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Is DRAGON BALL Actually Inspired by JOURNEY TO THE WEST?

#4 -- Retro Review. It's like a joke's been played on us!

Never would’ve expected Goku to pull a cross-dressing trick out of Bugs Bunny’s playbook…

This episode felt the most like LOONY TOONS out of any single installment in this entire franchise. Oolong seems like he’d fit right in on some police line-up with Pepe Lepew and the Big Red Monster. The way he was cycling through forms in the final chase me made half-expect him to morph into an ACME brand product.

Of course, I remember that Oolong’s supposed to correspond to a pig man from JOURNEY TO THE WEST. I’ve yet to actual read that epic for myself, but I’m starting to think that doing so wouldn’t reveal anything too profound about DRAGON BALL’s underpinnings. Part of the appeal of doing these episode-by-episode write-ups is that I repeatedly find out how much of a gulf can exist between how something can be described in a little trivia blurb… and how it actually plays.

CASE IN POINT: For as long as I’ve dealt with DBZ, people have loved to bring up how it originally drew inspiration from JOURNEY TO THE WEST, the Chinese epic that mythologizes the spread of Buddhism to China by having the Monkey King character actually bring it over.

On paper, that sounds profound. In practice, I get the sense that remarking on DRAGON BALL’s connection to JOURNEY TO THE WEST is as revealing as pointing out SHREK’s connection CINDERELLA. It’s a story most everybody in the East already knows. It’s general enough to be a given. Our lead has a monkey tail, a battle staff and a cloud chariot, the name ‘Son Goku’ is a corruption of ‘Son Wukong’ and now he’s got a pig for a friend. And I’ll guess that’s the extent of the parallelisms. All this time, the connection really hasn't been that profound.

Watch "Oolong the Terrible" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode.

Kino88on June 11, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.
Tom is this your first time watching Dragon Ball?, if so I'm jealous, Also while I wouldn't call that conection profound, it's still a fun fact Worth bringing up, in fact Toriyama also said that much of early Dragon Ball was greatly influenced by the Kung fu Jackie chan comedy "The Drunken Master", there's even an episode were master Roshi Disguises him self as a martial artist under the alias "Jackie Chun", So I'd say there were likely many other quirky inspirations That helped shape this classic,
Lurkeroon June 11, 2014 at 5:07 p.m.

The connection between Dragonball and Journey to the West is definitely loose, but I was surprised by how much the fantasy powers in Dragonball kind of matched the text of Journey. The Monkey King is badass just like some of the Dragonball characters.

Lowon June 12, 2014 at 12:59 a.m.

Dragon Ball is based on Monkey King, a popular char in Journey to the West yes. Other works inspired by this has to be (ones I know):

- The God of Highschool (manhwa - webtoon)

- Monkey King (online game)

- Monkey King Enma / Kongou Form (Naruto)

- Monkey King Staff (Xiaoling Showdown)

- The Sage tools (Fan & Gourd) - Naruto

These are also inspired by chinese folk tales, and is a worthy mention, Wiki also says the tales might have originated from Hanuman - from the Hindu Ramayana.

YotaruVegetaon June 13, 2014 at 7:35 a.m.

(It's LoonEy Toons, not Loony Toons.)

Is Dragonball inspired by Journey to the West? The simple answer is yes. The full answer is yes and no. Like many of my favorite shounen manga authors, Toriyama's influence comes from many sources, worldwide.

Dig Deeper into Dragon Ball

Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball franchise is about the adventures of Goku and his friends from his early childhood to his death and beyond. It begins with a young Saiyan boy named Goku after falling of a cliff and losing his memory, and leads on to an adventure of a lifetime!

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