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Recap / Dragon Ball Tien Shinhan Arc

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The Tien Shinhan arc is the fifth story arc in the Dragon Ball series

Short Summary

After helping to revive Upa's father, Bora, Goku goes to travel the world in order to train for the next World Martial Art Tournament, which isn't until three years, and arrives just in time to enter it along with his friends. However this time they face competition from from the school of the Hermit Crane, who're rivals of Roshi's, and his prized student, Tien Shinhan.

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Main Summary

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Three years have passed, and the Dragon Ball gang reunite on Papaya Island for the 22nd Tenka'ichi Budokai. Muten Roshi dons his Jackie Chun disguise once more, but there are new faces; Tsuru Sennin ("Master Shen" in the Funimation English dub), Roshi's rival, has entered his Crane School students to one outdo the Turtle School. After the preliminaries, the eight finalists are, besides Goku, Kuririn, Yamcha, and Jackie Chun are;
  • Tenshinhan ("Tien Shinhan" in the English dub), Tsuru Sennin's number 1 student, a muscular warrior with three eyes.
  • Chaozu ("Chiaotzu" in the English dub), Crane School 2nd student, a midget that looks like a Chinese ghost.
  • Man-Wolf, a wolf man who seems to have a huge grudge against Jackie Chun.
  • Pamputt, a champion kick-boxer who has won two other international tournaments.
As the finalists draw lots, Chaozu reveals that he has psychic powers, and at Ten's discretion fixes the drawing to set up the matches as Ten sees fit.

Yamcha vs Tenshinhan: The eldest students of the Turtle and Crane Schools duke it out, and at first, they appear to be even. Even Yamcha's new and improved Rogafufu-ken can't overcome the triclopular warrior. Yamcha decides to whip out his chump card; He's learned the Kamehameha! But Tenshinhan has his own special trick; He can repel the Kamehameha! When Yamcha dodges the redirected blast, Ten takes him down, even going as far as breaking his leg! Puar takes Yamcha to a hospital, while Goku swears to avenge the loss against the cruel fighter.

Jackie Chun vs Man-Wolf: Man-Wolf unleashes his fury at Jackie, and reveals that because Chun broke the moon at the last tournament, he's now stuck in wolf-form. However, Jackie Chun easily defeats him. But since Jerkass Has a Point, Chun decides to undo Man-Wolf's transformation. He accomplishes this with by hypnotizing M An-Wolf into thinking Kuririn's bald head is the full moon. The Magic Feather effect works, and Man-Wolf becomes human again.

Kuririn vs Chaozu: At first, the fight appears even. Although Kuririn is the more skilled, Chaozu can use his Ki to levitate himself, avoiding a ringout. However, the pale midget has one advantage; A beam attack called the Dodon-Pa! Goku recognizes it as the move used by Taopaipai, the assassin hired by the Red Ribbon Army. It transpires that Taopaipai and the Crane Master are brothers, and upon learning of Goku's victory over his younger brother, Tsuru Sennin telepathically orders Chaozu to kill Kuririn. Helpless as his opponent takes potshots safe in the air, Kuririn has no choice but to try his own Kamehameha to even the odds. While the move does force Chaozu back on the ground, the Crane School student has one last trick; by holding up his hands, he can paralyze Kuririn. Luckily, Kuririn foils this by asking Chaos math problems, and when Chaozu is forced to use his hands to count, Kuririn knocks him out of the ring.

Goku vs Pamputt: Goku's opponent is a celebrity kick-boxer who has won two other international tournaments. However, despite his reputation, Goku trounces him instantly.

The Turtle school kids wondered at how easily Pamputt went down, but Jackie Chun explains that far from being weak, the kids, as well as Ten and Chaozu, are simply so powerful that they are now in a class of their own.

Tenshinhan vs Jackie Chun: As warriors of two generations fight, it becomes apparent that Ten can equal anything Jackie can do. Among physical feats, he can release a blinding light called the Taiyo-Ken (Fist of the Sun) to catch his opponent off-guard with. As they fight, Jackie tries to convince Ten to leave the Crane School and use his abilities for good. Tsuru Sennin catches on and alerts Ten with telepathy that Jackie Chun is Muten Roshi. Realizing that he's been caught, Chun assures Ten that he's not just saying stuff because of Tsuru. When Tenshinhan reveals that he too can use the Kamehameha just after seeing Yamcha do it, Chun takes this to mean that it's time to let the youngsters take over, and happily leaves the ring, forfeiting.

While the next match begins, Tenshinhan catches up to Roshi as the Turtle Hermit sheds his disguise; he wants to know why the Invincible Old Master entered. Roshi explains that it was to prevent his own students from winning too easily and getting big heads, but now he thinks it was unnecessary. Ten assumes that Roshi believes his own students can't beat him, but Roshi claims he's just realized that Goku and crew won't slack off if they win.

Son Goku vs Kuririn: Although Goku is apparently the better fighter, Kuririn has a few tricks up his sleeve, such as using the shine from his bald head to blind Goku, and sucking in air to slow his fall. Nonetheless, Goku refuses to go down. Kuririn soon resorts to grabbing Goku's tail, but Goku reveals that during the three years, he's overcome that weakness. Goku soon moves so quickly that he becomes invisible, and knocks Kuririn out of the ring.

Roshi goes on to suggest Tenshinhan isn't the upcoming villain the warrior is trying to be, and just needs to relax. Although Ten is quick to rebuff the Turtle Hermit, the old master's words seem to have an effect. As Tenshinhan goes to the arena to face Goku, Master Roshi sneaks into the tournament green room so he can get a better view of the match.

Son Goku vs Tenshinhan: In the duel between the best warriors of the Turtle and Crane Schools, Goku and Tenshinhan find themselves equally matched. While Ten has remarkable strength and techniques, he finds himself repeatedly unable to overcome Goku's energy and creativity. Even using the Taiyo-Ken doesn't help, as when Ten tries it, Goku snags Roshi's sunglasses to shield his eyes and catch Ten off-guard. At one point, Ten uses a technique to physically grow a pair of extra arms to better fight Goku, but Goku can move his own arms so fast that it looks like he has eight, and has his tail, making the growth pointless. And yet, despite being matched blow-for-blow, Ten finds himself enjoying himself. But soon Goku finds himself inexplicably suffering from cramps, leaving himself open to Ten's attacks. Roshi and Ten quickly realize that Tsuru Sennin is having Chaozu use his physic attacks on Goku, and Ten asks his Master to stop, wanting to triumph over Goku on his own merits. When Tsuru refuses, wanting vengeance for his brother, Ten further admits that, having thought on it, he no longer wishes to be an assassin like Taopaipai. This pushes the Crane Master over the edge, and he commands Chaozu paralyze both fighters so he can deal with them personally. Chaozu refuses, his friendship to Ten overpowering his loyalty to his master, Tsuru prepares to crush him. Roshi takes care of the matter by using the Kamehameha to blast Tsuru Sennin away. With Tsuru Sennin taken care of, Tenshinhan decides that all he has left is the match, and takes the sky. He tells Goku that he has to dodge the next attack, or the monkey boy may die. Roshi realizes that Ten knows the Kikoho (Chi Cannon), a beam attack so powerful that it drains the life-force of its user. Ten won't use that much power, but he plans on annihilating the arena, thus forcing Goku (Who can't fly) out of bounds. One Fantastic Nuke later, and there is a perfect square hole, several feet, where the ring used to be. But Goku is nowhere to be seen. Is he dead? Nope, he jumped! Of course, Ten assumes that Goku has nowhere to go but down, but Goku has one final attack left; using the Kamehameha to shoot himself at Ten, body slamming him! The two warriors go flying, neither unable to control themselves. Goku tries to lift himself up with one last Kamehameha so Ten lands out of bounds first, but an inconvenient passing truck hits him, forcing him down. By a very small mergin, Tenshinhan has won the 22nd Tenka'Ichi Budokai!

With the tournament over, Tenshinhan and Chaozu prepare to bid farewell to the Dragon Ball gang, apologizing for their past actions. Because he doesn't feel like he won fully, Ten offers to buy the group a meal, unaware of what kind of appetite Goku has. Kuririn goes off to get Goku's things, and Roshi offers them a place at his own home, which Launch eagerly agrees to. However, before they can talk more, a loud noise is heard. With a bad feeling, Goku runs into th green room and finds Kuririn dead!

Who is responsible for the monk's murder? And what does this foreshadow? Find out next time, on Dragon Ball!


Tien Shinhan arc has the following tropes

  • Adaptation Expansion: In the manga the entire tournament takes place in one day. In the anime it takes place over several days which makes room for additional scenes taking place in the evening and between fights. This makes Tien's decision to turn against the Crane Hermit less sudden.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Tien and Chiatozu are much more ruthless in the anime, with Tien brutalizing Namu and Chiaotzu burning an opponent almost to death.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Tien and Chiaotzu initially.
  • Big Bad: Crane Hermit.
    • Non-Action Big Bad: Crane Hermit doesn't actually enter the tournament himself, and has his students fight instead. He was actually surprised to learn that Roshi entered under a secret identity.
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  • Dragon-in-Chief: Tien.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Again Tien and Chiaotzu by the end of the arc when they see that Roshi's students are Worthy Opponents and want to fight them fairly.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Tien's fight with Yamcha at first appears evenly matched, with the two trading blows. Then it's revealed that Tien was intentionally holding back to see the peak of Yamcha's skills. It eventually leads to the following trope.
  • It's Personal / This Means War!: Tsuru Sennin/Master Shen just wanted his school to outdo and humiliate Kame Sennin/Master Roshi. But when he learns that Goku took down his brother Taopaipai/Tao, all bets are off and the tournament becomes a blood feud.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: This was Tien's fighting style at first as he brutally kept attacking his opponent long after he's beaten him. Poor Yamcha winds up getting this in their match and ends up with a broken leg.
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  • Nemean Skinning: Goku arrived in the tournament wearing a tiger skin. Curiously, the only tool he had with him was his power pole. Leading one to assume he killed it with his bare hands.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: When Goku trounces Pamputt, a celebrity fighter who's won two other world-class tournaments, Roshi reveals that far from being overhyped, Pamputt was this trope in action. Simply put, Pamputt is quite strong...from the view of normal people. But Goku and the other heroes have become so powerful that they're now officially in a class of their own.
  • No-Sell: Goku's finally over his tail weakness and reveals as such when Krillin tries to use it against him. Tien, who initially planned to pull that maneuver himself should he face Goku, mentally scratch that off.
  • One Degree of Separation: Tien learns that Goku killed (sorta) Tao Pai Pai, and is angered. He then informs his master, the Crane Hermit of this news. Tao Pai Pai had trained Tien and Chaotzu and is the Crane Hermit's younger brother, and he was so enraged that he attempted to kill Goku in his sleep before the final match, until Tien convinced him that he'll avenge Tao Pai Pai in the final round.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: One of the contestants is one and hold a grudge against Jackie Chun (Roshi) for destroying the moon which left him stuck in his werewolf state.
    • To be more precise, he's a "reverse werewolf" called Man-Wolf. He actually turns into a human at the sight of a full moon.
  • Passing the Torch: In a sense, Roshi once more dons his Jackie Chun disguise but during the tournament, he comes to realize during his match againt Tien that the younger generation is getting stronger then him. He forfeits the match, knowing Tien would've likely beaten him anyway and that he'd be a better opponent for Goku.
  • The Worf Effect: A fighter called King Chappa, a winner of previous World Tournaments and boasted as unbeatable, goes down to Goku even before the tournament finals, to show how much Goku had improved in three years.
    • In the anime, Nam (who had fought Goku pretty handily in the semi-finals of the previous tournament) shows up and affably greets the heroes, claiming that he'd signed up to this tournament to have fun (after having finished his quest to provide money for his struggling village). He doesn't even make it past the preliminaries, as the next we see him is when he's lying unconscious, following Tien's brutal takedown. It helps to drive in just how powerful and devious an antagonist Tien will be.
    • Yamacha again, this time at the hands of Tenshinhan.
  • Tournament Arc: Unlike the Baba one, this one's official.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Chiaotzu can't use his psychic powers when he's counting on his fingers. Krillin beats him by yelling out math questions.
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