The Red Ribbon Army (レッドリボン軍, Reddo Ribon Gun), briefly renamed the Black Ribbon Army when Staff Officer Black took over in the Dragon Ball anime, is a paramilitary crime organization in the Dragon Ball manga and anime. They are mentioned in Dragon Ball Z during the Android Saga, and make their final anime appearance in Dragon Ball GT.
The Red Ribbon Army is known across the world. Officially led by a diminutive Commander Red, the goal of the Red Ribbon Army is to use any means necessary to obtain the Dragon Balls and wish for world domination; however, Commander Red secretly plans his wish for him to be a much taller person. Since he is very short in size, he despises being around those who are taller than him, telling Black constantly not to stand near him.
When he finds out about Red's plan, the shocked Staff Officer Black asks how Red can sacrifice his own men to achieve this puny goal, to which Red simply grunted that if the soldiers had been more careful they would be alive. This causes Black to snap, and he kills the commander and takes control of the Red Ribbon Army, renaming it the Black Ribbon Army (only in the anime). The entire army was defeated when a young boy named Goku sought to stop the army's evil ways by infiltrating the Red Ribbon Army Headquarters, killing Black in the midst. After Black's defeat, the rest of the Red Ribbon Army flees the headquarters and presumably disbands.
Dragon Ball films
The Red Ribbon Army are the main villains in the movie Dragon Ball: The Path to Power, which is a "remake" of the first Dragon Ball saga that places some of the established characters in new roles. In this movie, the Red Ribbon Army is on a quest to get the Dragon Balls so that they can ask the Eternal Dragon Shenron for world domination. Goku fights his way through the forces of the Red Ribbon Army, eventually defeating it.
While the Red Ribbon Army in itself does not appear in Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure, General Blue and Major Metallitron appear in the movie as members of the Mifan Army. Also, some parts of the movie, most notably Tao's defeat and Bora's murder, were based on very similar incidents in the Red Ribbon Army Saga.
Dr. Slump remake
The Red Ribbon Army appears in the remake of Dr. Slump in episodes 56-59. Ninja Murasaki is the first member shown, he was spying on Goku as he transformed back into his normal form after being a Great Ape. Murasaki ends up recruiting King Nikochan and his servant as members of the Red Ribbon Army to help him steal the Dragon Balls from Goku. They ended up disguising themselves as Doctors and have the kids strip down to their underwear and stand in the hall to wait for check ups. While Murasaki was giving the fake check ups, the Nikos went into the classroom and stole the Dragon Balls. After they stole the Dragon Balls Murasaki got out of his disguise and ran away with the Nikos. Goku and Arale Norimaki ran after them and ended up fighting all the Murasaki Brothers and won. King Nikochan and his servant then resign from their positions in the Red Ribbon Army while Murasaki waits for General Blue to come.
Attack of the Saiyans
In the RPG Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans, which takes place during the Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball Z, a few of the Red Ribbon Army soldiers who have survived Goku's attack are on the Muscle Tower, led by General White who has himself survived Eighter's punching him out of the tower. This new Red Ribbon Army comes into conflict with the Z Fighters when they are trying to retrieve the Dragon Balls so they can wish for Goku's revival in the Saiyan Saga. During this time, the Red Ribbon Army presumably excavated the collapsed Pirate Cave to get the Four-Star Dragon Ball, and hired Octopapa to guard the Dragon Ball from intruders.
Dragon Ball Z
In the Androids Saga, Master Roshi mentions that, after its defeat, the Red Ribbon had been forgotten except for a few people. Also noted, during the Androids Saga and the Cell Saga, the people on Earth do not know that the Androids and Cell were created by Dr. Gero from the Red Ribbon Army except for Goku and his friends.
Dragon Ball GT
In Dragon Ball GT, Dr. Gero meets Dr. Myuu in Hell. There they worked on a plan to create the ultimate android which could destroy Goku. They came up with a plan to combine both of their technologies and get a perfect android by fusing two Android 17s. They then created a dimensional hole to get both androids in the same place, Earth. By creating a dimensional hole, enemies from the past escaped from Hell; some of them were members of the Red Ribbon Army: Android 19, Staff Officer Black, General Blue, Major Metallitron, Lieutenant Dark, and Captain Yellow. All of them were defeated by Pan, except for Android 19 who was destroyed by Goten and Trunks.
Dragon Ball Online
Main article: Red Pants Army In the computer game Dragon Ball Online, which takes place in Age 1000, the Red Pants Army takes the place of the Red Ribbon Army and are employed by the tyrannical Mira. The Red Pants Army's logo is identical to that of the Red Ribbon Army's, and like the latter, they are shown to recruit human and anthropomorphic lackeys. It is also revealed that Commander Red was revived as a Cyborg named Android 9, and is their presumed leader alongside the revived Android 20.
At the same time that the Red Pants Army is present, Mercenary Tao, who has become Tao Pai Pai X, has begun rebuilding the original Red Ribbon Army and has recruited several members, including a new General White.
The Red Ribbon Army has an extremely small tolerance for failure, with the penalty for failure usually amounting to execution. The range of executable failures usually ranges between failing a mission objective (such as retrieving a Dragon Ball) or for minor blunders/virtually impossible tasks to succeed in such as failing to dodge Commander Red's cat when he sics it on personnel to test their reflexes, to when soldiers sleep on the job or pick noses. A ranked member of the army can be allowed a chance to redeem himself if he fails, should he have an exceptional track record in the organization, such as General Blue's chance at redemption when he failed to retrieve the Dragon Balls from Goku despite his retrieving the Dragon Radar. But those chances are usually extremely rare, as evidenced by Commander Red's sentencing Colonel Silver to execution after the latter failed to retrieve the Dragon Ball from Goku, despite his earlier praising of Colonel Silver for his dodging his cat.
According to General Blue (who is homosexual and a misogynist), women are not needed in the Red Ribbon Army. However, there are actually female members in the army such as Colonel Violet and the hired female mercenary Hasky.
High ranking members
It is noted that every single officer in the Red Ribbon Army are intentionally named after a certain color (with the exception of Dr. Gero, who was actually named after a number/mechanical part, and possibly Captain Dark, as his official name is apparently "Dock"). The standard attire that nearly every member wears is a red bandanna of sorts, obviously tied to the army's namesake, which is either tied around their arm or neck (similar to Android 17 in Dragon Ball Z).
- Commander Red
- General Blue
- General Copper
- General White
- Dr. Flappe (went defunct)
- Dr. Gero
- Dr. Gero's son
The Red Ribbon Army, at the time of their downfall, was split up into various divisions including the unseen Brown Squadron, and the Blue Corps. (naval/marine division led by General Blue).
Hasky is a master thief and explosions expert. She is hired by the Red Ribbon Army to assassinate Goku and steal the two Dragon Balls he currently had in his possession. She then poses as a fortune teller at Dream Land and asks to see his Dragon Balls, although her request backfires when her wording of her request results in Goku interpreting the word "balls" incorrectly and dropping his pants in response. She then reveals her true colors and sets up explosives to destroy Dream Land so she can escape with the Dragon Balls. However, Goku manages to stop her and gets the Dragon Balls back due to her ticklishness.
Mercenary Tao is a deadly, ruthless assassin, who lives for money. His name roughly translates into 'Peach White White'. Tao is the younger brother of the Crane Hermit, with whom he shares the signature Dodon Ray attack. He is hired by Commander Red to eliminate Goku. The first time they fight, Goku is defeated. But after Korin's training, Goku defeats Tao. Realizing he is defeated, Tao surrenders and when he sees Goku let down his guard he tosses a grenade at Goku. Goku then quickly kicks the grenade back at him and it blows up Tao instead. He returns at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament as part cyborg, but is beaten again by Tien Shinhan.
He returns in the Cell Games Saga as a bodyguard to Mr. Borbonne, a rich coward who intent on forcing people to build a Protective Dome against Cell, and later as a bodyguard to Vodka. Goku, in the midst of searching for one of the Dragon Balls, arrives at Vodka's fortress and after spending a day trying to figure out a puzzle concocted by Tao, retrieves the Dragon Ball and departs. Overwhelmed with fear after finally recognizing the then-Super Saiyan Goku, Tao flees. Mercenary Tao can not fly, but he does have a unique method of travel (or escape if he senses defeat like with Goku). Tao tears down a giant tree, throws it a far distance into the sky, and rides it off into the horizon. Although we never get to see the tree land, this is the last time we see of him after the series.
It should be noted that Mercenary Tao is not a member of the Red Ribbon Army, although he was a hired assassin for them. When Tao realizes his defeat at the hands of Son Goku, he deceives him by apologizing for his evil ways and saying he will surrender. Goku relaxes his guard, and this gives Tao enough time to toss a grenade at him and jump away into the sky. Goku notices the treachery and kicks the grenade back at Tao just in time for it to explode. Despite Tao's skills, when faced with someone stronger, it is seen how quickly one turns to lowly cheap tactics. While this adds to humor of the show and manga, it proves that he is also a serious villain who will use guile and trickery to save his life. The words "KILL YOU!" are seen on the back of his robe, which he cherishes greatly.
Main article: Red Ribbon Androids
Androids #8, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, Cell, Super 13, and Super 17 are all androids and cyborgs created by Dr. Gero, who later on becomes one himself (Android 20). Though only Android 8 is truly a member of the original Red Ribbon Army, all androids share the same objective: the destruction of Goku. Ironically, the exception is Android 8, whose programming was flawed and did not like to fight, and becomes friends with Goku. Bearing an "RR" (Red Ribbon) logo, Androids 16, 17, and 18 also reform in Dragon Ball Z.
Androids 1-7 and 9-12 were never seen in the manga or anime, but mentioned briefly on one of the manga's title pages. Most likely, they were failed experiments, as implied in the Androids Saga when Dr. Gero, asked by 18 and 17 about his other sixteen androids, replies "They were all failures, a mistake I regret". 17 also remarks that he thought Dr. Gero destroyed all the Androids before him, astonished to see that he kept Android 16. However it is shown that Commander Red was somehow resurrected as Android 9 in Dragon Ball Online. Also in Dragon Ball Online, it is shown that for some reason, even after Dr. Gero's death, an Android 8000 and an Android 19000 were built.
Bases of operation
- Colonel Silver's Camp
- Muscle Tower
- General Blue's Camp
- Captain Yellow's Camp
- Red Ribbon Army Headquarters
- Trucks (at least two)
- Chicken walkers (The Path to Power)
- Rocket Jet
- Big Submarine
- Small Submarines
- River Boats
- Battle Jackets
- Before the appearance of the Red Ribbon Army in Dragon Ball, characters exclusively named after colors were used in Akira Toriyama's 1982 manga Pink, such as Pink, Cobalt Blue, Silver, Black and White.
- The logo design for the Red Ribbon Army is possibly based on a Railroad Crossing Symbol/Sign.
- Many members of the Red Ribbon Army have their designs and accents based on a certain race or country:
- Examples include Commander Red (Scottish), Staff Officer Black (African, or in the case of The Path to Power, Native American), General Blue (German), General White (Russian, or in the case of The Path to Power, Italian), Captain Yellow (Australian), Ninja Murasaki (Japanese), Colonel Silver (presumed American) and Major Metallitron (Austrian, or in the case of The Path to Power, African). Also, Dr. Flappe has a French accent, Hasky and General Blue have British accents and also, Mercenary Tao has a Chinese based design. Some of these only apply to the FUNimation dub.
- Similarly, the various groups led by the top officers also have uniforms that resemble a real life military group/groups: General White's unit wear uniforms that closely resemble Soviet Russian commandos. The Blue Corps wear uniforms that resemble Nazi Germany's S.A. Stormtrooper Division (also known as Brownshirts), and Colonel Silver's unit wear uniforms resembling the uniforms of Nazi Germany's Afrika Korps, the Soviet Russian commandos during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and United States Armed Forces. Captain Yellow's unit is one exception, though, as the soldiers here do not wear any military uniforms, but are more dressed like Western miners and outlaws; however, Yellow's overall design and traits are a reference to the Flying Tigers, an American mercenary group that defended the Nationalist Chinese from the Japanese in World War II.
- The goals of the Red Ribbon Army to obtain the Dragon Balls mirrors the Nazis' real life attempt to seek occult relics for world domination, sending organizations such as the Thule Society and the Ahnenerbe to conduct these expeditions and experiments. These attempts in the occult made by the Nazis were notably referenced the Indiana Jones films Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade.
- Despite General Blue's unit sharing some traits with the Nazis, it does not appear to discriminate based on race, species, or sexual orientation.
- Most of the weapons and armored vehicles the Red Ribbon use seem to be based on real life equipment used during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
- Many Red Ribbon Army characters, such as Colonel Silver, Ninja Murasaki, and General White, had ambiguous defeats, leaving their survival open to interpretation.
- Many characters in Dragon Ball Z have their design based on members of the Red Ribbon Army:
- In "A New Friend": the Taitans' coach Freddy Hein looks like Captain Dark, the baseball player Pepper Johnson looks like Staff Officer Black, and the baseball pitcher Rocky Rivers looks like General White.
- In "I'll Fight Too!": Commander Red and Staff Officer Black make cameo appearances as the Director and Assistant on the Great Saiyaman film respectively. It is only in looks because their voices are different than in Dragon Ball.