This was one of the last ideas I got for I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now. I came up with it as I was watching the ending of the last episode of Dragon Ball Z, when Goku and Uub fly to Uub's island. The idea was fairly simple: let's have a story where Uub accidentally kills someone with his insane power that he is only vaguely aware of. The idea of that went with the themes of the rest of the collection, so I ended up doing it.
This was always going to be one of the shorter stories, for the concept was fairly simple. However, in the original draft, Uub left his village to go to Karuka City in order to buy rice for his people. I ended up scrapping that in the second draft, completely re-writing everything up to the point where Uub meets with the salesman, because it didn't make sense for the village to be starving with all of that seafood readily available to them. As a result, the opening part of this story was heavily changed. It was originally the shortest story in the collection, and even after it was edited to be more than 260 words longer, it retained that title.
I began writing this one on December 19, 2019. I wrote from 4:10 am to 4:42 am, taking some breaks here and there, and getting about 400ish words done in that time. I went to bed soon after. When I woke up, I continued writing some at around 3:38 pm, but didn't get more than a few paragraphs in before taking a two hour break. I began writing again at 5:43 pm and continued until 6:09 pm, finishing the first draft at that point.
I returned to this story on August 24, 2020, hours after completing the second draft of Three Foolish Monkeys. I began by re-writing the opening. I wrote the first paragraph from 9:46 pm to 10:12 pm (not writing with 100% focus at the time, obviously). Then, from 11:08 pm to 12:00 am, I wrote the rest of the second draft. Afterwards, I took a break. I returned to edit it once more from 7:54 am to 8:43 am, completing the third draft in that time. On October 4th, I once more edited the story, this time doing one final read-through to clean up the prose as best as I could. Not much was changed in that editing period.
Overall, this is a very short story. There is not much to it beyond Uub showcasing a bit of his power. The dialogue with the salesman is probably my favorite part. I don't think Uub quite understands how strong he is by the end of this story, and the fact that nobody else saw him kill the man made that easier. He knows he's strong, but he doesn't know that he's on Kid Buu's level yet (despite what HZ believes, I firmly believe that Uub has the full power level of Kid Buu upon his reincarnation, though in my opinion, he doesn't learn how to access most of that power until he meets Goku). Anyways, this should be a short one. Onto the endnotes.
The afternoon heat rolled in. Most of the townspeople had taken shelter in their huts. Uub’s belly was rumbling, so he decided it was time to hunt marlin. At the age of eight, he had already developed into quite the terror of the seas. Thousands of fish had died by his hand, and that was not bound to end anytime soon. His lung capacity was far beyond what was typical for his age, as was his stamina. He did not know why he had been blessed with these attributes, for he had never worked harder than anyone else his age. Nonetheless, his father would send him out to fish instead of going himself, for he never failed to bring back food.
He dove in, the cool tropical sea relieving him from that damn sun. Schools of shimmering fish fluttered around him; a pale octopus crawled across the sandy floor, scavenging for treats. The water was especially clear this day. He would be able to see a shark coming from a long ways off. Not that he was worried. The boy could swim faster than they could.
He wanted a good, proper marlin, a big, fighting marlin that would be able to feed not only his family, but at least one to two other members of the tribe (who would be chosen at random). However, there were none around. Being that they were pelagic fish, that was not unexpected. That just meant that he would have to swim a long way from shore to find them.
The day wore on. Dinnertime was fast approaching. Uub’s skin had become wrinkly; he was starting to grow weary with hunger. He had swam over thirty miles out from his island and found no sign of any marlin. It was a crying shame. He would have to settle for many smaller fish, which would be much more tedious to catch and carry home.
Before returning home, he decided to stop by Kaluka Island, as its papaya forest was rivaled only by the one on Papaya Island (allegedly). Shaking the water from his hair, the boy scampered up one of the thorny trees and picked himself out the orangest papaya he could find before sliding back down and ripping the skin on his palms to shreds. He’d feel that on the swim back.
Uub stood on the shore, his toes squirming in the sand, eating his papaya and observing the sunset reflecting over the water. He thought he could see a fishing boat far off. A chill, not brought on by the evening trade winds, oscillated through his body. The waves lapped at his ankles, relentless and gentle.
Finishing his snack, he threw the rind aside for the seagulls. Almost as if on cue, out from the forest behind him stepped a tall and yet rather chubby man whose brow was sweaty, his curly purple hair sticking to his forehead in places. He looked a right mess.
“Oh, dear me, please forgive me, forgive me, young master,” the man said in a very quick style of speech that caught Uub off-guard. “You look like skin and bones, oh dear.”
“I’m alright, just going to catch some fish.”
“At this time of day? Oh, good heavens, there’s no need, young master.”
“My name’s Uub,” the boy said politely.
“Young Master Uub, there is no need at all for you to jump into that hellish water. Now listen here. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is Dr. Sergio 'Surge Protector’ Kunteguero. And, perchance if I’m right, if I’m sharp, if my intuition is correct, as it usually is, I think I may have what you’re looking for.”
“Oh yeah, baby, check this out!” He whipped open his pinstripe coat, revealing what looked like fried chicken (something Uub had only seen once on a billboard in Karuka City) hanging on hooks, though each of the two dozen or so pieces were larger than any chicken. Despite the meat being in the man’s coat, his mouth watered. He wanted to feel sickened, but he was too hungry.
“That, young master, is what we call fried alligator, straight from South Island. Mhm, caught them myself yesterday. You better believe it.”
“I live on South Island…”
“Oh you’re one of them, eh? Shame, that. Real shame. What a pity. Damn, just my luck!” He adjusted his collar, composing himself. “Heh, I’d be surprised if you had any money to spend. It’s a thousand zeni per piece. You got enough for them, Master Uub?”
“I don’t have much money, sir. Our village is poor.”
“Ah, that’s a crying shame. A damn shame. But maybe we can make a deal. How much do you have on you right now? Don’t be shy.”
He shifted his feet uncomfortably. “It’s, um, um… none of your business.”
The man smiled warmly. “Oh, Master Uub, what’s a little gossip between friends? Come now, I’m sure it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Besides, I won’t tell anyone. I swear on my step-mother’s life.”
“I only have a single Ƶ500 coin.”
Dr. Kunteguero raised an elbow to his face, closing his eyes. The consummate professional, he composed himself once more. “That’s mighty fine, Master Uub. Look now, I can give you the insider discount. How’s that sound? This right here is alligator oil,” he said, holding up a jar of yellow liquid. “You could use it in a stir fry–would give it a strong flavor, and a healthy one at that.”
Trying to be respectful, he asked, “How much for a jar?”
“Why, I’d be hard-pressed to give these away for less than two fifty a pop.”
The boy blushed; he had only wanted to catch some fish for his family. He couldn’t waste what little money he had on oil. His father would never forgive him if he did. It wasn’t even food. “I-I-I’m sorry, I can’t today. Thank you, but I have to go.” He bowed and started walking into the water.
The man grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. “You know, young master, alligator oil will lengthen your lifespan. It will make you feel more vigorous and content. Why not buy a bottle or two? What harm could it do? You’ll be thanking me by sun-up, I swear to you. Come on, boy, give me that coin. You know you want to. You’ll never find another deal as good as this as long as you live.”
An indescribable heat rose from his cheeks to his forehead. His vision wavered. His lip trembled. He pulled away from the man and felt once more the urgency and tug of those fingertips on his shoulder. Dr. Kunteguero was grinning broadly, his yellow teeth shining.
“Sorry, I can’t… I have to go.”
“You can’t catch fish with your bare hands, young Master Uub. Don’t be a fool. I’m trying to help you. Spend your money well.”
Suddenly, his fist was flying towards the man, and he heard a sound–a sound like a hollow retch–and then nothing. Shuddering, he braced for the man to slap him back. He felt something dripping from his knuckle and opened his eyes. The salesman was lying on his back, his throat caved in, his eyes wide and white, a trail of blood leaking down the corner of his lip. He looked down at his fist, feeling numb. The wave of guilt passed through him like a breeze through leaves. His stomach rumbled again. Uub washed off his hand in the ocean, blinking the salt from his eyes. Once he was done, he pulled the man’s coat off and left.
That night, his village feasted upon alligator and fish alike, and the oil wasn’t half bad either.
- The name of this story comes from a line that Dr. Kunteguero says to Uub. It was originally called Water You Talking About. I changed the name because that one was a little too silly.
- Uub is so often portrayed as a good person, and I'm certain that Toriyama would think he's pure of heart. What about all those fish he's butchered? He's taken to them like a wolf to sheep. The wolf is often portrayed as evil in Toriyama's works, while Uub is just an innocent "gee golly" sort of kid. As is a recurring theme in my fanons, I was criticizing Toriyama's lack of moral consistency here.
- "His lung capacity was far beyond what was typical for his age, as was his stamina. He did not know why he had been blessed with these attributes, for he had never worked harder than anyone else his age." - this is the first indication that Uub has Kid Buu's power level. He doesn't understand why he has such potential, merely believing that he is just strong for his age. Uub also doesn't seem to care that much about it, which is why he never delved into this power much before he met Goku.
- The tone of this story is very airy, light, and relaxed, a far-cry from most other stories in this collection. It takes on the tone of early Dragon Ball as well as late-stage Dragon Ball Z. I've always had an affinity towards the tropics, so the aesthetics of Uub's home take significant priority in this story to establish the tone I was going for.
- "He wanted a good, proper marlin, a big, fighting marlin" - this line refers to something Jerry says in the season 1 finale of Seinfeld.
- The lack of marlin hints at Uub and his village overfishing them in their region.
- Kaluka Island is named after that karuka fruit. As Papaya Island, a canon island, was located nearby, I wanted to keep the fruit theme intact.
- Personally, I think that Kaluka Island's papaya forest is more robust than Papaya Island's, although only for the irony of it.
- Uub tore the skin on his hands because, as a young boy, he is somewhat reckless. We shall later see that emotion come up again when he punches that salesman.
- "Uub stood on the shore, his toes squirming in the sand, eating his papaya and observing the sunset reflecting over the water. He thought he could see a fishing boat far off. A chill, not brought on by the evening trade winds, oscillated through his body. The waves lapped at his ankles, relentless and gentle." - this paragraph attempts to evoke a sense of yuugen. Also, Uub feels the pull of adventure in his heart here. He knows, deep down, that he doesn't want to be confined to his island forever.
- The doctor is named after Sergio Aguero. His original name was Clifford Kuntero, but I changed that during the re-write.
- Dr. Kunteguero was slightly based upon Moneybags from the Spyro the Dragon series, but that's not to say his speech fully mimics that guy. Most of his speech wasn't based on anyone in particular. I was just having a little fun with showing the neuroticism of a desperate snake oil salesman (or, in this case, an alligator oil salesman).
- When Dr. Kunteguero shames the residents of South Island, calling Uub merely "one of them", that is the moment that the boy loses patience with him. He would not have punched the man if not for that comment, hence why the story is named after that bit of dialogue.
- Dr. Kunteguero was meant to be portrayed mostly as a sweaty, smooth-talking salesman who is not quite as good at his job as he thinks he is.
- Kunteguero should not have touched Uub. That was his second major mistake. Being a desperate salesman was not enough to force violence out of Uub. Getting physical and insulting his tribe, however, were things that Uub could not let slide.
- It is funny to me how desperate Kunteguero is to get that Ƶ500 coin. That coin is worth about $4.75 (as of doing this commentary, that's the exchange rate when substituting yen for zeni). To think the salesman was acting this way over $5 is just shameful greed. That he died over it is funnier to me, as that deals with the main theme of this collection - you can't always get what you want, but you're going to get what you need.
- Uub uses his rage to call forth his anger. This is intuitively done. He doesn't really understand what he's doing. His eyes are closed when he punches the man, too, so he did not expect to kill the man with a single blow. He is surprised to see Kunteguero dead. This moment, however, probably influenced him to go to the World Martial Arts Tournament in two years (I don't subscribe to Toyotaro's non-canon theory that King Chappa trained Uub).
- Uub at first feels guilty for killing the man, but that guilt passes, for, in the end, the good doctor got what he deserved. Also, poaching food from South Island, which is a notoriously poor island, was a disgusting thing for him to have done. Returning that alligator meat to his people is one of Uub's great accomplishments.
Nice little story here. The stuff with the salesman utilizes the themes of this collection very well. I also liked the tone and aesthetics of the story, the light and airy prose, and the focus on dialogue above all else. Exploring Uub in such a way is how I prefer it - I don't think I could write about Uub for much longer than this, yet exploring the story of the first man he killed was of moderate interest to me. Overall, this story is everything I wanted it to be.
<---- Part 134
Part 136 ---->