The Enduring Appeal of The Dragonball Franchise

The Dragonball series has been around for over 30 years and still remains one of the most popular and highest grossing media franchises globally, having generated over 20 billion in total revenue as of 2018.

Following a diverse cast of aliens and superheroes, its style and range of unique characters have been hugely important in the development of modern manga. The original Dragonball manga was created and written by Akira Toriyama and was released in 1984.
It was serialised by the weekly Shonen-Jump, one of the oldest and most popular manga magazines in Japan.

It became one of the most, if not the most, influential manga of all time – inspiring the likes of Eiichiro Oda (creator of One Piece) Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Tite Kubo (Bleach). These are some of the most popular mangas of modern times.

Original Manga

The original Dragonball manga was also adapted into an anime series by Toei Animation in 1986. It aired until 1989 covering the first 194 chapters of the manga with the same name.

A second series entitled Dragonball Z, covers the other 325 chapters of the 519-chapter original manga series. Both these series were then dubbed into a total of 81 countries including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – just to name a few.

Going Worldwide

Due to the massive success of the anime in the United States, the American graphic novel and comic publisher Viz Media eventually translated the Dragonball manga for a Western audience. This saw Dragonball Z’s popularity grow exponentially over the years, covering 17 movies and over 140 video games – although most of these have sadly only been released in Japan.

A later anime series titled Dragonball GT (Grand Tour) aired in Japan in 1996 until late 1997. This was the first series not based on the source material of the manga by Toriyama. Instead it was a direct sequel to Dragonball Z, with its own original story set in the same world. Fans have spent years debating whether or not it is considered canon in the manga universe.

Into the Modern Day

18 years later in a direct sequel to the Dragonball manga would be released. This new anime series, titled Dragonball Super, would air in 2015. The overall plotline was written by Toriyama whilst individual episodes were written by different screenwriters.

First impressions of the anime were generally positive, with critics praising the animation. However, by the 5th episode fans and critics began to complain declining animation standards compared to the first four episodes. Overall the show generally received good reviews and certain story arcs were considered some of the best in the entire Dragonball franchise.

Dragonball Super was then followed by a movie entitled Dragonball Super Broly, which was released in select cinemas worldwide in 2018. It generally received positive reviews, with many fans pleased to see a favourite from the manga, Broly, become part of the anime timeline.

With an ongoing manga based on the Dragonball Super series continuing in 2019, and a massively enduring following nearly 30 years after it first debuted – it’s easy to see how much of an impact the series has had as a whole on manga and anime culture.