One of the first animes to really “hit it big” in the USA was, of course, “Dragonball Z”. Nowadays we all know that this was, in reality, the “second half” of the series “Dragonball”, which marked when the show mostly left its humorous, nonsensical roots behind and became fully an action-orientated series. A lot of fans focus on the “Dragonball Z” generation and skip the earlier one, likely because the first half of the series wasn’t too terribly remarkable action-wise and a lot of the humor either suffered from slow-pacing when translated to anime or was too adult to make it past censors.
A bit of a pity, because there are some fun facts in the original series that people who purely watch “Dragonball Z” would never have gotten. So…here is a brief list of ten things that were exclusive to the original series that DBZ fans might find a bit interesting.
NOTE: Some of these may be more “obvious” and less-surprising than others, but they’re kind of intriguing to a nerd like me.
1. The latter part of “Dragonball Z” was foreshadowed by “Dragonball”.
Anyone who read the original “Dragonball” knows that Akira Toriyama doesn’t have the best memory in the world, and leaves occasional plot holes in his work regarding characters and events from earlier in the series in the latter part. However, one thing he definitely reproduced in “The Cell Saga” and “The Buu Saga” were things introduced earlier in the series. Anyone who watched or read “Dragonball Z” knows full well that Dr. Gero was originally a scientist in the Red Ribbon Army and probably guessed that Android #8 was the predecessor of the latter androids, but there were more allusions than that. His other creation, Metal, both used Android #16’s rocket punch and illustrated the primary problem with the androids: low battery life, leading eventually to the ones that either drained energy or had perpetual energy. Android #8 also foreshadowed Android #16’s pacifism and the fact that the androids were built with self-destruct bombs inside them. On the part of “The Buu Saga”, Goku and Vegeta’s “24 Hour Bonus Day” was not a new plot device. Son Gohan (the original, Goku’s foster grandpa, not Goku’s son) used it back in Dragonball to come back to life for 24 Hours to see how much Goku had improved and to get to tell him goodbye. Plus, Buu’s trick of turning people into candy was one of the oldest in the series. Boss Bunny/Monster Carrot had the power to turn opponents into carrots.
2. Kamisama was mighty.
In Dragonball Z, Kamisama’s main role was to look like a withered old Namekian and offer occasional advice until he finally merged with Piccolo. Now, while he wasn’t the first character to have started off impressive and eventually been left in the dust by the other characters, at the time of the third Strongest Under the Heavens Tournament, he was confirmed by Toriyama to be far and away the strongest character…including being stronger than both Goku and Piccolo during the tournament. While it’s true that Piccolo got the edge on him, that was only by reversing the Mafuba technique, as well as the fact that Kamisama wasn’t out to kill him as that would have killed him as well.
3. The “One Wish” Rule was kind of “slapped-on”.
Most people who watch “Dragonball Z” know the major limitation of the Earth Dragonballs is that they can only be used to bring someone back from the dead once, because they can’t grant the same wish more than once. However, that rule mostly “evolved” rather than was an official standing. In fact, this rule was not so much do with the Dragonballs themselves as Kamisama proclaiming a “decree from on high”. During the Piccolo Saga, Piccolo Daimao killed Shenlong after having his wish granted. Goku originally went to Kamisama to have him revive Shenlong so he could grant the wish to bring his friends back to life. Kamisama agreed, but made the condition that he would do so just this once and never again, saying it wasn’t “fair” for Goku to be able to “bend the rules” whenever he wanted about life and death. So…really, the “One Wish” Rule didn’t start off as being a rule so much as Kamisama making a moral judgement call about the permanency of death.
On a side note, another fun-fact about the Dragonballs is that originally they could bring someone back from the dead, but that was all. If the bodies weren’t maintained, then the individual could end up coming back as a rotten corpse. During the Piccolo Saga, when it became clear that individuals would be dead for more than a couple days, Bulma invented cryogenic capsules to preserve the bodies. During the Saiyan-Jin Saga, the fact that Chiaozu would have been impossible to revive as he had blown himself up was skirted over because he had already been wished back once. However, the Namekian Dragonballs, in addition to being able to revive unlimited times, had the added bonus of restoring the bodies of whoever was killed. Therefore, although Kuririn had died once already anyway, even if he hadn’t his body should have been dust due to Frieza, but Porunga took care of that.
4. The “lost” character – Lunch.
As mentioned before, Toriyama tends to forget things he does at times. One of the biggest slip-ups he made other than blowing up the moon twice, however, was in simply forgetting about the existence of Lunch. Lunch was a comical character along the lines of Oolong in the original Dragonball series that Goku had to bring to Kamesennin in order to get him to train him. She had a split personality…one an innocent, kind, yet somewhat slow-witted young woman, and the other a rough, savage, and violent gangster-esque woman, with the personalities swapping every time she sneezed. She was fairly big in the original series, appearing extremely often, and her “violent” side eventually getting a crush on Tienshinhan. But while characters like Oolong, Puar, and Yaijirobe continued to appear late into “Dragonball Z”, Lunch only got a mention in the beginning of the Saiyan-Jin Saga that she ran off after Tien and hadn’t been seen since, and was never mentioned again. Even in the finale of the Buu Saga when Toriyama remembered characters like Upa and Android #8, Lunch didn’t make an appearance. One might argue that since Tienshinhan’s role of “villain turned good” was rapidly ursurped by the more charismatic and intriguing Piccolo that anyone who had a tie to him was unnecessary as well. However, one interesting fact to note is that when Lunch turned violent and, supposely, stronger and fiercer…her hair would turn blond. A foreshadowing of the Super Saiyan-Jin, perhaps?
5. Kamesennin’s true ultimate move.
Kamesennin AKA Muten Roshi was the “biggest deal” of the early part of “Dragonball”, being the strongest fighter in the world for decades. His signature move, the Kamehameha, became the biggest staple move of the entire series, and even he was able to pull off a Shin-Kamehameha move that was capable of blowing up mountains and even the moon. However…that was not his “ultimate” move. In the first Strongest Under the Heavens Tournament in the series, he frequently mentioned that he might have to use his ultimate move on Goku, but it did not end up being the Shin-Kamehameha. Rather, it was a move that loosely translated to “Bangkok Surprise Prize”, which was another energy attack that both immobilized and slowly killed the opponent. Goku would have been killed by this move if Kamesennin didn’t cut it off, so he would have been forced to surrender in the fight had not the moon come out and made him go Oozaru, allowing him to break free from the movie. Similar to Piccolo’s Makakosappo attack, this move was never seen again.
6. Kamesennin is immortal.
Ok, obviously he’s not that kind of immortal in that he’s immune to death, because he killed himself trying to seal away Piccolo and he later got killed by Buu. However, if you’ve ever wondered how Kamesennin never seems to get any older, it’s because he can’t die of old age. Early in the series, his turtle mentions that he drank the immortality elixir late in life. He’ll be that dirty old man for the rest of eternity unless something comes along and kills him for good.
7. Goku uses the “weak” chi attack.
Fans of “Dragonball Z” always “ooo” and “aah” every time someone does a Kamehameha, because that’s supposed to be a sign that “sh’t got real” when that attack gets whipped out. However, ironically, in “Dragonball” it was a fairly weak attack. It was pretty unremarkable unless someone did the “Shin” version like Kamesennin, when he would temporarily bulge in muscles. But moreso, there was another attack known as the Dodonpa which was stronger. Although it definitely wasn’t too impressive looking compared to the Kamehameha, Kamesennin mentioned it was, by default, always stronger. He mentioned that even the Shin-Kamehameha can never contend with it; that it has some property that always made it the superior chi attack. Yet Goku and others continued to rely on the Kamehameha well after that and for the rest of “Dragonball Z”.
8. Chichi has a heart of gold.
This is likely very surprising to “Dragonball Z” fans, but, believe it or not, Chichi, for all of her rage, tantrums, fury, tongue-lashing, and insistence on making Gohan quit fighting and become a scholar, is actually one of the only characters in the series pure of heart. This was evidenced way back in her first appearance. Goku was initially one of the only characters who could use the Kintoun cloud (which also fell by the wayside along with the Nyo-bo) because only individuals who are pure-hearted can ride it. All others would have to hold onto Goku to be able to get on it. Even Lunch’s “innocent form” had to cling to Goku to ride. Yet Chichi was able to get on it all on her own without Goku supporting her. Wow.
9. Goku has a weakness.
This only ever becomes clear in “Dragonball”, but there’s good reason Goku is always stuffing his face: he’s like Superman on Kryptonite without it. Goku’s voracious and seemingly-bottomless appetite needed to constantly be filled early in “Dragonball”, or he’d be dead in the water, both too weak to fight as well as having a reduced threshold for pain and damage. This was necessary early on simply because Goku didn’t have many weaknesses, meaning everything was simply a matter of time of waiting for Goku to beat someone up. His tail was one, but when it was found it could easily break off and regrow at will, it was never a major issue. In fact, Goku, unlike Raditz, had trained his tail by the time of the Second Strongest Under the Heavens Tournament to no longer be susceptible to it as a weakness. So the easiest way to stab a Saiyan-Jin in the heart is through his stomach?
10. The moon blew up…twice.
This is probably a more well-known one if you’re familiar with “Dragonball” even in the slightest, but since it’s the most infamous, it deserves a nod. “Dragonball Z” fans are well aware of how Piccolo sought an “unconventional” way to ensure the Saiyan-Jins couldn’t transform: moon-go-boom and resulting tsunamis be damned. Unfortunately, he was beaten to it long ago. Kamesennin figured that rather than kill Oozaru Goku with a Shin-Kamehameha, he would rather eliminate the only way he could transform by blowing the moon up entirely. (One might argue Kamesennin knew that was how Son Gohan met his end and he wanted to make sure Goku couldn’t hurt or kill anymore people through his transformation, but moving on…) It wasn’t an “overlooked” detail either. In the Second Strongest Under the Heavens Tournament, one of Kamesennin’s opponents was a Manwolf, a wolf who turned into a man by the light of a full moon, and who wanted revenge for Kamesennin ruining his chance of getting a date. There’s one panel later on that mentions how it was restored by Kamisama and as a result also led to Goku getting his tail removed permanently, but unfortunately it didn’t last long as a couple mangas later we’d be into Dragonball Z and that’s when Piccolo would do his own infamous blast. Apparently blowing up something a sixth the size of the Earth isn’t too hard.