Our reporter visits several Family Mart branches in her quest to unravel the mystery and comes to an important realization in the end. 

On July 28, Bandai’s “TabeMasu” (short for “taberareru masukotto”) series of “edible mascots” rolled out a new line of character-themed sweets exclusive to Family Mart convenience stores across Japan which celebrates Dragon Ball Super. Each set (398 yen/US$3.76) comes with one wish-granting Shenron Eternal Dragon and one Dragon Ball confectionery randomly numbered 1 through 7. However, our Japanese-language reporter Saya was intrigued by one little detail in Bandai’s promotional campaign–the existence of two “secret” Dragon Balls waiting to be discovered.

 ▼ Does this mean we were lied to throughout our entire childhoods and there were actually Eight and Nine-Star Balls all along??

Since each package is transparent from the outside, customers viewing the desserts in a Family Mart can instantly discover the secrets for themselves. Saya resolved to find them out for herself and paid a few of her local branches a visit.

At the first Family Mart branch she entered she immediately spied four Dragon Ball Super TabeMasu sets in the chilled dessert corner. Score! She then quickly confirmed that three of them included the Four-Star Ball. The stars in the last set were more faded than the others and were harder to see, but it also looked like there were four of them. Was this a coincidence or fate that they were all the same?

This is when Saya began to feel the misgivings of doubt. Bandai’s campaign for the release had also stated that the Dragon Balls were scattered all throughout Japan. Was this their way of letting consumers experience the thrill of seeking them all out by trekking far and wide? If one Family Mart branch stocked only one kind of Ball, she would have to do some serious traveling. Or maybe it was just because the Four-Star Ball was so special in the mythology of Dragon Ball that they had produced a lot of them. It was, after all, a memento of Son Goku’s adopted grandfather and later the one worn by his son Gohan on his hat as a baby.

In any case, it was time for Saya to keep moving. She pumped herself up and headed on over to the second branch.

There was only one set left here and it featured the Three-Star Ball. Once again there was no sign of the secret ones. With only one set left, it was also impossible to prove her theory that each branch carried only one specific numbered Ball.

But it was still early and she was determined to carry on. By the way, large parking lots at the convenience stores were normal in the area where she was scouting, so navigating from one to the next by car wasn’t too hard.

Next was the third branch. There wasn’t a single set left there. They were sold out!

Now, Saya knew there was limited shelf space for displaying popular goods at any given store. She figured that any one item could be allotted roughly 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) in each direction. That would mean that only four to five goods could be displayed at one time, so the popular ones would be gone quickly. She lamented that they had probably all sold out in the morning rush.

OK, so on to the fourth branch…there were none on display there, either! Just eclairs, cream puff pastries, and other western-style desserts.

Finally, the fifth branch. No way…not this place, too…

At these last three stops, Saya had eventually noticed something. The stores didn’t have the feel of having sold out of the Dragon Ball sets just recently. There were no empty spaces or signs on the shelves where they should have been. It was as if these branches hadn’t even carried them in the first place.

Something felt strange. Saya strengthened her resolve and approached a staff member to find out what was going on. Here was the reply:

“Oh yes, we got a delivery of those this week and they sold out. Even we don’t know when the next shipment will be coming in.”

The Dragon Ball Super TabeMasu series went on sale on July 28. Saya went on her quest three days afterwards. In other words, after they had sold out, the empty spaces were promptly filled to display some other sweet treats. Apparently Family Mart wouldn’t be receiving daily deliveries of them like bento and other prepared food items.

Realizing that just getting her hands on any of them was already lucky in itself, she hurried back to the first branch and promptly purchased one of the sets with the Four-Star Ball. The fact that over an hour had passed since she was there earlier and there were still some left seemed like a victory in itself at this point.

By the way, the little Shenron made from matcha, mochi paste, and sweet bean paste was delicately crafted. In fact, he was so cute that it seemed like a shame to eat him…

The bright orange Four-Star Dragon Ball was custard-flavored with a cream filling. It tasted like a delicious western-styled sticky rice cake.

Despite the mystery Dragon Balls ultimately remaining mysteries for the time being, Saya felt like she finally grasped something in the end: the Dragon Balls just wouldn’t be Dragon Balls if you could get your hands on all of them easily. In the original adventures our heroes were able to meet many people and have many adventures precisely because the Balls were scattered all over the Earth. She might not have been able to have Shenron grant her wish this time, but she felt like she had won anyway.

Saya thinks you must be very lucky indeed if you’re able to get your hands on one of the mystery Dragon Ball varieties when they’re not stocked at regular intervals and anyone can see right through the packaging on the shelf. In fact, count yourself blessed by Kami if that’s the case.

Source, top image: Bandai
Insert images: Bandai, SoraNews24
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