Press Archive

Protoculture Addicts November/December 1995 (Issue 37)


Dragon Ball Characters

■ Goku

Goku is a hero for the ages. All ages. Adults love him because he’s a young boy who is pure of heart, kind, gentle and sweetly innocent around the world. The type of kid you never catch on a bad day. He loves life, lives for fun, and is always on the lookout for the next big adventure. Kids love him because he can kick butt on a giant, two-headed bully.

Taught Karate by his late Grandfather who raised him out in the wilderness, Goku is very strong, very agile and virtually fearless. He’ll take on any fight no matter what the odds if he thinks that someone has been wronged. He sports a tail, is able to fly short distances and carries a magic fighting stick that stretches to incredible lengths.

But Goku is more than just a good kid with cool hair and a great karate kick. He’s innocently naive in an endearing sort of way. It’s this naïveté that sets up a lot of DRAGON BALL’s comedy as Goku encounters the many different cultures and technologies devices that inhabit the lands he discovers during his adventures.

Yet, no matter how far from his home Goku travels, the spirit of his Grandfather is always with him, providing him with a wealth of knowledge that he can call upon in times of need. It’s Goku’s quotes of his grandfather’s views and observations about a world and life in general that keep him anchored as the temptations and intrigues of the world swirls around him. That’s what sustains him: his grandfather’s wisdom and about 200 pounds of food a day. The kid eats like a horse.

■ Bulma

Bulma is one of the most independent and determined teenagers around. She’ll do whatever it takes to get what she wants, and she won’t let anything stand in her way — not mountains, not monsters, not even pride.

Bulma is also a mixed up teenager who has blue hair, a pink outfit and a personality quirk that won’t allow her to shut up. She’s emotional, self-centered, impatient, argumentative, boy-crazy and given to fits of hysterics — pretty much your typical teenager.

Bulma is a mechanical genius who can operate and fix anything. She’s never without her case of high tech capsules which she can whip out and throw on the ground in a moment’s notice. The resulting transformation produces a hydro-copter, rocket jet, speed boat or whatever other vehicle, dwelling or aircraft she needs.

Bulma is well intentioned, has a good heart and terrific mothering instincts — attributes that make her want to just grab Goku and shake him until he gets it right. Unfortunately for Goku, she chooses to try and nag him to death instead.

■ Master Roshi

An ancient and wise master of the martial arts, Roshi has accumulated great power and knowledge. He is very old, completely bald and has a long, white beard. Since he has lived for countless years on a deserted island with only a turtle for companionship, he is also called the “Hermit Turtle.” He’s also called quirky, a kook, and a smelly old codger.

Although he may appear strange, frail and harmless, master Roshi is indeed a great warrior. He is master of the “Kamehameha,” a power which he channels through his hands, creating a wave of tremendous power that can destroy mountains.

Master Roshi’s one failing is that he’s attracted to women. Not a bad weakness, except that he’s invariably attracted to women who would rather date his turtle than him. This weakness keeps his heart from being pure and prevent him from being able to ride the Nimbus Cloud.

Master Roshi’s sidekick and moral anchor is a turtle. Whenever he starts to stray, the turtle reminds him to stay on the principled path that a wise man should travel.

■ Chi-Chi

Chi-Chi is a cute little girl: the only one with a heart pure enough to ride on the Nimbus Cloud with Goku. Being young and cute doesn’t mean Chi-Chi isn’t a brave and amazing fighter. Part of her apparel is a special helmet that has a boomerang which Chi-Chi can grab at a moment’s notice and throw with amazing accuracy to down her opponents. But then, you would expect this of Ox-king’s only daughter.

■ Yamcha

YAMCHA is a powerful, fearsome, dark-haired warrior-thief who can call upon the fearsome power of the “Wolf-Fang Fist,” a karate move he uses to vanquish enemies. He is spiritually linked with wolves and the Wolf-Fang Fist is a potent weapon that he only uses when necessary.

Initially, Yamcha seems more like a bully than a hero, but he comes around when he meets the others and becomes infatuated with Bulma. Although normally incredibly cool, confident and under control, he is preposterously shy, often to the point of debilitation, around women. A problem his sidepick Puar tries to help him with  unsuccessfully so far.

■ Oolong

Oolong is a sarcastic, abrasive, cowardly, self-centered creep, but in a likable and endearing way. A short, pig-creature who disdains everyone, save for beautiful women, he has one key shortcoming: when given the slightest opportunity, he’ll lie, steal, or cheat if it will help his best interests. Other than that, he’s a great guy.

Despite his failings, Oolong has become an integral member of the team of good guys. After a rocky beginning terrorizing a small village, he joins the group in their quest for the Dragon Balls.

A talented shapeshifter, Oolong can transform into a wide assortment of fearsome monsters, regular people or even useful things, such as motorcycles, boats or rockets. However, his amazing shape-shifting powers are actually very limited, and he can only shapeshift for about five minutes before he needs to rest.

■ Ox-king

Ox-king is a huge, muscular hulk. He’s larger than Goku and all his friends put together, and his strength matches his incredible size.

Ox-king is known far and wide for his incredible fighting ability. He’ll do anything to protect his home and his precious daughter.

Can anybody defeat Ox-king, including Goku? He knows Goku’s grandpa and trained under Master Roshi.

The Bad Guys

There are countless hordes of villains running amok through the mystical adventures of DRAGON BALL. Here are a few:

■ Emperor Pilaf

The Emperor is an insufferable, power-hungry dolt who wants nothing more than to rule the entire world. But, outside of ambition, he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In fact, the only thing that can be said for him is that he’s a largely incompetent ruler who succeeds in spite of himself.

Due to his great inherited wealth, Pilaf is able to afford any high-tech device or soldier of fortune that he needs in order to further his goal. Unfortunately for him, even with all his wealth he still can’t buy the Dragon Balls.

■ Mai

Mai is the Emperor’s right hand woman, and the only one he really trusts to carry out his bidding. She’s a beautiful, calculating and formidable opponent, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to seize the seat of power which currently belongs, unfairly, to the Emperor.

■ Shao

Shao is a bumbling, furry ball of comic relief. He hasn’t carried out a successful mission yet, but Pilaf keeps him around so he’s not surrounded by anyone competent enough to overthrow him. A warrior and a thief by trade, he is boastful when on top and a chicken when the going gets rough.


The following historical notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information and were not originally published in the book.

1 Unclear what the implication is here with Namekians. While there is a big of magic to the creation and use of the Dragon Balls, that is certainly not everything to their culture…
Transcription & Notes: VegettoEX