"Let the adventure begin!! Yippee!!" - Bulma
So this is me being entirely self indulgent, and spending one post a month looking at one of my favourite manga series, Akira Toriyama's Dragonball. A series that pretty much defined the main "shonen" style for decades to come. This is probably the manga/anime series that was most well known in the west until fairly recently (though the complete DVD collection and this new edition of the manga has reiginited interest for a new generation) but it was more for the anime than the original 1984-1995 manga series. Also, the anime portion that is most popular and influential actually starts some way into the series as a whole, after a five year time skip that saw the tone of the manga change from light-hearted, martial arts, fantasy whimsy to more serious, science-fiction, uber fighting mayhem. Named Dragonball Z and first screened in the west in the late nineties and early noughties, it was a gateway drug for many young anime fans and also recaptured lapsed fans like myself with it's epic story-telling. However this is getting ahead of ourselves. The first sixteen volumes were also turned into an anime series, but it's reliance on deliberately immature and parochial humour traveled badly meaning it was seen as a difficult sell to the west hence the jumping straight to the more serious Dragonball Z.
|Introducing Son Goku.|
[Note: This manga is "unflipped" so must be read from right to left]
The first few pages establish the twelve year old Son Goku as a powerful fighter living alone in the wilderness, able to hunt and subdue tigers and bears for food. He has a monkey tail and a staff and his look is loosely based on Sun Wukong from the classic Chinese novel "Journey To The West". His path crosses with that of sixteen year old Bulma, a cosmopolitan sixteen year old girl driving a futuristic looking car which Goku mistakes for a monster and attacks.
|And here's Bulma.|
They go back to Goku's house and Bulma sees a small spherical object, an orange glasslike ball with four stars inside it. It's one of the legendary dragonballs. She found one in her basement and did some research on it and discovered that if you find all seven of them you can summon and dragon and make a wish, and she wants to wish for a boyfriend, she already has two balls and wants this one too.
|The Legendary Shenlong.|
They ride together on a motorbike which Goku is totally unprepared for. Then Bulma has to stop for a pee, and runs into the bushes. A flying dinosaur type grabs her and flies off with her after tying a confused Goku up. Bulma yells at him to rescue her so first he chases them on the bike. When he can't reach them on that he commands his "nyoibo" staff to do it's thing and it elongates. He cracks the flying dinosaur on the head with it and it drops Bulma. Then Goku throws it so it pins Bulma to a nearby cliff, she is safe but has wet her pants in the confusion!
|Talking dinosaurs exist in Goku's world.|
When she gives him a good scrub she realises his tail is real and this freaks her out. Bulma takes a bath herself and Goku wanders in and says she has "an extra butt" on her chest. When he tells her his age is fourteen (he's wrong he's actually twelve we discover in book three) she hurls things at him calling him a "perv" and he races out.
|Bulma ponders Goku.|
Goku wakes early the next morning and contemplates Bulma sprawled on the bed. He climbs onto it and lies with his head resting on her crotch like he used to with his grandfather. He realises something is wrong and slips her knickers off. He jumps back in horror and screams. Bulma immediately wakes:
Goku: "Y-Y-You've l-l-lost your ba-ba-ba-ba..."
Bulma misunderstands and thinks he's talking about the dragonballs and rushes to check on them. When she confirms they are still there she scolds him for freaking her out. This then instigates a running gag of Goku patting people's crotches to check what gender they are for the next couple of volumes as he genuinely has a hard time telling males from females.
|The talking turtle.|
Full of gratitude the sea turtle tells Goku to wait and swims off. He returns with a little old man on his back who introduces himself as
|The magical cloud kinto'un.|
Kamesenin'in: "Cut me some slack" It's hard bein' the Turtle Hermit!! I deserve the occasional undie-oglin!"
So Bulma obliges, thinking it's only her undies and gives him a real eyeful having not realised Goku took her knick-knacks off while she was sleeping.
|This images is probably against the law, but hee hee!|
They return to the capsule house and Bulma goes to get dressed and shrieks in horrified surprise when she discovers she is minus her pants. When Goku admits to taking them off she fires a machine gun at him which just stings him a bit. Finally she finishes dressing, pops the house back in it's capsule and they travel to the next village, Bulma on a bike, Goku on kinto'un. The village is seems deserted though.
Goku calls out then smashes someones door and gets bopped on the head. The person then pleads with him not to take his daughter, thinking Goku is someone called "Lord Oolong". When they realise he isn't, the villagers come out of hiding. They tell Goku and Bulma that Oolong is a terrible demon that has been abducting their daughters. One of them has a dragonball, Bulma says in return for helping them with Oolong they want the ball.
|Goku disguised as "Oolong" approaches.|
He demands the girl he was originally after, so Goku prepares to fight him. Oolong suddenly rushes off and when out of sight of Goku turns into a small pig-headed humanoid. Turns out that is his original form and he can only shape-shift for five minutes at a time before having to recharge for a minute. Once recharged he turns into a large knight and threatens Goku again.
Goku begins to suspect Oolong is full of it. Ooloong challenges Goku to break three bricks to prove his strength. Goku does it with his finger. Realising he is completely outclassed, Oolong turns into a bat and flies off. Goku chases him on kinto'un and sees Oolong change into a pig this time.
He captures him and forces him to come back to the village and apologise. Oolong then takes them to his lair where the girls he took are living the life of luxury and happy they don't have to do farming.
Oolong: "Why do you think I wanted a nice, shy girl? These chick're wearing me out. Take 'em home with you please."
|The real Oolong.|
Bulma gives Oolong a piece of candy which he eats. They are in a boat now, but it soon runs out of gas. Staying with them because Bulma has promised him a pair of her panties, Oolong turns into an oar and they row ashore. Then Bulma realises she has lost her capsules and drops to her knees in distress.
Oolong takes this opportunity to run off as he doesn't want to go to "Fry-Pan mountain" their next destination. Bulma however, whistles and this makes Oolong have the uncontrollable urge to poo. Turns out the chocolate she gave him was a laxative that can be activated by whistling (!) and so this forces Oolong to come back to them.
He turns into a scooter, but they don't get far. They start walking and end up in a desert. Bulma goes for a nap in a shady area, while a small flying cat called Puar spies Oolong and Goku through a telescope and reports back to her master, a handsome young man called Yamcha.
|Puar and Yamcha.|
Yamcha and Goku begin to fight each other. Yamcha recognises Goku's nyoboi staff as belonging to Goku's adoptive grandfather Son Gohan - a legendary martial artist. With renewed respect for Goku's abilities they fight again. Yamcha punches Goku a long way off and thinks he won the battle.
|Goku's first proper fight.|
Night falls and Goku, Bulma and Oolong have dinner inside a camper van. It turns out OOlong had an emergency capsule. Yamcha and Puar make plans to get the capsule. Puar wonders how they can do it with Bulma there. They sneak up and peer in, unfortunately they choose the window Bulma is having a shower through and Yamcha nearly has a breakdown.
|Yamcha gets an eyeful.|
Goku nods off as well, and Yamcha and Puar sneak in. Yamcha tells Puar to take Goku's shaoe and lure Bulma outside so he can grab the balls. Puar obliges and "Goku" goes upstairs, Oolong is already up there and in a panic changes into "Bulma" and goes outside with "Goku". Yamcha goes to Bulma's bed thinking the dragonballs are hidden there and pulls back the bedspread. Sadly all that is there is a sleeping Bulma and Puar has to take him away as he boggles and stammers, "thuh..thuse...muh...mounds."
That morning Oolong tells Goku and Bulma he stood guard all night to keep Yamcha and Puar away. Bulma asks if her clothes have been cleaned, they have not, but Oolong has some clothes her size upstairs. Turns out to be a sexy leotard with bunny ears much to Bulma's non-amusement. But she wears it anyway.
|Why does Oolong have a spare bunny suit?!|
Goku and the others arrive at Fry-Pan Mountain which holds the next ball but is also the home of the fearsome "Gyo-Mao", The Ox King. The mountain is on fire and his castle is at the top. The Ox King guards it from the bottom because the flames keep him from his own castle. While Goku and chums and Yamcha and Puar contemplate how to get past the flames a new character is introduced.
|Introducing Chi Chi...|
Goku tries to fly up to the castle on kinto'un but the heat repels him. Then a huge man appears, the Ox King and demands to know what they are doing. But when he sees Goku has kinto'un he recognises it as belong to his old master Kamesen'in and eagerly asks if he knows where he is, bringing this first volume of Dragonball to a close.
|...and her dad the fearsome Ox King.|