It’s no secret my preferred take on the world of Dragon Ball created by author/artist Akira Toriyama is the original one: Dragon Ball. Of course, in the manga it’s just all Dragon Ball up until the more recent Dragon Ball Super, but for anime viewers there’s Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Super. Of the four, I feel comfortable declaring Z the most popular, and after that might actually be Super. Dragon Ball is the more adventure-focused of the anime. Being that these unfold chronologically (well, except GT, but we don’t need to talk about GT), Dragon Ball is the one that features a kid Goku before he becomes a super powerful Saiyan warrior. I like the more grounded action, even though it’s still not even remotely realistic, and there’s a ton of humor spread throughout. All of these shows have a formula, but with Dragon Ball, I feel it’s less obvious.
Dragon Ball has never been super popular in America. We got both it and Z in the mid 90’s, but with far more emphasis placed on the sequel series. That one famously bombed out of the gate too, with Ocean Group dubbing around 100 episodes and so much material was cut that the episode count differed from the Japanese version. One of those casualties was the character Lunch. She appeared in Dragon Ball fairly regularly, but her appearance in Z was more like a cameo. It was apparently deemed not necessary, and since she totes a gun perhaps it was also considered too violent. As a result, Lunch was a character I only ever read about for a long time. There was a long hiatus in dubbing the series so us American fans had to either buy bootleg tapes or just be content reading about the series online. I mostly read about it, and Lunch was always a character I wanted to see in action since she sounded quite unique.
Because I read about her first, I’m still conditioned to refer to her as Lunch. When Dragon Ball was eventually dubbed and released in America, her name was changed to Launch. It’s actually a pretty clever update as her personality is centered around her “launching” into a fit of anger. Lunch, by default, is a kind, sweet, and rather meek young woman. She’s also quite shapely and a natural target for the perverted Master Roshi, and unlike Bulma, she takes his crude advances in stride. However, anytime she sneezes she transforms. Her hair changes color from blue to yellow (is Lunch the original Super Saiayn?!), but that’s not the most dramatic part of the change. Her personality also completely morphs turning her into an enraged, gun-toting, maniac! Seriously, where does she keep that gun normally? Once she goes blonde, she just whips it out from somewhere and just starts blasting. When her target is Roshi, it’s hard to argue the old man didn’t deserve it, but she’ll also perceive basically any male in her sight a threat and often poor Goku will bare some of the brunt as well.
The Dragon Ball subline for Banda’s S.H.Figuarts line of collectibles has decided that Lunch is the only worthy entry for 2021. It hasn’t been a fast moving line like Z or even Super, but just one figure in 2021 is a little disappointing for Dragon Ball. I’m sure some are also disappointed that lone figure wasn’t a desert bandit Yamcha or a first appearance Tien, but for me, I like getting another female character into the display. The franchise is pretty short on them, and we can only have so many versions of Bulma, so Lunch feels like a solid inclusion. Unfortunately, she came with a decent price hike as the MSRP on this one is $65. Such a price is not unheard of for this line, but as we’ll get into, this isn’t one of the more over-stuffed releases we’ve received in the past. Costs went up like crazy last year, so this could be a symptom of that. Or, Lunch carries a small premium because Bandai doesn’t figure to sell a ton of figures of her. The Super Saiyan 4 Goku comes with more stuff and is five bucks cheaper and might even feature less parts reuse. The real answer is probably both, but given how small the Dragon Ball line is I wasn’t about to pass on Lunch just because she was 5-10 bucks more expensive than I would have predicted.
Lunch comes in the typical SHF window box and in her default persona. She stands a tick over 5″ to the top of her hair putting her right in-line with Bulma, whom she likely shares some parts with (most notably the legs). This means, like Bulma, she doesn’t scale well with Goku or even Roshi, but that’s because they seem to exist in their own scale as a means of keeping the kid characters from being tiny. She’s also sporting her traditional attire: green, spaghetti-strapped tanktop, yellow short-shorts, brown gloves, green ankle warmers, red sneakers, and a red ribbon in her hair. The tank top is just painted on, but it looks quite clean and the green matches the ankle warmers rather well. They have little buckles on them which are also painted cleanly and the yellow stripes on the shoes are also well done. The only issue with the paint is that crotch piece for the shorts is cast in yellow plastic, while the rest on her thighs is the same, but it’s likely PVC and the result is there’s a color variance. It’s subtle, but it’s also there and a disappointment. The blue hair appears to have a wash applied to the bangs area which looks nice, but is also the only shading to be found on the figure. That’s not a surprise given this is SHF and this figure features a lot of bare skin, but the blonde hair would have benefitted from the same.
And she does come with both portraits because this is Lunch and that’s pretty central to her character. The default one is her smiling and it looks like the character. She can also swap to an excited look and to the all important sneezing face. For her blonde look, she has a smirk and a side-eyed glare. The only one I’m not sold on is the smirk as her cheeks look rather puffy for some reason. The glare is probably my preferred expression, but I do wish we got one more for the blonde version of her yelling and just looking really pissed off. Like I said, we needed both versions of Lunch in the box, but I’m slightly bummed the blue-haired look got three portraits to the blonde’s two because I think most will display her as a blonde.
And most will likely opt for the blonde look because she only has two accessories and the favored one works with that look. And that’s her submachine gun. She comes with fists in the box, but has a right, trigger, grip for the gun and a loose gripping left hand to sort of cup it. The other optional hands are two open hands which are good for a sneezing pose or to hold the last accessory: the all important Dragon Ball. Lunch comes with the pearl painted ball which is what SHF has switched to after releasing 7 translucent balls already. There’s a lot of plastic here just in the two heads alone since her hair is so big, but there’s no covering up that this is an underwhelming assortment of accessories. Especially at that higher price point. Another portrait for her blonde look would have helped, and maybe a blast effect for her machinegun would have gone a long way.
The articulation for Lunch is familiar, but also introduces some new things. And that’s mainly at the head. Her head is connected via a double ball peg that actually pegs into her hair, and not her head. It has a bend in it so her head sits low enough, but it is a bit of a pain in the ass to swap heads on this figure because that peg wants to move when you’re trying to fit it into the hair. It’s a lot easier on the blue hair, because that’s how the figure shipped. It’s also definitely easier to swap with the face plate on it as that helps to prevent the peg from moving too much. At least it’s a sturdy ball peg so I never feared breaking it, but it was annoying. Swapping the faces requires pulling off the bangs first and it can be a challenge to get the face off without popping the hair off of the neck, which can be a touch frustrating. Once in place, it moves around okay. Her hair obviously is going to limit her range, but there is a hinge in the back of her hair to help alleviate some of that. She can look up and look down a bit with the usual rotation and some tilt. I think you get enough, but it is a bit weird to look at initially.
Beyond the head, the rest is pretty much in-line with both versions of Bulma released in this line. The shoulders are on ball pegs so they rotate rather well. There’s no butterfly joint, but her bust would probably have impeded one anyway had it been installed. The elbows are single-jointed on these disc-like pieces that I’ve never liked that much. The range is great, but when the arms are extended they look kind of funky. The wrists are ball-joints and with the gloves there’s plenty to hide them so no complaints there. There’s a diaphragm joint that works in tandem with a ball joint at the waist. Lunch can tilt up there well and she can bend backwards probably farther than you need her to, but there will be some gapping issues under her shirt. Crunching forward is not great and it exposes a gap near her waistline on the back of the figure. It’s hard to imagine her needing to crunch forward more than she can, but it’s always a bit bizarre to see figures that can go back better than forward. At the hips we have standard ball joints, but the cuffs of her shorts limit their range. She can’t do a split, but can nearly reach a full horizontal kick. Her buttcheeks prevent her from kicking back really at all, but you do get a thigh twist. The cuffs on her shorts can be a bit finicky as sometimes they leave a gap in crotch area and I find myself tweaking the left leg, in particular, often to try to mitigate that. At the knees we have basically the same situation as the elbows, only here the disc piece is on the back of the figure and basically hidden. The ankles are ball-jointed so you get great range there and they also included a toe hinge, if you feel it’s needed.
I’m pretty happy with how Lunch can move around. The only thing she can’t do well that I wish she could is a two-handed firing pose with the gun. Her bust just gets in the way which is a character design issue more so than a figure one. I suppose it helps that her portraits aren’t really firing portraits which lend themselves better to casual stances as opposed to action ones, not that Lunch never fired her gun with nothing but a smirk in the show. Her hair does make her more top heavy than the Bulma figures we have so I’ve found her a little tougher to stand, but nothing dramatic. It’s just something you have to be aware of and take into account when posing her.
I think Lunch turned out pretty well. I have come criticisms, but most of them are of the value nature and not direct criticisms of the figure itself. And where I do have them for the figure, I chalk them up mostly to me being nitpicky, but that’s what a review is for! She looks terrific on a shelf amongst my other Dragon Ball figures. She looks better when paired with Bulma than she does Krillin or Goku, but she can also handle being near Master Roshi too. She would look even better though with Tien, and I do hope there’s more in store for Dragon Ball as far as S.H.Figuarts is concerned. There’s still plenty to mine from that series, and a few characters that I would definitely deem essential, but time will tell what Bandai has planned.