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Animerica November 1996 (Volume 4, Number 11)

Animerica Explains it All!

Dragon Ball, Then and Now

So what DID happen to Goku and Bulma and Yamcha and the others between DRAGON BALL and DRAGON BALL Z? Perhaps if we listen in on a conversation between a wise, knowing Elder and one poor, befuddled youth from the planet Namek, we’ll have a better idea of what happened then and what’s happening now. ONLY IN ANIMERICA!

“What was that? You’re confused?”

“Yes, Elder. I mean, the last I remember, Goku was this little kid traveling with this girl named ‘Bloomer,’ or something, and this ‘desert bandit’ guy whose name sounded like ‘Yummycha,’ plus these two shapeshifters who looked like animals, a pig and a cat. Everyone was trying to stop this weird little blue guy from getting the dragon balls. I think the blue guy was named after some Earth food.

“Anyway, the thing is, for some reason, Goku and the others are all grown up now, and there are all these new people who I’ve never seen before, plus there are all these enemies that I’ve never even heard of! What’s going on!? I’m only an egg, Elder, I know that, but would you please explain it all to me…?”

“Now, now young one, no need to work yourself up into a tizzy. Keeping track of what happened back then and what’s happening now is nowhere near as difficult as it looks. As you know, the story of the dragon balls takes place on the planet Earth, which is very different from our home, planet Namek. You know that our peaceful Namekian hierarchy is based on each of our villages, right?”

“Sure! Each village has some old guy who– Uh, I mean, a revered Elder, just like you, sir.”

“Ahem. Yes. As a Namekian, you know that you were born to perform one and only one function, one which will define your entire life, right?”

“Oh, yes, sir! Isn’t it like that everywhere?”

“Heavens, no! Earthlings have no idea what to do with themselves, poor things. They’re constantly fighting amongst themselves to see who’ll be the leaders, who’ll be the followers, who will reap, who will sow, that sort of thing.”

“That sounds so… so dangerous! I bet they get into a lot of fights that way. Can Earthlings regenerate limbs like we can?”

“No, unfortunately, they can’t. Compared to our fine, green strength, they’re very soft and pink. They depend on their anti-gravity vehicles, and the inventions of the Capsule Corporation–which manufactures marvelous gadgets, even if they are designed by Earthers–to protect themselves from the elements. They don’t even have antennae like we do.”

“Gee, Earth people must be very weak!”

“That’s not completely true. Not many of them are really very strong, but some of them are surprisingly good fighters, if only because they’ve learned to focus their energies through their studies of what they call the ‘martial arts.'”

“Like that great, big energy blast Goku learned to use, the Kamekameha? That was cool! Pow!! So his teacher was a…?”

“Yes, Goku’s teacher was a martial artist named Master Roshi. If you remember, when we last saw him, Master Roshi, the one they sometimes call Kame-Sen’nin or the ‘Turtle Hermit,’ was living on an island with his turtle friend. When the little blue man you mention–his name was Pilaf, by the way, and yes, he was indeed named after an Earth food–was defeated through a…ah…through a fortunate accident, Goku’s party was imprisoned–”

“I remember! That’s when he turned into a great, big monster, and–”

“–into a giant version of an Earth creature called a ‘monkey’ at first sight of the full moon, which is his nature. The group managed to stop him by cutting off his tail, and–”

“–wait, wait. I never did understand that part. Why does Goku turn into a monster when the moon is full? When he turns back into a human again–he does turn back, doesn’t he?–does he remember what he did when he was a monkey?”

“He turns into a ‘monster,’ as you call it, because he’s not human at all, but a Saiyan. (And yes, he does turn back after a certain amount of time.) Even you, young as you are, surely must have heard of the Saiyans, a devastating and relentless warrior race. Saiyans are obsessed with strength–as strong as they are, it seems only logical–and they train continually to become even more treacherous and deadly. The distinguishing features of their race are, first, their monkey-like tails, which they typically wear curled around their waists and, second, their ability to change into fearsome ‘beasts’ when the moon is full.”

“Wow! Now that you mention it, I do remember Goku’s tail! That must be why Goku is so strong, huh.”

“Indeed, when the Saiyans wish to subjugate a planet, they begin by judging how sophisticated that world’s defense must be before sending a representative. Some worlds are judged to be so backward that one of their young–even more young than you, my child!–is enough to destroy all life on the planet. Such was the case with Earth.”

“With Earth!? But…is that how Goku came to Earth?”

“Yes, well something like that. Goku was sent to Earth in a space capsule shortly after his birth, just before his home planet was destroyed. The space capsule was then discovered by a kindly old man named Son Gohan, who tried to raise the unruly infant, which was a difficult matter, for even as babies, Saiyans are wild and uncontrollable. But then, the young Goku sustained a severe head injury which radically altered his personality from belligerent, brutal, and hateful, to the pleasant, happy, and playful soul with whom you are familiar.”

“Gee, I guess that explains a lot, doesn’t it. But I still don’t know what happened after he and his friends lost all the dragon balls, and then he…”

“Now, now, take it slow. One thing at a time. You see, after that adventure with the tail and whatnot, Goku left his friends Bulma and Yamcha and the others to take up martial arts training with Master Roshi, the same man who developed the Kamehameha. Shortly after starting his training, Goku was joined by Krillin, a short, bald, young monk (you might even have called him ‘sneaky’ back then) who had also sought out Master Roshi to learn his own form of ‘martial arts.’ Krillin and Goku were bitter rivals at first, but grew to be very close friends as they endured the rigorous training regiment set out for them by their teacher, who treated them with equal discipline.”

“Then what happened?”

“Then Goku, Krillin, Yamcha and Master Roshi (in disguise) entered the Tenka-Ichi Budôkai, a fighting tournament where the fiercest fighters from all over the Earth come to test their skills.”

“Wow! Who won?”

“Well, Goku’s group all made it into the top eight, and Master Roshi triumphed over Goku in the final round, on some technicality, I believe. Then, after the tournament, Goku set out for more adventure, meeting interesting people such as the wise cat Karin, who cooks magic restoration beans called ‘senzu.’ Then Goku ran into the Red Ribbon Army–‘RR’ for short–who were also seeking the dragon balls. This was the most vicious and ruthless organization Goku had run into at that point, and he had to deal with their troops, monsters, androids, and even a dreaded assassin named Tao Pai-Pai. After that, Goku and his friends all ran into some supernatural forces–ah, perhaps it’s best if we don’t go into too many details–suffice it to say, Goku had a brief reunion with his foster ‘grandfather,’ Son Gohan.”

“But I thought Goku’s grandfather was dead?”

“Well…let’s not get into that right now. They reunited, okay? Let’s leave it at that. The group then went to the next Tenka-Ichi Budôkai tournament. It was here they were introduced to Tsuru-Sen’nin or, as I believe the Earthers call him, the ‘Crane Hermit,’ an ex-classmate and rival teacher of Master Roshi. They also met Tsuru-Sen’nin’s students, Tien and Chiaotzu.”

“And who are they?”

“Tien, otherwise known as Tenshinhan, is a tall, muscular, bald man, with a third eye in this middle of his forehead. He was also the first person Goku encountered who could fly without the assistance of an external force (recall that Goku, at least in the early days, was obliged to use that flying nimbus that only the pure of heart could ride, the ‘kintôun,’ to get around). Tenshinhan is unusual is that he possesses the capability to regenerate his body, somewhat like we do. In one fight, he grew an extra pair of arms; in another, he divided himself into four separate bodies, each able to think, act and attack independently. But in this tournament, his master Tsuru-Sen’nin insisted that he cheat in order to win over Goku, and the disgusted Tien finally ended up leaving his master to travel with Goku’s group instead. Where you find Tien, you will always find Chiaotzu, his loyal little traveling companion. Chiaotzu’s white skin, red cheeks, and vacant stare make him look somewhat like a…well, I suppose you wouldn’t know this, but he does look a bit like a Chinese doll. At any rate, he is a noble little prince with the ability to levitate and perform what you might think of as telekinesis.”

“That’s cool–!”

“Calm yourself, young one. I’m trying to remember how things turned out. Hmm, let’s see…. Ah, yes. Tien and Chiaotzu renounced their teacher and became Goku’s friends, but just when all seemed well, someone discovered that Krillin had been murdered in the dressing room area.”

Murdered!? But…how did he…?”

“I’ll explain, youngster; be patient. This was the first time when the Great Demon King Piccolo or ‘Piccolo Daimaoh‘ made his presence known to Goku.”

“So Piccolo was a bad guy–! But he’s a Namekian! How could he be bad!?”

“Well, Piccolo is an interesting creature. He left our planet long ago in his spaceship and exiled himself on Earth because he realized that he was the only Namekian that possessed the capacity for evil. Once there, he purged the evil from himself and was effectively split into two separate entities. One of the Piccolos set himself up as overseer of the planet, calling himself ‘Kami-sama,’ or ‘God,’ or ‘Lord Kami,” and that Piccolo lived in a bowl-shaped castle in the sky. The other half of Piccolo became Piccolo Daimaoh, the ‘Great Demon King.’ Piccolo Daimaoh was seeking the dragon balls.”

“What did he want the dragon balls for?”

“I will explain. First, remember that the dragon balls are seven crystal balls, each of which is marked with red stars, varying in number from one to seven. When all seven balls are collected together, the Eternal Dragon will appear, and the one who holds the balls will be granted one wish. The Dragon’s power is so great that he can grant any wish imaginable, be it power, untold wealth, or immortality. However, once the wish is granted, the dragon balls are once again scattered to the four corners of the Earth, where they await the next determined seeker.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know all this part.”

“Don’t be so impatient, youngster! This is important. Piccolo wished to eliminate competition for the dragon balls, so he decided to rid the world of anyone strong enough to get in his way. This is why he struck out at people who competed in the tournament. Piccolo’s plan was successful–he summoned the Eternal Dragon, wished for his youth to be restored, and his power increased. When that wish was granted, he killed the Eternal Dragon.”

“He killed Shenlong!? But how– What–”

“Don’t worry, things were not quite as bad as they seemed. Piccolo began a reign of terror over the Earth, but at the same time, Goku was learning how to harness the power of his beast transformation, and he was eventually able to beat Piccolo. However, even as he was defeated, the dying Piccolo managed to form an egg that would eventually hatch a newborn Piccolo with all of his old memories and abilities intact, and he sent the egg flying toward the horizon.”

“So Piccolo was beaten, at least for the time being and then… Wait, wait. What about the dragon? Did that mean there were no more dragon balls on Earth?”

“Goku’s next task was to see if there was a way to restore the Eternal Dragon, because, as you’ve guessed, no Eternal Dragon means no dragon balls! To do this, Goku sought an audience with Lord Kami in his castle in the sky. After many adventures, Goku finally met Lord Kami, and was naturally shocked to learn that Lord Kami looked just like Piccolo! Goku then learned all about how Piccolo had come to Earth, and how he had, in fact, duplicated the Earthly dragon balls from the originals here on Namek. In other words, the dragon balls on Earth weren’t the original ones at all, but copies. Are you following this…?”

“Huh? Oh, sure. They had their dragon balls on Earth, but we Namekians have the original ones here–which are much bigger than the ones on Earth. And our Eternal Dragon ‘Polunga’ is bigger and grants three wishes instead of just one. Right?”

“Right. Lord Kami restored their Dragon, and Goku and his friends wished for the restoration of everyone who had been killed by Piccolo.”

“Wow, that’s incredible. I mean, what was there left to do after something like that…?”

“Then, they went to the next tournament. Goku had stayed for some time at Lord Kami’s castle to train with him, but by the time of the next Tenka-Ichi Budôkai, Goku’s friends were surprised to see that he was now no longer a little boy, but a man. Goku had grown up.”

“So is that where we are now?”

“Not quite yet. This was a rather eventful tournament; oh, yes, it was indeed. Goku decided [sic] uphold the childhood promise he had made to that little girl, Chi-Chi–remember her? she had that helmet with the blade?–that someday, he and Chi-Chi would eventually marry. Anyway, before they could think about getting married, a reborn Piccolo–remember the egg?–managed to trap and imprison Lord Kami, who had gone to the tournament in disguise hoping to do the same to the new, evil Piccolo. Goku and the evil Piccolo were forced to fight again, and before the battle was over, the entire countryside for miles around had been laid waste. When the dust had settled, though, Goku had refused to let Lord Kami dispose of the battered Piccolo, and actually gave him one of the cat-like Karin’s senzu or physical restoration beans.”

“But why?”

“Because Goku had come to respect him as a fighter. You must remember that Goku is a very pure-hearted person, and he felt that Piccolo deserved another chance. And though Piccolo was angry about his loss, he had also gained some respect for Goku. And so he decided to settle his differences with Goku another time.”

“Is that the end?”

“Almost, child. Almost. Saying goodbye to his friends, Goku left with Chi-Chi, and they traveled to her father’s kingdom–the Ox king of Fire Mountain, if you recall–and had a few adventures of their own. They were wed shortly afterward. Then, some years later, Goku brought their young son to meet Bulma and Krillin at Master Roshi’s house…which was then interrupted by the arrival of Goku’s older brother, Raditz. And that brings us up to date, more or less. Now do you understand?”

“Boy…that’s sure a lot to keep track of, but I think it all makes sense now. Thank you, Elder. I am only an egg.”

“You’re quite welcome, young one. Run along now.”


Transcription & Notes: VegettoEX