|Dragon Ball character|
|First appearance||Dragon Ball chapter #7: Yamcha and Pu'ar (1985)|
|Created by||Akira Toriyama|
See Voice actors
|Aliases||Zedaki (Harmony Gold dub)|
Yamcha (Japanese: ヤムチャ Hepburn: Yamucha?) is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He is first introduced as a desert bandit and an antagonist of Son Goku in chapter #7 Yamcha and Pu'ar (ヤムチャとプーアル Yamucha to Pūaru), published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on January 12, 1985, alongside his constant companion Pu'ar. He is eventually depicted as being reformed, becoming an ally of Goku's.
Yamcha is voiced by Tōru Furuya in all Japanese media. In the English versions, he is voiced by Ted Cole and Christopher Sabat. Yamcha has received mixed reviews since his inception, he has been praised as being a fun character, but criticized as an outclassed fighter later in the series.
Creation and design
When Toriyama decided to create Dragon Ball, he used Chinese author Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West as a prototype for his own series. Yamcha took the role of Sha Wujing. His name is a pun on a form of Chinese cuisine called yum cha. A prototype for Yamcha was Gojō, the river monster, from Toriyama's one-shot series Dragon Boy.
Yamcha's design appearance stays relatively the same for the majority of the series, although his clothes and hairstyle are changed several times. During the Android arc, Android 19's scanner reads that Yamcha is 183 centimeters tall and weighs 68 kilograms. The first kanji Yamcha has on his clothes is "樂", which stands for "happy" or "music". After training with Kame-Sennin, he takes the turtle kanji "亀" as a sign of respect. Later, after training with Kaiō-sama, he wears both "Kame" and "Kaiō" kanji. He wears them the opposite way Goku did, "Kame" on the back, "Kaiō" on the chest, except in Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might where he wears the "Kaiō" kanji on the back and "Kame" on the chest.
Yamcha enters the series ambushing Goku, Bulma, and Oolong as they are traveling through his territory and attempts to rob them of their money and hoi poi capsules. He also becomes a student under Kame-Sennin and loses a long-held fear of women through his relationship with Bulma. Yamcha also enters the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai along with Goku, but loses in the first round of each tournament, to Jackie Chun (Kame-Sennin), Tenshinhan, and Shen (Kami) respectively.
Later, Yamcha is killed along with Tenshinhan, Chaozu, and Piccolo in a battle against the Saiyans. He is killed when a Saibaiman grabs onto him and self-destructs. Yamcha goes on to train with Kaiō-sama in the afterlife just as Goku did, growing greatly in power. Through Kaiō-sama, he is able to witness his friends battles on Planet Namek; when Goku is thought to have been killed in the destruction of the Planet Namek after defeating Freeza, Yamcha relays the information to everyone through Bulma. He is later returned to life from a wish to Porunga and continues to live at Capsule Corp with Bulma and, after the two finally end their relationship, she and Vegeta enter a long-term relationship.
During the Android arc, Yamcha is the first to encounter Android #19 and #20, and is left for dead when #20 absorbs his chi and drives a hand through his chest. He is revived by a Senzu bean and takes the heart-diseased Goku home to get his medicine after the Super Saiyan loses to #19. Yamcha later joins the others in the Cell Games and teams up with Tenshinhan to protect the weakened Goku from the Cell Juniors, before losing to them. Following Cell's defeat at the hands of Son Gohan and Goku's death, Yamcha and the others return to their peaceful lives. In the alternate timeline of the Cell arc, like most of the heroes, Yamcha was killed in the encounter with the Androids.
By the time of the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai, Yamcha has given up fighting and goes with the others to be a spectator and also meet Goku, who is given a single day to return from death. Yamcha is later killed again when Majin Boo turns him into chocolate and eats him, along with Kuririn, Bulma, and the other allies. During Goku and Vegeta's battle against Boo, Yamcha is brought back to life by the Namekian Dragon Balls, and he and the others on Earth give their energy to Goku's Genki-Dama, which he uses to destroy Majin Boo and restore peace to the universe.
In the original Japanese, Yamcha is voiced by Tōru Furuya in all media. In the Canadian Ocean Studio dub, he is voiced by Ted Cole. Cole would reprise his role in the Blue Water dub. In the Funimation dub, Yamcha is voiced by Christopher Sabat. Sabat currently voices him in all video games. In the American live-action film Dragonball Evolution, he is portrayed by Joon Park; his voice was dubbed over by Hisao Egawa in the Japanese version of the film.
Though Yamcha is a skilled swordsman he is an exceptional martial artist. His signature technique is the Rōgafūfūken (狼牙風風拳, "Fist of the Wolf Fang", "Wolf Fang Fist" in the English anime dub), a quick flurry of punches and kicks. He has the ability to perform the Kamehameha, a concentrated beam of a chi energy blast that many other characters in the series have the ability to perform as well. Yamcha also uses the Sōkidan (繰気弾, "Spinning Chi Bullet", "Spirit Ball" in the English anime dub), a technique that forms a ball of chi energy to assault an opponent with. He can fully control the ball, allowing it to home in on enemies and to go underground for a surprise attack.
Appearances in other media
Yamcha also appears in an unofficial Chinese live-action remake of the first Dragon Ball feature film. Here he is known as Westwood. He joins Monkey Boy, Sparkle, Turtle Man and Seeto in the quest to destroy King Horn and his powerful warriors. He was played by Korean pop singer Joon Park in the film Dragonball Evolution, for which James Kyson Lee also auditioned.
Reception and legacy
Yamcha has had mixed reviews during his inception. He is commonly described as useless and outclassed as a fighter in the Dragon Ball series yet has also been described as fun and an iconic anime character to other publishers. A few have noted that his most highlighted moments in the anime was in the original anime adaptation compared to the more popular Dragon Ball Z anime. In 2004, Japanese fans voted Yamcha the fifteenth most popular character of the series. He was ranked as the thirty-eighth greatest Dragon Ball Z character of all time by Complex describing his willing to sacrifice himself as being the best part of his character.
Yamcha is commonly joked as one of the weaker fighters by fans of the series. When younger fans would belittle the character as weak, Kuririn's voice actress Mayumi Tanaka said she would explain to them that Kuririn and Yamcha are the strongest earthlings, the other characters are all aliens. Despite this, he has been used as a joke that appears in internet memes, T-shirts and action figures. Especially regarding his initial death which has been described as "iconic" and is subject to many parodies and homages. So much so that online writers such as Moviepilot's Ak Khan Ten's described him as an "iconic troll legend". He felt that despite being a weaker fighter he still is an important character from the Dragon Ball mythos since the creation of Dragon Ball and felt that he deserves respect as "an iconic Dragon Ball character". He also described Yamcha as Goku's first real rival in the series. He also praised the revealing of him mastering the Spirit Ball technique and also him being the first one who realized that he should cut Goku's tail to stop Goku in ape form. Yamcha's initial death has inspired an phrase by fans on when somebody dies in the Dragon Ball universe as being "Yamcha'd".
Furuya, the character's voice actor, designates Yamcha as one of the characters by whom he was inspired to create his music, as well as one of the top six favorite characters he voiced. Rebecca Bundy of Anime News Network takes note of resemblance of scars between Yamcha and Himura Kenshin, but also observes that their meaning is quite different.
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- Dragon Ball manga, Volume 1 — ISBN 1-56931-920-0
- Dragon Ball manga, Volume 2 — ISBN 1-56931-921-9
- Dragon Ball manga, Volume 3 — ISBN 1-56931-922-7
- Dragon Ball manga, Volume 10 — ISBN 1-56931-848-4
- Dragon Ball manga, Volume 15 — ISBN 1-59116-297-1
- Dragon Ball manga, Volume 16 — ISBN 1-59116-457-5
- Dragon Ball Z manga, Volume 5 — ISBN 1-56931-934-0
- Dragon Ball Z manga, Volume 12 — ISBN 1-56931-985-5
- Dragon Ball Z manga, Volume 13 — ISBN 1-56931-986-3
- Dragon Ball Z manga, Volume 18 — ISBN 1-59116-637-3
- Dragon Ball Z manga, Volume 20 — ISBN 1-59116-808-2
- Dragon Ball Z manga, Volume 26 — ISBN 1-42150-636-X