Dragon Ball is a series full of beloved, over-powered superhumans — but there’s one character that’s a little less loved than everyone else. In a new digital series, however, Dragon Ball’s biggest punching bag gets a chance to prove that he can stand alongside Goku and the rest of the crew.
Called Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha, the spinoff comic is all about Goku’s bro-y pal Yamcha. Except it’s not exactly the same Yamcha that Goku and friends grew up with. Instead, the very meta storyline stars a high school-age comic book fan who dies and is reborn as the character. From that point on, he makes it his goal to prove that Yamcha is just as capable of a fighter as the rest of the guys.
Someone unfamiliar with Dragon Ball might look at the beefy, long-haired Yamcha and just see another muscle-bound jerk. But throughout the original comics and anime, the character has gotten the short shift. Here’s some popular search results to give you a sense of why:
Yamcha almost never has a win throughout the Dragon Ball series, and his death by one of the series’ weakest villains is a popular meme.
“He sucks and progressively sucks more and more,” turbodan1 wrote in a thread a few years back, answering the question of “Why does everyone hate Yamcha?” “Sure he's a human, but all of the other human fighters either manage to contribute despite being overpowered or have the sense to stay out of trouble. You could even say this for Mr Satan! Yamcha never really managed to contribute and when he attempted, he was always a liability.”
The first chapter of Dragon Ball Side Story — which is written and illustrated by fan artist Dragon Garow Lee, not series creator Akira Toriyama — is available through major manga magazine Shonen Jump’s digital-only outfit, but it’s just in Japanese for now. Yamcha’s fellow defenders have already translated chapter one into English, though; that can be found on Imgur.
Update: Viz Media announced during Anime Boston 2018 (!!!) that it will released an English-language version of the Yamcha comic, called Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha!, this November.
Announcement: Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha! releases November 2018. This manga follows a die-hard Dragon Ball fan who is reincarnated as Yamcha—Dragon Ball’s biggest punching bag and total internet meme. pic.twitter.com/sHat1DZ8QI— VIZ @ Anime Boston (@VIZMedia) March 30, 2018