When it comes to Dragon Ball, characters die. That is what they do. The long-running shoenen anime has aired several series and produced films wherein main characters like Goku and Vegeta bite the dust. Of course, in true anime style, these heroes are inevitably brought back to life with a little work and a lot of narrative intervention - but that doesn’t mean the deaths aren’t shocking. In a recent interview, one of Dragon Ball Z’s key animators revealed there was one Z-Fighter whose death surprised him above all others.
Not long ago, the site Hobby Consolas was lucky enough to speak with animator Masaski Sato about his time on Dragon Ball Z. The artist kicked off his career at Toei Animation by working on Dragon Ball and eventually became a key animator for Dragon Ball Z. It has been years since the latter show finished airing, but some of its stories still linger with Sato, and the artist said he and chief animation director Minoru Maeda were blown away by one character’s death.
Poor Yamcha. You deserved better.
During his interview, Sato talked about what it was like to work with Maeda and said the elder was properly intimidating but they bonded over the anime. “When the hit anime manga in terms of history, Mr. Maeda passed me a [Dragon Ball] manga, saying ‘Here, I have not yet read.’ We got a big surprise when Yamcha died,” he explained.
“At first I thought it was a joke, but…Yamcha was really dead!”
Of course, Yamcha has died more than once. The human Z-Fighter may be the butt of jokes these days because of his outclassed powers, but Yamcha was once a mighty foe to even Goku during Dragon Ball. However, the advent of Dragon Ball Z ushered in a new world of power levels, and Yamcha found himself struggling against the show’s dangerous enemies from the start. During the ‘Saiyan Saga,’ Yamcha was brutally killed thanks to Vegeta’s keeper, Nappa. The Saiyan sent one of his spawned Saibamen to fight Yamcha, and the latter did give the creature a solid whooping. However, the alien barely survived the encounter and then attached himself to Yamcha when he turned his back, giving the Saibamen the chance to self-destruct and kill Yamcha.
Following his shocking death, Yamcha was allowed to train in the after-life on King Kai’s planet over in the Other World. The warriors was joined by the other Z-Fighters who perished during the ‘Saiyan Saga,’ and Yamcha is given the chance to return to Earth after 130 days of training.
These days, Yamcha’s death may be overlooked by some in lieu of other blockbuster moments from the show, but the death rocked Dragon Ball fans when the sequel anime debuted. Nowadays, Yamcha is good cheering on his comrades from the sideline and taking part in whacky manga spin-offs where he is reimagined as the universe’s most powerful warrior.
[H/T] Hobby Consolas