Friday, 26 February 2016

Dragonball Book 3: The Training Of Kamesen'in

"Well, now that was incredible.  You're both quite amazing" - Kamesen'in

This is my cut n'paste intro for my end of month indulgence as I make my way through all forty-two collected volumes of the enduringly popular and influential manga  Dragonball. The series used to be split into the fantasy and whimsy filled Dragonball and the more serious, sci-fi orientated strip it became after sixteen volumes known as Dragonball Z, but now the series is being released under the one "Dragonball" title again; uncut and with a spiffy new translation.  The series first ran in the famous anthology magazine "Shonen Jump" from 1984 to 1995 and was written and drawn by Akira Toriyama (It has been translated here by Mari Morimoto and adapted into English by Gerard Jones, the western publisher is Viz Media) and pretty much set the standard for the similar shonen manga and anime that came after like Bleach and Naruto.  It follows the adventures of the kindly if somewhat sheltered and simple "Son Goku" as he trains, goes on adventures and enters competitions all with the aim of making himself a stronger and better fighter.  Along the way he accrues a colourful cast of friends and rivals in a world where humans live alongside anthropomorphised animals, dinosaurs never died out and tiny capsules can contain vehicles and houses to be easily carried around.

[Note:  This manga is "unflipped" so must be read from right to left]
Introducing Kururin.
Previously on Dragonball:  The hunt for the seven dragonballs was successful.  Together Son Goku, female tech genius Bulma, the desert bandit Yamcha and the shapeshifters Puar and Oolong found six of the balls, but they were captured by the evil Lord Pilaf who had the seventh.  When he united them and summoned the mystical dragon Shenlong who can grant any wish, Oolong managed to get a wish in first, for a pair of hot babe's panties.  Then the dragonballs flew off to random locations across the planet, and can't be tracked for another year.  Goku, upon seeing a full moon which his deceased grandpa had always warned him against turned into a huge crazed ape creature and broke them out of Pilaf's prison.  Puar snipped off his tail and he turned back with no memory of what had occured.  Bulma and Yamcha decided to give a relationship a go, and travelled back to the city with Puar and Oolong.  However, Goku decided to take up the offer of training from the aging pervert Kamesen'in, a martial arts master.  When he showed up at Kamesen'in's island house he is set his first task.  Find a sexy lady to come live with them and given that Goku has a hard time telling females from males, this could be his toughest task yet... And now the continuation.
Kame (I'm calling him just Kame for now OK!) says he is appalled by Goku's inability to judge women.  He showshim pictures and Goku can't pick the hot one.  Kame points at a picture of an attractive woman and says "bring me a chick like this.  Understand?! This!!" Goku flies off on his magic cloud Kinto'un to keep looking.
Perving foiled!
He returns with a sexy woman lying on the cloud.  Kame is very pleased and says Goku's first training exercise will be to get her panties. Goku goes right up and asks her and returns to Kame saying "that one says they've only got a shirt and no panties".  Kame thinks he's hit the perve jackpot but she turns out to be a mermaid.  When he asks to ogle her boobs up close she smacks him one and swims off.

Then a boat is rowed to the island by a diminutive monk, he introduces himself as Kuririn and he wishes to train under Kame.  Kame is initially unenthused by the prospect of another student, but Kuririn hands him a dirty magazine and he changes his mind.  Goku tells Kuririn his head looks like a pachinko ball.

Kuririn: "How dare you.  All who aspire to master the martial arts shave their heads in order to unfetter their ki!"
Kururin arrives.
Kame says, "actually I am just bald." He then sets Kuririn the same task as Goku.  Kuririn has impure thoughts and cannot sit on kinto'un directly, he has to hang off Goku's back.  They spot a woman on a motorbike being chased by cops.  After a pitched battle and lots of exchanged gunfire the woman sneezes and turns into a timid woman with a different hair colour and disposition.  She screams for help as the police close in.

Goku jumps down and "rescues" her.  She is able to ride the cloud and the three of them return to Kame's house.  Once there she looks in her bag to find a lot of money and says she probably robbed a bank again.  Kame comes outside and lays eyes on her and is more than happy.  Now Goku and Kuririn's training can begin in earnest.  She needs a place to lie low, so Kame says she can stay as long as she likes. 
"Good" Lunch.
He even offers to train her, and they all get dressed up in a "Uniform" consisting of a lacey basque so he can see her in one.  Then she sneezes and turns into the aggressive blonde who accuses them of kidnapping her and she opens fire on them with a machine gun.  Luckily they are all bullet resistant and she sneeze and turns back to her nice self.  Her name is Lunch.

Lunch: "Oops! Sorry"  I warned you about my sneezes didn't I?"
Crazy Lunch.
Now there are four of them Kame puts his home back in its capsule and they sail to a larger island.  The training begins with seeing who can run the 100 metres the fastest.  Kuririn manages it in 10.4 seconds.  Goku in 11 seconds.  But he has busted shoes, when he gets a new pair he runs it in 8.5 seconds.  Kame then runs it in 5.6 seconds.

Kame: "That is what I mean by breaking the human wall! At your age, with training and discipline you should be able to break 5 seconds."

For the next exercise, Kame draws his "turtle" kanji on a stone then throws it off the clifftop they are on into the woods below.  Goku jumps directly down into the trees while Kuririn runs down the mountain path.  He decides to fake the stone and returns to Kame with one he marked himself.  Kame says he can recognise when something isn't in his handwriting and hurls the rock back at Kuririn who runs back to the woods to look properly.
Goku and Kururin disagree.
Goku locates the rock by its scent.  Kuririn asks to look at it and grabs it from Goku and runs off yelling "FOOL!!!".  Goku catches up and they scuffle.  Kuririn pretends to throw the rock away and Goku runs off after it.  Kuririn returns the rock to Kame and Goku gets no dinner, and luckily doesn't suffer food poisoning from badly prepared "fugu" (puffer fish).

A few days later training starts when Kame and Kuririn have recovered.  Kame gives them some philosophy of martial arts:

Kame: "One masters those arts for health in mind and body for the ability to live ones life courageously, uniquely and energetically as one wishes."

They follow him for a jog to the diary where they are given milk to deliver all over the island.  At the top of a hill is a temple.  Kame says to the head monk that if Kuririn and Goku keep training diligently "they should be able to enter the tournament eight months from now."  Kuririn tells Goku the "Tenka'ichi Budokai" or "Strongest Under Heaven" is where martial artists compete against each other.  Both are excited at the prospect of taking part.
An exciting prospect.
Goku shows his power.
Kame says the tournament is a goal which will make them strive harder.  They finally deliver all the milk and Kame says that is their early morning routine which they'll be doing every day for the next eight months as Kuririn and Goku lie exhausted on the ground.

There morning training consists of ploughing fields with their bare hands.  After lunch, Kame says they must train their minds as well.  "We will begin with a study of the finest literature" and Goku starts reading a love scene from a racy novel.  Next it's time to go swimming.  Annoyed, Goku asks if they can forget this stuff and learn some moves.

Kame: "You little fledglings - how dare you be so insolent?!  You haven't even laid the barest foundation of strength and stamina - and you expect me to teach you some moves?!!!!"

He points at a boulder and says when they can move that he'll teach them some moves.  Goku concentrates then moves the boulder much to Kame's alarm.  Kame then points at a much bigger boulder and says he means that one, which Goku cannot move.  So swimming they go, avoiding sharks as they do so.

He then ties them to a tree and unleashes bees on them so they can learn to dodge.  At the end of the day Kuririn asks if they'll be doing this every day.  Yep says Kame and they'll be doing it wearing 20 kilo turtle shells on their backs.

Kame: "Now you see why they call me the turtle master?"

Seven months pass as Kuririn and Goku train together and become firm friends.  One day they call Kame out and show him they can both move the huge boulder.  After that demonstration Kame says he doesn't really have anything left to teach them.  They have followed the Kamesen'in School of Martial Arts and without realising have forged their bodies into steel.  Martial arts is no more than the application of those principles.
Goku and Kururin surpass expectations.
He tells them not to be "seduced by the improbable dream of winning" the Tenka'ichi Budokai.  They should just see it as an opportunity to "further focus your training".  For the final month they will continue as usual but with shells twice as heavy.

The month passes and when they take off the shells they feel light as air and can jump incredibly high into the sky.  They all get dressed up in suits and travel to the Budokai arena to register.  The registrar is amazed two kids want to compete.

Kame hands over new clothes for them to fight in, which have his personal turtle symbol on it marking them as his students.  "I gotta be worthy of it" says Kuririn. Kame then takes his leave saying only the eight who make it through the qualifiers will fight in front of the crowd.
New uniforms respecting their sensei.
At the qualifiers, the tourney rules are laid out: no opponents must be killed, no weapons, the rounds are one minute long and if there is no clear winner the judges decide.  Goku and Kuririn get drawn in the same block, but are far enough apart that they might not need to fight each other.  Although Kuririn thinks he'll go out in the first fight.

Goku goes up against a huge wrestler type.  Goku runs through his legs then taps him on the leg which fells the large opponent.  Kuririrn thinks he tripped, but Goku says to Kuririn to not use his full power unless the opponent is very strong.  Then some monks from Kuririn's old temple show up and start bullying him.  Kuririn has to fight one of them.  Goku tells him to give the monk "one good shot".  Kuririn dodges his opponents attacks and socks him one in the face, knocking him out.
Kururin gets some catharsis.
Goku and Kuririn make their way through the qualifiers and both end up in the final eight.  Also qualified is Yamcha who Goku is happy to see again. Yamcha notes how powerful Goku has become and with Kuririn showing similar strength his dreams of even second place seem unlikely.

After the qualifiers there is a break and Goku takes Kuririn to meet Bulma, Puar and Oolong who are in the crowd to show their support.  Then the final eight are called back to the waiting room next to the stage.  Kame also mysteriously disappears.  The contestants are Namu-san, Kaijo-Giran, Bacterian, Yamcha, Kuririn, Goku, Ran Fuan (the only female) and Kame in disguise as "Jackie Chun".
The gang reunites.
The first match is Kuririn versus Bacterian, so called because he has never taken a bath in his life and has cultivated a stench that overpowers his opponents.  Kuririn tries to get close to him but the smell repels him.  He gets knocked down and Bacterian is about to finish him with a fart on his head when Goku calls out:

Goku: "The smell's all in your head!!! There's no way you can actually smell any of it.  You've got no nose!!!"

And so with the power of breaking the fourth wall and being silly, Kuririn leaps up and kicks Bacterian in the head knocking him down and then farting on his head in retaliation.  Kuririn wins the bout and on that cliffhanger we leave the tournament for now, as it's the end of the volume.
Kururin versus the stinky Bacterian
This is another fun romp, with some surprisingly pertinent and deep mediations on the way learning martial arts can improve ones whole life.  When I was still able, I trained in Jeet Kune Do and still follow a lot of the philosophy Bruce Lee wrote down before he died even though I can't do the physical parts anymore.  It also goes without saying this is wrapped up in quite a silly coating, but Kamesen'in despite being an old perve is a diligent teacher and obviously comes to care for Goku and Kuririn, who also become friends for life during the eight months of training hell.  The tournament is an ideal situation to show off their newly acquired skills and power.  After some daft match-ups in the vein of the battle with Bacterian, things will get serious in the next volume with a 500,000 zeni prize money at stake as well as the honour of being declared champion under heaven.  Join me at the end of February for how the rest of the tournament plays out.


  1. lol, kid Krillin looks exactly like grown up Krillin! I think i might have to start buying the dragonball boxsets now, seeing how the gang got together is cool :)

  2. The Dragonball anime is very enjoyable, and not so filler infested as DBZ is. It gets more serious towards the end, with the King Piccolo arc but it's still very comedic fantasy based most of the way through.