|Dragon Ball character|
Tenshinhan as depicted in the anime
|First appearance||Dragon Ball chapter 113: The 22nd Tenka'ichi Budōkai (1987)|
|Created by||Akira Toriyama|
|Voiced by||See Voice actors|
|Aliases||Shinto (Harmony Gold dub)
Tien Shinhan (Funimation dub)
Tenshinhan (天津飯), named Tien Shinhan in Funimation's English anime dub, is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He is introduced in chapter 113 The 22nd Tenka'ichi Budōkai (第22回天下一武道会 Dainijūnikai Tenkaichi Budōkai ), first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on March 9, 1987, entering the Tenka'ichi Budōkai, where he, having been trained by Tsuru-Sen'nin, the rival of Goku's master, tries to kill Goku and his fellow-students. However, he teams up them to defeat Piccolo Daimao, accompanied by his friend Chaozu. He becomes Goku's rival for a while and is notable for being the first person in the series to fly using Bukū-jutsu (舞空術, lit. "Air Dance Technique") and to use the Taiyōken (太陽拳, lit. "Fist of the Sun", "Solar Flare" in Funimation's anime dub) technique.
Numerous publications have been written on the subject of Tenshinhan’s character. Reviewers praised his quest for redemption in the Piccolo arc. Additionally, his fights have been celebrated as dramatic, intense, and entertaining. On the other hand, other reviewers have referred to Tenshinhan as dull and uninteresting. Numerous pieces of merchandise have been released bearing his likeness including action figures, key chains, and capsule toys.
Design and Appearance
When Akira Toriyama began creating the Dragon Ball manga series, he used Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West as a prototype for his own work. Tien's three eyed physical characteristic resembles that of the story character Erlang Shen (also named Yang Jian), one of heavenly army's commanders who is sent to subdue Sun Wukong in the novel. Also, both characters are warriors introduced as adversaries of the main character in their respective stories. The Daizenshuu books mention that Tien Shinhan is a descendant of the Three-Eyed clan. The small description booklet in the boxes for Dragon Ball Z Season 1 and Dragon Ball Z Season 4 DVDs, which lists bios of a few of the characters, also mentions that Tien is a "Descendant of the Three-Eyed People." Tien Shinhan being a descendant of the Three-Eyed clan is a reference to the character Sharaku, who is also a descendant of an ancient race of three eyed humans in Osamu Tezuka's 1974 manga The Three-eyed One. Tien's origin is also referenced in the Dragon Ball: Raging Blast what-if story "The Top Earthling Tournament" where, after defeating Tien for the title of "strongest earthling", Krillin asks if Tien is even from Earth. Technically, Tien is a triclops, which simply means a three-eyed creature, though this has never been depicted as being indicative of another alien race and is more likely just a rare trait in Humans. Tien's non-combat outfit typically consists of a Hanfu (Han-style) robe with loose pants and boots, in contrast to the Manchu-style clothing most Chinese characters in the series wear.
Tien Shinhan's Japanese name pun is tenshindon, a quasi-Chinese dish actually invented in Japan and consisting of a crabmeat omelet over rice. It gets its name from the fact that it was originally made using high-quality rice. The character’s name is written in kanji (天津飯) with a katakana furigana reading (テンシンハン, Tenshinhan) to indicate that it has a foreign reading (i.e. Chinese). Although unlike Chiaotzu, "Tenshinhan" is actually also the normal Japanese reading for the kanji.
Tien Shinhan was originally a cold-hearted and ruthless warrior, never caring for anyone's life with the exception of his fellow students and mentors. This brutality can be plainly seen when he crushes Yamcha's and another fighter's leg during the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament. However, he finds a lifelong best friend in Chiaotzu, for whom he cares deeply, and vice-versa. He highly idolized his mentor Mercenary Tao, and desired to be a famous assassin like him. Due to Master Roshi's and Goku's consolations, he changed his demeanor and became one of the most respected warriors on the planet. Before he transitioned to the good side, he planned to kill Goku during the World Martial Arts Tournament as he was seen as a threat to himself and his cohorts. However, this mentality soon changes with the realization that he disagrees with the brutal methods employed by his masters, Shen and Mercenary Tao. He goes off on his own to train, and soon becomes a powerful ally to Goku and the others. His personality transitions from one of a brutal killer to that of an honorable warrior, one who cares deeply for those he strives to protect. He occasionally tries to repent for his former brutality but eventually rises above his horrid memories and looks toward the future.
Tenshinhan is introduced as the star pupil of Kame-Sen'nin's rival, Tsuru-Sen'nin (鶴仙人, "Crane Hermit" in Funimation's anime dub), who has him and Chaozu enter the Tenka'ichi Budōkai to prove his students' superiority. He begins as an arrogant, but talented martial artist, antagonizing Goku, Kuririn, and especially Yamcha. He first fights Yamcha in the tournament, whose leg he ruthlessly breaks to win. Upon learning that Goku killed Taopaipai, the brother of Tsuru-Sen'nin and a mentor of Tenshinhan's, he decides to kill Goku in revenge. He fights Kame-Sen'nin (disguised as Jackie Chun) in his next match, and Kame-Sen'nin shakes his resolve to kill Goku. In the final fight, he battles Goku, but defies his master and refuses to kill him. He barely wins the Tournament and after abandons Tsuru-Sen'nin with Chaozu.
He participates in the search for the Dragon Balls with Chaozu and Kame-Sen'nin. But when they are both killed, he learns the suicidal Mafuba technique in order to seal away Piccolo Daimao. He begins his assault but has to defeat Drum first, having to be rescued by Goku and he later assisting him in the final battle against Piccolo Daimao.
Tenshinhan participates in the next Tenka'ichi Budōkai, where he fights the previously assumed dead Taopaipai. Who had been saved by cybernetics and wants revenge on both Tenshinhan, for turning his back on he and his brother, and Goku. Despite fighting using weapons, Taopaipai is no match for him and is defeated, but not before giving Tenshinhan a scar across his chest, which he retains for the rest of the series. Tenshinhan then fights Goku again in the finals, but is defeated, and later protects their allies from being caught up in Piccolo Jr.'s attacks during the final fight.
He then trains along with the other heroes at Kami's, in order to fight the invading Saiyans. Tenshinhan manages to defeat a Saibaman, but when Chaozu sacrifices his life in a failed attempt to kill Nappa, he knowingly uses the last of his power attempting to kill Nappa, but fails. Along with Yamcha, Chaozu, and Piccolo, he goes to Kaiō-sama's planet to train under him in the afterlife. He is revived by the Dragon Balls and prepares to fight against the returning Freeza, before Trunks appears and beats them to it. He trains for the battle against the Androids, but doesn't bring Chaozu as he believes that he's not strong enough. He accompanies Piccolo and Goku to fight Android 20 and Android 19. He searches for Doctor Gero's hideout. After Androids 17 and 18 are released, he tries to fight them with Vegeta, Piccolo, and Trunks, but they're all defeated. He saves Android 18 and Android 16 from being absorbed by Cell and gives them time to escape by continuously attacking Cell, expending all his energy and having to be rescued by Goku. He then participates in the battle against the Cell Jr.s.
When Goku returns from the afterlife and asks where Tenshinhan is, Kuririn says that he wasn’t coming. However, after Majin Boo is released, Tenshinhan appears and saves Dende and Mr. Satan from being killed by Boo, before being defeated.
In other media
Tenshinhan appears in multiple Dragon Ball related video games. He appears in most as a playable character, although he is occasionally an assist character or a non-playable character. Tenshinhan appears in the Dragon Ball movies Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure, Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound, Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks, and briefly in flashbacks in Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku.
Tenshinhan is voiced by Hirotaka Suzuoki in most media, with the exception of episodes 82 and 84 of Dragon Ball Z, where he was voiced by Kōichi Yamadera. Upon Suzuoki's death in 2006, Mitsuaki Madono voiced Tenshinhan in several video games such as Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit and in Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo, before Hikaru Midorikawa took over the role for Dragon Ball Kai and in all video games since Raging Blast. In the Ocean English dub, he was voiced by Matt Smith. In the Funimation dubs of the series, he was voiced by Chris Cason in the first dub of the third season of Dragon Ball Z, but by John Burgmeier in all media since, including the redub of that season. In the Blue Water dub, he is voiced by Brendan Hunter in Dragon Ball and by Jonathan Love in Dragon Ball GT.
Tenshinhan is a popular character in the series, in 2004 Japanese fans voted him the seventeenth most popular character.
Tenshinhan has received both praise and criticism from numerous publications. Theron Martin of Anime News Network stated that it was 'fun' seeing the groundwork for Tenshinhan being laid and reflecting on how they later changed. Martin went on to say that Goku’s fight with Tenshinhan "presents the most dramatic and intense duel to date in the series." Chris Beveridge of Mania Entertainment commented on Season 3 of Dragon Ball, saying, "there are some dull moments to be had, especially as I don’t find Tenshinhan or Chaozu to be interesting characters." However he went on to say that Tenshinhan's fight with Goku, "was really quite good" and he expressed mixed feelings about the character, saying that as a villain "he was fairly one dimensional." But after being influenced by Master Roshi’s teachings Beveridge said, he "becomes a much more interesting character" and was disappointed that he didn't have a really "strong story told for him after this series." Sean Connolly of the same site said that Tenshinhan "shows his worth" by holding off Cell "with a flurry of high powered attacks." D.F. Smith said that, Tenshinhan's fight against Piccolo Daimao's minions was entertaining, but the conclusion of his fight against Goku was random. Davey C. Jones of Active Anime noted that "Tien’s redemption made an interesting side story” and that it was "crucial in the final episodes" of Piccolo Daimao.
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