Imagine you are a writer and there’s this manga that you are writing for years. Now, with time as the story goes on, the number of characters is also certainly going to increase. Every plot line requires new and fresh characters in order to keep the audience intact.
However, as you keep on adding more and more characters it is only inevitable that at a certain time, it is only natural to forget about some of them, and that is what exactly happened with Akira Toriyama, the creator of one of the most popular anime series of all time, Dragon Ball.
Released in early 1989, and still releasing its franchise, the Dragon Ball series, had hundreds and hundreds of characters that even avid fans might have a hard time remembering.
There were many characters that were introduced in the series, rose to popularity, also went to become fan favorites, and all of a sudden disappeared. Among such characters, today we are going to discuss Launch.
Sounds familiar right? Well, of course, it does. I mean- she was certainly introduced way early but her sudden disappearance made fans question what happened to her.
You must be curious too right? Great! Now before we get into what happened to her, let us know who she was and what kind of character was she in the series.
Who was Launch?
Making her first appearance in Dragon Ball: Season 2, Episode 2, “Look Out for Launch”, which aired on June 4, 1986, Launch was a human-type earthling, one of the most common types of earthlings to appear in the series.
Earthling was sometimes used synonymously with “human,” but the planet earth actually hosted many sapient lifeforms, including anthropomorphic animals. Indeed, Earthlings were led by an anthropomorphic dog named King Furry. Statistically, 75% of Earthlings are standard human-type (Homo sapiens).
Launch (ランチ, Ranchi, lit. “Lunch”) was a human with a distinctive disorder, or more specifically split personality, which caused her to shift into two characters when she sneezed. Often flaunting her red ribbon, Launch was actually on a run with a gun-toting crime record, after a recent heist.
Introduced in the early episodes, Launch first met with Goku and Krillin. They met by chance, as Launch was actually introduced to the series when Mater Roshi sent Goku and Krillin out on a training mission, to find him a woman.
What kind of character was Launch?
Launch was another side character in the series but she did leave quite an impact on the fans. Launch was introduced as a woman with a strange disorder that caused her to switch between two different personalities; Good Launch and Bad Launch, each time she sneezed.
Interesting, right? Do you want to know more about her different personalities? Look no further as we have covered them in these articles.
Her first personality was a sweet blue-haired woman, who was a kind, pure-hearted cheerful person and always ready to help others. With her blue hair and big blue eyes, Launch’s persona was very pure and innocent.
Many even considered her good personality to be similar to that of Bulma’s. She was also very helpful to others but always saw good in people.
However, because she had a very sensitive nose, she was irritated by even the smallest things, which caused her to sneeze, bringing out her other side- the violent Bad Launch.
Her sneezes were often provoked by things such as pollen, pepper, dust, and other common irritants.
Whenever Launch sneezed it would trigger her other personality to appear. Her other personality was nothing like her Good personality. It was a complete 360 of her happy-go personality.
Bad Launch was a blonde-haired woman, who was actually a wanted criminal. Unlike her good personality, she was short-tempered, committed crimes for money, and was quick to respond with gunfire when angered.
In her bad form, even her appearance was very different. She had blonde hair and thin, green eyes but still had that prominent red hair ribbon.
Her strong personality often scared others. Even Goku, Master Roshi, and Krillin were terrified of her bad side after she shot them all with a machine gun despite all of them being relatively stronger than Launch.
Her personality in her bad was tough, arrogant, and even serious, which her good side was nothing like. Sometimes she even tormented people and bullied them.
In fact, later on in the story, the blonde Launch did become more caring and loving towards others, caring for Goku and the others, developing a crush on Tien Shinhan, and even crying after Krillin’s death, though she was still a lot more aggressive than her other half.
What happened to Launch?
Such a unique character, although Launch was just another side character she was successful in leaving quite a mark among the fans.
I mean it’s not an everyday thing that you see such a beautiful character with a such unique personality. However, her mysterious disappearance left many fans stranded. So what actually happened to her?
Well, to find out let’s go through her story, which takes us back to the very first time she was introduced in the series.
When first introduced in the series, she was the most wanted criminal in Brown County. She was on a run after ribbing a train while in her blonde self. While being chased, she changed into her good form and was saved by Goku and Krillin, who were on a mission to find a girl for Master Roshi.
After their meeting, Launch changed into her blonde self and even attacked them. However, later she turned back, apologized for her behavior, and even revealed to them that she changed personalities when she sneezed.
Later she stated that she didn’t like fighting, so she decided to just cook and clean the house. She spent nearly eight months cooking and cleaning for Goku, Krillin, and Roshi as they prepared for the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, even though her cooking skills were as deadly as her bad side.
While living with her, Goku, Krillin, and Roshi made sure to not get on Launch’s angry blonde side. She stayed at home while everybody else went to the tournament.
Red Ribbon Army Saga
During the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Launch returned back to Roshi’s island with Roshi and Krilin. There she continued her duties of cooking and cleaning. She even met with Goku and Bulma when they visited the island to get the submarine from Roshi.
After their short encounter, Launch was left alone with Roshi, who tried to spy on her and even served her awful food. Having enough, Launch’s bad side came out and she tried to shoot Roshi but was stopped by Turtle, who came back from his vacation.
Not long after returning to her normal form, Launch came face to face with some Red Ribbon Army, who were led by Captain Dark, and was there to take the Dragon Balls that Goku had left.
However, even a whole army couldn’t do anything as Launch was able to beat them up. Later she joined Yamacha, Roshi, Bulma, and the rest to go help Goku fight the Red Ribbon Army at their main base.
Tien Shinhan Saga
Nearly three years after the Red Ribbon Army incident, the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament was approaching. Good Launch decided to stay but as soon as she sneezed her bad form came out, and she decided to go to the tournament.
While in the tournament, she was able to get the crowd in the front row by shooting the gun in the air, which scared the crowd. Later during the tournament, she cheered for her friends and sneezed at the same time, making her appear in her good side and bad side.
Later on, when Goku was matched up against Pamput, he was tricked into leaving the arena so he would be disqualified but luckily, Launch saw them and beat them up so that Goku could make it in time for the match.
It was during this tournament when Launch first met her love interest, Tien Shinhan. After the tournament was over, she became extremely attracted to Tien.
King Piccolo Saga
Launch in the King Piccolo Saga was something very new to the audience. During this saga, the group found out about Krillin’s death. It was probably hard to believe but what was more unbelievable was Launch’s reaction to his death.
Krillin was their friend and Launch in her good persona would have surely bawled her eyes out but what shocked many was the fact that even though Launch was in her bad form, she was just sad as everyone else.
Not only she was sad but she kept her calm and held Krillin, as she told that no one felt compassion for him at that moment.
Even after going through the death of her friend, she was strong enough to fight off Tambourine, who came to Roshi’s house to kill Yamacha.
Later on, along with Bulma, Launch accompanied Yamcha to fight King Piccolo. She was very protective of Tien as she even threatened to shoot King Piccolo if he hurt Tien.
Piccolo Jr. Saga
Just after three years of Goku defeating King Piccolo, Launch also attended the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament with Master Roshi, where she met up with everyone.
Just like in the previous tournament, the crowd was giving them a hard time seeing the main event. So, Bulma tickled Luanch’s nose with a plant which caused her to sneeze, triggering her bad form.
Launch bad side soon came out and started to shoot her gun so that the people would move. After settling down with a clear view of the arena, Launch spectated the fights and cheered for her friends.
As Tien went against Mercenary Tao and Goku against Piccolo Jr, Launch continued to cheer them on and surprisingly remained in her blonde state until the end of the tournament.
Dragon Ball Z: Saiyan Saga
Launch’s first appearance in Dragon Ball Z was her blonde self during the Vegeta Saga, and she stayed with Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu after the end of Dragon Ball.
In the Saiyan Saga, Launch was fleeing from the police after she robbed a food bank to buy food for her love interest, Tien Shinhan.
After successfully managing to outrun the polices, Launch then joined Tien and Chiaotzu in their training but just when she reached the training grounds, a sudden earthquake hit the place which caused a waterfall to burst and head towards Launch.
Luckily, Tien quickly intervened and saved her, which even made Bad Launch blush a little. Later on, when they went out to train for the battle against the Saiyans, Launch was seen at the Sacred Land of Korin, rummaging in Bora’s tepee to find something to help her climb the Korin Tower and find Tien.
It was during this saga that Tien Shinhan was killed in the battle against the Saiyans. After Tien’s death, Launch was surely sad and was seen in a bar drinking, drowning her sorrows, and trying to cope with the loss of her loved one.
Many believed the Saiyan Saga was the last appearance of Launch in the series. Well, it was very understandable for fans to believe so, as, after the Saiyan saga, she didn’t even appear for the majority of the series.
Later on, during the Frieza saga, when Goku was losing badly against Frieza, he had flashbacks, where he saw Launch even if it was just for a moment.
Launch’s final appearance in the anime was believed to be in the Saiyan saga. However, in the manga, she made her last appearance during an extra scene in the Frieza Saga, the only instance where she appeared after the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament.
These extra scenes were inserts to the chapters found in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1991 #3 and #4. Since they were only gag-manga done at the request of the magazine, resulting in each author from those two issues contributing holiday-themed gag-manga inserts, they were never included in the tankōbon (compilation volume).
This was all her part of the story and then she just vanished into thin air leaving the fans in complete shock and confusion.
So, now the real question arises, why did she disappear? Did she die too? Well, the reason for her disappearance is not that extreme but it was because of the writer himself.
Why did Launch disappear?
Launch was certainly a side character, who was introduced years ago but still, fans couldn’t forget about her. So, of course, her disappearance would raise some eyebrows here and there.
While we are not really sure if she is dead or not, there’s one thing that we are sure about her disappearance and that is the fact that she was overlooked by the creator himself.
Yes, you read it right. She was forgotten by the creator. Well, it is not that big of a deal when you are working on lengthy series with hundreds of characters.
According to sources, the creator of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama gave an official statement saying that the reason Launch stopped appearing during the Dragon Ball Z series was that he just forgot about her.
Also, because she was such a unique character with split personalities, Toriyama believed that it would create confusion among the fans because of its similarity to the Super Saiyan transformation. So, he just discontinued her character.
Now, you might be wondering how could the creator just forget his creation right? Well, turns out Toriyama had a habit of getting so into his storylines and developing the plot that he overlooked many of the characters that he introduced in the series over the year.
It is very understandable from the creator’s point of view but fans were very disappointed to see their favorite character fade over time and then completely disappear.
Will she come back?
If you were thinking that the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament was the last appearance of Launch then you were probably right. However, fortunately, she was not completely abandoned by Toriyama.
In an anime-only scene, Launch was seen offering her energy to Goku’s Spirit Bomb, helping him to defeat Buu in Dragon Ball Z’s final Saga.
Two years after defeating Buu’s, Launch also appeared in the Yo! Son Goku and his Friends Return special as is she had never been away or even disappeared but it was just momentarily as after that she was nowhere to be seen.
However, whether she will come back or not is really up to Toriyama now. Even while the show was running, Launch’s appearances were unpredictable just like her switch between her two personalities.
Considering the fact that she didn’t appear anywhere after her last episode, it is very unlikely that she would come back. But as we say, it is really up to the creator. So for now, we can confirm that she is not coming back.
Were there other characters who met the same fate as Launch?
After learning about what happened to Launch, you must be curious about whether there are other characters who also met the same fate as hers. Surprisingly, yes.
There were many characters that were introduced in the series and then abandoned. Some of them were :
1. The Pilaf Gang
The first-ever villains of the Dragon Ball series, The Pilaf gang with Pilaf and his two followers, Mai and Shu were actually very interesting characters but were completely absent in the whole Dragon Ball Z. However, they did make their comeback in Dragon Ball Super.
2. Fortuneteller Baba
As the only witch in the whole show, many believed that Frotunetaller baba would have some prominent role thought-out the whole series but was given very little storyline.
3. Mr. Popo
Well, Mr. Popo sure is a unique character and still active as Dende’s attendant but he doesn’t have as much screen time, which is fine considering his character design resembles racist caricatures and other troublesome content.
Another character that the fans missed terribly was Korin, an 800-year-old immortal cat, who resided in the Torin Tower. Korin was not only nice to people but also a very strict martial art teacher having taught some of the most iconic characters of the series, such as Goku, Krillin and even Master Roshi.
Another character in the forgotten category was Maron. She was Krillin’s girlfriend and mainly appeared in the filler episodes. She didn’t have much of a storyline but caught the eyes of fans because of her uncanny resemblance to that Bulma.
Since she was not as smart as Bulma, many just considered her to be used as eye candy for the show.
Well, it is kind of sad to see your favorite characters being forgotten and even disappearing from the whole show but looking at it from an author’s point of view it could get really difficult to keep track of all the characters if you are writing a lengthy story.
Also, because the storyline should be moved forward it is also important to let go of old characters and give the spotlight to new characters. Hence, Launch might have disappeared and not be making a comeback any time soon but was she a great character? She sure was.