Dragon Ball was first published in 1984. The manga ran for 11 years till 1995. I was written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. The original story was based off the Chinese classic Journey to the West. Dragon Ball has spawned five individual animes, that span 710 episodes and the current one is still airing with new episodes coming out weekly. There are multiple spin off manga series as well. There are 19 anime films and 8 tv specials. There are 40+ video games. Then there are all the sound tracks for all of the properties. There are more art and companion books then any one could count. If you haven’t noticed Dragon Ball is kind of a big deal.
Were are going to go back to a time pre cell phones and pre internet. A time when you looked at the printed version of the tv guide or looked in the news paper to see what time things were on tv. This was the 90’s or this anime girls childhood. This was when Dragon Ball Z first came to Toonami. Now I did not have cable or satellite growing up. But, all my friends did. One friend in particular would tape anime VHSs. Yes, I used VHSs. Then we’d watch them together or I’d barrow them. That was when I learned of this wonderful thing called Dragon Ball Z or DBZ.
Dragon Ball the manga it’s self is the most successful manga of all time. Yes that is out of every manga that has come out before and after it. Hands down the most successful. Many manga creators have stated Dragon Ball for being the inspiration for their own work. Some of those works are, Bleach, Fairy Tale, Naruto, One Piece, Black Cat and many many more. Pretty much the current shonen mangas have all been affected my this manga. Also, think about it, you can’t go a day with out seeing some thing that has to do with this series. Just take a look around you’ll see some thing.
Now enough talk about the series legacy and the cultural significant. Lets talk about the manga it’s self that started it all. I have to say the manga didn’t start off that good. It was full of low brow jokes and a very simple story. If I had come across it not knowing were the story goes or what it was. I wouldn’t have kept reading it. Also in the beginning, it is very self aware of its self, going on to knowing what magazine it is being published in. That works for gag manga and childrens manga. You kind of have to look at the manga in to parts much like they did for the orginal anime. Cutting it into Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball is for children and is simple and Dragon ball is for an middle school high school kids and has a deeper story with character development.
I like that as the characters grow up so does the story. The stakes get higher and the enemies become stronger. Just like a good progressive story should do. I can appreciate that type of story telling. Even though the characters grow the story is very plot driven. There is nothing wrong with that because it is so much better then so many of the current animes that never really go any were. Story wise or character wise, every thing just stays the same. That is just boring. At least things change in Dragon Ball.
The manga its self is a little dated but that’s fine. Even though it is a product of it’s time doesn’t mean it isn’t good. But, the manga should be read with that in mind. I realized as I read the manga and my love (obsession) of Dragon Ball came back to me that many people haven’t read the manga or even finished a the anime. Seeing as there is 700+ episodes of the anime, I can understand that. But, the manga is only about 500 chapters. That’s not bad for a complete shonen series. Some current shonens are still going at 9oo to 700. As so if you look at the comments on manga sites you’ll see people shocked at the ending of the manga. It does end a little suddenly.
This is the manga that is that father of current shonen and deserves to be read. Also, it is solid story telling and plot. The characters change and develop, mainly off screen but they do change. I high recommend reading it if you have not. It is a blast from the bast and a great look at where current shonen came from.
Join me next week as I read Red River.
Do you have some thing you want me to read? Let me know in the comments down below.
Photo Credit: Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama, Shueisha Inc., VIZ Media, LLC