the way… if he can even swim in space. Spotting a planet close by, Tongpoo lands to find it mostly covered by water, but with a few islands and decent air quality. Tongpoo boils up some water and drops in his number 12 capsule to produce a hoverbike. He comes across a wrecked spaceship and swims inside to check it out, only to discover it is actually Planet 8, a ship that left two years before him! Tongpoo figures the three crew members must have landed here and had trouble. He stumbles across one dead pilot, who had clearly been shot through the chest, so Tongpoo readies his own pistol. Peeking over a rock, Tongpoo spots a girl taking a bath.

After briefly breaking each other out, the girl asks Tongpoo if he knows how to use a machine gun she has nearby. Tongpoo politely explains how to use it, only to have her turn around and fire on him with it! Tongpoo tries to reason with her, explaining that he is also a human; he proves it by answering that the tallest mountain on Earth is Mt. Everest. Settling down, the two chat out how the three crew members arrived, but two days later an alien spaceship also arrived, and the alien who emerged killed the other two. The girl says that she hid the whole time, which is the only reason she is still alive, but has been struggling ever since. Tongpoo decides to bring the girl — named “Plamo” — back to his “house”. Plamo does not see a house, though. Tongpoo says she must not know about the capsules, and uses #4 to produce a full house! Plamo digs in to a boxed lunch while Tongpoo is satisfied with his (rather gross) drink. Plamo has no idea where this planet is, so Tongpoo wonders why she was selected for this research. Plamo takes out a spoon to show her supernatural powers… and an hour later, the spoon has indeed bent a tiny bit. Plamo wonders why Tongpoo was chosen, to which he answers that she will see.

After a failed attempt at washing up together, Plamo busts out a sexy dress that she says is part of her plan to distract the alien and steal their spaceship. Tongpoo wonders if aliens would even care about her looks.

As the planet’s sun rises and wakes up its inhabitants, Tongpoo and Plamo take off on the hoverbike in search of the alien and its spaceship. They spot the ship in the distance, and when it seems like the alien is nowhere to be seen, Tongpoo rushes in. Tongpoo peeks around trying to figure out the layout of the ship while Plamo makes her way inside, as well. Tongpoo finds the control room and decides he will bomb the spaceship from the fuel room. While he doesn’t have a bomb, he does have a grenade; Tongpoo runs back to the ship’s kitcken, grabs some ice, and creates a makeshift time bomb: when the ice melts, the grenade latch between the two cubes will open and detonate.

Tongpoo rushes out only to find Plamo captured by the alien… who thinks the alien must be gay since the sexy outfit did not sway him. Tongpoo goes to fire his pistol, but the alien shoots a much larger gun right through Tongpoo. The alien attempts to eat Plamo, but she somehow manages to get free. Tongpoo is suddenly back on his feet, even with a hole through him! The alien keeps firing at Tongpoo, but he is a cyborg! Completely angry now, Tongpoo unleashes on the alien, knocking him out with a couple swift punches. It is just then that Tongpoo remembers the grenade which is about to explode, so he grabs Plamo (who is distracted and smacking the unconscious alien with a stick) and runs away just in time.

Back at the capsule house, Tongpoo and Plamo try to figure out what to do next. With only the tiny little scout ship, they will never make it back to Earth, so they will have to look for another nearby planet. Tongpoo says the ship is only made for one person, but Plamo knows exactly how to handle that.

With Tongpoo hanging on for dear life atop the ship, Plamo flies off in search of another planet. Their adventures are only just beginning!

Chapter Notes

Publication

  • Original Serialization: Weekly Shōnen Jump
    The Adventure of Tongpoo debuted in 1983 #52 issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump.
  • Fanclub Newsletter: Bird Land Press
    The Adventure of Tongpoo was broken up into parts and reprinted in the 19th through 23rd issues of Bird Land Press, the newsletter of the Akira Toriyama Preservation Society (the author’s official fanclub).
  • Guide Book: Dragon Ball Adventure Special
    The Dragon Ball series’ first guide book, the Adventure Special from November 1987, reprinted both chapters of Dragon Boy as well as The Adventure of Tongpoo.
  • Compilation Reprint #1: Akira Toriyama’s ____piece Theatre
    The Adventure of Tongpoo was compiled in 1988’s second Akira Toriyama’s ___piece Theatre (鳥山明○作劇場 Toriyama Akira Maru-saku Gekijō) volume, a tankōbon release collecting Today’s Highlight Island, Escape, Pink, both chapters of Dragon Boy, The Adventure of Tongpoo, Mr. Hō, Kennosuke-sama, and Sonchoh. This collection was re-released, with some changes to the order and exact contents of each volume, under the convenience-store exclusive Shueisha Jump Remix branding/format in 2003.
  • Compilation Reprint #2: An Emperor’s Feast of Akira Toriyama
    The Adventure of Tongpoo was compiled in 2008’s first An Emperor’s Feast of Akira Toriyama (鳥山明満漢全席 Toriyama Akira Mankanzenseki) volume, a bunko release collecting Sonchoh, Lady Red, Mr. Hō, both chapters of Dragon Boy, and Go! Go! Ackman.

Chronology

Alongside The Adventure of Tongpoo in this 1983 #52 issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump (released 29 November 1983), Akira Toriyama is at chapter 199 in Dr. Slump, a series he will be wrapping up the following August with chapter 236. Previous professional one-shots up to this point have included:

  • 1978: Wonder Island, Wonder Island 2
  • 1979: Today on Hairai Island, Gal Detective Tomato
  • 1981: Pola & Roid, Escape
  • 1982: Mad Matic, Pink
  • 1983: Chobit, Chobit 2, Dragon Boy (parts 1 and 2)

Title

  • The series’ name is provided with a Japanese title of トンプー大冒険 (Tonpū Dai-bōken), or “Tongpoo’s Great Adventure”. An English-language title is provided directly alongside this, however, as “The Adventure of Tongpoo”.

Characters

  • Tongpoo:
    The protagonist’s name is written in katakana as トンプー (Tonpū), but is given a “Tongpoo” spelling in both the title as well as in alphabet letters within the illustrations of the comic itself. The name is a representation of the Chinese 東風 (dōng fēng), which literally means “east wind” and metaphorically “winds of change”. It has also been used as a song title on Yellow Magic Orchestra’s self-titled debut album with the same spelling in Latin letters, and this is may be where Toriyama (who mentioned the band in his earliest interview) got it from. In contrast with other robotic-organic hybrid characters in Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball, Tongpoo explicitly refers to himself as a サイボーグ (saibōgu), or “cyborg”.
  • Plamo:
    Plamo’s name is written in katakana as プラモ (Puramo). This is simply the Japanese word プラモ (puramo) or “plamo”, a portmanteau blending the words “plastic model(s/ing)”, one of Toriyama’s favorite hobbies.

Items

  • Capsules:
    The いろいろカプセル (iroiro kapuseru) — or “Variety Capsules” — are named as such due to their ability to house a variety of items. They are a clear precursor to Dragon Ball’s Hoipoi Capsules, which perform the same function.
  • “Mr. Slump”:
    After retiring inside the capsule house, Plamo can be seen reading “Mr. Slump”, an obvious nod to Toriyama’s then-still-in-serialization Dr. Slump series.

Author’s Comment

  • Each issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump featured short comments from the various series’ authors, giving fans a brief insight into their current thoughts, ranging from series-related announcements to trivial happenings in their personal lives. Akira Toriyama’s comments from this issue were:

    読切の直しが3回もだから時間もキツキツ。デキはどうだった? <明>

    I had to revise this one-shot three whole times, so I was really tight on time. How’d it turn out? <Akira>

Connections & References

  • Tongpoo’s design with the helmet, goggles, and satchel are very similar to that of Toriyama’s later design for the player’s hero character in the video game Dragon Quest II (minus the sword and shield), which would not be released for a little over three years.
  • Tongpoo’s capsules are reminiscent of what we will later see in Dragon Ball, minus the need for hot water. The capsule house itself — along with Tongpoo’s interactions with Plamo while inside — are effectively lifted wholesale for early Dragon Ball.
  • Plamo firing on Tongpoo is reminiscent of Bulma and Goku’s first encounter.
  • The alien’s design is similar to that of the xenomorphs in the Alien franchise, a design that has been and will continue to be used for various aliens, monsters, and robots over the course of Toriyama’s career.
  • Plamo’s pose when showing off the revealing outfit is near-identical to the pose Bulma will use at the beginning of Dragon Ball when trying to coerce Goku, while Plamo’s plan itself (and Tongpoo’s thoughts on it even working) is reminiscent of what will happen later in the Red Ribbon arc with Bulma and Blue.
  • The (fanservice-y here) camera angle behind Plamo and Tongpoo on the hoverbike is a favorite of Toriyama’s, having been used in Pink, and resurfacing again later in Dragon Ball.
  • Tongpoo’s initial encounter with the alien clutching Plamo is similar to Goku’s encounter with the Pteranodon kidnapping Bulma in the first Dragon Ball chapter:

    … while Tongpoo’s assault on the alien is similar to Goku’s assault on the bandit bear in the third Dragon Ball chapter:

Interview References

  • In the Shenlong Times supplemental pamphlet accompanying the second Daizenshuu in 1995, Akira Toriyama and his original editor Kazuhiko Torishima touched on Toriyama’s work post-Dr. Slump. While not cited by name itself, The Adventure of Tongpoo is indirectly cited as the one-shot published in Weekly Shōnen Jump prior to creating Dragon Ball:

    Torishima: While we were thinking of what to do for the next serialized work after Dr. Slump ended, Toriyama drew various one-shots for Weekly Jump and Monthly Fresh Jump.

    Toriyama: I certainly did draw a lot of them. I had, who knows how many, painstaking meetings with Torishima-san.

    Torishima: But the reception wasn’t very good.

    Toriyama: Even though we had all these painstaking meetings. (laughs)

    Torishima: Then after Dr. Slump ended, there was a good response to Dragon Boy, which had been drawn without too many meetings beforehand.

    Toriyama: With that nice response, I felt “Ah, there’s this track, this just might work out.” And this time I had wanted a boy as the protagonist.
     — Akira Toriyama & Kazuhiko Torishima, Dragon Ball Daizenshuu 2: Story Guide Supplemental Shenlong Times Pamphlet (read full interview)

Page Breakdown

The Adventure of Tongpoo has only ever been printed and re-released in its original black and white palette.