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Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!

Tien. Back in the day, Tien – along with his diminutive ally Chiaotzu – was one of Goku’s worst enemies. A descendent of the ‘Three Eyed Clan’, when he appears in Dragon Ball he’s very much Goku’s opposite number. Trained in the Crane School style of martial arts, he’s initially arrogant and abusive, with little honour in combat. He even goes so far as to have Chiaotzu use his abilities from afar to tip the odds in Tien’s own favour. Goku has a way of winning people over though, and after a tense battle, Tien and Chiaotzu are both on the bath to becoming the monkey boy’s allies!

Master Shen. If Tien was Goku’s opposite, then Master Shen is the dark mirror of Master Roshi. Akira Toriyama made this clear in their designs, with both wearing the same style of formal martial arts wear, and giving the two a personal rivalry dating back years. However, unlike Roshi, Shen is a cruel and sadistic man, who sees the pursuit of martial arts as a way to subjugate others. The older brother of Mercenary Tao, Shen similarly has few qualms over killing if it helps him achieve his ambitions – even former students have felt his wrath.

Krillin. Dragon Ball Z fans may know Krillin as Goku’s brave but underpowered best friend. He did a lot of growing up that point though – in the original series, he’s an early rival of Goku’s when both strive for a coveted apprenticeship under Master Roshi, a highly competitive fighter, and almost as perverted as Roshi himself! Even at this point, he’s one of the strongest pure-blood humans alive, capable of holding his own against Goku during the World Martial Arts Tournament. Amusingly, his noseless appearance isn’t just an artistic quirk – Toriyama has said that Krillin actually breathes through his skin!

King Piccolo. This may look like the fan-favourite anti-hero from Dragon Ball Z but make no mistake – this Piccolo would more likely eat young Gohan in the desert than train him! Regarded as an ancient and much-feared demon, King Piccolo is the concentrated evil of Kami, Earth’s god, given external form of his own. As a result, he’s an emotionless, power-hungry monster equally happy with either destruction or domination. The only technique proven capable of stopping him is the Evil Containment Wave, so when bumbling Emperor Pilaf awakens Piccolo, he sets about slaughtering any martial artist capable of learning the move. First stop? Krillin….

Yajirobe. King Piccolo’s appearance interrupts the World Martial Arts Tournament, sending Goku and his surviving allies on the run for a time. Taking refuge on a mountain, they cross paths with Yajirobe, a ronin who lives in seclusion. Despite his rotund appearance, he’s a swift combatant, and the flash of his katana is even faster. Although a misunderstanding over – what else? – food leads him to clash with Goku on first meeting, he becomes a friend for the remainder of Dragon Ball. Living up to the ‘masterless samurai’ stereotype, Yajirobe is scruffy, rude and crass, and although he’ll try to avoid fighting wherever possible, he can hold his own when need be.

Dragon Ball box set #4 is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.


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