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Official Fan Fusion Designs: Part 1 (1995)


The 2016 Nintendo 3DS video game Dragon Ball Fusions brought a wealth of whimsical new fusions to the world of Dragon Ball. From the EX Fusion “Karoli” (“Kakarrot” + “Broli”) as seen right on the game’s front cover, to original characters like the “Saibaiking” (a fusion of multiple Saibaimen together), Dragon Ball Fusions and its Metamo-Ring introduced us to new fan-favorites like Piririn, Gohanks, and more!

… or did it?

Join us for a trip through history in this two-part retrospective as we share the full story behind some of the official fusion designs created by fans (as well as some other notable characters)!

PART ONE: Piririn, Gotan, Gohanks, and More!

February 1995: The Fusion Contest Begins!

The calendar rolls from 1994 to 1995. Dragon Ball has just broken the 500-chapter mark in its original Weekly Shōnen Jump serialization (and, unbeknownst to all but a select few, would be coming to a close in just a few months’ time!). Meanwhile, the television series adaptation is itself now over 400 episodes long! The series is as popular as ever, and continues to support a massive merchandising empire, along with ongoing theatrical films for the seasonal Toei Anime Fairs.

To celebrate these milestones, the “Anime J-Wing” column in Weekly Shōnen Jump announces a special contest on pages 34-35 in the 1995 No. 13 issue (published 28 February 1995 in Japan alongside chapter 508 of the original manga): their first-ever reader-participation project soliciting fan designs for new fusions, with the potential to win a 500-card Carddass Dragon Ball Super Battle Series set and an autograph from Akira Toriyama himself!

Speaking of Toriyama, none other than the original author himself is the first to throw his design chops into the ring. Riffing on a scene from episode 249 of the Dragon Ball Z television series — which sees Piccolo and Kuririn demonstrating, but not actually completing, the Metamoran fusion dance technique — Toriyama contributes a wacky design for an honest-to-goodness fusion of the two characters. Mouth agape and arms outstretched above, the stubby fusion sports Piccolo’s facial features with Kuririn’s incense marks and a distinct lack of a nose, as well as the traditional fusion vest.

What on Earth would you call this fusion? Would they be named “Piririn” (ピリリン Piririn)?!

PICCOLO + KURIRIN?!
WOULD THEY BE NAMED “PIRIRIN”?!

COME UP WITH A DREAM FUSION AND RECEIVE A SUPER-DELUXE PRIZE!!
TRUNKS: “Goten, Fusion is a really hot topic right now!”
GOTEN: “The 500th Carddass is us as Super Saiyan 3, and in the latest movie, our dads also fuse, don’t they.”
TRUNKS: “That’s why Anime J-Wing is accepting entries for the Fusions of any two Dragon Ball characters!”
GOTEN: “And if they come up with a really interesting Fusion…”
TRUNKS: “They can get some awesome prizes!!”
BOTH: “We’re waiting for your super-fun Fusions!!”

WHAT’S FUSION?
It’s a merging technique that Goku learned from a Metamorian he met in the afterlife. They can become a single, new person who possesses amazing power that each one alone couldn’t hope to achieve!!

THE PATH TO SUCCESS
With the Fusion pose, if the fingers are even slightly misaligned, it will fail! Goten and Trunks even turned into scrawny and fat versions.

Entrants had to draw their fusion idea on the back of a postcard and send it with their name, address, age and phone number to Shueisha, Attn: Weekly Shōnen Jump No. 13 Anime J-Wing Dragon Ball Fusion Tournament, P.O. Box 13, Kanda Post Office, 〒119-63, postmarked by Monday, 13 March 1995. Results would be published in 1995 No. 19, set for release Tuesday, 11 April 1995.

Also included was information regarding, in commemoration of the Spring 1995 Toei Anime Fair, a “DBZ Fusion Tournament”. This was an opportunity for kids to test how well they had mastered the Fusion pose. At the same time, there would be information on the twelfth Dragon Ball Z film and a live character show featuring people dressed as Son Goku & co. (think: the Cell Game reenactment at the beginning of the Boo arc). The events were to be held in Tokyo on Sunday, 05 March 1995, on the rooftop of the Tokyu Department Store’s Toyoko (Shibuya Station) location, and in Fukuoka on the same day at the Fukuoka Rekishi-no-Machi theme park, with two rounds each starting at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

There is one little design you may notice on page 35 that has not been addressed yet: the fusion of Son Goku and Mr. Satan, “Gotan”! A theoretical fusion of these two characters had already been imagined by Goku himself in chapter 503:

The “Gotan” illustration here in Weekly Shōnen Jump is not attributed to anyone in particular, and is given as an example of a proper contest submission (a design, who it is a fusion of, what their name is, and preferably colored in). Though Goku imagined this fusion in-universe, it is not given a name there in the manga, making this the first documented case of their fusion being named “Gotan” (ゴタン Gotan), albeit with a different design.

Gotan would surface again in video games a decade later, beginning with two different forms in 2003’s Dragon Ball Z 2 on the Sony PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube. Using the character’s default costume, the fusion will result in Gotan as he appears in the manga, while using a character’s alternate costume/color will result in the fusion looking more akin to this 1995 design… though not quite the same, making this a rather unique case.

In the international editions of the game (released as Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2), the character’s name is adapted at “Gokule” combining “Goku” and the self-censored name of “Hercule” for Mr. Satan. We would of course be remiss for not mentioning Yamhan’s debut appearance in the same game… but his is a story for another time, as well!

April 1995: The Fusion Contest Results!

The weeks flew by, and after receiving 12,792 (!!!) entries — with the most popular fusions being those of Goku and Piccolo and of Bulma and Chi-Chi — Shueisha was ready to reveal the winner(s). Right on schedule, the Anime J-Wing column on pages 34-35 in the 1995 No. 19 issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump (published 11 April 1995 alongside chapter 514 of the original manga) showcased the grand-prize winner along with seven runners-up, each receiving their own specially-named prize title. In choosing the winners, the editorial team looked at both the combinations and the quality of the illustrations.

Taking the top spot was “Cell-sen’nin” (セル仙人 Seru-sen’nin) — a fusion of Cell and Kame-sen’nin — by Kazuhiro Terashita (age 16) of Hokkaido:

The glory (?!) of the grand prize was clinched by “Cell-sen’nin”, who earned points not only for the quality of the combination but for the catch-copy, “Apparently he only absorbs women”. It’s enough to make even Goten and Trunks go pale….

The runners-up were likewise an eclectic batch of designs. The “It’s Got Some Flavor, Oddly Enough Prize” (Nan da ka myō ni aji ga aru de Shō) was awarded to the slightly horrifying “Pochi” (ポチ Pochi) — a fusion of Mr. Popo and Chi-Chi — by Tomiko Muramatsu (age 15) of Yamanashi prefecture:

[caption] “No one’ll love me like this!”

There were plenty of fusions including Mr. Popo, but this one was striking. On top of being round and chubby, the name is “Pochi” [common for a small dog…]. But oddly enough, it’s got a distinct, cute flavor to it. <3

The “Super-Nostalgic Prize” was awarded to “Gokugory” (ゴクゴリー Gokugorī) — a fusion of Son Goku and Gregory — by Shin’ichi Akitsuki (age 15) of Kanagawa prefecture:

“Do you remember?!” It’s a fusion of Goku and the TV-original character designed by Toriyama-sensei, Gregory! The numbers “5” [go] and “9” [ku] on the backs of his hands are a “nice” touch.

The “Sexy Prize <3" was awarded to "Bul-Chi” (ブルチ Buruchi) — a fusion of Bulma and Chi-Chi — by Shiho Shinmoto [ED. NOTE: or Niimoto, or Aramoto; no furigana is provided on the name reading] (age 19) of Osaka prefecture:

There were plenty of Fusions of these two named “Chilma” or “Bulchichi”, but the top one was “Bul-Chi”, which took the good parts from both names. Having her wield a ladle as a weapon was also a good point. Neither Goku nor Vegeta will be able to defeat her.

The “Nice Idea Prize!!” was awarded to “Go-sen’nin” (悟仙人 Go-sen’nin) — a fusion of Son Goku and Kame-sen’nin — by Yoshitaka Takahashi (age 13) of Hokkaido:

The name is cool, but what really got our attention was the Carddass-style design. The artist has a good grasp of their characteristics, and it’s fun just to look at.

The “What the Heck is This? Prize” was awarded to “Tenbulhan” (テンブルハン Tenburuhan) — a fusion of Tenshinhan and Bulma — by Takashi Miwa (age 15) of Hiroshima prefecture:

On the contrary to “Bul-Chi” above, there were a lot of entries that fused just the weird aspects of each character. This is representative of that group. The shock of looking at it is huge!! It’s scary enough to appear in your dreams!

The “Even Boo will be Speechless Prize” was awarded to “Piccorrot” (ピコロット Pikorotto) — a fusion of Piccolo and “Kakarrot” — by Yō [ED. NOTE: or Hiroshi] Komachi (age 18) of Niigata prefecture:

Among fusions of Piccolo and Goku, which seem like they would end up being similar to Super Saiyan 3, the one that arranged the elements of both characters well was this one. It’s a mighty warrior that would leave even Majin Boo speechless.

Finally, the “Cool Prize” [Kakko ii de Shō] was awarded to “Gohanks” (ゴハンクス Gohankusu) — a fusion of Son Gohan and the teenage Trunks — by Kentarō Yabuki (age 15) of Okayama prefecture:

[caption] GOTENKS: “Whoa! I wanna fight him!”

Although it’s Gohan and Trunks, the use of teenage Trunks in this one caught our eye. The costume, a fusion of both of their outfits, is also well-thought out. We have no complaints about his coolness!!

Kentarō Yabuki

… wait a second, Kentarō Yabuki? Indeed, the same Kentarō Yabuki that won the fusion contest “Cool Prize” in 1995 at the young age of 15 would go on to publish manga in the same pages of Jump as his childhood idol, Akira Toriyama! Following his professional debut a few years earlier, Yabuki hit it big in 2000 with the series Black Cat (which ran until 2004 and received a television series adaptation). Yabuki continues working in manga illustration to this day, from 2006’s To Love-Ru to the ongoing manga adaptation of the 2018 animated series Darling in the Franxx.

Over the course of 2002-2004, Shueisha released the kanzenban edition of the Dragon Ball manga: a larger-format print of the series on higher-quality paper, packing more chapters per volume resulting in a 34-volume run (down from the original 42), and with new cover artwork from Akira Toriyama. Every-other volume also came packed with a special pamphlet promoting various Shueisha series and products, as well as an original illustration from a popular Jump artist expressing their love for Dragon Ball. For the seventh volume in June 2003, Yabuki was selected to provide this illustration and comment:

“Do you remember me?”
“Of course I remember you! You’re Vegeta-Yabuki!!”

That was a conversation in my third year of junior high, between me and an elementary-school friend I hadn’t heard from in a few years. During elementary school and junior high, I changed schools three times due to my parents’ work, from Okayama to Kōchi, from there to Kita-Kyūshū, and then back to Okayama. He was a friend from when I was in Kōchi, and for whatever reason, his strongest impression of me was apparently that I was good at drawing Vegeta.

Ever since I was in elementary school, if I had free time, I’d spend it doing nothing but drawing. And, the things I’d draw would always be Goku, or Vegeta, or Freeza… Characters from Dragon Ball, which I loved. Once I was able to draw characters off the top of my head to an extent, I’d then draw an original Tenka’ichi Budōkai manga, and make Goku fight against a character of my own design. And, the winner would always be Goku. Come to think of it, everything I learned about how to draw manga, from the expressive techniques, to dividing up the panels, I learned from Dragon Ball. If not for Dragon Ball, I might never have wanted to become a manga artist. More than anything, Dragon Ball taught me “the joy of drawing manga”.

Speaking of which, my debut in Jump wasn’t with my own manga, but with Dragon Ball. Around the end of my third year in junior high, there was a “Fusion Contest” promotion in Jump, where you had to create an original character by making any two characters from Dragon Ball do Fusion. I fused together my favorite characters at the time, teenage Gohan and teenage Trunks, to create a character called “Gohanks”; I drew an illustration and sent it in. Then, I got an award called the “Cool Prize” (heh), and it ran, relatively large, in the color pages of Jump. That experience really moved me.

It’s been about eight years since then, but even now, where I work, I still have a bunch of figures of Goku and company that I collected back then on display. When I get tired from drawing my own manga, I’ll draw things like Cell and Freeza in Toriyama-style in the margins of my notebook. Doing that, I feel strangely excited, and I get more energy. Nothing has changed since elementary school. I believe I’ll keep on drawing manga.

The End…?

Fusion would prove to be a popular topic in the Anime J-Wing column, with the 1995 No. 28 issue later that same year jumping on the hype train for Vegetto appearing in the television series (with Gogeta also having recently appeared in the twelfth Dragon Ball Z theatrical film).

And that’s that! Piririn would occasionally pop up in guidebooks from time to time attributed to Toriyama as originally printed in Weekly Shōnen Jump, but nothing more ever came of these designs!

*insert buzzer noise here*

2016: Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS

The March 2016 issue of Shueisha’s V-Jump magazine (published 21 January 2016) revealed a new video game in development: code-named “Project Fusion” and developed by Ganbarion, the game would see different islands and cities merging together. A brand new fan fusion design contest would also be held (with a deadline of 18 March 2016); the winning designs would appear in the game itself as well as in a special manga project in Shueisha’s Saikyō Jump magazine. Subsequent game promotions showed various characters able to fuse together, including Goku and Broli!

In March, the game was formally unveiled as Dragon Ball Fusions. Alongside this name update was a wealth of in-universe information, such as the “EX Fusion” option using a special armband, and the five different races that the player’s avatar character could be. As an example of “regular” Metamoran dance fusion (as opposed to the new “EX Fusion” option), an old friend made a surprise return:

Piririn (now officially blessed with the name, rather than offered up as a possibility) would go on to be used in various bits of promotion for the game, often appearing in the same pose as Toriyama’s original 1995 design.

In-game, Piccolo and Kuririn are two of a select few that are able to perform the standard dance fusion technique (in addition to expected duos such as Son Goten and Trunks into Gotenks). Provided the player has recruited both Piccolo and Kuririn (completing the sub-events “An Old Rivalry” and “Teach Me, Piccolo!”, respectively) and meets the necessary requirements, they may select the fusion option during a battle to form Piririn. Following the battle, the fusion will revert back to separate Piccolo and Kuririn playable characters.

Beyond the standard fusion technique, Piccolo and Kuririn are also able to use the Metamo-Ring and its “EX Fusion” technique to create “EX Piririn”! In addition to obviously having both characters recruited, the player must get each character up to at least level 40 and have received the title “Expert Team Player” (unlocked by having two teammates join in a support attack twenty times). With this done, “EX Piririn” becomes an available EX Fusion option for the characters.

Unlike those produced by the standard fusion dance, “EX Fusion” characters remain fused until the player decides to un-merge them; for example, Piccolo can also fuse with Paikuhan to create “Piccohan” while Kuririn can fuse with young Son Goku to create “Goririn”, so the player may fuse and un-fuse these “EX” characters at will to mix and match. In the English localization of the game, Piririn is named as “Pirillin” (combining “Piccolo” with FUNimation’s “Krillin” name for Kuririn).

With the incredible number of characters available in Dragon Ball Fusions, it would be entirely reasonable to have some of the same ideas from 1995’s fusion contest resurface; after all, fans always want to throw their favorite strong characters together no matter what decade it is! Indeed, while not sharing the original design, a certain fusion would return twice over! As a cross-promotion for both Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS as well as the card-based arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes, the July 2016 issue of Shueisha’s V-Jump magazine (released 21 May 2016) introduced two new versions of “Gohanks”:

“EX Gohanks” (or “Gohanks: EX” depending on the game) is a fusion of the younger versions of Son Gohan and Trunks, while “Gohanks: Future” is a fusion of the older Son Gohan and Trunks from the alternate timeline.

For Dragon Ball Fusions, the “Future” version of the character was distributed as a QR code unlockable via cross-promotion with the arcade edition of Dragon Ball Heroes. Following the appropriate QR code scan, players will find the “Future” version of Gohanks at the Fortuneteller Crone’s palace. Alongside their own avatar, the player’s core group of Son Goten, (the younger, present-day) Trunks, Pan, and (the younger) Son Goku marvel at this new fusion. Gohanks notes that if you are willing, you may challenge him (prompting the game’s sub-event “Hero From Another World”). Speaking to Gohanks once more prompts the battle. Upon winning, Gohanks remarks that you are indeed strong and that he wishes to join your team; in order to defeat the Artificial Humans in his time, he wishes to train and learn more in this world.

Unfortunately, the game’s QR code functionality was removed from international editions. Though he appears for battle under certain conditions, the “Future” version Gohanks is not accessible through normal means in anything other than the Japanese edition.

The younger version of Gohanks is accessible as a standard “EX Fusion” with the younger Son Gohan and Trunks characters provided the player meets the proper conditions.

First-run copies of Dragon Ball Fusions in Japan came packaged with the “Gohanks: EX” card GDPB-63 usable in the arcade edition of Dragon Ball Heroes.

In Dragon Ball Heroes, Gohanks debuted circa the “God Mission 9” update and has appeared as “EX”, “Future”, and “Xeno” versions (the latter-most even receiving a Super Saiyan 3 transformation):

In the Nintendo 3DS game Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission X, players may encounter “Gohanks: Future” in the game’s story mode by challenging the then-recent Jump Victory Carnival Dragon Ball Heroes tournament champion, who can be found flying around the map.

Players may also encounter both “Gohanks: EX” and “Gohanks: Future” in the story mode’s 4-3 portal by completing the necessary bonus requirements to unlock the final of its two bonus areas. Great Saiyaman 2 and both versions of Gohanks comment on each others’ strange appearances, and the resulting battle may unlock Gohanks as a new playable character.

The “Future” version of Gohanks is featured in the seventh chapter of Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Dark Demon Realm Mission! manga series by Yoshitaka Nagayama. Facing increasing threats, the Kaiōshin of Time calls in Son Gohan: Xeno to assist Trunks, who is excited to work alongside (a version of) his mentor once more. A gigantic Slug, powered by the dark Dragon Balls, attacks them both. Gohan whistles and performs a little dance to paralyze Slug, leaving Trunks open to get the Dragon Ball. Janenboo and Towa appear, followed by Chamel. With all of the trouble here, Towa figures it would be difficult to retrieve the Dragon Balls and resurrect her brother Dabra, so she powers Slug up further to attack the heroes and focus on Janenboo. In the face of such a powerful foe, Gohan suggests to Trunks that they fuse; their heights and builds are similar, and Son Goku had taught Trunks about fusion during their training, so it should work well. The two align their ki, perform the dance, and fuse into Gohanks. The new warrior knows that they only have 30 minutes of fusion time and need to finish the fight quickly. Following a barrage of ki attacks, Gohanks uses the Explosive Fire Cutter against Slug, but it is no use against such a powerfully-huge opponent.

Gohanks also makes a cameo appearance in the opening animation for the sixth update to the Super Dragon Ball Heroes arcade game:

Legacy

Some fans may balk at the “non-canonical” status of works such as Dragon Ball Fusions and Dragon Ball Heroes, but it is clear that the developers and designers working on these games are just as invested in having fun and respecting the underlying source material as anyone else.

While not technically a “fan”-designed fusion, Piririn’s origin as an Akira Toriyama design lends him quite a bit of notoriety; the design was even recently included as an entry in the Dragon Ball Official Site‘s ongoing The Nearly Complete Works of Akira Toriyama weekday column. Likewise, Gohanks is an important footnote in Dragon Ball history, with his “original” designer going on to be a famous manga author in his own right, and the character’s later redesign spanning across multiple games.

Another Contest?!

Wait, wasn’t there a mention of another fan fusion design contest…?! Indeed, but that is for part two of our retrospective!

COMING SOON: PART TWO
Gorus, Great Satanman, Taks, and More!