Rumor Guide

Our Rumor Guide here at Kanzenshuu is an extensive collection of articles with comprehensive, well-researched, well-documented deep-dives into some of the most prevalent rumors in Dragon Ball fandom. There is always more to every story, so be sure to follow along with any additional links provided throughout the articles!

Akira Toriyama Forgot Lunch

Rumor Status
False… (but he thinks he did!)

Early on in the Dragon Ball series, Lunch is introduced as a friend and side-character to the main group of fighters. With her unexplained “ability” to transform upon sneezing, there is always an air of unpredictability around her. At the very least, a guns-blazing blonde Lunch guarantees you front-row seats at any given tournament!

Lunch is set up as a possible love interest for Tenshinhan — slightly more so in the television series adaptation courtesy of extra filler material in Dragon Ball Z — but despite her long history with the main cast, she is effectively written out of the series in the Saiyan arc. Lunch’s final appearance in the manga is in chapter 194 (published 27 September 1988), standing alongside Tenshinhan as Chiaotzu flies back in at the end of the 23rd Tenka’ichi Budōkai.

A mere two chapters later in the series’ publication, in chapter 196 (published 08 October 1988), the story has skipped ahead five years to kick off the Saiyan arc. Bulma makes her entrance at Kame House, and after losing her cool over Yamcha, asks where Lunch is; Kuririn responds that she took off after Tenshinhan five years ago, and they have not seen her since.

BULMA: “Huh? For that matter, where’s Lunch-san?”
KURIRIN: “Five years ago she went off somewhere chasing after Tenshinhan-san.”

At this point, Lunch is never referenced or seen again in the manga. The only exception is an intended cameo which never came to be. In the special “Secret Stories of the Dragon Ball Characters” Q&A column in the seventh Daizenshuu, Akira Toriyama is asked where Lunch went, to which he responds:

Lunch went off chasing after Tenshinhan. Tenshinhan would also go from place to place while training with Chiaotzu, so they’d never meet up. But surely they’ve managed to miraculously cross paths.

This explanation is the same as is given in the series: Lunch went chasing after Tenshinhan, and it’s just that we never see her again. Toriyama continues, though, saying:

When No. 17 appeared near the end of the series, he was actually Lunch in the draft.

In chapter 515 (originally published 18 April 1995), we see various old friends donating to Goku’s Genki-Dama: Snow, Hatchan, and No. 17! Curiously, 17’s dialog makes little sense:

“…I see, so that’s how it is…”
“…Hmph…It’s been a long time since I’ve heard his voice too…”

No. 17 never actually met Goku in the course of the original series (something that is directly referenced during Dragon Ball Super when Goku seeks him out as a team recruit during the Universe Survival arc). When you consider that this scene was originally supposed to have Lunch and the dialog was simply left unchanged despite the character swap, it makes much more sense! Perhaps as a nod to these plans, Lunch is shown in the television series donating energy to the Genki-Dama.

Lunch did in fact receive a little bit more attention from Toriyama following her departure in the original manga and before the end of the series:

The 1989 Dragon Ball Z Anime Special magazine/book notes that it was Toriyama who came up with the scene in the Dragon Ball Z television series where Lunch reaches Karin Tower, running in to Upa and Bora (two other characters that had not been seen in a long time, and who likewise would contribute to the Genki-Dama at the end of the series).

The 2003 Son Goku Densetsu anime guide book mentions that “Tenshinhan and Lunch’s relationship” was part of the material Toriyama outlined for what the characters did in the year leading up to Vegeta and Nappa’s arrival on Earth. This could just be a reference to the previously mentioned scene with Lunch following Tenshinhan to Karin Tower, or it could also mean that the filler scene where Lunch meets up with Tenshinhan and Chiaotzu at a waterfall was also Toriyama’s idea.

For the Weekly Shōnen Jump 1991 #3-4 double issue (published 19 December 1990), Toriyama contributed a short quasi-Christmas-themed comic featuring various characters and what each of them is up to during the battle of Planet Namek, which was later republished in the seventh Daizenshuu:

KAME-SEN’NIN: “Hum hum hum ♪”
LUNCH: “Damn, where did that jerk Tenshinhan go off to?”
OOLONG: “Snore, snore”
BULMA: “Hey, go!! Look out!!”
YAMCHA: “Can I look now?”
TENSHINHAN: “Not yet!”

Lunch also appears across the spine of tankōbon volumes 21 through 24, released over the course of 1990, though it is unclear when Toriyama may have planned out and actually drawn each corresponding image:





So with this all being said: if Lunch is effectively written-out in the weeks following her last on-page appearance, and when supplemental Toriyama material clearly indicates what Lunch is up to out in the world, how could she have been “forgotten” when the explanation is right there in the story? Particularly due to the way the series was produced by FUNimation in North America, fans misconstrue the flow of time; what was actually just two weeks in the original manga’s publication somehow feels like an eternity to a group of fans who never had a chance to consume the series in chronological order.

(FUNimation initially produced thirteen episodes of the Dragon Ball television series in 1995 before dropping it in favor of Dragon Ball Z in 1996. Their edited English dub of Z condensed roughly 67 episodes down 53 in two broadcast seasons, which themselves removed any and all scenes of Lunch… except for that one photo Bulma picks up and looks at during the Saiyan battle!)

That would normally wrap things up, were it not for the fact that Toriyama effectively forgot that he did not forget Lunch!

For the launch of Viz’s Shonen Jump print magazine in 2003, Akira Toriyama visited New York City and took various questions from fans, which were published in the magazine’s third issue (March 2003). In response to a question about Lunch disappearing after Raditz arrived, Toriyama responds:

To tell you the truth, I totally forgot about her at one point. And then I remembered her after a while and I had to think of a reason why she disappeared. So I made it seem as if she was running after Tenshinhan.

While the underlying information is accurate, Toriyama’s sense of time is equally fuzzy here. Again, Lunch’s absence is very naturally explained the coming weeks after her last appearance; there was really no time for Toriyama to have forgotten about her. While Toriyama may have indeed forgotten about Lunch at some later point in time, the way he reconciles her absence in this 2003 interview is just not accurate to the original serialization and its timeframe. It may be that Toriyama is referring to the 1990 Christmas comic and its explanation for Lunch’s disappearance, but again, her departure had already been explained in the manga by that point.

Toriyama’s most recent comment on Lunch comes from the promotional lead up to the 2013 theatrical film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, where he shared various character epilogues with the Mandō Kobayashi television program. For Tenshinhan, Toriyama stated:

Stoic Tenshinhan mainly does farming in addition to his training. He can split into multiple bodies and grow extra arms, so harvesting the crops goes quickly. He was found by Lunch, who fell in love with him at first sight and had been constantly pursuing his whereabouts, and even reluctantly lived together with her; but she wasn’t cut out for farming, and Tenshinhan has no interest in romance, so she left after just a few days. After that, it seems Lunch apparently stops in from time to time.

Lunch may be gone, but she is clearly not (entirely) forgotten!