Dragon Ball: Red Ribbon Army Arc (Episodes 46 – 57) Review

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc Part 3

How much you enjoy the General Blue portion of the Red Ribbon Army arc will depend entirely on how much you can stomach a rather outdated overly camp gay villain being the butt of all the jokes. That and how much knowledge you have of Akira Toriyama’s previous work: Dr. Slump… Interested? Well, read on!

Synopsis:

Goku and Bulma are soon joined on the Dragon Ball hunt by Krillin, but together they run into Goku’s current nemesis: the Red Ribbon Army and one of their top Generals named Blue, a man with a few tricks up his sleeves… or in his eyes.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc Part 3 2

Our lead trio in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

The trio of Goku, Bulma and Krillin are a good laugh, their actual knowledge of the terrible Red Ribbon Army, not to mention how they both appreciate the idea of scoring money or treasure, something Goku is oblivious to, helps keep the comedy more varied than just our lead protagonist’s naivety.

The trio take a capsule submarine down to the depths to find both a Dragon Ball and a legendary lost pirate treasure (that may or may not be named one piece! … It’s not named one piece) but are followed by General Blue in his large manned Sub. They eventually make it past traps and a fight with a pirate guard robot, the design of which is Toriyama’s first use of the Xenomorph elongated head design (classic!) before they have a showdown with Blue, who uses his telekinetic and hypnotic powers to beat Krillin and nearly does the same to Goku, except he gets scared by a mouse and loses his concentration…

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc Part 3 1

Ah yes, the short-lived “wearing a hat” phase of General Blue…

This is the problem some might have with Blue, the ramped up camp stereotyping. It’s a shame because there are moments where he’s just a harsh and vein leader that sends his troops ahead to their deaths and thinks nothing of stepping over their corpses once they’ve activated the traps, which is a good bit of fun, but then there’s the repulsed by Bulma’s advances and the mouse, and… something I’m definitely saving for the bad section. For me I still enjoy the character for the most part, 80s Japan… hell, 2010s Japan are still very old fashioned where it comes to homosexuality, so I don’t think it’s Toriyama hating on gays as much as him just using a style of humour that was available to him.

Anyway, the action goes to Kame House where Roshi and Launch are joined by our lead trio in being frozen in place and tied up by an angry Blue, who then sets a bomb and leaves with the Dragon Balls…

The Bad:

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc Part 3 4

The “Pirate Robot” is the first example of Toriyama’s use of the Xenomorph elongated head design… First of many.

This is my main problem with this part of the story arc: once they escape the bomb Blue is chased by Goku and the two end up crashing into Penguin Village, the main location of Toriyama’s previous Shonen Jump! hit Dr. Slump. The story then just becomes packed full of references I don’t get, which is always the potential issue with crossovers like this. Now in subsequent watch-throughs, especially this one, I’m more aware of Dr. Slump than I was when this first aired on UK TV in 2004 (I think?) but it’s still a bunch of zany characters and references I don’t get.

This is also where things get weird to the point of being uncomfortable. During his travels General Blue meets up with “Obotchaman”, an android that looks like a small boy, and Blue finds him attractive, and even goes in for a kiss… again, android that LOOKS LIKE A SMALL BOY. It’s no wonder both English dubs changed it to Blue thinking he’d found his lost brother, old fashioned camp stereotype is one thing, gay paedophile is something else entirely… Still, Blue being kicked over the horizon by Arale, the main character from Dr. Slump, is still funny, if not very similar to how the previous General was defeated…

I’ll also mention that during the course of this story Master Roshi is given a watch that can shrink someone down to tiny size as payment from Bulma and proceeds to use it to hide in the bathroom to get a sneak peek at the ladies using the loo… I mean, I guess it’s more seeing the ladies with their pants down rather than some new kind of perversion, but yikes! At least it still makes me laugh thanks to the weirdness of it all, I’ll give it that… It also makes me wonder how Roshi’s tiny house on a small island has plumbing, but that’s a whole other issue…

Overall Thoughts:

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc Part 3 3

Normally in this situation, you’d be worried for the child…

The General Blue part of the Red Ribbon Army arc is full of fun dialogue and scenes, but also full of outdated humour and references to a show/manga that never really made it to Western shores. A definite mixed bag, but an enjoyable enough diversion, most of the time…

4 Star Watch

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