"Pleased to kill you."
Mercenary Tao (桃白白 or タオパイパイ, Tao Pai Pai) is an antagonist in the Dragon Ball manga, and the anime Dragon Ball, also making two filler appearances in Dragon Ball Z. He is a highly skilled assassin-for-hire, as well as the younger brother of Master Shen. He charges a hefty price for his expert services, as he normally charges ten billion Zeni per kill, but gave Commander Red a 20th anniversary discount of five billion Zeni (fifty million in the Japanese version).
Tao's appearance consists of small, beady eyes, a pointed nose, a small thin mustache, with his black hair in a ponytail. He wears a pink chang pao (Chinese men's longcoat, also known as a changshan) with the kanji for satsu ("kill") on the front, pointing to his career as an assassin. In Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure, his chang pao is blue.
Tao is shown to be extremely sadistic and evil in his actions, taking a lot of joy in killing people and not viewing his missions as just "jobs" but as a means to enjoy himself. He has absolutely no qualms in regards to murdering children, as evidenced when he attempts to murder the child Goku and when he states that Upa should be lucky that he even survived shortly after the latter attempted to avenge his father. Tao displays cowardice when confronted with an enemy he cannot beat, resorting to dirty tactics to defeat them, as evidenced by his attempt to throw a grenade at Goku after begging for mercy and promising to change his ways.
By the time of Dragon Ball Z, Tao is shown to retain most of his original personality though he has developed slight fear of Goku, as he is well aware of how powerful and dangerous an opponent Goku is. His fear of Goku also prevents him from even trying to attack Gohan after learning that he is Goku's son, choosing to retreat instead. As he is aware he is no match for Goku, he resorts to taking advantage of Goku's naïve and good natured personality instead of foolishly trying to fight him directly. Using his puzzle rings to distract Goku, Tao steals Goku's Jacket containing his 4 Dragon Balls and flees with his employer, believing that by the time Goku finishes the puzzle and realizes Tao has tricked he and his employer will be long gone. However unfortunately for Tao after Goku finishes the puzzle, he simply uses Instant Transmission to teleport to Tao's location. Realizing his plan has failed, Tao accepts defeat and pretends to congratulate Goku for solving the puzzle rings, allowing Goku to take the Dragon Balls and leave. While Tao is still as dangerous and lethal a killer when it comes to normal people and martial artists weaker than himself, he has apparently learned from his fights with Goku and Tien Shinhan that some opponents are too strong for even him to kill and thus he is more cautious when dealing more powerful fighters than himself.
Tao was born in Age 459, just two years before the King Piccolo wars which his brother Shen served in. Even though he was younger, Tao was always one step ahead of his older brother and a rivalry then grew between them. They began to fight over the smallest things and eventually, a simple spilled bowl of rice was enough to break them apart.
Though it was never stated, Tao must have gained immortality in some sort of way causing him to live for over two hundred years. At the age of 279, Tao started his career as a mercenary for hire. One day, at a bar in South City, Tao was made fun of for his hairstyle by Mr. Satan and the master of the Satan Castle, so Tao killed the master and heavily injured Mr. Satan. Tao trained the young Tien Shinhan during his days with the Crane School, and was a major influence to Tien.
Commander Red Saga
Main article: Commander Red Saga Twenty years after starting his career as a Mercenary, Tao was hired by the Red Ribbon Army to kill Goku, who had been defeating all of their operatives and taking away the Dragon Balls they acquired, messing with Commander Red's secret wish of getting taller. When General Blue, one of the Red Ribbon Army's strongest operatives, arrives at the Red Ribbon Army headquarters failing his mission, Commander Red gives him a deal. In order to redeem himself, Blue must defeat Mercenary Tao. Before the match, Tao claims that he will not even use his hands or feet to defeat Blue, only his tongue, to which Blue scoffs at the idea. During the match, Tao easily dodges Blue's flurry of punches, also proving himself to be immune to Blue's telekinesis ability. Staying true to his word, he kills Blue only using his tongue on one of Blue's Pressure Points, thus proving Commander Red and Staff Officer Black that his assistance is worth a very high price.
After looking at his target's photo, Tao is given the option of riding an aircraft to Goku's location, however, Tao instead takes and throws a pillar from the Red Ribbon Army Headquarters and rides it. Tao meets Goku in the Sacred Land of Korin after nearly hitting Goku with the pillar. Goku asks who Tao is, and Tao informs Goku that he has been assigned by the Red Ribbon Army to dispose of Goku. However, Bora, a man who had previously held off the Red Ribbon Army single-handedly and who tried to defend Goku, challenges Tao. When challenged by Bora, who's son had been rescued by Goku, Tao mocks Bora, as he easily overpowers him, by grabbing his spear with only three fingers, and yet, Bora cannot move an inch. Having enough of messing around with Bora, Tao easily murders Bora by launching him into the air and throwing Bora's own spear directly into Bora's heart. Seeing Upa weeps over his father's corpse, this causes Goku to become enraged and attack Tao head on. Goku proves to be more of a challenge than Blue, but Tao with barely any effort knocks him around a bit, dodging Goku's flurry of attacks easily, and then knocks him out with the Dodon Ray technique, thinking he killed him. Upa, Bora's son, tries to attack Tao with a rock, but Tao just blows it back to Upa, hitting him. Tao ends up only retrieving three of the Dragon Balls which were located in the backpack Goku had, and realizes this when he is calling Commander Red on his progress. The last ball was in Goku's outfit, which saved him from being killed by the Dodon Ray.
"You can't tell me what to do. I'm not one of your soldiers."
Since Tao's uniform was ruined by Goku's Kamehameha during the battle, he takes off to a town where he forces a tailor to make a new copy of his uniform for free. During the three days, Tao intimidates the townspeople into obtaining free luxuries such as a hotel room. In filler, a sniper in the town tries to assassinate Tao, but fails when Tao manages to deflect the assassin's bullet with his slipper. Three days later, his uniform is finished. When the tailor asks for money, Tao replies that if he gave the tailor money, it would ruin his cold, ruthless reputation; he offers to kill someone for the tailor instead. The horrified tailor says he does not want anyone dead, so Tao kills him instead with a Pressure Point Attack and returns to the land of Korin to retrieve the missing Dragon Ball.
When he arrives, Upa throws his small axe at Tao, but Tao dodges his attack and strangles him for information about the location of the Dragon Ball. When Upa refuses to answer, Tao throws him at the tower, where Goku narrowly saves him, to Tao's surprise. He then fights Goku, who had been specially trained by Korin after climbing his tower. During the fight, Goku proved to be far too strong for Tao, as Tao could land no hits on the small warrior. Tao resorts to bringing out his sword, which breaks in a clash with Goku's Power Pole.
After Tao decides Goku was too powerful, he himself climbs Korin Tower to retrieve the Sacred Water that had made Goku so powerful. He easily ascends the tower and meets Korin. Korin knows that Tao is a wicked assassin, so he tricks Tao and gives him the useless Sacred Water. After that, Korin uses a trick to make Tao believe he has improved so he will leave. He sends Tao back down the tower on the Dark Nimbus to prevent him from gaining any strength from the tower climb. Tao challenges Goku again when the Nimbus crashes into the ground and only manages to do slightly better, not enough to defeat Goku. Seeing that he was still no match for Goku, Tao pretends to surrender, tricking Goku for a split second. While Goku is asking Upa if he thinks they should let him go, Tao throws a grenade at Goku whose back is still turned. Tao then jumps high into the air to avoid the explosion, Goku kicks the grenade back at him, which detonates and seemingly kills the assassin. Though Goku presumed Tao dead, Tao later used all of the money he gained from his previous jobs to be rebuilt as a cyborg.
During the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament, Tao's brother Master Shen learns of Tao's encounter with Goku. Shen instructs his student Tien to kill Goku in the arena to avenge his brother's presumed death, but, thanks to Master Roshi, Tien comes to his senses and ceases his affiliation with the Crane School, with Chiaotzu following him.
Piccolo Jr. Saga
With the help of his older brother Shen and thanks to the money he gained from his career as an assassin, Tao is rebuilt as a cyborg and is now called Cyborg Tao (サイボーグ桃白白). He competes in the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, brutally defeating Chiaotzu in the preliminary rounds. Tao explains that he came to the tournament in order to get revenge on both Tien Shinhan for betraying him, and on Goku for ruining his appearance and legacy when he defeated him. Tao fights Tien next.
Tien and Tao both have a long staredown on the tournament arena. Tao notices that Tien's fighting pose is near perfection as he cannot find a vulnerable spot on his entire body. Then, Tao takes a gamble and charges at Tien, but Tien manages to easily dodge Tao's attempt and attack him straight afterwards, making Tao fall to the ground flat on his face, not even realizing what just happened. After Tien shows his new powers (which far exceed Tao's), Tao realizes that Tien is stronger than him and gives him credit. Tien begs for Tao to leave the tournament as he still respects Tao for teaching him how to fight to begin with, and does not want his former master to suffer extreme embarrassment. However, Tao still has the upmost confidence that he will defeat and kill Tien, even if it means using more than just his strength. Seeing that he cannot beat Tien fairly, Tao violates the rules of the tournament by using a hidden knife to cut Tien's chest, scarring him for life. Slashed by this sneak attack, Tien claims that Tao has lost his honor and pride of a warrior. Despite being disqualified, Tao continues to fight, admitting that he does not really care if he actually wins the match and that he only participated so he could kill Tien and Goku. After Tien breaks Tao's blade, Tao uses the Super Dodon Wave, claiming Tien will stand no chance of survival, only for Tien to nullify it with a Kiai. Tien then knocks Tao out swiftly with one punch, then carrying the unconscious Tao to his older brother Master Shen, who carries him away in disgrace.
Dragon Ball Z
Cell Games Saga
In his first appearance, he works as a personal bodyguard for Mr. Borbonne, a short man who runs a shelter near Chazke Village which can supposedly protect people from Cell. Everything is going exactly according to plan until Gohan appears in the village, disrupting the scheme Mr. Borbonne had going. When Borbonne's bodyguards surround Gohan, Mr. Lao, an old man from the village, arrives dressed in a Chinese-styled dogu martial arts outfit. After dispatching the black-suited bodyguards, Borbonne called for Tao to come out and take care of the old man. After a series of exchanged blows, Tao has Lao on the ground. Just when Tao prepares to finish off Lao with his Super Dodon Wave, Gohan stepped in the way at the last second, protecting Mr. Lao and himself from the Super Dodon Wave. At this moment Tao notices that Gohan's facial features are akin to that of Goku. Struck with fear as he remembers his previous confrontations with Goku (in Dragon Ball), Tao asks his name and breathes a sigh of relief in hearing his name was Go-HAN instead of Go-KU. However, his fear quickly returns as he learns that Gohan is Goku's son and he flies off on a pine tree, effectively resigning from his position as a bodyguard.
In his second appearance, he works as a henchman for Vodka, a rich gangster who has hired him to gather the Dragon Balls so he may wish for becoming emperor of the world after Cell leaves. Goku shows up at Vodka's fortress to gather the two that Tao has collected, but Goku is disappointed at himself for having nothing to offer Tao in return. The assassin then poses a challenge to Goku: if Goku can disassemble three complex puzzle rings by dawn the following day, then he will be awarded the Dragon Balls. If he cannot, however, Goku must surrender the ones he has with him. Tao then offers to take Goku's jacket (which contains Goku's gathered Dragon Balls) while Goku works on the puzzles, and while Goku is distracted with the puzzle rings, Tao steals Goku's Dragon Balls and drives far away throughout the night with the gangsters. After Goku solves the puzzle rings, he simply uses Instant Transmission to find Tao and the gangsters. The naive Goku is unaware there was any ill-will on the part of Tao, and is given the Dragon Balls without any resistance. Tao could only ask if he is still getting paid as he and Vodka could only stare in shock about what happened.
Tao has not appeared again in the series after this. However, he reappears in Dragon Ball Online.
At some point Master Shen and his brother Tao got mixed up in something and died as a result of the event. Due to them both being bad people they were likely not restored to life. However, by the time of Dragon Ball Online, Tao was somehow resurrected as Tao Pai Pai X.
In Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure, Tao is part of a plan with Master Shen and Tien Shinhan to take over the kingdom of Mifan, which is ruled by Emperor Chiaotzu. After having Pilaf, Shu and Mai build a Global Dragon Radar for them, Tao attacks the Pilaf Gang, and he and his brother use the Dragon Radar to have Chiaotzu's army gather the Dragon Balls for them after secretly stealing his "wife" Ran Ran.
Tao kills Lieutenant Blue just before Chiaotzu's Tournament due to him nearly ruining their plans by exposing where they were keeping Ran Ran. During the tournament, Tao is ordered to kill Bora right in the arena: After dodging Bora's attack easily, Tao throws him and Bora gets impaled by a spear held by a statue. After Bora is killed mercilessly, Goku desperately attacks Tao. Tao's clothes get ruined by a Kamehameha and Tao retaliates with a Dodon Ray, which blows Goku off all the way to Korin Tower. After he gets his clothes changed, Tao takes a pillar from the castle and rides it to the location Goku was at.
On his way, he passes by Penguin Village and gets knocked off the pillar by a rock thrown at him by Arale. Falling face first into the ground, Arale pokes at him with a stick and laughs. When Tao gets up he tries to ignore Arale, but Goku shows up. Tao begins to charge at Goku but falls back because Arale and the Gatchans had his pony tail tied to a tree. Tao undoes the knot and uses a Dodon Ray on Arale, but it turns out to not injure her. The Gatchans shoot Tao with a beam and Tao continues to fight Goku. After Goku is able to block Tao's Dodon Ray, Tao begins to fake surrendering and throws a capsule to bring a vehicle out. Just after shaking Goku's hand saying that he was a worthy opponent, Tao steals Goku's Dragon Ball and flies off in his vehicle, shooting two missiles as he leaves. However, Goku and Arale deflect both missiles back at Tao, destroying his vehicle and killing him as well.
Video game stories
Dragon Ball Online
Cyborg Tao appears redesigned as Tao Pai Pai X, in Dragon Ball Online. He is apparently residing in the base of the former Red Ribbon Army and has started excavating and mining Korin's Sacred Land. Tao's goal is to rebuild the original Red Ribbon Army (but he does not ally himself with the Red Pants Army) and he has begun collecting members for the group, one such member being a new General White.
When Tao is introduced, he is shown to be very powerful at that point in the series. He toys with Goku and the only damage he receives from Goku's Kamehameha is to his clothes. At this point, Goku's strength was near to that of Master Roshi's during the 21st World Tournament. After Goku receives training from Korin, Tao is easily overpowered (although in the anime, Tao drinks Korin's Sacred Water and Goku states that Tao's strength has increased). The movie pamphlet for Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might states that Tao has a power level of 240.
When he reappears as a cyborg, he has gained a lot of strength, which overpowers Chiaotzu. This power is still not enough to defeat Tien Shinhan though, who defeats Tao with ease. Cyborg Tao's power level is stated to be 210 in a 1989 issue of the Weekly Shōnen Jump.
In a special mission in the video game Dragon Ball Z: Scouter Battle Taikan Kamehameha, Mercenary Tao's power level is 200,000,000.
Techniques and weapons
- Pressure Point Attack – Tao uses his tongue or fingers to pierce the opponent's temple, striking their pressure point and killing them. He does this with General Blue, stating that he does not need his hands to kill the man, and later to a the tailor he forced to make a new copy of his uniform.
- Flying Pillar – Tao throws a pillar (or something similar, like a tree) into the air in a certain speed and direction, then jumps on it, riding it to his destination. The pillar may also strike the opponents at the landing spot.
- Dodon Ray – The Crane School's signature technique. A super heated ray fired from the tip of his finger. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, Tao's version is named the The Original Dodon-Pa.
- Crane Style Assassin Strike – A rush attack used by Mercenary Tao against Goku in Dragon Ball.
- Swordsmanship – From a capsule, Tao brings out a sword for fighting.
- Ultimate Final Strategy – Tao launches his pillar at that opponent, however, Tao's opponent kicks him, in which he begs for mercy to make his opponents drop their guard. When Tao's opponent will then walk away, Tao pulls out a hand grenade and throws it at his opponent.
- Grenade – Used to end the Ultimate Final Strategy technique. A dirty final resort that backfired and caused Tao to be rebuilt into a cyborg.
- Levitate – Though Tao cannot fly in the original manga and anime series, he is capable of flight in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, Budokai Tenkaichi 3, and Dragon Ball Heroes. He cannot in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2.
- Hidden Blade – After Tao became a cyborg, he is able to disconnect his left hand to reveal a retractable knife. He attacks Tien Shinhan using this during the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. Named in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- 3D Scan Mode – A mode that allows for advanced scanning of enemies. Cyborg Tao uses this before unleashing his Super Dodon Wave.
- Super Dodon Wave – After Tao became a cyborg, he is able to disconnect his right hand to reveal a built-in cannon which can fire an enhanced Dodon Ray. This technique also has lock-on capabilities and is Cyborg Tao's ultimate attack.
- False Courage – One of Tao's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Wild Sense – One of Tao's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
- Afterimage Strike – One of Cyborg Tao's Blast 1 in the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
Video game appearances
Tao is a boss in Dragon Ball: Daimaō Fukkatsu, Famicom Jump: Hero Retsuden, Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden (as well as its remake), and Dragon Ball Z: Scouter Battle Taikan Kamehameha. In his cyborg form, he is a boss in Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen, Dragon Ball Z: Goku Hishōden, Dragon Ball Z: Idainaru Son Goku Densetsu, Dragon Ball Z Gaiden: Shin Saiyajin Zetsumetsu Keikaku - Chikyū-Hen, and he appears in Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans. Cyborg Tao is also a boss during the quest for the Dragon Balls in Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II, in which he can use his special attack, the Dodon Ray, and fire energy blasts.
Tao appears twice as a boss in Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure: as an undefeatable opponent (due to the story) and again as a regular boss; his normal and cyborg forms are also unlockable as playable characters in Tournament Mode and Extra Mode. Tao is the main enemy of chapter 4 in Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo, and is unlocked once finding all the treasures in this chapter. He is also a boss fought twice in Dragon Ball: Origins 2. Additionally, Mercenary Tao appears as Fortuneteller Baba's fifth warrior (replacing Grandpa Gohan) in the bonus level 7-8, where Roshi obliges Goku to fight Fortuneteller Baba's warriors in order to find the location of the Micro Band he dropped in the toilet.
Tao is featured as a playable character in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, its sequels Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, and Dragon Ball Heroes. In the Majin Buu Saga chapter of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, Videl and Gohan, the latter donning his Great Saiyaman alter ego, ended up having to fight Mercenary Tao in order to apprehend him.
- Tao vs. Teen Tien
- Tao vs. Master Shen
- Mercenary Tao vs. General Blue
- Mercenary Tao vs. Bora
- Mercenary Tao vs. Goku
- Mercenary Tao vs. Goku (second time)
- Cyborg Tao vs. Chiaotzu
- Cyborg Tao vs. Tien
- Cyborg Tao vs. Mr. Lao
- General Tao vs. Lieutenant Blue
- General Tao vs. Bora
- General Tao vs. Goku
- General Tao vs. Arale
- Japanese Dub: Chikao Ōtsuka (Dragon Ball and video games up to 2015) and Yukimasa Kishio (Dragon Ball Z and early video games)
- FUNimation dub: Kent Williams
- Ocean Dub: Scott McNeil
- Harmony Gold Dub: Michael McConnohie
- Latin American Dub: Gerardo Reyero (first voice), Pedro D'Aguillon Jr. (second voice), César Soto (Dragon Ball Z)
- German Dub: Rolf Berg
- Italian Dub: Maurizio Scattorin
- Portuguese Dub: António Semedo
- Brazilian Dub: Sidney Lilla (first half of Dragon Ball), Wellington Lima (second half of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z)
- Greek Dub: Giannis Papaioannou, Manos Venieris (23rd Tenkaichi Budokai)
- Catalan dub: Pep Madern
- Tao has been known by a number of names in the various English versions of the series. He is called "General Tao Pei" in the late-1980s Dragon Ball anime dub by Harmony Gold, and "Taopaipai" (all in one word) in the Viz adaptation of the manga. In FUNimation's dub of Dragon Ball Z, he is erroneously referred to as "General Tao", as well as erroneously being referred to as a leader of the Red Ribbon Army; these errors were corrected in the revised dub in the Season Sets. Additionally, Goku incorrectly refers to Mercenary Tao as General Tao in Episode 135, Battle of the Eight. The "General Tao" denomination is a mix up with the movie Mystical Adventure, an alternate-dimension Dragon Ball story. In that movie, Tao is actually a general. However, in the main timeline of the series, he never holds that position.
- On the back of his outfit it says "KILL YOU!" This is edited to just say "YOU!" in some dubbed versions of the show (but not the Cell Games Saga of Dragon Ball Z). Oddly, this changes the message from being possibly offensive to being definitely confusing.
- Mercenary Tao's Super Dodon Wave cannon later holds the puzzle rings seen in "The Puzzle of General Tao".
- Tao can fly in the first Budokai Tenkaichi game. In Budokai Tenkaichi 3, he can fly while in his cyborg form (his first form can do so only with a flight capsule equipped). Oddly, despite being the Crane Hermit's younger brother and, theoretically, knowing the Crane style, he apparently lacks the signature Crane School flying technique in both the manga and anime.
- Also in Budokai Tenkaichi 3, he is called General Tao, his position in the film Mystical Adventure.
- In the German dub of Dragon Ball, Tao is given a robotic voice after he became a cyborg.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Daizenshuu 7, 1996
- ↑ Dragon Ball Online, 2010
- ↑ Dragon Ball chapter 85, "Taopaipai the Assassin"
- ↑ Dragon Ball episode 102, "Enter King Piccolo"
- ↑ Saikyō Jump #6, 2014
- ↑ Dragon Ball Z episode 170, "A Girl Named Lime"
- ↑ Dragon Ball Z episode 174, "The Puzzle of General Tao"
- ↑ Dragon Ball Forever, 2004
- ↑ Weekly Jump, issue 31st, 1989
- ↑ Dragon Ball episode 136, "Tien Shinhan vs. Mercenary Tao": Mercenary Tao explains the lock-on capabilities of the Super Dodon Wave