|Dragon Ball character|
Bulma, drawn by Akira Toriyama
|First appearance||Dragon Ball Chapter #1: Bulma and Son Goku (1984)|
|Created by||Akira Toriyama|
See Voice actors
|Aliases||Lena (Harmony Gold dub)|
|Relatives||Dr. Briefs (father)
Bulma (Japanese: ブルマ Hepburn: Buruma?) is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. She makes her debut appearance in the first chapter Bulma and Son Goku (ブルマと孫悟空 Buruma to Son Gokū?), published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on December 3, 1984, meeting Goku and recruiting him as her bodyguard to travel and find the wish-granting Dragon Balls. Bulma is the daughter of Dr. Briefs; the founder of Capsule Corporation, a company that creates special small capsules that shrink and hold objects of various sizes for easy storage. Being the daughter of a brilliant scientist, Bulma is also a scientific genius, as well as an inventor and engineer. Along with creating the Dragon Radar, a device that detects the energy signal emitted by a Dragon Ball, Bulma's role as an inventor becomes important at several points in the series; including the time machine that brings her future son Trunks to the past.
Creation and design
Bulma is loosely based on the character Xuanzang from the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West. Bulma and Goku were the first pair of characters which were introduced in the manga and Toriyama stated that he subsequently introduced other characters in pairs because "that way, I’m able to explain the characters and their relationship to each other through their interactions. In my case, I feel that it isn’t good to insert too much narration. I suppose Goku and Bulma are representative of that." He further added that "as a child, Goku doesn’t know anything [of the world], so without Bulma, he’d be a character who didn’t say anything." The author also claimed that when the series started, his editor at the time, Kazuhiko Torishima, wanted Bulma and Goku to form a romantic relationship.
Bulma's appearance in the series is not as consistent as the other characters as she quite often changes her hair style and clothing being fashion-conscious. Her hair is usually depicted in a shade of fuchsia, although in the first chapter and the anime her hair is turquoise. When asked about the first time Bulma's hair style changed, Toriyama said it was to show that three years had passed and because he personally liked girls with short hair. She sometimes wears clothing with either her name on it or the Capsule Corporation logo.
Her name "Buruma" is the Japanese pronunciation of "bloomer", a type of gym shorts worn by Japanese girls at school. As with most characters in the Dragon Ball series, Bulma's name is consistent with those of the rest of her family. All of Bulma's family members are named after underclothing of some sort. Her father's name is Dr. Briefs, while her son and daughter are named Trunks and Bra (ブラ Bura?, "Bulla" in the English anime dub) respectively. Her mother is never named in the series, being referred to only as "Bulma's Mother" (ブルマのママ Buruma no Mama?). However, when asked in 1996 what name he would choose if he were to name her mother, Toriyama suggested Panchi (パンチー Panchī?), a pun on panties. Toriyama stated in an interview that Bulma's family has a "laissez-faire attitude, but Bulma has complete control over things."
Bulma is the second character to be introduced in the Dragon Ball series. In the early part of the story, she is a teenager and the inventor of the Dragon Radar (ドラゴンレーダー Doragon Rēdā?), a device used to detect the Dragon Balls that she is searching for. Bulma was hoping to use the Dragon Balls to wish for the perfect boyfriend. While searching for a nearby Dragon Ball, she runs into Goku. She finds out Goku inherited the four-star Dragon Ball from his adoptive father Grandpa Son Gohan. Because of Goku's love for the ball and his belief that his Grandpa's spirit lives in the ball, Goku is not willing to give it up. Bulma then asks him to loan it for her in exchange of taking him in her travels. At that point, they team up to find the remainder of the balls and the adventure begins. As the search progresses, Bulma and Goku meet Kame-Sen'nin after finding his pet turtle; Oolong, a shape-shifting pig who is terrorizing a village; and Yamcha, and his shape shifting cat companion Pu'ar, a desert bandit who Bulma soon finds herself attracted to, and who she eventually starts a relationship with.
After five years of peace, an evil menace comes to the Earth. It is Goku's elder brother, an extraterrestrial Saiyan, named Raditz. After Goku and Piccolo kill him, Bulma takes the Scouter (スカウター?) from Raditz, and fixes it to find the power levels of people in human numbers. During the subsequent battle against Vegeta and Nappa, Yamcha, Tenshinhan, Chaozu and Piccolo are killed and because Piccolo dies, the Dragon Balls are rendered useless. After Goku defeats the Saiyans, Bulma volunteers to travel to Piccolo's home planet Namek and use the Namekian Dragon Balls to restore Yamcha and the others back to life. In need of a spaceship, Mr. Popo reveals one to Bulma, which had been the ship Kami had used to travel to Earth when he was a boy. Bulma repairs the ship with the help of her father, and flies off to Namek with Kuririn and Son Gohan.
After Goku defeats the tyrant Freeza, Yamcha and the others who were killed are revived by the Namekian Dragon Balls. However, Bulma's romantic relationship with him ultimately ends, though they remain friends afterwards. Vegeta eventually returns to Earth, staying with Bulma's family. Bulma chooses to befriend him, and a bond develops that, by the time of the Androids' invasion, leads to a relationship that leads to the birth of her first child, Trunks. Many years later she would give birth to Bra, Trunks' sister.
In the alternate future time-line, Bulma survives the Androids' onslaught. Bulma lives at the former site of Capsule Corp, attempting to build a time machine. She's very protective of Trunks and hates the idea of him fighting, but nevertheless allows him to take the time machine to the past to stop the Androids and also deliver Goku an antidote for a heart virus that claimed his life in the alternate timeline. She spends most of her life devoted to building a time machine so that Trunks could go back in time and prevent the devastation brought by the Androids, by saving the life of Goku, whom Bulma firmly believes is the only one who would save both timelines. Once the Androids (or more importantly, Cell) are taken care of in the main timeline, Trunks returns to his original time and defeats the much weaker Androids and Cell with ease, thus restoring peace to the future timeline world.
Seven years after the battle against the Androids, Bulma helps Gohan by making a watch which automatically changes his clothes into a super-hero costume so he could fight crime, without his real identity being known. Later, she and the other heroes, with the exception of Goku, Vegeta, Tenshinhan, Chaozu, and Gohan, hide at Kami's from the monstrous Majin Boo, however she is killed when Boo turns her into chocolate and eats her. Bulma is revived by the Namekian Dragon Balls, along with her family and friends, and gives her energy to Goku to eliminate Majin Boo once and for all.
In other media
In Dragon Ball GT she becomes possessed by Baby, who takes her as his apparent queen (or second in command), as possessing Vegeta gave him all of his memories and emotions. During this time, she organizes the migration to Planet Vegeta (renamed Planet Tuffle), and creates the Super Bruits Wave Generator (超ブルーツ波発生装置 Chō Burūtsuha Hassei Sōchi?) that helps Baby become the Saiyan's Golden Great Ape transformation. However, the Holy Water hidden in Dende's Lookout is used to free her and the rest of Earth from Baby's enslavement. Later, she helps Vegeta reach Super Saiyan 4 by exposing him to a new Super Bruits Wave Generator, and witnesses Omega Shenron's defeat at the hands of Goku.
Bulma usually appears as a non-playable character in cut scenes for most Dragon Ball video games, such as Advanced Adventure, Budokai and Budokai 3. However, she is a playable character in Dragon Ball: Origins and its sequel. In Dragon Power, the North American version of Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo that removes all references to Dragon Ball, her character was named "Nora". In Budokai 2, Bulma sells capsules in the Skill Shop. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, Bulma appears in the Options Mode explaining how the various game settings work. In Budokai Tenkaichi 2, she appears in the data center, explaining about custom characters and in practice mode. Bulma is a Help Koma in Jump Ultimate Stars; giving more SP for collected coins to the Battle Koma she is attached to. Though she does not appear in Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, she is mentioned during the story mode fight against Beerus as having slapped him, as the fight is based off of the film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. Bulma is an assist character in Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butōden, firing a gun.
Bulma has been portrayed by Jeannie Hsieh in the unofficial live-action Dragon Ball movie The Magic Begins. She was also featured in the 1990 unofficial Korean adaptation where she was played by Lee Ju Hee. Bulma appeared in the live-action film Dragonball Evolution, portrayed by Emmy Rossum. Bulma appears in the 2013 film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the entirety of the main plot taking place at her birthday party. After slapping Beerus for ruining her party due to his fighting, she is slapped by him, knocking her out and causing the angered Vegeta to momentarily become stronger than he other characters.
Bulma has a cameo in the 2006 Dragon Ball and One Piece crossover, Cross Epoch. She is partnered up with the character Nami and the two act as a pair of space pirates. In the final chapter of Toriyama's 2013 manga series Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, it is revealed that the series is set before Dragon Ball, and Bulma makes an appearance as a child, as do her father and mother. The character Tights (タイツ Taitsu?), is actually revealed to be Bulma's older sister. To promote the 2015 Fukkatsu no F movie, a blog run by Bulma was launched on the website Ameblo.
Bulma is voiced by Hiromi Tsuru in all Japanese media. As a new voice actress at the time, she had to audition for the part. She also said that all her previous roles were well-behaved characters, but Bulma was easy to play because she is down-to-earth. In Harmony Gold's English dub of Dragon Ball and its first and third movies, Wendee Lee voiced Bulma, whose named was changed to "Lena". In Funimation's English anime dub, she is voiced by Maggie Blue O'Hara in the first Dragon Ball film; Lalainia Lindbjerg in the first 13 episodes of Dragon Ball and the first 64 episodes and first three movies of Dragon Ball Z; Leslie Alexander in the film Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle; Tiffany Vollmer in all other Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT dubs including re-dubs of previously dubbed works; and Monica Rial in Dragon Ball Z Kai and Battle of Gods. In Westwood Media's English dub, Leda Davies was cast for Dragon Ball; Maggie Blue O'Hara returned to voice Bulma in Dragon Ball Z until about halfway into the Buu saga, with France Perras replacing her for the remaining episodes; and Kristin Nowosad voiced her in Dragon Ball GT. She is voiced by Claudia Thompson for Animax Asia. In the Japanese dub of the live-action Dragonball Evolution, she is voiced by Aya Hirano.
Japanese fans voted Bulma the seventeenth most popular character of the series in a 2004 poll. Brian Camp and Julie Davis, the authors of Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces, noted that Bulma's character went through the greatest number of changes in the series, and praised the evolution of her character from a "brass, boy-crazy teen girl" in the earliest episodes of Dragon Ball to winding up as one of the matriarchs of the group. They further added that while Goku is the heart and soul of the group, Bulma is its body, the one who gives it structure and cohesion.
Bulma's voice actress Hiromi Tsuru said she liked Bulma at the beginning of the series, when the character was "energetic" and "cheeky." She also joked that it was difficult for her to love Vegeta, having thought Bulma would end up with Yamcha. Emmy Rossum described her portrayal of Bulma in Dragonball Evolution as "pretty bad-ass, but still quirky and fun, and kind of ridiculous in the way she is in the anime." Though Josh Begley of The Fandom Post liked her more than Chi-Chi, admitting she was "slightly better", he also felt she "browbeats everyone around her."
Reviewing the later part of Dragon Ball Z, Anime News Network's Martin Theron said "Bulma loses something just sitting around acting like a worried mother/wife." In a top ten list for IGN, David Smith ranked Bulma forming a relationship with Vegeta as the top plot twist of Dragon Ball Z. Reviewing the live-action Dragonball Evolution for IGN, Christopher Monfette said that Emmy Rossum's performance of Bulma is "something of a departure from the anime's vision" of the character, but "brings a lot of kick-ass chick charisma to the role."
- Weekly Shōnen Jump #51 December 3, 1984
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- "Bulma And Chi-Chi Are Ready For A Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden Battle". Siliconera. March 27, 2015.
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- Toriyama, Akira (2015-01-06). Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Viz Media. pp. 201–231. ISBN 978-1-4215-6630-6.
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- Theron, Martin (2009-03-04). "Dragon Ball Z Season 6 DVD Set". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
- Smith, David (2007-12-05). "Dragon Ball Z: Top 10 Plot Twists". IGN. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
- Monfette, Christopher (2009-04-09). "Dragonball: Evolution Review". IGN. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
- Mark I. West (2008-10-23). The Japanification of Children's Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki. Scarecrow Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-8108-5121-4. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
...Productions made major changes in the Dragon Ball...mostly concerning nudity...In the Japanese version, Master Roshi asks Bulma..while in the American version...
- Brian Camp; Julie Davis (2007). Anime Classics Zettai!: One Hundred Must-see Japanese Animation Masterpieces. STONE BRIDGE Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-933330-22-8. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
When Bulma, a teenage girl who's a scientific genius, wants [Goku] to give up his grandfather's Dragon Ball, which she has tracked down with her dragon radar...