What if Master Roshi trained Naruto?

How Dragon Ball became one of the most important anime ever

For over three decades, the adventures of Goku and his friends have been some of the world's most popular anime stories. But what makes Dragon Ball so special?

Who does not know that? You happily go home after a fishing trip to put your catch in the pan and then consume it with relish, when suddenly a strange woman appears out of nowhere, who almost rolls you over with a strange vehicle. Little Son-Goku meets Bulma for the first time, which is not only the beginning of Son-Goku's adventure, but also the one gigantic success story marked. But what makes Dragon Ball so special that the more than 30 year old story can still cast its spell over fans all over the world with old and new stories?

The Journey to the West - Goku's Quest for the Dragon Balls

The Chinese classic The Journey to the West has already inspired many a subsequent story, including Akira Toriyama's successful manga Dragon Ball, which was adapted as an anime for Japanese TV in 1986. The journey of our young hero Son-Goku begins when he meets the said young woman named Bulma, who is brought to him by seven magic balls, the Dragon Balls tells. If you collect all the balls and say a magic formula, the holy dragon Shenlong appears and fulfills every wish.

On their adventures, Son-Goku and Bulma meet all sorts of illustrious figures from the robber Yamcha or the martial arts master Muten-Roshi to God to shady people such as members of the Red Ribbon Army, the hit man Tao Bai Bai and the devil himself. It is especially these wonderfully quirky characters in combination with the wonderful humor and the over-the-top action, reminiscent of older martial arts films, that characterize Dragon Ball in its early days and is still fun today.

The hero can get older - Dragon Ball as a trendsetter

When it premiered, Dragon Ball was kind of a bird of paradise since Toriyama defied the then common Manga standards. In contrast to series like Fist of the North Star, the focus was not on an older or even adult protagonist, but on a little boy who goes out into the big wide world and was even allowed to get older in the course of his story. In addition, it was also unusual for manga or anime characters to train so much, which characterizes series of this type to this day.

In the first large section of the story alone, which is adapted in the anime Dragon Ball, almost seven years go by, in which all sorts of things happen. We experience firsthand how Son-Goku is developing and not only getting stronger, but also slowly getting older and more mature due to intensive training. In the meantime there are beyond again and again small leaps in time within the story. There are just such things to see in Son-Goku's successors, for example in One Piece or Bleach, but only very rarely do they have similar effects as in the big model.

Dragon Ball before Dragon Ball Z - more humor, less action

When you hear the name Dragon Ball, many people think of crashing action. And yes, breathtaking battles play an increasingly important role as the story progresses. However, at the beginning there is primarily the Having fun in the foreground, because that Toriyama was previously sent to Dr. Slump, a gag manga, Dragon Ball is clearly noticeable again and again. In the first chapters or episodes we are offered a simple but exciting story, which is loosened up with crazy ideas such as shapeshifters or suggestive jokes.

But of course there is also in Dragon Ball loads of action, but this is far less visually stunning than in the successor Dragon Ball Z. Since Son-Goku is not as strong in Dragon Ball and, above all, not as experienced as in the anime sequel, we see significantly fewer Ki attacks of the kind of a Kamehame-Ha. Instead, it's mostly quite classic martial arts fights that are incredibly exciting. I will probably never forget Son-Goku's fight against his master disguised as Jackie Chun or, in the end, against Piccolo. With all the action, however, fun is never neglected, which Toriyama granted even more space than in Son Goku's later adventures.

The secret to Dragon Ball's success

Dragon Ball is, without exaggeration, a phenomenon. It was certainly not foreseeable for any of those responsible what success and, above all, what influence the manga and anime adventures of the Dragon Ball universe would one day have on the entire anime industry. The anime is certainly not perfect, as there are various continuity errors in the 153 episodes as well as fluctuating quality in terms of the drawings and animations. In addition, the story is basically very simple and will not pose any great intellectual challenges to anyone. But The secret of success lies in this simplicity.

Son Goku and his friends

Because the fact that the story is so simple is what makes it so ingenious. Because the story and the characters acting in it are very easy to understand, everyone will surely find access to them quickly; everyone can find themselves in the world of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball manages to arouse emotions in us and thus influenced not only us fans, but also subsequent anime greats such as Bleach, Naruto or One Piece, who are clearly based on the great role model. Dragon Ball delivers a complete package consisting of adventure, action, drama and humor, the pull of which hardly anyone can escape.

How did you like the first Dragon Ball anime?