A Look Back At: Dragon Ball

While I’ve talked about anime a little bit on this blog, I thought I’d dig right to one of the biggest anime of all time, Dragon Ball. Now when I talk about Dragon Ball, I mean all three shows; Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT. I’ve watched all of the shows and was left with a positive outlook on the series as a whole. It’s a part of my life that is shared with plenty of people in my generation, however the show wasn’t always that good.

Let’s break it down into parts:

Dragon Ball was created by Akira Toriyama and was published by Shueisha. The series ran from December of 1984 to June of 1995 and had 42 volumes. Toei Animation adapted the series; their first series debuted in 1986.

The basic story was partially based upon the Chinese novel Journey to the West as it follows a child/monkey as he goes on adventures and fights evil, while looking for magical artifacts called Dragon Balls.

The show was first licensed in North America by Harmony Gold USA in 1989, the company that created the Robotech series, which was popular at the time. They dubbed a limited number of episodes and tested it in a few markets, but it was eventually cancelled. Funimation Entertainment then picked it in 1995.

Their first run of Dragon Ball failed after 13 episodes due to low ratings, however they chose to move on to the sequel series Dragon Ball Z. The show was a hit and made the company a lot of money. They continued to release the original series and the third series GT as well as the franchises many movies.

Today, Dragon Ball is one of the largest anime properties in the world. The show also has attracted a different audience with the creation of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, a parody of the show, which follows the main plot but pokes fun of the series at the same time.

Dragon Ball

I can remember being four or five sitting in my living room watching YTV when this weird cartoon came on the air. I didn’t now what anime was, or even that the show was from another country but it quickly captured my attention.

It was different, it had action, comedy and something that would invade my dreams later in my life; science fiction.

The story follows a young boy, named Son Goku. We see a brief synopsis of early life as he is found and adopted by a man in the woods named Gohan. He tries to raise him as his own son however he’s later killed in an event that Goku can’t remember. He then lives by himself in the woods.

It isn’t until a girl from the outside world, named Bulma, comes to his home for a family artifact that the story starts.

From there were told about the Dragon Balls, seven magical artifacts that if collected in one place a person’s wish could come true. The two agree to work together to find the balls and meet up a number of friends and enemies along the way.

We later find out more about this strange little boy, as his new friends discover his ability to turn into a giant monkey that can destroy just about anything in his path.

The group find the Dragon Balls but are captured by Emperor Pilaf and the group have to stop him from using the wish for evil.

The plot continues as Goku trains with the legendary martial artist/sex offender (not really) Master Roshi . He also meets his long time friend Krilin. After they train with Roshi they both enter the world martial arts tournament. From their Goku fights the Red Ribbon Army then the evil lord Piccolo and his emoish son.

During this time Goku meet even more friends that would be a staple of the next series the biggest one being his love interest Chi-Chi.

For some reason this concept really caught my attention. I continued to watch the show until it was eventually removed from the network. I later watched the whole series when the Internet became a great place for pirating anime.

But the thing that I loved about the show was how we say this character grow from this little boy with a tail that could turn into a giant monkey, into a man (physically but not mentally at least). While the next series would focus less and less on Goku, fans around the world loved this character.

Dragon Ball Z

While the first series didn’t really hit with many people, the sequel series Z did. It’s probably due to the shows faster pace (at first) and plot reveals that changed the series completely.

From the first episode we see that Goku has married Chi-Chi and the two have a son together. After a reunion of sorts with the main characters from the last series, Goku meets his brother Raditz (who is so important that he’s in two episodes of a nearly 300 episode saga) who tells him about his true family history. Goku is one a few surviving members from the extinct alien race called Saiyans. The race thrives on war and worked for Lord Frieza as soldiers who kill all life on plants so Frieza can sell them. He then beats him up and takes his son Gohan with him to his ship.

Goku has to his arc-enemy Piccolo to defeat him but during the fight Goku is killed, on top of that they also find out that two more Saiyan’s are coming to earth to A. killed everyone on earth and B. use the Dragon Balls to make themselves immortal (get use to that plot point).

Also during this time we also find out the Piccolo is also an alien. His races of people, Namkians, have the ability to create Dragon Balls and if the creator is killed the Dragon Balls are useless.

The characters have a year before they arrive, as Goku, in heaven, has to train with a god-like entity name King Kai and the rest of the warriors have to train and prepare for the invasion as well as wise Goku back to life.

So as you can tell from that description, the series changes a lot in THREE EPISODES!

This is something that bothers me, I’ve never read the manga but I’d hope that the plot shift was handled better there then in the series.

So Goku comes back and defeat the Suyians, killing the crony Nappa and letting the prince Vegeta live. Despite the victory Goku is left injured and many of the characters including Piccolo are dead making earths Dragon Balls powerless. So the heroes have to TRAVEL TO SPACE AND GO TO THE NAMKIAN HOME WORLD TO FIND THE DRANGON BALLS AND WISH EVERYONE BACK TO LIFE!

Remember when this show was like this?:

Just a kid with a tail that could turn into a giant monkey, a teenage girl who was forced to wear a bunny suit from time to time, a bandit with blue balls and a talking, shape-shifting cat and pig out on an adventure. Things were just so…normal then. Now there’s aliens? That’s just odd.

So the series continued as on Namkian home world the evil lord Frieza wants the dragon balls to wish for (what else) immortality and the characters have to team up with their new arc-enemy Vegeta to defeat him (seeing a pattern?).

From there the series focused on the return of the Red Ribbon army, robots, time travel, another world martial arts tournament, and a…Majin Buu.

I don’t really know what to say about this character…

The series follows a standard pattern of Goku or one of the other characters having to fight a even stronger opponent, getting their asses kick, nearly getting killed, finding out that they become even more powerful some how and the beating the piss out of the bad guy.

The series ends with Goku training a new character, which is like a reincarnated version of Majin Buu or something and everyone is happy. And they all live happily ever after…OR DO THEY?

Dragon Ball GT

After Dragon Ball Z they had used up all of the volumes of the manga but the series was extremely popular, so the ordered another series. And this one is bad my friends.

The show started with an older Goku training the New Buu and Empire Pilaf returns and finds something called the Black Star Dragon Balls (or plot device for short).

The f*ck?

He summons the dragon and Goku tries to interfere. Pilaf more or less says, “I wish you were a kid again so I could kick your ass.” So the dragon turns Goku into a kid…yeah.

The plot devices then fly off and scatter around the galaxy. Also Goku is told that if there not returned within a year then…and I sh*t you not, earth will blow up. Who thought this feature was a good idea?

So Goku, Trunks, Goku’s  granddaughter Pan and an annoying robot have to travel around in space and find the emo balls so earth doesn’t blow up.

These series is so dumb that, it took me about four years to make it all the way through. Thankfully the series wasn’t as long as the last series but it was the most painful 64 episodes of my life.

I’m not going to talk to much about this one cause it could be a focus of a future article. But in short is awful.


So what started as three people trying to wish for three different things turned into a shonen tournament anime, then a Sci Fi show, to…whatever the hell you want to call GT all in the span of around 500 episodes.

While the series wasn’t always that enjoyable for me, it’s an amazing feat from all of the people that worked on the show. The very fact that a show could even last through three series and spawn around 20 movies and one major American Motion picture (were getting to that, just wait) is extremely impressive.

It would be kind of redundant to recommend this show because how popular it was. Chances are you’ve seen this show and have your own opinions on it.

This series is important to me and many other people in the world. I’m just happy there isn’t another series…yet.

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