Synopsis: Goku, growing impatient with how long it's taking Bulma to get ready after waking up, decides to head outside and break rocks for exercise. The second boulder he picks up turns out to be no rock at all however – it's a giant sea turtle! The turtle explains that he's been lost and trying to find his way back to the sea for some time now, and Goku offers to help take him back to the sea. Bulma objects and at first lets Goku leave, but quickly realizes this leaves her in a lurch with one less Dragon Ball and a lot of danger left to face all alone, so she hurries after them.
On the road to the sea, the trio is soon stopped by a gigantic bear-like bandit, who wants to take the turtle from them and eat it. Bulma's okay with this idea, but Goku isn't, and faces off with the bandit in a fight, making short work of it much to the surprise of Bulma and the turtle. With that roadblock taken care of, the trio heads back onto the road toward the sea.
They eventually reach the water's edge, and the turtle is so grateful that he asks if they could please wait by the water for a little while as he plans to return with a reward for their help. They agree and wait, eventually spotting the returning turtle on the horizon, who brings them...an old man wearing sunglasses and a turtle shell?
Review: If last chapter was a pitstop designed mostly to get some more gags out of the way, then this chapter definitely gets the ball rolling again in terms of story progression. Somehow though, it does end up feeling a little bit light somehow. Not bad, just light.
Goku stepping outside to keep up his exercises even while he's on the road is a nice little touch that shows how seriously Goku takes his training, and it's something that definitely becomes a staple of the character as the story continues progressing. It also serves as a nice reminder of Goku's strength before we get to the fight later in the chapter. I know what you're thinking: “It's only chapter 3, how could anyone forget how strong he is?” Which, in of itself, is a fair point. It's important to remember the target demographic of the series in it's original run in Japan was very young boys however, and that the series was brand new and still catching on. After having no feats of strength to speak of in the last chapter really, it makes sense to have a little reminder of it at the start of this one, especially since it's going to get kicked up a notch in just a few pages.
It's a little funny to think about the turtle being introduced this early into the story considering he's going to effectively get shoved into the background harder than any other early series character after this. I mean, we never even get a proper name for the guy, but he's still the third character introduced that's actually part of the gang somewhat, how crazy is that? It's easy to see why he gets ditched so hard though, honestly. Outside of serving as a way to introduce the much more useful character of Kamesennin, he doesn't really have much else to offer the story going forward either. Poor guy gave everything he had to offer too early.
On the other hand though, the bear bandit actually achieves a little bit of world building with his brief entry into the story. Not only does he allow us to see Goku's current special move, the Janken (or Rock-Paper-Scissors) Fist, for the very firs time, he's also our first encounter with an animal person. In the first chapter we had the pterodactyl that talked, and now we have turtle, but both are very much animals. They speak, but beyond that, they're not anthropomorphized at all. The bear bandit is another case entirely however. Not only can he speak, he wears clothing, he wields a sword, and he has hands with fingers rather than a paw like you'd expect a bear to have. We'll get plenty more animal people in the background throughout the course of the story, but this might be one of the few times one of them actually had minimal plot relevancy for even a few seconds, which is probably one of the reasons this minor character is so well remembered by fans.
All things told though, the bear bandit is gone about as quickly as he appeared, but even that serves it's purpose well. We'd already seen that Goku was abnormally strong in non-combat ways, but this is the first time we've really gotten to see him fight. Beating such a large opponent with such ease shows that he's more than just strong, he's insanely strong, enough to shock even Bulma and she's seen him take down a pterodactyl.
One of the few jokes to speak of in the chapter is Goku asking turtle if he really does taste good, and the turtle assuring him that it was all lies, placating Goku's curiosity and saving turtle's life from his would-be savior. It's a small moment, but a great one.
That about does it for this chapter. You-know-who technically makes their first appearance in this chapter, but the next chapter is really their debut, so I'll save my commentary on them until then. Until next time!
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