Dragon Ball: 22nd Tenkaichi Tournament Arc (Episodes 93 – 101) Review

The second half of the 22nd Tenkaichi Tournament is full of great action and the central focus on Tenshinhan’s struggle with his morality is great, so while it still has moments of filler this is a far better experience. Plus that infamous cliffhanger ending! Let’s take a look…


The semi-finals of the 22nd Tenkaichi Tournament get under way as Jackie Chun takes on Tenshinhan, followed by a battle between friends as Krillin takes on Goku!

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Tenshinhan and Chun beat each other black and blue! … Or slightly different shades of purple anyway…

After a little bit more filler we jump into the semi-finals as Master Roshi, alias Jackie Chun, faces off with Tenshinhan, who at this point was still set on becoming a top assassin like his master’s brother Tao Pai Pai. The fight is quite brutal and is a rare one in Dragon Ball as a whole because it shows a lot of bruising to the face and body rather than the blood that is more prevalent in pretty much every other fight. As the battle goes on Roshi is more and more impressed with his opponent, asking him why he chose the path of evil and that it’s not too late to change his ways. Ten gets angry with this and soon figures out his opponent’s identity so assumes it’s a ploy. After exchanging some brutal moves (including the debut of every villain’s favourite get-out clause: the Solar Flair Attack) Chun is happy with what he senses and says to himself that between Ten and his students a new era is finally dawning and so he can finally retire. He gleefully steps out of the ring and loses despite not having shown his all, something his opponent can’t begin to fathom.

As the fight between Goku and Krillin is about to get underway Ten catches up with Roshi as he’s putting away his outfit and asks him why he would do such a thing and assumes it’s because Roshi feared him (though said in a way that he was clearly trying to convince himself). Roshi just says he joined to inspire his student and to keep trying hard and that Ten would be better off without the corrupting guidance of the Crane Hermit, then walks off to watch his two top students face off while Tenshinhan breaks some equipment and furniture in frustration. The fight between Goku and Krillin is once again really good, plenty of hand-to-hand combat and Krillin resorting to cheap tactics by grabbing Goku’s tail. This backfires though as Goku took his Granpa’s advice and spent the last three years strengthening his tail so he no longer has the weakness. He soon beats Krillin by ring out after running so fast Krillin’s eyes couldn’t keep up with him.

Krillin gets the better of Goku in a fight! Now there’s a rare sight alright…

After another filler-night’s sleep the finals begin and it’s another great fight, lots of different forms of combat including hand-to-hand, some Ki attacks including a weird volleyball-related move from Ten, and even a bit of wrestling via the Boston Crab, for some reason! During the course of the battle Goku is frozen in place a few times by Chioatzu, who is threatened by the Crane Hermit to do it so Tenshinhan wins. Ten gets wise of this and has a crisis of faith, he wants to beat Goku with his own ability not through cheap means, so he eventually tells Chiaotzu to stop, causing the Crane Hermit to try and kill him for betraying him only to get a Kamehameha to the face by Master Roshi, sending him way out of the Tournament grounds.

Tenshinhan realises he’s changed his future and allows Goku to beat him up an equal amount to what he did to Goku when he was frozen so they’re even, then decides to use the Kikoho, or Tri-beam, to annihilate the ring and win via ring out as Goku can’t fly like he can. He successfully wipes out the ring but Goku jumps higher than Ten is flying and manages to ram into him, causing them both to free fall into the city. The tournament announcer follows them and sees Ten was due to hit the ground first but thanks to striking a car on the way down Goku hits first and Tenshinhan wins the 22nd Tenkaichi tournament. The audience, including Yamcha on a pair of crutches, arrive and hoist both fighters up, with Goku and Ten shaking hands out of respect for each other. It’s a great fight and more importantly Ten’s battle against what he was brought up to think was his only path in life was great to see unfold. It really is a shame his character just stops evolving from here on out…

The Crane Hermit blasts off again!

Everyone makes friends (including Ten apologising to Yamcha for what he did) and then decide to go for a meal, with Krillin quickly heading back to the tournament grounds because Goku left his Dragon Ball and staff there but was too tired from the bout to collect them himself. Everyone waits at the restaurant but Krillin never comes back, leading to Goku having an awful feeling and running back to the grounds only to find Krillin dead on the floor. Now there’s a cliffhanger for you!

The Bad:

Goku applies the Boston Crab to a four-armed Ten. What? Yeah, one of Tenshinhan’s unique techniques was to grow an extra set of arms. Why he never uses that again I can’t tell you…

Not a lot, thankfully the back half of the tournament is kept pretty much to just the Semi-finals and finals, and most of the filler is extending the fights a bit, which is fine. It’s not the kind of fight extending we’ll see in the sequel series, that’s for sure! They do once again insert a day’s break in between the Semis and the final, which like I said is just weird as the Manga had it as a one day tournament that happens every three or so years, so to see the anime version spread over nearly a week, with some days only having one fight on display, was just annoying and in-universe confusing…

Overall Thoughts:

Tenshinhan on his way to his one and only big victory in a story arc…. Hooray!

Thankfully after cutting up and butchering the first half of the arc with way too many filler bits the second half of the tournament is kept at a much better pace and the three fights on offer are really visually pleasing and all have a good story behind them to boot. It’s a Tournament arc done right! Plus it ends with a great cliffhanger to send us straight into the next story arc…

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