Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth?
Goku. Years before Goku knew anything about his alien heritage, he was merely a rambunctious monkey-tailed boy with phenomenal strength, raised in the wilderness by his grandfather Gohan. Loosely based on the Monkey King from Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West, young Goku is pure enough of heart to travel on the Flying Nimbus cloud, and wields the mystic Power Pole in battle. The iconic four-star Dragon Ball was left to him by Grandpa Gohan, drawing Bulma to him and beginning his first great adventure. His isolated upbringing has left Goku painfully naive though, even being unaware that other people don’t have tails. The lad’s got a lot of growing up to do!
Bulma. A boy-hungry teenage genius, Bulma comes from a long line of scientists. In these early episodes, her father’s Capsule Corporation plays a much larger role than in the later Dragon Ball Z, regularly providing outlandish gadgets and vehicles. Bulma’s own greatest invention however is the Dragon Radar, which homes in on the all-important wish-granting orbs, bringing her into contact with Goku for the first time. Short tempered and single minded, Bulma initially has little patience for Goku’s carefree ways, but soon becomes a dear friend to him.
Oolong. Although Oolong would go on to become a pure comedy character, in his earliest appearances he was actually almost a threat! A shapeshifting pig with a panty obsession, Oolong posed as a powerful demon terrorising Aru Village, demanding the prettiest girls be delivered to him. When Goku and Bulma pass through, they not only defeat Oolong but force him to travel with them to make use of his powers. Even then, he looks for any opportunity to undermine the heroes and try to steal the Dragon Balls for himself.
Master Roshi. Bald old pervert or martial arts legend? For better or worse, Master Roshi is both. Also known as the Turtle Hermit, he possesses one of the precious Dragon Balls, entrusting it to Goku and Bulma after they help save his pet turtle. Perhaps more importantly, Roshi becomes Goku’s first teacher, passing on his eponymous fighting style and the use of the powerful Kamehameha move. However, Roshi’s lessons don’t come free – he demands Goku find him a girlfriend before he’ll begin training the young warrior!
Launch. For a time, that girlfriend ends up being Launch, though she’s not exactly the docile flower Roshi hoped for. With a sneeze, the sweet, dark haired girl becomes an aggressive, gun-toting blonde maniac – one wanted for a string of bank robberies! Unfortunately, neither personality has any idea of the other’s existence, and ‘Bad Launch’ has a tendency to shoot first, ask questions never. One of several characters to slide into the background once Dragon Ball Z shifted focus to the Saiyan invasion and other alien threats, Launch is a major figure in the original series.
Dragon Ball, the original series, is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.