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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 the school of the Crane Hermit, who're rivals of Roshi's, and his prized student, Tien Shinhan.


Main Summary

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Three years have passed, and the Dragon Team reunite on Papaya Island for the 22nd World Tournament. Master Roshi dons his Jackie Chun disguise once more, but there are new faces; Master Shen, Roshi's rival, has entered his Crane School students to outdo the Turtle School. After the preliminaries, the eight finalists are, besides Goku, Krillin, Yamcha, and Jackie Chun are;
  • Tien Shinhan, Shen's number 1 student, a muscular warrior with three eyes.
  • Chiaotzu, the Crane School's 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, Chiaotzu reveals that he has psychic powers, and, at Tien's discretion, fixes the drawing to set up the matches as Tien sees fit.

Yamcha vs Tien: 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 Wolf Fang Fist can't overcome the triclopular warrior. Yamcha decides to whip out his trump card; He's learned the Kamehameha! But Tien has his own special trick; He can repel the Kamehameha! When Yamcha dodges the redirected blast, Tien 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 Man-Wolf into thinking Krillin's bald head is the full moon. The Magic Feather effect works, and Man-Wolf becomes human again.

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

Goku vs Pamput: 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 Pamput went down, but Jackie Chun explains that far from being weak, the kids, as well as Tien and Chiaotzu, are simply so powerful that they are now in a class of their own.

Tien vs Jackie Chun: As warriors of two generations fight, it becomes apparent that Tien can equal anything Jackie can do. Among physical feats, he can release a blinding light called the Solar Flare to catch his opponent off-guard with. As they fight, Jackie tries to convince Tien to leave the Crane School and use his abilities for good. Shen catches on and alerts Tien with telepathy that Jackie Chun is Master Roshi. Realizing that he's been caught, Chun assures Tien that he's not just saying stuff because of Shen. When Tien 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, Tien 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. Tien 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.

Goku vs Krillin: Although Goku is apparently the better fighter, Krillin 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. Krillin 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 Krillin out of the ring.

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

Goku vs Tien: In the duel between the best warriors of the Turtle and Crane Schools, Goku and Tien find themselves equally matched. While Tien has remarkable strength and techniques, he finds himself repeatedly unable to overcome Goku's energy and creativity. Even using the Solar Flare doesn't help, as when Tien tries it, Goku snags Roshi's sunglasses to shield his eyes and catch Tien off-guard. At one point, Tien 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, Tien finds himself enjoying himself. But soon, Goku finds himself inexplicably suffering from cramps, leaving himself open to Tien's attacks. Roshi and Tien quickly realize that Master Shen is having Chiaotzu use his psychic powers on Goku, and Tien asks his Master to stop, wanting to triumph over Goku on his own merits. When Shen refuses, wanting vengeance for his brother, Tien further admits that, having thought on it, he no longer wishes to be an assassin like Tao Pai Pai. This pushes the Crane Master over the edge, and he commands Chiaotzu to paralyze both fighters so he can deal with them personally. Chiaotzu refuses, his friendship to Tien overpowering his loyalty to his master, Shen prepares to crush him. Roshi takes care of the matter by using the Kamehameha to blast Master Shen away. With Shen taken care of, Tien 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 Tien knows the Kikoho, a beam attack so powerful that it drains the life-force of its user. Tien 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, Tien assumes that Goku has nowhere to go but down, but Goku has one final attack left; using the Kamehameha to shoot himself at Tien, body-slamming him! The two warriors go flying, neither unable to control themselves. Goku tries to lift himself up with one last Kamehameha so Tien lands out of bounds first, but an inconvenient passing truck hits him, forcing him down. By a very small margin, Tien has won the 22nd World Tournament!

With the tournament over, Tien and Chiaotzu prepare to bid farewell to the Dragon Ball gang, apologizing for their past actions. Because he doesn't feel like he won fully, Tien offers to buy the group a meal, unaware of what kind of appetite Goku has. Krillin 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 the green room and finds Krillin 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

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the anime, Tien and Chaotzu debut in one of the filler episodes set during the Time Skip. They're running a con that Goku ultimately interferes with, thus making things more personal when they encounter each other at the tournament.
  • 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.
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  • Adaptational Villainy: Tien and Chiaotzu 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: The Crane Hermit, Master Shen.
    • Non-Action Big Bad: The 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.
  • Cliffhanger: As things end happily and everyone settles in to eat, Goku senses something is wrong and finds Krillin dead in the green room. The tournament announcer tells him it was a monster and that it also took the Dragon Ball and a list of tournament fighters.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Tien.
  • From Bad to Worse: Goku is certain something is wrong when he runs back to the green room, but it's even worse than he feared.
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  • 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.
    • During their match, Goku tells Tien he's actually been holding back throughout the tournament out of safety considerations. Seeing how strong Tien is, he decides to stop holding back.
  • It's All My Fault: Goku realizes he accidentally left his power pole and a Dragon Ball back at the stadium. Krillin offers to go back and get them, so Goku can eat and relax. When Goku later realizes something is wrong and runs back, he finds Krillin dead on the floor and blames himself for it.
  • It's Personal / This Means War!: Master Shen just wanted his school to outdo and humiliate Master Roshi. But when he learns that Goku took down his brother Tao Pai Pai, 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.
  • 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 Pamput, a celebrity fighter who's won two other world-class tournaments, Roshi reveals that far from being overhyped, Pamput was this trope in action. Simply put, Pamput 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 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 against 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.
  • Please Wake Up: Goku shakes Krillin's body and pleads with him to wake up before accepting that he's gone. A flashback in the next arc shows Krillin was dead before Goku got there.
  • Time Skip: Takes place 3 years after the previous arc.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Goku warns Tien that he's going to stop holding back. Tien mocks this "battle strength" claim and indulges Goku, only to get repeatedly kicked around. Tien only avoids getting knocked out of the ring because Goku wants to keep fighting and test his abilities. After this, Tien never stops taking the fight seriously.
  • 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.
    • Yamcha again, this time at the hands of Tien.
  • 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.
  • Wham Shot: At the very end of the arc, Krillin's dead body on the floor of the green room.
  • Worthy Opponent: As their match goes on, Goku and Tien acknowledge each other as this.

Video Example(s):


Goku vs Pamput

Dragon Ball - Ep 92 (Goku Enters The Ring): Goku's first match of the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament has him go up against Pamput, a famous but arrogant martial arts movie star. Pamput thinks Goku will be easy pickings. An underestimation that he quickly comes to regret.

How well does it match the trope?

4.31 (13 votes)

Example of:

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Media sources:

Main / CurbStompBattle