The Imperfect Cell Saga is the eighth saga in the Dragon Ball Z series. The manga volumes that it is made up of are the second part of "Rise Of The Machines" and "The Terror of Cell". It involves Cell in his Imperfect form and mainly shows his attempts to absorb Android 17 and Android 18, and the Z Fighters' attempts to stop him.
In Japan this saga aired in 1992. In the U.S. it aired in 2000. This is part of US Season Five. It comprises the first half of the FUNimation Remastered Season Five Box Set, the second half of the FUNimation Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Volume 4 and the first part of Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Volume 5.
A new threat
Piccolo arrives at Kami's Lookout, demanding that they fuse together so that he will have the power to defeat the Androids. At first, Kami is unsure about the fusion, and Piccolo becomes angry. He proceeds to sit down, waiting for Kami to make his decision. A short amount of time passes and Kami notices that Earth is now being threatened by an even greater force than the Androids. He has known about the existence of this threat for the past four years, and it has now emerged, terrorizing thousands of people. Kami then agrees to fuse with Piccolo, and they remain using Piccolo's body. Nevertheless, they rejoin, and regain the identity that they had lost long ago as well as Kami's vast wisdom and knowledge, becoming a Super Namek. Because of the fusion, the Dragon Balls and Shenron cease to exist. This is a problem that is later solved. With the knowledge of the new creature, Piccolo goes to investigate the threat.
Krillin calls Capsule Corporation to tell Bulma that they are moving Goku to Kame House and Bulma tells them of a shocking discovery, another time machine that looks like the same one Future Trunks came in. Future Trunks is shocked because there is only one time machine in existence which is the one he has in his pocket as a capsule. She faxes over a picture of the other time machine and Future Trunks and Gohan go meet her to examine it. When they get to the place where the picture was taken, Future Trunks confirms that it was his machine. However, it looked aged with moss and had damage to the dome, damage showing that someone or something blasted its way out. Soon Gohan discovers an exoskeleton of some disgusting looking creature, and Bulma find eggshells. Soon, all the Z Fighters sense strange and familiar power levels from far away. Also there is a news report depicting that a local suburban district, Gingertown's population of 15,000 that completely vanished. All that was revealed was scattered clothing about everywhere and signs of a struggle. The source of the power levels, Future Trunks' aged time machine and the disappearances finally reveals himself as a hideous humanoid creature with insect qualities. The creature explains how the people of Gingertown all disappeared; by sucking the bio matter of a human with his unique tail, reducing him to nothing in front of Piccolo's eyes. Piccolo instantly confronts him, and they fight. Meanwhile, Android 16 detects two enormous powers fighting with his power radar, and tells the other two that one of the powers is equal to Android 17 himself. Android 17 bluffs this and believes that Android 16's power radar is broken and they drive off, foreshadowing things to come.
Piccolo's strength is clear in this fight, he completely dominates the creature but is stunned with surprise when it shoots a Kamehameha wave at him. Distracted, Piccolo's arm is absorbed into a sagging mound of flesh, and he admits defeat while asking it who it is and how it made it here. The monster then goes on to reveal that its name was Cell, and how it was created by Dr. Gero as the perfect fighting android made up of the cells of the universe's strongest warriors. However, Dr. Gero saw the plan to create the ultimate bio soldier was taking too long so he abandoned the project. Instead, the supercomputer in charge of the project continued the project secretly. A special robot was created to capture the gene samples of Goku, Vegeta and Piccolo when they were fighting on Earth; Frieza and King Cold's genes were captured when they came to Earth and were killed by Future Trunks. Many others fell into that category too and that he had learned many of their strongest techniques and abilities. Future Trunks' genes were not collected though, as enough Saiyan samples were collected. However, Imperfect Cell reveals his most disturbing fact, that his true purpose was to absorb the unique Infinite power cores of Android 17 and Android 18, reaching his Perfect Form. With the Earth's population low in his future, and Android 17 and Android 18 destroyed, Imperfect Cell decided to steal Future Trunks' Time Machine by killing Future Trunks himself and come back to this time, to a fresher planet with more victims. Piccolo at this point thinks he has enough information and reveals that he was bluffing the whole time by regenerating his arm back. Despite Imperfect Cell absorbing a lot of energy from Piccolo's arm, it realizes that it is no match for Piccolo at all and it is only made worse when Future Trunks, Krillin and Tien arrive as well. Imperfect Cell recognizes Future Trunks as the boy he killed in his own time line, and realizes that Future Trunks must be from another alternate time line. He then uses his Solar Flare technique to blind everyone and runs away, masking his power to be as undetectable by the others. Just then Vegeta, sensing a great ki, came over and is shocked when it comes from Piccolo. Piccolo explains the situation to Vegeta and the others, and Vegeta is angry that everything is surpassing him, the Legendary Super Saiyan. He then vows to surpass the limits of Super Saiyan and flies off. Future Trunks and Krillin, too leave to destroy the Imperfect Cell that is probably growing in this timeline to prevent another Imperfect Cell later. Meanwhile, Piccolo and Tien search desperately for Imperfect Cell, knowing that he has hidden his ki and is ever getting stronger by absorbing more victims.
Piccolo vs. Android 17
Back in the mountain region, the Androids are joyriding their way to Goku's house. Goku is then moved to Master Roshi's house. The Androids reach Goku's home and find that it is completely empty, so they proceed to the next likely place for him to be, Kame House.
Future Trunks and Krillin return to the site of Dr. Gero's laboratory, this time discovering a secret laboratory hidden underground. Here, they find the Cell of the present in his larval/baby form, infantile and weak, his growth and development maintained only by the master computer. They also discover Dr. Gero's blueprints which outline the design of Android 17. Future Trunks, eager to take the opportunity to find any weakness of the Androids, takes the blueprints before he and Krillin incinerate the baby Cell and the master computer with a Ki Blasts. Krillin then destroys the laboratory they were in. Future Trunks instructs Krillin to bring the blueprints to Bulma at Capsule Corporation so that she can examine them, as he plans to go looking for his father, Vegeta, in order to train with him and learn to become an Ascended Saiyan as well. However, Krillin warns Future Trunks that Vegeta is very independent and may prefer to train alone.
Meanwhile, Cell is ravaging through cities, depleting the population as he absorbs energy from every human he can find in order to become stronger. Piccolo, Krillin, and Tien continue to search for Cell, but he remains one step ahead of them, hiding in the shadows as he knows that he is not yet powerful enough to defeat Piccolo.
Back at Kame House, Goku has been resting in the upstairs bedroom as the antidote slowly cures him of the heart virus. At one point, Chi-Chi goes to check up on Goku and discovers his bed empty. She looks out the window and finds Goku healthy and fully restored, testing his ki blasts across the ocean. Goku and the others (Chi-Chi and Master Roshi) exchange heartfelt greetings that he is fully awake again, and Goku explains that he overheard everyone talking about the situation while he was asleep. He then says his goodbyes and uses Instant Transmission to teleport to the aircraft where the Z Fighters are. After everyone is happy that Goku's well again, Goku himself states that in his current state, he is no match for either the Androids or Imperfect Cell. Because of this, he plans to enter the Hyperbolic Time Chamber with Gohan, where they can spend a whole year training in the span of one day in real time, in order to surpass the powers of a Super Saiyan. Goku and Gohan then proceed to find Future Trunks and Vegeta in the mountains. Future Trunks tells Goku that Vegeta refuses to train with him, and that he has been standing on a rock cliff for three days straight, trying to figure out how to ascend passed the level of a Super Saiyan. Goku approaches Vegeta and tells him about the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, stating that only two people can enter the Chamber at once. Goku will be going in with Gohan, leaving Vegeta to train with Trunks. Eager at the chance to complete a year's worth of training in one day, Vegeta accepts the offer and demands to go first. The four of them then proceed to Kami's Lookout where Mr. Popo leads them to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Vegeta and Future Trunks enter the Chamber first, and Goku and Gohan wait outside the door for a day.
As Future Trunks and Vegeta train in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, Piccolo is at the Kame House, watching the news and cursing Imperfect Cell while the others are taking a nap. However, Android 16, Android 17 and Android 18 suddenly arrive in front of Kame House. Piccolo is surprised to see them and awakens the others. The Androids ask the Z Fighters where Goku is, but they refuse to tell. Piccolo then challenges Android 17 to a fight and they move to a deserted island nearby. Piccolo requests that the other two Androids stay out of the fight, and Android 17 agrees. However, Android 17 doesn't realize that Piccolo has fused with Kami (which essentially granted him the powers of a Super Namek). Because of this, Android 17 underestimates him and is knocked down easily at first. Android 16 then warns Android 17 that Piccolo is much stronger than before. The battle becomes more serious as the two give it their all and are evenly matched in power, with Piccolo gaining a slight advantage with his new techniques. Meanwhile, Imperfect Cell, still absorbing energy from humans in a nearby city, notices Piccolo's huge ki and deduces that he must be fighting the Androids. He then rushes full speed to them, finally seeing a chance to absorb the Androids and achieve his perfect form. After intense fighting, Android 17 states that Piccolo won't be able to keep this up forever, as he doesn't have infinite stamina. Piccolo states that before that happens, Android 17 will make a mistake.
At this point, Bulma has created a remote that will deactivate the Androids based on Dr. Gero's blueprints. Back at Kami's lookout, Gohan and Goku continue to wait outside of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, growing impatient. They feel the massive energy of Cell approaching Piccolo and the Androids, worried that Piccolo won't be able to hold them off for much longer. Piccolo and Android 17 continue to fight on the deserted islands. They both give it their all and are evenly matched. Piccolo calls Android 17 an "early prototype" and Android 17 defiantly replies, "I am the ultimate Android! There are no improvements to be made!" (Apparently unaware of the existence of the mighty Cell) Before the fighting can resume, Piccolo looks in horror at a nearby rock, upon which Cell is standing. The Androids look in confusion to what is happening and Piccolo and Android 16 notice Imperfect Cell's new incredible power from absorbing many thousands of people.
Imperfect Cell's arrival
Immediately after Imperfect Cell interrupted the battle between Android 17 and Piccolo, he began to inspect the other Androids. He recognizes Android 17 as being "amazingly efficient" and Android 18 as "poetry in motion." Imperfect Cell stops short when he sees Android 16, brushing him off as an earlier, less efficient model. Android 17, however, does not recognize Imperfect Cell, and asks it to stop interrupting the battle. Meanwhile, Krillin flies off to meet Bulma to retrieve the remote control, and Tien watches the battle between Imperfect Cell, Piccolo, and the Androids from a nearby rock. Piccolo is shocked that the Androids do not even know who Imperfect Cell is, and warns Android 17 and Android 18 that Imperfect Cell's purpose is to absorb them. Imperfect Cell takes this patiently and asks them to be merged with him to be the most powerful being that Dr. Gero dreamed of. Android 17 refuses the offer and stands willing to fight Imperfect Cell. Android 16 then warns 17 not to fight him because of his extreme power, advising Androids 17 and 18 to run away. However, they are still skeptical towards Imperfect Cell, and without realizing the seriousness of the threat he poses, they choose to stay. Imperfect Cell powers up to an unparalleled power, exploiting the thousands of lives he absorbed. He then beats Android 17 to a pulp in order to weaken him and absorb him by force. Piccolo tries to interfere but is easily overpowered. He launches his Light Grenade attack at Imperfect Cell, but he is not fazed by it. Imperfect Cell then breaks Piccolo's neck with a strong punch and launches an energy wave through Piccolo's stomach, tossing him into the sea. He does not immediately resurface, and is presumed to be dead. Gohan, sensing that Piccolo's ki had disappeared, goes on a rage and has to be held down by Goku.
At this point, Android 16 finally decides to fight. He once again advises Android 18 to leave, and tells her that he enjoyed the time they spent together. Coinciding with his tendency to peacefully observe nature, Android 16 expresses that the world is a good place, and he'd rather die than to live in fear. Android 16 then interrupts Imperfect Cell as he attempts to absorb Android 17 by punching him hard in the face and knocking him to the ground. Android 17 questions how Android 16 was able to do this, and 16 tells him that according to his calculations, his own power and strength is equal to that of Imperfect Cell. They begin to fight an even battle, with Android 16 having a slight upper hand. At one point, Imperfect Cell strikes Android 16 in the neck with the point of his tail and attempts to absorb him, but his plan backfires, as 16 is a completely mechanical model with a different design than the other Androids. Android 16 then throws him to the ground and launches a Hell's Flash attack directly at Imperfect Cell, which inflicts a huge amount of damage on Imperfect Cell but fails to kill him. Then, Android 16 rips off Imperfect Cell's tail in order to put a stop to his absorbing capabilities, claiming that he is now "like a bee without a stinger." Unfortunately, Imperfect Cell is composed of the cells of Piccolo, therefore, he can regenerate his own body parts and limbs. However, Android 16 refuses to give up and unleashes some of his secret techniques, which almost overpower Imperfect Cell. Android 17, seeing Android 16's massive power, gets incredibly cocky and plans to finish off Imperfect Cell himself despite Android 16's repeated warnings to both Androids 17 and 18 to run away. Android 17 gets caught off guard and is finally absorbed by Imperfect Cell, who was hiding underground behind him. The other two Androids and Tien watch in horror as Android 17 is sucked into Imperfect Cell's body, as they are now all rendered powerless, and can do nothing to stop the monstrous Cell as begins his hideous transformation.
Cell is now in his Semi-Perfect Form. His first act is to test out his power. He does this by attacking Android 16 with a blast that severely damages the android. By doing this, he gets a taste of what his power can do and he has taken out the only thing preventing him from absorbing Android 18. After Android 18 refuses to join him, he tries to persuade her by using Android 17's voice, saying that he enjoys being a part of Semi-Perfect Cell. She doesn't fall for his trick and finally threatens to detonate her self destructing bomb, but Semi-Perfect Cell quickly informs her that while she's charging the blast, Semi-Perfect Cell will have enough time to stop and absorb her.
Finally, Tien has had enough of just watching Semi-Perfect Cell torment others and decides to step in and try to stop Semi-Perfect Cell from absorbing 18. He manages to stall Semi-Perfect Cell with his new technique, the Neo Tri-beam, while the Androids find a place to hide.
- Piccolo vs. Cell (Imperfect Form)
- Krillin vs. Cell (Imperfect Form)
- Piccolo vs. Android 17
- Piccolo and Android 17 vs. Cell (Imperfect Form)
- Android 16 vs. Cell (Imperfect Form)
- Android 16 vs. Cell (Semi-Perfect Form)
- Tien Shinhan vs. Cell (Semi-Perfect Form)
FUNimation VHS/DVD Volumes
- Imperfect Cell Saga - Encounter (125-127)
- Imperfect Cell Saga - Discovery (128-130)
- Imperfect Cell Saga - Race Against Time (131-133)
- Imperfect Cell Saga - 17's End (134-137)
Note: FUNimation released both edited and uncut VHS volumes, while the DVDs are uncut only.
FUNimation Remastered DVD Sets
- Dragon Ball Z Season Five (140-165) (only episodes 140-152 are part of the Imperfect Cell Saga)
FUNimation Dragon Box Sets
- Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Vol. 4 (127-168) (only episodes 140-152 are part of the Imperfect Cell Saga)
FUNimation Season Blu-ray Sets
- Dragon Ball Z Season Five (140-165) (only episodes 140-152 are part of the Imperfect Cell Saga)
- Dragon Ball Vol. 30: Rise Of The Machines, chapters 358-361 (Dragon Ball Z Vol. 14, chapters 164-167)
- Dragon Ball Vol. 31: The Red Ribbon Androids, chapters 362-373 (Dragon Ball Z Vol. 15, chapters 168-179)
English anime episode list.
Uncut version (13 episodes)
- 140. Seized with Fear
- 141. The Reunion
- 142. Borrowed Powers
- 143. His Name is Cell
- 144. Piccolo’s Folly
- 145. Laboratory Basement
- 146. Our Hero Awakes
- 147. Time Chamber
- 148. The Monster is Coming
- 149. He’s Here
- 150. Up to Piccolo
- 151. Silent Warrior
- 152. Say Goodbye, 17
Edited version (13 episodes)
- 125. Seized with Fear
- 126. The Reunion
- 127. Borrowed Powers
- 128. His Name is Cell
- 129. Piccolo's Folly
- 130. Laboratory Basement
- 131. Our Hero Awakes
- 132. Time Chamber
- 133. The Monster is Coming
- 134. He's Here
- 135. Up to Piccolo
- 136. Silent Warrior
- 137. Say Goodbye, 17
Dragon Ball Z Kai (8 episodes)
- 68. The Monster Goes into Motion! Strike of the Super Namekian!
- 69. I Am Your Brother! The Monster with Goku's Energy!
- 70. The Dizzying Deception and the Daring Escape! Defeat the Android Cell!
- 71. The Hunt for Cell is On! Goku, Back in Action!
- 72. Break the Super Saiyan Barrier! Into the Hyperbolic Time Chamber!
- 73. The Super Namekian Powers Up! Piccolo vs. Android 17!
- 74. Run, Android 17! Piccolo's All-Or-Nothing Struggle!
- 75. Power Unknown! Android 16 Breaks His Silence!