Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z

Cover of the first Dragon Ball Z compilation soundtrack, featuring Goku (left) and most of the other heroes of the series
(Doragon Bōru Zetto)
Genre Comedy, Martial arts, Science fantasy
Anime television series
Directed by Daisuke Nishio (episodes 1–199)
Produced by Kōzō Morishita
Kenji Shimizu
Koji Kaneda
Written by Takao Koyama
Music by Shunsuke Kikuchi
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by

‹See Tfd›

Network Fuji TV (1989–1996), Animax, Tokyo MX
English network

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Cartoon Network (2001–2010, 2016–present)
First-run syndication (1996–1998)
International Channel (1997–2002)
Cartoon Network (Toonami) (1998–2003, 2005–2008)
Original run April 26, 1989 January 31, 1996
Episodes 291
Anime film series
Studio Toei Animation
Released July 15, 1989 April 18, 2015
Films 17 (15 released in theaters, 2 direct to TV)
Original video animation
Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans
Directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi
Produced by Kozo Morishita
Written by Takao Koyama
Music by Shunsuke Kikuchi
Studio Toei Animation, Bird Studio
Released September 6, 1993
Runtime 26 minutes (each)
Episodes 2
Original video animation
Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans
Directed by Yoshihiro Ueda
Produced by Tomoaki Imanishi
Hiroyuki Kinoshita
Written by Hitoshi Tanaka
Music by Hiroshi Takaki
Studio Toei Animation, Bird Studio
Released November 11, 2010
Runtime 30 minutes
Anime television series
Dragon Ball Z Kai
Directed by Yasuhiro Nowatari
Music by Kenji Yamamoto (1–95)
Shunsuke Kikuchi (96–98; re-aired 1–95)
Norihito Sumitomo (99–159)
Studio Toei Animation
Licensed by

‹See Tfd›

Network Fuji TV
English network

‹See Tfd›

Cartoon Network
Nicktoons (2010–2012)
The CW (Toonzai, Vortexx) (2010–2014)
Adult Swim (Toonami) (2014–present)
Cartoon Network (2017–present)
Original run April 5, 2009  March 27, 2011
Continued run:
April 6, 2014
June 28, 2015
Episodes 159
Dragon Ball franchise

Dragon Ball Z (Japanese: ドラゴンボールZ (ゼット) Hepburn: Doragon Bōru Zetto, commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is a Japanese anime television series produced by Toei Animation. Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to the Dragon Ball anime and adapts the latter 325 chapters of the original 519-chapter Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama, that were published from 1988 to 1995 in Weekly Shōnen Jump. Dragon Ball Z first aired in Japan on Fuji TV from April 25, 1989 to January 31, 1996, before being dubbed in several territories around the world, including the United States, Australia, Europe, India, and Latin America.

Dragon Ball Z follows the adventures of the protagonist Goku who, along with his companions, defends the Earth against an assortment of villains ranging from intergalactic space fighters and conquerors, unnaturally powerful androids and nearly indestructible creatures. While the original Dragon Ball anime followed Goku from his childhood into adulthood, Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of his adult life, but at the same time parallels the maturation of his sons, Gohan and Goten, as well as the evolution of his rivals Piccolo and Vegeta from enemies into allies.

Due to the success of the anime in the United States, the manga chapters comprising its story were initially released by Viz Media under the title Dragon Ball Z. Additional works called animanga were released, which adapt the animation to manga form. Dragon Ball Z's popularity has spawned numerous releases which have come to represent the majority of content in the Dragon Ball universe; including 15 movies 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, including a more-recent remastered broadcast titled Dragon Ball Kai (ドラゴンボール (カイ) Doragon Bōru Kai, lit. "Dragon Ball Revised", Dragon Ball Z Kai in most international releases). There have also been two sequel series; Dragon Ball GT (1996–1997) and Dragon Ball Super (2015–present).


Dragon Ball Z picks up five years after the end of the Dragon Ball anime, with Son Goku as 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 big brother and that they are members of a nearly extinct extraterrestrial race called the Saiyans (サイヤ人 Saiya-jin). The Saiyans had sent Goku (originally named "Kakarrot") to Earth as an infant to conquer the planet for them, but he suffered a severe head injury soon after his arrival and lost all memory of his mission, as well as his blood-thirsty 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 Kaiō-sama until he is revived by the Dragon Balls a year later in order to save the Earth from Raditz' comrades; Nappa and the Saiyan prince Vegeta. During the battle Piccolo is killed, along with Goku's allies Yamcha, Tenshinhan and Chaozu, and the Dragon Balls cease to exist because of Piccolo's death. Goku arrives at the battlefield late, but avenges his fallen friends by defeating Nappa with his new level of power. Vegeta himself enters into the battle with Goku and after numerous clashes Goku manages to defeat him as well, with the help of Gohan and his best friend Kuririn. At Goku's request, they spare Vegeta's life and allow him to escape Earth. During the battle, Kuririn overhears Vegeta mentioning the original set of Dragon Balls from Piccolo's home planet Namek (ナメック星 Namekku-sei). While Goku recovers from his injuries at the hospital, Gohan, Kuririn and Goku's oldest friend Bulma depart for Namek in order to use these Dragon Balls to revive their dead friends. However, they discover that Vegeta's superior, the galactic tyrant Lord Freeza, is already there, seeking the Dragon Balls to be granted eternal life. A fully healed Vegeta arrives on Namek as well, seeking the Dragon Balls for himself, which leads to several battles between him and Freeza's henchmen. Realizing he is overpowered, Vegeta teams up with Gohan and Kuririn to fight the Ginyu Force, a team of mercenaries summoned by Freeza. After Goku finally arrives on Namek, the epic battle with Freeza himself comes to a close when Goku transforms into a fabled Super Saiyan (超サイヤ人 Sūpā Saiya-jin) and defeats him.

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 Artificial Humans (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 life form called Cell emerges and after absorbing two of the Artificial Humans to achieve his "perfect form," holds his own fighting tournament to decide the fate of the Earth, called the "Cell Games". After Goku sacrifices his own life a second time, to no avail, Gohan avenges his father by defeating Cell after ascending to the second level of Super Saiyan. Seven years later Goku, who has been briefly revived for one day and meets his youngest son Goten, and his allies are drawn into a fight by the Kaioshin against a magical being named Majin Boo. After numerous battles resulting in the destruction and recreation of the Earth, Goku (whose life is permanently restored by the Elder Kaioshin) destroys Majin Boo with a "Spirit Bomb" attack containing the energy of everyone on Earth. Goku makes a wish for Boo to be reincarnated as a good person and ten years later, at another martial arts tournament, Goku meets Boo's human reincarnation, Oob. Leaving the match between them unfinished, Goku departs with Oob to train him to become Earth's new defender.

Production and broadcasting

Further information: List of Dragon Ball Z episodes

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 Son 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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] Because Toriyama was writing the manga during the production of the anime,[4] 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 Kaiō-sama, resulting in the cricket Gregory.[5]

Throughout the production, the voice actors were tasked with playing different characters and performing their lines on cue, switching between roles as necessary.[6] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] The Vancouver-based Ocean Studios were hired by Funimation to dub the anime (Funimation had previously used the Ocean voice cast in their short-lived 1995 dub of Dragon Ball).[9] Saban musicians Ron Wasserman[10] and Jeremy Sweet,[9] known for their work on the Power Rangers franchise, composed an 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.[11][12] It premiered in the United States on September 14, 1996 in first-run syndication, but halted production in 1998 after two seasons.[11] This was due to Saban scaling down its syndication operations, in order to focus on producing original material for the Fox Kids block.[13] 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,[11] but did not do so.

Christopher Sabat (left) and Sean Schemmel (right) have provided Funimation's English dub voices for Vegeta and Goku, respectively, since 1999.

On August 31, 1998, re-runs of this cancelled 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 by themselves, but could no longer afford the services of the Ocean Studios voice actors due to financial constraints. This led to Funimation forming its own in-house 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.[10] This renewed dub featured less censorship (due to 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.[14]

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.[15] This dub's background score was composed by Nathan M. Johnson. Funimation's new uncut dub of these episodes aired on Cartoon Network during the summer of 2005 (in late night, due to the unedited content).[16][17][18] 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.[19] As of 2013, Dragon Ball Z is being streamed on Hulu, containing the English dub with the Japanese music and uncut footage, as well as subtitled Japanese episodes.

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 some of the same voices from the original short-lived dub syndicated in the U.S. (that was later on Toonami), was edited for content, featured an alternate soundtrack by Tom Keenlyside and John Mitchell,[20] and used much of the same script from Funimation's in-house dub. In Australia, Dragon Ball Z was broadcast by 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.[21]

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. The series premiered on Fuji TV in Japan on April 5, 2009, under the name Dragon Ball Kai. The ending suffix Kai (改「かい」) in the name means "updated" or "altered" and reflects the improvements, corrections and censoring of the original work.[22] The original footage was remastered for HDTV, featuring updated opening and ending sequences, new music, and a rerecording of the vocal tracks.[22][23] The original material and any damaged frames were removed to more closely follow the manga, resulting in a faster-moving story.[24] The series initially concluded with the finale of the Cell Saga, as opposed to including the Majin Boo Saga. 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.[25]

In November 2012, Mayumi Tanaka, the Japanese voice of Kuririn, announced that she and the rest of the cast were recording more episodes of Dragon Ball Kai.[26] In February 2014, the Kai adaptation of the Majin Boo Saga was officially confirmed. The new run of the series, which is titled Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters by Toei Europe, began airing in Japan on Fuji TV on April 6, 2014 and ended its run on June 28, 2015; lasting 61 episodes (bringing the total episode count to 159).[27][28]

English dub production and broadcasting

Funimation licensed Dragon Ball Kai for an English-language release in North America, under the title Dragon Ball Z Kai. The series was broadcast on Nicktoons from May 24, 2010 to January 1, 2012.[29][30] In addition to Nicktoons, the series also began airing on The CW's Saturday morning programming block Toonzai in August 2010,[31] then on its successor, Vortexx, beginning in August 2012.[27] Both the Nicktoons and Toonzai/Vortexx airings were edited for content, though the Toonzai/Vortexx version was censored even more so than Nicktoons (perhaps most notoriously, Mr. Popo was tinted blue), most likely due to The CW being a broadcast network. Kai began airing on Adult Swim's Toonami block in November 2014,[32] and re-runs of the previous week's episodes aired at the beginning of Adult Swim proper from February 2015 to June 2016.[33] CSC Media Group acquired the broadcast rights to Dragon Ball Z Kai in the United Kingdom and began airing it on Kix! in early 2013.[34][35][36] Although not officially announced, several voice actors for Ocean Studios stated in 2014 that they had recorded for an English dub of Dragon Ball Kai separate from Funimation's.[37]

Despite Kai's continuation not being officially confirmed at the time even in Japan, Sean Schemmel and Kyle Hebert, the Funimation dub voice actors of Goku and Gohan, announced in April 2013 that they had started recording an English dub for new episodes.[38] In November 2013, Kai's Australasian distributor Madman Entertainment revealed that the Majin Boo Saga of Kai would be released in 2014 and that they were waiting on dubs to be finished.[39] However, in February 2014 Funimation officially stated that they have not recorded for the new Saga and do not yet have plans to do so.[40]


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 distributor Saban which required such changes or they would not air the work, as was the case with the episode dealing with orphans.[41][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, which includes referring to his name, erroneously, as "Hercule Satan" in Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22.[42] The dialogue changes would sometimes contradict the scenes itself; after the apparent fatal explosion of a helicopter, one of the characters said, "I can see their parachutes; they're okay!"[41] 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. A rumor that Cartoon Network would be airing Kai uncut was met with an official statement to debunk the rumor in June 2010.[43] Nicktoons would also alter Kai; it released a preview showcasing these changes which included removing blood and cheek scar from Bardock and altering the color of Roshi's alcohol.[44] The show was further edited for its broadcast on Toonzai and Vortexx, but the show's DVD and Blu-ray releases only contained the edits present in the original Japanese version.

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.[45][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.[46] The typographical errors in the script were caused by dashes (—) and double-quotes (") failing to appear, which resulted in confusing dialogue.[46]


"Cha-La Head-Cha-La"
Sample of "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" performed by Hironobu Kageyama, the opening theme song for the majority of the show.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

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 194 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 Used to be 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.[47] 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.[48] 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.[49] 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 Saga of Kai is composed by Norihito Sumitomo.[50] 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,[51] and the second "Junjō" (純情, "Pure Heart") by Leo Ieiri from episode 112 to 123.[52] The third ending song is "Oh Yeah!!!!!!!" by Czecho No Republic from episode 124 to 136,[53] 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.[54] 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.

Related media

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.[55][56]

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.[15] 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.[57] Pioneer Entertainment distributed the Funimation/Saban edited-only dub of 53 episodes on seventeen VHS between 1997 and 1999,[58][59] and seventeen DVDs throughout 1999.[60][61] Two box sets separating them into the Saiyan and Namek arcs were also released on VHS in 1999,[62][63] and on DVD in 2001.[64][65] Funimation's own distribution of their initial in-house dub, which began with episode 54, in edited or uncut VHS ran between 2000 and 2003.[66][67][68] A DVD version was produced alongside these, although they were only produced uncut and contained the option to watch the original Japanese with subtitles.[69][70]

In 2005, Funimation began releasing their in-house dub of the beginning of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, marking the first time the episodes were seen uncut in North America.[71] However, only nine volumes were released, leaving it incomplete.[72] 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.[73][74] 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 DVD box sets were released uncut in the show's original 4:3 fullscreen format between November 10, 2009 and October 11, 2011.[75]

In July 2011, Funimation announced plans to release Dragon Ball Z in Blu-ray format, with the first set released on November 8, 2011.[76][77][78] 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.[79] Only a year later, the company began producing a cropped 16:9 remastered Blu-ray release in 2013, with nine sets released in total.[80] 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.[81]


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.[82][83] 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.[84][85]


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 1989 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.[86][87] 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.[88] 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!"[89] 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.[90] 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.[91]


Further information: List of Dragon Ball Z films

The Dragon Ball Z films comprise a total of 15 entries as of 2015. The films are typically released in March and July 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. The films themselves offer contradictions in both chronology and design that make them incompatible with a single continuity. All 14 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 later 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

Further information: List of Dragon Ball 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.[92] A 2007 dispute would end with Atari paying Funimation $3.5 million.[93] In July 2009, Namco Bandai was reported to have obtained exclusive rights to release the games for a period of five years.[94] This presumably would have taken effect after Atari's licensing rights expired at the end of January 2010.[93]


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.


Cultural impact and legacy

Dragon Ball Z was listed as the 78th best animated show in IGN's "Top 100 Animated Series",[95] and was also listed as the 50th greatest cartoon in Wizard magazine's "Top 100 Greatest Cartoons" list.[96] The series ranked #6 on Wizard's Anime Magazine on their "Top 50 Anime released in North America".[97]

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 records 4.7 million hits per day and included 500,000+ registered fans.[98] The term "Dragonball Z" ranked 4th in 1999 and 2nd in 2000 by Lycos' web search engine.[99][100] For 2001, "Dragonball" was the most popular search on Lycos and "Dragonball Z" was fifth on Yahoo!.[101]


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, as 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.[102] In 2002, in the week ending September 22nd, 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.[103] 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.[104] 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.[105] 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.[106][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.[107] 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.[108][109] Towards the end of the original run the ratings hovered around 9%-10%.[110][111] 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.[112] 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.[113] At the end of April 2013, Dragon Ball Kai would trail just behind One Piece at 14.2%.[114] Broadcasters' Audience Research Board ranked Dragon Ball Z Kai as the second most viewed show in the week it debuted on Kix.[115] 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.[116]


Some Dragon Ball staction figures at the Romics 2015

Dragon Ball Z merchandise was a success prior to its peak American interest, with more than $3 billion in sales from 1986-2000.[117] Though the merchandising of Dragon Ball Z would be a hit even into the holiday season.[118]

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.[119] The original sale was forecasted for late 1998, but were pushed back to January 12, 1999.[120]

An acrylic replica of the Five-Star Dragon Ball.

In 2000, MGA Entertainment released more than twenty toys, consisting of table-top games and walkie-talkies.[121] 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.[122] 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.[123] 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.[117] The Halloween Association found Dragon Ball Z costumes to be the fourth most popular costumes in their nationwide survey.[124]

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.[125] Jakks Pacific's Dragon Ball Z 5-inch figures were cited as impressive for their painting and articulation.[126]

In 2010, Toei closed deals in Central and South American countries which included Algazarra, Richtex, Pil Andina, DTM, Doobalo and Bondy Fiesta.[127] In 2012, Brazil's Abr-Art Bag Rio Comercio Importacao e Exportacao closed a deal with Toei.[128]


  1. Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahehi (Haim Saban) were credited as composers for contractual reasons. This was a 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.


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