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Tenshinhan (known as Tien to most English-speaking fans) is one of hundreds of characters in the manga/series known as Dragon Ball. He has a rather modest role, yet he seems to intrigue a small number of fans nonetheless. Perhaps it is because of his stoic, serious demeanor and intense devotion to martial arts. He simply strives throughout the entire series to be the best he can be. He uses Goku as a model of skill, power, and leadership for his own life path. He's one of Goku's few rivals (amongst others like Piccolo and Vegeta). The rivalry sadly faded later in the series, but the respect for each other remained.
Speaking of Goku's main rivals, they seem to subsequently replace the last as a more intense/evil version of the previous. You can see the parallels as Goku's rivals progress from Tenshinhan to Piccolo to Vegeta. Piccolo and Tenshinhan share a similar character progression in my opinion. Piccolo came from true evil though. His character progression is like Tenshinhan cranked up to a whole other level. Piccolo Daimao desires world domination (Tenshinhan wants to be an assassin). Piccolo's path to good is quite harsher and his stubborness to truly becoming apart of the "good guys" doesn't really occur until the Android Saga when he becomes one again with Kami-sama. Tenshinhan and Piccolo each have a similar respect for Goku. Tenshinhan accepts Goku surpassing him (after Goku's journey on Namek), whereas Piccolo comes to realize shortly after his last massive power boost with Kami merger that he can no longer keep up with Goku and the Saiyans (after their training in the Room of Spirit and Time). Tenshinhan's rivalry with Goku is more about pride as a martial artist. Aside from Ten's early association with Tsurusennin, whose motives weren't necessarily pure evil, but definitely immoral, Tenshinhan's character has been intent on leading the life of a "good" martial artist. He became a good guy much more rapidly than Piccolo and especially Vegeta.
Tenshinhan spends most of his time in seclusion with Chaozu. It is quite interesting how he's so introverted yet he has a very special bond with Chaozu. I believe with the harsh upbringing they head together under the Crane School, Tenshinhan sees Chaozu as a brother. They both would give their lives for each other (and do). Ten-san only stops training to join with the rest of the earth's main fighters to put his skills to use when he deems it necessary. He is rarely seen having fun with the other characters or just resting in leisure. His "relationship" with Lunch is very short-lived and we're never really shown any affection. He can at least tolerate her presence, but we're not shown enough of their interaction to assume their was something more. Tenshinhan is somewhat anti-social because of his complete devotion to training. I'm drawn to the fact that he does not try to stand out, yet he's always there willing to fight for what's right (in DBZ, that is; in DB he still is transitioning into a noble warrior). Goku, on the other hand, loves the challenge of an impossible battle, even if it puts earth's fate in jeopardy. This is rather selfish in comparison to DBZ's Tenshinhan.
Ten is smart and often has great dialogue of insight and observation throughout the story (although he's not always spot on with his observations). He never says anything that's not worth saying, much like Piccolo. His fighting intelligence is great (especially during the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai), and is arguablly only surpassed by Goku (during 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai) and Piccolo. I would say Kuririn is a craftier and more creative fighter (also very intelligent). Tenshinhan is modest after his early bout with evil, and his character is one of the most admirable and overshadowed in the entire world of Dragon Ball. In the following paragraphs I will follow the story of Dragon Ball with Tenshinhan center-stage to illustrate his great character and interaction with the story of Dragon Ball. I have chosen to mainly follow the manga's story as the basis of this biography. I have separated the biography into chapters of sorts, delineated by by titles describing Tenshinhan's character progression. Even with the manga as a basis, I will still add interesting interactions from the series and specify something is unique to the animated series. I feel like Toei Animation generally shows Tenshinhan in a more favorable light in terms of strength and interesting dialogue. Some of their small changes with the story are actually done quite well and enhance Tenshinhan's character. For instance, I much perfer the series' take on Tenshinhan around the Piccolo Daimao arc.Back to Top
The Aspiring Assassin (22nd Tenkaichi Budokai)
Much like most new characters that are introduced into the story, Tenshinhan's circumstances has led him down the evil way of life. He's not necessarily a horrible person, but on the outside (inside his good heart is surpressed) he is introduced with the desire to become an assassin like his mentor, Taopaipai. This desire is most likely a product of being brought up and trained by Tsurusennin and Taopaipai. We're shown in the series Taopaipai mercilessly training Tenshinhan. Tsurusennin (Crane hermit) is Tenshinhan and Chaozu's martial arts master and rival of Kamesennin (Turtle hermit, Muten Roshi, etc.). From the start of the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai, it is apparent that the rivalry between the Schools is the driving conflict in the tournament. However, the final battle goes beyond this petty conflict and becomes a battle for martial artists' pride. Before I go any further, I will explain the rivalry.
Tsuru and Kame were trained under the same master, Mutaito. When they were relatively young, Piccolo Daimao terrorized the world. The three powerful martial artists were unable to overcome his power. This led to Tsurusennin's belief that justice was weak. Therefore, he led a path of evil (again, Tsuru's beliefs and teachings are basically on the lesser end of the spectrum of evil). After some time Mutaito mastered a new technique. He regrouped with Kamesennin (who fled to the mountains to train more) and had the final showdown with Piccolo. He sacrificed his life to perform the Mafuba technique to seal away Piccolo Daimao in a denshi jar. Kamesennin and Tsurusennin had been rivals under Mutaito, being the same age and skill level, but Tsurusennin's new view ("justice is weak") probably amplified the rivalry to a much greater degree. This view was then passed down to Tsurusennin's students, Tenshinhan and Chaozu.
The television series first shows Tenshinhan and Chaozu going town to a town basically stealing money from the townspeople by tricking them. They set a wild creature called Inoshikacho on a village and "defeat" it by having the townspeople pay them. Goku stumbles into the mess and finds out that Ten and Chaozu are campside with the creature. He realizes they are tricking the people. Goku fights a bit with Tenshinhan, but because he is hungry, he is easily defeated. The next day Goku tries to expose them in front of the townspeople but Tenshinhan cleverly begins to set a fire under the creature to prove to the townsfolk he is not in cahoots with it. Goku, being kind hearted and seeing the creature in pain, puts out the flame. Now the townspeople think Goku is the one who is working with the creature because he saves it. I believe this episode was intended to create a higher tension between Goku and Tenshinhan for the tournment (and more reason for the audience to perhaps dislike him leading into the tournament). It doesn't seem to fit well with Tenshinhan's character, because he has no need for money, but I suppose he could have been doing this because Tsurusennin made them. Perhaps Toei Animation thought Tenshinhan wasn't portrayed enough as a bad guy. Afterall, Tenshinhan is pretty tame as far as "bad guys" go. Nonetheless, Ten's 'real' (as in the original manga) introduction comes at the begining of the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai.
We are introduced to the new antagonist, Tenshinhan, as he is smirking with Tsurusennin at the "Turtle" School members (Kuririn, Yamucha, and Kamesennin). Tenshinhan is very proud and believes he is much more skilled than anyone here at the tournament. He is quite pompous at first, yet he still does not speak too much. He smugly and very easily defeats all of his opponents in the qualifying rounds. In the series, Goku gets quite upset when he sees Tenshinhan knock out Namu (a noble martial artist from the previous tournament). Tenshinhan tries to appear menacing to perhaps intimidate the Turtle School members. He antagonizes Yamucha, downplaying Yamucha's premlimenary win. He tells Yamucha he is lucky he doesn't have to face him in the preliminaries and proceeds to disrespect Yamucha's skills. This tension lead into Ten's first match which is Yamucha (as Tenshinhan and Chaozu rigged the match order). Tenshinhan wanted to spread out the Turtle School to observe them but also get a chance to defeat Yamucha right away (as they continue to exchange insults). As they are picking numbers to see who fights who in the tournament, Kuririn and Chaozu get into a little staring match. Chaozu sticks out his tongue which embarrasses Ten and forces him to tell Chaozu to stop. There are other instances where Tsurusennin acts wacky as well and embarresses Ten. This shows how Ten takes things much more seriously than the wackiness you're used to from Dragon Ball.
Tenshinhan vs. Yamucha is the first match of the actual tournament. They trade blows and move extremely quickly. Both impress Kamesennin greatly. Tenshinhan hadn't anticipated Yamucha to be this strong. He seems excited to be fighting someone so strong. After feeling out his opponent, Tenshinhan easily begins to out class Yamucha and inflict much damage. As a last resort, Yamucha, to everyone's surprise, fires a Kamehameha. Then Tenshinhan, to everyone's surprise, easily repels the energy blast. Yamucha takes to the air, where Tenshinhan follows and kicks Yamucha the ring floor. He is obviously defeated, but Tenshinhan strikes his knee into Yamucha's leg (breaking it) to send a message of his fierceness. However, Ten still doesn't do permanent damage to Yamucha, revealing his true self very slightly (of all places to hurt someone, the leg would probably cause the least pain). This really upsets Goku and Goku swears to avenge Yamucha. Tenshinhan tells Goku that he should be grateful he didn't kill him. Tenshinhan sarcastically calls himself a softie. I think this more likely reveals that he's truly not as bad as he makes himself out to be. At this point Tenshinhan thinks that Yamucha was the best fighter of the Turtle School so he should have no problem with the rest of the tournament.
During the match between Jackie Chun and Man-Wolf, Goku and Kuririn witness the first use of Bukujustu in the series as they see Tenshinhan and Chaozu floating while viewing the match (technically Puar flies befores this but this is the first time flight as technique is given a name). They're in awe of this strange technique. Tenshinhan can sense the skill Jackie Chun posesses and believes this will be his opponent in the semi-final round. Goku and Kuririn realize they won't be able to ring out their opponents. During the match between Kuririn and Chaozu, Ten hears Goku comment on the Dodonpa, saying that Chaozu used the same technique as Taopaipai. Ten is surprised when he hears that Goku killed Taopaipai. Ten tells Tsuru and now Tsurusennin instructs the Crane School to fight to kill to avenge Tsuru's brother, Taopaipai.
In the series, the night after that particular battle, Tsuru tries to kill Goku in his sleep to avenge Taopaipai. Tsuru and Goku get in a scuffle. Tenshinhan darts in and breaks it up. He tells Tsuru that he wants to defeat Goku in front of everyone, which will be a greater revenge and humiliating for Goku, but you can tell that that was not his real motivation. He wants to test his skill against Goku and defeat him as a martial artist. Tenshinhan takes notice of Goku during his match with Panpoot. He realizes he is no ordinary fighter.
In the series, the night after Chaozu and Kuririn's match, Tsuru tries to kill Goku in his sleep to avenge Taopaipai. Tsuru and Goku get in a scuffle. Tenshinhan darts in and breaks it up. He tells Tsuru that he wants to defeat Goku in front of everyone, which will be a greater revenge and humiliating for Goku, but you can tell that that was not his real motivation. He wants to test his skill against Goku and defeat him as a martial artist.
Ten's next match is with the disguised Kamesennin, Jackie Chun. Ten can sense that his opponent is quite powerful and prepares for the match much more seriously than his previous match with Yamucha. This is really the point when I begin to admire Tenshinhan's character. Up to this point he is shown to be quite arrogant, but here his true self begins to surface. The match begins quickly and evenly just like with Yamucha. Both take turns pulling off great moves on the other. The match then turns into a slow grappling match. Both pound each other out of breath. We first see Ten's Taiyoken technique. He easily knees Jackie Chun in the neck. After Jackie Chun gets up from the attack, he tries to persuade Tenshinhan to disband from the easy path of darkness and lead his life in the light. It angers Ten, and the battle ensues. During the match, Tsuru discovers Jackie Chun is really Kamesennin, and informs Ten telepathically. Tenshinhan then proceeds to shoot a kamehameha at Kame to show him how easily he can learn new techniques just from seeing them executed. After realizing how skilled Tenshinhan is, Kame steps out of the ring. He knows Ten will eventually become a good guy, and trusts that he no longer needs to fight in the tournaments to keep his students in check. He sees that there are other strong martial artists that can challenge Goku and his friends and help defend the earth. Tenshinhan is in a state of awe and confusion. He has no idea why Kamesennin would forfeit and believes he hadn't used his full power yet.
During the fight between Kuririn and Goku, Tenshinhan questions Kamesennin. During the conversation, Kamesennin explains that he is aware that Ten is no fool and that there is uncertainty in his heart about his current life of bloodlust. Ten rejects the idea in frustration. Kame then says Ten was right about one thing; that he would have probably lost to Ten if he'd continued to fight. Tenshinhan can't understand why he admitted defeat, showing that Kame had no pride. Tenshinhan is frustrated even further, but this is the beginning of Tenshinhan's transition to the light. As Tenshinhan is back to watching Goku and Kuririn's match he really starts to see just how impressive Goku is. Tenshinhan is the only one capable of seeing Goku's finishing move because of the immense speed. Tenshinhan statest before his match with Goku that he might actually have an enjoyable fight.
In the series, before the final match with Goku, Tenshinhan meditates deeply and sees visions of Kamesennin's instruction. He has to force this uncertainty out for now and remind himself that he must concentrate on the boy who killed his idol, Taopaipai. And so begins the battle. Goku and Tenshinhan face off with an intense seriousness and initiate combat the instant they are allowed. They both take turns displaying a number of great offensive moves and skill. After a few successful attacks from Tenshinhan, Goku does not appear hurt at all. Tenshinhan is thrilled that he has been given an opponent so great as Goku. Lunch, in the audience shows he first signs of affection by commenting that Tenshinhan was a tough guy and that she likes him (this is only in the series). The battle continues. Goku begins to beat up Ten. Ten uses the Taiyoken again, but Goku snatches Muten Roshi's sunglasses in an instant to block the intense rays of light. He blocks Ten's attack and counters with great damage. Tsuru, worried, has Chaozu secretly stun Goku telepathically right before Ten makes attacks. Tenshinhan gets quite a few good hits on Goku. Goku openly yells at Tenshinhan for being unfair. Ten doesn't understand what he's talking about and continues to beat up Goku. Eventually Tenshinhan realizes what is happening and tells Chaozu to stop, telepathically. Tsuru orders Ten to kill Goku to avenge Taopaipai. Tenshinhan has his major inner struggle as he decides what to do. He makes his decision. He shouts furiously at Tsuru and Chaozu ordering them to stop. He wants to win with his own skills and that he no longer desires to be an assassin. Tsuru is furious. He orders Chaozu to stun Goku and Tenshinhan so he can kill them both. Chaozu can't do it. Chaozu basically changes right along with Ten. Chaozu is a very simple-minded young boy. The only reason he may have been in Tsuru's world of "evil" is because he was easily manipulated and followed orders. Tenshinhnan and him clearly have a strong connection, so Chaozu goes along with Tenshinhan's request, sensing Tenshinhan's newfound enlightenment. He tells Tsuru that he has never seen Tenshinhan fight this hard before and wishes to let Ten fight on his own. Outraged, Tsurusennin tries to kill Chaozu with a single blow, but Kamesennin fires a kamehameha at Tsurusennin shooting him far off into the distance...Back to Top
The Martial Artist (22nd Tenkaichi Budokai to Piccolo Daimao Arc)
...This is Tenshinhan's first major turning point as a character. Tenshinhan betrayed his master and explains to Goku that this match is all he has left. He feels a weight has been lifted off his shoulders and can now concentrate his whole being into defeating Goku. Honorably, Tenshinhan does not fight back as the match continues. He lets Goku inflict the same amount of damage on him that he did onto Goku (while he was being telepathically "frozen" by Chaozu). Kamesennin gives Ten his respect. Tenshinhan declares he will finish the match with his next technique. He then sprouts two extra arms out of his back (Shiyoken)! Chaozu is relieved Tenshinhan wasn't referring to his finishing move, the Kikoho. Everyone is amazed and perhaps a bit taken back by this un-human ability. Tenshinhan quickly gains the upperhand in the fight. In the series, Goku manages to put Ten in a leg hold which drains Ten's energy to the point his extra arms recede back into his body. Tenshinhan is asked if he'd like to forfeit because of the pain he is in. He says he'd rather die than concede to defeat. Ten is able to out-power Goku and fling him into the wall with his legs. The manga simply shows Tenshinhan get rid of the extra arms after Goku begins to be get the upperhand on him. Tenshinhan admits it seems Goku has an answer for everything he can throw at him.
Now Tenshinhan decides to use his final technique, the Kikoho. He tells Goku that he must dodge this attack or else he will die. Ten takes to the air, despite Kamesennin and Chaozu's pleas not to use the dangerous technique. Goku realizes the intensity of the attack and dodges, jumping high into the air. The Kikoho perfectly creates a massive hole in the shape of the ring (displaying it's precision and focus that is required to use it). Tenshinhan begins to follow Goku in the air as he descends to the ground. He tells Goku he will lose when he hits the ground because there is no ring (victory by ring out). Goku uses his remainging energy for a reverse kamehameha which propels him into Tenshinhan. Both now have no energy and are falling to the ground diagonally from the previous attack. Goku manages a tiny kamehameha which pushes him farther up than Ten. At the very last instance before they hit the ground, Goku hits a car which sends him to the ground instantly. Still falling at an angle, Ten hits the ground last. Tenshinhan wins the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai! He is astonished from the excitment and respect he is given from all the tournament onlookers. He finally shows happiness. Him and Goku smile at each other in respect. Tenshinhan is now in his true mental state. He offers Goku half the reward money, because he feels that he only won because of luck. He feels Goku won the match in terms of skill. Kamesennin points out that luck is a part of a martial artist's skill as well. Yamucha and Ten meet again and he apoligizes for breaking Yamucha's leg. Yamucha forgives Ten. Kamesennin directs an offer towards Ten and Chaozu to train and live with him. Lunch loves the idea and proclaims that she loves Ten's savagery. Tenshinhan is surprised, but declines the offer. Even though he did betray Tsurusennin, he still doesn't feel it's right to do something as bold as switch masters to Tsuru's rival. In the series, they all eat dinner together. Kuririn goes back to the tournament place for Goku, because he left his dragon ball and Nyoibou (pole) there. This is when Kuririn is killed by one of Piccolo Daimao's offspring and leads us into the battle with this new evil.
Goku, in a fit of utter rage, leaves instantly with the dragon radar to pursue the one who took Kuririn's life and dragon ball. Kamesennin explains to Ten and the rest of the gang that this was an act commited by Piccolo Daimao. He could tell from the piece of paper the murderer left behind with the symbol for 'demon' written on it. This is when Kamesennin reveals the past story of when Piccolo terrorized the world. Tenshinhan seems intrigued on the technique which Mutaito used to entrap Piccolo (the Mafuba). He asks Muten Roshi (This is the name Tenshinhan uses when he refers to Kamesennin) about the mafuba technique. Muten Roshi tells him he does not know how to use such a technique (He is lying of course. He doesn't want Tenshinhan to try and use it and then die.). Kamesennin, Tenshinhan, and Chaozu set out to gather the remaining dragon balls in hopes to destroy Piccolo with a wish from Shenlong. They are unsure whether or not Goku is even alive. Goku is battling with Tambourine and Cymbal (Piccolo's created minions). On their search for the dragon balls (Bulma had made another radar since Goku took hers on his quest to avenge Kuririn), Tenshinhan, eager to challenge such a formidable foe, states his desire to know the Mafuba. Roshi says, "If we try and fail--then what happens to the world?" Tenshinhan picks up the word, "If we try..." This tells him that Muten Roshi does know the technique but is keeping it secret from him. Ten's interest in the mafuba grows in him.
The series has an interesting episode where Tenshinhan has to confront a man from his past who had done permanent damage to (similar circumstance with how he hurt Yamucha). The man has one of the Dragon Balls. Tenshinhan is able to prove he's changed by begging for his forgiveness on his knees. Tenshinhan even offers to let the man break his arms. The man hands over the Dragon Ball after witnessing this act. Once Ten, Chaozu, and Kamesennin gather the 5 dragon balls (Piccolo has 2; one originally from Kuririn and another from defeating Goku, who had received another from Yajirobe.) they realize that Piccolo must have the remaining 2 (They think Goku is most likely dead.). They plan devise a plan the steal Piccolo's dragon balls and quickly wish for his destruction. After Piccolo swallows his 2 balls (that sounds weird) they are forced to change plans and fight. Roshi is going to try the Mafuba. He realizes he must keep Tenshinhan alive, if he should fail with the Mafuba. He knows how badly Tenshinhan desires to fight Piccolo as a martial artist, so he sprays Ten with some sort of sleeping medicine. Tenshinhan is barely conscious and hiddden behind a rock (Chaozu is also hiding at the moment elsewhere). Roshi then performs the technique, which puts an intense fear into Piccolo as he sees it coming. The Mafuba involves the user capturing the target in a swirl of energy and focusing the energy into a container (in this case, a denshi jar, which is an electric rice cooker). Unfortunately, Roshi misses the jar and dies from the stress the Mafuba. Tenshinhan barely managing to hold to consciousness is on the ground struggling to watch. The special abilities of Tenshinhan and his third eye allow him to perform any technique that he sees used once (i.e. Kamehameha). Witht he 7 Dragon Balls gathered, Piccolo begins to summon Shenlong. Tenshinhan telepathically tells Chaozu to jump in and tell Shenlong to destroy Piccolo. Chaozu jumps in and begins to ask Shenlong his wish for Piccolo's destruction, but Piccolo is able to kill him with a ki blast right before he finishes. Tenshinhan can only watch in rage. He finally gives in to the sleeping medicine and loses consciousness.
Tenshinhan awakes and we see him start to try to master the Mafuba. He states that he does not want Muten Roshi and Chaozu's deaths to be in vain and that this technique must work. Despite having lost his only true friend, Chaozu, he maintains his focus and successfully learns the mafuba. He sets out to the King's castle when he hears that Piccolo has taken over the thrown of the world. The aircraft Ten, Chaozu, and Roshi were using to find the dragon balls receives the transmission that Piccolo is broadcasting to the world. Now he knows where to find him. Tenshinhan, over the radio, talks to the rest of gang (Yamucha, Bulma, Lunch, etc.) who are hiding out at Kame's house. He tells them that he is headed to Piccolo to perform the mafuba technique. He tells Yamucha to not misunderstand him as a martyr. He is not trying to honorably save the world. Ten only wishes to defeat Piccolo to be at peace as a martial artist. Again, we get more insight into Ten's emotions. Ten obviously hasn't forgotten his wrong doings of the past. He knows he has just recently parted ways with his master Tsurusennin. He doesn't feel like an honorable warrior just yet. All he knows is that he must defeat Piccolo even if that means giving his life for his own pride.
When Tenshinhan reaches his destination, he sees that the denshi jar is cracked! He must have broken it when practicing the mafuba. At first he seems frustrated, but it seems like the thought of a 'real' battle entices him. He is unphased by this discovery. He descends to the castle where Piccolo is located. Piccolo notices that he is an able warrior because he performs Bukujustu (flying). With his regained youth, he creates a new warrior named Drum to make an example of Tenshinhan. Piccolo wants to show the world what happens if someone tries to oppose him. Tenshinhan, alarmed at first from the creation of Drum (Piccolo basically ejects a massive, slimy egg from his throat.), tells Piccolo not to take him for granted. If this is where he dies, he will take them with him. Death doesn't bother Ten. However, Tenshinhan attacks and misses Drum. He does get one strong head-butt in, but Drum is too quick and powerful. Drum comments that Ten has some nice moves then proceeds to finish off Tenshinhan, who is lying on the ground. Just before he initiates his final blow on Ten, Goku comes in to the rescue and kicks Drum away. Tenshinhan is surprised that Goku is actually alive. It was thought Goku had been defeated and killed by Piccolo. Yajirobe was able to take the near-dead Goku to Karin's tower to get a senzu bean and for new training. Karin had given Goku the "super water of the gods," which unleashed his hiddden powers. Goku's power has increased tremendously, and is significantly more capable than Tenshinhan now. Ten looks on as Goku kicks Drum's face off with one blow. Tenshinhan can't believe the power that Goku now possesses.
The animated series treats Ten's battle with Drum quite a bit different. I would say the series story was much fairer to Tenshinhan's character. His denshi jar is not damaged, and he is holding it within a capsule waiting for the right moment. Ten-san is only concerned about using the mafuba on Piccolo while battling with Drum. He also is able to hold his own against Drum considerably much better than the manga's portrayal. Quite a few solid attacks connect. Piccolo even gets slightly interested in the battle. However, Tenshinhan seems to understand how immensely powerful even Piccolo's minion is. He is just not powerful enough. After Ten appears to be near his end, he decides now is the chance to get up and quickly use the Mafuba. He throws the jar in front of piccolo (frightening him greatly) and begins the technique. Unfortunately, Drum steps right in front of Piccolo and is caught in the swirl of energy. Ten quickly decides to continue with the technique anyway since sealing Drum will still put him in a better position. Piccolo realizes this, shooting the jar with an energy beam right before Drum is about to be contained. Drum hits the bare ground instead of the intended jar. Ten understands it's all over now as he falls to the ground almost dead from the mafuba. It's still impressive he was able to master the Mafuba without dying. Drum is ordered to kill Tenshinhan, but Goku jumps in out of nowhere knocking him to the ground. The series made Ten's role just a tad better by placing a greater importance on the Mafuba. After all, the mafuba was a strong story element that was basically thrown out once Ten realizes the jar is cracked in the manga. It's an interesting element, because of Piccolo's immense fear of the technique. At least in the series, Ten is able to show more skill and desire to defeat Piccolo, instead of a quick brawl with Drum. For a brand new character touted as an immense warrior on the same level as Goku, the series shows his character more respect. This takes us back to where I left off by describing the manga's story.
Goku fights Piccolo Daimao. The battle seems to always be in Goku's favor. Pushed to his extreme, Piccolo does a massive energy blast that wipes out the entire city. Goku, in his weakened state, has no time to get out of the way. He would have died if it were not for Tenshinhan grabbing Goku and flying him in the air to safety. Goku even comments about the attack being fatal. Ten used all of his energy to save Goku. This was definitely Tenshinhan's major contribution to the Piccolo Daimao battle. He got to pay back Goku for saving his life earlier in the Drum battle. Goku's battle with Piccolo continues. As a last resort, Piccolo picks up a near-unconcious Tenshinhan. He threatens Goku that if he moves he'll crush Ten's head. Goku is frustrated by this strategy, and Tenshinhan tells Goku not to worry about him. Tenshinhan selflessly only desires to have Goku defeat Piccolo. Goku can't do this though. Piccolo breaks (or severely injures) three of Goku's limbs and throws Tenshinhan down, thinking that he is no longer as leverage. Goku uses his one good hand to blast himself in the air towards Piccolo, punching right through Piccolo's body. As Piccolo is dying he spits out his 'son' in an egg. I feel like at this point in his character arc, Tenshinhan was fighting for the world. He is desparately trying to help Goku in any way possible, and his delight at Goku's victory shows his great respect for Goku. Reading all of Tenshinhan's observations on the battle you can see he prefers to call Goku simply 'Son'. I believe he refers to him by his surname out of respect. Ten is determined to match Goku's newfound power and even tells him that he wants to beat him in the next tournament, as the severly-wounded Goku is rushed to Karin's by Yajirobe.
Yamucha, Bulma and Lunch find Tenshinhan staggering around the battlefield. They take him back to Kame's house and listen to what took place between Goku and Piccolo. It seems Lunch especially likes to take care of Tenshinhan. You can see how both of them blush as Oolong comments on how well Lunch cares for Ten. This is the first sign that Tenshinhan gives that may infer he actually has feelings for a woman. This is really the only time we see Tenshinhan hanging around with 'friends' as he recovers from his injuries and prepares for the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai. As soon as he can, he begins training extremely hard, as Yamucha notices.Back to Top
The Rival (23rd Tenkaichi Budokai to Saiyan Arc)
When Tenshinhan hears of Goku training with Kami-sama (God), he declares that he will train even harder than God. Yamucha and Kuririn proclaim they'll train hard as well to match Goku's ever increasing power. The series has a few episodes of Tenshinhan, Chaozu, Yamucha, and Kuririn traing together. Kamesennin tells the four to travel out on their own to learn new techniques instead of sticking around the Kame House and doing the same routines over and over. This revelation hits home with Tenshinhan first. We are told after the four receive Karin's training, they all went their separate ways for about 3 years leading up to the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai.
The 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai arrives. Tenshinhan quietly asks Muten Roshi if he was entering this year. Muten Roshi says he doesn't stand a chance against "you kids" anymore. I find it interesting that Muten Roshi has essentially given up trying to compete during this point in the story when the power levels are in the lower hundreds. As we see in Dragon Ball Super, Roshi is somehow able to compete with people with power levels locgically in the millions. Anyway, In the preliminaries, Goku and Tenshinhan (to his surprise), see Piccolo Daimao's child, Piccolo (Ma Junior was his tournament name.). Goku tells Tenshinhan to keep it a secret in order not to cause any panic. Tenshinhan has Chaozu do his typical scattering of number drawing so all the main guys have a chance to enter the tournament (so as not to face each other in the preliminary matches). As the preliminary matches start, we see Goku and Ten exert the least amount of effort of all the competitors. Tenshinhan takes notice of Goku's still heart against Chappa. Goku has learned to make his heart completely still and ki completely untraceable. Later, Tenshinhan hears Chaozu's cry. They rush over to his match only to find Chaozu knocked unconcious by Taopaipai! He is now a cyborg, after being nearly killed by Goku years ago. He is now more powerful and states that his mission is to kill Goku and Tenshinhan. Taopaipai wants to kill Ten because he thinks he's joined the Turtle School. Ten replies by saying that he is not apart of the Turtle School, but is only questioning his previous teaching methods. Tenshinhan tells him he will avenge Chaozu, who is taken to the hospital.
After the preliminaty rounds, we find the whole gang outside (minus Tenshinhan and Chaozu). They run into Tsurusennin. Kamesennin has to reiterate the fact that Tenshinhan isn't apart of the Kame School. Basically, Tsuru tells them that they have no chance against the new, more powerful Taopaipai. Goku is the only one not worried. With his new ability to see people only with their ki, Goku knows Tenshinhan is much more capable than Taopaipai. Speaking of Ten and Taopaipai, Goku states, "But the really amazing one isn't Taopaipai at all."
The first match begins between Taopaipai and Ten. He asks Ten if he is prepared to die. Tenshinhan replies, "Yes." I thought that was a really cool response that soldifies Ten's absolute dedicaiton to martial arts and battle. He is prepared to die at any time. It's a fairly unique attitude in the Dragon Ball world. Taopaipai makes several attacks, which Ten reads effortlessly and knocks him away each time. He calmly tells his past mentor that he will forgive him for what he did to Chaozu if he stops all of this now. Ten says that him and Tsuru taught him how to fight and that he does not wish to embarass them. His respect for their teachings never diminished, even over those 3 years. Ten tells Tao that he has gotten far stronger than he can imagine. Tao tries to punch Ten who easily grabs Tao's hand. However, Tao's hand is removed (since he is a cyborg) and a knife now protrudes from his wrist. He quickly slashes Ten's chest (to everyone's surprise). This is how Ten gets his chest scar. Tenshinhan is furious at his once mentor. The announcer declares Tenshinhan the winner because no weapons are allowed. Tenshinhan yells at Taopaipai, questioning if he has lost even his pride as a martial artist (Tenshinhan has lost almost all respect for him at this point.). Taopaipai doesn't care about the match being over and continues his mission to kill Tenshinhan. His other hand is removed and uses this arm as a cannon for his Super Dondonpa blast. Tenshinhan yells at Taopaiai to procede with the Super Dodonpa. The massive energy blast is completely dispersed from a Kiai (blocking attack by shouting) from Tenshinhan. This is the first time a Kiai is used as a shield in Dragon Ball. Everyone is amazed. In the series, Kuririn even mentions that he was afraid of Ten's kiai. Tenshinhan quickly leaps toward Tao and knocks him out with one punch to the chest. Ten picks up his body and brings it to Tsurusennin. Ten solemnly tells them to never again show themselves in front of him again. Ten walks quietly back into the the shelter for the contestants. Yamucha and Kurrin try to congratulate Ten, but Goku, understanding Ten's state of mind, shakes his head at them to stop. Tenshinhan has finally denounced his relation to his former mentors. It's a tough thing to break away from his entire previous life. Ten is also most likely quite embarrassed of how low his teachers have gone. They came to kill him and lost all their pride as martial artists in becoming consumed by that goal. Ten was greatly dissapointed and needs to be by himself. Kuririn mentions that Tenshinhan has become a little too strong. Everyone is amazed at the power and skill Ten has gained in the 3 years.
Ten-san's next match is with Goku. Kamesennin comments that the final four contestants are truly the 4 most powerful people in the world (Goku, Tenshinhan, Piccolo, and Shen, who is actually Kami-sama). When asked how powerful Goku's next opponent was by Chi Chi, Yamucha replies, "Unbelieveably so." Tenshinhan and Goku seem quite excited to fight each other and Goku asks Ten if he's going all out from the beginning. Of course he is. Ten wants to defeat Goku more legitimately than the last win and match someone who trained under God. The battle begins in an instant, like most of Ten's fights up until now. The animated series shows many minutes of a completely even match between Goku and Ten. The battle is spectacular in its choreography and animation. This is probably the best animation Dragon Ball has seen up to this point. Tenshinhan actually gets in some solid hits in the lighting-quick battle (not visible to normal earthlings), and it appears Ten might even have an upperhand on Goku. Kamesennin notices that Goku isn't breathing hard at all, which tells him that Goku is actually winning. Ten confidently tells Goku his speed hasn't increased from their last meeting and goes on to show Goku how much quicker he has become. Tenshinhan easily demonstrates with a few blows. Goku, realizing how much more powerful Tenshinhan has become, decides to take off his undershirt, wristbands, and shoes, which were weighted at 200 pounds total. Kami-sama disguised as Shen is surprised that Goku has taken off his weighted clothing so earlier. He says Goku must consider this quite an opponent. Everyone is amazed Goku was fighting in this weight. They begin to fight again and match blows. Ten thinks that they're still even speed-wise until he looks down to see that Goku had stolen his belt somewhere in the attack. He is amazed that he had no idea Goku had done this.
Once Goku gives him back his belt, he knows what he must do. He learned a new technique called the Shishinnoken. The technique involves splitting your body into 4 duplicates of your yourself. The control over his mind and body Ten exhibits is phenomenal and everyone is utterly amazed that Ten was able to accomplish such a feat. Even Piccolo is surpised and that's quite something considered the unearthly abilities he has as well. With 12 eyes, Tenshinhan believes this will eliminate all blind spots. The four Ten's go to the four corners of the ring and shoot energy blasts at Goku in the middle. The only way for Goku to go is up. The four Ten's easily spot him in the air and shoot concentrated ki blasts from their 3rd eyes. Goku falls to ring, being hit directly. Goku tells Ten that that won't happen again, because he found 2 weaknesses. Ten confidently decides to take him up on the offer and tells him he'll do the same attack again at full strength. This time when Goku takes to the air, he surprisingly blinds Tenshinhan with his own technique, the Taiyoken. As he is blind, Goku explains the first weakness; that his eyes are a little too good. He relies on his eyes to see his opponents' every move. The second weakness, as Ten regains sight, is that splitting into four beings quartered his strength and speed in each instance of himself. Goku then quickly knocks all 4 out of the ring, where Ten becomes a single being again. Tenshinhnan was utterly defeated and congratulates Goku for seeing through him and becoming such an incredibly powerful being.
Yamucha tells Ten that was a close battle, but Ten replies that it really wasn't. Ten thinks Goku wasn't even using most of his power. Ten feels outclassed and says that his pride has been severly wounded. Even though Ten almost matched Goku in power and speed, Goku's steady breathing, toughness and ability to see a person from their ki only, gave him the victory. Using Ten's confidence against him by making him use the same attack again, also sealed his defeat. It was an embarrassing defeat for Ten, being almost toyed with at the end. Goku is the first to use the sensing of ki. Tenshinhan is realizing that Goku's immense strength has gotten past him and his friends.
During the intense fight between Goku and Piccolo there is a point were all the fans have been evacuated (because of the dangerous battle). Now Piccolo is generating energy for an ultimate attack. Tenshinhan, thinking quickly, uses his Kikoho technique to create safety in the ground for Goku's friends. Kami-sama wants everyone to try to destroy Piccolo together, but Goku still wants to win the match. Tenshinhna understands Goku's pride as a martial artist completey, and also pleads with Kami-sama to allow Goku to see this through on his own. Later in the battle when it seems like Piccolo is going to win, Kami-sama asks him to kill him so that Piccolo dies. Ten is reluctant but agrees. Goku screams for them to stop. Goku is miraculously able to win the spectacular, brutal fight. Piccolo flies off promising he will defeat Goku in the future.
This is the end of Ten's role as one of the most powerful characters in story, but at the same time makes his later accomplishments that much more amazing because he becomes almost a 'deprecated' character beyond this point. He isn't talked about much but you can tell Akira Toriyama still loves the character and has subtle but satisfying plans for him. At the start of Dragon Ball Z, Goku's rivalry with Ten has dwindled, but Tenshinhan still sees Goku as measuring stick to which to compare himself.Back to Top
The Warrior (Saiyan to Freeza Arc)
Over 5 years pass between the end of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai to the beginning of the Saiyan Arc. Tenshinhan has been off training with Chaozu on their own. Kami-sama has decided that he will train Earth's best warriors for the arrival of the Saiyans in about a year. Karin has Yajirobe reach out to Kuririn to gather Tenshinhan, Yamucha, and Chaozu. Kuririn was able to locate Tenshinhan by his power readings from Raditz's scouter. Kuririn instantly knows it must be Tenshinhan after he sees the 250 power reading (after he himself was shown to be 206). The manga just jumps right to Earth's warriors being trained right away. The anime takes its time finding each warrior, with an interesting episode that involves Lunch. Lunch was shown to have a crush on Tenshinhan during the the late DB days. It's great to see she tracked him down and has been trying to woo him.
In this episode, Tenshinhan is shown to be training, and Lunch appears to have been living with or at least hanging around Tenshinhan. His training is interrupted with Lunch calling for him to eat. He looks a bit confused and every interaction he seems indifferent to her presence. She asks him how long he's going to keep up all this training and Chaozu answers for Ten saying "until Ten-san beats Goku." It's great to see Tenshinhan still has this goal. Lunch says that Tenshinhan doesn't need to get any stronger because of the peaceful times, but Tenshinhan looks serious and states that Goku showed him that there are other stronger people world and he has to continue to train. She tries to plead with him to rob banks with her, but he clearly has no interest. He sets the food she gave him down and goes to train more with Chaozu. Tenshinhan wonders what sort of training Goku has been doing as he continues his own training. Piccolo's training somwhere far away causes an earthquake that makes the waterfall near Ten and Lunch flood their home. Tenshinhan grabs Lunch and creates a barrier around them withstanding the power flow of water. Lunch sneezes from being cold afterwards and realizes she's being intrusive (as the dark haired timid, Lunch). She decides to leave and Tenshinhan says, "That will be great," and bids her goodbye. He really doesn't seem to have interest in Lunch romantically. Funnily enough, she sneezes in a flower field shortly after leaving goes right back states that they're trying to get rid of her but that she won't allow that to happen. He's saved when Kuririn arrives and tells him everything that has occurred. Tenshinhan can't believe "Son" has died, but is elated about being trained by Kami-sama. He says to himself, "Son, let's make sure we meet again!"
After Kami's training, Kami tells everyone to continue to train on their own, as they have surpassed Kami's abilities at this point. The time then arrives for the Saiyan's arrival. After Tenshinhan and Yamucha arrive to the scene, Vegeta realizes there are the same amount of Saibaimen as there are opponents. He suggests 1 on 1 battles (which unknowingly plays into helping buy time for Goku to get there). Tenshinhan speaks right up and asks to go first. Tenshinhan easily handles his Saibaiman and walks away calmly. Kuririn states "That's Tenshinhan for you!". After Yamucha is killed by a Saibaiman, Kuririn becomes angry and attacks the Saibaimen and Saiyans all at once with a powerful energy blast that is split to home in on each target. He had missed one Saibaiman. Piccolo easily Kills it after he goes for Gohan. Tenshinhan says something similar about Piccolo as Kuririn said about Tenshinhan: "Well... That's Piccolo." Vegeta and Nappa are completely unharmed by the attack, but Nappa is pissed.
An angry Nappa powers up (we can assume to his full power, since the Saiyans don't know how to increase their battle power in instants) and says "Who do I kill first?". Nappa is going in for the kill, clearly. He randomly picks Tenshinhan. Tenshinhan tries to block the incoming attack but blocking arm is punched cleanly off. Incredible he isn't instantly killed. What's more, he has the composure to to dodge the 2nd attack from Nappa by flying into the air. Nappa chases and hits Tenshinhan into the ground. Nappa still can't believe Tenshinhan won't die. Piccolo can't believe Nappa's power. The anime actually shows Tenshinhan dodge Nappa's first attack and block his second, but his arm is in series pain. He tries to block Nappa's 3rd attack again and this is when his arm gets punched off. Piccolo tells Kuririn to not to help Tenshinhan because Nappa is "too much". Kuririn bravely attempts any way, but Nappa shoots a shockwave in front of Kuririn blowing him. This is when Chaozu decides to sneak behind Nappa and attempt his suicide attack. The series shows Piccolo having Gohan watch as Nappa tries to smash Chaozu off him by ramming into rocks. You can tell Piccolo respects Chaozu and his will to fight. Chaozu telepathically tells Tenshinhan he has enjoyed being together with him right before he destroys himeself. Tenshinhan lets out a scream I've never heard him make before screaming Chaozu's name. Piccolo than smiles and states that Chaozu did well. Gohan is crying. Unfortunately, Nappa is unharmed.
I will now describe how the series portrays the rest of the fight with Nappa. Tenshinhan angrily states how Chaozu cannot be brought back to life again. Tenshinhan gets up and charges at Nappa with a flurry of punches and kicks. Nappa of course is blocking everything, but Piccolo is even impressed by Tenshinhan's performance. Kuririn is in awe as well. Tenshinhan takes a hard knee to stomach and proceeds to continue to fight almost instantly! Roshi, watching on Television the events, states that Tenshinhan is fighting on determination alone. Tenshinhan takes a couple more hard hits. This is when Piccolo and Kuririn plan a surprise attack on Nappa. Tenshinhan takes a massive punch to his stomach from Nappa. Nappa goes to finish Tenshinhan, and Piccolo strikes Nappa's jaw. Kuririn then hits Nappa from behind towards Gohan. Gohan of course is too scared to fight. You can see Nappa is bleeding from where Piccolo hit him. Kuririn and Piccolo fire blasts that Nappa dodges. In the manga, when Nappa goes to finish Tenshinhan, Ten screams at Nappa stating, "Come at me!". He prepares for his final attack, but is saved temporarily by Piccolo and Kuririn's sneak attack.
Nappa now sets his sights on Piccolo and Kuririn. The series shows Piccolo and Kuririn use a multi-form technique (like Tenshinhan's Shishinnoken). They split into 3 each though. They attack Nappa but are easily repelled and go back to their single forms. It's interesting that the series decided to have Kuririn able to use a technique that was initially supposed to show Tenshinhan's otherworldly powers. Gohan goes to see if Tenshinhan is alright. Tenshinhan begins to have flashback memories of Chaozu. Tenshinhan states that he'll avenge Chaozu and will be soon joining him. Tenshinhan is completely prepared to die like a warrior. This is Tenshinhan's biggest moment up to this point in the series and shows finally the cost he's willing to pay to to avenge Chaozu and win a battle with such high stakes.
Tenshinhan then surprises Nappa by firing a one-handed Kikoho at him (his final as he states it). You can see Nappa's fear as he screams when consumed by the blast in the manga. Piccolo and even Vegeta is surprised by the Kikoho. This really is the first time we see Vegeta express any concern. He was normally calm and cocky up to that point. Tenshinhan dies from the stress of the Kikoho. We're shown Nappa's armor is damaged and leg is bleeding (in manga). This is similar damage to Piccolo's surprise strike to Nappa's jaw. Vegeta admits Tenshinhan fought like a man, but died like a dog. I still love that comment. Vegeta decides to postpone the fight to wait for Goku. The next we see of Tenshinhan is when he is shown to be receiving training from Kaio-sama in the afterlife (around when Goku is travelling to Namek).
Kaio-sama telepathically tells Goku that Tenshinhan and company want tougher training than he received. After Kaio-sama and Yamucha speak with Goku, Tenshinhan internally tells himself that he can't hope to surpass Goku at the same training regimen, but if he masters the essentials of the technique and add a few twists of his own, he should be able to avoid another humiliating defeat. Tenshinhan is still measuring himself up to Goku. This is really the final time Tenshinhan has a chance at keeping up with Goku. In about 6 days, Goku will turn Super Saiyan and create a gap that is not even close (sadly). After Freeza is defeated Tenshinhan admits that Goku is in a different world now. After everything has settled down about 130 days have passed, they use the Namekian Dragon Balls (relocated to Earth) to revive Kuririn and Yamucha (because obviously Tenshinhan and Chaozu want to go together). Tenshinhan also states in the series that he isn't through with his training yet as well. Tenshinhan and Chaozu are revived another 130 days after that.
The anime has a little bit more to show on Kaio-sama's planet during the Freeza fighting. Kaio-sama secretly brings the fallen Ginyu Squad members to give Tenshinhan, Yamucha, and Chaozu some fight training. This might seem like an outlandish side-story, and it is, but I really think it was just intended to show the level to which the dead Z warriors could get to with the amount of training that they end up doing. Of course, in reality only about 6 days had passed of training. I explain a lot more about how this could still be feasible in the Vs. Kuririn and Power Levels sections. But anyway, Tenshinhan matches up to both Jheese and Butta, while Yamucha takes Recoom, and Chaozu fights Gurd. I like how they're showing just how much more advanced Tenshinhan is in his fighting level compared to the others. At first Tenshinhan and company are just trying to block attacks from the Ginyu Squadron. They have no cofidence because they know Vegeta was easily defeated by them. Kaio-sama tells them to attack. Tenshinhan is the first to try by punching Jheese. Tenshinhan realizes how much stronger they've become. Tenshinhan and co. proceed to defeat each Ginyu Squadron member. They become especially confident after Goku's "false" win against Freeza with the Genki Dama.
Another year passes. Tenshinhan is shown with Chaozu located in cold mountains with heavy clothing. He senses 2 massive powers descending towards Earth. He sets off with Chaozu to confront whatever threat this might be. He arrives to the other Z warriors already at the scene. He specifically calls out Vegeta. Vegeta asks if Tenshinhan has anything to say to him. Tenshinhan says he obviously has a lot to say to the one who killed him. He also questions how Yamucha could live with him. I always loved this kind of stuff from Tenshinhan. He doesn't seem to forget important things that occurred while others seem to move on and just accept things. Vegeta and Nappa have done some seriously evil things, and Tenshinhan still hates him for it. I do appreciate the way Tenshinhan's character is often the voice of reason and a voice that the audience can relate to. I always found it quite surprising how easily Vegeta was accepted by the good guys. It was nice to see Tenshinhan's character still call out the vile Vegeta (he does this later in the Android/Cell Arc too). When Freeza and King Cold arrive, Tenshinhan can't believe this is a power that Goku was able to fight.
After Trunks defeats Freeza and King Cold, he comes over to the Z warriors and asks them to come with him to wait for Goku. Gohan is the first to say he's going with Trunks. Then Tenshinhan reasons that because Trunks defeated Freeza and knows Goku, he can't be bad. He also says he's curious. Trunks tells Goku about himself and the Androids to come in 3 years. Piccolo, with his keen sense of hearing relays all the important information to everyone. Tenshinhan and the others vow to train for what's to come.Back to Top
The Lengedary Fighter (Android to Buu Arc)
The day for the Android's arrival has come. Goku, Gohan, and Piccolo arrive to the supposed location the Androids would appear, to find Tenshinhan, Yamucha, and Bulma already there waiting. Tenshinhan tells Goku he left Chaozu behind because he wouldn't be able to keep up with this battle (even though he trained). Yajirobe's aircraft is destroyed as he's leaving the rest of Z warriors to do the fighting themselves. Goku has Gohan attend to Yajirobe. Goku, Piccolo, Tenshinhan, Kuririn, and Yamucha search the city where they think the attack came from. Yamucha is confronts the Androids first and is impaled by 20's hand. Goku and company all go to Yamucha's rescue. Goku has Kuririn take Yamucha to safety. So at this point it's just Goku, Piccolo, and Tenshinhan facing down the Androids. I always like the anime's framing and posturing of the characters during this moment. It makes Tenshinhan really feel equal in a way to Goku and Piccolo (not literally equal in strength, but equally respected). It almost feels like an homage to those 3 being the strongest in Dragon Ball together. It just has a nostalgic quality to it.
Goku wants to move to a deserted area to fight, so Android 20 shoots lasers from his eyes destroying the city around them. Tenshinhan and Goku both dodge one of the blasts. They relocate and Gokue begins battling 19 as a Super Saiyan. Tenshinhan can't believe how powerful Super Saiyan Goku is stating that he is in a different dimension that "us". He witnessed Goku and Trunks turning Super Saiyan 3 years previous, so I'm not sure why he was overly surprised this time. Maybe because with the instance before they weren't really figthing and showing what they were truly capable of. Tenshinhan thinks this will be an easy win, but Piccolo realizes that Goku is actually weaker than what he should be (Piccolo would know as he trained with Super Saiyan Goku for 3 years). Kuririn, Yamucha, and Gohan have caught up at this point to tell them about the fact that Androids absorb power. As Vegeta finally arrives, Goku can't fight any longer due to the rapid onset of the heart disease. Yamucha takes him to Goku's home to get the medicine. Super Saiyan Vegeta easily defeats 19. 20 then tries to escape. 20 decides to steal everyone's energy individually as they're searching for him. He goes for Piccolo first, but Piccolo telepathically calls for Gohan's help. Piccolo then proceeds to easily beat 20. Tenshinhan mentions that he doesn't like seeing Piccolo and Vegeta so strong but he's okay with it for the moment. Tenshinhan is always measuring himself against the most powerful. His pride as a martial artist is always consistent.
Trunks shows up and realizes these aren't the Androids he fought in his timeline. 20, realizing he can't win escapes back to the lab to unleash 17 and 18. Bulma catches up and let's them know the general area of Dr. Gero's lab. Piccolo has Gohan take Bulma to safety (after her aircraft was damaged from 20's energy blast (intended to cover his escape). Kuririn spots 20 entering his lab and alerts the others. 17 and 18 are activated. They activate 16. All three then and go off to find Goku and kill him (their original purpose although aside from 16, they don't seem to be obeying their programming, just using it as a game). Vegeta is pissed they ignored him and goes after them to fight. The rest of the Z warriors follow. 18 decides to fight Vegeta. 17 realizes they might pose a problem if all were to attack 18 at once, so he tells the Z warriors to stay put or he will be forced to fight. Eventually, Vegeta's arm is broken and Trunks can't sit idly by. He goes to attack 18 but is easily blocked by 18 and punched away by 17. Piccolo and Tenshinhan must realize that the must attack all together now or they have no chance. Piccolo is easily kicked awya by 17. Tenshinhan's punch is then dodged by 17 and 17 begins choking Tenshinhan. It appears Vegeta calls Tenshinhan an idiot (or perhaps Trunks who started the interference) and goes to attack 17, but his grabbed by 18. 18 flings Vegeta into Trunks, who is about to attempt fighting again. Piccolo, regaining composure, goes to safe Tenshinhan. 17 drops Tenshinhan to then punch Piccolo in the stomach visciously, defeating him. The Androids defeat all the warriors accept Kuririn who has just been watching this whole thing in fear. Androids go on to casually find Goku, telling Kuririn to feed his friends senzu beans.
Vegeat flies off in shame. Piccolo angrily flies off to to merge with Kami. Tenshinhan knows Vegeta will be back because he is "pride personified". He believes he will come back with a devastating technique that will defeat the Androids. Kuririn also explained why Piccolo left in the direction of Kami-sama. Tenshinhan tells Kuririn and Piccolo he's heading to check on Chaozu. He says he'll be back before things turn bad again but admits that he may be of no use.
The next time we see Tenshinhan is when he arrives after Piccolo (merged with Kami) fights Cell. Cell was able to escape using a Taiyoken, but Piccolo would have been able to defeat him. Piccolo is pissed he let his guard down and didn't defeat Cell quickly. Vegeta shows up and can't believe that Piccolo has become far more powerful than him. Piccolo tells all the Z warriors that gathered Cell's background and purpose, which he tricked Cell into telling him. Tenshinhan declares they must thwart Cell's fusion with the Androids. Vegeta flies off angrily again to train after Piccolo tells him not to underestimate Cell, who is more powerful than the Adroids (who are more powerful than Vegeta). This is when Piccolo decides to have Trunks and Kuririn go to the lab to destroy their timeline's Cell. He says him and Tenshinhan will go look for Cell. I always loved this little show of respect. Piccolo (now with the the vast knowledge of Kami) decides he wants Tenshinhan to hunt Cell with him. He probably thinks best that with Trunks' technical know how and general knowledge of the Androids, he's best suited to go to the lab. Interesting that he chooses Kuririn to follow Trunks and Tenshinhan to follow him on the obviously more dangerous mission. It shows Tenshinhan is more valuable than Kuririn in battle. I touch on this in the Vs. Kuririn section too.
Tenshinhan and Piccolo go to hunt Cell. Tenshinhan is actually able to first notice a disturbance in ki. Cell can sense their ki too, so Cell continues to evade when he feels them coming. Piccolo, Tenshinhan, Kuririn, Yamucha, and Gohan all meet up later to try a different plan. They will supress their ki and use an aircraft to fly to Cell. Goku is now recovered now and uses instantaneous movement to the aircraft they're in. Tenshinhan half-jokingly points out how it's strange that Goku is excited for the new enemy while people are dying. I always love Tenshinhan's reasoning and ability to keep things in perspective. Goku decides to have all the Saiyans use the Room of Spirit and Time to train (since they currently have no way of matching up to Cell or the Androids). Piccolo, Tenshinhan, Kuririn, and Yamucha continnue to search for Cell in the aircraft, but Cell continues to be one step ahead. They gather at Kamesennin's house to rest. The Androids in pursuit of Goku show up to the Kame House (since they couldn't find him in his own home). 17 is planning to make them talk if they don't tell them the location of Goku. Piccolo obviously refuses and asks to take the fight to an uninhabited island. Piccolo throws a little shade towards Ten, Kuririn, and Yamucha. He tells them to stay there since they should realize now they wouldn't be able to help. Oh, Piccolo... Little does he know, Tenshinhan will do more than Piccolo could to stop Cell from becoming perfect.
Piccolo and 17 have a pretty evenly matched fight. Cell shows up. He has powered up significantly after absorbing so many humans. Tenshinhan, sensing the situation turning for the worst now, decides to go help Piccolo. He says even if he's useless it's better than staying put doing nothign. Kamesennin keeps Yamucha from going too (in the series only--for some reason Yamucha disappeared in this scene in the manga!). Kuririn goes to collect the Android emergency off-switch from Bulma (who developed it based on the the blueprints that Kuririn and Trunks found in Gero's lab). 17 and Piccolo battle Cell. They're getting beat, so Piccolo tries his finishing move on Cell. Cell is completely unharmed emerging out of the water (the blast must have destroyed a lot of land and perhaps at least moved Cell a bit). Tenshinhan watches on as Piccolo is then nearly killed with a ki blast from Cell going through his body. 16 realizes he must fight now finally (I think to protect the the friends he's made in 17 and 18). It appears 16 could have beaten Cell at this point, but Cell escapes into the ground appearing behind 17. Cell now transforms into his 2nd form. 16 tries to escape with 18 but Cell is too quick. This is when Tenshinhan begins to realize it's his time to step in. He apologizes to Chaozu to himself saying he thinks he's going to die. 16 punches Cell directly in th face but he is unphased. 16 is then severely damaged from one ki blast from Cell.
Before Cell is about to absorb 18, he notices Tenshinhan in the sky behind him (must have sensed the incredible ki Tenshinhan was generating). The series shows Cell even has time to talk to Tenshinhan, calling him "small fry". The manga then shows Cell go to attack Tenshinhan, but Tenshinhan's enormous Shin Kikoho rain down upon him. This is the first instance of Tenshinhan's improved Kikoho, the Shin Kikoho, by the way. Clearly the technique is astoundingly powerful, as the current most powerful being on the show up to this point is restrained by it! Remember, the incredibly powerful Piccolo after merging with Kami couldn't even phase Cell's previous form (this is a Piccolo stronger than the Saiyans!). I explain more about how powerful Tenshinhan must be in the Power Levels section too. The technique itself can't be generating all the power from nothing afterall. The Shin Kikoho continues to pummel Cell into the ground, creating a massive hole in Earth. Tenshinhan yells for 18 to escape. 16 looks at Tenshinhan with respect before they escape (in the series). The series also plays out the Shin Kikoho for a very long time spanning 2 episodes. We also see Kamesennin (back at his house) refer to the Tenshinhan's Shin Kikoho as an "enormous ki". Tenshinhan knows he's the only one that can't stop Cell at this current time and continues to keep firing. Tenshinhan finally loses all his ki and falls to the ground. Cell is essentially unharmed. Goku, sensing everything from Kami's place, is distraught during all of this because he doesn't want Tenshinhan to die. Cell can't believe he was stopped by "Tenshinhan of all people". He decides to kill Tenshinhan himself even though he will be dying shortly anyway. The series shows Cell actually kick Tenshinhan first. How Tenshinhan survives this is amazing in and of itself. Goku uses instantaneous movement to rescue Tenshinhan. Goku tells Cell to wait one more day to fight him. Goku senses Piccolo still has a little ki and goes to get him too. Goku takes them to Kami's Temple to feed them senzu. In the anime, Goku tells Tenshinhan he was really reckless, but Gohan happily states that thanks to Tenshinhan, 18 was not absorbed by Cell. Piccolo still says Cell as it is has no match.
The anime as a small little moment with Piccolo and Tenshinhan when Vegeta emerges from the Room of Spirit and Time. Vegeta declares he will defeat Cell and the Androids alone. Tenshinhan angrily says, "What?!" Piccolo puts his hand up to Tenshinhan to more calmly tell Vegeta that he's taking Cell too lightly. Tenshinhan then tells Vegeat he'll be surprised by Cell's new strength after absorbing 17. Vegeta just gives a small laugh. Tenshinhan is pissed at Vegeta. Bulma shows up to give Trunks and Vegeat new armor (Saiyan-style battle suits). Bulma asks if Piccolo and Tenshinhan will wear them. Piccolo says he doesn't want to wear the same clothes as Freeza or the Saiyans. Tenshinhan says "Me either. I'd die before wearing the same clothes as Vegeta." I absolutely love this additionally dialogue in the series. Tenshinhan will never forgive him, and rightly so. Vegeta is evil. He is actually still killing innocents. We see him kill a truck driver in the fight with 18, amongst other drivers that got caught up in that battle in the anime. Vegeta just smiles at Tenshinhan. Vegeta and Trunks go to fight Cell. Goku and Gohan go into the Room of Spirit and Time.
Piccolo and Tenshinhan now observe the battles below together at Kami's Temple. Kuririn can't deactivate Android 18 (due to his good nature). Vegeta ends up letting Cell become peferct. Cell defeats Vegeta and Trunks. Cell decides to hold a tournament because he is so confident now. He wants the Saiyans to train more before they face him. Goku and Gohan emerge from the Room of Spirit and time. Tenshinhan is amazed that they seemed so relaxed as Super Saiyans, as he noticed Super Saiyans normally required gigantic effort to stay in that state. Vegeta, Trunks, and Piccolo decide to use the Room of Spirit and Time. Tenshinhan states that he will not use it because he has no way of matching up against Cell (afterall, Cell's rules are one on one battles in the Cell Games). It's too bad he didn't use it though, as he may have been able to compete with Cell Junior better.
The series shows the Z warriors flying to the location of the Cell Games (with Tenshinhan and Yamucha together waiting for the others to arrive). Tenshinhan says they're going to the Cell Games too, but probably not fighting. Tenshinhan watches Goku and then Gohan fight Cell. Cell wants to make Gohan to see this hidden power that he's been hearing about. He creates 7 Cell Juniors to fight against each Z warrior. Tenshinhan along with the other Earthlings are defeated easily (as well as Goku from his exhaustion from the Cell fight). The Cell Junior fight is more interesting in the series. It's initially shown that Tenshinhan is able to block attacks. His punch attempts miss the dodging Cell Junior. Piccolo seems to be handling himself fairly well and tells Tenshinhan and Yamucha to go help Goku. Piccolo quickly helps by throwing his Cell Jr. into Ten's and then attackng Yamucha's. In a small, but awesome moment of teamwork, Tenshinhan and Yamucha grab Goku's Cell Jr. and knee it away. There's a cool little exchange of gratitude. Right after Piccolo helped Ten and Yamucha he goes to Kuririn's aid who has only been dodging the Cell Junior. Piccolo knocks it away, but Kuririn is knocked down with a kick shortly after. We see Yamucha and then Tenshinhan get knocked down right after that. Somehow Yamucha gets back up to miss a punch on a Cell Jr. He then has his arm broken. Tenshinhan, Yamucha, and Kuririn are all shown at various points going in and out of consciousness and getting beat up constantly. Goku is also beat up the whole fight. Vegeta and Trunks are able to be fairly competitive but take their share of ass-kicking. Piccolo is shown to be the most useful here. He was using strategy and not always going 1-on-1. It's an interesting fight. Gohan ends up going Super Saiyan 2 and has Trunks hand out senzu beans to everyone.
After Goku dies trying to save everyone from a self-destructing Cell, Cell miraculously survives and surprise kills Trunks. When Gohan and Cell get into the final Kamehameha struggle, Tenshinhan and Yamucha protect Trunks' body from the strong energy blowing towards them. There's one last series-only moment for Tenshinhan during the Cell fight. Gohan is struggling with Cell in the Kamehameha battle. Piccolo goes to help shoot Cell with his own ki blast. Tenshinhan says he's not just going to wait to die. Yamucha understands that as Tenshinhan's pride as a martial artist and decides to go too. Kuririn reluctantly joins. The 4 non-Saiyans shoot ki blasts at Cell (while still locked in a Kamehameha battle with Gohan). All 4 get knocked down several times by power shockwaves from Cell. Before the last time they all get knocked away they get blown away in a specific order: Yamucha, Kuririn, Tenshinhan, Piccolo. This was a great addition to the anime though, as you'd imagine these warriors wouldn't sit by idly. Gohan of course defeats Cell.
The Z warriors travel to Kami's Temple after the battle to use the Dragon Balls to bring back Trunks and the others killed by Cell. Tenshinhan carries Trunks' body while Kuririn takes the unconcious Android 18. Trunks is of course revived and Tenshinhan bids farewell to his comrades. I really liked that Tenshinhan singled-out Trunks before he left wishing him good luck against his own Androids. Once again, Tenshinhan is shown to be quite thoughtful and focused on what's important. It felt like Tenshinhan had a lot of respect for Trunks with these last few instances of interaction. That very subtle respect translates over to Movie 9 with his tournament fight with him. Tenshinhan says he'll probably never see anyone again, which is actually a pretty sad moment. I think a lot introverts can relate to Tenshinhan and this kind of speaks to that tragic nature of an introvert. It's not all sad though as everyone happily says goodbye. I think Toriyama intended to retire Tenshinhan at this point after having his perhaps last epic moment (Shin Kikoho vs. Cell). As we know this ends up not being the case with the surprise rescue in the in Buu fight!
Tenshinhan's first appearance and even second appearance in the Buu Arc isn't his surprise rescue. He's first seen in awe of Goku's power when Goku first turns Super Saiyan 3. He's shown somewhere in the wilderness with Chaozu, presumably in the middle of their constant training. His outfit for this small appearance is actually my favorite outfit he has! The manga doesn't define the colors, but the anime and promotional art have shown this outfit in more detail and full color. I love the brown cloak over his green robe. The next time we seen Tenshinhan is when he dodges Buu's Human Extinction Attack, along with Chaozu. We have to assume that Tenshinhan and Choazu are the only survivors of that attack on Earth (aside from Mr. Satan and the dog, Bee, who were purposely missed).
During Gohan's fight with "Fusion" Buu (SS3 Gotenks and Piccolo absorbed), Buu decides to kill Dende, who had just healed Gohan. Mr. Satan and Bee are right next to Dende as well. Gohan sees the attack heading toward Dende and company, but is unable to react quick enough to save them. We see the the blast get deflected. Mr. Satan thinks he did it by firing his gun at the blast. Gohan looks in the direction of the deflection to see Tenshinhan standing on a rock having just done his Kikoho to deflect the blast. Gohan yells Tenshinhan's name with surprise and elation. It's a very cool moment for Tenshinhan and Gohan, having not seen each other since the battle with Cell. Tenshinhan is surprised to see how much Gohan has changed but admits he may not have changed as much as Buu. In the anime series, we are shown a little more with the "battle" between Tenshinhan and Buu. Buu actually fires a blast at Tenshinhan, who dodges it and attempts a Kikoho targeted directly at Buu. Of course the blast does nothing to Buu. This is understandable, as the ultimate form of Gohan (the strongest character in the universe at this point, aside from this current Buu he's fighting) is even in the process of being defeated by Buu. It's still astounding that Tenshinhan can even deflect an energy blast that Gohan was unable to react to. It shows the massive amount of skill and concentration he has now. Buu decides to destroy the Earth with a massive blast at this point. Goku uses instantaneous movement to Kienzan Buu in half before he is able to do this (Goku is showing up to use the Potara earings with Gohan). Buu's lower half (legs) fall near Tenshinhan. Buu takes Tenshinhan by surprise by kicking him from behind. Goku says that's not fair. Tenshinhan is out cold, but not dead. Buu states in the manga that Tenshinhan is a "legendary fighter" but even he is "felled with one kick." I absolutely love this dialogue, as a being as massively strong as Buu, pays respect to Tenshinhan's prowess. This is probably due to Piccolo's knowledge of Tenshinhan, who is currently absorbed by Buu. In the anime version, Buu says that Tenshinhan "appears to be quite an expert, but with one kick, that's how he ends up." After Gohan is sneakily abosrbed by Buu's cut off antena-thing, Goku has to fuse with someone else. He first looks to Tenshinhan, but he's still out cold. He then looks to Dende and Satan. Thankfully, he senses Vegeta's ki and moves instantaneously to him. The anime then shows Dende healing Tenshinhan before going towards Goku with Satan and Bee. I suppose Tenshinhan just goes back to Chaozu after he senses Vegetto and realizes he won't be of any use.
Tenshinhan and Chaozu are killed when "Kid" Buu destroys Earth. Goku is able to rescue Dende, Mr. Satan, and Bee before the explosion (instaneous movement with Kibitoshin). Dende is the one that says they can contact the new Namek to use their Dragon Balls. I would assume someone would have figured this out without Dende, but Tenshinhan's earlier rescue led to this nonetheless. He played a small but crucial role in saving Earth in this sense. It also allowed direct communication with Mr. Satan to convince the people of Earth to give energy to Goku's Genki Dama that destroys Buu. Mr. Satan would have been back on Earth and Goku may not have been able to have Mr. Satan do what he did, had he not been around. Of course, we're also shown Tenshinhan and Chaozu contributing to the Genki Dama, with Tenshinhan stating in the series, "This is the ki that I have raised up through all the training I've done." This is a pretty cool moment for showing how much pride as a martial artist Tenshinhan has continued to have. The manga has a small panel of Tenshinhan one last time at the very end (the end before the big time jump to the Tenkaichi Budokai with Uub) smiling. It's a bittersweet moment. The anime actually shows Tenshinhan at a party Bulma is throwing at Capsule Corporation. He doesn't say too much in the episode but I thought it was cool to see him and Kuririn interacting a little while getting food. For many, years this was the end of the story for Tenshinhan. As we all know now, the story continued with the Battle of Gods movie through the ongoing Dragon Ball Super series/manga!Back to Top
The Return of a Legend (Dragon Ball Super)