Hello! I am Kitahata, the editor-in-chief at MANGA.TOKYO. I live in Japan and turn press releases from Japanese companies into articles that are easy for those outside of Japan to understand. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
Hi there. It’s Mokugyo, an otaku writer who loves manga and anime. I look forward to watching Dragon Ball Super every week. I’m pleased it’s still on the air because, although I’ve been watching the Dragon Ball series for ages, I didn’t expect that the popularity of the anime would continue for this long.
Dragon Ball Z is the anime that represents the 90s. I love its theme song ‘Cha-La Head Cha-La.’ It really fits the atmosphere of the story. In this article, I’m going to write about the lyrics of the song.
‘Cha-La Head Cha-La’ is the theme song of Dragon Ball Z, the second series of the franchise released in 1989, and the one that most fans associate the whole series with. It was used from the beginning of the Z series until episode 199 as the opening theme.
An experienced singer of anime songs, Hironobu Kageyama, used his powerful voice to give the song its distinctive sound! There are many versions of the song in different languages, though the Japanese original version is the most well known worldwide.
In this article, I want to delve deeper into the Japanese lyrics. It was written by Yukinojo Mori, a famous lyricist with a long career.
Piercing the shining clouds, I fly away (fly away),
While a panorama spreads through my body.
The lyrics begin with these lines along with an image of Goku flying in the sky on the flying nimbus, Kinto-un. The lyrics refer to him flying through the shining clouds while overlooking panoramic views. These words were placed at the beginning because they are relevant of the story: they show the act of flying. Although he needed Kinto-un to fly at the start, he was able to fly on his own after mastering Bukujutsu. Most of the fighters can fly by manipulating their ‘ki’ energy. The battle scenes in the characters are flying up into the skies are the best of the anime series.
There are so many anime in Japan, but due to the difficulty of drawing such scenes, Dragon Ball is probably the only popular anime with flying battles in which fighters from both sides fly without any equipment or machines. Akira Toriyama, the original creator of the manga, has a great skill: he can draw stereoscopic pictures and characters at any angle. He can attract readers just with a single picture of a battle with flying characters. The anime series became a big hit by utilizing the images of its original manga to the maximum extent. The lyrics at the beginning demonstrate the fact that Dragon Ball Z is a story of flying fighters.
Kicked in the face, the Earth gets angry (gets angry),
And makes a volcano explode!
The next lines are interesting as well. Of course, the lyrics are not literal. There is no such scene where the Earth is kicked in its face and gets angry. The lyrics are suggesting macrocosmic events that occur in the narrative. The words ‘angry’ and ‘explode’ imply the plot of Goku’s transformation to a Super Saiyan from his fury and the explosion of Namek. The lyrics here imply the story without using particular proper nouns, such as Saiyan.
Within the melted polar ice,
If there’s a dinosaur, I want to train it to balance on a ball!
In order to understand this part of the lyrics, we need a brief lesson in Japanese. The language uses three scripts: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Kanji, adopted from traditional Chinese characters, sometimes have small letters of hiragana or katakana, called furigana, next to them to indicate the correct pronunciation. In the lyrics, the Japanese word ‘North Pole’ is indicated to be read as ‘ice’. Practically speaking, ‘North Pole’ is never read as ‘ice.’ However, this word connotes that for Goku and his fellow fighters, even a large space such as the North Pole feels like just a piece of ice. The word ‘ice’ is used to describe the large-scale feeling of the story.
But what about ‘If there’s a dinosaur, I want to train it to balance on a ball!’? In fact, a dinosaur is in the story during Gohan’s childhood. Young Gohan was chased by a dinosaur while he was training but later he became strong enough not to be scared of it. Apart from Gohan’s story, Goku also became good friends with Icarus. This line is also a suggestion on how the story would evolve.
Furthermore, it indicates Goku’s fearless curiosity, by which he would train a dinosaur to balance on a ball! A dinosaur sleeping in ice is a metaphor for a tough opponent. Take Majin Buu as an example; he had existed since ancient times but was sealed in a magic ball. In the last half of the story, he was released and waged fierce battles against Goku and his team. Through the battles, they gradually nurtured a friendship and Buu joined Goku’s side. The lyrics imply the plot points in which the heroes become friends with their former enemies.
Cha-La Head Cha-La
No matter what happens, I feel like it’s no big deal!
Cha-La Head Cha-La
Just as loudly as my heart pounds,
The Spirit Bomb roars
The sound of ‘Head Cha-La’ (hecchara) means ‘I’m alright’ in Japanese. It refers to a casual way often used by children, similar to ‘no big deal’. Adults rarely use the word. However, Goku is a character who can say ‘Head Cha-La’ with no hesitation. The word demonstrates Goku’s innocence, childishness, and unsophisticated nature. ‘Head Cha-La’ also suggests Goku’s strong will: whatever happens, he stays positive.
‘The Spirit Bomb roars!’ refers to Goku’s killer technique ‘Spirit Bomb’ (Genki-Dama), the only technique mentioned in the song. ‘Genki’ in Japanese means the origin of ‘Ki’, which is also known as ‘Qi’ and ‘Chi’ and means the energy of matter. Dama means a round object most typically for a pearl or a precious stone. Goku gathers ‘Ki’ from the people all over the globe creating a massive ball of ‘Ki’, which he then throws at his enemies. It’s a decisive technique, therefore the word is placed at the last part of the song. The word ‘Dama’ is a play on the word for ‘Ball’ in ‘Dragon Ball’ as well.
Cha-La Head Cha-La
I’d rather my head be empty, so I can stuff it with dreams!
Cha-La Head Cha-La
With a smile that’s Ultra-Z,
Even today is ai-yai-yai-yai-yai…Sparking!
Lyrics taken from
“Cha-La Head-Cha-La” by Hironobu Kageyama
Lyrics: Yukinojo Mori
Composer: Chiho Kiyooka
Publisher: Fuji Pacific Music
First Release: 1989
As the lyrics say ‘I’d rather have my head be empty, so I can stuff it with dreams!’, Dragon Ball Z can be enjoyed with an empty head. The storylines are easy to understand, and that is one of the reasons for its popularity. The lyrics plainly point out the simpleness of the story of Dragon Ball.
Let’s focus on the title of the song again. ‘Cha-La’ in ‘Cha-La Head Cha-La’ means ‘call it even’ in Japanese. For instance, making a debt ‘chara’ means canceling the debt. Therefore, ‘Head Cha-La’ means ‘empty the head’. The title of the song ‘Cha-La Head Cha-La’ shows Goku’s strong to stay positive no matter what happens.
At the end of the song, the words ‘With a smile that’s Ultra-Z’ appear. ‘Z’ in Dragon Ball Z implies ‘last’ and ‘ultimate’, therefore the series originally was intended to be the last of Dragon Ball. The series was prolonged quite a bit due to its popularity, and further series, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super, were published.
Well, that’s about it for my analysis of the ‘Cha-La Head Cha-La’ lyrics. Knowing the meaning of the lyrics makes the theme song more appealing, doesn’t it? I hope more people will sing ‘Cha-La Head Cha-La’. Now, let’s sing the song!