Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.
In the transition from manga/anime to live-action film, a number of things changed from what they once were. A number of things also remained the same or similar to their original incarnation. Here is a compiled list of these changes.
- Piccolo uses a spacecraft similar to the one he used in the manga (where it belonged to Emperor Pilaf).
- Perhaps mirroring King Piccolo's deformed Namek sons in the manga, in the film Piccolo uses a machine aboard his spacecraft to extract his blood and create several deviated golem-like creatures that are sent to stop Goku and friends, the Fu-Lum.
- After escaping the container he is sealed inside by the Mafūba, Piccolo seeks the seven Dragon Balls for his plot to dominate the world.
- As in the manga, the film version of Piccolo is said to be a being of immense power as well as immense evil. (Though little of that is ever actually shown)
- Piccolo was almost re-captured by Master Roshi using the Mafūba.
- Goku defeats Piccolo with the Kamehameha by leaping in the air toward him and firing it. The way it is performed is similar to the Penetrate! attack only Goku leaps into the air instead of lanching into the air from firing a Kamehameha into the ground and also does not go through Piccolo.
- While retaining his green skin color, this version of Piccolo lacks the antennae his manga counterpart has, and instead has antenna like indentations.
- In the movie, Piccolo uses his blood to give birth to his minions. In the manga, he regurgitates eggs that hatch the minions.
- Piccolo is sealed by the Mafūba for 2,000 years, whereas his manga counterpart was sealed for only centuries.
- In this movie adaptation, Piccolo unleashes some creatures manufactured from his DNA known as "Fulum" against Goku and his team. In the manga and anime, King Piccolo has his deadly children, Tambourine, Cymbal, and Drum fight against the heroes instead. The Fulum are also in the basic action figure assortment for the movie tie-in.
- Instead of being immobilized and directly powerless while in the grip of the Mafūba, Piccolo is simply disoriented for a moment. He destroys the containment vessel and disrupts the Mafūba shortly afterwards.
- Piccolo is defeated and survives from the Kamehameha, whereas his manga counterpart is killed by Penetrate!
- Piccolo is also nursed back to health after being defeated by Goku, however, his manga counterpart is reincarnated as Piccolo Jr..
- Instead of retaining his original gi and exposed arms, the leather suit he wears only slightly resemble the lines on his arms (if you look close). Nothing else is prominent in this clothing that relates to his manga/anime appearance.
- In the manga, Piccolo sought the Dragon Balls to regain his lost youth. In the movie, he seeks them to rule and/or destroy the world. (It's never completely explained which is his goal.)
- In the manga, Goku is soundly thrashed by Piccolo during their first encounter and, even after drinking the Ultra Divine Water, was barely able to defeat him. In the movie, Piccolo is defeated quite easily by Goku in their first real encounter (with only a few punches and a Kamehameha).
- Grandpa Gohan was trained by Master Roshi.
- As in the manga, Grandpa Gohan is a cheerful old man and a master of self-defense as well as ki control.
- Grandpa Gohan found Goku as a child and adopted and trained him.
- Grandpa Gohan gives the Four-Star Dragonball to Goku shortly before dying.
- Grandpa Gohan and Goku live in a large house in the middle of nowhere here, whereas Goku (and formerly Gohan) lived in a small hut in the manga.
- When giving the Dragon Ball to Goku, he explains the power behind them. In the manga, it is Bulma that explains the secret of the Dragon balls to Goku.
- Gohan is a bit more silly in this movie than he is in the manga or anime.
- According to Goku, Grandpa Gohan says to "beware the Nameks". In the manga, no one on Earth knew what a Namekian was (or that King Piccolo, Kami, or Piccolo Jr. were Nameks) until the Saiyan Saga.
- Grandpa Gohan is fatally wounded when Piccolo caves in his home with him still inside, whereas in the manga, he is killed when Goku, as a Great Ape, steps on him.
- Grandpa Gohan is significantly fatter in the manga.
- In the manga, Gohan is a famous martial artist. In the movie, Gohan appears as just any other black belt.
- He has spiky hair.
- He was raised by and taught in the ways of martial arts by his grandpa Gohan.
- He has a bigger appetite than Bulma, briefly shown in the film.
- He is not particularly brilliant and in fact, shows slight ignorance in parts of the film.
- Goku is unusually strong.
- Goku is later trained by and instructed by Roshi to carry all of Roshi's luggage on his back while keeping up with Bulma's vehicle. This is similar to when Master Roshi instructs Goku and Krillin to train while wearing 50-pound turtle shells on their backs in the manga.
- He performs a weaker version of the Kamehameha seconds after watching Roshi do it, however in the manga, it is more powerful and does not fall apart in the air.
- Goku kills Piccolo with the Kamehameha by leaping in the air toward him and firing it. The way it is performed is similar to the Penetrate! attack except Goku leaps into the air and does not penetrate Piccolo's body, instead of launching himself at Piccolo by firing a one-handed Kamehameha at the ground beneath him and punching right through the Namekian's solar plexus.
- As the theory that a Saiyan's hair always stays the same, this is shown in the film when Goku puts gel on his hair but it goes back up again within seconds. However this connection would make no sense considering that his hair changes shape (and on one occasion color) throughout the film.
- Goku sees Grandpa Gohan after the latter's death, however in different ways.
- When Goku fights off the bullies at the party, he monkeys around and teases them similarly to the original Goku, as if he is just playing around.
- Goku does transform into a Great Ape against his will and goes on an uncontrolled rampage, even if under different circumstances.
- Goku in the manga was pure-hearted and carefree, focusing only on bettering himself and embraced his unique qualities. In the film, however, Goku is brooding and focused on fitting in with other kids at school and struggles with the desire to hurt those that mock him as well as getting the attention of the girls, Chi-Chi in particular and almost resentful of the abilities that make him different.
- Grandpa Gohan and Goku live in a large house in the middle of nowhere here, whereas Goku (and formerly Gohan) lived in a small hut in the manga.
- In the manga, Goku's Power Pole has the ability to extend to great lengths and retract as well. In the film, the staff is hardly shown being used except by Roshi and Gohan, and it appears to be just a regular staff.
- Goku's traditional, happy personality is lacked in the film. Instead, he questions his belonging on the Earth and wants to fit in, while in the manga, he never really cares to wonder.
- In the manga, he was isolated from modern civilization for most of his childhood. In the film, Goku is a teenager in high school, interacts with his peers frequently, and uses electronic devices (his lack of an education is a recurring theme in the manga).
- In the manga, Bulma is the first female he meets, and second human being, whereas in the film he knows many females and sees people a lot long before meeting Bulma.
- The film sees Goku turn 18 years old, although in the manga, Goku's adventure began when he was 12 years old. Chi-Chi is also presumably the same age as Goku in the film, as they are shown attending the same classes.
- Goku falls in love with Chi-Chi (Jamie Chung), where in the manga she falls in love with him but he does not return these feelings until they decide to get married, being not interested in romance.
- He can levitate using ki. He was unable to do this until much later in the manga.
- In the manga, he gets his blue gi from Gohan, and is never seen wearing anything else until Roshi gives him his trademark orange gi. In the film, he wears regular clothes, and Roshi gives him both gis. [It is never shown on-screen that Roshi gives him the gis. After he buries Gohan, he goes back into the house to Gohan's room and opens a chest with the trademark gi inside. He takes a bag with him when he leaves with Bulma. It is completely plausible that both gis are inside his bag, which would mean Gohan gave him his blue gi, and he took Gohan's orange gi as an act of respect for his grandfather.
- The trademark orange gi is all orange in the manga, except for a black and white "turtle" symbol. In the film, it has navy blue pants, and an undershirt (Goku does wear an undershirt when he fights Piccolo Jr. and in Dragon Ball Z) with an orange shirt. In addition, Goku's wristbands, and belt, which were blue in the manga, are black in the film.
- Unlike his manga counterpart, this Goku does not seem particularly interested in learning ki control or further developing his martial art skills until he has incentive (in this case, Chi-Chi's attention).
- In the film, he is shot by Mai with her Hyper-Gun and almost dies. In the manga, Goku was shot by Bulma in the head with a regular handgun and was barely even affected by it. He has been known to survive and deflect gunshots on multiple occasions, but was damaged considerably when being shot by General White's Hyper-Gun.
- In addition, Goku was revived by a Kamehameha burst after being shot, despite the Kamehameha having no healing abilities in the manga.
- The Great Ape (Oozaru) transformation is revised so that it is an actual character named Oozaru who terrorized the Earth with Piccolo before the latter was banished by the Mafūba. In the film, an eclipse (rather than a full moon, as in the manga) transforms Goku into Oozaru, whose size is dramatically reduced from the size of Great Apes in Toriyama's series. This revision also drops the necessity for its user to have a Saiyan tail to transform. In addition, in the film, Oozaru is the servant of Piccolo; in the manga the Great Apes are not in any way affiliated with King Piccolo.
- Goku is revealed to have traveled to Earth on a meteor, rather than a spacecraft.
- In addition, Goku is not told that he travelled to Earth in the manga until the start of Dragon Ball Z. In the manga, his older brother Raditz told him that whereas in the movie, Piccolo is the one to tell him.
- In the manga, Goku's hair style remains constant throughout the entire series. In the movie, it changes from scene to scene (though in most scenes, it has a vauge similarity to the manga as his hair is spiky and wild).
- In the manga he is best friends with Krillin, in this movie he does not even know Krillin.
- In the movie, Goku fights Piccolo at the age of eighteen, while in the manga he is fifteen when he fights Piccolo.
- In the manga, Goku fights Tien at the World Martial Arts Tournament. In the movie, Goku does not even enter the Toi-San Tournament.
- In the manga, Goku instantly manages to use a Kamehameha in his first attempt whilst in the film Goku has difficulty pulling it off successfully.
- In the manga, Goku needed a tail (along with the full moon) to turn him into the Oozaru . In the movie, he does not.
- When Goku sees Gohan in the manga, it is in the Fortuneteller Baba Saga whilst the movie is based around the King Piccolo Saga. Also Gohan is brought back to the living world for a certain amount of time. Whilst in the movie, when Goku sees Gohan, he is nearly dead and unconscious after getting shot and only sees Gohan in his mind.
- Goku was able to sense Roshi's ki without having to drink the Ultra Divine Water.
- As in the later chapters of the manga, Mai is a servant to Piccolo.
- Goku easily outmatches Mai.
- Mai is much, much more serious, cold, and deadly in the movie than she ever was in the manga.
- The film depicts Mai as having the ability to shapeshift into another organism using a sample of their blood tissue (although this is more than likely done using the technology aboard Piccolo's spacecraft).
- Mai dies when being shot by Yamcha, whereas in the Dragon Ball series her death was never shown or mentioned.
- In the manga, Mai was originally a minion of Emperor Pilaf, but since Pilaf does not appear in the film, she is Piccolo's servant.
- In the film, Chi-Chi fights Mai in the Toi-San Tournament. In the manga, they never met.
- In the film, Mai can shape-shift using the blood of her foes. In the manga, she is never shown to have such an ability.
- Chi-Chi is a young woman who has trained in the martial arts since her early teens.
- Chi-Chi lives in a house that resembles a castle, whereas in the manga she lived in an actual castle.
- Chi-Chi develops a romantic interest in Goku.
- Goku first met Chi-Chi when they were kids. Here, they're both teenagers.
- In the manga, Chi-Chi did not start seriously training to fight until the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. Here, she seems to have been training for quite a while.
- Chi-Chi is much more flirtatious in the movie than in the manga.
- The romantic interest between Goku and Chi-Chi was very one-sided for the longest time in the manga whereas here, it's almost instant.
- She travels with a gun.
- She has Capsules.
- She created a device to locate Dragon Balls.
- She is highly intelligent.
- Said intelligence goes to her head, and she is stuck up and preppy (although that is seemingly canceled out by Goku's attitude).
- Bulma's family retains its status as the owners of the Capsule Corporation.
- Towards the middle of the movie, Bulma and Yamcha start to grow fond of each other, much like they do at the end of the first arc of Dragon Ball.
- During their first meeting, Bulma shoots at Goku.
- Bulma has brown hair with only a strand of blue, rather than the purple and blue hair her manga and anime incarnations are best known for sporting.
- Bulma had some idea there was more than one Dragon Ball (or "Prometheum Orb", as she called it) when she started out, but had no hard evidence until Goku explained what they were and what they do. In the manga and anime, she not only knew there were seven, but also knew they grant wishes.
- Bulma also starts out with only one Dragon Ball here whereas she had two in the manga.
- Instead of wanting to wish for a boyfriend, Bulma wants to tap the Dragon Balls for a source of unlimited energy and fame.
- In the manga, she is less rowdy and considerably less eager to shoot someone with her gun.
- In the manga, at the start of the story, she is sixteen years old and five years older than Goku. In the movie, she and Goku are about the same age, (with Goku's age being eighteen).
- In the manga, she used a number of Capsules in her travels with Goku and company. In the movie, she uses only a motorcycle capsule.
- In the manga and anime, she was not a fighter. In the movie when it shows the flashback of Bulma's Dragon Ball being stolen she is seen training and in martial arts uniform.
- In the film, Bulma nicknames DBE, for Dragon Ball Energy, the object that is the Dragon Radar/Bleeper in the manga/anime.
- Roshi is a cheerful, silly, and somewhat perverted old man.
- He is a master of martial arts.
- He tells the main characters about Piccolo.
- He possesses the Three-Star Dragon Ball.
- He searches for the Dragon Balls with the intent of wishing for King Piccolo to die.
- In both manga and film, he performs the Mafuba but fails and dies. He gets revived by the Dragon Balls after King Piccolo dies.
- Roshi's master in the manga is Master Mutaito. In the movie, it's Sifu Norris.
- Roshi lives in a housing complex on a small cliff in the middle of the city, whereas in the manga he lived in a small house on an island in the middle of the ocean. The city was also called Paozu, which is the mountain which Goku lived along with his family throughout the series.
- He does not keep his signature look of baldness and looks several years younger than Gohan.
- In the manga, he makes Goku and Krillin find him a pretty girl before he trains them. However, in the movie, this never happens.
- In the manga, Roshi was a firsthand witness to Piccolo's evil and destructive power and witnessed his master's death to seal him away. In the movie, he's a skeptic that Piccolo ever even existed.
- The attempt to use the Mafuba failed so instead of dying, Roshi is instead severely weakened and Oozaru/Goku strangles him to death.
- In the manga, Roshi is unabashedly perverted. In the film, however, the only nod to this is an issue of a magazine called "Bikini Quarterly". When Bulma picks up on this, he is noticeably embarrassed; a similar occurrence happens when Roshi catches Bulma after they fell into Yamcha's trap(his hand accidentally brushes against her behind, causing him to drop her, and look at his hands awkwardly).
- Unlike in the manga, Roshi does not have the alias "Turtle Hermit," or any of the accompanying appocrypha that his manga counterpart has (i.e., Turtle, Kame House, etc.).
- In the film, his full name is Muten Roshi, similar to the Japanese version and English manga. In the English dub of the anime, he is only ever known as "Roshi" or "Master Roshi."
- Yamcha retains his status as a desert bandit who uses extortion to spare passerby.
- As in the manga, he joins the adventure with the intent of finding the Dragon Balls.
- Also as in the manga, he meets the others while attempting to rob them.
- His voice is similar to the Funimation dub of Yamcha
- He still cowers at stronger fighters. When Roshi flies up to him, he backs away scared. Roshi even makes him flinch on one occasion.
- While joining up to find the Dragon Balls was his intention in both the movie and the manga, he wanted to make a wish to cure his shyness in the manga whereas in the movie, he just wanted to sell them to the highest bidder.
- Yamcha does not exhibit any shyness around women (and in fact is an outright flirt towards Bulma).
- He is not a fighter, despite being a major fighter in the manga.
- In the manga he is accompanied by Puar, while, in the movie, Puar does not exist.
- Yamcha does not carry a sword as he does in the manga.
- Yamcha has almost shoulder length curly hair, with some blond, as opposed to his manga version, where it is long and black, and variously changed, but always remains black.
- When the seven Dragon Balls are gathered together and the correct prayer spoken, the dragon Shenlong will come out and grant one perfect wish. Although they try to hold true to the manga, it shows that many cuts on the dragon summoning scene were made when Goku spontaneously knows the dragons prayer despite never having learned it.
- Instead of being called by his common English dub name, Shenron is referred to as Shenlong (the Chinese pronunciation; also used in the English manga).
- Shenlong is much smaller than his manga counterpart and looks slightly more like a Western dragon than an Eastern dragon.
- Shenlong has no speaking roles. After being summoned by the Dragon Balls it waits for a wish to be declared, after which it disappears and the wish is granted.
- Shenlong must be summoned by a specific prayer; in the manga, before Dende revived the Dragonballs, any sort of summoning would work.