The Secret of the Dragon Balls (ブルマと孫悟空, Buruma to Son Gokū; lit. "Bulma and Son Goku") is the first episode of Dragon Ball and the first episode of the Emperor Pilaf Saga. It is also the first episode in the Dragon Ball anime tetralogy. This episode introduces Goku and Bulma, two key characters.
The story begins on Mount Paozu, with a young boy that has a monkey tail named Goku. He was found by a martial artist named Gohan, and was adopted by him as his grandson, who Gohan trained to be a powerful fighter. Goku is now on his own, after his grandfather's death, and now guards his Dragon Ball that was given to him just before Gohan died.
A few months later, one day after finishing chopping up wood, Goku came inside to see his Dragon Ball glowing, thinking it is his grandpa talking to him. On his way to find something to eat, he ends up angering a Sabretooth Cat and outruns it off a cliff and into a river, losing it. While at the river, Goku strips to put his tail into the water as bait to catch fish. Soon enough, a monstrous fish jumps out of the water. Having no fear of the giant fish, Goku dodges it and kills it with one kick.
On his way home, dragging the fish, he gets run over by a teenage girl named Bulma in her car. Goku has never seen a car before and attacks, thinking that it is a monster; he picks up the car and throws it into the distance. In defense, Bulma takes out a gun and fires at Goku, but due to being so powerful, the bullets only sting him. Goku then starts to charge at her, but stops when she reveals herself to be a human girl, not a monster as Goku stops and discovers that she is different.
Goku has always been told by his grandfather to be nice to girls, so he escorts Bulma to his home for dinner. Finally reaching there, Bulma sees an item that she has been desperately seeking, which is his Dragon Ball. Goku yanks it away from Bulma, saying that it was his Grandpa's. Bulma shows Goku her two Dragon Balls that she has, and tells him that there are seven Dragon Balls in total, and they are spread all around the world. She explains that when they are all collected, they allow the owner to receive one wish. In Bulma's case, her wish is to have a perfect boyfriend, but Goku stubbornly refuses to give all that is left of his grandfather.
Elsewhere, two strange figures named Shu and Mai, who are headed by a small blue entity named Emperor Pilaf, find a Dragon Ball in a dungeon seeking it to rule the world. Pilaf becomes enraged when Mai tells him that he needs to collect all seven of them to summon the eternal dragon, Shenron.
Back at Goku's House, Goku agrees to accompany Bulma on her journey to collect the Dragon Balls. She explains to Goku that she can detect them using her Dragon Radar. She uses her capsules to spawn a motorcycle which Goku claims to be magic. The two then leave for the closest Dragon Ball. Along the way, Bulma stops to go for a pit stop, after riding off a steep hill. Before she can go, a fearsome pterodactyl seizes her, ties up Goku, and flies away. Goku eventually suspects the monster's true intentions, and comes to the rescue, taking the motorcycle's reins and driving off a hill into the air. He then takes out his Power Pole that he carries behind his back, and orders it to extend, defeating the pterodactyl and sending it falling to the ground below.
Goku falls safely to the ground and uses his Power Pole to pin Bulma to a cliff. All this is too much for her, making Bulma pee her pants. The two then head out back to their adventure on the search for Dragon Balls.
- Goku meets Bulma and joins her quest for the Dragon Balls.
- Bulma reveals that her wish is for a boyfriend.
- Emperor Pilaf finds the One-Star Dragon Ball.
|Japanese||Harmony Gold dub||BLT dub||FUNimation dub||Blue Water dub||Animax Asia dub|
|Goku||Masako Nozawa||Barbara Goodson||Saffron Henderson||Stephanie Nadolny||Zoe Slusar||Andrea Kwan|
|Bulma||Hiromi Tsuru||Wendee Lee||Lalainia Lindbjerg||Tiffany Vollmer||Leda Davies||Claudia Thompson|
|Emperor Pilaf||Shigeru Chiba||Dave Mallow||Don Brown||Chuck Huber||Dean Galloway||Unknown|
|Mai||Eiko Yamada||Melodee Spevack||Teryl Rothery||Julie Franklin||Debbie Munro||Unknown|
|Shu||Tesshō Genda||Dave Mallow||Doug Parker||Chris Cason||Jonathan Love||Unknown|
|Sabertooth Tiger||Masaharu Satō||N/A||N/A||Christopher R. Sabat||N/A||N/A|
|Pterodactyl||Hiroshi Ōtake||Unknown||Ian James Corlett||Brad Jackson||Dave Pettitt||Unknown|
|Grandpa Gohan||N/A||N/A||Michael Donovan||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Narrator||Jōji Yanami||Michael McConnohie||Jim Conrad||Brice Armstrong||Steve Olson||Unknown|
- Goku vs. Giant Fish
- Goku vs. Bulma
- Goku vs. Pterodactyl
- Dragon Radar
- Power Pole
- Dragon Balls (Three, Six, and Seven-Star Ball only in flashback)
- Giant Fish
Differences from the manga
- When Goku punches the tree stump all the wood fell neatly in a stack but in the manga they all scattered on the floor and Goku is shown picking the pieces up.
- When Goku is looking for something to eat he finds an apple and takes a bite of it and throws it on a Sabertooth Tiger's head. The Tiger chases Goku down a cliff, and then Goku gets the idea of catching a Giant Fish for dinner. In the manga, Goku does not encounter the tiger and peacefully walks by a cliff and voluntarily jumps off to go catch a fish.
- Bulma's panties in this episode are white with pink polka dots, but in the manga version they are just plain white.
- When Goku defeats the Pterodactyl it falls down a cliff but in the manga it just falls on flat ground.
- Emperor Pilaf and his minions make an early debut when he finds a Dragon Ball and Mai explains to him the legend of the Dragon. Pilaf and his minions do not debut in the manga until Goku got to Pilaf's Castle which is not until "The Dragon Balls are Stolen!"
- When Goku is looking for Bulma's "tail", he lifts up her skirt, revealing her panties.
- In the BLT dub, footage from "The Nimbus Cloud of Roshi", "The Ox King on Fire Mountain" and the movie Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies is seen in a brief day dream segment when Bulma is explaining to Goku what the journey will be like. Chi-Chi's hair can be seen just as the dinosaur is zoomed out. Strangely the fight between Goku and King Gurumes from Curse of the Blood Rubies is used, even though it does not occur in the television series.
- In the BLT dub, Goku is wearing underwear in the scene where he skinny dips to catch a fish. Also the part where he urinates in the water just as he gets in was completely removed.
- The part where Goku lifts Bulma's skirt up to see if she has a tail is still present in the BLT Dub but her panties are oddly repainted pink to match her skirt.
- In the BLT Dub, scenes from the episode "A Wish to the Eternal Dragon" are seen while Mai is explaining the legend of the Dragon.
- The part where Bulma shoots Goku with a gun was completely removed in the BLT dub.
- The scene where Bulma lifts up her skirt and offers to let Goku touch her butt if he gives her the Dragon Ball was completely removed in the BLT dub.
- In the BLT Dub, in the scene at the beginning of the episode showing the landscape, Grandpa Gohan's voice is heard saying the last things he had said before he died. This is the only time Grandpa Gohan is heard in the BLT Dub, because it was canceled way before they got to the episode he debuts in.
- When Goku talks to himself on his way to the lake he originally talks about what he wants to eat, while in the BLT Dub he already knows he wants a fish (he told the 4-star ball) and asks himself where the "River Trail" was.
- The Giant Fish Goku catches talks in the Japanese version but does not talk in the English dubs.
- Certain suggestive dialogue between Goku and Bulma is replaced with other bickering in the BLT dub.
- In the BLT dub Goku tells Bulma that his name means "Saber of Light".
- Bulma apparently already knows Emperor Pilaf is after the seven Dragon Balls in the BLT Dub because she says she needs to get them before that "crazy emperor" does. This is also a bad plot hole in the story due to the fact the he just got his Dragon Ball while Goku and Bulma were still talking.
- Goku originally assumes that Bulma's two Dragon Balls are two "Grandpa's", while in the BLT Dub he says that she must have gotten them from her grandfather.
- When Goku throws his Power Pole at Bulma, it is shown flying towards her skirt nowhere near a cliff while high up in the air, but she is soon shown pinned to the cliff wall by her sleeves.
- Goku never eats the Giant Fish as the subject was changed to his Grandpa's Dragon Ball the second they get to his house.
- Goku's ordeal with the Sabertooth Tiger is repeated in the first episode of Dragon Ball Z with Gohan. This is likely to contrast their personalities.
- This episode is technically the debut of Shenron, since his image is shown, but he does not physically debut until "The Penalty is Pinball".
- This entire episode takes place on September 1, Age 749.
- The scene of Goku doing martial arts stances while the narrator talks is shown playing on the television in Bulma's Capsule House in a scene in the 1990 Live Action Korean Dragon Ball film.
- The 1st Shunsuke Kikuchi music package for the franchise starts here. The cues were designated "A-J" codes.
- Although Goku's character design was based on "Journey of the West" the beginning of the episode shows some close similarities between him and another character from Japanese lore, Kintaro.
- This is the first appearance of Goku's original outfit, which will be Goku's main outfit until his transformation into a Great Ape in "A Wish to the Eternal Dragon".