How Big is the Red Ribbon Army?

how big is the red ribbon army in dragon ball son goku

How big is the Red Ribbon Army? In this article you’ll receive an accurate estimate based on Goku’s encounters with their soldiers in the manga.

This estimate will be based on evidence in the Red Ribbon Army Arc from Chapters 55–97. It will not include content or speculation beyond these manga pages, such as in the anime, movies, and games.

This is an estimate because it’s sometimes tough to distinguish characters as they are in the background of a panel or have their faces turned away from our perspective. And because with some characters it’s arguable if they’re a member of the Red Ribbon Army or not.

This discussion will spoil character introductions and events.

Meet the Red Ribbon Army

colonel silver manga introduction dragon ball

Starting at Dragon Ball Chapter 55, we are introduced to our first members of the Red Ribbon Army: Colonel Silver and two unnamed soldiers. Goku flies in on his magic cloud and while holding his dragon-ball-finding Dragon Radar in search of his grandpa’s 4-Star Ball. He quickly defeats them before leaving with the 6-Star Ball.

We are next introduced to Commander Red through a phone call with Colonel Silver, and two members who appear to be sidekicks. One of them is revealed to be Adjutant Black at the end of the arc, and the other is an unnamed animal.

There are also three members working with their large dragon-ball-finding radar in the background. There may have been more soldiers off the page.

Red Ribbon Army Size: 9

Muscle Tower

The Muscle Tower Arc within the larger Red Ribbon Army Arc starts from there. Goku fights two soldiers inside of the village’s house before beating up another five soldiers outside of the tower before pole-vaulting up to the 2nd floor with his nyoi-bō.

The room he walked into had four soldiers waiting inside. Goku beat them all.

The cover of Dragon Ball Chapter 59 shows an internal map of all 6 floors of Muscle Tower.

uscle tower internal map red ribbon army

Here we see the 1st floor is the “infantry waiting room”, while the 2nd floor is the “non-commissioned officer waiting room.” We never see the 1st floor of Muscle Tower because Goku skips over it, but there are likely men on this floor as well. Given that the 2nd floor contained four leaders, there may have been several squads of lesser-ranking infantry on the 1st floor.

Goku goes up to the 3rd floor and sees the first named member of Muscle Tower: Sergeant Metallic. He’s a robot, but still a color-named and ranking member of the army.

After Sergeant Metallic’s battery dies, Goku goes up to the 4th floor where he sees the ninja, Master Sergeant Murasaki (Japanese for Purple). He is the only person on the floor. Or so it seems.

During their fight, Murasaki splits himself into five bodies by using a ninja technique. This is intended to be a traditional ninjutsu based on Buddhist ideas about multiple energy bodies, but then Toriyama subverts this by having these so-called divisions be Murasaki’s identical quintuplet brothers. It turns out that the technique is an illusion played on his opponents to make it look like ninjutsu.

The four other ninja are not named in the manga, but in the Dragon Ball: Bōken Special (1987) and Daizenshū 7 (1996) they are named as Navy Blue, Brown, Red, and Blue-Green. Each is named after a Japanese word for their color, and when you mix these four colors together, you create Murasaki (Purple). As a result, Murasaki could count as five people, because all five brothers work for the Red Ribbon Army, but given that they come as a package, we’ll count them as one.

Murasaki runs away from the fight and releases the next member of the army: Artificial Human Number 8. He is supposed to be a ferocious monster of a man, but it turns out that he’s a pacifist. After Goku defeats Murasaki, Number 8 then accompanies Goku up to General White’s 6th floor, bypassing the 5th floor.

Does Number 8 count as a member of the Red Ribbon Army? Given that Number 8 was created by the Red Ribbon Army as a living weapon and homage to Frankenstein’s monster, I would argue that yes, he may count. But then he exhibits free will and chooses to disobey their orders, so he is not a willing member of their organization. In the end, he betrays them. Therefore, we won’t add Number 8 to the total count.

Before facing off with General White on the 6th floor, a trapdoor sends Goku down to the 5th floor to fight Buyon. He is a gelatinous monster who is a mix between a bipedal Japanese kaiju and Western cinema’s The Blob (1958).

Similar to Number 8, Buyon is not a human member of the Red Ribbon Army, but in this case he obeys their orders, so we will count him toward the total.

Goku defeats General White on the 6th floor with the help of Number 8, who punches White out of the tower with his huge fist.

Muscle Tower Count: 15

Red Ribbon Army Size: 24

Bulma and General Blue

There’s an interlude in the action after the Tower as Goku flies to West City to have Bulma fix the Dragon Radar. She then joins Goku on his search for his dragon ball. After that, we’re onto General Blue’s arc.

Along with Blue, we see four soldiers in the headquarters with him, one of which he orders to be executed for picking his nose.

We then see another two soldiers chasing after Bulma. Goku enters the scene and defeats them.

Goku and Bulma see there is a dragon ball underwater, so Goku has the idea to ask Master Roshi for an underwater vehicle to get the dragon ball.

As Goku and Bulma leave the dragon balls at the Kame House with Roshi, the Red Ribbon Army’s radar leads a single soldier to the Kame House. He reports back to Blue, who breaks his soldiers up into squads A and B, to go after them.

general blue captain dark dragon ball manga

Squad A seemed to have 10, not including Blue, who followed Goku, Bulma, and now Krillin by sea.

Squad B seemed to have 12 soldiers going by plane to Roshi’s.

The two squads would be taken out by a booby trap and Roshi, respectively.

Squad B was led by Captain Dark, included in the 12, but he is only named in the anime and not the manga. Dark is a reference to color, similar to metallic. In Japanese, Dāku (ダーク, “dark”) may also be a reference to a ‘dock,’ in keeping with his nautical theme. As a result, we’ll count him as a named member.

Those are the last members we see introduced in this part of the arc. Goku would fight a Pirate Robot and talking Octopus before Blue’s time was done, but they do not have a connection to the army. Blue was as surprised by the robot as Goku and his friends.

General Blue Arc Count: 30

Red Ribbon Army Size: 54

Sacred Land Karin

Captain Yellow and his five soldiers would appear next, but they hardly stayed in the picture for long. Bora, the Chief of the Native Tribe and Guardian of the Karin Tower, would take down the soldiers, and Goku handled Yellow.

We then see two guards standing outside of the Red Ribbon Army headquarters, one of which Blue attacks for not recognizing him.

Blue’s return sees another character introduced: the assassin Tao Paipai (Peach White White).

assassin tao paipai pillar dragon ball manga

Does Tao Paipai count? If you want to be technical, he’s an assassin who was hired by the army, rather than a full-time member, but he has a color-based name and he follows their orders for money. We will count him here.

Tao Paipai flies to the Sacred Land Karin and beats Goku, but then Goku climbs Karin Tower and trains for three days with the martial artist sage, Karin. Upon returning and beating Tao Paipai, Goku makes his charge for the headquarters.

Karin Tower Count: 9

Red Ribbon Army Size: 63

Red Ribbon Army Headquarters

red ribbon army headquarters dragon ball manga

Before Goku charges the Ribbon Army Headquarters, we are introduced to Colonel Violet and we hear reference to a General Copper, but we do not see either of them again.

When Goku attacks, it seems clear that Goku fights a lot of soldiers out of our view while we see Commander Red and Adjutant Black’s reaction to the onslaught, but we can only go off of what we see on the pages.

Given what we can see, Goku defeats 33 soldiers in the headquarters as he heads toward Commander Red, with another two running away.

The end of the invasion would come with Adjutant Black killing Commander Red, and then Goku defeating Adjutant Black.

Red Ribbon Headquarters:37

Red Ribbon Army Size: 100

Total Red Ribbon Army Size

dragon ball red ribbon army group image

This image contains two additional anime-exclusive characters, Hasky and Dr. Frappe, (second and third from left, respectively).

To get a final count, the army has 10 named members we see on the page, and it goes up to 12 when including General Copper and Tao Paipai.

In order of appearance: Colonel Silver, Commander Red, Adjutant Black, Sergeant Metallic, Master Sergeant Murasaki, General White, General Blue, Captain Dark, Captain Yellow, Tao Paipai, Colonel Violet and General Copper. Once again, we’re leaving out Number 8.

As for unnamed members and soldiers, we see 87 of them on the page.

To wrap things up, Buyon joins as the lone wild beast.

Grand Total Red Ribbon Army Size: 100 Members

Are you surprised by their size?

This number is based on the evidence within the pages of the Dragon Ball manga written by Akira Toriyama.

Would you like to see more? I may quantify the rest of the Red Ribbon Army’s size in the later portions of the series for a future article.

Learn more about the Red Ribbon Army’s cultural origin. For a detailed analysis, read my book, Dragon Ball Culture Volume 4.

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