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The Dragon Ball manga series was written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. The story was originally based on a parody of the famous folktale "Journey to the West"(1590s). All the original cast was based upon each character in the story. The first chapter was published in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump in December of 1984.

" Meet a naive young monkey-tailed boy named Goku, whose quiet life changes when he meets Bulma, a girl who is on a quest to collect seven "Dragon Balls." If she gathers them all, an incredibly powerful dragon will appear and grant her one wish. But the precious orbs are scattered all over the world, and Bulma needs Goku's help (and his super-strength)! With a magic staff for a weapon and a flying cloud for a ride, Goku sets out on the adventure of a lifetime... "


  • Shueisha (Japan)
  • VIZ Media (North America)
  • Gollancz Manga (United Kingdom)
  • Glenat (France)
  • Grupo Editorial Vid (Mexico)
  • Planeta DeAgostini Comics (Spain)
  • Editions Star Comics (Italy)
  • Carlsen Comics (Germany)
  • Glénat Benelux (Dutch)
  • Carlsen (Danish)
  • Japonica Polonica Fantastica (JPF) (Poland)
  • Conrad (Portuguese)
  • Bonnier Carlsen (Switzerland)
  • China Children Press & Publication Group (China)

Publication History

Dragon Ball began publication as a weekly manga series in Shonen Jump magazine in 1984. It was originally intended to be an adventure and comedy series that parodied the folktale "Journey to the West". Dragon Ball Volume 1 in Japan was published in November 10, 1985. The series in Japan had a total of 42 total volumes. The last of which was published in August 4, 1995. Akira stopped writing and illustrating the series in 1995, feeling that he needed a break for awhile.

After the publication of the final chapter of Volume 16, the series had a drastic redevelopment. Goku was originally intended to just be a monkey boy but later was revealed to be an alien species called a Saiyan. The villain Piccolo was also revealed as another alien species called a Namekian. This was not part of the manga's original concept and the theme of the series became an adventure, scifi, fighting series. There was a time skip of several years in which Goku had a son with his wife Chi Chi named Gohan(named after his grandfather).

The series has become the major inspiration to many future manga writers and artists, inspiring such works as One Piece by Eiichiro Oda and Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto. In December 25, 2006, Toriyama would team up with Eiichiro Oda to create a rare crossover of their own unique worlds in a story titled " Cross Epoch". It was an original, non-canon story that combined characters from both Dragon Ball and One Piece together.

In North America, Dragon Ball was licensed by VIZ Media. It was originally released in a U.S. comic format on 2000. Each comic contained an average of two to three chapters and cost $2.95. This this version was canceled due to poor sales and cost in 2002. The first true volume of Dragon Ball in North America was later released on March 2003 and was heavily censored for nudity and foul gestures, such as exposed breasts and middle fingers. Reader outrage against the censorship was strong enough to force VIZ Media to publish an uncut version of the Dragon Ball manga along with a censored version for younger audiences.

In June of 2008, VIZ Media began a republication of the Dragon Ball manga in a larger collection series in their line of VIZBig mangas, a format that encapsulated three volumes into a single volume. Pages that were originally in color in the Japanese publication were produced in color for the VIZBig format. Much of the censorship that VIZ had discontinued previously returned in this publication. It was actually more edited than the original manga in the United States by VIZ Media.

When published by VIZ Media, the series after Volume 16 was renamed as Dragon Ball Z to mimick the name change given to the anime and to avoid confusion of the American audience.(See Dragon Ball Z manga for further details.)


Censorship example of the VIZ Media publication.
Censorship example of the VIZ Media publication.

All Japanese volumes were altered to the English language by VIZ Media, also they released a censored, as well as a non-censored series for those of older age. All 42 volumes were released, either being censored or non-censored. Some of the censored actions include middle fingers, colors of different characters skins, as well as names of certain characters that were named inappropriate to the American child's eye.


Since the story was originally based on a parody of the famous folktale "Journey to the West". Much of the original cast was based on each character from the original story. It would later go on to expand the cast to a vast array of original characters once the story expanded form a comedy parody to action-adventure.


Goku Son 孫 悟空

Goku is the main protagonist in the manga series. An odd young boy with a tail with incredible strength who was raised in the isolated mountains by his grandfather Gohan. He began his journey to search for the Dragon Balls with Bulma, but would go on to train as a martial artist to take the title of the world's best at the World's Martial Arts Tournament. He's an innocent boy who is pure of heart.

Goku was based of the Journey to the West character Sun Wokong.

Bulma ブルマ

Bulma is another major protagonist in the series. She's a brilliant young adventurer who began the journey for the Dragon Balls after she created the Dragon Radar based on a Dragon Ball she found in her basement. She's a master inventor who has anything one could need with the amazing technology of the Capsule Corporation. She convinced Goku to join her on the journey, and she wants the Dragon Balls to make a wish for a hot boyfriend and a life time supply of strawberries.

Bulma was based of the Journey to the West main protagonist Xuanzang.

Oolong ウーロン

Oolong is a very greedy creature, and uses his abilites for his own wants and desires. He is a very talented shapeshifter, but was kicked out of shapeshifting school because he stole the teachers underwear. He would join Goku and Bulma in the hunt to find the Dragon Balls with a secret plan is to eventually steal them all to make his own wish.

Oolong was based of the Journey to the West character Zhu Wuneng.

Yamcha ヤムチャ

Yamcha is a bandit in the series. With his talking-cat partner Puar, he originally tries to steal the Dragon Balls from Goku and Bulma to wish to overcome his uncontrollable nervousness around women. He would later later becomes an ally to Goku and challenge him in the World's Martial Arts Tournament.

Yamcha was based of the Journey to the West character Sha Wujing.

Master Roshi 武天老師

Master Roshi is a master of the martial arts. A perverted old man who loves lovely young ladies. He lives alone on an isolated island called Kame House. He takes on Goku and Krillin as his pupils to train them for the World's Martial Arts Tournament. In the disguise of the martial artist Jackie Chun, he challenges the skill of his students in the tournament to keep Goku from winning too easily. It was his master who sealed away the evil Demon King Piccolo.

Krillin クリリン

Krillin is the best friend of Goku and fellow pupil of Master Roshi. Together they trained for the World's Martial Arts Tournament. He was just as lecherous as Master Roshi. After the two year time skip, Krillin only grew slightly. He was murdered by one of the henchmen of Demon King Piccolo, but revived by the Dragon Balls.


Pilaf ピラフ

Pilaf is the original antagonist of the Dragon Ball series. He's a diminutive king who discovers the existence of the Dragon Balls and challenges Goku and Bulma for possession of all seven. With the assistance of his two henchmen Mai and Shu, he searches for the Dragon Balls to wish to become the ruler of the entire world.

King Piccolo ピッコロ大魔王

Demon King Piccolo is the evil half of the guardian of the Earth, Kami. Attempting to purify himself, Kami seperated all his evil emotions from his body into a form that took the name of Piccolo and attempted to rule the world. He was sealed into a rice cooker for centuries. After being revived by Pilaf, King Picollo created more offspring and attempted to conquer the world again.

Piccolo ピッコロ

Piccolo is a major antagonist in the series, he is a very skilled fighter with vast abilities. He has very specific Namekian physiology, he can move at speeds that can not be seen as well as being able to regenerate limbs that have been torn off. He, along with Goku, has many different chi energy based attacks, the most powerful being Makankosappo. Piccolo's strength and speed can also be slightly increased when under strength or other strong emotion. He is seen mostly in the final volume, titled," Goku vs Piccolo." This specific volume dealing mostly with the different attacks and battles between Goku and Piccolo.

Story Arcs

Since the series was published in the U.S. was separated by Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. The original Dragon Ball series is considered the "Goku Saga", but is is filled with several story arcs in his journey to find the Dragon balls and win the World's Martial Arts Tournament. It is contained in the first 16 volumes and a total of 194 chapters. After Volume 13 (1988), there was a two year time skip where Goku trained for the Martial Arts Tournament. Much of the cast was unchanged, with the exception of Goku and Krillin who had aged and grew.

Goku Saga

  • Journey for the Dragon Balls Arc
  • Martial Arts Tournament Arc Part 1
  • Red Ribbon Army Arc
  • Martial Arts Tournament Arc Part 2
  • King Piccolo Arc
  • Martial Arts Tournament Arc Part 3
General Information Edit
English Name Dragon Ball
Japanese Name: ドラゴンボール,
Romaji: Doragon Bōru
Publisher Viz Media
Start Year 1984
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