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This article is about the third part of the Red Ribbon Army Saga. For the whole saga, see Red Ribbon Army Saga (disambiguation).

The Commander Red Saga, is the fifth saga from Dragon Ball. It occurs after the General Blue Saga and precedes the Fortuneteller Baba Saga. The manga volume that it is made up of is "Taopaipai & Master Karin". It shows us the epic battles between Goku and Mercenary Tao, Goku's quest for finding the Sacred Water, and the final battle between Goku and the Red Ribbon Army. The character Upa is also introduced.


Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.

Korin Tower


Captain Yellow is ordered to obtain the Dragon Ball from Bora at all costs, even if it means kidnapping Bora's son Upa

The saga begins with a scene of some Red Ribbon soldiers searching for a Dragon Ball that is currently inside a volcano in the Sacred Land of Korin. The volcano explodes and sends the Dragon Ball (the Four-Star ball) into the camp of the land's protectors. Living here is Upa and his father Bora.

The Red Ribbon Army follows the ball into the camp and demands it to be handed over. Upa's father proceeds to eliminate them and the last remaining soldiers.(Captain Yellow) radios back to the Headquarters. Commander Red hollers at him and he comes back. In desperation, he abducts Upa as a ransom for the ball, but he does not count on Goku showing up. Goku beats him and rescues Upa. As a token of thanks, Goku is given the Four-Star ball, his Grandpa Gohan's Dragon Ball.


General Blue returns to Red Ribbon Army headquarters only to be executed by the notorious Mercenary Tao

At the same time, General Blue is returning to the Red Ribbon Army Headquarters, while Commander Red is in the process of hiring Mercenary Tao. General Blue walks in on them and seeing him Dragon Ball-less, Red makes him fight Mercenary Tao to redeem himself (and see if it is really Mercenary Tao, not some imposter). The fight is quick, with none of Blue's attacks having any effect, even his paralyzing technique. It ends with Tao using his tongue to strike Blue's temple and kill him. Satisfied, Commander Red hires him to kill Goku and retrieve the Dragon Balls. Mercenary Tao then cuts out a piece of a column and uses it as a ride to the Land of Korin.


Mercenary Tao is handed an image of his target: Goku

When Mercenary Tao arrives, Upa's father jumps in to protect Goku but is killed by Mercenary Tao with his own spear. Angry, Goku challenges Mercenary Tao and gets slapped around for a while. He tries his Kamehameha, but all it does is destroy Mercenary Tao's clothes. Mercenary Tao retaliates with his Dodon Ray, which knocks Goku out, yet Mercenary Tao thinks he killed him (the four-star ball Goku got earlier was in his shirt and absorbed most of the blast). Mercenary Tao takes the other balls and leaves to get a new robe.


Bora is executed with his own spear by a relentless Mercenary Tao

When Mercenary Tao arrives at a tailor, he gives the man three days to make a new robe or Mercenary Tao will kill him. He then checks into a hotel and calls the Red Ribbon Headquarters. Red informs him of the missing ball and Mercenary Tao tells him he will get it back in three days (when his new robe is done).

Back in the Land of Korin, Goku awakes before Upa buries him. During their talk, Goku learns of the legend of the Korin Tower. The legend is that anyone who can climb to the top will be given sacred water that will greatly increase their power. This is perfect for Goku, who needs the strength to defeat Mercenary Tao. Goku vows to use the Dragon Balls to bring Upa's father back to life and begins his ascent up the Tower.


Goku faces the deadly Mercenary Tao

He reaches the top after a very long climb and meets Korin, who turns out to be a short, fat, talking cat. Before Goku can explain his situation, Korin reads his mind and understands why Goku is after the water. He will give Goku the water on one condition: that Goku get it from Korin. Goku tries to retrieve the water, but Korin is too fast for him and dodges him easily. Feeling defeated, Goku is told that Master Roshi was the last one to get the water from Korin, over three hundred years ago. Not only that, but it took Master Roshi three years to do it.

The two of them retire for the night and we see a Senzu Bean for the first time when Korin gives one to Goku to restore his energy. He then throws Goku's four-star ball out of the tower and Goku jumps out after it. He gets to the bottom and retrieves the ball, then climbs all the way back up the tower again, in much quicker time.


Korin's training enables Goku to become stronger

The next day, Goku once again fails in retrieving the water, even after getting Korin's advice. It is on the third day that Goku gets the water, only when it fell off of Korin's staff and nearly to the ground. Goku dove out and caught it, using his tail to keep from falling. He drinks the water and finds out that it is just tap water and the power comes from the training. Satisfied, Goku thanks Korin and leaves.

Tao finally gets his new robe and comes back to finish off the job, only this time it is Goku who is beating Mercenary Tao. He tries his trump card, the Dodon Ray, but Goku is able to block it. Boasting, Goku tells Mercenary Tao of his strength from Korin Tower and Mercenary Tao immediately rushes up the tower to get the power for himself. He reaches the top and gets the water. Korin manages to fool him with some magic and Mercenary Tao returns to finish the fight, thinking himself stronger now.


Goku is able to overcome Mercenary Tao, whose tricks backfire on him

When he gets back, he is giving Goku all he has got and appears to be winning. That is, until Goku shows him that he was not being serious. Goku then proceeds to beat up Mercenary Tao, who fakes a surrender to trick Goku. During this fake surrender, he tosses a grenade at Goku and hops up to avoid the blast. Goku is not fooled and he kicks the grenade up to Mercenary Tao, where it explodes and presumably kills him (however he is later shown to be alive). Gathering up the rest of the Dragon Balls, Goku now heads to Red Ribbon Headquarters to get the other two balls.

Goku vs. the Red Ribbon Army


Goku approaches the Red Ribbon Army compound headquarters

We then see a short segment with Colonel Violet, the only female high-ranking officer in the Red Ribbon Army. She retrieves a ball for a reward and that is about it. During this, Bulma builds a flying camera to follow Goku, when she learns that he is going straight after the Red Ribbon Army.

Worried about him, Bulma makes a phone from Turtle's advice and calls Yamcha, Puar, and Oolong. Yamcha arrives by plane and takes the rest of the crew to save Goku. However, Bulma is still mad at Yamcha for what happened earlier with Hasky.


Goku takes down the entire Red Ribbon Army

Goku meanwhile is passing right by the Red Ribbon Army's security system, because they think he is Mercenary Tao coming back. By the time they figure out it is him, it is too late. Goku hops off his Flying Nimbus and rips the Red Ribbon Army apart with ease. He fights his way to Commander Red, who leaves his assistant to fight Goku. During their fight however, Commander Red drops the ceiling on both of them.

Thinking them dead, Commander Red reveals his ultimate wish for the Dragon Balls: to become taller. Staff Officer Black (who was not killed by the ceiling) comes back and kills Commander Red, angry over being fooled. The still-alive Goku also appears and defeats Staff Officer Black, who even after using a special robot suit could not win.

Goku collects the two Dragon Balls and starts to leave when Bulma and the crew show up. They are amazed at his ability and happy he is safe. The problem though is that the Dragon Radar is not picking up the last Dragon Ball. The gang then return to Kame House, where Bulma would hopefully fix it.

Anime and Manga Differences

  • In the anime, General Blue uses the Psychic Eyes technique on Mercenary Tao at one point, only for him to not be affected by the technique at all. In the manga, Blue never gets the chance to use the technique before Tao kills him.
  • In the anime, before Tao's arrival, Bora explains in further detail about how people fail to reach the top of the tower by going through their food rations too quickly and that aircrafts fair no better since they run out of fuel before seeing the top. This isn't in the manga.
  • Commander Red sending a soldier to retrieve the Dragon Ball that Tao missed and his subsequent death at Goku's hands isn't in the manga. In the manga, since Red assumes that Goku is dead, he doesn't have to worry about claiming the ball too quickly.
  • When Goku opens one of the pots in the manga, he does not experience any visions of the past, present and future. Korin just tells him to come on up to the tower's main area.
  • In the manga, it is after Korin sees through the Afterimage Technique does he throw the Dragon Ball from off the tower. In the anime, this happens the following morning during breakfast.
    • Additionally it is during this scene that Goku is given the Senzu Bean whereas in the manga he was given it before Korin tells him that it took Master Roshi three years to catch him.
  • In the manga, when Goku climbs the tower for the second time, Korin is awake upon his return and tells him that he had made progress, being able to make the round trip in only three hours. In the anime, Korin thinks this only to himself and pretends to be asleep when Goku returns.
  • The scene of Tao realizing that Goku survived the Dodon Ray isn't in the manga.
  • In the manga, Goku's second day of attempting to retrieve the water is not shown. In the anime it is and during the night he is shown taking another look at Kame House through the water and mimicking Korin's movements in his sleep.
  • In the anime, Mercenary Tao climbs up Korin's Tower himself in an attempt to drink the Sacred water after seeing how strong Goku had become. In the manga, this does not happen.
  • Colonel Violet only appears for two panels in the manga giving Red the Dragon Ball she recovered. The anime expands her role in showing how she found the Dragon Ball and establishes her personality.
  • The scout plane's journey to the base is expanded in the anime, with Bulma having to make it dodge the Red Ribbon defense systems until it's destroyed by one of the system's lasers upon arrival. In the manga, it was destroyed by a lone Red Ribbon scout.


Major characters

Supporting characters

Battles featured

  • Bora vs. Red Ribbon Army soldiers
  • Goku vs. Captain Yellow
  • General Blue vs. Mercenary Tao
  • Bora vs. Mercenary Tao
  • Goku vs. Mercenary Tao
  • Goku vs. Red Ribbon Army soldier (Anime only)
  • Goku vs. Korin
  • Goku vs. Mercenary Tao (rematch)
  • Goku vs. The Red Ribbon Army
  • Goku vs. Staff Officer Black
  • Goku vs. Staff Officer Black (Battle Jacket)


Funimation VHS Volumes

  • Commander Red Saga - Danger for Hire (58-60) [Uncut and Edited]
  • Commander Red Saga - Korin's Tower (61-64) [Uncut and Edited]
  • Commander Red Saga - The Battle is Won (65-67) [Uncut and Edited]

Funimation Saga Sets

  • Commander Red Saga (58-67)

Funimation Remastered DVD Sets

Manga chapters

Chapter # Title
84 "The Karin Sanctuary"
85 "Taopaipai the Assassin"
86 "The Devastating Dodon-pa!!!"
87 "The Great Climb"
88 "Sage of the Karin Tower"
89 "A Drink of Water"
90 "Son Goku Strikes Back!"
91 "Battle in the Sanctuary!!"
92 "Taopaipai at the Brink"
93 "Goku's Charge"
94 "Attack from the Sky"
95 "The Fall of Commander Red"
96 "The Triumph!"

Episode List

Ep# Title
58 "The Land of Korin"
The Red Ribbon Army tracks one of the Dragon Balls onto a volcano island. They are not the only ones in this jungle paradise, though. A native, Bora, is there to protect this sacred habitat, and Goku is on his way too. Will the tranquil isle ever be the same after the Captain Yellow and the army unleash their destruction and terror?
59 "The Notorious Mercenary"
The Red Ribbon Army decides that money is no object when it comes to getting rid of the pesky Goku. So they hire the highly skilled and equally ruthless Mercenary Tao to eliminate him. The two meet on the island of Korin, where the native, Bora, tries to lend a hand, with disastrous consequences.
60 "Tao Attacks!"
The despicable hired hit man, Mercenary Tao, will stop at nothing to complete his mission and earn his paycheck. He made short work of Bora, but Goku will not prove to be so easy. Goku's determined to avenge his friend's death and hang on to the Dragon Balls. But will his determination be enough to beat this cruel contract killer?
61 "Korin Tower"
Goku attempts to climb the massive Korin Tower in hopes of finding the Sacred Water. Legend says that whomever drinks it will be rewarded with amazing new powers. It is a prize the young warrior finds irresistible, for the shadow of the deadly Mercenary Tao looms near.
62 "Sacred Water"
Goku continues his training atop Korin Tower. Exhausted, frustrated, but far from defeated, the young hero pushes on in an attempt to capture the bottle of Sacred Water from Korin. Meanwhile, Mercenary Tao prepares for a rematch against Goku, in which he intends to destroy him. Will our young hero be ready in time?
63 "The Return of Goku"
The fight of the century is about to begin as Goku and Mercenary Tao square off for a rematch. Tao wants Goku's Four-Star Ball and he will stop at nothing to get it. Luckily, our hero has a few surprises in store for the dangerous assassin, as he fights for the Dragon Balls, and his life.
64 "The Last of Mercenary Tao"
Quickly realizing he is no match for Goku's new strength, Tao decides to even the odds by climbing the tower and drinking the Sacred Water himself. What will Tao find atop the tower? And more importantly, what is in store for Goku when the angry assassin comes back down?
65 "Confront the Red Ribbon Army"
Goku journeys toward the Red Ribbon Army's headquarters to retrieve the Dragon Balls there. Meanwhile, Bulma and Master Roshi are trying to track him down. They think they are worried now, just wait until they realize he intends to take on the whole army by himself.
66 "A Real Bind"
Goku is on his way to take back the Dragon Balls from the Red Ribbon Army headquarters. And realizing the danger he is in, his best friends have joined together to help. Can this small group of good guys conquer the legions of evil that await them at Commander Red's compound? With a kid like Goku on their side, they just might.
67 "The End of Commander Red"
Goku declares war on the entire Red Ribbon Army. In an attempt to acquire two Dragon Balls, our hero infiltrates the army's lair, where he must face Commander Red and his diabolical legion of soldiers. Danger and deception looms as the ultimate battle between good and evil begins.

Video Game Appearances

This saga was adapted in

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