Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball is an anime series in the Dragon Ball franchise
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The story of the adventures of Goku from a small child to a young adult.

Son Goku (Sun Wu-Kong) is an orphan martial artist, taught by the Master Kamesennin (Roshi) and enlisted by Bulma, a pretty girl whose father owns the Capsule Corporation, to help her search for the seven legendary Dragon Balls. If brought together in the presence of the dragon god, Shen Long (Shin Long), these balls will grant a single wish. The two assemble a band of pilgrims, and, with time out for many martial arts tournaments and fights with divine beings, slowly gather the seven orbs. Members include Yamcha the highwayman; his shapeshifting feline partner, Pooal; Oolong the pig; Goku's future wife, Chichi; and Goku's Buddhist classmate, Krillin. They must also fight off other groups, including the Red Ribbon organization, which wishes to change the space-time continuum by destroying Goku. Eventually, the high demon Piccolo uses the Dragon Balls to rejuvenate himself then kill Shen Long, while Goku and his gang travel to another world to use their Dragon Balls instead and prevent the alien overlord Frieza from getting them himself.

Tiring of his Doctor Slump and seeking a clean break from Western inspirations, creator Akira Toriyama plucked elements from Journey to the West for this follow-up. Redeveloping his early strip Dragon Boy, which incorporated Jackie Chan homages, he published Dragon Ball in 1984, and the series was soon animated. With a reset-to-zero gimmick in the balls' unerring habit of scattering themselves throughout the universe and taking a year to recharge, the anime was able to stretch itself out for a formidable run, becoming one of the smashes of the late 1980s. It was less successful in the U.S., where only 26 episodes were shown before the distributors Funimation ditched the rest of the series and relaunched with DBZ (see below, though in 2001 they announced they would go back and fill in the gap).

Short "movie" versions followed as part of double and triple bills, beginning with Nishio's DB: Legend of the Dragon (1986), in which Goku fights the evil Pasta and Pongo. The same director made DB: Sleeping Beauty in the Magic Castle (1987), while Takenouchi took over for the final film, DB: Marvelous Magical Mystery (1988), in which the cast of DB wanders into Doctor Slump's Penguin Village for a cross-over. All formed parallel stories designed not to interfere with the continuity of the series, which eventually finished in 1989.

The DB sequel, DBZ, jumps three years into the future when an older Goku is now married with a son, Gohan. Because this is where many foreign-language versions begin, early episodes often seem like a massive class reunion at which the viewer knows nobody. Goku is attacked by the alien Raditz, who reveals that Goku is his brother, a Sayajin alien, sent to destroy the planet many years ago. Goku refuses to blow up his adopted home and opposes the invading Sayajin, dying and then being reborn as a blond-haired "Super Sayajin." Violence and some nudity were cut for the U.S. release, but even in this bowdlerized form, the series remained popular.

This series also had a thriving series of short "movie" spin-offs, beginning with DBZ (1989) and then following with two a year, one for each major school holiday. These included The World's Strongest and Dead Zone (both 1990, and released in the U.S. following the success of the DBZ TV series), Super Sayajin Son Goku and Tree of Might (both 1991, and U.S. releases), Collision: Billion Powered Warriors and Extreme Battle: Three Super Sayajin (both 1992), Ignite! Burning Fight! Greater Fight! Super Conflict Fight!, and Galaxy Flex! Very Threatening Guy (both 1993), Dangerous Duo! Super Warriors Never Rest and Super Warrior Destructive Fist: I Am the Victor (both 1994), Return Fusion! Goku and Vegeta and Strike Out Dragon Punch: Who'll Get Goku? (both 1995), and, at last, the 80-minute feature The Strongest Way (1996).

DBZ came off the air in 1996, a few months after Toriyama pleaded exhaustion and stopped drawing the manga. Rebranded as Dragon Ball G(rand) T(our) the following month, it featured the return of arch-nemesis Emperor Pilaf with yet another set of Dragon Balls. The emperor accidentally wishes for Goku to be a child once more, so the new kiddie-friendly Goku sets out on another galactic adventure with Pan (his granddaughter) and an older version of Trunks (son of Bulma and Goku's alien nemesis-turned-buddy Vegeta). Directed by Osamu Kasai, the new series seemed to have lost the magic and ended in November 1997. Tellingly, this was also the same time as Toriyama's Doctor Slump was brought back on air, perhaps showing that the artist wasn't quite so tired of his original creation after all. The story also exists in a tacky live-action 1996 Cantonese adaptation, DB: The Movie, directed by Joe Chan.
Season/Ep# Name Airdate
1 - 93
An Equally Matching Force!! Tenshinhan vs Jackie
1 - 92
Wai~t! Calling on Son Goku!!
1 - 91
A Sudden Turn-Around!! Kuririn's Great Strategy
1 - 90
Nanana!! What's this, the Dodonpa
1 - 89
Be Afraid!! Resentment of the Full Moon
1 - 88
Go, Yamcha! The Dreadful Tenshinhan
1 - 87
Showdown!! Yamcha vs Tenshinhan
1 - 86
Then There were Eight
1 - 85
Preliminary Peril
1 - 84
Rivals and Arrivals
1 - 83
Hurry, Goku! Tenkaichi Budoukai
1 - 82
The Violent Monster Inoshikacho
1 - 81
Goku Goes to the World of Spirits
1 - 80
A Crucial, Honorable Match! Goku vs Tenron
1 - 79
Kinkaku and Ginkaku's Man-Eating Gourd
1 - 78
Once Again, Shenron
1 - 77
Pilaf's Great Strategy
1 - 76
The Masked Man's True Identity!?
1 - 75
Clash!! The Kindred Formidable Enemy
1 - 74
A Glimpse at the Mysterious Fifth Man

View all 153 episodes »

Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Takao Koyama
Shunsuke Kikuchi
Minoru Maeda
Akira Toriyama

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Dragon Ball
Name: ドラゴンボール
Romaji: Doragon Booru
Publisher Toei Animation
Start Year 1986
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Aliases DragonBall
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