In the last twenty years, Anime has become increasingly popular all over the world. It has crossed the boundaries of its native Japan and has claimed recognition on par with other cartoons produced in Europe and USA. Dragon Ball is one such Japanese anime manga series. The series was first created in 1984 by Akira Toriyama. Toriyama was then famously known for his manga series Dr. Slump (1980-84). When Dragon Ball was created and serialized initially in manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jumpon 3rd December, 1984 it was not in the format it was famously known for among fans.
Dragon Ball took inspiration from the Classic Chinese myth Journey to the West. Its main character Son Goku was founded on the legendary monkey king Sun Wukong, hence Goku also has a monkey tail. The series mixes comedy with action and follows the adventures of Goku as he explores the world searching for seven dragon balls. The seven dragon balls, when brought together, have the potency to summon a wish-granting dragon. Goku, in his journey, makes many friends and had to fight many enemies who were also seeking dragon balls. Dragon Ball series originally comprised of 519 chapters that were published in 42 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha.
Dragon Ball series was a significant success and hence Toei Animation produced its animated version Dragon Ball the anime which premiered on 26th February 1986 and finished on 19th April 1989 running for 153 episodes. At that time, story was still ongoing. Therefore, Toei continued the story with a second series retitled Dragon Ball Z. Notably Dragon Ball Z was a more serious epic, sci-fi antecedent as compared to its comedic, fantasy precedent. Dragon Ball Z proved to be an even bigger success. Toei later conceptualized a third animated series Dragon Ball GT though it was majorly based on new material with a little help from Toriyama. It was received poorly, and its status as a ‘true’ sequel is also worth a debate.
In 1995, American Anime distributor FUNimation Entertainment acquired the license to release the series in USA. The original version was heavily edited and was a categorical failure. Later it’s rebroadcast with fewer edits as a part of Cartoon Network’s ‘Toonami’ block in 1998 made Dragon Ball Z an even bigger spectacle in USA than in Japan. Interestingly the show also had a huge South American following. In similar fashion, it was released in UK by Gollancz Manga and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. Dragon Ball series later also inspired a variety of films, collectible card games and a large number of video games. 20th Century Fox in 2009 released a live-action film Dragon ball Evolution though it received a negative reception.
Dragon Ball series is one of the most famous anime and manga series of all time. It is the second best-selling manga series in history. It is praised for its humour, art and vigour. It is also a source of inspiration for many modern works. Anime series, Particularly Dragon Ball Z, has debatably influenced the popularity of Japanese anime in western nations and even today, it remains a timeless classic beloved by millions.