Bulma’s First Anime Wasn’t Dragon Ball?!
Did you know that Bulma’s first anime appearance wasn’t in Dragon Ball?!
Even though Bulma was an original Dragon Ball character, her first anime appearance was in a different anime.
In fact, it came in Urusei Yatsura Movie 3: Remember My Love.
Did you see Bulma?
It’s a quick cameo, less than 1 second long, at the 11-second mark of this clip.
She appears on the right side of the screen and then runs to the other side.
It occurs toward the end of the movie.
But how did Bulma get there?
History of Bulma’s First Anime
The Dragon Ball manga started on November 20, 1984. Bulma is in Dragon Ball Chapter 1, wearing her iconic pink skirt outfit.
Bulma’s appearance in this Urusei Yatsura movie was based on her look from the title page of Dragon Ball Chapter 4, published on December 11, 1984.
That’s only 46 days before the Urusei Yatsura movie premiered on January 26, 1985.
The Dragon Ball anime was still a year away from debuting, on February 26, 1986.
Why did Bulma end up appearing in this movie?
And how did she get included on such short notice before the premiere date?
Urusei Yatsura often included cameos from different anime series.
Writer Rumiko Takahashi liked to pay homage to other manga she wrote, including Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½, and Rumic World.
Series’ outside of Takahashi’s own to have cameos include Dr. Slump, Gundam, Dirty Pair, and here with Dragon Ball. Bulma was the only Dragon Ball character to have such a cameo.
Why would Takahashi include two series written by Akira Toriyama, with Dr. Slump being the other?
Toriyama and Takahashi were successful manga-ka who were following similar career timelines during the 1980s.
They each had big shows that were concluding: Dr. Slump (April 8, 1981) for Toriyama and Urusei Yatsura (October 14, 1981) for Takahashi. They also both had new shows ready to start right afterward, with Dragon Ball and Maison Ikkoku, respectively.
Akira Toriyama and Rumiko Takahasahi did a co-interview in 1986 in TeLePAL No. 3 before the conclusion of their shows. However, the appearance of Bulma in the Urusei Yatsura movie was not discussed.
Did Takahashi request that Bulma be added to the movie? Or Toriyama? Maybe the director of the film, or someone else on the staff?
Unfortunately we don’t know the exact reason for Bulma appearing in this movie, as I have not found any direct quotes or references linking the two. Likewise for why the anime movie staff chose this design of Bulma instead of her iconic look from Chapter 1.
One general reason for such cameos is that manga-ka and anime staff writers of gag manga would include cameos for a laugh. Japanese children would often read and watch multiple manga and anime published in the same serialized books or TV blocks, so they would get the references being made.
I wonder if Toriyama was influenced from Takahashi’s inclusion of characters from her previous works, as we see Goku meet characters from Dr. Slump in the General Blue portion of the Red Ribbon Army Arc of Dragon Ball.
We may never find out why Bulma appeared in this Urusei Yatsura movie before she appeared in Dragon Ball, but it’s fun to know that she did.
Are you surprised to hear about Bulma’s first anime appearance not being in Dragon Ball?
Given its speed, did you notice Bulma the first time you watched the scene?