Synopsis: From his own Red Ribbon outpost base, Muscle Tower, General White angrily asks his men why it's taking so long to find a single brat. He orders them to find him at any cost, saying he doesn't care if they kill him or not, they just need the Dragon Ball and the radar that he's carrying. Two soldiers search through the snowy area and wonder if the kid was really on board the crashed plane at all.
Meanwhile, a young girl has managed to drag Goku all the way back to her home, where she and her mother allow Goku to warm back up in a chair by the fire. Seeing that Goku is waking up at last, the girl calls her mother over and give him some hot chocolate and welcome him to Jingle Village. The girl's mother tells Goku that he's lucky her daughter found him or else he would have frozen to death out there, and the girl asks Goku what he was doing out there anyway. Goku explains that he was looking for a Dragon Ball when his plane fell out of the sky, and the girl and her mother both flinch in fear at the mention of a Dragon Ball. They fearfully ask him if he's with the Red Ribbon, and Goku asks what that is, as the last guy he dealt with was talking about it too. Back out in the snow, the pair of searching soldiers have spotted the trail the girl left behind while dragging Goku.
Having been caught up on what's going on by the mother and daughter, Goku can't believe someone else is searching for the Dragon Balls just like he is. He wonders what they could want them for, and the mother says that nobody knows. The girl asks Goku why he wants them, and Goku says he's only looking for a particular one. He brings out the one he has as an example, and explains the one he's looking for has four-stars in it, but when all seven of them are gathered together, a giant dragon appears and grants you one wish. The mother says it must be the wish that the Red Ribbon wants, and whatever they'd wish for can't be anything good.
Goku says there's supposed to be another Dragon Ball somewhere nearby, and the girl says they already knew that – when the soldiers weren't having any luck looking for the ball, they'd recruited the men of the village, including the girl's father, to search for it as well. Goku asks why they didn't just kick them out, but the girl insists they're too strong for that, and even if they wanted to, the Army has already taken their mayor hostage in their base. Goku says that he'll go beat them up as thanks for them saving him, but the girl insists that he'd be no match for them. Just then, the pair of searching soldiers arrives, having followed the trail back to the house. They demand Goku give them the Dragon Ball, while Goku asks if either of the men are the girl's father. The girl says they're with the Red Ribbon, so Goku quickly takes them out with a series of punches and kicks that can't even be seen. He then rushes off into the snow, but quickly returns due to how cold it is. The girl loans him her snow clothes and the girl's mother tells Goku to please be careful. Goku finally notices the cold, white stuff all over the ground and asks the girl what it is, and she's surprised he's never seen snow before. Goku then runs off towards the Red Ribbon base, as the girl and her mother worry if the weird little boy they've just met is going to get killed.
Goku charges head first towards Muscle Tower and is spotted by some of the guards out front. One of them radios General White and says they think they've found the kid, and White orders them to shoot to kill. They comply, but Goku deflects all of their bullets with the nyoibo, before extending it to take them out and then launch himself onto the first floor of the tower. Seeing this, White is impressed, but laughs and says that the kid will never be able to reach the top of the tower.
Review: After covering some anime-original material for a while, it's so nice to be back to the manga again, I won't lie. While the anime is my preferred viewing experience for Dragon Ball as a whole, there's something far easier about the manga when it comes to reviewing.
At any rate, after the disappointing start with Colonel Silver, the Red Ribbon Army storyline is finally getting going for real with the introduction of General White and Muscle Tower. This is the first mini-arc in the Red Ribbon storyline, and it's probably one of my favorite parts of the arc other than the very last one. There's something very video-game like to the proceedings within this tower, which makes it both easy to follow and enjoyable to watch. It's filled with colorful characters galore too, a good handful of them proving a challenge for Goku in some way or another, which is good since White himself is...well, not one. However the Red Ribbon Army determines it's rankings, it can't be entirely based on strength, because nothing about White seems to suggest he's a fighter. He certainly looks like even Silver, a mere Colonel, probably could have taken him out. Yet somehow, this guy has managed to rise to the rank of General. It sort of makes you wonder what the inner workings of this army was really like, doesn't it?
Other new characters introduced in this chapter include the unnamed girl and her mother that save Goku from freezing to death. The little girl is only unnamed in the manga however, as the anime gives her the name of Suno – either that or it comes up later in the manga and I've forgotten. Either way, there's not a whole lot to say about the characters other than it's sort of nice to see Goku interact with normal people every once in a while. Also, Suno is adorable, and in another author's hands, I could easily have seen her being another contender for 'who will Goku end up with' instead of just Chi Chi. But romance not being Toriyama's forte, perhaps it's best that idea never got toyed with at all, actually.
This chapter marks the first time that the idea of just what it is the Red Ribbon really wants is floated in the manga, though really it's not that hard to figure out what their wish would be (at least, on the surface...). Of course a giant military organization that's already trying to take over would be interested in just wishing for the world instead of keeping fighting for it. It does sort of make you wonder what the world government is up to during this arc though. Are there other unseen factions of the Red Ribbon fighting with them offscreen somewhere? Does this arc actually take place in the middle of a war we never get to see? Questions abound, really.
On a final note, Goku not knowing what snow is and being interested in it is pretty adorable too. Guess it stayed pretty warm all the time where Gohan lived.
Until next time!
Next Time: “Fight The Power! Goku V.S. A Former Governor of California?!”
Synopsis: Colonel Silver, shown working out with and ultimately breaking some really heavy weights before also taking out some strong boxing opponents, seems like a tough opponent for anyone to face. A watching soldier tells Silver that Red wants to see him, while Goku, who was barely saved by kinto'un, finally awakens after being thrown away from Pilaf's ship exploding. He wonders who the heck those guys were anyway.
Silver pays a visit to Red, and is commended for his work in getting the six-star Dragon Ball for the Army. Red warns him not to get cocky however, as he requires all seven of the Balls if he is to wish for world domination. He brings up the radar map and shows that there are still four more Dragon Balls out there that they need, and orders Silver to get them at all cost, even his own life. Red and his men then move back out to search for the next Dragon Ball.
Meanwhile, Goku uses his own radar to find a Dragon Ball as well, but stops first to catch something to eat in a nearby forest. This endeavor results in him having an encounter with a monkey mother and child and saving them from a hungry panther, with a whole group of monkeys providing him with food as thanks. The Red Ribbon's radar also indicates a Dragon Ball is somewhere in the forest, so they go on the move as Goku finishes up his meal and takes a nap. Sensing something strange, the monkeys check out a strange ball in a tree – the five-star Dragon Ball! When the orb glows, it freaks out the monkeys, causing the ball to fall to the ground before them. Goku awakens a short time later to find the monkeys all gone, and that the Dragon Ball appears to be moving according to the radar. The monkeys, having taken a liking to the strange ball, have taken it with them and are playing with it.
Back on Roshi's island, Roshi is helping Kuririn get in some training when Lunch calls them inside for snack time. While they all enjoy some shaved ice, Roshi chastises Kuririn for being tired from such a low level of training, and the discussion turns towards Goku. Kuririn wonders if he's still searching for the Dragon Balls, and Roshi remarks that he never would have guessed that the orb he had back then was actually one of the legendary orbs. He tells Kuririn and Lunch an old legend about the Dragon Balls that he knows. The legend states that long ago, there was but one larger Dragon Ball, bestowed upon humankind by the Gods. The people built a holy temple around the Dragon Ball and worshiped it, and times were peaceful. One day however, evil sprouted within the hearts of humans, and some attempted to use the Dragon Ball for selfish gains. A war broke out, angering the Gods who then divided the Dragon Ball into seven separate Dragon Balls, scattering them around the world, so that nobody could use the Dragon Balls recklessly anymore. However, greedy people continued to search for the Dragon Balls, and over the years there had even been some who obtained great power by gathering them together, making them incredibly in demand artifacts for those who know of them, even today. Lunch wonders what sort of wish she'd make given the chance, and Kuririn remarks he'd wish to get even stronger. When they ask what Roshi would wish for, he drools in anticipation of such a thing, but tries to claim that he doesn't have anything at all he'd wish for even while he thinks of Lunch's panties.
Back in the forest, the monkeys continue to play with the five-star ball, while the Red Ribbon Army begins to ransack the forest to search for it. Two soldiers talk about getting a big reward from Commander Red if they find it, when one of the monkeys accidentally drops the ball, allowing the soldiers to spot it. Before the soldiers can grab it however, the baby monkey grabs the ball again and the monkeys retreat back into the forest as the soldiers open fire. The soldiers radio back in to Silver, who curses them for not grabbing the ball before they got away. The men begin to burn the forest with flamethrowers to force the monkeys out of hiding, while Goku continues to look for the ball as well. Coming across the soldiers, Goku tells them to stop destroying the forest, and takes out a trio of soldiers with ease. Silver is enraged that none of the monkeys they've caught so far had the ball, when one of the soldiers comes back to warn him of a monstrous child who has appeared and is attacking them.
Goku and Silver meet at last and are about to fight, when the monkey mother and child swing by overhead with the Dragon Ball. Silver calls for a gun from one of his men and fires at a branch, causing the pair of monkeys to almost fall into a cliff. As Goku catches the monkey mother by her tail, the baby drops the Dragon Ball into a river below, carrying it who knows where.
Review: While the previous episodes flourished in expanding upon a lackluster portion of material in the original manga, this one ironically languishes from the task of having to pull things back in a direction to line up with the manga. And it certainly shows as well, to the point that an entire sub-plot – or exposition drop, more like, and one that hasn't aged well with further material – had to be created as well just to drag things out a bit longer.
Everything in this episode in regards to Goku and Silver's hunt for the next Dragon Ball feels incredibly stale for some reason, lacking entirely in the fun that pervaded throughout the last few episodes. I'm not sure if it's the lack of another established character like Pilaf, or the fact that the Dragon Ball is in the hands of unspeaking animals, but some piece of the puzzle is definitely missing this time around. What's worse is, I'm pretty sure the Dragon Ball count at this point is off by one, based on my memory of the other Dragon Balls we're going to see gathered. I could be wrong on that front though, given that I incorrectly remembered that it was the previous Dragon Ball (the one Pilaf had) that ended up in the wilderness where it would be found like in the manga, when it was in fact this Dragon Ball. Oops.
One useful nugget of information to come out of all of this is how cruel Red really is. Even for the soldier who just successfully brought him a Dragon Ball, he shows just as much impatience and willingness to kill him as he does praise. All he cares about is getting the rest of the Dragon Balls and his wish, nothing more. Of course, the way they're playing him up as a bigger threat himself is pretty funny given what we'll learn about him in short order.
The main thing in this episode that I wanted to talk about however is also the only reason I even covered this episode here – Roshi's story about the origin of the Dragon Balls. As any fan of Dragon Ball can tell you, not a bit of the legend he tells Kuririn and Lunch about is accurate to what we later learn (though the part about a Dragon Ball being split to make other Dragon Balls does ironically come up again later, but that's Super-era material – we'll talk about that MUCH later). This highlights the inherent risk of making filler, anime-original material for an ongoing series like Dragon Ball was at the time. While some filler can expand upon material that was barely present in the manga, other filler can create entirely unique situations or stories that later become impossible to work within the larger narrative. This is a much smaller case of the latter, as even Roshi states that this is just a legend, suggesting that nobody knows whether it's true or not – but still, there's no getting around that this is the first instance in the series of anime original material just not working within the manga's narrative.
Really though, it's hard to entirely hate any scene that plays Dragon Ball Densetsu. Kami, I love that song.
Until next time!
Favorite Scene: Roshi telling the legend of the Dragon Ball's origin. Hey, it might be inaccurate, but it plays Dragon Ball Densetsu as an insert song, and I'm all about that.
Next Time: Alright, enough of that side-quest. Let's storm Muscle Tower!
Synopsis: Goku and Chi Chi hurry back to Chi Chi's village just in time to see Pilaf's ship fleeing from the scene, with Silver's jet in hot pursuit of it. With both ships almost knocking them from kinto'un, Chi Chi ends up causing their fall due to grabbing Goku's tail, prompting Goku to have to call kinto'un back to save them. Pilaf, pleased to have gotten the real Dragon Ball at last, is still worried about the enemy that seems to be chasing them at a distance, while Silver speculates that the airship must belong to some rich person with too much spare time on their hands. He doubts that they're an adversary of any real importance, but still calls in more of the Red Ribbon's fighter jets to assist him in taking out the ship so they can retrieve the Dragon Ball.
The remaining soldiers in the village try to pack up their tanks and leave but are stopped by Goku and Chi Chi's attack. With the soldiers stopped, Goku asks them where Gyu-mao is, and one of the soldiers points out the net holding Gyu-mao just as the gigantic man is finally able to pull himself free from it. One of the soldiers tells the others not to get involved, and they all quickly throw capsules containing fighter jets and rush off to aid Colonel Silver, leaving Goku and Chi Chi to tend to Gyu-mao.
Silver runs into a problem however when the airship mysteriously disappears all of a sudden. He orders his man to take them above the clouds, but the airship is nowhere to be found – that is, until it reappears from the clouds below and gets a sneak attack on Silver's jet, opening fire on it without warning. Pilaf jubilantly declares victory as Silver's plane is shot down.
Back in the village, Chi Chi bandages up Gyu-mao while Goku asks who did this to them. Gyu-mao has no idea but speculates that it might be someone he once wronged, given what a terrible guy he used to be, saying he has no right to complain if someone came back for revenge. Goku says they must have been strong if they were able to take Gyu-mao down though, and Chi Chi just wishes they hadn't attacked on the day of her and Goku's wedding. Gyu-mao apologizes to Goku for letting the wedding ceremony get interrupted, but Goku confusedly says that he wasn't there, confusing Gyu-mao even further. Meanwhile, Silver and his pilot, having survived the plane crash, get picked up by the other Red Ribbon fighter jets, and Silver calls back in to RR headquarters to request assistance via the army's Dragon Radar in locating where the airship has gone now.
Goku inhales much of the food that was meant for the wedding ceremony while Chi Chi tells Gyu-mao that Goku was with her up until now. Gyu-mao wonders who the others were then, and Goku wonders if they were looking for the Dragon Ball. Gyu-mao says that he already gave that to Goku and his other friends before, but Goku explains that there are actually seven of them and he's looking for a different one, one that was a memento of his grandpa's. Goku checks the radar and sees that the ball has already moved really far away and starts to leave, but Chi Chi objects, asking 'what about the wedding?'. Goku says he'll come back later and they can all eat it together, before hopping back onto kinto'un and jetting away, leaving Chi Chi to yell after him that a wedding isn't food. Gyu-mao consoles his daughter, saying all they can do is wait for Goku to get back his grandfather's memento.
The Red Ribbon HQ's radar picks up the now stationary Dragon Ball reading somewhere in a large desert, but Silver can't see how it could possibly be there unless they threw it away, as the airship is nowhere to be seen. Red insists that the radar is accurate however, and orders Red and his men to find the Dragon Ball immediately. Goku soon runs across the same problem, finding that despite his radar's reading, he's not seeing the airship or the Dragon Ball anywhere nearby. Silver grows frustrated, thinking that if the ship crashed, they should have found wreckage by now. The only answer could be...but it couldn't be that. As some Red Ribbon soldiers dig in the sand and wonder if HQ is too reliant on the radar, a few of them get sucked down by quicksand, soon landing in a holding cell in Pilaf's underground base. Pilaf questions the men and offers for them to join him instead, but Mai interrupts when one of their cameras picks up Goku just above them in the desert.
Goku continues to be confused by the radar's readings, while Silver discovers that none of his men are answering his radio call. When Goku runs towards one of their cameras, Pilaf briefly worries that they've been caught, but Goku simply pees on the cactus camera. When Silver spots Goku down below instead of his men he questions what's going on, but doesn't have time to do anything about it before gun turrets pop out of the ground and open fire on both Goku and Silver. Silver's hunch was right, there's an underground base in this desert! Goku gets sucked down into one of the cells while Silver calls back in to headquarters for backup, only to be told to be on standby.
Pilaf taunts a captured Goku who demands they give him the real Dragon Ball, but Pilaf instead sends an attack robot into Goku's cell. Goku promptly takes it out with a single Kamehameha, as well as blowing a hole in his cell. Before Pilaf can respond to that however, Silver begins to attack the underground base with everything his jet and remaining men can muster, damaging much of it. Seeing no other choice, Pilaf and his crew start an escape effort with only the Dragon Ball in tow, but they run into Goku in the base's corridor who starts chasing them. The escaping Pilaf crew hit buttons as they run, stalling Goku with a continuing series of dropping walls, until they finally manage to get back into their airship and escape from the base, unaware that Goku has caught up and has grabbed hold of the outside of the airship.
To Pilaf's horror, Silver's reinforcements have arrived, and countless fighter jets surround the airship as soon as it's airborne. They all open fire upon the airship, destroying it and sending Goku flying off in a matter of seconds. Pilaf and crew escape the destroyed ship with the Dragon Ball thanks to parachutes, but on the ground below Silver and his men wait with guns trained on the trio. Once they land, Pilaf begrudgingly gives up the Dragon Ball, while Goku is nowhere to be found.
Review: If the previous episodes were a setup to showcase just how rough the Red Ribbon Army could be, then this episode was definitely the payoff to show just how badly in over his head Pilaf was, and how much trouble Goku is about to tackle. I've harped on quite a bit about how much better the anime's version of events are for setting up this arc, and here at what is essentially the finale of this new material, I'm still astounded by how much better it is. Everything about the Red Ribbon Army in this version is a much better showcase for how things will be moving forward, and while a lot of credit still has to be given to Toriyama – the manga was much further along by the time these episodes aired, so they had a much better idea of what the Army was going to be like than Toriyama did when originally drawing the events these episodes extend upon – the anime staff still deserves a lot of kudos for putting this all together so cohesively. If one didn't know that this was largely filler, you'd almost never guess.
The Gyu-mao and Chi Chi part of the storyline is wrapped up pretty quickly all things told, and that's probably for the best. Though they had no way of telling at this point in the story, Goku needs to have as little contact with Chi Chi as possible to make a certain story point later work better, and all things told what they bring to the table here has already been accomplished, so it was time to move on. There was one interesting bit early on in the episode with them though, when Goku and Chi Chi are almost knocked off of kinto'un. Goku is able to keep them aloft for a little bit by grabbing the tail-like end of kinto'un. I'm not entirely sure this ever happens in the manga, so I'm not really sure if it would work like that. I assume if you're able to ride it though, it'd probably work? Hmm.
The real story of this episode is seeing the three-way grab for the Dragon Ball between Goku, Colonel Silver, and Pilaf who has obtained the six-star ball. Pilaf's craftiness is more than enough to stave off either enemy for some time, but he quickly proves to be completely outclassed in tenacity by them both as well. He knew how much of a challenge Goku was going to be and maybe because of that he paid more attention to him when he should have been putting all of his efforts against the unknown threat the Red Ribbon represents. Oddly, Pilaf never does seem to figure out who they are, nor does Shu and Mai – as big of an organization as the army is as we'll soon find out, you'd think Pilaf and gang would have heard of them somewhere before.
Unfortunately, this brings Pilaf's involvement in the arc to an end (or until it's very end, again depending on how you divy up the arcs). We won't see them again until the next time they appear in the manga. Shame, that.
Until next time!
Favorite Scene: Goku peeing on the cactus camera. Classic Dragon Ball, pure and simple.
Next Time: We finally find out the origin of the Dragon Balls! ...Kinda. But not really.
Synopsis: The Red Ribbon Army continues to track the Dragon Ball that Colonel Silver was after as it moves away from his location, and Commander Red orders them to contact Silver about it immediately. At the rate things are going, he's sure he'll be ruling the world very soon indeed. Having finished with the shopkeep, Silver moves out.
Meanwhile, Goku continues pursuing Pilaf to get back what he thinks is the four-star Dragon Ball from them, but he notices something strange on his radar – even though he's right behind him, it shows that he's moving away from the Dragon Ball currently. Goku thinks the radar must be broken after all, but now that he knows where the ball is, all he has to do is take it back from them. Inside the ship however, Pilaf and crew have realized they were tricked when the glass orb they thought was a Dragon Ball is broken. Already enraged by this, Pilaf is further angered when he sees Goku peeking in through one of the airship's window and opens it to give the boy a piece of his mind, resulting in Pilaf being sucked outside by the air pressure. Goku chases after Pilaf on kinto'un and tells Pilaf he'll save him if he gives him back the Dragon Ball, and Pilaf starts to tell him it was a fake, but stops short to instead beg Goku to save him. Goku catches him and takes him back to the airship to make him fulfill his promise.
Pilaf orders Shu and Mai to put the fake Dragon Ball back together while he stalls Goku, and once it's “fixed”, they hand it over to Goku, instructing him to be careful with it, especially once Goku notices the cracks. With that taken care of, Pilaf and crew fly off in their airship to look for the real Dragon Ball, and in the process cause Goku to drop the fake. Goku chases after it on kinto'un, but the ball breaks as soon as he catches it, confusing Goku greatly.
Elsewhere, back at Mt. Frypan, a reformed Gyu-mao lives in peace with the villagers rather than terrorizing them. His daughter, Chi Chi, dreams of the day that Goku will come back to see her again. Seeing his daughter despair, Gyu-mao has a local psychic divine where Goku is, but the old lady gets distracted by an ant coming for her lunch, causing the father/daughter pair to misinterpret her saying “he's coming closer”. Chi Chi is sure that Goku is coming to take her as his bride, and though Gyu-mao thinks it might still be too soon for that, he readily agrees to prepare the wedding immediately. As Gyu-mao announces happily to the villagers that his daughter will be getting married, Colonel Silver and his men chase after the bird with the Dragon Ball in the air. The bird is eaten by a pterodactyl before they can get to it however, and the pterodactyl is in killed by Gyu-mao with a boulder. Gyu-mao carts off the pterodactyl intending to serve it as dinner for the wedding, and before Silver and his men can chase after the now ingested Dragon Ball, they quickly go into hiding from a strange approaching airship. Mai tells Pilaf that things have gotten worse as there's no way they can take on someone like Gyu-mao, but Pilaf refuses to give up, though he is terrified of Gyu-mao's reputation.
The villagers prepare whole-heartedly for the wedding much to Gyu-mao's delight, though they soon spot Pilaf's airship. Pilaf orders them to attack but Mai stops him when they see everyone waving and holding a banner welcoming Goku. At first Pilaf is annoyed that they'd ever think they were Goku, but then he grins, coming up with a plan. Gyu-mao hurriedly searches for Chi Chi to tell her the good news, but can't find her. The old psychic lady tells him that Chi Chi went to a nearby hillside to pick flowers, and Gyu-mao is pleased at how lady-like his daughter has become.
Back in the airship, Pilaf has Mai make a Goku mask and orders Shu to put it on and pretend to be Goku so they can trick everyone there. Shu doesn't think it will work, but Pilaf thinks it's the perfect plan. Gyu-mao rushes out to meet Goku, as do all of the villagers, while Pilaf and crew are confused by all of this 'wedding' talk. Gyu-mao wonders who the other two are, and Pilaf and Mai introduce themselves as Goku's 'friends'.
Goku, searching for where Pilaf and crew have gone, starts to get hungry. He makes a pitstop to eat some apples from a tree and ends up running into Chi Chi. Chi Chi thinks Goku must have come here for her after all, though Goku continues to not understand what marriage is. The two eat apples together, while back at the village, Shu secretly protests to Pilaf that he can't marry someone he's never met before. Pilaf orders him to play along until they can get the Dragon Ball. Gyu-mao apologizes for Chi Chi being so late, and Pilaf orders Shu to say that he's hungry so that they can get out of here soon. Gyu-mao agrees that they can start the banquet now while they wait for Chi Chi, and the villagers bring in a ton of food, including the cooked pterodactyl.
Gyu-mao tells Goku not to hold back but Shu tells Pilaf that he doesn't think he can eat that much. Gyu-mao overhears and misunderstands, and tells Goku to eat some of the pterodactyl instead. He tells Goku not to be shy and ask for whatever he wants, before patting Shu on the back and sending him flying, knocking the Goku mask off of his head. Pilaf quickly distracts Gyu-mao so they can put the Goku mask back on Shu's head, but all of the villagers see what happened. Before anything can be said however, the banquet hall is suddenly attacked by tanks. Gyu-mao says he doesn't know who's doing this but vows that they'll pay, and Pilaf says this is the perfect opportunity to take the Dragon Ball for themselves.
Gyu-mao storms outside and fights the Red Ribbon Army tanks, and Silver's men worry this might be too much for them to handle. Silver however grabs a big gun and shoots Gyu-mao in the face with it, blinding him with the gunk that explodes out of the bullet. A tank then shoots a giant net, capturing Gyu-mao on the ground. With Gyu-mao incapacitated, Silver orders his men to begin searching the village.
Back at the banquet hall, Pilaf crawls out of the pterodactyl with the Dragon Ball in hand and starts to flee the Red Ribbon Army's advance. They barely manage to escape back into the airship with the Dragon Ball in their grasp. Meanwhile, Goku and Chi Chi continue to spend time together, but Goku falls asleep as Chi Chi talks. The pair soon notice smoke coming from Chi Chi's village, and Goku recognizes the Pilaf airship as it starts to rise into the air. He tells Goku to hop onto kinto'un, and the two race back to the village, unaware of what's happened there.
Review: The search for the six-star Dragon Ball continues to be a far more frantic affair in the anime version of events than it was in the manga, and while there's something to be said for over-complicating things perhaps, I'd be lying if I said I didn't prefer the anime on this account. None of the Dragon Balls that we actually got to see get hunted down in the first search were that easy to acquire, so it just seems more fitting for even the first one to be more of an ordeal this go around as well.
It's also commendable in a way that this expanded version of the story both manages to tie in the previous search by way of including Pilaf, but also giving time for Gyu-mao and Chi Chi to shine a little more. That is, in effect, a bit of a double-edged sword though, but like so many things I bring up here, that's discussion for another time. For now though, it's nice enough to see some familiar faces again.
The Pilaf gang taking advantage of Goku's naivety is perfectly on point for both them and Goku himself. It makes perfect sense for them to try and deceive Goku with the broken fake, though to Goku's credit, even he starts to wonder if something was wrong from the very second he sees the cracks. At least, as much as Goku ever would wonder about something like that anyway. It also sets it up perfectly for them to try and take advantage of Goku in a different way once they realize Gyu-mao and everyone is expecting the boy's arrival. Putting a fake Goku head on Shu and expecting people who know him (because let's not forget, the Pilaf gang has no way of knowing that it's only Gyu-mao out of the entire village present that has met him before) to fall for it is so hilariously dumb that it's only made even better by it working entirely. Gyu-mao, I...I have so many questions for you.
The frantic Dragon Ball search is made better by how all-over-the place it ends up as well. In the course of less than a minute, it goes from chasing a bird, to now it's in a pterodactyl's stomach, to now it's in a dead, cooked pterodactyl's stomach that's in the care of Gyu-mao, the 'demon king'. The fact that even Silver is a little worried about dealing with someone like him says it all, and while Gyu-mao never does quite live up to his potential as a threat, it's still pretty impressive that Silver and his men are able to deal with him without too much trouble overall – again, it's certainly a more impressive first outting for them than what they received in the manga.
Overall this changed opening act is definitely giving more meat for us to chew on than what their corresponding chapters did, but can it stick the landing? Let's hope so.
Until next time!
Favorite Scene: The disguised Shu actually managing to trick Gyu-mao into thinking he's Goku is priceless.
Next Time: I wonder if Pilaf bought his airship from the same place Wonder Woman got her plane?
Synopsis: A quick rundown goes over the 42nd Final Debarkation Exam that Velou and his fellow Hunter applicants must pass – in a manner similar to the game 'Cops and Robbers', they must avoid being captured by the 'cops' Grimm and Debonair, and if they're able to not be in 'jail' at the end of two hours, they pass. They're allowed to use whatever tools or weapons they wish, though killing is forbidden. Debonair, who dumps water on herself to cool down after fighting the giant manta ray, further adds that if you do end up arrested, a free robber can tag you to set you free. She also says that she and Grimm won't leave the roof for the first five minutes, giving them a head start to run and hide as needed. The applicants wonder how in the heck they're supposed to get away from someone as strong as her, and she says she can practically hear the gears turning in their heads.
She declares a start to the exam, and many of the entrants, including Tylty and Mylty, begin running. Six applicants, including Velou and Bonkers, stay where they were standing however, surprising Grimm and the fleeing applicants. Velou says that running right now is a bad idea, to which the others remaining agree. He says there's something contradictory about the test, and just running away for two hours probably won't work, so he wants to confirm something if he can. Tylty shouts back that it won't matter what he confirms if he gets arrested, and Velou asks him to come free him if he does, to which Tylty objects that there's nothing in it for him. Merrio says there is however, as if Velou has the same idea as he does, they might all be able to pass. Debonair is impressed by their thinking, but Velou says they're not sure yet, so Mylty and Tylty should run if that's what they think is best. Merrio asks Bonkers if he's thinking the same thing as he and Velou, and Bonkers agrees that it's probably 'something like that'.
One of the other applicants, a large robed woman named Migael Gagia, tackles Velou in a hug and praises him for having so much courage and facing this test so bravely, even after going through all of the harsh training at such a young age. She proclaims that someone will surely rescue them, and that God will grace them all with divine protection. As Velou introduces himself and tries to get free from her hug, the other applicants at their sides react in various ways, and Mylty and Tylty decide to run after all.
Debonair says that she can tell the six applicants that stayed are planning something, but she won't ask them what: she'd rather they show her what it is through action. She tells them they still have three minutes left before her and Grimm begin their attack, so they can use that time for a strategy meeting if they'd like. Velou thanks her, and Grimm accuses Debonair of spoiling them. Debonair says that they're thinking for themselves and making decisions based on those choices, which is harder than it sounds. The test is designed to see what they can do, so she wants to let them do just that.
One of the applicants, a girl named Porschen “The Juggler”, says they need to make their plan quickly while they still have time, cutting off Merrio as he tries to introduce himself. Velou says that this test has felt off to him from the very start. It's supposed to test their ability to become Hunters, but the requirement is not getting caught, as if they were prey themselves. As such, he thinks there has to be something else going on with the exam. As such, what they really have to do is...
The three minutes pass just as Velou volunteers himself to do 'that part', as it was his idea after all, and Debonair announces that they're about to get started. Velou says that he knows there's still some stuff they couldn't figure out, but asks everyone to go along with the basic ist of it all. Debonair and Grimm move out, with both women looking incredibly imposing especially Grimm who says this will be a 'massacre'. One of the six applicants, a man named Nulo Xao, says he'll occupy the instructor, while Migael and Porschen say they'll all give it their best shot. Xao takes a secret elixir he calls Liufeng Xiang, which allows him to yell and produce a shockwave of wind that blows the approaching Debonair back. Porschen then uses a long wire and her flying circus wire arts to ensnare both Debonair and Grimm, pinning the former's arms against her body while grabbing the latter by her wrists. Bonkers takes the initiative to jump in and aim a powerful punch at Grimm, but Grimm and Debonair ask them all I they really thought a dinky rope would stop them. As Debonair begins to burn through the wire, Grimm delivers a powerful knee into Bonkers' armored chest. He manages to take the blow, but says that they're wrong: They didn't think this would stop them at all, as Velou goes on the attack.
Flashing back to the three minutes that the applicants were making a plan, Velou says that what they really have to do is make it so that they can't be arrested. Bonkers thinks that's obvious but the real question is how. Porschen and Migael both agree that it has to be 'that', annoying Bonkers who doesn't quite get it yet. Velou says it's the special rule they tacked onto this test, and Merrio says it was likely added so that they would catch the contradiction – either that or it's a trap. He explains that a normal game of cops and robbers would never make for a proper test due to how much better the two Hunters are, so they added a weakness expecting the applicants to find and exploit it. Merrio thinks their best bet is to do just that while planning for a way to counter the Hunters' response to said attack. Velou says that if they handle this like any other fight, they have very little chance of winning, but they all have reasons why they need to become Hunters. Back in the present, Porschen notes that the rope was just a distraction, as she counts five sets of handcuffs, saying that as they thought, the Hunters have a way of getting more. The plan: go after the handcuffs! As Migael and Xao rush Debonair and Debonair's sights set on Porschen, Velou reaches out for the handcuffs.
Review: This chapter managed to go in ways I expected, while also going in ways I didn't at the same time. We were introduced to the concept of Cops and Robbers, complete with handcuffs, as a test last chapter, and at that time, I thought the deal was going to be them realizing that they couldn't avoid getting caught and thus the loophole was about 'who's in jail at the end'. I even wondered if maybe Velou would pretend to put up a fight only to allow himself to be captured first so he could get a better look at the cell's interior, leading to him allowing everyone to escape right at the very last second. Instead, the crux of the test is the handcuffs, which I'm not entirely sure how to feel about. It's nice to be caught off guard and not know exactly where the story is going to go, but at the same time, it seems to be going for a more difficult setup than may have been warranted here, especially with the series being on the ropes right now. One can only hope this gamble will pay off in the end.
Beyond that, the rest of the chapter is chiefly about introducing us to more new characters, and showing at least a little bit of what they can do, or at least what their personality is like. It's hard to say how many people will pass at this point in time, but I'd wager a guess that at least most, if not all, of the six participants that take part in Velou's plan are probably a shoe-in. The one's I'm not sure about are Tylty and Mylty, who do run instead, as well as a bald eye-patched man shown off in one panel who apparently also ran. Since they're not taking part in the big plan, they seem more expendable at the moment, but then again, Velou does say that if this plan works, they might all pass. If that happens, we could be seeing a fairly large size of new members for the guild, which could be both good and bad. A big part of the strength of series like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece are the size of their supporting casts, but over time that also becomes a bit of a weakness. When you have too many characters milling about, it can be hard to fulfill the wishes of fans of any given character while also being true to the story. It can also make it easy to run out of character archetypes and start repeating yourself, something that will be really noticeable if all of the characters are still hanging around all of the time (something One Piece manages to sidestep fairly well by having much of it's background cast change from arc to arc, with only the main crew or other characters related to a major story continuing onward immediately). We can only hope the author has all of this in mind right now.
It's really just the five characters (three of which are new) that remain alongside Velou and take center stage this time however, and almost certainly secure focus and a likelihood of their passing the exam. First up is Migael, a robed, religious woman, who's build certainly seems to fit right in with the likes of Grimm and Debonair. Hell, it's a wonder they don't pass her right then and there actually. Sadly, we don't get to see what she's capable of in this chapter, we only get a glimpse at her overbearing motherly and devout personality. If I had to wager a guess, I wouldn't be surprised if she turns out to be a mage type character of some kind, not necessarily capable of magic – that could be something that's exclusive to witches in this world – but with charms and the like. Secondly, we're introduced to Nulo Xao, a man who seems to be a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicines and remedies, some of which can even be used in combat. We don't get a lot of his personality this go around sadly, so it'll be interesting to see more of what he's like as time goes on. Third and finally, we're introduced to Porschen and her wire abilities. She's probably the most evenly balanced of the new characters, as we get to see what she can do as well as a little bit of her personality. She looks like she might not be that much older than Velou, but she's already quite skilled and can control wires pretty handily, enough so that she manages to get the drop on two skilled Hunters. She also seem sto have a somewhat serious personality at least when it comes to getting things done, but the look on her face while in battle suggests she might have a battle-loving side as well, though probably not to the degree that Debonair does.
Sadly, while the new characters are introduced, we still don't get a ton on what the characters introduced before-hand can do. Sure, Bonkers is a tank, but we don't really know how strong he is at combat yet. And Merrio? All we know about him is that he seems to be quite the intellectual, and he's afraid of leftovers. I was really hoping we might get to see more of what he's capable of this chapter, but with the exam still going on, we might get to see him, Bonkers, and Migael all take a little more part in the action next time around.
Until next time!
Next Time: Chapter 10
Synopsis: The giant werewolf in the water rises up as it speaks to the mayor of Velou's village. It calls him by name, Hech Horlock, and says that while his goal is the same as that of the Red List, he is no friend of theirs, merely a convenient tool they've chosen to use. He further chastises him for 'editing the script' by adding Dodou and the others, saying that it's because he did so that they had to step in and fix the errors he caused. Horlock tells him that what's done is done so there's no use complaining, and Cinderella yells that it's because it can't be changed that they're furious. She notes that Grimm isn't stupid and will surely have noticed, and if she reports it to the guild, they may even find out the truth about the hamlet. Cinderella thinks that could be especially bad for Horlock as he used to be a member of the guild. She admonishes him for what he's done as well, accusing him of having many other options he could have used and instead only 'wasting page space', while asking him just what it is he's trying to do with Velou's story.
Back on the Ironworks, ten weeks have passed since they departed towards the guild headquarters. Tylty is helping Velou study about different types of golems when Bonkers suddenly pushes his way into their room with his things, saying that as of today they're roommates. A second man named Merriopios comes in behind him and explains that four candidates are assigned to a room, and both he and Bonkers lost their three roommates so they've been instructed to move in with Velou and Tylty to conserve space. Merriopios tells them to just call him Merrio, but as Velou introduces himself, Merrio begins to freak out at the sight of food sitting on a table. Merrio explains he suffers from a phobia of leftovers, and Velou and Tylty quickly eat the potatoes to calm him down. Merrio instantly calms down and asks if he can take the lower bunk, and Velou marvels at how there are all kinds of people living in the world.
Later that night, Velou collapses into his bed while Bonkers and Tylty agree that the instructor really gave it to them today. Merrio comments that it's only three weeks until the debarkation exam, and Velou can't believe it's almost time. The Ironworks final debarkation exam is a test to determine who gets to get off the boat and join the hunters guild. Those who fail have to remain on the boat and keep training for the entire three-month trip back in the hopes that they'll do better next time. Remembering that both Tylty and Bonkers have been through these final exams before, Velou asks if there's any advice they can give him. Tylty says that the exam changes every time so there's not much to say, but Bonkers adds that it's usually some kind of practical exercise. Tylty further cautions that they're not aiming to graduate a certain number of people, and it's entirely possible that nobody will pass, as has happened before. He also warns Velou that the final test is so harsh that it makes the previous three months look easy, so he needs to be prepared for anything.
The day of the debarkation exam finally arrives, and with three hours to go until they reach their destination, Debonair announces their final test: Cops and Robbers. Velou has no idea what this is, but Merrio and another candidate explain that it's a game children play that's a lot like tag. Debonair says that the rules here will be basically the same with one major twist: they'll be using actual handcuffs. Everyone else will be the robbers and she'll be the cop, and everyone that she catches and handcuffs will be put in a cell on the far end of the deck. Debonair warns them that this is a test to see if they're worthy of becoming Hunters, so they should all resist as hard as they can in the time limit of two hours, as anyone who's in the jail in the two-hour mark fails. She cautions them that just running and hiding won't be enough, they'll need to use everything they've learned in the last three months if they want to pass.
Velou starts to think to himself that this test almost seems too easy with only one cop, when Grimm – now back in her adult body again – says the same thing, and says that she'll be joining in as a cop as well. Debonair is excited saying that they haven't fought together since 'incident 38', but Grimm says this won't qualify as a fight, only a one-sided beat down. As the exam is about to kick off between the two 'cops' and the 30 'robbers', staff on the Ironworks call for an emergency over a telegram they've just received from the Magmatha Royal Military.
It seems the military had engaged a target that changed course and is now on a collision course with the Ironworks line, the target being a Kraken class 'sea butterfly #13', aka a Tidal Manta Ray, a gigantic manta ray that's bigger than the Ironworks itself. While the candidates start to fret about the creature's size, Debonair calmly says she'll handle things. Everyone wonders how she'll do such a thing alone, but Grimm says she'll be fine before revealing that Debonair is like her and has also suffered a witch's hex. In her case however its a curse of heat, with her body emitting scorching levels of heat and burning everything around her.
As some of the Ironworks staff bring Debonair her 'furnace armor', she takes only the limbs this time, as Grimm explains that through strenuous training, Debonair managed to subdue the curse and has taken control of it as a weapon. As Debonair starts to heat up, everyone is hit with waves of heat, with Grimm saying that it's only out on the open sea that Debonair can go all out due to how hot things get. Debonair launches herself at the Tidal Manta Ray, chastising it for interrupting the exam before launching a 1500 degree Fahrenheit Bullet Punch. Scalded but alive, the creature starts to go another direction as Debonair waves goodbye to it. She lands and announces that they can get back to the exam now, imploring everyone to fight her, while the candidates mentally plead to do anything but that.
Review: This chapter seems to be setting up the finale of the Ironworks storyline as it were, and while I'm excited to see where things go from here, I'm also a little worried. While I'd normally wait to talk about this sort of thing until towards the end of the review, it's somewhat brought up right at the start of this chapter, so we may as well dive right into it.
With the giant werewolf that I'm still not entirely sure if it's meant to be Lycaon or not giving Horlock an earful, we get a lot of almost fourth-wall breaking talk about 'editing scripts' and 'adjusting stories for coherence' while 'jerking characters all about'. Heck, there's even a comment about 'wasting page space'. In universe, this is talking about whatever it is that Horlock is attempting to do with Velou's fate, as apparently it wasn't part of the original plan for him to have to deal with Dodou and Naranoia, and maybe not even the mayor's wife either – though what was going on with her becomes a whole other debacle, knowing what we now know about the mayor.
In the real world though, this whole scene sort of comes off as a meta commentary for what's going on in the real world in regards to this manga. Despite a pretty strong start and a growing cult fanbase, The Hunters Guild: Red Hood hasn't been doing too hot in the internal Shonen Jump ranking as of late. In fact, it's been trailing behind most of the other heavy hitters and even some of the other manga that aren't doing the greatest, which admittedly boggles my mind, but I'll try to keep my own personal preferences out of this as much as I can. While I don't know for certain what Japanese fans have been saying about the series, Cinderella's comment about page space seems to fit with what I've seen some folks make comment in the west as well, and that's an issue of pacing. Some readers have felt that the series has been moving too slowly, or at least that it had been during the opening chapters of the series. This isn't really a sentiment I agree with, but I can at least sort of see what they're seeing – it took five whole chapters, a good majority of what will likely make up the first collected volume, before Velou's village was destroyed. Compare this to a similar opening premise of Attack on Titan, which also features the main character losing his home from a monster attack – in AoT, it only took two chapters to decimate a village. That said, Attack on Titan was a very different kind of series right from the start, especially considering it was a monthly serial rather than a weekly one, and wasn't in Shonen Jump.
No, a more fitting comparison to be made would be to look at a few other major Shonen Jump titles. By chapter 5 of Dragon Ball, we've only just met Oolong and are barely a fifth into the first story arc. By chapter 5 of Naruto, we've only just met Kakashi and Naruto and his teammates haven't even officially been declared genin yet. For Bleach, Ichigo has barely started his Soul Reaper activities and we've only just met Orihime. In One Piece, Zoro hasn't even joined Luffy yet. In all of these hit series, the story has barely even gotten started by Chapter 5. A whole other discussion could be made about the nature and limitations of shonen, especially Jump, storytelling, but it's clear from even a cursory glance that the slow building that Red Hood has been doing isn't something unique to it. One could argue, however, that all of those examples I've brought up are old, as even Bleach is 20 years old now. Well, let's look at a more contemporary example, My Hero Academia. By chapter 5 of MHA, Deku has been given One-for-All, has successfully used it to pass the UA entrance exam, and we're being introduced to his classmates for the first time.
...Huh. I'll be honest, I didn't go into that comparison at first expecting such a stark difference, but there IS quite a bit more achieved by chapter 5 of MHA than there is in Red Hood, or any of their SJ predecessors. So, what can we take from this? Is it Shonen Jump and it's staff that's less lax on how long it takes to get to a certain point in a series nowadays? Or is it the fans themselves that have come to expect more from a series in a certain amount of time? I'd wager a guess that the answer is somewhere in-between. That said, it does seem like things have changed quite a bit since the old days where it could take chapters upon chapters to get anywhere in a story really, which is honestly kind of a good thing. Some stories definitely do spend too much time lingering in a specific storyline before finally getting to where they're going (ironically, these same accusations ended up being levied towards the final arcs of Naruto and Bleach, and there are entire discussions over how long it takes to get somewhere in Dragon Ball and One Piece at times). Some stories however benefit from a slow build, and I feel like Red Hood might just be one of those series. Only time is going to tell however if it's going to be afforded that time or not. I for one certainly hope that it does.
That's enough about the nature of Shonen Jump storytelling for now, let's get back to the actual scene that spurred on this discussion so we can finish up with it and move on to the rest of the chapter. As mentioned before, it's made very clear that everything that's happened up until this point has been by Horlock's choice, not that of the Red List. Their goal is the same, but it seems they disagree greatly about how to get there – that or, Horlock's plans with Velou are something entirely separate from their shared goal, at least in their eyes. This makes the question of what exactly the Red List is up to all the more intriguing. Our only hint prior to this is that they want to live as well, and that they seem to be planning on making enough of themselves that humans can't possibly exterminate all of them. Why would Horlock, an apparent former member of the very guild that hunts them, be helping them in that cause? And if he's really helping them, why is he setting Velou up to become a great Hunter and presumably fight against that cause?
It's only a theory for now, but I expect the idea is for Velou to eventually learn to understand the minds of both the Hunter and the Hunted, and eventually be the lynchpin that causes some sort of peace between the two. This would fit with Grimm's words about there being nothing inherently evil about werewolves being how nature designed them, and with Velou himself witnessing that some werewolves mistreat each other while others seem to care about their comrades. He's constantly getting his eyes opened as to what the world is really like as of now, so I'd imagine it's only a matter of time before he meets a human who is just as despicable, if not more so, than any werewolf, further challenging his worldview. But again, that's just my own personal theory as of now.
The rest of the chapter, while not nearly as deep and potentially meta, plays out enjoyably enough and keeps the story moving quickly – another reason I suspect the author may have turned up the dial on the story's speed as a result of feedback. Since the last chapter, even more candidates have left the Ironworks of their own volition, and by the time we get to the final test, there are only thirty of them left, a small amount of what they started with. While we only barely got to see the training itself, it's clear that everything Debonair is putting these people through is extremely tough and only the best of the best even makes it this far, making the low passing rate of the final test that much more terrifying.
Before we get to that final test itself though, we're introduced to another new character this time, in the form of Merrio. He's a rather bland looking character if I'm being honest, certainly not near as striking as Bonkers or even Tylty. His fear of leftover food is a little out there too. It feels a little too try-hard in trying to introduce a quirky character honestly, and while I give the author credit for coming up with a quirk I've never heard of before...fear of leftover food? Seriously? The character being named likely means he'll be sticking around for a little bit though – at least, now that we've gotten this far into the trip, that is – so maybe he'll prove himself to be more interesting with time.
The final test itself is one that works great for where the story seems to be heading next. The entire trip aboard the Ironworks seems to have a very similar goal to that of Roshi's training over in Dragon Ball – it's entire purpose is to make the characters going through it toughen up rather than them actually learning anything in particular from it (though we do get hints of actual teaching here and there, what with Velou reading up on various types of golems, another new creature we now know exists in the Red Hood world). Ergo, it makes sense that the final test would be proving yourself in some form of mock combat against Debonair, the one who gets to make the final call as to whether or not you get to leave the ship and join the guild. For her part, Debonair seems to really enjoy the prospect of seeing what everyone there can do – she definitely seems to be the battle-hungry sort of character.
That said, the test itself, while definitely being stacked against the candidates – especially once Grimm joins up – is probably going to come down to something more than strength. Now that we've seen what an absolute beast Debonair and her heat powers (something I did wonder about potentially being hinted at last time) are, there doesn't seem like there's any way for Velou or anyone else to prevail. There might just be a hint in the wording of the test itself however – 'everybody who's in jail at the two-hour mark fails'. Nothing says they can't get captured and try to break free somehow, thus earning them multiple attempts at not being caught, or even a way to pass at the very last second. It would take one heck of a mind to come up with this in the middle of combat however, and if anyone on the ship has been shown capable of thinking that laterally, it's Velou. I think he's likely got this test in the bag, maybe even by the end of the next chapter or the one after that at the latest. Guess we'll just have to wait and see though.
Until next time!
Next Time: Chapter 9
Synopsis: Continuing his search for the four-star Dragon Ball, sees many wonders as he sets out into the world on his own for the very first time. As he checks the Dragon Radar, he's disappointed to see that nothing turns up, prompting him to wonder if it's broken. As he adjusts it's range however, it eventually picks up a signal a good distance away.
Elsewhere, Pilaf wakes up from a nightmare where he was reliving the night that Goku turned into a monster ape and his dream of world domination was taken away from him. He tries to play it off like he's fine, but Shu soon informs him that their radar has picked up a Dragon Ball signal again at long last, and Pilaf is overjoyed. Even though a year has passed, Pilaf still wants to rule the world, and this time he swears that he won't let anything stop him from getting his wish. Unfortunately, the window Pilaf opens up almost ends his rule before it even begins as he's almost pulled out into the open air outside of the air fortress he and the others are inside of.
Back on the ground, a mysterious army is moving in the same direction as Pilaf and crew. A short distance away, a young homeless boy is trying to figure out some way to get food in his stomach when he comes across Goku taking a swim in a nearby pond. The boy seizes the opportunity to steal Goku's things so that he can sell them, and Goku realizes his things have been taken, he takes to the sky on kinto'un – even while completely naked – to search for the thief. Eventually, he calls out for nyoibo to extend, and when it pokes out of the trees, he finds the staff, his clothes, and his bag. Unfortunately, the boy still got away with the Dragon Radar around his neck. Goku finds a shoe the boy left behind in his panic, and uses it's scent to get back on his trail.
In a small village nearby, Pilaf and Mai are searching for the Dragon Ball that their radar has picked up somewhere in it's vicinity. The mysterious military force continues it's path towards the village as well, and the young thief also runs into the village. The military force, lead by General Silver, storms into a family's home and demands they tell them anything they know about a Dragon Ball. The family insists that they have no idea what they're talking about, but Silver orders his men to ransack the home and search for it just to make sure.
The young thief runs to a salesman he knows in the village and shows him the radar, though neither of them know what it is. The man wonders if it might be a watch, even as the radar shows a Dragon Ball right there somewhere. The boy asks the man how much he'll pay for it, and the man offers him 200 zeni, but the boy insists it should be worth way more than that since it works, whatever it is. The man says he probably just stole it anyway and if the boy doesn't want the money he can just keep it, and the boy eventually relents, and the boy leaves happily with his money. The man meanwhile returns to his shop to find Pilaf checking out a crown that he thinks looks good on him. He tries to sell Pilaf on the crown as truly being worthy of a ruler, but Pilaf isn't sure...the man convinces him to come looking at his other wares however, as he's sure they'll find something fit for someone so dignified, and the salesman leaves the radar on a table outside.
Goku's nose eventually leads him to the young thief as he stuffs his face, and the boy makes a run for it only to be stopped by Goku throwing the nyoibo at him hard enough to scare him. Goku asks for the radar back, but the boy tells him that he sold it to the antique shop owner already. Back at the antique store, the salesman continues to butter up Pilaf to try and sell his wares to him, eventually saying that he has just the thing for someone of such clearly royal stock – a shining orb called a Dragon Ball that is said to grant the wish of whoever possesses it. To Pilaf's shock, the man pulls out a Dragon Ball, the four-star ball no less! Before the salesman can name a price, the Pilaf gang give him all of the money they have for the ball.
Following the boy's directions, Goku finds his way to the antique shop and is happy to find the radar sitting on the table outside. To his surprise however, the radar detects a Dragon Ball right on top of him. To both parties surprise, Goku and Pilaf with Mai run into each other just outside, both instantly recognizing the other. Pilaf insists the Dragon Ball is his, and Mai shoots at Goku so that they can make their escape. As they flee, Goku asks how many stars the ball has. The salesman, still holding his pile of money, tells him it was the four-star ball, prompting Goku to chase after Pilaf and Mai.
As Goku chases the duo down however, Pilaf's airship floats down from overhead and opens fire on Goku before picking up the other two. Goku jumps onto kinto'un to chase the ship back into the sky, much to Pilaf's horror. To make matters worse, Mai notices something strange on their radar – even though they have the Dragon Ball now, their radar is showing them moving away from the ball rather than it's signal moving with them.
Back in the small village, Silver and the militia have found their way to the antique shop as well. The salesman tells them he does indeed have the Dragon Ball they're looking for, and he goes into the back to grab one of his many four-star replicas, as well as a hand-gun. He hands the “Dragon Ball” to Silver, but Silver promptly drops it on the floor, having realized he was being tricked, just as Pilaf and Mai have realized when they break their own glass orb. Silver demands the shopkeeper tell him where the real one is, and the salesman tells him he's only heard of Dragon Balls in old fairy tales and that he's never actually seen a real one – however, in a bird's nest above his shop, a pair of birds sits with their baby right next to the six-star ball. Thinking the shopkeeper is lying to them, Silver orders his men to take him in, but when the man tries to shoot him instead, Silver shoots him first, causing the birds to flee in fear, taking their child and the Dragon Ball with them.
As the bird flies off into the sky with the real Dragon Ball, Silver has his mean search through the store and Goku continues to pursue the deceived Pilaf.
Review: We now come to the reason I decided to wait and cover these first handful of filler episodes after Goku's encounter with Silver in the manga rather than before, and that's so that we can compare and contrast the different ways that this arc opens in the anime rather than how it does in the manga. Unlike most of the filler I'll usually cover, this opening act for the Red Ribbon arc does things just differently enough that I wanted to talk about it a little bit rather than just keep rolling on with the manga's version of events.
For starters, you might notice immediately how much more intimidating Silver is in the anime's version of events. He's leading a much bigger group of soldiers complete with tanks, he's storming into people's homes and wrecking the place looking for what he wants, and he's straight up killing anyone that happens to get in his way. It goes without saying that this anime version of Silver and our first introduction to the Red Ribbon Army comes across a LOT more intimidating than their manga counterparts, and I can only assume that's because the staff at Toei also felt that the manga was a little underwhelming in this regard. Between the two, I can easily say I much prefer the anime's take here, it's much more effective at demonstrating how terrifying the Red Ribbon Army can be and showing just how big a challenge Goku is going to be facing on his new adventure.
As for the rest of it...well, the rest of it is pretty inconsequential, but hey, it's entertaining none-the-less, so I'm okay with it. Yes, things are being drug out a bit further so that rather than the first Dragon Ball being found right away there's some misdirection going on before it eventually gets to where it needs to be, but that's okay. Honestly, I'll take just about any excuse to bring the Pilaf gang back.
Yes, unlike in the manga, we get the Pilaf gang here at the start of this arc, and they're going to be sticking around for the next handful of episodes before gracefully bowing out until the next time we see them, which won't be for some time. Again, their appearances in the original manga is far more sporadic and less than their appearances in the anime that sort of treats them like Dragon Ball's answer to Team Rocket. Given how driven Pilaf was to get his wish – especially in the anime version where we saw him from the very first episode and not just at the end of the first arc – it makes a lot of sense that he'd already be searching for the balls again. Hell, even in the manga's version of events, it's the tail end of this arc (or the end of next one, depending on your arc division preferences) that we see him doing just that again. So for characters for Goku to run into again on his new adventure, him and his minions make the most logical sense to appear again. That said, I'm not entirely sure why Pilaf knows it was Goku that turned into a giant monster and wrecked everything...going off of just the manga anyway, they didn't really have much opportunity to figure out what was going on, so you'd think he'd just assume a random giant monster suddenly appeared and started to attack them. Maybe he's smarter than I give him credit for.
The sub-plot with the boy thief is really just there to get Goku moving in the same direction as Pilaf and the army so they'll all eventually collide, but seeing as how Goku would have already been on his way to that location courtesy of the Dragon Radar, I'm not entirely sure it was really needed. I suppose it could actually have been done to delay Goku though, since he probably would have been just savvy enough to start looking all around the shop for the Dragon Ball, or have realized when he left with a fake one that it wasn't real. This way he instead gets to go on a chase with Pilaf that will end up taking a few more episodes, allowing them to stretch out this section even more and let the manga get further ahead. They're crafty, those anime writers.
Honestly the best part of this delay, other than everything with Pilaf and Silver, is the antique salesman ripping everyone off with fake Dragon Balls. It's unclear why he picked the four-star ball of all of them to trick people with, but the idea of a con man hearing the same legend that Bulma did and using it to sell fakes is brilliant. I'm honestly surprised Toriyama himself didn't think of this, and it's almost a shame that this idea is used and over with in the same episode – though I'm not really sure how you could have naturally drug it out any further than this either, so maybe that's for the best.
Until next time!
Favorite Scene: The antique shop owner sweet-talking Pilaf is a sight to behold.
Next Time: Someone that looks like Goku but isn't? What a novelty!
Synopsis: After coming second in the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, Goku borrows the Dragon Radar from Bulma and sets off on his own on kinto'un to search for his grandfather's memento, the four-star Dragon Ball. Meanwhile, Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong, and Puar start to drive back to the city due to Bulma having lost the plane's capsule, saying that “even beautiful people make mistakes sometimes”; and Kuririn and Roshi continue to poke around the city for a little while longer, with Roshi trying to figure out how to buy panties as a souvenir for Lunch. Roshi's attempts go too far when he tries to convince the saleslady to try them on for him, earning himself a slap across the face.
Flying over a desert, Goku remarks that the first Dragon Ball is still a good distance away according to the radar. Elsewhere in the desert, Namu informs the villagers that although he lost the tournament, he's still managed to bring water for them all inside of a capsule that turns into a couple of massive water tanks. Namu gives thanks to Roshi for saving his village this way, but a problem still exists – even for a drought, it seems weird to Namu that the river has dried up as badly as it has. The village elder informs Namu that after he left it rained twice, but none of the water ever seemed to flow down to where they are for some reason. The elder wonders if something has happened upstream, and Namu offers to go investigate since even the water he's brought back will eventually run out.
Seeing how worried Namu is for his people, the elder tells him the legend of the wandering lake, a magical body of water that is said to move from place to place in the desert, and even once resided near the village. The elder remembers being told the story as a child and how it saved the village many times, but perhaps it was just a dream. Namu however wonders if there might be some truth to it.
Wandering the desert, Namu heads for the river's source but is attacked by a pterodactyl. Despite his best efforts, the able to grab hold of him and starts to take it back to it's nest for a meal. Nearby, Goku is still flying on kinto'un and starting to get thirsty from the heat, when he spots a pond in the distance. He dives in and swims around for a while until he sees the pterodactyl and Namu fly by overhead, and he hops back onto kinto'un and saves Namu by taking the pterodactyl out with his nyoibo before saving Namu from falling. After Goku figures out that Namu's a man by doing one of his pat-pat tests, he praises him for being the first man to be able to ride kinto'un.
Elsewhere in the desert, Bulma and the others have broken down due to running out of gas and are trying to stay out of the desert's heat. Bulma asks Oolong to turn into an umbrella, and Oolong says he doesn't want to, but Puar challenges him, saying he bets he actually can't turn into one. The goading works, and after he turns into an umbrella, Puar turns into a fan so that Yamcha and Bulma can cool down for a while, with Yamcha even suggesting they stay that way until night falls. As he starts to sweat, Oolong realizes he's been tricked.
As Goku and Namu continue flying towards the river's source, Namu having no doubt filled Goku in on what's going on, they start to come across greener and greener land, and the river bed actually has water in it. Eventually they come to a gigantic water basin that's been dammed up, keeping most of the water in just this one location. Goku spots several familiar looking creatures playing around in the water, and Namu asks him to land so that he can ask them to undo the dam. Despite Namu's pleading however, the creatures are unwilling to unstop the dam, saying that they of the Giran clan enjoy the water too much to give it up. Namu gets on his hands and knees to beg for even just a little bit of water, but one of the creatures cruelly kicks him away, forcing Namu and Goku into what seems like an inevitable conflict.
Goku hops in to join the fight and introduces himself, and although one of the creatures thinks his name sounds familiar, they all jump in to try to attack him, only to get knocked back. Before they can try again, Giran flies in and reminds the rest of his people that Goku is the one who defeated him at the tournament. Giran tells Goku that they couldn't unstick the dam even if they wanted to due to it being held together by the gum from many of his people, so that not even they are unable to break it open. Namu despairs, but Goku asks Giran if he can give breaking it a try. Giran doubts he'll succeed, but he lets Goku give it a go.
While Namu prays, Goku fires a Kamehameha at the dam, and he's successful in breaking it open, allowing the water to flow once more. Giran's people are amazed that Goku is so strong, but Giran just laughs, finding it most fitting of someone who was able to beat him. Namu takes Goku back to his village now that it's saved, but a dust storm kicks up – ruining where Bulma and Yamcha were relaxing – forcing everyone to flee it's fury. As night falls and the storm ends, the villagers despair to find that the river has once again dried up. Remembering where he found the lake before however, Goku leads the villagers to it, and the the elder recognizes it as the wandering lake of legend.
Bulma and the others push their way out of the dust storm to find that it's pushed them and their car all the way back to the Tenkaichi Budokai's location, while Goku sets out once more to continue his search for the four-star Dragon Ball.
Review: Here at last, we've come to the first substantial bit of filler in the Dragon Ball franchise. That's right, despite the franchise's reputation for filler, it actually took a whole 28 episodes before the series had to take a breather by giving us an almost entirely anime original story. I say almost, because as you can see there is at least a little bit of material at the start of this episode that we had in some form in the manga, and like with a good bit of the first two movies, this episode also pulls some cues from the canon material.
The smallest bit of filler material here, Roshi being perverted and getting his comeuppance for it, is the sort of thing you'll get a LOT of in Dragon Ball, even all of the way into Z. As I've said many times before, whether that sort of thing is your cup of tea is going to determine how palatable these kinds of scenes are for you. Even for me who generally finds these scenes amusing enough, this one isn't particularly worthwhile since it doesn't go anywhere whatsoever. That might be a fault that a lot of Roshi's anime only perversions have in common, actually.
Bulma and Yamcha's adventures don't fare much better either. The crux of their story here is taken from the manga, which is nice, but having them just end up back where they started the episode after probably less than five minutes of screen time devoted to them just feels tiresome somehow. Seeing Yamcha and Bulma arguing is a nice setup for the trials and tribulations of their relationship admittedly. Poor Oolong and Puar are already being demoted to props rather than characters though, you hate to see it.
The main plot of the episode however is the reuniting of Goku and Namu, as even Giran's last minute introduction doesn't bring a lot to the table, so naturally those two characters do a lot of the heavy lifting here. And thankfully, they work well enough. Goku's dynamic with Namu isn't as fun and robust as the rest of the cast, but Namu's nature is just too serious for Goku to really play off of any better than he does here. Namu's a good boy though, as seen in his ability to ride kinto'un - a feat that, as Goku remarks, we haven't seen out of any adult male in the series yet. As this doesn't happen in the manga, it's up to you if you want to believe he actually could or not, but I'd like to think he could. There's nothing in his personality to suggest otherwise really.
The crux of the episode comes from the plight of Namu's people, a plot element that is taken right from his story in the manga. It's a logical enough thing to bring back up for filler though, since we never actually see Namu go back to his village in the manga. It also makes sense that, no matter how much water Namu was able to take, it's still eventually going to run out if they don't figure out something else – though really, if water really is free in the city like Roshi said, couldn't he just continually go back and re-fill the tank capsule? Regardless, having Goku, the kid who ruined Namu's initial plans, come back to help him out after the tournament is a bit of a nice touch thematically. It's a little bit of a shame that their meeting in this episode is taken almost shot-for-shot from Goku's saving Bulma from a pterodactyl in the first chapter – seriously, just replace Bulma's motorcycle with Goku's kinto'un and it's the same scene – but that's not enough to fully detract from it I don't feel.
The two of them running into Giran again though? That feels a little bit forced if I'm being honest, because now Goku has run across both of his opponents from the tournament on the same day. It also doesn't help that Giran's personality here doesn't really gel with how he was presented before. He was an arrogant beast who had no problem hurting others for his own pleasure, something some anime padding earlier in the series drove in even further than the original manga did. Then when he was faced with someone far stronger than himself, rather than keep fighting, he gave up. Nothing we saw with him indicates a change of heart was very likely, so his weird, begrudging respect for Goku here feels really, really out of character for the guy.
Overall though, the episode isn't terrible by any means, it just doesn't really do a ton to thrill a viewer either. It's fairly middle of the road, there's going to be filler a lot better – and filler a lot worse – further along in the franchise.
Until next time!
Favorite Scene: Goku giving Namu a pat-pat and being amazed that an adult man is finally able to ride kinto-un is as hilarious as it is disturbing.
Next Time: Team Pilaf rises again!
Synopsis: Silver again asks Goku to tell him why he's after the Dragon Balls and how he's able to find them so easily, but Goku refuses to tell him anything unless he apologizes. He then turns to leave, but Silver dashes past him and grabs his bag, assuming that the radar must be inside there. Goku rushes and grabs it back from him, asking if the man is trying to make him mad. Silver is surprised, but smirks, saying his men were right when they told him Goku wasn't just any old kid. He decides that he'll have to physically force the information out of Goku, and swings a punch at him, but Goku kicks him hard in the gut. Silver continues to try to attack Goku, but Goku easily takes him out with a swipe of his tail, knocking him to the ground, unconscious.
Goku realizes he doesn't have kinto'un to travel with anymore and wonders what he's going to do since it's too far to walk to the next Dragon Ball. He checks out the soldiers' house to see if they have any of those capsule things Bulma had, and he finds a case of them. Tossing one out, he activates a robot. After a quick but confused conversation, the robot tells Goku to throw the capsule labeled #3, and out pops a plane that the robot then says it will fly to where Goku wants to go, though Goku laments that it moves a lot slower than kinto'un did.
At the Red Ribbon Army HQ, a short eye-patched man named Commander Red frets about how long it's taking his forces to find the Dragon Balls. His assistant, a tall black man, tries to calm him down, reminding him that their radar is far from exact. A large bear man soldier comes to inform them that there's been a disturbance with Silver's Dragon Ball search and takes them both to the command room, where their radar is picking up that Silver's Dragon Ball is now on the move heading straight for the area where General White is searching for another ball. Red furiously asks what's going on and demands that they get Silver on the radio immediately.
Hearing the radio going off, Silver stumbles his way towards it and informs Red of what's been going on, while Goku notes to the robot that it's starting to get cold as they head to their destination. Red sentences Silver to death, and then commands his assistant to contact General White and tell him to kill this kid as soon as they find him and take the Dragon Ball back from him. He then frets, noticing that his much taller assistant is standing too close to him, and tells him to step back as he doesn't like feeling short.
In the plane, Goku is freezing due to the plummeting temperatures as they head northward. He checks the Dragon Radar and realizes he's close enough to the ball now, so he asks the robot to land. Unfortunately, the robot is now frozen as well, and the plane crashes into a snowy hillside. Nearby soldiers hear the crash and decide to check it out. At White base, General White receives word of the crash and that it's one of their own planes. He orders his men to find the kid that was supposed to be on board and retrieve that Dragon Ball at all cost. He then laughs, thinking that whatever this kid is, he's finished now.
Too cold to move on his own, Goku is shown to be unconsciously holding on to his bag, as a young girl in snow clothes drags him through the snow.
Review: General Silver might be our first taste of what the Red Ribbon Army can throw at Goku, but it's certainly not a very good indicator of what's to come, sadly. As we'll see over the course of the story, the Red Ribbon is absolutely not a foe to be trifled with. Here at the start though, they're kind of being built up while not having a lot to back them up.
A big part of this problem is with Silver himself. Outside of blowing up kinto'un, a task he accomplished by using a rocket launcher meaning even Puar could have done it, he doesn't get to do a single thing to actually come off as threatening. Sure, the soldiers under his command are scared of him, but he barely lasts any longer against Goku than they do. Hell, I realize Goku is super strong now, but even Monster Carrot put up more of a fight – there's starting things off gradually, and then there's the complete ineffectiveness that is Silver's crew. Ah well. At least the robot Goku steals from them is super entertaining.
Silver himself aside, the chapter does give us a bit more of a taste of the Red Ribbon Army itself, though it still doesn't do much to fully illustrate what a threat they are, especially after Silver's poor showing. They are shown to be a much more spread out and organized force than any of the villainous groups Goku has tangled with so far however, so there's a lot of potential here that Toriyama will start taking more full advantage of shortly hereafter. Of particular interest is the naming scheme of this entire organization – Red, Silver, Brown, White. He hasn't been named yet, but even Red's assistant falls under this naming scheme, as he's named...Black. That's, um...hmm. Moving on.
Pun based names are hardly a new thing for Dragon Ball (though these are certainly more on the nose than previous ones, at least to an English-speaking audience), but what's interesting about these ones is what they potentially imply. Either Red gathered specifically people with color based puns to join his organization, these are all code names to hide the characters' real names, or everyone that joined up just happened to fit the name pun theme. There's not really a satisfactory answer to this question either as nothing is ever suggested one way or another in the story itself, and I don't recall anything being said in the years since outside of it either. Personally I like to think they're all code names, save for perhaps Red himself, but that's just me.
For his failure, Silver is sentenced to execution, but unlike a later failed member of the army, we don't actually see this one get carried out, so it's entirely possible that Silver is still out there somewhere, continuing to fail at everything he tries to do. Really warms your heart, doesn't it?
I might be sounding kind of sour, but I promise I'm not. This arc is still one of my favorite portions of the series, especially the pre-Z material, but there's just no denying that it's opening act just isn't as eventful or impressive as one might expect it to be given everything that came before it. At least not here in the manga. If only there were another take on this material somewhere. ...Wait...
Until next time!
Synopsis: Goku wakes up aboard kinto'un, still flying through the sky in search of the four-star Dragon Ball. Seeing that the sun has risen already, he stops to take a drink from a river before checking the Dragon Radar to see if he's gotten closer to the signal it picked up. It detects that he has just a little bit further to go, so he happily hops back onto the cloud and continues his travel.
A short distance away, a soldier wakes up as well and exits the house he was sleeping in. His commander, Colonel Silver, accosts him for sleeping in so late, saying there's no time to waste. The scared soldier apologizes and gets into his truck, while Silver explains that Commander Red has been urging them to find what they're looking for as fast as possible: it seems another group of soldiers, Brown squad, has already found theirs. As the soldier drives away with another soldier, a dog man, in tow, Colonel Silver says what it is they're looking for: Dragon Balls!
Shortly after, the two soldiers are poking around in the wilderness trying to find where the Dragon Ball could be. They don't have much hope as they've already been searching for twenty days without finding it, but they don't have much choice but to keep trying. Their search is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Goku, who hops off kinto'un and checks his radar again. The Dragon Ball is close! As he starts to poke around as well, the soldiers threaten him but stop once Goku almost effortlessly finds the six-star Dragon Ball that's eluded them for close to a month.
Goku is surprised the two guys know about the Dragon Balls, and the human soldier demands that Goku hand it over if he wants to live. Goku sticks his tongue out at the man, who promptly grabs hold of him only for Goku to kick him and send him flying away. The dog soldier fires his gun, but Goku is able to dodge the bullets with ease, landing before the soldier and punching him hard in the gut, before sending him flying with a kick as well. Goku is disappointed that the Dragon Ball he found wasn't the one he was looking for, but figures he may as well keep it for now.
The human soldier gets back up and quickly radios Silver, telling him what happened. Rushing out of the house from before, Silver spots Goku overhead and fires a rocket at him, destroying kinto'un. Goku is angry at the loss of his gift from Roshi, but Silver demands that the boy tell him why he's gathering the Dragon Balls and how he was able to find one so quickly – even the Red Ribbon Army's radar is only able to locate an approximate location. Goku says he has nothing to tell the guy who destroyed kinto'un, but Silver smirks and takes off his coat, telling Goku not to underestimate a Colonel of the Red Ribbon Army.
Review: At long last, we're entering one of my favorite, and one of the most important, story arcs in the Dragon Ball franchise – the Red Ribbon Army is here.
You might think I'm exaggerating, but while this arc isn't perfect, I do really enjoy it quite a lot. It's a longer arc, and for some it might outstay it's welcome, but after the relatively straight forward arc's before it, I feel like this really was the best direction for the story to go next. It sees us through multiple locales, utilizes characters both new and old in various ways (though admittedly, the pre-existing cast may be a little too underutilized here), and it gives us a bunch of really great fights. It even gives us a crossover with Toriyama's previous manga series, Dr. Slump – now THAT'S gonna be fun to talk about once I get there.
I also stand by this being one of the most important story arcs in the series as well, because it's the only one that directly causes a later story arc to happen. Most of the story arcs in Dragon Ball are fairly stand-alone, with really only the two Piccolo arcs and the Saiyan to Freeza arcs being directly related to one another. Usually, an arc's connection to a previous arc is superficial at best, mainly reliant on characters appearing that we've seen before or something being mentioned that happened in the previous story. This arc however ends up setting up an arc that won't happen for a long, long time afterwards, and while it was definitely not on Toriyama's mind at the time of writing this particular story arc, it can't be denied that without the Red Ribbon Army storyline, there is no Androids/Cell storyline. There is no Gohan coming into his own as a fighter (at least not as we get to see it), and considering how popular that particular story beat is, it's a shame that this story that is a direct predecessor to it is so slept on. But that's the fate of original Dragon Ball, sadly.
But enough about what's still ahead, let's talk about this chapter in particular. As much as I go on about loving this arc, this opening chapter itself doesn't really give much to talk about, as it's mainly just setting up the new conflict of someone other than Goku looking for the Dragon Balls. Even with this bare-bones setup however, we do get somewhat of an inkling that this won't be like the previous Dragon Ball hunt. Last time, the gang didn't run into someone else who wanted them until the very end of the journey (Yamcha doesn't really count because he only started to pursue the Dragon Balls after his run-in with them), and the various mentions of the Red Ribbon Army certainly bring to mind a more formidable force than Pilaf and his two cronies. It also makes a huge difference that, at least for now, Goku is going to be all alone in this fight, he won't have anyone else's smarts to help cover up for his own weaknesses.
Luckily for Goku however, he's gained a lot of strength since the last Dragon Ball hunt, and certainly since the last time he was on his own. While Goku kicking away mooks with ease isn't anything we haven't seen before, him dodging bullets fired from extremely close range is a whole other league from him taking them head-on and surviving due to it being for gag purposes. You could almost say Goku is too overpowered already actually, and I think Toriyama may have realized this, hence his decision to take kinto'un out of the equation, even if only temporarily. Goku might be strong, but he's not infallible, and it's going to be really hard to get around to the other Dragon Balls if he has to go the whole way on foot.
Until next time!
Next Time: Colonel Silver, Goku's next “great” challenge!