Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z (Japanese: ドラゴンボール (ゼット), Hepburn: Doragon Bōru Zetto, commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is a Japanese anime television series produced by Toei Animation. It is the sequel to Dragon Ball and adapts the latter 325 chapters of the original 519-chapter Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama which ran in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1988 to 1995. Dragon Ball Z aired in Japan on Fuji TV from April 26, 1989 to January 31, 1996, before getting dubbed in territories including the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. It was broadcast in at least 81 countries worldwide.[4] It is part of the Dragon Ball media franchise.

Dragon Ball Z
(Doragon Bōru Zetto)
GenreAdventure, fantasy, martial arts[1][2]
Anime television series
Directed by
Produced by
  • Kenji Shimizu (#1–199)
  • Kōji Kaneda (#108–291)
Written byTakao Koyama
Music byShunsuke Kikuchi
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
Original networkFuji TV
English network
Original run April 26, 1989 January 31, 1996
Anime television series
Dragon Ball Z Kai
Directed by
  • Yasuhiro Nowatari (1–98)
  • Naohiro Terazaki (99–159~167)
Written byTakao Koyama
Music by
  • Kenji Yamamoto (1–95)
  • Shunsuke Kikuchi (96–98; re-aired 1–95)
  • Norihito Sumitomo (99–159~167)
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
Madman Entertainment
Manga Entertainment
Original networkFuji TV
English network
Original run April 5, 2009  March 27, 2011
Continued run:
April 6, 2014
June 28, 2015
  • 159 (Japan)
  • 167 (International)[3]
Dragon Ball franchise

Dragon Ball Z continues the adventures of Goku, who, along with his companions, defend the Earth against villains ranging from aliens (Frieza), androids (Cell) and other creatures (Majin Buu). While the original Dragon Ball anime followed Goku from childhood to early adulthood, Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of his adult life, but at the same time parallels the life of his son, Gohan, as well as the development of his rival Vegeta.

Due to the success of the anime in the United States, the manga chapters making up its story were initially released by Viz Media under the Dragon Ball Z title. Dragon Ball Z's popularity has spawned numerous releases which have come to represent the majority of content in the Dragon Ball franchise; including 15 movies, 2 TV specials, and 148 video games (many of them being only released in Japan), and a host of soundtracks stemming from this material. Dragon Ball Z remains a cultural icon through numerous adaptations and re-releases, including a more-recent remastered broadcast titled Dragon Ball Kai.[lower-alpha 1] There have also been two sequel series; Dragon Ball GT (1996–1997) and Dragon Ball Super (2015–2018).

Plot summary

Dragon Ball Z picks up five years after the end of the Dragon Ball anime, with Goku now a young adult and father to his son, Gohan. A humanoid alien named Raditz arrives on Earth in a spacecraft and tracks down Goku, revealing to him that he is his long-lost older brother and that they are members of a near-extinct extraterrestrial warrior race called the Saiyans (サイヤ人, Saiya-jin). The Saiyans had sent Goku (originally named "Kakarot") to Earth as an infant to conquer the planet for them, but he suffered a traumatic brain injury soon after his arrival and lost all memory of his mission, as well as his bloodthirsty Saiyan nature. Goku refuses to help Raditz continue the mission, which results in Raditz kidnapping Gohan. Goku decides to team up with his former enemy Piccolo in order to defeat Raditz and save his son, while sacrificing his own life in the process. In the afterlife, Goku trains under the ruler of the North Galaxy, King Kai, and is taught the Kaio-ken (界王拳) and Spirit Bomb (also known as the Genki Dama (元気玉)) techniques, before being revived by the Dragon Balls a year later in order to save the Earth from Raditz' allies; Nappa and the self-proclaimed "Prince of all Saiyans", Vegeta, who arrive before Goku returns. Piccolo is killed by Nappa during the battle, along with Goku's allies Yamcha, Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu (with Chiaotzu sacrificing himself to save Tien), and both Kami and the Dragon Balls cease to exist as a result of Piccolo's death. After Goku finally arrives at the battlefield, he avenges his fallen friends by defeating Nappa with his new level of power. Vegeta executes Nappa for his failure and does battle with Goku, but is ultimately defeated thanks to the efforts of Gohan and Goku's other surviving allies, Krillin and Yajirobe. At Goku's request, they spare Vegeta's life and allow him to escape Earth, with Vegeta vowing to return and destroy the planet out of revenge for his humiliation at Goku's hands.

During the battle, Krillin overhears Vegeta mentioning the original set of Dragon Balls from Piccolo's homeworld, Namek (ナメック星, Namekku-sei). While Goku recovers from his injuries, Gohan, Krillin and Goku's oldest friend Bulma depart for Namek in order to use these Dragon Balls to revive their fallen friends. However, they discover that Vegeta's superior, the galactic tyrant Lord Frieza, is already there, looking to use the Dragon Balls for himself so that he can achieve immortality. A fully healed Vegeta arrives on Namek as well, also seeking immortality from the Dragon Balls, which leads to several battles between him and Frieza's henchmen. Realizing he is overpowered, Vegeta teams up with Gohan and Krillin to fight the Ginyu Force, a team of elite mercenaries summoned by Frieza. After Goku finally arrives on Namek, the epic battle with Frieza himself comes to a close when Goku transforms into the fabled Super Saiyan (超サイヤ人, Sūpā Saiya-jin) of legend and defeats him before escaping Namek as the planet is destroyed in a massive explosion.

Upon his return to Earth a year later, Goku encounters a time traveler named Trunks, the future son of Bulma and Vegeta, who warns Goku that two Androids (人造人間, Jinzōningen, lit. "Artificial Humans") will appear three years later, seeking revenge against Goku for destroying the Red Ribbon Army when he was a child. During this time, an evil lifeform called Cell emerges and, after absorbing two of the Androids to achieve his "perfect form", holds his own fighting tournament to decide the fate of the Earth, known as the "Cell Games". After Goku sacrifices his own life a second time, to no avail, Gohan avenges his father by destroying Cell after ascending to the second level of Super Saiyan.

Seven years later, Goku is revived for one day to reunite with his loved ones and meet his youngest son, Goten, at the Tenkaichi Budōkai (天下一武道会, "Strongest Under the Heavens Martial Arts Tournament"). Soon after, Goku and his allies are drawn into a fight by the Supreme Kai against a magical being named Majin Buu summoned by the evil wizard Babidi. After numerous battles that result in the deaths of many of Goku's allies as well as the destruction of Earth, Goku (whose life is fully restored by the Elder Supreme Kai) kills Kid Buu (the original and most powerful form of Majin Buu) with a Spirit Bomb attack containing the energy of all the inhabitants of Earth, who were resurrected along with the planet by the Namekian Dragon Balls. Goku makes a wish for Buu to be reincarnated as a good person and ten years later, at another Tenkaichi Budōkai, he meets Buu's human reincarnation, Uub. Leaving the match between them unfinished, Goku departs with Uub to train him to become Earth's new defender.

Production and broadcasting

Kazuhiko Torishima, Akira Toriyama's editor for Dr. Slump and the first half of Dragon Ball, felt that the Dragon Ball anime's ratings were gradually declining because it had the same producer that worked on Dr. Slump. Torishima said this producer had this "cute and funny" image connected to Toriyama's work and was missing the more serious tone in the newer series, and therefore asked the studio to change the producer. Impressed with their work on Saint Seiya, he asked its director Kōzō Morishita and writer Takao Koyama to help "reboot" Dragon Ball, which coincided with Goku growing up. The new producer explained that ending the first anime and creating a new one would result in more promotional money, and the result was the start of Dragon Ball Z.[5] The title was suggested by Toriyama because Z is the last letter of the alphabet and he wanted to finish the series because he was running out of ideas for it.[6] Ironically enough, the sequel series would end up producing more episodes than its predecessor.

Dragon Ball Z is adapted from the final 325 chapters of the manga series which were published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1988 to 1995. It premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on April 26, 1989, taking over its predecessor's time slot, and ran for 291 episodes until its conclusion on January 31, 1996.[7] Because Toriyama was writing the manga during the production of the anime,[8] Dragon Ball Z added original material not adapted from the manga, including lengthening scenes or adding new ones, and adding new attacks and characters not present in the manga. For example, Toriyama was asked to create an additional character for Goku's training with King Kai, resulting in the cricket Gregory.[9]

Throughout the production, the voice actors were tasked with playing different characters and performing their lines on cue, switching between roles as necessary.[10] The voice actors were unable to record the lines separately because of the close dialogue timing. When asked if juggling the different voices of Goku, Gohan and Goten was difficult, Masako Nozawa said that it was not, and that she was able to switch roles simply upon seeing the character's picture.[10] She did admit that when they were producing two films a year and television specials in addition to the regular series, there were times when they had only line art to look at while recording, which made giving finer nuanced details in her performance difficult.[11]

Series Director Daisuke Nishio left the series after personally directing Episode #202. Nishio left the series to become series director of Aoki Densetsu Shoot!. The role of series director was not officially filled for Episodes #200-291, despite Nishio's directing of Episode #202.

English dub production and broadcasting

In 1996, Funimation Productions licensed Dragon Ball Z for an English-language release in North America. They contracted Saban Entertainment to help distribute the series to television, and Pioneer Entertainment to handle home video distribution.[12] The Vancouver-based Ocean Studios were hired by Funimation to dub the anime (Funimation had previously used a similar Vancouver-based voice cast in their short-lived 1995 dub of Dragon Ball).[13] Saban musicians Ron Wasserman[14] and Jeremy Sweet,[13] known for their work on the Power Rangers franchise, composed a new background score and theme song (nicknamed "Rock the Dragon").[Note 1] Funimation's initial English dub of Dragon Ball Z had mandated cuts to content and length, which reduced the first 67 episodes into 53.[15][16] Some of the edits were to make the anime more tame and kid-friendly, for example the word 'death' was removed, and smoking cigarettes was editing out as well.[17] It premiered in the United States on September 13, 1996 in first-run syndication, but halted production in 1998 after two seasons.[15] This was due to Saban scaling down its syndication operations, in order to focus on producing original material for the Fox Kids block.[18] Pioneer also ceased its home video release of the series at volume 17 (the end of the dub) and retained the rights to produce an uncut subtitled version,[15] but did not do so.

On August 31, 1998, re-runs of this canceled dub began airing on Cartoon Network as part of the channel's weekday afternoon programming block Toonami. Due to the success of these re-runs on Toonami, Funimation resumed production on the series' English dub without Saban's assistance, but could no longer afford the services of the Ocean voice cast due to financial constraints. This led to Funimation forming its own in-house voice cast at their Texas-based studio. The Saban-produced soundtrack from the first two seasons was replaced with a new background score composed by Bruce Faulconer and his team of musicians, which was used throughout the rest of Funimation's Dragon Ball Z dub.[14] This renewed dub featured less censorship (due to both Saban's absence and fewer restrictions on cable programming) and aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami block from September 13, 1999 to April 7, 2003; continuing in re-runs through 2008. Kids' WB briefly ran Dragon Ball Z in 2001 on its short-lived Toonami block.[19]

In 2004, Pioneer lost its distribution rights to the first 53/67 episodes of Dragon Ball Z, allowing Funimation to re-dub them with their in-house voice cast and restore the removed content.[20] This dub's background score was composed by Nathan M. Johnson. Funimation's new uncut dub of these episodes aired on Cartoon Network as part of its Monday-Thursday night prime-time lineup, in a 10:30 pm late night time slot, beginning in June 2005.[21][22][23] Funimation's later remastered DVDs of the series saw minor changes made to their in-house dub for quality and consistency, mostly after the episode 67 gap, and had the option to play the entire series' dub with both the American and Japanese background music.

In January 2011, Funimation and Toei announced that they would stream Dragon Ball Z within 30 minutes before their simulcast of One Piece.[24] As of 2017, Dragon Ball Z is no longer being streamed on Hulu.

The Funimation dubbed episodes also aired in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand. However, beginning with episode 108 (123 uncut), AB Groupe and Westwood Media (in association with Ocean Studios) produced an alternate English dub. The alternate dub was created for broadcast in the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland, although it later aired in Canada. Funimation's in-house dub continued to air in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The Westwood Media production used the same voices from the original short-lived dub syndicated in the USA (which later aired on Toonami), it featured an alternate soundtrack by Tom Keenlyside and John Mitchell,[25] and it used the same scripts and edits as the TV edit of Funimation's in-house dub (although the UK and Europe's version was slightly edited down from this). In Australia, Dragon Ball Z was broadcast by the free-to-air commercial network, Network Ten during morning children's programming, Cheez TV, originally using the censored Funimation/Saban dub before switching to Funimation's in-house dub. Dragon Ball Z originally aired on the British Comedy Network in Fall 1998.[26]

Dragon Ball Z Kai

In February 2009, Toei Animation announced that it would begin broadcasting a revised version of Dragon Ball Z as part of the series' 20th-anniversary celebrations.[27] The series premiered on Fuji TV in Japan on April 5, 2009, under the title Dragon Ball Kai (Dragon Ball Z Kai internationally). The ending suffix Kai (改「かい」) in the name means "updated" or "altered" and reflects the improvements and corrections of the original work.[28] The original footage was remastered for HDTV, featuring updated opening and ending sequences, new music, and a rerecording of the vocal tracks.[28][29] The original material and any damaged frames were removed to more closely follow the manga, resulting in a faster-moving story.[30] Torishima later explained the origins of Kai; Bandai was having a hard time increasing their sales and asked if a new Dragon Ball anime could be made, but Toriyama refused to create a new story (at the time). Realizing that the anime-exclusive scenes that were added to increase the distance between the original anime and the manga hurt the pacing of the series, Torishima thought of cutting them so that it faithfully followed the manga. He said the reception to Kai was positive and Bandai had a hit with a card game, so it all worked out.[31]

The series initially concluded with the finale of the Cell arc, as opposed to including the Majin Buu arc. It was originally planned to run 98 episodes, however, due to the Tōhoku offshore earthquake and tsunami, the final episode of Dragon Ball Kai was not aired and the series ended on its 97th episode in Japan on March 27, 2011. The 98th episode was later released direct-to-video in Japan on August 2, 2011.[32]

In November 2012, Mayumi Tanaka, the Japanese voice of Krillin, announced that she and the rest of the cast were recording more episodes of Dragon Ball Kai.[33] In February 2014, the Kai adaptation of the Majin Buu arc was officially confirmed. The new run of the series, which is titled Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters internationally, began airing in Japan on Fuji TV on April 6, 2014 and ended its run on June 28, 2015.[34] The final arc of Kai was originally produced to last 69 episodes (as most of the international versions run),[35] but the Japanese broadcast cut it down to 61 episodes.

Since September 9, 2019, Dragon Ball Kai is available in "Disney Deluxe", a Japanese streaming service owned by Disney, who owns the franchise's international distribution rights after acquiring 20th Century Fox.[36]

English dub production and broadcasting

Funimation licensed Kai for an English-language release in February 2010. The series was initially broadcast in the U.S. on Nicktoons from May 24, 2010 to January 1, 2012 (continuing in re-runs until April 2013).[37][38] In addition to Nicktoons, the series also began airing on the 4Kids-owned Saturday morning programming block Toonzai on The CW in August 2010,[39] then on its successor, the Saban-owned Vortexx, beginning in August 2012 until the block ended in September 2014.[34] Both the Nicktoons and CW airings were edited for content, though the CW version was censored even more so than Nicktoons. Kai began airing uncut on Adult Swim's Toonami block on November 8, 2014,[40] and re-runs of the previous week's episodes aired at the beginning of Adult Swim proper from February 2015 to June 2016.[41] CSC Media Group acquired the broadcast rights to Kai in the United Kingdom and began airing it on Kix! in early 2013.[42][43][44]

Despite Kai's continuation not being officially confirmed at the time even in Japan, Funimation voice actors Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Kyle Hebert (Gohan), announced in April 2013 that they had started recording an English dub for new episodes.[45] In November 2013, Kai's Australasian distributor Madman Entertainment revealed that the Majin Buu arc of Kai would be released in 2014 and that they were waiting on dubs to be finished.[46] In February 2014, Funimation officially stated that they had not started recording a dub for the final arc of Kai.[47] On December 6, 2016, Funimation announced the continuation of Kai to begin airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block; airing from January 7, 2017 to June 23, 2018, alongside Dragon Ball Super.[48]


Dragon Ball Z's original North American release was the subject of heavy editing which resulted in a large amount of removed content and alterations that greatly changed the original work. Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga is often criticized for his role in the editing; but it was the initial distributor Saban which required such changes or they would not air the work, as was the case with the episode dealing with orphans.[49][Note 2] These changes included altering every aspect of the show from character names, clothing, scenes and dialogue of the show. The character Mr. Satan was renamed Hercule and this change has been retained in other English media such as Viz's Dragon Ball Z manga and video games.[50] The dialogue changes would sometimes contradict the scenes itself; after the apparent fatal explosion of a helicopter, one of the characters (most likely Tien) said, "I can see their parachutes; they're okay!"[49] Funimation's redub for the 2005 release would address many of the issues raised by Saban, with the uncut releases preserving the integrity of the original Japanese release.

During the original Japanese TV airing of Dragon Ball Kai, scenes involving blood and brief nudity were removed. Nicktoons would also alter Kai for its broadcast; it released a preview showcasing these changes which included removing the blood and cheek scar from Bardock and altering the color of Master Roshi's alcohol.[51] The show was further edited for its broadcast on The CW; most notoriously, the character Mr. Popo was tinted blue. The show's DVD and Blu-ray releases only contained the edits present in the original Japanese version. A rumor that Cartoon Network would be airing Kai uncut was met with an official statement to debunk the rumor in June 2010;[52] though it would later air uncut on the channel as part of Adult Swim's Toonami block.

Steven Simmons, who did the subtitling for Funimation's home video releases, offered commentary on the subtitling from a project and technical standpoint, addressing several concerns.[53][Note 3] Simmons said that Gen Fukunaga did not want any swearing on the discs, but because there was no taboo word list, Simmons would substitute a variation in the strength of the words by situation with the changes starting in episode 21.[54] The typographical errors in the script were caused by dashes (—) and double-quotes (") failing to appear, which resulted in confusing dialogue.[54]


Shunsuke Kikuchi composed the score for Dragon Ball Z. The opening theme for the first 199 episodes is "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" performed by Hironobu Kageyama. The second opening theme used up until the series finale at episode 291 is "We Gotta Power" also performed by Kageyama. The ending theme used for the first 199 episodes is "Detekoi Tobikiri Zenkai Power!" (でてこいとびきりZENKAIパワー!, "Come Out, Incredible Full Power!") performed by MANNA. The second ending theme used for the remaining episodes is "Bokutachi wa Tenshi Datta" (僕達は天使だった, "We Were Angels") performed by Kageyama.

Kenji Yamamoto composed the score for Dragon Ball Kai. The opening theme, "Dragon Soul", and the first ending theme used for the first 54 episodes, "Yeah! Break! Care! Break!", are both performed by Takayoshi Tanimoto.[55] The second ending theme, used from episodes 55–98, is "Kokoro no Hane" (心の羽根, "Wings of the Heart") performed by Team Dragon, a unit of the idol girl group AKB48.[56] On March 9, 2011, Toei announced that due to Yamamoto's score infringing on the rights of an unknown third party or parties, the music for remaining episodes and reruns of previous episodes would be replaced.[57] Later reports from Toei stated that with the exception of the series' opening and closing songs, as well as eyecatch music, Yamamoto's score was replaced with Shunsuke Kikuchi's original from Dragon Ball Z. The music for the Majin Buu arc of Kai is composed by Norihito Sumitomo.[58] The opening theme is "Kuu•Zen•Zetsu•Go" (空•前•絶•後) by Dragon Soul, while the first ending song is "Haikei, Tsuratsusutora" (拝啓、ツラツストラ, "Dear Zarathustra") by Japanese rock band Good Morning America,[59] and the second "Junjō" (純情, "Pure Heart") by Leo Ieiri from episode 112 to 123.[60] The third ending song is "Oh Yeah!!!!!!!" by Czecho No Republic from episode 124 to 136,[61] the fourth "Galaxy" by Kyūso Nekokami from 137 to 146, and the fifth is "Don't Let Me Down" by Gacharic Spin from 147 to 159.[62] The international broadcast features two pieces of theme music. The opening theme, titled "Fight It Out", is performed by rock singer Masatoshi Ono, while the ending theme is "Never Give Up!!!", performed by rhythm and blues vocalist Junear. A second OST was created for the English Funimation release composed by Bruce Faulconer. It was used in the 2001–2005 broadcast of the show and was later released as a secondary to the Japanese OST.[63]

Home releases

In Japan, Dragon Ball Z did not receive a home video release until 2003, seven years after its broadcast. This was a remastering of the series in two 26-disc DVD box sets, that were made-to-order only, released on March 19 and September 18 and referred to as "Dragon Boxes." The content of these sets began being released on mass-produced individual 6-episode DVDs on November 2, 2005 and finished with the 49th volume released on February 7, 2007.[64][65]

The international home release structure of Dragon Ball Z is complicated by the licensing and release of the companies involved in producing and distributing the work. Releases of the media occurred on both VHS and DVD with separate edited and uncut versions being released simultaneously. Both versions of the edited and uncut material are treated as different entries and would frequently make Billboard rankings as separate entries. Home release sales were featured prominently on the Nielsen VideoScan charts.[20] Further complicating the release of the material was Funimation itself; which was known to release "DVDs out of sequence in order to get them out as fast as possible"; as in the case of their third season.[66] Pioneer Entertainment distributed the Funimation/Saban edited-only dub of 53 episodes on seventeen VHS between 1997 and 1999,[67][68] and seventeen DVDs throughout 1999.[69][70] Two box sets separating them into the Saiyan and Namek arcs were also released on VHS in 1999,[71][72] and on DVD in 2001.[73][74] Funimation's own distribution of their initial onward dub, which began with episode 54, in edited or uncut VHS ran between 2000 and 2003.[75][76][77] A DVD version was produced alongside these, although they were only produced uncut and contained the option to watch the original Japanese with subtitles.[78][79]

In 2005, Funimation began releasing their onward dub of the beginning of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, marking the first time the episodes were seen uncut in North America.[80] However, only nine volumes were released, leaving it incomplete.[81] Instead, Funimation remastered and cropped the entire series into 16:9 widescreen format and began re-releasing it to DVD in nine individual "season" box sets; the first set released on February 6, 2007 and the final on May 19, 2009.[82][83] In July 2009, Funimation announced that they would be releasing the Japanese frame-by-frame "Dragon Box" restoration of Dragon Ball Z in North America. These seven limited edition collector's DVD box sets were released uncut in the show's original 4:3 fullscreen format between November 10, 2009 and October 11, 2011.[84]

In July 2011, Funimation announced plans to release Dragon Ball Z in Blu-ray format, with the first set released on November 8, 2011.[85][86][87] However, production of these 4:3 sets was suspended after the second volume, citing technical concerns over restoring the original film material frame by frame.[88] Only a year later, the company began producing a cropped 16:9 remastered Blu-ray release in 2013, with nine sets released in total.[89] On August 13, 2013, Funimation released all 53 episodes and the three movies from their first Dragon Ball Z dub created with Saban and Ocean Studios in a collector's DVD box set, titled the Rock the Dragon Edition.[90]

In March 2019, Funimation announced plans to release a 30th anniversary Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z, with the box set being remastered in 4:3 aspect ratio, and containing an artbook and a collectible figure.[91][92] It would be crowdfunded, originally requiring a minimum of 2500 pre-orders in order to be manufactured, but was later increased to a minimum of 3,000 units.[93] The release sparked controversy amongst fans due to the framing of the video, color saturation and digital video noise reduction.[94][95] Funimation responded by stating that they cropped the release by going in "scene-by-scene to make judgements based on the image available in each frame of how much to trim to get to a consistent 4:3 aspect ratio, while still attempting to cut as little out of the picture as possible," and that they felt the digital video noise reduction was "mandatory for this release based on the different levels of fan support from various past DBZ releases with different levels of noise reduction over the years."[96]


In Japan, Dragon Ball Kai was released in wide-screen on 33 DVDs and in fullscreen on a single Blu-ray and eight four-disc Blu-ray sets from September 18, 2009, to August 2, 2011.

Funimation released eight DVD and Blu-ray box sets of Dragon Ball Z Kai from May 18, 2010 to June 5, 2012.[97][98] These sets contain the original Japanese audio track with English subtitles, as well as the uncut version of the English dub, which does not contain any of the edits made for the TV airings. Before the final volume was even published, Funimation began re-releasing the series in four DVD and Blu-ray "season" sets between May 22, 2012 and March 12, 2013.[99][100] Funimation released The Final Chapters in three DVD and Blu-ray volumes from April 25 to June 20, 2017.[101][102][103]


While the manga was all titled Dragon Ball in Japan, due to the popularity of the Dragon Ball Z anime in the west, Viz Media initially changed the title of the last 26 volumes of the manga to "Dragon Ball Z" to avoid confusion. The volumes were originally published in Japan between 1988 and 1995. It began serialization in the American Shonen Jump, beginning in the middle of the series with the appearance of Trunks; the tankōbon volumes of both Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball were released simultaneously by Viz Media in the United States.[104][105] In March 2001, Viz continued this separation by re-shipping the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z titles starting with the first volumes of each work.[106] Viz's marketing for the manga made distinct the differences between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z tone. Viz billed Dragon Ball Z: "More action-packed than the stories of Goku's youth, Dragon Ball Z is pure adrenaline, with battles of truly Earth-shaking proportions!"[107] Between 2008 and 2010, Viz re-released the two series in a format called "Viz Big Edition," which collects three individual volumes into a single large volume.[108] However, in 2013 Viz began publishing new 3-in-1 volumes collecting the entire manga series, including what they previously released as Dragon Ball Z, under the Dragon Ball name.[109]


The Dragon Ball Z films comprise a total of 15 entries as of 2015. The first 13 films were typically released every March and July during the series' original run in accordance with the spring and summer vacations of Japanese schools. They were typically double features paired up with other anime films, and were thus, usually an hour or less in length. These films themselves offer contradictions in both chronology and design that make them incompatible with a single continuity. All 15 films were licensed in North America by Funimation, and all have received in-house dubs by the company. Prior to Funimation, the third film was a part of the short-lived Saban syndication, being split into three episodes, and the first three films received uncut English dubs in 1998 produced by Funimation with Ocean Studios and released by Pioneer. Several of the films have been broadcast on Cartoon Network and Nicktoons in the United States, Toonami UK in the United Kingdom (these featured an alternate English dub produced by an unknown cast by AB Groupe), and Cartoon Network in Australia.

Television specials and original video animations

Three TV specials based on Dragon Ball Z were produced and broadcast on Fuji TV. The first two were Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku in 1990 and Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks in 1993, the latter being based on a special chapter of the original manga. Both were licensed by Funimation in North America and AB Groupe in Europe. In 2013, a two-part hour-long crossover with One Piece and Toriko, titled Dream 9 Toriko & One Piece & Dragon Ball Z Chō Collaboration Special!!, was created and aired.

Additionally, two original video animations (OVAs) bearing the Dragon Ball Z title have been made. The first is Dragon Ball Z Side Story: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans, which was originally released in 1993 in two parts as "Official Visual Guides" for the video game of the same title. Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans was a 2010 remake of this OVA. None of the OVAs have been dubbed into English, and the only one to see a release in North America is the 2010 remake, which was subtitled and included as a bonus feature in Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2.

Video games

There are over 57 video games bearing the Dragon Ball Z name across a range of platforms from the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom to the current generation consoles. Also included are arcade games like Super Dragon Ball Z, which would eventually be ported to consoles.

In North America, licensing rights had been given to both Namco Bandai and Atari. In 1999, Atari acquired exclusive rights to the video games through Funimation, a deal which was extended for five more years in 2005.[110] A 2007 dispute would end with Atari paying Funimation $3.5 million.[111] In July 2009, Namco Bandai was reported to have obtained exclusive rights to release the games for a period of five years.[112] This presumably would have taken effect after Atari's licensing rights expired at the end of January 2010.[111]


Dragon Ball Z has been host to numerous soundtrack releases with works like "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" and a series of 21 soundtracks released as part of the Dragon Ball Z Hit Song Collection Series. In total, dozens of releases exist for Dragon Ball Z which includes Japanese and foreign adapted releases of the anime themes and video game soundtracks.


In Asia, the Dragon Ball Z franchise, including the anime and merchandising, earned a profit of $3 billion by 1999.[113] In the United States, the series sold over 25 million DVDs as of January 2012.[114] Dragon Ball fans set a Guinness World Record for Largest Kamehameha attack move at San Diego Comic con on July 17, 2019.[115]

Cultural impact and legacy

Dragon Ball Z was listed as the 78th best animated show in IGN's "Top 100 Animated Series",[116] and was also listed as the 50th greatest animated show in Wizard magazine's "Top 100 Greatest Animated shows" list.[117] The series ranked #6 on Wizard's Anime Magazine on their "Top 50 Anime released in North America".[118]

Dragon Ball Z's popularity is reflected through a variety of data through online interactions which show the popularity of the media. In 2001, it was reported that the official website of Dragon Ball Z recorded 4.7 million hits per day and included 500,000+ registered fans.[119] The term "Dragonball Z" ranked 4th in 1999 and 2nd in 2000 by Lycos' web search engine.[120][121] For 2001, "Dragonball" was the most popular search on Lycos and "Dragonball Z" was fifth on Yahoo!.[122]

In 2005, media historian Hal Erickson wrote that "Dragon Ball may be the closest thing on American television to an animated soap opera — though this particular genre is an old, established and venerated one in Japan, the series' country of origin."[123] In 2015, Ford Motor Company released two commercials featuring characters from the series, the first advertising the Ford Fusion and the second for the Ford Focus.[124]


Dragon Ball Z's Japanese run was very popular with an average viewer ratings of 20.5% across the series. Dragon Ball Z also proved to be a rating success in the United States, outperforming top shows such as Friends and The X-Files in some parts of the country in sweeps ratings during its first season.[125] The premiere of season three of Dragon Ball Z in 1999, done by Funimation's in-house dub, was the highest-rated program ever at the time on Cartoon Network.[126] In 2002, in the week ending September 22, Dragon Ball Z was the #1 program of the week on all of television with tweens 9-14, boys 9-14 and men 12-24, with the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday telecasts of Dragon Ball Z ranked as the top three programs in all of television, broadcast or cable, for delivery of boys 9-14.[127] In 2001, Cartoon Network obtained licensing to run 96 more episodes and air the original Dragon Ball anime and was the top rated show in the Toonami block of Cartoon network.[128] Beginning March 26, 2001, Cartoon Network ran a 12-week special promotion "Toonami Reactor" which included a focus on Dragon Ball Z, which would stream episodes online to high-speed internet users.[129] Many home video releases were met with both the edited and unedited versions placing on in the top 10 video charts of Billboard. For example, "The Dark Prince Returns" (containing episodes 226-228) and "Rivals" (containing episodes 229-231) edited and unedited, made the Billboard magazine top video list for October 20, 2001.[130][Note 4]

The first episode of Dragon Ball Kai earned a viewer ratings percentage of 11.3, ahead of One Piece and behind Crayon Shin-chan.[131] Although following episodes had lower ratings, Kai was among the top 10 anime in viewer ratings every week in Japan for most of its run.[132][133] Towards the end of the original run the ratings hovered around 9%-10%.[134][135] Dragon Ball Z Kai premiered on Nicktoons in May 2010 and set the record for the highest-rated premiere in total viewers, and in tweens and boys ages 9–14.[136] Nielsen Mega Manila viewer ratings ranked Dragon Ball Kai with a viewer ratings with a high of 18.4% for October 30 – November 4 in 2012.[137] At the end of April 2013, Dragon Ball Kai would trail just behind One Piece at 14.2%.[138] Broadcasters' Audience Research Board ranked Dragon Ball Z Kai as the second most viewed show in the week it debuted on Kix.[139] On its debut on Vortexx, Dragon Ball Z Kai was the third highest rated show on the Saturday morning block with 841,000 viewers and a 0.5 household rating.[140]


DRragon Ball Z merchandise was a success prior to its peak American interest, with more than $3 billion in sales from 1996–2000.[141] In 1996, Dragon Ball Z grossed $2.95 billion in merchandise sales worldwide.[142] As of January 2012, Dragon Ball Z grossed $5 billion in merchandise sales worldwide.[114]

In 1998, Animage-ine Entertainment, a division of Simitar, announced the sale of Chroma-Cels, mock animation cels to capitalize on the popularity of Dragon Ball Z.[143] The original sale was forecasted for late 1998, but were pushed back to January 12, 1999.[144]

In 2000, MGA Entertainment released more than twenty toys, consisting of table-top games and walkie-talkies.[145] Irwin Toy released more than 72 figures consisting of 2-inch and 5 inch action figures, which became top-selling toys in a market dominated by the Pokémon Trading Card Game.[146] Irwin Toys would release other unique Dragon Ball Z toys including a battery powered Flying Nimbus Cloud which hovered without touching the ground and a die-cast line of vehicles with collector capsules.[147] In June 2000, Burger King had a toy promotion which would see 20 million figurines; Burger King bore the cost of the promotion which provided free marketing for Funimation.[141] The Halloween Association found Dragon Ball Z costumes to be the fourth most popular costumes in their nationwide survey.[148]

In December 2002, Jakks Pacific signed a three-year deal for licensing Dragon Ball Z toys, which was possible because of the bankruptcy of Irwin Toy.[149] Jakks Pacific's Dragon Ball Z 5-inch figures were cited as impressive for their painting and articulation.[150]

In 2010, Toei closed deals in Central and South American countries which included Algazarra, Richtex, Pil Andina, DTM, Doobalo and Bondy Fiesta.[151] In 2012, Brazil's Abr-Art Bag Rio Comercio Importacao e Exportacao closed a deal with Toei.[152]


  1. Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahehi (Haim Saban) were credited as composers for contractual reasons. This was standard practice at Saban Entertainment during the 1990s.
  2. The original interview was conducted by Steve Harmon with Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga in 1999 and was hosted on Harmon's personal website "The Vault". A record of the website exists on Archive.org, but the original interview itself was lost. The record was kept by Chris Psaros who provided a copy for the website "The Dragon Ball Z Otaku Alliance" which republished the original interview for this source.
  3. Steven Simmons, who uses the nickname "Daimao" in websites like Toriyama.org, wrote the original scripts for the Funimation subtitles and was involved in the localization process. His comments are included as a primary source, but also definitively illustrate concerns with the subtitles, from its creator. This connection and background is noted at the accompanying Anime News Network reference.
  4. The releases for both The Dark Prince Returns and Babidi: Showdown were released on September 25, 2001. The title "Showdown" was replaced with "Rivals" and contains episodes 229–231, titled "Vegeta's Pride", "The Long Awaited Flight", and "Magic Ball of Buu". Prior to the release, Billboard and news outlets including the Anime News Network and Anime Nation were using the title "Showdown"; but the UPC codes match, indicating a re-titling for this release, "Rivals", also has a September 25, 2001, release date for the uncut material.
  1. Dragon Ball Kai (ドラゴンボール (カイ), Doragon Bōru Kai, lit. Dragon Ball Revised), retitled Dragon Ball Z Kai in most international releases


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