Dragon Ball (anime)

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Dragon Ball opening title card
FUNimation's Dragon Ball logo

Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール, Doragon Bōru), commonly abbreviated as DB, is an adaptation of the first portion of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball manga. It is composed of 153 episodes and ran in Japan on Fuji TV from February 26, 1986 to April 12, 1989.

Dragon Ball is known as being overshadowed by its successor Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball depicts Son Goku's childhood, while Dragon Ball Z depicts his adulthood. Both are adapted from the same manga.

Production history

Original series

Dragon Ball has its origins in Dragon Boy, a manga series that Akira started while he was in college. The story depicts a young boy named Tanton and his quest to find the seven magical Dragon Pearls. The series is a loose adaptation of the Chinese legend Journey to the West and depicts Sun Wukong, the pure-hearted monkey king.

Due to the series' unpopularity, Toriyama was forced to stop writing it. After the extreme success of his new series, Dr. Slump, Toriyama went back and re-wrote Dragon Boy and adapted it as Dragon Ball. All of the characters' personalities were changed except that of Tanton. The re-adaptation, Dragon Ball, became a hit.

U.S. broadcasts

Two previous attempts at releasing Dragon Ball in the United States failed. The first attempt was by Harmony Gold in 1989. It featured strange name changes for nearly every character, such as changing Son Goku to Zero and Karin to Whiskers the Wonder Cat. It was test-marketed in several cities, but was never broadcast to the general public. It is often referred to as "The Lost Dub" by fans.

The second and more well-known attempt was in 1995 with only the first 13 episodes dubbed and aired in first-run syndication. This release was put out by Funimation Entertainment and utilized BLT Productions for the dubbing. These original 13 dubbed episodes were later released to DVD by KidMark as Dragon Ball: The Saga of Goku.

After Dragon Ball Z became immensely popular on Cartoon Network, the original series was re-dubbed by FUNimation's in-house voice cast. The complete original series ran on Cartoon Network from August 20, 2001 to December 1, 2003. Unlike the soundtracks for Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT, FUNimation left the original background music of Dragon Ball intact for their re-dub and also made English versions of the original Japanese opening (OP) and ending (ED) theme songs. Some insert (IN) songs were taken out or had dialogue overlapping them.


The version of Dragon Ball that aired on Cartoon Network (before that, it was aired in syndication) had a lot of edits done to it. Most of the edits were digital cosmetic changes, which were done to remove nudity and blood, and dialogue edits. Sometimes, some scenes were deleted altogether either to save time or cut out strong violence.

For example, when Goku dives into the water naked to kick a Giant Fish he catches for dinner, a digital water splash was added on his groin. On other occasions when he was naked, he had some digital underwear added. Also, references to alcohol and drugs were removed. For example, when Jackie Chun (Turtle Hermit) uses the Drunken Fist in the 22nd Tenkaichi Tournament, FUNimation named it the Mad Cow Attack. (Ironically, there was an epidemic called Mad Cow later on.) Also, the famous "No Balls!" scene was deleted from episode 2. When Bulma Brief puts panties on the fishing hook to catch Oolong (in Fish form), they digitally painted away the panties and replaced it with some money. A number of creative changes were also made to the dialog. For example, Puar said that Oolong was expelled from Southern Transformation Kindergarten because he stole the teacher's papers, but originally he said that Oolong had stolen the teacher's panties.

A lot of fans hated these changes because they felt it was butchering the original show's humor and dumbing it down. These edits, however, were necessary in order to have the show aired on TV. The DVDs do not contain these edits.

It is an interesting note on inconsistency in censorship that a scene in Dragon Ball where young Goku charges completely through Piccolo Daimao putting a hole in the villain's chest was edited so that the hole was not shown in the American broadcast, but the same scene was shown on American TV earlier in a flashback in a Dragon Ball Z episode with the hole in Piccolo Daimaio's chest clearly visible.


Toei titles

  1. Son Gokū (Episodes 1~28); 1986
  2. Red Ribbon Army (Episodes 29~68); 1986 - 1987
  3. 22nd Tenkaichi Budōkai (Episodes 69~101); 1987 - 1988
  4. Piccolo-Daimaō (Episodes 102~132); 1988
  5. 23rd Tenkaichi Budōkai (Episodes 133~153); 1988 - 1989

FUNimation titles

  1. Emperor Pilaf Saga (originally "The Saga of Goku") (Episodes 1~13)
  2. First World Martial Arts Championship Saga (originally "Tournament Saga") (Episodes 14~28)
  3. Red Ribbon Army Saga (Episodes 29~45)
  4. General Blue Saga (Episodes 46~57)
  5. Commander Red Saga (Episodes 58~67)
  6. Fortuneteller Baba Saga (Episodes 68~83)
  7. Tien Shinhan Saga (Episodes 84~101)
  8. King Piccolo Saga (Episodes 102~122)
  9. Piccolo Jr. Saga (Episodes 123~153)


Toei titles

  1. The Legend of Shenlong (1986)
  2. The Sleeping Princess in the Devil's Castle (1987)
  3. Mystical Great Adventure (1988)
  4. The Path to Ultimate Strength (1996)

FUNimation titles

  1. Curse of the Blood Rubies (1996)
  2. Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle (1999)
  3. Mystical Adventure (2001)
  4. The Path to Power (2003)

Public service videos

"Gokū no Kōtsū Anzen" and "Gokū no Shōbō Tai" are both very rare productions designed to be educational films. They were both completed in June 1988.

Live action films

Dragon Ball (1990 South Korean film)

Main article: Dragon Ball: Ssawora Son Goku, Igyeora Son Goku

This film is a live action version of the popular Japanese animated series. An evil king has been stealing the mystical Dragon Pearls in an attempt to possess them all. When all but one of the Dragon Pearls has been stolen, the former guardians of the magic jewels decide to band together and take action. Led by a Pig-headed wizard and a half-Turtle martial arts master, the team takes on the king's army in a desperate bid to stop him from gaining control of the pearls.

Made in Taiwan and released in 1989, this feature has actually been released in the US as Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins (originally titled Xin Qi long zhu Shen long de chuan shuo, or New Dragon Ball: The Legend of Shenlong). While this movie does not follow Toriyama's conception exactly, it is closer to it than it is to any traditional Chinese legends.

Dragonball: Evolution

Main article: Dragonball: Evolution

A live action version of the series made in the United States. The movie retains the basic notion of Dragon Ball, but there are several major changes in the story and characters. The movie depicts Goku's trainings and his confrontation with Piccolo Daimao.

FUNimation remastered releases

Main article: FUNimation Remastered Box Sets

In 2009, after the release of the remastered Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT season boxsets, FUNimation announced that they would begin releasing Dragon Ball in a remastered format beginning September later that year. The Dragon Ball season boxsets are that the same of the Dragon Ball GT sets with a slight difference. They are presented in their original aspect ratio 4:3 and are presented in a 5-disc boxset. Unlike the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT sets, the Dragon Ball sets only include a 5.1 English voice track with the original Japanese background audio and original Japanese mono as FUNimation never had an American soundtrack produced for their dub of the original series.

FUNimation also released the Dragon Ball movies in a remastered format.

Season boxsets

Season Release date Region Saga(s)
Dragon Ball: Season 1 September 15th, 2009 (Episodes 1 - 31) DVD 1 Emperor Pilaf, Tournament Saga and early Red Ribbon Army Saga
Dragon Ball: Season 2 November 10th, 2009 (Episodes 32 - 61) DVD 1 Red Ribbon Army, General Blue Saga and early Commander Red Saga
Dragon Ball: Season 3 February 2nd, 2010 (Episodes 62 - 92) DVD 1 Commander Red Saga, Fortuneteller Baba Saga and early Tien Shinhan Saga
Dragon Ball: Season 4 May 4th, 2010 (Episodes 93 - 122) DVD 1 Tien Shinhan Saga and King Piccolo Saga
Dragon Ball: Season 5 July 27th, 2010 (Episodes 123 - 153) DVD 1 Piccolo Jr. Saga

Remastered films

Film Release date
Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies December 28, 2010
Dragon Ball: Complete Collection February 8, 2011

Voice actors

Character name Japanese dub FUNimation dub
Son Goku Masako Nozawa Stephanie Nadolny (Kid)
Sean Schemmel (Adult)
Bulma Brief Hiromi Tsuru Tiffany Vollmer
Oolong Naoki Tatsuta Brad Jackson
Yamucha Tōru Furuya Christopher Sabat
Pu-erh Naoko Watanabe Monika Antonelli
Turtle Hermit Kōhei Miyauchi Mike McFarland
Kuririn Mayumi Tanaka Laurie Steele (Kid)
Sonny Strait (Adult)
Tenshinhan Hirotaka Suzuoki John Burgmeier
Chaozu Hiroko Emori Monika Antonelli
Yajirobe Mayumi Tanaka Mike McFarland
Lunch Mami Koyama Monika Antonelli (Untransformed)
Meredith McCoy (Transformed)
Son Chichi Mayumi Shō Laura Bailey (Kid)
Cynthia Cranz (Adult)
Gyumao Daisuke Gōri Kyle Hebert
Uranai Baba Junpei Takiguchi Linda Young
Karin Ichirō Nagai Christopher Sabat
Mister Popo Toku Nishio Christopher Sabat
Kami Takeshi Aono Christopher Sabat
Pilaf Shigeru Chiba Chuck Huber
Commander Red Kenji Utsumi Kyle Hebert
Staff Officer Black Masaharu Satō Christopher Sabat
Colonel Silver Banjō Ginga Christopher Sabat
General White Tesshō Genda Kyle Hebert
General Blue Toshio Furukawa Sonny Strait
Tao Pai Pai Chikao Ōtsuka Kent Williams
Crane Hermit Ichirō Nagai Chuck Huber
Piccolo Daimao Takeshi Aono Christopher Sabat
Piccolo Toshio Furukawa Christopher Sabat
Shen Long Kenji Utsumi Christopher Sabat
Narrator Jōji Yanami Brice Armstrong

Theme songs

See also

External links