Earlier this year during Dragon Ball Super’s run in May, you might have noticed a certain little purple-haired girl making an appearance on the show. While her role was brief then, fans of Akira Toriyama’s body of work probably recognized her straight away: Arale-chan from Toriyama’s pre-Dragon Ball series Dr. Slump.
Dr. Slump was a long-running manga that was also turned into a 200+ episode anime series, spawning multiple films. Mainly a gag manga, it followed the lecherous inventor Senbei Norimaki and his “daughter,” 13-year-old Arale. It’s extremely silly and lighthearted–vastly different in tone from Dragon Ball Z. Because it was a massive success for Toriyama, however, we’ve been treated to several crossovers between the series in the past, but never to this extent.
In episode 69 of Dragon Ball Super, we’re treated to a full-fledged Arale story when the character makes her return and the episode focuses on the silliness of her character and how she interacts with Goku and crew. After coming off of a pretty serious arc in the past, it was fun to enter this kind of romp this week–especially with Arale and her Dr. Slump storyline at the center of it all–with Mami Koyama reprising her role from the Dr. Slump anime.
With Bulma competing for an award going to scientific creators, she ends up vying for the win with none other than Senbei Norimaki himself, who has created an invention that can create items for the user solely by working off the imagination. Of course, Senbei’s rival comes out of the woodwork (Dr. Mashirito) and foils Norimaki’s plans, having given Arale some sort of serum that makes her ridiculously energetic. Her babysitters? Goku and Vegeta of course, who are barely able to keep up with her.
Goku’s excited to meet Arale at first, and even tries to go Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan in a bid to fight against her. The two clash in a ridiculously quick battle and it’s quick to see Goku has met his match in a giggly little girl. Mr. Satan’s screaming in the distance with Bulma as the two try and figure out what to do if Goku can’t stop the blast Arale wants to hurl his way. Yeah–she’s that strong. Plus, as Vegeta notes that, as a gag manga character, “common sense doesn’t apply to her.”
In turn you have Goku and Vegeta dressed in dapper suits, with Vegeta trying to distract Arale by telling her there’s a UFO in the distance before kicking her head straight off of her body. Of course she just toddles on over, picks up her head and puts it back on, and announces to everyone that she’s a robot. Neither of them can believe this, so they’re flabbergasted. Meanwhile, Arale-chan just wants to play.
I live for the moments of Dragon Ball in general when characters like Vegeta are better able to come out of their shell and act more like regular people more than power-hungry near-deities. I really appreciated this from Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F, as Vegeta behaved wholly unlike the Saiyan Prince I had grown up watching and I really appreciated that tonal shift.
Watching these two ridiculously powerful fighters trying to corral a hyperactive Arale-chan was a hilarious highlight and that’s exactly what makes Dragon Ball Super such a triumph. While you have some of the strongest characters in the entire universe gathering together to combat the various evil threats that plague Earth and other friendly planets, you also have a child terrorizing them out of their wits. It’s something only a shounen epic like Dragon Ball could pull off, and that’s one of the reasons Dragon Ball Super works as well as it does. I’m hoping the rest of this arc follows suit just the same.
It doesn’t work out very well for Vegeta though, who ends up hanging from a branch off a cliff by the collar of his suit, proclaiming he’ll never fight with a gag character ever again. Duly noted, Vegeta.
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