Though he was a big player in the original Dragon Ball series, Yamcha was pretty useless by the time DBZ rolled around. Say what you want about Krillin, but at least he stuck around for most of the series. Yamcha spent the bulk of his time post-Saiyan Saga either dead or about to be dead. Dude's basically a filler episode in human form.
But what if instead of being Dragon Ball's most lovable idiot, Yamcha became the smartest, strongest protagonist of the franchise? That's the concept behind a new spinoff manga in the digital magazine Shonen Jump Plus. "Dragon Ball Side Story: The Case of Being Reincarnated as Yamcha" definitely gives away the premise in the title: It's about a "real-life" kid who wakes up in Yamcha's body after an accident.
And by "accident," I mean, "falling down the stairs after running to get a closer look at a girl's short skirt." He sounds pretty Yamcha already, if you ask me.
The whole first chapter is available to read in original Japanese, but Reddit user and internet hero SaiyamanMS has already begun translating the story into English.
After the kid's uh, incident, in the real world, he awakens to find himself in a new universe, in a new body, and in a suspiciously familiar art style. (Remember, read right to left)
Instead of really pondering how this happened or whether he's actually in a coma dreaming all of this, the kid instead complains that he didn't get reincarnated as Goku or Vegeta. It's probably fitting that the kid should die a pervert and be reborn a pervert.
It's not long before new-Yamcha realizes how wonderful his new reality really is. He looks around and sees Bulma napping right next to a young Goku letting it all hang out.
Really, this is every nerd's dream. Instead of going to school every day, this kid gets to live inside his favorite show. Sure, it's as Yamcha, but that's still way better than pretty much any human in reality.
Of course, if he's Yamcha, he's going to have to re-live Yamcha's life. And death.
Though the kid seemingly arrived early on in the Dragon Ball series, way before Raditz arrived, everyone knows how this has to end: With Yamcha getting Yamcha'd by a suicide bombing Saibaman.
It sort of puts a damper on the whole power fantasy thing if you know that you're eventually going to go out like a punk at the hands of a grade-school pod person. New-Yamcha decides early on that his cratered corpse won't become a meme, and makes his first big departure from the canon of the original series. Instead of flying off with Bulma and Oolong, this Yamcha decides to tag along with Goku to train with Master Roshi.
Unlike the anime, this manga spinoff actually moves at a pretty fast clip. Before the first chapter is through, we get to see the results of years of training and new-Yamcha's knowledge of future events: The showdown with Nappa and Vegeta.
There are a couple cool bits here that are worth noting. First, the artist Dragon Garow Lee has completely changed up his art style to mimic that of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama in this phase of his career. The details here are pretty impressive. On top of that, we get a visual indicator that this timeline has already branched off from the DBZ we know, as new-Yamcha doesn't have any scars on his face.
So how does the fight with the Saibamen go this time around?
That's right -- new-Yamcha is not only not a complete waste of space, but he even gets his own cool Not-Sure-If-He's-Dead-or-Alive-Until-the-Smoke-Clears moment!
That about closes out the first chapter, but not before we get a sneak peek at Yamcha unlocking his potential on Namek.
So far this is manga seems like it's doing everything right, taking a brilliant idea and executing it in a fun way. Hopefully we'll get an official English translation out of this, and then an anime adaptation, and most importantly, a new episode of Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.