Yamcha is an important character in the story of Dragon Ball Z. He represents many firsts for the series and his role would be repeated throughout the story. Yamcha was Goku's first true equal in combat and was his first rival in martial arts skills. When Yamcha was defeated, he eventually became Goku's friend and staunch ally, before finally being left in the dust in terms of physical strength. Many of the characters that came after Yamcha, such as Krillin, Tien, Piccolo, and Vegeta, all follow in his footsteps. You might scoff at Yamcha's power level or his luck with the ladies, but you cannot deny his importance to Dragon Ball Z.
We are here today to look into the life of the most beloved underdogs of the Dragon Ball world. From the series where he became a star, to his final fate.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Yamcha!
15 Yamcha Starred In His Own Series
Yamcha has remained a popular character among the Dragon Ball Z fanbase, despite the fact that he was relegated to a secondary role after the original Dragon Ball had ended. The reason for this popularity is unclear, though it might have something to do with Saiyan fatigue. As Dragon Ball Z progressed, it became all about the Saiyans, which meant that the human characters were left in the dust. It became easy to grow weary of the Saiyans and to start rooting for the underdogs.
In 2016, Yamcha starred in his own Dragon Ball spin-off manga series. It was called Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha and it was a released as part of Shonen Jump's online digital magazine. The manga starred a young Dragon Ball Z fan from our world, who is reincarnated as Yamcha at the beginning of Dragon Ball. Using his knowledge of how the series will play out, the boy turns Yamcha into the strongest human in the world and makes him the star of the series.
14 Yamcha's Famous Death Pose
Dragon Ball Z was a lot darker and focused on violence than its predecessor. Dragon Ball managed to mix light-hearted adventures and comedy in with the martial arts action, which is a big reason why it became so popular. After Raditz arrived on Earth, the series took a seriously dark turn. Nowhere is this more evident than with the death of Yamcha. He is killed by a Saibaman who blows itself up, leaving Yamcha as a corpse in a crater. This is followed by the grisly deaths of Chiaotzu, Tien, and Piccolo, in their attempts to stop the Saiyans.
Yamcha's death has since become a source of comedy for some. In Japan, the "Yamcha Death Pose" image became a shorthand visual meme that basically told someone that they were in over their head, or had rushed in recklessly. This became so popular that it was referenced in other anime and manga series.
The Yamcha Death Pose became so popular that even Dragon Ball Super referenced it. During the "Future" Trunks Saga, there is an episode where teams from Universe 6 & 7 take each other on in a baseball game. Yamcha is actually the most important character here, as he is the only professional player on either team. When the two Gods of Destruction start brawling, they end up destroying the pitch. The only character left is Yamcha, who is lying in his familiar death pose inside a crater. Luckily for Yamcha, he not only survived the attack but allowed his team to win by remaining on the field.
13 Yamcha's Filler Power Increase
When a manga series becomes popular, it will likely receive an anime adaptation. This usually happens while the manga is still running, which means that the anime will eventually catch up with the comic. In order to prevent this from happening, the creators of the anime will usually create filler episodes, which are wholly original stories that are written by the staff of the TV show. Filler episodes usually aren't very good, due to the fact that they cannot impose any permanent changes, in case they end up contradicting future stories from the manga.
Dragon Ball Z was no stranger to filler episodes. The one that is relevant to Yamcha happened after the Cell Games. There was a story involving Goku taking part in a tournament in the afterlife. It is here that Goku meets an ancient hero from Earth, named Olibu. During the tournament, Olibu comes close to defeating Pikkon, who is later shown to be stronger than Perfect Cell in battle.
When Buu wiped out almost all life on Earth, the anime showed what some of the characters were up to in the afterlife. Yamcha is shown fighting and defeating Olibu in battle, which puts him at a power level close to that of Perfect Cell, if not greater.
12 Yamcha's Theme Song
The Dragon Ball franchise has many songs associated with it. In Japan, the most famous Dragon Ball opening theme is called "Cha-La Head-Cha-La", which has been referenced in numerous other anime, manga and video games. The American opening of the song was called "Rock the Dragon" and it is similarly loved by fans, even if it is kind of silly and repetitive.
In Japan, it is not unusual for a popular anime series to receive audio dramas that are created specifically to be sold on CD. These will sometimes include songs performed in-character by the voice actors (if they fancy themselves to be singers). Yamcha is one such character to receive a theme song. It is called "Wolf Hurricane" and it was performed by Tōru Furuya, who is Yamcha's voice actor. The song is a mixture of Yamcha bragging about his prowess in battle, yet complaining about his fear of being near a woman, and how lonely this makes him feel.
11 The Inspiration For Yamcha
When Dragon Ball was first created, it was intended to be a loose adaptation of Journey to the West. This is a Chinese novel that was written by Wu Cheng'en in the 16th century. It follows a monk named Xuanzang on his pilgrimage from Central Asia to India, in order to obtain holy Buddhist texts and return with them. Xuanzang is accompanied by three deities, named Sun Wukong (who inspired the creation of Goku), Zhu Bajie (who inspired Oolong), and Sha Wujing, whom Yamcha is based on.
Sha Wujing was thrown out of heaven for accidentally breaking a vase. He was banished to the Earth and transformed into a sand demon, who feasted on travelers as they passed. Wujing was eventually redeemed by Xuanzang, who turned him into his third disciple. Yamcha was inspired by the fact that Wujing started out as a monster that lived in the desert, who preyed on travelers. This resembles Yamcha's initial role as a desert bandit, who comes into conflict with Goku and Oolong.
10 Yamcha Has Had The Same Voice Actor Since 1986
Yamcha debuted in the seventh chapter of the Dragon Ball manga. When the Dragon Ball anime was first produced, he debuted in the fifth episode. This makes Yamcha one of the longest running characters to still appear in the franchise.
Ever since his debut, Yamcha has been voiced by Tōru Furuya. He has voiced Yamcha since 1986 and continues to do so as of Dragon Ball Super. Furuya has had a long and varied voice acting career, which has included characters like Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon, Burgh the Gym Leader in Pokémon, and Sabo from One Piece. He also voiced Mario in his first ever on-screen animated appearance, in Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!
Tōru Furuya is not the only voice actor to have kept his role for so long. The original voice actors for Goku (Masako Nozawa), Bulma (Hiromi Tsuru), and Oolong (Naoki Tatsuta) also continue to perform their roles. They have played these characters even longer than Furuya has, as they debuted before Yamcha in the anime.
9 The Yamcha Games
There was a long gap between the ending of Dragon Ball GT and the beginning of Dragon Ball Super. During this period of time, the only new Dragon Ball material released was in the numerous video games. Dragon Ball Z had also become a huge presence on the Internet, as the initial success of the show coincided with home computers making their way into homes across the world.
Dragon Ball Z quickly received its own in-jokes and memes (like the Yamcha Death Pose mentioned above), which made their way into mainstream usage. One such joke was about the uselessness of Yamcha. He was portrayed as a weak character who lost every fight he took part in. This attitude mostly spread because Dragon Ball Z became popular before Dragon Ball did, which was the period when Yamcha was at his most important.
Yamcha's memetic uselessness eventually spread into the Dragon Ball Z video games. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 featured an unlockable tournament, called Yamcha Game. This was a tournament where you fought against a selection of characters, before facing Yamcha in the finals. The Yamcha Game was a parody of the Cell Games from Dragon Ball Z, except with a much weaker final opponent.
8 The True Master Of The Wolf Fang Fist
The Dragon Ball franchise has many special moves that have become as recognizable as the series itself. Goku's Kamehameha and Spirit Bomb attacks are the most notable, as they have been referenced outside of Dragon Ball on many occasions.
Yamcha holds the distinction of using the first ever named special attack in the series. During his initial fight with Goku, Yamcha uses his Wolf Fang Fist attack. This is a series of punches and kicks that are empowered with ki energy. Yamcha improves on the Wolf Fang Fist throughout the original Dragon Ball, though he never uses it in Dragon Ball Z.
The creators of Dragon Ball are sadists, however, and they can't even let Yamcha have his own special move without a Saiyan stealing it. In the film Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and his Friends Return!!, Gotenks uses a vastly stronger version of Yamcha's Wolf Fang Fist against Aka.
7 Yamcha The Celebrity
The one thing that most of the Z-Fighters have in common is their unwillingness to find a job.
Most of the characters in Dragon Ball Z are content with spending their days training, in preparation for the next time that the universe is in danger. Even characters like Tien and Chiaotzu prefer to live in the mountains and train, despite the fact that they are practically useless against the caliber of foes that show up to challenge the Saiyans.
Yamcha is one of the few main characters in the show to be seen with a job outside of fighting. He is a star player for the Taitans baseball team. With the range of powers he gained from his years as a martial artist, he could easily become the greatest baseball player who ever lived. This means that Yamcha has the highest paying job of all the Z-Fighters and is likely the most famous (assuming you don't count Hercule). Yamcha probably doesn't care about the lack of zeros at the end of his power level, when they are on his bank account instead.
6 Yamcha Fought Igor
There have been quite a few theatrical Dragon Ball Z movies released since 1989. If you count the two latest movies (Battle of Gods and Resurrection 'F'), then there are fifteen Dragon Ball Z movies to date. The original Dragon Ball only had four theatrical movies and three of those were retellings of stories from the anime. This means that the only Dragon Ball movie with an original story was Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle.
Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle features Goku, Krillin, and Yamcha facing off against a demon, called Lucifer. After watching the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" episode of The Simpsons, Lucifer has the idea to destroy the sun so that monsters could live freely on the Earth. It is up to Goku and his friends to stop him.
Lucifer is helped by Igor, who is a tiny misshapen man that acts as his servant. Igor holds Bulma captive, with the intention of draining all of her blood (for the post-blowing up the sun after party). Yamcha manages to beat Igor with a single kick. That means Yamcha did actually win a fight for once! Even if it was against an old man who could barely walk. A victory is still a victory!
5 Yamcha Stole Gogeta's Move
In the movie Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, Goku and Vegeta perform the Fusion Dance and transform into the mighty Gogeta. This combined version of the two Saiyans was necessary in order to defeat the demon Janemba. Gogeta wins the battle through the use of the Stardust Breaker attack. This is a move that starts out with a series of punches and kicks, in order to weaken the enemy. Gogeta then creates a ball of rainbow colored energy, which can banish all of the evil out of anyone it hits. This move is used to annihilate Janemba where he stands.
So what does any of this have to do with Yamcha?
There is a popular Dragon Ball Z mobile game, called Dokkan Battle, which combines board game and puzzle elements into one. Thanks to a glitch in the game, it is possible for Yamcha to perform the Stardust Breaker attack. Those Saibamen better watch out!
4 Yamcha Literally Broke The Fourth Wall
In the early days of the Dragon Ball manga, the story took itself a lot less seriously than it would later become. This is mainly because Akira Toriyama had no long term plans for the story and was making stuff up as he went along. That's not to say that the later Dragon Ball chapters didn't have their silly or comedic moments, it's just that the story was less likely to go in an off-kilter direction. An example of this was when Goku used his Power Pole to drop Monster Carrot and his subordinates on the Moon, in order to dispose of them. Toriyama likely forgot that he left them there, as Master Roshi later blew the Moon up.
When Goku first battled Yamcha, he broke the fourth wall. He did this in a literal manner, as he bounced Yamcha off the top of one of the comic panels, causing it to break. These kinds of jokes were more common in the early issues of Dragon Ball, as well as Toriyama's other series, like Dr. Slump.
3 Yamcha's True Nemesis
Yamcha's death at the hands of the Saibaman was a huge moment in the Dragon Ball Z franchise. This is despite the fact that he was mortally injured on other occasions (like when he encountered the Androids) and died again during the Buu Saga. For some reason, Yamcha's original death is what stuck in the minds of fans, which is why it is still well-remembered to this day.
Due to the popularity of Yamcha's demise, it has become a popular notion in the Dragon Ball spin-offs that Yamcha's nemesis is the Saibaman. It was considered to be a big moment in Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha when Yamcha crushed all of the Saibamen at once. In the comedy series Dragon Ball SD, Yamcha comes close to defeating Goku. Oolong tries to stop him, by transforming into something Yamcha should be afraid of. This causes him to turn into a Saibaman, which makes Yamcha collapse into his famous death pose. One of the most recent references to the Yamcha/Saibaman feud was in Dragon Ball Fusions for the Nintendo 3DS, where Yamcha must face against the Saibaking, which is a fusion of five different Saibamen.
2 The Censorship Of Yamcha's Death
There were several attempts at bringing Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z to the West before the series finally found an audience in the late '90s. Most people were introduced to the show through the infamous Ocean Dub (which is also referred to as the Funimation Dub). This dub has become known for its horrible voice acting, the fact that it skipped several episodes, and for its heavy-handed censorship. These were the episodes that turned dying into being sent to another dimension.
Yamcha's famous death pose never actually made it into the Ocean Dub. He is killed by the Saibaman, but his body is never shown. All that is left of him is an empty crater, which suggests that the Saibaman totally obliterated both itself and Yamcha with its attack. This means that the producers of the show painted over every shot of Yamcha's lifeless corpse, in order to make it look like a crater.
1 Yamcha Ended Where He Began
When Yamcha was first introduced, he was living as a bandit in the desert. We know nothing of his life before the moment when he first encountered Goku. It is unknown whether Yamcha had a family or friends (outside of Puar), and why he turned to thievery in the first place.
Yamcha managed to escape from his lowly beginnings and become something far greater. He played an important part in saving the world on many different occasions. Yamcha still showed up for the big fights, even if he knew he was in way over his head. Of all of the Z-Fighters, he went on to have the most normal life and even managed to land himself a high paying job.
In the final episode of Dragon Ball GT, Yamcha is seen in the desert with Puar once more, as his car has broken down. Goku sees him one last time, before disappearing with Shenron. Of all of the last moments between Goku and the other characters from the series, the one with Yamcha most closely resembles their first meeting.