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"The Puzzle of General Tao" (くうなんもん!?ドラゴンボールをとりもど Gokū ni Nanmon!? Doragon Bōru o Torimodose, lit. "Goku's Perplexing Problem?! The Dragon Balls are Taken Back") is the ninth episode of the Cell Games Saga and the one hundred seventy-fourth overall episode in the uncut Dragon Ball Z series. This episode first aired in Japan on February 10, 1993. Its original American airdate was November 23, 2000.


General Tao arrives at Vodka's fortress

Goku located two Dragon Balls inside a fortress in which Mercenary Tao and a mob boss called Vodka are. Goku comes in and tells Vodka that he wishes he had something to give in trade for the Dragon Balls. Vodka and his henchmen were at first unafraid of Goku but after Goku sends one of the henchmen flying into a wall, they retreat to Vodka's desk, putting up a protective domed shield. However, Goku breaks it easily by sticking his finger into it, causing it to shatter.

Tao's Puzzle Rings

Then Mercenary Tao, remembering how powerful Goku’s strength is, takes off one off his robotic hands and spills out three little puzzle rings. He reattaches his hand and tells Goku that he can have the Dragon Balls if he can take all three of them apart by dawn. He takes Goku’s jacket off (Goku’s jacket contains four of the Dragon Balls) and leaves with Vodka and one of the two henchmen. Goku gets one separated by the time it gets dark.

Goku after successfully completing the 3 puzzle rings

It is the middle of the night, and Goku has one more to go. The henchman almost tells Goku how to get the remaining puzzle apart, but Goku interrupts him and tells him he will not cheat. Goku finally gets it apart, and the henchman congratulates Goku. Goku asks where everyone went but then says it does not matter as he will be able to find them and uses his Instant Transmission technique to do so. Mercenary Tao and Vodka are on the shore of a lake far away, and Vodka is congratulating Mercenary Tao on the trick he pulled on Goku. Goku shows up and shows Mercenary Tao that he got all three apart. Obviously not wanting to fight, Mercenary Tao congratulates Goku and Goku picks up his jacket, taking the other two Dragon Balls and flying off to find the last one. Goku finds the last ball, and the episode ends as the narrator says that the Cell Games will begin on May 17.

Major Events

  • Goku finds two more Dragon Balls, bringing his current count to four.
  • Goku meets Mercenary Tao again and obtains two additional Dragon Balls off of him after solving his puzzle.
  • Bulma finishes repairing Android 16.
  • Goku finds the seventh Dragon Ball.






Differences from the manga

  • The entire events of this episode were exclusive to the anime.


  • Mercenary Tao makes the comment, "I don't think I can manage to find the others. I just found these two by accident.", when talking about how he got the two Dragon Balls shown in this episode in the Japanese version. He says, "I probably won't find the others on the black market like these, but he doesn't need to know about that.", in the English version.
  • This is the first episode to be supervised by Keisuke Masunaga of Studio Cockpit.
  • Lionel, the ZTV Cameraman, has his single line here provided by Trunks' actor Eric Vale. Starting from "Losers Fight First" and to his final appearance, Lionel will be voiced by Justin Cook.


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