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Recap / Dragon Ball Pilaf Arc

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The Pilaf Arc is the first arc in the Dragon Ball series

Short Summary

The story begins with a young boy named Goku who lives alone out in the woods, though is quite strong for his age. Fate intervenes one day when a girl named Bulma accidentally runs into him. After some confusion is cleared up, she reveals she's on a quest to collect Dragon Balls, seven mystical orbs that when gathered together can grant a wish to their user. Goku has one as a memonto from his late grandfather but is unwilling to part with it. Bulma makes a deal with him that if he comes along on the journey to collect the other dragon balls, he can hold onto his. Goku agrees and thus begins their adventure. Along the way running into other members of the cast such as Master Roshi, Oolong; a shapshifting Pig, Yamcha, a desert bandit and his partner Puar. However a small blue skinned midget named Pilaf is also after the Dragon Balls for his own wish of world domination leading to an inevitable confrontation.

Main Summary

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Our epic saga begins in a mountainous region. A young boy with super strength and a monkey tail lives there, Son Goku. His only possessions are a magic extending staff and a memento of his grandfather, an orange crystal ball with four stars inside. One day while out catching a fish, he ends being knocked off his feet by a speeding car. After some violence and gun play, the driver surrenders and introduces herself— its a teenage girl named Bulma (Buruma, derived from "bloomers"), who hails from a big city in the west. Goku remembers that 'girls' should be treated nicely, and so takes her to his house, where he's lived alone since his adoptive grandfather died. Goku shows Bulma the memorial to his Grandpa. Seeing it, Bulma gets excited shows off her own treasures; crystal balls similar to Goku's, but with a different amount of stars in each one.

According to Bulma, these are called Dragon Balls; there are seven in total, and whoever gets them all can summon the Dragon God, Shen Long, who will then grant a single wish. Bulma has decided to use the balls to wish for her Mr. Right, and, having noticed that the orbs emit a faint energy signal, built a radar to track them down.

However, Goku doesn't want to give one of his prized possessions, so Bulma offers to take the monkey boy on her adventure and show him the world; he can keep the Four-Star Ball (Shuushinchuu) until it's time to summon Shen Long. Goku agrees, and but Bulma doesn't tell him that after a wish is granted, the dragonballs will fly off to the ends of the Earth.

The pair set off for the next Dragon Ball, and Bulma shows off the capsule technology of the series' setting. However, the team-up of a wild child and city girl causes some hi-jinx, mostly due to Goku's total ignorance of civilization. The next morning, Goku finds a sea turtle. The turtle explains that he got lost while looking for mushrooms, and needs help getting back to the ocean... several miles away. Bulma couldn't care less, but Goku decides to help Turtle, and since he's got muscles AND a Dragon Ball, it's off to the beach. Turtle wants to reward Goku, and tells the pair to wait. He swims off and comes back with an old man wearing a turtle shell on his back, the Turtle Master (Kame-Sennin), Master Roshi (Muten Roshi-sama). To thank Goku for his deed, Roshi gives Goku a magic cloud he can ride on- the Flying Nimbus, or Kinto'un in Japanese. Only the pure of heart can ride the cloud, which Bulma AND Roshi are out. Bulma notices that Roshi has a Dragon Ball as a pendant, and convinces him to give it by lifting her skirt. Of course, it's only until later that she learns that During the night Goku took off her panties...!

The radar leads the pair to village that's currently being terrorized by a shapeshifting monster called Oolong. One of the villagers has a Dragon Ball, so Bulma volunteers Goku to defeat Oolong in exchange for the ball. After some antics, it transpires that "Oolong the terrible" is actually an obnoxious pig (literally), who Bulma pressgangs into joining the team, as his shapeshifting could come in handy.

The next leg of the quest takes our heroes across a desert. Unfortunately, Bulma lost her capsules, and since only Goku can ride Flying Nimbus, the trio are forced to walk. While taking a break, the gang is accosted by desert bandits, a warrior Yamcha and his shapeshifting cat sidekick Puar. Yamcha proves to a fierce for, especially since Goku is hungry, but when sees Bulma, the brigand flees; Yamcha is afraid of women! Nonetheless, Yamcha vows not to let his prey escape...

That night, Yamcha and Puar sneak up to the camper Oolong had saved for emergencies. They overhear Goku talk about the Dragonballs, and the wish all seven grant. For Yamcha, this is the chance needs to dispel his phobia, and schemes to get the balls. After a failed attempt at burglary, he tries the direct approach; the next morning, Yamcha destroys the camper with a bazooka, knocking out Bulma so she can't trigger his phobia. But Goku is well-fed this time, and sends Yamcha packing. Yamcha decides to follow Goku's group until all seven Dragon Balls are found, and then steal them. Claiming to want to make amends, he gives the heroes a replacement car, which secretly has a tracking device for him and Puar to use...

The gang soon reaches the site of the next dragon ball, Frypan Mountain. the entire mountain is covered in flames, but according to Oolong, the real danger isn't the fire, but a terrible warlord called the Ox-king who lurks around the mountains base. His castle is on top of Frypan Mountain's peak, and the Ox King is determined to keep anyone from reaching it. However, not even Goku on the Nimus cloud can get past the fire.

Then the Ox-King, an absolute mountain of a man shows up. But when he sees the Flying Nimbus, everything changes. As it turns out, the Turtle Hermit who gave the cloud was also Ox-King's mentor, and after some talk, Goku's grandpa Son Gohan was a fellow student! (Who knew?) Ox-King asks Goku to find Master Roshi and retrieve a magic fan called the Bansho-Sen; its power could put out the flames surrounding Frypan. Goku asks for the Dragon Ball in Ox-King's castle in return, to which Ox-king agrees. Before Goku leaves, Ox-king mentions that he sent his daughter Chi-Chi out looking, and if he could pick her up. When a picture for reference is presented, Yamcha and Puar, spying nearby, panic; they had run into that same girl earlier, and knocked her out. They rush back to the place to revive her, and then bail when Goku arrives. Luckily, Chi-Chi is pure enough to ride the Flying Nimbus, but when climbing aboard she grabs Goku's tail, revealing that doing so will cause the monkey boy to lose strength. Yamcha sees this and now knows Goku's weakness!

Goku and Chi-Chi find Kame Sennin's home, a single house on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. In exchange for touching Bulma's boobs, Roshi agrees to help. However, Roshi lost the Bansho-Sen when he threw it out as a placemat, so he decides to personally extinguish the flames. At Frypan, Bulma is furious at the deal Goku struck, but consents on the condition that Roshi blow out the fire first. And BOY, does Roshi hold up his end, unleashing a beam of energy from his hands called the Kamehameha. It takes out the fire...along with the entire mountain!

While Bulma and Oolong search the rubble for the Dragon Ball, Goku gives the Kamehameha a shot, shooting a much smaller Ray strong enough to total the car. Ox-King tells Roshi that Goku is Gohan's grandson, causing the Turtle Master to recall a story Gohan once told him about finding a child with a tail. Learning that Gohan is dead, Roshi offers to train Goku someday.

The Dragon Ball is found, and Ox King gives the group a new car to replace the one Goku wrecked. Before they go, Roshi wants Bulma to keep her word. Instead, Bulma forces Oolong to take her form and her place. In retaliation, Oolong gives Roshi at lot more than a simple feel. Before the trio leave, Chi-Chi offers to become Goku's bride. Goku doesn't quite get the concept, but agrees to whatever Chi-Chi's offering.

After a brief stop to wipe a gang leader who turns people into carrots, the group runs into trouble; a ninja fox in a mecha who attacks the car, stealing Bulma's Dragon Balls before fleeing with a spy woman named Mai. While the thieves forgot to take Goku's Dragon Ball, the group is unable to follow with the car wrecked. Yamcha and Puar are forced to "just pass by" and team up with the heroes to find the missing Dragon Balls.

The trail leads to giant castle. The castle's master, Pilaf, a blue midget with big plans, wants to use the Dragon Balls' wish for world domination, and adds the stolen ones to the one he has. The heroes explore the castle and fall into a trap, losing the last Dragon Ball. Goku tries to use the Kamehameha, but with his inexperience can only make a small hole. Oolong and Puar turn into bats to fly out, but it is too late; Pilaf has summoned Shen Long. But before he can wish for world domination, Oolong gets an idea, and interrupts Pilaf's wish with his own:

"I wish to rule..."

Despite everyone's surprise (even Shen Long is shocked!), a pair women's underwear falls into Oolong's hands, and the Dragon Balls fly off to who knows where. Furious at this, Pilaf has the heroes thrown into a different dungeon. There, Bulma reveals that after a wish is granted the Dragon Balls scatter across the world again and turn to stone for a year. But the group may not last that long; the cell they're in has a glass ceiling, and the hot sun will roast them alive! The gang tries to escape, but the prison walls are too strong to break. Resigned to their fate, Puar notices that the full moon is out. Goku then claims that a terrible monster comes out when the moon is full, and that this monster was the thing that killed his Grandpa along with destroying his house and local scenery. He didn't see it himself, though, as he slept through the whole thing. But when Goku mentions Gohan telling him never to look at the moon itself, his friends become VERY worried. Even more so when Goku admits to seeing the moon the night grandpa died. Not wanting to take their chances, they tell Goku not to look at the moon...causing him to do just that. At first, nothing happens.

And then, something DOES. Goku turns into a monstrous monkey giant. Luckily, his rampaging allows the rest of the gang to escape and sends Pilaf's gang packing. However, Goku won't stop raging, becoming a threat to everyone. Recalling that his tail is Goku's weakness, Yamcha grabs it and has Puar turn into scissors to cut it off. Goku reverts to normal.

The next morning, the group wonders what Goku is exactly. They do agree that they cannot tell Goku that he killed his own grandpa. Goku soon wakes up, and since his clothes were torn by last, gets Oolong's pants. While Goku goes to get his staff from the wreckage of the castle, Bulma and Yamcha wonder what to do until the Dragon Balls return. Bulma still needs a boyfriend, and Yamcha might never get over his girl-phobia. Then their eyes meet...!

When Goku returns, he finds Bulma and Yamcha happily carrying on. While the rest of the gang plan on going to West City, Goku decides to go to Kame Sennin's for training. However, once a year has passed, he wants to reunite with the others so they can find the Dragon Balls. But Bulma and Yamcha don't need the Dragon Balls, as they've found what wanted in each other (much to Oolong's disgust and Goku's confusion). But as a token of their friendship, Bulma gives Goku the Dragon Radar so he can find his Grandpa's Four-Star Ball when a year has passed. Goku flies off on the Flying Nimbus and the others take off in a capsule plane. And so, the story of Dragon Ball comes to an end.


This story's only just begun. Sure that would've been the end of the series right there. But fan popularity managed to keep it going. So we've still got ten more years of an improvised story before we're done! What kind of things will Goku experience under the tutelage of the Muten Roshi? Find out next time... on Dragon Ball!

The Pilaf Arc has the following tropes
Bloomers and the Monkey King

  • Accidental Marriage: More like Accidental Engagement, but Goku finds himself betrothed to Chi-Chi when he agreed to marry her thinking it was a type of food.
  • Accidental Pervert: Goku, who has never seen a girl or anything remotely feminine before meeting Bulma, does a few things that would grounds for sexual checking to see if the person he's talking to has a penis & testicles by patting their nether regions. Of course, he only does this because his first checking method involved removing Bulma's panties in her sleep. Yeah, Goku's not exactly bright.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Pilaf's crew are given more scenes and a much wider role in the anime adaption. In the manga they only appeared after the Carrot Master episode.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Bulma is instantly smitten with Yamcha the first time she sees him, keep in mind, Yamcha was a desert bandit.
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  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Pilaf's idea of "torture" for Bulma is to blow her a kiss. When Bulma mentions she assumed she'd be sexually assaulted, Pilaf is repulsed at the idea.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: At the climax of the arc, Goku turns into a giant Oozaru/Great Ape and goes on a rampage till his friends manage to cut off his tail. The upside is that it breaks them free from their oven made prison before the sun rises, destroys Pilaf's castle and forces him, Mai and Shu to flee.
  • Big Bad: Lord Pilaf.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point, Pilaf tells Mai to cut out the dirty jokes and Dr. Slump references, as some mangas try to be dignified.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Inverted. Bulma wanted the Dragon Balls to grant her a boyfriend, while Yamcha wanted to use them to get over his fear of girls. The two realize that from the time they spent together, they can start seeing each other.
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  • Chekhov's Gunman: The old guy who had his pet turtle returned turns out to be the legendary Kame-sen'nin/Turtle Hermit.
  • Crash-Into Hello: How Bulma meets Goku by accidentally running into him with her car... and shooting him.
  • Dub Induced Plothole: When Yamcha has Oozaru Goku subdued by grabbing his tail, he orders Puar to cut it off. In context, it does not make a lot of sense as he does not know this will change him back; in the original he's hoping to inflict so much pain on Goku it causes him to pass out.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: For many people who've only seen Z before this series. They'd be surprised to find it was a lot more adventure and comedy-oriented and has much less combat than it would have later.
  • Fanservice: At one point Bulma is forced to dress in a Playboy bunny outfit after her clothes are dirtied since it's the only one Oolong has on him. Actually a reference to the Dragon Quest game series, for which Toriyama did the character design.
  • Furo Scene: Bulma takes a bath in an early chapter (and is interrupted by Goku) and a shower a few chapters later.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Yamcha and Puar were initially against Goku and his group and were following after him after hearing about the Dragon Balls. However they wind up forced to team up with the group near the end of the arc and by then have become friends with them. Likewise, Oolong started off as a shape-shifting monster terrorizing a village. After Goku defeated him and revealed he's a harmless pig hiding behind a monstrous facade, Oolong was corralled into accompanying Goku and Bulma on their quest.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: The first time it premieres here (both by Roshi and Goku), and boy it wouldn't be the last.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Done by two parties;
    • After failing to defeat Goku in combat, Yamcha decides to just follow Goku and then steal the Dragon Balls once all seven are found.
    • Pilaf, having already found a Dragon Ball, just waits for Goku's group to enter his territory and then has his lackies steal the Balls. Even when they fail to bring back all of them, Pilaf just waits for the heroes to enter his castle to steal the last one.
  • Made of Iron: Along with getting hit by a car, Goku is also shot by Bulma when he trashes it in retaliation. It only knocks him back but doesn't kill him.
    • Gyuumao/The Ox-King and Muten Roshi/Kame'sennin are even greater examples (at this point in time) as he former didn't even feel Goku's attacks and the latter reacted with mostly irritation when Chi-Chi threw a blade into his head.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Roshi only agrees to help with Fire Mountain on the condition that Bulma let him cope a fell. Annoyed, Bulma allowed it, but when it came time to pay up, had Oolong shape shift into her and take her place. Oolong got back at Bulma in a way by giving one of these to Roshi.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Pilaf steals the Dragon Balls from the gang, and summons Shenlong...only for Oolong to wish for girl's panties.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Bulma, one of the very first well known examples. Examples include;
    • A Bathtub Scene in Chapter 2.
    • The famous scene in Chapter 4, where she flashes the Turtle Hermit, unaware she's not wearing underwear, while we obvious don't see the frontnote , we do get a shot her bare rear-end.
    • A Shower Scene in Chapter 9 where we see a fully naked Bulma's butt and breasts, completely uncensorednote .
    • Later in the same chapter, Yamcha sneaks into Goku & Bulma's caravan when they're asleep to steal their Dragon Balls, he believes he's found them when he spots some "mounds" under a bedsheet, he lifts it up and said mounds turn out to belong a very much naked Bulma, and yes, you do see them note .
    • From Chapters 10-16, Bulma (unwilling) swaps out her usual attire for a Playboy Bunny outfit.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Goku tells the others how his grandfather died, they piece together quickly what happened after Goku says he doesn't remember anything that happened after looking at the moon. And there just happens to be a full moon overhead over their prison.
    • Yamcha when he realises that girl he fought off was really the Ox-King's daughter, and would likely face his wrath if he finds out what happened to her.
  • One Degree of Separation: Pu'ar, Yamcha's partner has apparently met Oolong in shapeshifting school. Gyuuma'oh/The Ox-King likewise knows Goku's grandfather, Gohan, as they trained together under Muten Roshi.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: The Flying Nimbus (Kinto'un) only allows this to be able to ride it. Bulma finds out the hard way.
  • Raised by Wolves: Goku was raised in the wild for most of his life so things like cars and technology are foreign to him.
  • Schmuck Bait: The gang enter Pilaf's palace and follow an arrow painted on the wall, which they follow because it would too obvious to be a trap. It turns out to be a trap. Lampshaded when Pilaf exclaims: "I never believed there were people THAT stupid".
  • Shrouded in Myth: Gyuuma'oh/The Ox King was rumored to be a bloodthirsty demon that rampages across Frypan Mountain, and the gang's first encounter of him seems to barely discredit that idea - at least until he learns about Goku being Gohan's grandson and he lightens up. He explained he played up that reputation to prevent thieves from stealing his gold.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Bulma and Yamcha become this at the end of the arc.
    Bulma: Who needs Dragon Balls...?
    Bulma/Yamcha: Not ME~!
    Oolong: Ptooie!
  • Take Over the World: Pilaf's greatest desire.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Played With. As detailed in Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?, When Bulma refuses to disclose the location of her Dragon Ball, Pilaf states that he will subject her to a "Humiliating Act" to break her, Bulma is clearly shaken by his words...until said "Humiliating Act" turns out to be blowing her a kiss. Pilaf is shocked she's unaffected by this, and Bulma, breathing a sigh of relief, states that she thought she was about to be stripped naked and fondled, the Pilaf Gang freak out at this, thinking she's a pervert who wanted to them to sexually assault her, they immediately throw her back in her cell.
  • Wasteful Wishing: Subverted. Oolong wished for a pair of girl's panties to Shenlong, which might had been a waste - but it prevented Pilaf's rise to power.

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