Mumbling Kitsune: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! (

By:Nadia Oxford
Date: Wednesday, December 03, 2008

American Dragon Ball  fans have enjoyed a bit of an advantage over Japanese fans. Toriyama had mostly wrapped up work on his flagship series by the time it gained momentum over US airwaves, so we've enjoyed Goku's company through a steady trickle of translated movies, re-dubs and DVD collections. Japan, meanwhile, has gone a long time without seeing Goku blow something up.

Word got around about Toriyama animating a Dragon Ball-related short. “Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!” saw release shortly thereafter, including a subbed version for America through Shonen Jump's Jumpland. For once, both countries had the opportunity to enjoy Goku's antics together. Revisiting the Saiyan and his pals is well worth it. Toriyama's charm is a constant throughout the film, which parodies the series' half-ridiculous shows of power.

A New Baby Brother

When fans first received news about Vegeta's long-lost brother coming to Earth, theories were quickly formed through past experience. A saiyan landing on Earth is never the prelude to good times for the human race. Saiyans visit Goku's adopted world for one reason, and that's to break stuff.

So it's quite a reversal to see Vegeta's brother, Tarble, seek out his sibling to plead for help against the intergalactic equivalent schoolyard bullies. Tarble's homeworld is being pushed around by two leftovers from the Ginyu Force: the portly Abo and Cado. Tarble wholly admits he's a useless fighter, having been exiled from their father's sight for that very reason. Even though his mission to Earth is merely to petition Vegeta to “do somethiiiiiing!”, he's a pretty likable fellow. This might have to do with the fact that he chose an anemic Ms Pac-Man alien for a wife. 

Good Times, Easy Living

Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! is as lighthearted as Dragon Ball gets. All that's missing is Vegeta's pink “BADMAN” shirt, and presumably he didn't wear that simply because the episode's plot begins at a formal celebration. It soon becomes apparent that Abo and Cado are sissies; the narrator notes that their appearance on Earth is barely noteworthy compared to what humanity has endured from the arrival of Radditz through to the puffy pink horror of Majin Buu. Goku and Vegeta unleash Goten and Trunks on the two aliens, comparing their sons' fighting techniques like parents at a Little League game.

Comedy and fanservice are the best paths Toriyama could have chosen for his new work. Goku and his friends are the strongest beings in the universe a thousand times over. There is no intimidation left. If Toriyama does in fact decide to pit Goku against another hyper-powered enemy, the best we can hope for is a cross over (Goku or Superman? The Internet's message boards resound with the clash of fandom's warriors).  
Let Sleeping Gokus Lie

Goku and his family have certainly earned their retirement. Though Goku has his fun in Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!, he doesn't seem to long for the battlefield day and night. If Toriyama leaves Goku to his rest, we won't be sore about it...but it is fun to visit with old friends once in a while. Hopefully this will be the start of a semi-regular thing for Toriyama. 

Series: Dragon Ball Z