Dragon Ball: Red Ribbon Army Arc (Episodes 58 – 68) Review

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc P4

Although there is plenty of humour to be had in the next arc (that’s sort of the final part of this overall story…) this part of the Red Ribbon Army arc always feels like the beginning of the turning point towards more action-heavy story telling. Tao Pai Pai is a deadly and serious (until the end) foe, and for the first time Goku decides to use the Dragon Balls to return someone from death. Interested? Let’s have a look then, as the Red Ribbon Army arc draws to a close, but we’re not quite done yet…

Synopsis:

After the whole debacle with General Blue, Goku is back on his own and on the hunt for his grandfather’s four-star Dragon Ball. He soon arrives in the Holy Land of Korin and makes some friends, but this joy will be short lived: The Red Ribbon Army is still on his trail, and they’ve resorted to hiring the world’s most deadly assassin…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc P4 1

Only the most confident of assassins can be so blatant about their career choice…

The beginning to this chunk of the arc is simple but brilliant. Goku meets a little boy named Upa and his large and imposing father Bora, and after initial hesitation (given Bora just took care of Captain Yellow of the Red Ribbon Army) the three become friends. Meanwhile Commander Red is fed up of his underlings’ failures so decides to dig deep into the Army’s coffers and hire the famous assassin Tao Pai Pai, who defeats General Blue with just his tongue… Yes, tongue. Blue had managed to swipe a Dragon Radar so Tao uses it to find Bora, Upa and Goku in the Land of Korin and travels by grabbing a stone pillar, throwing it and then jumping on it as it flies off in the distance… Pai Pai makes short work of Bora and impales him on his own spear, and then takes Goku’s Kamehameha wave with only damage to his clothes. Goku is soundly beaten and hit with the deadly Dodonpa, leaving Tao to head off with the Dragon Balls. It’s a perfect way to switch to a more serious story beat while still retaining some of the more absurd parts of the show (I found Tao’s travel method hilarious when I first watched it!)

Tao decides to take a few days to get a new uniform created before he returns to Commander Red (a time that includes a scene where he takes a bath in water so hot it boils an egg while he sits in it… Damn!), but unluckily for him it turns out that Goku survived the Dodonpa because he had the four-star Dragon Ball in his uniform next to his heart, where the blast hit. This leads to Goku climbing Korin’s tower and learning under the wise old cat of the same name, a feat Master Roshi accomplished back in the day (though it took him three years to complete the “grab the water from me” challenge that Goku does in just a few days). Tao returns to Red and is told he left one Dragon Ball behind so he pops back over to the Holy Land of Korin on another pillar. He is surprised to see Goku alive, and then is even more surprised when he fights him toe-to-toe, and then is overpowered by the young boy. In an anime-only scene, Pai Pai runs up Korin’s Tower and tries to drink the same water, not knowing it was in the art of grabbing the water that trains you, not the water itself, and then is handed a false Nimbus / Kinto’un cloud and send spiralling down to the floor below. He is beaten black and blue by Goku, tries to apologise before tossing a grenade and jumping for it, only for Goku to kick the grenade back into the air have it explode the assassin instead.

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc P4 3

The final blow! … In a very blurry picture, sadly.

Goku makes the decision to use the Dragon Balls to bring Upa’s Dad back to life, and so flies straight to the Red Ribbon Army’s HQ to get the other five he had collected back. At RRA HQ, Commander Red reveals he wants to use the Dragon Balls to make himself taller, something the extremely tall Assistant Black is shocked to find out, so shocked he shoots Red through the forehead and takes control of the army just as Goku arrives and begins to take out whole platoons by himself. It goes without saying that Black’s time in charge of the army is short-lived, as he pilots a massive purple mech to try and take Goku out but only ends up exploding in it instead. What’s left of the army runs for it as the base falls, and Goku calmly strolls out only to meet Yamcha, Roshi, Bulma and others who arrived outside the base to help, not knowing Goku had handled the entire army by himself. Goku then frets over the fact that the seventh Dragon Ball isn’t on the radar, so Roshi suggests getting in contact with an old acquaintance of his…

The Bad:

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc P4 2

… Yeah, okay, he’s on the stereotypical side of things…

Not much, beyond some scenes being dragged out in places, especially the downtime in between the two Tao Pai Pai / Goku fights. That being said, I find the filler of Tao going up to meet Korin and being tricked rather funny, so although it was poorly added in the middle of an important fight, it’s still a good laugh…

Overall Thoughts:

Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc P4 4

Caught mid-shot during their epic re-match!

The Red Ribbon Army Arc comes to a close with an action-packed chunk that sees Goku get properly defeated by a brilliantly realised villain, only to train and come back stronger for a rematch victory (something he obviously never does again… *ahem*) and then the satisfying destruction of Red Ribbon Army HQ, a location we’ve been seeing since the start. This isn’t my last Dragon Ball review for now as I want to cover the next, smaller arc as it ties up Goku’s second Dragon Ball hunt and Bora’s death plot threads started in this arc (so it’s more like an epilogue to the Red Ribbon Army arc than its own standalone thing) but I will say this is a satisfying finale to the titular villains.

5 Star Watch

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