At the end of Dragon Ball, when Goku and Chi Chi were questing to find the Bansho Fan to put out the fire trapping the Ox King, it seems as if they could have used the Dragon Balls to do it quickly. More than one year had passed since their previous usage and, as far as I could tell, the balls were not scattered after wishing Krillin and the others back to life (they remained on the ground at the Kame House after the wish).

So, it seems like they could have quickly made a wish to stop the flames and restore the castle. Why did they not do so? I did not read the manga, I only watched the anime. Was there a specific reason that either I missed, or that was perhaps stated in the manga, or was it simply a plot device to fill the last few episodes of the series?

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    This is exactly what Shenron was talking about, you shouldn't overuse the dragonballs like that! Doesn't it make sense to do it this way? If they could save them without resorting to the wish, it saves them the wish. If they fail, they could just resurrect them anyway. – Peter Raeves Mar 10 '15 at 12:07
  • @PeterRaeves Thanks. That's a good point and seems likely, although a flashback to that point or a suggestion by somebody and refusal for that reason would have made it concrete (also they didn't have any qualms about the possibility of wishing Kami back). Dragon Ball had lots of holes in general but many times the holes were filled by some quick reasoning in the dialog; so I expected something similar here since the motive to put the fire out was the key premise to the last few episodes. Unless some other evidence comes around I guess I'll just believe it's for that reason. – Jason C Mar 10 '15 at 15:37
  • Hm; I rewatched the first few episodes of DBZ. At the Kame House, when talking about Son Gohan's hat, Goku mentions that it took him a while to find the 4-star ball and that he's made a hobby out of collecting Dragon Balls. This implies that they were scattered (which must have been after the last wish to bring Krillin back, assuming nothing happened in the five year jump between series), so maybe that's why, even though it was never shown or mentioned in Dragon Ball (making it the only wish scene up to that point that didn't explicitly show the balls scattering). – Jason C Mar 10 '15 at 15:42
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    They were indeed scattered as you can see here in chapter 165, but that wouldn't completely answer your question as Bulma had the dragon radar from the beginning, so it wouldn't take them 3 years to get all the dragon balls. – Peter Raeves Mar 10 '15 at 15:46
  • Here I was reading the manga for an answer... Looks like the wedding dress saga was filler... >_< That's why I couldn't find it. – Peter Raeves Mar 10 '15 at 16:13

Your assumption about the dragon balls was wrong. They did indeed scatter in chapter 156, right after Shenlon brought everyone back to life. Also seeing the mini saga about the wedding-dress was anime filler to begin with, one could argue that it would be pretty lame to fill it with the gang just using the dragon balls.

Apart from that, it should be noted that getting the dragon balls wasn't as easy as it sounds at that time. Bulma did have the dragon radar, but she would not have been able to retrieve them all on her own as we had seen earlier in the series. And Goku couldn't help her either as he had promised to train at the sanctuary with God for three years. He was stuck there all the way to the tournament.

So when the fire actually happened, it would take Goku less time to get the fan, than to collect all dragon balls. So trying to get the fan first, would be the best choice of action. If he would fail, they could collect the dragon balls as a backup plan anyway.

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