You’ve just finished school for the day and are now walking with your best friend to the UMJ. You barely got any sleep yesterday because you finally got first place at a tournament for Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle, but never mind that! A new Dragon Ball attraction has just been set up at UMJ and you just can’t wait to try it out! Your friend tells you that he’s inviting a few others to come as well. Would girls come as well? Maybe not. Still, it’d be perfect if there was a girl out there who loved Dragon Ball as much as you do!
At a bridge walkway, your friend points to a girl walking along the street below. Isn’t her skirt too short?! Anyway, you can’t pass this up and rush down the stairs. Suddenly, you lose your footing and find yourself tumbling down the stairs…
The last thing you hear is the fading shouts of alarm from your friend as he tries to shake you awake…
And awake you do, only to find that the scenery around you is not your neighborhood, but a grassy plain with trees shaped like…mushrooms?
You find a hand mirror in your pocket and hold it up to your face. You instantly recognize it from the Dragon Ball manga and anime…YAMCHA! How did this happen?! Is this like one of those stories where a hero dies and is reborn elsewhere? Why weren’t you reborn as Goku or Vegeta?!
You look around quickly and see some familiar people sleeping next to a tree: a naked boy with spiky black hair and a monkey’s tail, a small, cat-like animal and a beautiful teenage girl with blue hair.
It’s…Goku…Puar…and Bulma! Oh man…she’s even prettier in person!!
Now you remember this scene…it’s everyone sleeping just after their escape from Pilaf’s castle, which was reduced to rubble when Goku transformed into a giant Great Ape! When everyone wakes up, you play along in Yamcha’s role.
Eventually everyone decides to go their separate ways and you decide to go with Bulma to West City while Goku decides to go train under Master Roshi. You were about to board Bulma’s plane when a wave of despair suddenly hits you…isn’t Yamcha fated to die in battle against the Saibamen?
Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha (ドラゴンボール外伝 転生したらヤムチャだった件,, Doragon Bōru Gaiden: Tensei-shitara Yamucha Datta Ken) is a short spin-off manga written and drawn by Dragon Garow Lee (ドラゴン画廊・リー) based on the original story by Akira Toriyama (鳥山 明, Toriyama Akira).
An average Japanese high school boy suddenly finds himself reborn as Yamcha, one of the early supporting characters now largely regarded as something of a joke in both the Dragon Ball story and in the real world. Armed with full knowledge of the story’s ongoing events, the new Yamcha decides to dedicate himself to martial training in order to prevent his fated, undignified death.
A year before the Saiyans Vegeta and Nappa arrive on Earth (the day of Yamcha’s death), Yamcha travels to the planet Namek to meet the Grand Elder Guru, the oldest Namekian. After reading his mind and learning about his true origins, Guru unlocks Yamcha’s hidden potential power and allows Nail, his bodyguard, to train with Yamcha. Six months later, Bulma tells Yamcha that the Saiyans will arrive tomorrow! Thinking fast, he gathers the Namekian Dragon Balls and makes a wish to be teleported immediately to Earth.
At the fateful battle, Yamcha is able to kill a Saibaman with ease and remain unharmed when the others clutch onto him and explode. He is even able to kill Nappa in battle without much problem and help Goku force Vegeta into retreating. Thanks to this, no one dies in fight against the Saiyans (in the original story, Chiaotzu, Tien and Piccolo were killed by Nappa).
Several years later, during the Cell Games, Yamcha confronts Chiaotzu alone at a deserted rocky valley. Having noticed Chiaotzu’s unusual behavior over the years, Yamcha realizes that this Chiaotzu must be another reincarnated person, like himself. Confronted over this, Chiaotzu reveals himself to have once been known online as Oushou and his intention to conquer the Dragon Ball universe. A fierce duel soon follows, which Yamcha nearly ends with the Evil Containment Wave technique. Suddenly remembering that “Oushou” was the online name of the Dokkan Battle champion, Yamcha ends the technique halfway and the two soon settle down after a long talk.
Elsewhere, Beerus is annoyed that his chosen champion ended the duel on the verge of victory. Champa declares the game a draw, but Beerus destroys the game board in a fit of pique. As the two Gods of Destruction bicker, Whis and Vados sigh; yet another game to settle their petty differences has gotten nowhere! With this, Whis returns the two reincarnated souls to whence they came…
Back in Japan, the boy wakes up at the foot of the walkway stairs, much to his friend’s relief. Seeing the girl in the short skirt ahead of him, the boy waves of his hand and a strong, sudden gust of wind lifts the skirt! He waves his hand again, but nothing happens. No…it couldn’t be…
Most of the characters of this story are originally from the various official Dragon Ball manga and anime. Below are the two people whose souls came from modern-day Japan.
Yamcha (ヤムチャ, Yamucha), a martial artist and a former desert bandit. In his former life, he is your typical Japanese high school student and Dragon Ball fan who is trying to find a girlfriend. He lacks interest in his studies, but is determined and excited to change his life around as Yamcha. The boy uses his knowledge about Dragon Ball to become far stronger than the actual Yamcha by training under Master Roshi earlier in life, drinking the Ultra Divine Water (超神水, Chōshinsui) and going to the planet Namek before its existence becomes known to the others in the original story.
Chiaotzu (餃子, Chaozu), a martial artist and Tien Shinhan’s best friend. On our Earth, he was once known as Oushou, the tournament champion of the mobile game Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle. He was a top-grade student and a particularly avid Dragon Ball fan who loved to collect its merchandise and games. After dying countless times as Chiaotzu, Oushou was broken with despair and decided to use his power and knowledge in a selfish bid to become the ruler of the Dragon Ball universe until he was stopped by the similarly reincarnated Yamcha, who managed to fight him to a standstill and calm him down enough to talk.
Having read and watched the first Dragon Ball story from the 1980s, I find Yamcha’s relegation to being the butt of jokes over the course of time to be quite sad. Starting out as a capable ally and friend of Goku, Yamcha has never been the same since his death at the hands of a Saibaman, which has become a meme in the manga and anime culture on our world! He lost out on a potential relationship with Bulma, whom he dated for years before Vegeta came to Earth, due to a combination of his womanizing ways and the ever-growing power of the threats that came to Earth. He eventually gave up martial arts full-time and used his talents for sports, becoming a moderately successful baseball player. It’s as though Yamcha has lost the confidence of his younger years and never truly recovered unlike Krillin or Tien Shinhan.
To me, this spin-off story is a lesson of how a meme is just that – a meme. Getting affected by it is a choice. A reincarnated boy was able to single-handedly turn his life around as Yamcha by gaining power through hard work and determination, though knowing about his own death might have helped! Despite knowing he is still far short of the likes of Frieza, Cell and Majin Buu, the new Yamcha is able to retain his pride as a warrior by defeating the Saibamen who would have killed him.
It’s just heartening to see two discredited Dragon Ball characters get their due respect, since both are good people at heart who deserve no ridicule.
If you don’t like something in your life now, you can change it. Only you can determine your own life.