Dragon Ball 1×04 “Oolong the Kidnapping Monster”/”Oolong the Terrible” Summary

Bulma hitting Goku hard on the head in the left third of the picture, with a young girl wearing a pink dress, yellow apron, and a Native American headband with feather standing in the right third of the picture, looking as though she doesn't know what to think.
Bulma hitting Goku hard on the head in the left third of the picture, with a young girl wearing a pink dress, yellow apron, and a Native American headband with feather standing in the right third of the picture, looking as though she doesn’t know what to think.

Dragon Ball 1×04 “Oolong the Kidnapping Monster”/”Oolong the Terrible” Summary


Today’s episode introduces a new recurring character and continues gags that are directly caused by Goku’s lack of understanding the concept of gender and appropriate behavior towards other people’s no-no zones. It will also establish Bulma’s usual “remedy” for Goku’s behavior, which is highly ineffective.


Goku and Bulma arrive in a new town, having located their fifth dragon ball. But the town is strangely quiet. Bulma wonders if it’s a ghost town, but Goku insists that there are definitely still people there. Goku tries to get them to come out of hiding.


Goku is promptly greeted by an ax to the head. It leaves a giant, reddening bump on Goku’s head; he’s otherwise fine. Goku doesn’t seem to realize that the man had tried to kill him, but he is angry that he’s in pain and was attacked.


The episode quickly moves away from the seriousness of attempted murder and goes to Goku asking if the man’s daughter is a girl. Instead of just taking her word for it, Goku sees the need to check and pats her crotch through the girl’s dress. The girl is understandably surprised and uncomfortable. Goku doesn’t see what he did wrong and hasn’t put together that he’s made her uncomfortable. Bulma hits Goku on the head for the action, which makes Goku’s head hurt more. He asks her what that was for, and Bulma yells at him. Bulma thinks the reason is obvious, so she doesn’t actually tell him. Goku remains absolutely confused.


Goku patting Kopowapa's crotch through the front of her dress. Kopowapa is alarmed.
Goku patting Kopowapa’s crotch through the front of her dress. Kopowapa is alarmed.


Goku will continue to have moments where he is grabbing at crotches to see if someone is a boy or a girl. Goku, in the entirely of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, never encounters anyone who identifies as transgender, so it never results in him getting the gender identity wrong. Though there are instances where Goku encounters alien biology and the aliens are assumed to be men and accept the use of male pronouns, certain alien races are capable of producing asexually, which would mean that their species is intersex and/or nonbinary and have no use for male and female pronouns and social constructs. Gender identity is never actually discussed or addressed, and Goku’s inappropriate behavior is chalked up to “pervert boy behavior” by other characters and it is socially expected to be hand-waived. However, Goku is very different from the other characters who appear later who also display sexual inappropriateness. The difference is Goku has absolutely no idea what it is that he’s doing wrong, while the others know it’s wrong but relish in the act of sexual violation. It never occurs to Goku that someone could have traumatic experiences from being touched without permission or that it is a violation of the other person’s privacy and person, and no one tries to communicate that to him. It is assumed that he already knows what he’s doing wrong and doesn’t care, much like other characters in the narrative, but this isn’t the case.


Goku isn’t uncaring about how people feel. When he understands that someone is upset or hurt, he does want he can to fix the problem. So it’s not because he doesn’t care about other people’s boundaries and feelings. He just can’t put it together that their facial expressions and physical reactions of getting hit or pushed away mean that he did something wrong. He much better understands threats of physical violence, though in many cases he doesn’t really understand just how grave they are (especially when in relation to his person because he’s immune to almost everything). There is definitely a rape culture within the context of Dragon Ball (which is indicative of the rape culture within Japan), and Goku is surrounded by it but cannot recognize it for what it is and does not understand the seriousness of it and even gets taken advantage by it later in the series.


While it’s taken us three paragraphs, the moment in the episode passes by without a care in the world, and Bulma steers the conversation back to the monster that wants to kidnap the daughter.


They get the story about how the monster, Oolong, is a shapeshifter who is kidnapping all of the village’s daughters and that he has come for the man’s daughter, Kopowapa. Goku hears the story and decides that he will somehow capture Oolong and save the town. (Again, Goku, when he understands something is wrong, is more than willing to fix it and is the first person to volunteer and suggest a solution. But his understanding of right and wrong is unfortunately limited, as is his comprehension of facial expressions.) They make a deal that if they get rid of Oolong, they’ll give them the dragon ball.


There is additional Goku-grabbing-crotch-to-check-gender before the plot continues, this time Goku touching the old woman who has the dragon ball. Goku receives the same punishment as before, but still shows no comprehension as to why he’s being punished. It’s indicative of an inability to connect cause and effect.


Bulma comes up with a plan to trick Oolong into taking Goku to his hideout. They dress Goku in Kopowapa’s clothes. Oolong arrives and Goku pretends to be Kopowapa. Unfortunately, Goku also has to use the bathroom during the whole charade. When given an opportunity to, Goku goes to pee, but Oolong notices that “Kopowapa” has gone to stand in front of a tree. Oolong then walks over, sees Goku’s penis, then gets angry that they tried to trick him into thinking Goku was Kopowapa. Goku, despite equating lack of a penis with being a girl, doesn’t get how Oolong saw through the disguise and thinks that he must’ve seen his tail.


There are some gags and we’re shown that Oolong is capable of transforming himself into different things, but only for five minutes at a time. His usual form is that of a bipedal pig. The first confrontation with Oolong also shows that Goku sometimes needs prompting from others in order to make a logical decision, such as running after Oolong when Oolong runs away so that they can find the location of the kidnapped girls.


The episode ends with more gags, and it turns out Oolong wasn’t nearly as dangerous as he made himself out to be. (Let’s just say he’s easily pushed around.) The old woman gives Bulma the dragon ball, and the episode ends on that note.


This will not be the last of rape culture in Dragonball and how Goku suffers from it in subtle ways as a result of his developmental disability as opposed to the blatant ways that Bulma suffers from it due to her gender. It also won’t be the last of Goku’s inability to comprehend gender and what it means, which results in quite a bit of Goku not speaking up when behavior that he is adamantly against occurs in front of him. It’s not necessarily that Goku has difficulty with reasoning ability; in many fights later in the series, he performs admirably well with ingenuity and cleverness. But his intelligence only really gets to shine when he’s in a fight, and sometimes his honorableness is mistaken for stupidity or results in him misjudging his opponent’s respectability and he gets taken advantage by it.


The apparent main cause of Goku’s difficulty in perception seems to lie in his ability to observe, process, and understand what he’s looking at. These instances only increase as we continue through the series and with the more companions Goku accumulates, whom are at varying degrees of morality.

Dragon Ball 1×03 “The Turtle Hermit’s Kinto Un / The Nimbus Cloud of Roshi” Summary

From left to right: Master Roshi (Muten Roshi) wearing a dragon ball around his neck, looking at Turtle. Bulma stands in the background to the right side of the panel, waiting.
From left to right: Master Roshi (Muten Roshi) wearing a dragon ball around his neck, looking at Turtle. Bulma stands in the background to the right side of the panel, waiting.

Dragon Ball 1×03 “The Turtle Hermit’s Kinto Un / The Nimbus Cloud of Roshi” Summary


The third episode of Dragonball is, again, mostly gags and new characters introduced. However, it does introduce an interesting concept long before the anime gives the audience any reason to interpret Goku as anything other than ignorant but neurotypical. Through the use of the Nimbus cloud, Dragonball plays with the concept of innocence, who is and isn’t innocent, and the reasons why.


Bulma and Goku take their new turtle friend – known only as Turtle – to the sea, running into minor mishaps along the way. Turtle is so happy to be back at the sea, so much so that he promises to bring Bulma and Goku back a present. Goku and Bulma spend some time on the beach while they wait, and more instances where Goku learns more about the world around him occur. Turtle eventually returns with an old man on his back.


The old man is Master Roshi, a character who will be a recurring character and have an important role in Goku’s life. (In some ways, this is a rather irritating and unfortunate fact.) Master Roshi is bald with a thick white beard and wears a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, sandals, and a giant turtle shell on his back with the help of some straps. His alternate title is the Turtle Hermit.


Turtle tells Roshi that Goku is the one who helped him get back home, and Roshi says that he’ll give Goku a present in exchange for his kind deed. There are some gags in gift-giving plans not working out until Roshi finally calls the Nimbus Cloud.


This Nimbus Cloud isn’t to be confused with a real-life nimbus cloud that floats in the sky and produces rain. The Flying Nimbus in Dragonball is a yellow cloud just big enough to be ridden by one or two people (especially if they’re children). It can take you wherever you want, but the catch is that you have to be pure of heart.
Master Roshi attempts to demonstrate and fails because, as the episode quickly reveals as he interacts with Bulma, Roshi is a huge pervert. His perversion has tarnished his innocence and the Nimbus no longer acknowledges him as a rider. Goku, however, is able to ride the cloud no problem, and this makes Goku very happy.


As I mentioned before, Goku hasn’t yet exhibited traits that necessarily stand out as anything other than ignorance. The story’s reasoning for Goku’s innocence is that he’s a child and hasn’t been tarnished by the world yet.


But if you were like me and were an American kid watching Dragonball Z on the TV long before Dragonball was brought overseas and given an English dub, you already knew that Goku can and does still ride the Nimbus as an adult. Goku never loses this innocence, though later on he makes decisions that are questionable, though never rooted in mean-spiritedness. But why is that?


Is Goku innocent because he’s a child? Is he innocent because he retains a child-like attitude throughout his life? Or is his innocence specifically rooted in what he does and doesn’t understand about his surroundings and how he interacts with those surroundings, despite the fact that the majority of the time, Goku really doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on?


In short: is Son Goku forever innocent because of his developmental disability? Or is this a trait of Goku’s that he would have retained if he hadn’t received a head injury that altered his behavior (an occurrence that we learn of in the first episode of Dragonball Z)? We’re not given a straight-forward answer, but up until a very recent manga special created by Akira Toriyama this year, the audience is led to believe that Goku’s goodness and innocence is directly caused by his brain injury – thus, because he is developmentally disabled, he is good and pure of heart.


This interpretation of innocence is problematic due to a history of infantilization of the developmentally disabled, but as we’ll see at length, Dragonball in and of itself is very much a product of its time and culture and will treat us to a variety of instances of sexual harrassment played for laughs, racism, and ableism through the narrative, but the value of Goku as a developmentally disabled character shouldn’t be considered to be lessened due to the problematic material in his story.


A key factor in the determination of who is innocent and who isn’t is whether or not someone is perverted or sexual in nature, though the act of sex itself seems to have no effect. For example, Goku has two biological children by the end of Dragonball Z and always is able to ride the Nimbus Cloud. However, Roshi, Bulma, and a later character named Krillin – named Kururrin in the Japanese – are unable to ride the cloud, regardless of virgin status, because of their impure sexual thoughts and naturally manipulative and pessimistic mindsets. The other characters who are able to ride the Nimbus Cloud are mostly children who have not reached puberty yet and a few adults.


An indicator of both Goku’s innocence and his inability to infer what’s going on is his expression when Roshi and Bulma make a deal. It turns out Roshi has their next dragon ball, but Turtle says only Goku helped him. Roshi is willing to make a deal with Bulma in exchange for seeing her panties.


During the exchange, Goku really doesn’t seem to comprehend what it is that Roshi and Bulma are doing. Bulma gets the dragon ball, Goku is in awe of it, Bulma flashes Roshi, and Goku doesn’t have any questions, but he is also particularly quiet during the exchange. In fact, Goku’s reaction to Bulma flashing Roshi is entirely ignored, reduced to little twelve-year-old Goku standing to the side on his Nimbus Cloud, smiling because he has no reason not to be.


The episode ends with some gags and hijinks related to episode 2 and Goku’s discovery that Bulma doesn’t have male genitalia. Not an explanation as to why Bulma has different genitals than Goku, but let’s just say Bulma accidentally showed off more than she intended….


It is the beginning of rather violent reactions to Goku not realizing that he’s not supposed to touch someone’s crotch or underwear without permission but no actual explanation attached to them. So Goku never actually learns and it continues to be a problem for him. Not that he goes without consequences or repercussions…. You’ll see what I mean later.