Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール, Dragonball) is an internationally popular media franchise. It consists primarily of a manga series created by Akira Toriyama in 1984, four anime series, nineteen animated feature films, an American live-action film, collectible card games and other collectible products, a large number of video games (still being produced), and action figures. Dragon Ball has an extensive online fanbase and is consistently one of the most frequently searched-for terms on Google, Yahoo!, and Lycos.
The story and characters of Dragon Ball were partly inspired by the Chinese folk novel Journey to the West, though they diverge from the novel very quickly. The plot follows the adventures of the lead character Son Goku (based on the Monkey King of the folk legend, Sun Wukong) from his childhood through his adulthood. The story includes elements both of action and comedy, though the series became more action-oriented over time.
Before Dragon Ball
Main article: Dragon Boy Just prior to ending the successful six-year run of his humor manga Dr. Slump, in the Weekly Shōnen Jump anthology magazine, Akira Toriyama started to toy with the ideas that he would later use in the Dragon Ball manga. In 1983, he wrote two issues of the Dragon Boy manga for the Fresh Jump anthology magazine. This story, left unfinished, merges the comic style of Dr. Slump with an action-oriented plot. It includes many elements which would be reused in the later series, including a very different kind of Dragon Ball. Additionally in 1983, he published (but also did not finish) The Adventures of Tongpoo, a science fiction manga also featuring a Goku-like character and plot elements (such as Hoi Poi Capsules) which he would reuse later.
Dragon Ball manga
Main article: Dragon Ball (manga)
The first issue of Dragon Ball debuted on November 20, 1984 in Weekly Shōnen Jump (#51), the same anthology magazine where Dr. Slump had previously been published. The series was then published weekly and on a very tight schedule (14 pages per week, plus title page) for nearly eleven years, ending on May 23, 1995. In total, 519 regular chapters and one bonus chapter were published. Unlike American-style comic books, Dragon Ball was largely produced in black and white. Some small number of pages in a subset of issues were colorized for emphasis. During the run of the manga in Japan, it was reprinted in (an eventual total of 42) tankôbon (Japanese graphic novels). Unlike the original print run of the manga, the previously colorized pages were reprinted only in grayscale.
A year and a half into the story of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama included an extended (three issue) cameo by some of the characters and locations from his previous popular manga, Dr. Slump. This is perceived by many fans as tying the two fictional universes together, although the Dr. Slump characters never made any further appearances in the manga.
Dragon Ball anime
Main article: Dragon Ball (anime)
Within a short time after the first publication of the manga, it had reached a level of popularity in Japan that convinced Toei Animation to produce both an anime series and a feature film based on the characters. The anime series premiered in February 1986 on Fuji Television (replacing the Dr. Slump anime), running weekly and in prime time with new episodes every Wednesday night.
The anime series that was produced closely matched the manga that it was based on (as opposed to Sailor Moon, for example, which the manga and anime diverged significantly), but this had the major drawback that the anime would often catch up to the current point in the manga and the animators were left to create additional episodes and situations (known by fans as filler) to allow them time for more source material to be written. This is perhaps unsurprising due to the difficulty of producing 20 minutes of animation each week, with only 14 pages of manga to work from.
In December 1986, the first theatrical film version of the anime was produced. Called simply "Dragon Ball" (in Japan, the movie's eventual English title is Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies), it retold the events of the first several episodes of the anime series. That was followed by additional movies in July 1987 (Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle) and July 1988 (Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure). The first two films were directed by Daisuke Nishio, the third by Kazuhisa Takenouchi.
Because of the popularity of the title in Japan, three video games for the Nintendo Famcom were produced. The first, released in 1986 as Dragon Ball: Shenron no Nazo, is the only action game of the three. The other two (1988 and 1989) are RPG / card game hybrids.
The anime series ended in April 1989 after 153 episodes (and Goku's marriage and transition to adulthood). Although the animated series ended, fans did not have to wait long for the continuation of the story. The sequel anime Dragon Ball Z debuted the following week.
First U.S. Release
Main article: Harmony Gold dub In the first years after the Dragon Ball manga and anime became successful in Japan, an initial attempt was made to export the show to an American audience. These initial attempts to gain a foothold in the large American market were unsuccessful and short lived.
In 1986, right as the Dragon Ball anime was kicking off in Japan, the Dragon Ball video game known as Shenron no Nazo in Japan was produced by Bandai for the Nintendo Entertainment System and exported to the U.S. titled Dragon Power. It is a martial arts action game which loosely followed the plot of the first thirteen issues of the manga. Sales figures for the game are not available, but no further Dragon Ball video games were released in the U.S. for another seven years.
In 1989, a first attempt was made to release the Dragon Ball anime in the U.S. in the form of a limited number of episodes (and an edited form of the first and third movies) produced and dubbed by Harmony Gold USA. This dub was notable for renaming many characters, such as Goku being renamed "Zero." After being test marketed in several cities (with some resulting controversy over the subject matter of the early episodes, something that would strike again in later attempts), it was withdrawn from the marketplace without a full season produced. Because it was never broadcast to the general public, it is referred to as the "Lost dub" by fans.
Dragon Ball Z
Main article: Dragon Ball Z
Picking up exactly where the previous series left off, Dragon Ball Z began airing in Japan a week after the Dragon Ball anime ended, and in the same timeslot. A new series name was chosen by the producers to differentiate the current series, with its reduced emphasis on comedy and its new science fiction themes, from the previous one, even though both were still based on the same Dragon Ball manga. The new show also featured improved production values and animation quality. This transition point was attractive because not only did it follow a several year gap in the plot (one of several such gaps in the series), but it also featured revised origin stories for several lead characters and the introduction of several new characters. This made it a good jumping onpoint for new fans of the series.
Three months after the premier of the Z anime, in July 1989, the first Dragon Ball Z movie (entitled Return my Gohan in Japanese and Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone in the U.S.) premiered in theaters. This was followed by two additional theatrical movies released per year (one in March and one in July) until 1995. In total, thirteen Dragon Ball Z movies were produced. In addition to the feature films, two movie-length television specials were also produced for the series. These initially aired in 1990 and 1993.
Like the original Dragon Ball anime, Dragon Ball Z suffered from the same manga-to-anime pacing problems which resulted in the excess of filler material in the previous anime. In some ways, the problem was more pronounced during the production of the "Z" series as the increased focus on action resulted in many issues of the manga devoted entirely to action sequences. These combat-oriented issues were more difficult to "stretch" into episodes than more diverse action and this resulted in pacing problems throughout some sections of the series.
In May 1995, the long running Dragon Ball manga finally ended its run in Shōnen Jump. Without additional issues of the manga to translate onto the small screen, the Dragon Ball Z series ended in January 1996 after 291 episodes. Once again however, Japanese fans would not have to wait more than a week for the continuation of the final story, in Dragon Ball GT.
During the production of Dragon Ball Z in Japan, popularity for the franchise was at its peak. Production of video games (for the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom), Super Famicom, PlayStation, Game Boy, and Sega Saturn) reached its peak during this period. Ironically, despite tremendous success in Japan and tons of marketable goods, the series had yet to take off in the U.S.
Second U.S. Release
Main article: Ocean Group dubs
Shortly after the release of Dragon Ball Z in Japan, momentum was building in the U.S. for a second attempt at releasing Dragon Ball to an American audience. In the fall of 1995, the first episodes of Dragon Ball began airing in first-run syndication on American television by FUNimation Productions through BLT Productions Ltd., featuring voice actors from the Vancouver-based Ocean Studios. Ultimately, the show only lasted for less than one season before being canceled in favor of jumping ahead to Dragon Ball Z (the latter series was believed to have greater merchandise potential). In total, only 13 episodes (of the production order of 26) and the first Dragon Ball feature film were produced. In 1996, Vidmark Entertainment purchased the home video distribution rights for these dubbed episodes and movie.
For the next six years, Vidmark retained these rights to Dragon Ball in the U.S. In 2000, Vidmark released these 13 dubbed episodes and movie on a DVD box set titled Dragon Ball: The Saga of Goku. In 2002, Vidmark was acquired by Lionsgate Entertainment, making them the holder of the rights to these episodes and movie until 2009. This prevented FUNimation from releasing their later in-house dub of the first 13 episodes of Dragon Ball to home video in the U.S. during this time, though it was released in other countries. They were also unable to release an in-house dub of the first DB movie until 2010.
After the two failed launches of the Dragon Ball anime in the States, FUNimation switched focus to the more action-oriented Dragon Ball Z; this time collaborating with Saban Entertainment (at that time riding on the popularity of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, another Japanese import) to distribute the series to television, and once again using voice actors from Ocean Studios. Dragon Ball Z premiered on American television in the fall of 1996, once again airing in first-run syndication. However, the intended American audience of the series (young children) did not work well with the more violent nature of the DBZ anime. This resulted in extensive editing of the series (cutting out the equivalent of 14 of the first 67 episodes; almost 21%), including the complete removal of references to character death ("sent to another dimension"), blood, etc. To many fans of the series, these edits actually made the series worse as violence was always shown without consequence. Also, they made many changes to the original dialogue and also created many name changes to characters (i.e. Krillin and Tien, instead of "Kuririn" and "Tenshinhan") and special techniques (i.e. Spirit Bomb instead of "Genki Dama"), though not to the extent of Harmony Gold's previous dub.
In addition to the anime series, Saban also edited the third Dragon Ball Z movie (Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might in the U.S.) and released it as a three-part episode in the production run of the series. The first two Dragon Ball Z movies were subsequently released by Pioneer Entertainment direct to video. The third movie was later re-released by Pioneer to home video, only this version, like the first two films, featured dialogue more close to the original script and was unedited.
In part due to an early timeslot in most markets (6:30 AM), Dragon Ball Z also failed to find its target audience and was canceled in May 1998 after a two season run of 53 episodes, or the equivalent of 67 Japanese episodes. However, this was still the most successful import of the Dragon Ball franchise to the U.S. at the time.
In 2013, FUNimation would re-release their entire Saban/Ocean dub of DBZ in the DVD collector's box set Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Edition.
Dragon Ball GT
Main article: Dragon Ball GT
Back in Japan, the third Dragon Ball series quickly followed the completion of Dragon Ball Z in February 1996. This new series, called Dragon Ball GT (for "Grand Tour"), was a complete departure from the previous two anime series. Unlike those series, GT was not based on the Dragon Ball manga by Akira Toriyama. Instead, it was completely new material along with having the same characters and elements from the last two series and it continues the story where Dragon Ball Z had left off.
From the beginning however, there were problems with the series. Dragon Ball fandom in Japan was waning. To help renew interest in the series and bring it back to its roots, a decision was made to return the series to the style of the original comedy Dragon Ball anime, rather than the more action-oriented Dragon Ball Z. This decision led to the reintroduction of several villains not present since the original series, a return to the "Dragon Ball quest"-style plot of that series, and even the mystical de-aging of Goku, back to roughly the age he was when the first series began. Unfortunately, this creative change did not improve ratings and the series focus was changed again after the completion of only sixteen episodes. The remaining episodes of the series returned to the more action-oriented style of the latter series. As a result of declining interest, the series had ended in November 1997 after only 64 episodes. There was no sequel series the following week (instead it was replaced by The New Dr. Slump anime).
Dragon Ball GT was also less successful in its tie-ins than the previous series had been. Unlike the previous series, Dragon Ball GT did not spawn any theatrical films on its own. In March 1996, just one month after the introduction of the series, the Dragon Ball 10th Anniversary Special (Dragon Ball: The Path to Power in the U.S.) was released. Although produced in the artistic style of Dragon Ball GT, the plot was a modified retelling of the very beginning of the original Dragon Ball anime. This was the last Dragon Ball animated movie to be released to date. Other than that film, the final series was limited to a single television special that takes place after the events in GT, released in March 1997. In other product areas, such as video games and merchandise, Dragon Ball GT was also less successful than its predecessors.
Third U.S. Release
Main article: Funimation dub
In August 1998, after its modest success in syndication, FUNimation/Saban's Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z began airing on Cartoon Network's weekday afternoon action block Toonami. The block gave the series new life and, combined with the DiC Sailor Moon dub, exposed the series to a much wider audience. With new success, FUNimation went forward in continuing the dub on their own instead of alongside the backing of a company such as Saban. The third season appeared on home video in 1999 and then on Cartoon Network soon after, featuring less editing restrictions than the previous dub, FUNimation's own in-house voice cast, and a new musical score. Dragon Ball Z was now in full production in the U.S. and continued to the end of the series in 2003. Still, it kept the name changes of characters and techniques that the previous dub had created. While still disliked from fans of the original Japanese version, FUNimation's in-house dub was a huge success and received the most popularity of all releases in the U.S.
The success of Dragon Ball Z on Cartoon Network allowed FUNimation to go back and do a new dub of Dragon Ball as well, starting from the beginning and airing on the Toonami block as well. However, there were marked changes in the dubbing between this and its sequel series, most pronounced is the usage of the original Japanese music as opposed to new compositions for the dub. FUNimation also released Dragon Ball to DVD, but with a slight snag: since Lionsgate remained the distributor of the earlier DB dub, they could not release the first 13 episodes of the new dub until their license expired in 2009. The two remaining DB movies were also dubbed at this time, along with the ten remaining DBZ movies, the two DBZ TV specials, and the tenth anniversary movie.
By 2003, with the completion of Dragon Ball Z, FUNimation began dubbing Dragon Ball GT, which would be released on both Cartoon Network and DVD. However, they were afraid they would experience the same drop off as Japan by starting with the lighter episodes at the beginning. In a controversial decision, FUNimation decided to start from the first action-intensive arc, connected with the first major villain of the series. Furthermore, a special episode was created for the beginning of this series that would fill in the material prior to the start of this arc (such as how Goku became a child again, thanks to Emperor Pilaf, and went into space) using the clips of the first three episodes and the sixteenth episode. Similarly, DBGT would feature a new musical composer, pushing music with a harder sound and even creating a hip-hop-style opening. Eventually after the completion of the series, the earlier episodes prior to the starting point were released and aired as "The Lost Episodes" until 2005.
By 2004, Geneon Universal Entertainment (formerly Pioneer) had lost its licensing rights to the old Ocean dubbed episodes and movies of Dragon Ball Z, allowing FUNimation to re-dub the first 53 dubbed episodes with their in-house voice cast and also restore them to the original 67 count. These re-dubbed episodes were broadcasted on Cartoon Network during the summer of 2005, but were notably shown in the nighttime (10:30 PM) and in their completely unedited form. The first three DBZ movies were also re-dubbed by FUNimation's in-house voice cast and re-released together in a DVD box set titled Dragon Ball Z: First Strike.
Originally a one-shot bearing little relation to Akira Toriyama's other series, the first chapter of Nekomajin appeared in Weekly Shōnen Jump in April 1999 (WJ #22-23). Though there were some similarities, it did not become a "self-parody" of the Dragon Ball manga until the "Neko Majin Z" chapters, which had cameos of characters from the author's magnum opus. As of 2005, the series was completed with eight total chapters (five of which are Dragon Ball parodies). These chapters were compiled into a "kanzenban"-style package for release in Japan on April 4, 2005.
For the 30th anniversary of KochiKame the longest running Shōnen Jump manga to date, a special chapters that are crossover between various different mangas and Kochikame characters were made. In one of them, co-written by Akira Toriyama, Ryo-san has been reassigned to planet Namek and runs across Frieza. He tries to arrest him for parking his spaceship illegally. Goku and Vegeta make appearances as well.
Cross Epoch is a Japanese manga by Akira Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda. It is a crossover between Dragon Ball and One Piece.
It was released on December 25, 2006 in the Weekly Shōnen Jump, and later in English in the North American Shonen Jump issue #100 (April 2011).
Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!
Main article: Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! is a 35-minute animated short film that premiered in Japan at the Jump Super Anime Tour on September 21, 2008. It was the first animated Dragon Ball feature in twelve years, following the tenth anniversary film The Path to Power. It also featured the first Dragon Ball animations in nearly a decade, following a short story arc in the remade Dr. Slump anime series crossing over Goku and the Red Ribbon Army in 1999.
Dragon Ball Kai
Main article: Dragon Ball Z Kai
Dragon Ball Kai is an HD remastered anime, produced by Toei Animation as part of the 20th Anniversary of Dragon Ball Z in Japan. It premiered on Fuji TV in April 2009. The series is being extensively "refreshed" for Japanese TV. It is not a new series per se, but rather a revised, faster-paced version of Dragon Ball Z that cuts out most of the filler material not featured in the original manga. Part of this is reformatting and extending the picture to 16:9 Widescreen. Through digital processing, the image is made vibrant. All the grime, damage and noise remaining on the "Z" film is removed, making the image much clearer in HD. Dragon Ball Kai includes a complete re-recording of the dialogue by most of the original Japanese voice cast, as well as a new sound design with updated sound effects. The opening and ending themes are completely new and feature updated animation. The "Kai" in the series' title means "revised," "updated," "modified" or "altered". The series initially ended its run with the conclusion of the Cell arc in March 2011, but later returned with the Majin Buu arc in April 2014 on Fuji TV; ending its complete run in June 2015 with 159 episodes (in contrast to the original 291 episodes of DBZ).
FUNimation licensed the series for an English-language release under the title Dragon Ball Z Kai. The series began airing in the U.S. in May 2010 on the Nicktoons network, in contrast to the previous three Dragon Ball series airing on Cartoon Network. The majority of FUNimation's in-house voice actors returned for Dragon Ball Z Kai, though several characters' voices were re-casted. The series was edited on Nicktoons to fit the expected audience, and occasionally contained different verbiage than the home video release, which is entirely unedited. Some special techniques regained their correct and untranslated-proper-noun announcements in the unedited dub, while most of the character names that have always been engraved in the English dub remained the same. Still, the dubbing of Kai is much more faithful to the Japanese script than previous dubs by FUNimation, and episode titles are mostly faithful translations of their original Japanese versions. In addition to Nicktoons, Kai also aired on The CW's "Toonzai" programing block (later renamed "Vortexx"), starting in August 2010. The Toonzai version of Kai was edited further than the Nicktoons version, and even more so than the 1990s Ocean dub of the original DBZ. The uncut version of Kai began airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block in November 2014 (thus bringing the Dragon Ball franchise back to Cartoon Network). The Majin Buu arc of Kai, under the title Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters, made its U.S. debut on Toonami in January 2017.
Episode of Bardock
Main article: Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock Episode of Bardock is a 2011 sequel to the 1990 TV special Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku. It was made by Naho Ooishi and was adapted into an anime in December 2011.
Dream 9 Toriko & One Piece & Dragon Ball Z Super Collaboration Special is an anime TV crossover special between Dragon Ball Z, One Piece and Toriko that aired in Japan in April 2013.
Dragon Ball Super
Main article: Dragon Ball Super (anime)
Dragon Ball Super is the fourth Dragon Ball anime series. After the success of the new DBZ movies Battle of Gods and Resurrection 'F', Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation teamed up to bring a brand new anime series, 18 years after the previous series. It chronologically takes place just before the ending of Dragon Ball Z, and began airing in Japan on Fuji TV in July 2015. FUNimation's English dub of Super began airing in the U.S. on Adult Swim's Toonami block in January 2017.
Dragon Ball canon
The term canon, with respect to works of fiction, refers to the overall set of story lines, premises, settings, and characters offered by the source media text. Secondly, it is used as a descriptor of specific incidents, relationships, or story arcs that take place within the overall canon. Thus, all officially released Dragon Ball media falls within the definition of the term canon. Despite the literal meaning, certain fans maintain their own unique definitions of canon, sometimes excluding games, movies, and/or the anime series.
In the universe of Dragon Ball, the highest level of canon is the manga Dragon Ball. Published in Weekly Shōnen Jump in Japan, the comic was both written and drawn by Akira Toriyama. As such, it represents the ultimate and correct vision of his world as it was presented to his readers. Fortunately, the manga itself is relatively free from direct contradictions, though there are certainly some topics open for debate.
Although Viz Communications is thought to do a good job translating the manga into English by fans, the final and authoritative source is the original Japanese comic.
In the 2002-04 re-release of the Dragon Ball manga (called the Kanzenban, or "complete edition"), Akira Toriyama rewrote the final four pages of the series. However, this change has no impact on the storyline: at the conclusion of the series, after carrying the boy on his back a short time to fly, Goku gives his Flying Nimbus to Uub.
The only change significant to the story in the re-release is that the date of the Cell Games is changed to the 26th of May, from the 17th of "M." This was done to remove a noticeable contradiction in the series, specifically that if the Red Ribbon Androids arrived on May 12 and at least 10 days elapsed between then and the start of the Cell Games, a date of May 17 for the latter event would be impossible.
Prior to writing Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama wrote a separate weekly humor manga for Shōnen Jump called Dr. Slump. It featured the adventures of Senbei Norimaki, an inept inventor, and his android daughter Arale in Penguin Village. During the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Goku and General Blue wind up in Penguin Village and are assisted by characters from the previous series. Dr. Slump itself is not meant to be taken seriously, as it contains references to the real world, as well as generally "implausible" events such as the earth being cut in half (in a comedic fashion). While the characters in Dr. Slump exist as cameos in the Dragon Ball universe, it is debatable at best whether the Dragon Ball universe is truly compatible with the world portrayed in Dr. Slump.
Long after finishing up with Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama has written a short series of one-shot comics that parody Dragon Ball. Called Neko Majin, it features several characters from or inspired by Dragon Ball; for example: the Saiyan Onio and his wife, Frieza's son Kuriza, and even appearances by Vegeta, Majin Buu, and Goku and his family. Kuriza appears in a few Dragon Ball Z video games.
30th anniversary of KochiKame
To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary of the serialization of KochiKame, in September 2006, special chapters were written with crossovers between KochiKame and other Shōnen Jump mangas. One was a Dragon Ball crossover in which Ryo-san is reassigned to planet Namek and has to deal with Frieza who parked his ship illegally.
Cross Epoch is a Japanese manga by Akira Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda. It is a crossover between Dragon Ball and One Piece. It was released on December 25, 2006 in the Weekly Shōnen Jump. It features alternate versions of Dragon Ball characters and is a crossover manga.
Dragon Ball Heroes
The Japanese arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes has spawned several spin-off mangas throughout its lifespan including two that are based around the game's concepts: Dragon Ball Heroes: Victory Mission and Dragon Ball Heroes: Charisma Mission, a manga detailing the story of the Time Patrol's battles with the Dark Demon Realm army: Super Dragon Ball Heroes, and a what-if scenario based around Bardock: Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock.
Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super
The second highest level of canon in Dragon Ball is the four-part anime series. Episodes often include filler, which is material that was not in the manga. This is due largely to the manga and the anime being produced in parallel; it was often necessary for the anime to add filler material to keep from getting ahead of the manga. These extended sequences often add detail to the back story. The original Japanese version is considered by some to be a more authoritative source than other dubs due to occasional translation errors. Some of the filler contradicts later additions made by Toriyama itself, like Dragon Ball Minus.
Dragon Ball GT was an original sequel series to Dragon Ball Z, based on the manga by Akira Toriyama. Toriyama did contribute material, such as the plot overview, character designs, and objects. The author himself has had no problems with the series, and has publicly stated on a number of occasions that he likes it.
Garlic Jr. Saga
The Garlic Jr. Saga is an interesting exception to most of the filler used in the anime and its level of canon is disputed. Like much of the other filler, it does not include situations described in the original manga. However, it is a direct sequel to events from the first Dragon Ball Z movie "Return My Gohan!" (dub: Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone). It details a second attempt by Garlic Jr. to take over the world and also features other elements which are more difficult to rationalize in the anime such as the appearance of Gohan's pet dragon, Icarus, from the movie The Tree of Might.
Because it does not have the level of contradictions found in other movies, some fans consider both the Garlic Jr. Saga and Dead Zone to have "happened" within the anime canon. This remains, however, a controversial topic. Dead Zone is considered to take place shortly before the start of Dragon Ball Z, but two problems arise when fitting it into the flow of the series: given that the Dragon Balls are used in the film, Goku is alive, and Gohan is still very young, it must happen at least a full year before Goku is revived (and thus before the start of the series); on the other hand, Gohan is known to Krillin, Bulma and Master Roshi in the movie, whereas he was unknown to them at the start of the series itself.
Main article: List of Dragon Ball films Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z each had a number of movies made, generally two each year (one each for the spring and summer recesses from school). While it is possible to relate the movies to a relative time period within the series itself, some movie events contradict events within the normal flow of the series. This is not uncommon with Dragon Ball media, as both the manga and anime series often contradict themselves.
There are two Dragon Ball Z television specials, which aired as special double-length episodes during the normal course of the series. The Dragon Ball Z television specials are noteworthy in that their content (for the most part) does not contradict the manga. The Bardock special contradicts the original manga only in that Goku appears happy (rather than violent and bloodthirsty) at the end, and Bardock himself later appeared in a two-panel stint in the manga; it however contradicts Dragon Ball Minus, that was only added later to the canon by Toriyama itself. The Trunks special was actually based on a special chapter of the manga, though it presents an alternate version of certain events in that chapter (namely, it alters when Trunks was able to achieve Super Saiyan, for dramatic effect).
There is one Dragon Ball GT television special, which is grouped with that series in terms of canon level.
The OVA Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans is generally considered lower than the movies on the canon scale, though it is noteworthy in that its villain, Dr. Raichi, was more-or-less rehashed into Dr. Myuu for Dragon Ball GT. It should be noted that this OVA was originally released as an official visual guide for the NES game Dragon Ball Z Gaiden: Saiyajin Zetsumetsu Keikaku. Later, a two-part 'digital comic' game series (composed of various parts of the OVA turned into interactive cutscenes) was released for the Playdia. A remade version of the OVA is also featured on Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2.
Main article: List of Dragon Ball video games Lower than the movies and OVA's in terms of canonocity is the world of video games followed by that of the collectible card games. These games often contain what-if stories. Some video games, such as Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S., the Shin Budokai games, Dragon Ball Online, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (Special Age stories), and Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, contain unique stories which could be considered on the same level as the movies/OVAs. The Dragon Ball video game franchise also holds the fighting games with the most playable characters: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 on console and Dragon Ball Heroes on arcade.
Main article: Daizenshuu These "Perfect File" books are reference guides to the series and often contain character and attack names and other clarifications which are not present in the manga or anime themselves. There are no current plans to release these books in the U.S. and they are out of print even in Japan.
Many fans, however, question how canon the books actually are, since they were not written by Akira Toriyama. The Power Levels given in the books are often disregarded by some fans who find inconsistencies in them. One notable example is that Nappa's power level is stated to be 4,000 in the books, though this is never given in the manga along with assortment of other readings given. Both the manga and Daizenshuu state Goku's power level during the fight to be 8,000 which means he was twice Nappa's power level suggesting he should have had an easy time defeating him without using the Kaio-ken. However, as after Nappa powered up, he managed to trade blows with Goku, and after deflecting Nappa's strongest attack, Goku comments that the fight could take forever without the use of the Kaio-ken, contradicting the stated information in the Daizenshuu. Also, the Daizenshuu list of the main characters' ages throughout the series is somewhat debatable as well. For example, in the Daizenshuu, Goku is stated as being 13 years old when he participats in the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, yet in both the manga and anime Goku himself states that he is 12 (after revealing that he was taught how to count properly).
Real world timeline
- February: Dr. Slump manga begins serialization in Shōnen Jump.
- April: Dr. Slump anime begins airing on Fuji TV on April 8.
- September: Dr. Slump manga ends serialization in Shōnen Jump.
- November: Dragon Ball manga begins serialization in Shōnen Jump on November 20.
- September: Dragon Ball manga tankôbon begins publication in Japan.
- February: Dr. Slump anime ends its run on Fuji TV after 243 episodes on February 19; Dragon Ball anime begins airing on February 26.
- November: Dragon Ball: Mystery of Shenlong video game for NES is released in Japan.
- December: DB Movie #1 premieres in Japan.
- July: DB Movie #2 premieres in Japan.
- July: DB Movie #3 premieres in Japan.
- August: Famicom Resurrection of the Demon King is released in Japan.
- April: Dragon Ball anime ends its run on Fuji TV after 153 episodes on April 12; Dragon Ball Z begins airing on April 26.
- July: DBZ Movie #1 premieres in Japan.
- October: Famicom Story of Goku is released in Japan.
- Dragon Ball anime's first English dub by Harmony Gold USA arrives in the US, but is canceled after five episodes.
- March: DBZ Movie #2 premieres in Japan.
- July: DBZ Movie #3 premieres in Japan.
- October: DBZ TV Special #1 airs on Fuji TV; Famicom Dragon Ball Z: Kyōshū! Saiyan is released in Japan.
- March: DBZ Movie #4 premieres in Japan.
- July: DBZ Movie #5 premieres in Japan.
- August: Famicom Battle Against Freeza is released in Japan.
- January: Super Famicom Legend of the Super Saiyan is released in Japan.
- March: DBZ Movie #6 premieres in Japan.
- July: DBZ Movie #7 premieres in Japan.
- August: Famicom Battle Against the Androids and Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans are released in Japan.
- December: Dragon Ball Z: Gekitō Tenkaichi Budōkai is released in Japan.
- February: DBZ TV Special #2 airs on Fuji TV.
- March: DBZ Movie #8 premieres in Japan; Super Famicom Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden is released in Japan.
- July: DBZ Movie #9 premieres in Japan.
- December: Super Famicom Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 2 is released in Japan.
- March: DBZ Movie #10 premieres in Japan.
- April: Mega Drive Dragon Ball Z: Buyū Retsuden is released in Japan.
- May: FUNimation Productions is founded by Gen Fukunaga in the U.S. and later acquires the rights to dub the Dragon Ball franchise.
- July: DBZ Movie #11 premieres in Japan.
- September: Super Famicom Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 3 and Playdia The Plan to Destroy the Saiyans Part 1 are released in Japan.
- November: Turbo Duo Legend of Son Goku and Game Boy Goku Hishōden are released in Japan.
- December: Playdia The Plan to Destroy the Saiyans Part 2 is released in Japan.
- March: DBZ Movie #12 premieres in Japan; Super Famicom Super Gokuden 1 is released in Japan.
- May: Dragon Ball manga ends serialization in Shōnen Jump on May 23.
- July: DBZ Movie #13 premieres in Japan; PlayStation Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 is released in Japan.
- August: Game Boy Dragon Ball Z: Goku Gekitōden is released in Japan; Dragon Ball manga tankôbon ends publication in Japan.
- September: Super Famicom Super Gokuden 2 is released in Japan; Funimation's first dub of Dragon Ball begins airing in U.S. syndication, but is canceled after thirteen episodes.
- November: Saturn Dragon Ball Z: Shin Butōden is released in Japan.
- January: Dragon Ball Z ends its run on Fuji TV after 291 episodes on January 31.
- February: Dragon Ball GT begins airing on Fuji TV on February 6.
- March: Dragon Ball 10th Anniversary Movie premieres in Japan; Super Famicom Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension is released in Japan.
- May: PlayStation / Saturn Dragon Ball Z: The Legend is released in Japan.
- September: Funimation's Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z begins airing in U.S. syndication; DB Movie #1 is released to VHS in the U.S.
- March: DBGT TV Special airs on Fuji TV.
- August: PlayStation Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout is released in Japan.
- November: Dragon Ball GT ends its run on Fuiji TV after 64 episodes on November 19; The New Dr. Slump begins airing on Fuji TV on November 26; Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout is released for the PlayStation in the U.S. (first DB video game to be released in the U.S.)
- December: DBZ Movie #1 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- March: DBZ Movie #3 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- May: DBZ Movie #2 is released to VHS/DVD in the US; Funimation's Ocean dub of DBZ is canceled after two seasons in U.S. syndication.
- August: Dragon Ball Z arrives on Cartoon Network's Toonami block.
- April: DB Movie #2 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- September: Funimation's in-house dub of Dragon Ball Z begins airing on Cartoon Network; The New Dr. Slump ends it's run on Fuji TV after 74 episodes on September 22.
- October: "Dragon Ball: The Saga of Goku" DVD box set is released in the U.S.
- December: DBZ TV Special #2 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- January: DBZ TV Special #1 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- February: DB Movie #3 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- August: DBZ Movie #4 is released to VHS/DVD in the US; FUNimation's in-house dub of Dragon Ball begins airing on Cartoon Network.
- January: DBZ Movie #5 is released in the U.S.
- May: Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku is released for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. (first DB video game to be produced in the U.S.)
- August: DBZ Movie #6 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- December: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is released for the PlayStation 2 in the U.S.
- February: DBZ Movie #7 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- March: Viz Media begins releasing the Dragon Ball manga tankôbon into English in the U.S.
- April: Funimation's in-house dub of DBZ ends its run on Cartoon Network; Dragon Ball 10th Anniversary Movie is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- June: Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II is released for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S.
- August: DBZ Movie #8 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- October: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is released for the Gamecube in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball GT begins airing on Cartoon Network; Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 is released for the PlayStation 2 in the U.S.
- December: Funimation's in-house dub of Dragon Ball ends its run on Cartoon Network.
- August: DBZ Movie #9 is released to VHS/DVD in the U.S.
- September: Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury is released for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is released for the PlayStation 2 in the US; Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure is released for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S.
- December: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 is released for the Gamecube in the U.S.
- February: DBGT Dragon Box is released to DVD in Japan.
- March: Dragon Ball Z: Sagas is released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube in the U.S.
- April: Dragon Ball GT ends its run on Cartoon Network; DBZ Movie #10 is released to DVD in the U.S.
- May: DBZ Movie #1 is re-released to DVD in the U.S.
- June – September: Funimation's re-dub of the first two DBZ seasons airs on Cartoon Network.
- September: DBZ Movie #11 is released to DVD in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi is released for the PlayStation 2 in the U.S.
- March: DBZ Movie #12 is released to DVD in the US; Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai is released for the PlayStation Portable in the U.S.
- June: Viz Media releases final Dragon Ball manga tankôbon into English in the US; Super Dragon Ball Z is released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan.
- July: Super Dragon Ball Z is released for the PlayStation 2 in the U.S. and Europe.
- September: DBZ Movie #13 is released to DVD in the U.S.
- November: "Dragon Ball Z: First Strike" DVD box set is released in the US; Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is released for the PlayStation 2 and Wii in the U.S.
- February: Remastered Dragon Ball Z Season 1 Box Set is released to DVD in the U.S.
- March: Announcement of a DRAGONBALL MMORPG, Dragon Ball Online; Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road is released for the PlayStation Portable in the U.S.
- May: Dragon Ball Z Season 2 is released to DVD in the U.S.
- September: Dragon Ball Z Season 3 is released to DVD in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is released for the PlayStation 2 in the U.S.
- December: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is released for the Wii in the U.S.
- February: DBZ Season 4 and remastered DBZ TV specials 1 and 2 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the US; NTL expressed interest in releasing Dragon Ball Online to a worldwide audience.
- May: DBZ Season 5 and remastered DBZ movies 1 and 2 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- June: Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the U.S.
- September: DBZ Season 6 and remastered DBZ movies 3 and 4 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the US; Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! premieres in Japan.
- November: DBZ Season 7, and remastered DBZ movies 5 and 6 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the US; Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World is released for the PlayStation 2 in the US; Dragon Ball: Origins is released for the Nintendo DS in the U.S.
- December: Remastered Dragon Ball GT Season 1 Box Set is released to DVD in the U.S.
- February: DBZ Season 8, DBGT Season 2, and remastered DBZ movies 7 and 9 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- March: Remastered DBZ movies 8, 10, and 11 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- April: Dragon Ball Kai begins airing on Fuji TV; Dragonball Evolution is released in theaters (live-action film); Closed beta testing began for Dragon Ball Online in South Korea.
- May: DBZ Season 9 and remastered DBZ movies 12 and 13 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in U.S.
- September: Remastered Dragon Ball Season 1 Box Set is released to DVD in the U.S.
- October: Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo is released for the Wii in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box 1 and Dragon Ball Season 2 are released to DVD in the US; Dragon Ball: Raging Blast is released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the U.S.
- February: Funimation acquires the rights to dub Dragon Ball Kai, under the name "Dragon Ball Z Kai"; DBZ Dragon Box 2 and Dragon Ball Season 3 are released to DVD in the US; Dragon Ball Online is released in Korea.
- March–April: Dragon Ball Kai: Super Battle Stage is played at the Three Great Hero Super Battle Stage event from March 27 to April 23.
- May: DBZ Dragon Box 3 and Dragon Ball Season 4 are released to DVD in the US; Dragon Ball Z Kai begins airing on Nicktoons and its first DVD/Blu-ray set is released in the U.S.
- June: Dragon Ball: Origins 2 is released for the Nintendo DS in the U.S.
- July: Dragon Ball Season 5 is released to DVD in the U.S.
- August: Dragon Ball Z Kai arrives on The CW's Toonzai block.
- September: DBZ Kai Part 2, DBZ Dragon Box 4, and "Dragon Ball GT: The Complete Series" are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- October: Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team is released for the PlayStation Portable in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 is released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the U.S.
- December: DBZ Kai Part 3 and remastered DB Movie #1 are released to DVD/Blu-ray in the US; the first chapter of Dragon Ball SD is published in Saikyō Jump.
- January Dragon Ball Online is announced for Taiwan.
- February: Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butōden is released for the Nintendo DS in Japan; Dragon Ball: Zenkai Battle Royale is released for Arcades in Japan; "Dragon Ball: 4-Movie Pack" DVD box set is released in the US; Dragon Ball: Zenkai Battle Royale is released as arcade game for Japan.
- March: DBZ Kai Part 4 is released to DVD/Blu-ray in the US; Dragon Ball Kai ends its initial run on Fuji TV after 97 episodes on March 27.
- April: DBZ Dragon Box 4 and DBZ Dragon Box 5 released to DVD in the U.S. Cross Epoch released in English as part of issue 100 of English Shonen Jump. The second chapter of Dragon Ball SD is published in Saikyō Jump.
- May: The closed beta testing for Dragon Ball Online in Taiwan began on May 12, and ended on May 16.
- June: DBZ Kai Part 5 is released to DVD/Blu-ray in the US; The first chapter of Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock is published in V-Jump.
- July: DBZ Dragon Box 6 is released to DVD in the US; The second chapter of Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock is published in V-Jump.
- August: The final chapter of Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock is published in V-Jump.
- September: DBZ Kai Part 6 is released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- October: DBZ Dragon Box 7 is released to DVD in the US; Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the US and EU.
- November: Dragon Ball SSSS is launched by Bandai in conjunction with V-Jump and Saikyō Jump; "Dragon Ball Z Movie Collection One" is released to DVD in the U.S.
- December: Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Japan; "Dragon Ball Z Movie Collection Two" is released to DVD in the US; "Dragon Ball Z Level 1.1" which includes the first 17 DBZ episodes on two discs) is released to Blu-ray in the US; the anime adaptation of Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock aired at Jump Festa 2012 and the streamed version was only available online until December 28.
- January: Dragon Ball Z Kai ends its run on Nicktoons; "Dragon Ball Z Movie Collection Three" is released to DVD in the US; Dragon Ball GT arrives on Nicktoons
- March: DBZ Kai Part 7 is released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- June: DBZ Kai Part 8 is released to DVD/Blu-ray in the U.S.
- August: Dragon Ball Z Kai moves to The CW's Vortexx block.
- October: Dragon Ball Z For Kinect is released for the Xbox 360 in the US; The spin-off manga Dragon Ball Heroes: Victory Mission begins its serialization in V-Jump.
- November: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the U.S.
- February: The first three Dragon Ball Full Color volumes (Saiyan Saga) are released on February 4; the first Chōzenshū volume is released February 5 and Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission is released in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming console on February 28.
- March: The second Chōzenshū volume is released on March 4; special cast greeting message and preview of DBZ Movie #14 across Japan (Wald 9 Cinema in Tokyo, Burg 7 Theater in Osaka, 109 Cinemas in Nagoya, T-Joy Hakata in Fukuoka, and Sapporo Cinema Frontier in Sapporo) on March 12; second preview screening at Differ Ariake in Tokyo on March 16; the Battle of Gods magazine is released on March 21; the traveling exhibition "The World of Dragon Ball" is held in Tokyo from March 27 to April 15, Dragon Ball: Tap Battle is released on Android2.3 (Gingerbread) and higher; DBZ Movie #14 premieres in Japan.
- April: The five Dragon Ball Full Color volumes covering the Namek Saga, the third Chōzenshū volume, and the first Dragon Ball SD volume are released on April 4. The crossover TV special Dream 9 Toriko & One Piece & Dragon Ball Z Super Collaboration Special airs on Fuji TV on April 7. The traveling exhibition "The World of Dragon Ball" is held in Ōsaka from April 17 to April 23.
- May: The fourth Chōzenshū volume and the Chōgashū are released on May 9.
- July: The publication of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman debuts in Weekly Shōnen Jump, Dragon Ball: Tap Battle is released on iOS, the traveling exhibition "The World of Dragon Ball" is held in Nagoya from July 27 to September 1.
- August: "Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Edition" DVD box set is released in the U.S.
- October: Dragon Ball RPG: Shōnen-hen is released for both Android and iOS devices.
- November: J Legend Retsuden is released for Nintendo 3DS.
- December: Dragon Ball Z Season 1 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- January: The publiation of the Dragon Ball GT anime comics debuts in Saikyō Jump, and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
- February: Dragon Ball Z Season 2 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- March: J-Stars Victory Vs is released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and Dragon Ball: Ultimate Swipe is released for both Android and iOS devices.
- April: Dragon Ball Z Season 3 is released to Blu-ray in the US; The first three Dragon Ball Full Color volumes of the Androids Saga/Cell Saga, the second Dragon Ball SD volume, and the collected volume of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (featuring Dragon Ball Minus) are released on April 4; Dragon Ball Kai returns to Fuji TV on April 6, with the Majin Buu Saga.
- May: Dragon Ball Full Color volumes 4–6 of the Androids/Cell arc released on May 2; Dragon Ball Z Season 4 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- June: Dragon Ball Full Color volumes 1–3 of the Majin Buu Arc are released on June 4; Dragon Ball Z Season 5 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- July: Dragon Ball Full Color volumes 4–6 of the Majin Buu Arc are released on July 4; a Dragon Ball event which allows attendees to ride on their own Flying Nimbus and fire off their own Kamehameha is held in Nagoya City Science Museum from July 16 to August 31.
- August: Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission 2 is released in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming console on August 7; Dragon Ball Z Season 6 is released to Blu-ray in the US; DBZ Movie #14 is given a limited theatrical release in the U.S.
- September: Dragon Ball Z Season 7 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- October: Dragon Ball Z Season 8 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- November: Dragon Ball Z Kai arrives on Adult Swim's Toonami block.
- December: Dragon Ball Z Season 9 is released to Blu-ray in the U.S.
- February: Dragon Ball Xenoverse is released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
- April: DBZ Movie #15 premieres in Japan.
- June: Dragon Ball Kai ends its run for the second and last time on Fuji TV after 61 episodes on June 28; J-Stars Victory VS+ releases in the West on June 30.
- July: Dragon Ball Super begins airing on Fuji TV on July 5.
- August: DBZ Movie #15 is given a limited theatrical release in the U.S.
- December: Dragon Ball Super episodes 1-12 released December 2 in Japan.
- March: Dragon Ball Super episodes 13-24 released March 2 in Japan.
- May: Dragon Ball Full Color volume 1 of the Frieza arc by Viz released on May 3.
- July: Dragon Ball Full Color volume 2 of the Frieza arc by Viz released on July 5.
- September: Dragon Ball Full Color volume 3 of the Frieza arc by Viz released on September 6.
- October: Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
- November: Dragon Ball Full Color volume 4 of the Frieza arc by Viz released on November 1; Funimation acquires the rights to dub Dragon Ball Super.
- January: Dragon Ball Full Color volume 5 of the Frieza arc by Viz released on January 3; Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters begin airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block.
- Official Funimation's Dragon Ball website
- Official Funimation's Dragon Ball Z website
- Official Funimation's Dragon Ball GT website
- Official Funimation's Dragon Ball Z Kai website
- Official Madman's Dragon Ball Z website
- Official Manga UK's Dragon Ball Z website
- Official Toei Animation's Dragon Ball website
- Official Toei Animation's Dragon Ball Z website
- Official Toei Animation's Dragon Ball GT website
- Official Toei Animation's Dragon Ball Kai website
- Official Toei Animation's Dragon Ball Super website