In the 80s, there was a wonderful Marvel comic book series called “What If?” Each one was a single issue that would play out a theoretical scenario that differs from Marvel’s established history. For instance, “What If…The Hulk Had the Brain of Bruce Banner?” Because he’s not a brute, Loki never uses him to fight Thor and the Avengers never form! Can you imagine?!! Marvel published many of these over the years and they ran from serious scenarios like, “What If Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben Had Lived?” to silly stuff like “What If Dazzler Was the Herald of Galactus?” While it wasn’t cannon, it was a lot of fun.
And now, there is a new Shonen Jump manga that plays the “What If” game with hilarious results—what if a hardcore Dragon Ball fan died…and was reincarnated as Yamcha? What if, indeed! Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha tells the story of a young man who’s obsessed with all things Dragon Ball. But one day while running down the stairs to get a peek at a girl’s panties, he trips, falls…and dies! The next moment, he wakes up and to his surprise—he’s Yamcha!
As of late, Yamcha’s become the joke of the Dragon Ball universe. That image of him dead in a crater has become a meme with fans photoshopping various characters into the crater. Despite actually being incredibly strong for a human in the Dragon Ball universe, let’s face it, when you’re in a group with Piccolo, Vegeta or Goku, you’re going to be pretty weak by comparison. It doesn’t help that he was eventually surpassed in power by Kuririn, who used to be the joke of the franchise.
But in this manga, that’s not the case! Armed with the power of a fan who’s seen the entire series backward and forward, he’s determined to change Yamcha’s destiny and not only avoid death--but get and keep his dream girl, Bulma. And that’s where the genius of the manga comes in, especially if you’re familiar with the series--seeing his journey from regular Yamcha to super powerful Yamcha is hilarious, especially with all the “cheats” he takes knowing about what happens in the future.
But that’s not the entire story, because as he gets stronger and closer to his goal, he starts to change and see things from a different perspective. I don't want to spoil the story beyond that, but there are some great twists and inventive surprises that keep the premise from growing stale. And there are even a couple of hilarious bonus chapters thrown in at the end for good measure.
A short read, but a fun one. And mangaka dragongarow LEE has absolutely mastered Akira Toriyama’s style. It’s especially impressive when it’s not material that’s a direct reference to the main storyline. Prepare to see Yamcha in a whole new light in this hilarious Shonen Jump “What If?”
Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated As Yamcha is available here!
by Urian Brown
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