The History and Development of the entire Dragon Ball Franchise

The History and Development of the entire Dragon Ball Franchise

The Dragon Ball franchise, created by Akira Toriyama, stands as a monumental force in the world of anime and manga. Spanning decades, Dragon Ball has evolved from a manga series to a global multimedia phenomenon with a profound impact on popular culture. In this detailed exploration, we delve into the history and development of the entire Dragon Ball franchise.

Origins and Dragon Ball (1984-1989):

  • The journey of Dragon Ball began in 1984 when Akira Toriyama introduced the manga to Weekly Shōnen Jump. This early installment, known simply as Dragon Ball, follows the adventures of Goku, a young, naïve, and immensely powerful martial artist, as he embarks on a quest for the magical Dragon Balls. Joined by companions like Bulma, Krillin, and Master Roshi, Goku's journey is marked by martial arts tournaments, formidable foes, and the search for the Dragon Balls.
  • The success of the Dragon Ball manga led to the creation of the anime adaptation, which premiered in 1986. Directed by Daisuke Nishio, the anime captured the essence of Toriyama's work, introducing viewers to Goku's world of martial arts, humor, and fantasy. The early years of Dragon Ball set the foundation for what would become a cultural phenomenon.

Dragon Ball Z and Global Impact (1989-1996):

  • As Dragon Ball reached its conclusion, Toriyama continued the story with Dragon Ball Z (DBZ), a series that elevated the scale of battles and introduced the concept of Super Saiyans. Premiering in 1989, DBZ follows Goku as an adult defending Earth against cosmic threats, including the powerful Saiyan warriors Raditz, Vegeta, and Frieza.
  • DBZ achieved unprecedented global success, captivating audiences with its intense battles, transformations, and emotional storytelling. The Frieza Saga, Cell Saga, and Buu Saga became iconic chapters in anime history. The series became a cultural phenomenon, contributing to the rise of anime's popularity outside Japan. The dynamic characters, such as Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan, became household names, and the show's impact on pop culture was immense.

Dragon Ball GT (1996-1997):

  • Following the success of DBZ, Toei Animation produced Dragon Ball GT, which aired from 1996 to 1997. However, GT is considered a non-canonical series as it was not directly based on Toriyama's manga. The series explores Goku's adventures as he is transformed back into a child and embarks on a quest across the galaxy to recover the Black Star Dragon Balls.
  • While GT has its share of fans, it didn't reach the same heights of success as its predecessors. Despite its divergence from the main storyline, GT contributed to the franchise's legacy and marked the end of an era.

Dragon Ball Kai (2009-2015):

  • In 2009, Dragon Ball Kai, also known as Dragon Ball Z Kai, emerged as a remastered and condensed version of DBZ. With updated visuals, re-recorded voice acting, and a focus on following the original manga more closely, Kai aimed to reintroduce Dragon Ball to a new generation and cater to long-time fans. The remastered series received positive reviews, providing a fresh viewing experience for both nostalgic fans and newcomers.

Dragon Ball Super and the Multiverse (2015-2018):

  • The anticipation for new Dragon Ball content was met with the arrival of Dragon Ball Super in 2015. Toriyama returned to oversee the series, set a few years after the defeat of Majin Buu in DBZ. Dragon Ball Super delves into the multiverse, introducing new characters like Beerus, the God of Destruction, and Whis, his angelic attendant.
  • Dragon Ball Super expanded the lore of the Dragon Ball universe, exploring realms beyond Earth and introducing the Tournament of Power arc, a cosmic battle royale involving multiple universes. The series' simultaneous production of anime and manga allowed for variations in the storytelling, keeping fans engaged.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018):

  • In 2018, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, a canonical film, hit theaters. The film explores the origins of the Saiyan race and introduces Broly as a powerful adversary. Broly's character, originally from non-canonical films, was reintroduced into the official storyline, receiving positive acclaim for its animation quality and character development.

Dragon Ball Heroes (2010 Onward):

  • Dragon Ball Heroes, starting in 2010, is a promotional anime and video game series. Serving as a tie-in to the Dragon Ball Heroes arcade game, the series features characters from various Dragon Ball timelines, including the introduction of "Xeno" characters. While not a mainstream installment, Heroes adds an extra layer to the Dragon Ball multiverse.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Upcoming - 2022):

  • The Dragon Ball saga continues with the upcoming release of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero in 2022. Little is known about the plot, but the film promises new adventures, challenges, and possibly further exploration of the expanding Dragon Ball universe.

Cultural Impact and Global Fandom:

  • Dragon Ball's impact on popular culture is undeniable. The franchise has garnered a massive and dedicated fanbase globally, transcending cultural and linguistic boundaries. The characters, catchphrases, and iconic moments have become ingrained in popular consciousness, and Dragon Ball remains a significant force in the world of entertainment.

Video Games and Merchandising:

  • Dragon Ball's influence extends beyond anime and manga into the gaming industry. Numerous video games, spanning various genres, have allowed fans to immerse themselves in the Dragon Ball universe. The franchise has also spawned an extensive range of merchandise, including action figures, clothing, and collectibles, contributing to its commercial success.

Legacy and Continued Relevance:

  • Dragon Ball's legacy is cemented as one of the most influential and beloved franchises globally. Its characters, such as Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo, are iconic figures in the world of anime. The franchise's ability to evolve and adapt, introducing new story arcs, characters, and multimedia elements, showcases its continued relevance.


The Dragon Ball franchise's journey from its humble beginnings in the pages of a manga to its status as a global phenomenon is a testament to the creativity and vision of Akira Toriyama. Dragon Ball's impact on anime, popular culture, and the entertainment industry as a whole is immeasurable. As the saga continues with new releases, the Dragon Ball franchise remains a timeless and enduring part of the cultural tapestry, continuing to capture the hearts of fans around the world.


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