Dragon Ball is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1984 to 1995; later the 519 individual chapters were published into 42 tankobon volumes by Shueisha. Dragon Ball was inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. It follows the adventures of Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood as he trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven mystical orbs known as the Dragon Balls, which can summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Along his journey, Goku makes several friends and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls for their own desires.
The 42 tankobon have been adapted into two anime series produced by Toei Animation: Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, which together were broadcast in Japan from 1986 to 1996. Additionally, Toei has developed seventeen animated feature films and three television specials, as well as an anime sequel titled Dragon Ball GT, which takes place after the events of the manga. From 2009 to 2011, Toei broadcast a revised, faster-paced version of Dragon Ball Z under the name of Dragon Ball Kai, in which most of the original version's footage not featured in the manga was removed. Several companies have developed various types of merchandising such as a collectible trading card game, and a large number of video games.
The manga series was licensed for an English-language release in North America by Viz Media, in the United Kingdom by Gollancz Manga, Australia and New Zealand by Chuang Yi and Malay-language release in Malaysia by Comics House. The entire anime series has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment for an English-language release in the United States, although the series has not always been dubbed by the same studio. In China, a live-action film adaptation was produced in 1989. In 2002, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to produce an American-made live-action film that received a negative reception from critics and fans; the movie was released on April 10, 2009 in the United States.
Since its release, Dragon Ball has become one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time. The manga's 42 volumes have sold over 152 million copies in Japan and more than 200 million copies worldwide. Reviewers have praised the art, characterization, and humor of the story. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest manga series ever made, with many manga artists citing Dragon Ball as a source of inspiration for their own now popular works. The anime, particularly Dragon Ball Z, is also highly popular in various countries and was arguably one of the most influential in greatly boosting the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture.
The series begins with a young monkey-tailed boy named Goku befriending a teenage girl named Bulma. Together, they go on a quest to find the seven Dragon Balls. Goku later undergoes rigorous training regimes and educational programs under the martial artist Master Roshi in order to fight in the World Martial Arts Tournament, a competition involving the most powerful fighters in the world. During his training time with Roshi, he meets a bald Shaolin monk named Krillin, who starts out as Goku's rival classmate; however, they soon become best friends. Outside the tournaments, Goku faces diverse villains such as Emperor Pilaf, the Red Ribbon Army, and the Namekian Piccolo Daimao. Several of the enemies and rivals Goku encounters eventually become his allies and close friends, including the desert bandit Yamcha, the assassin Tien Shinhan, the samurai Yajirobe, and Piccolo Daimao's offspring/reincarnation Piccolo Jr.
As a young adult, Goku meets his older brother Raditz, who reveals to him that they are members of a nearly extinct extraterrestrial race called the Saiyans. The Saiyans had sent Goku 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, and afterwards begins to encounter other enemies from space, most notably the Saiyan prince Vegeta, who becomes his rival and eventually another ally. Goku also encounters Frieza, the galactic emperor responsible for the destruction of almost the entire Saiyan race, whose actions cause Goku to transform into a fabled Super Saiyan. After an epic battle on the planet Namek, Goku defeats Frieza, avenging the lives of billions across the galaxy.
Some time later, a group of androids from the former Red Ribbon Army appear, seeking revenge against Goku. During this time, an evil life form called Cell emerges and, after absorbing two of the androids to increase his power, holds his own fighting tournament to decide the fate of the Earth called the Cell Games. However, Cell is eventually defeated by Goku's son Gohan. Seven years later, Goku is drawn into another battle for the universe against a magical monster named Majin Buu. After many battles, Goku destroys Buu. Ten years later, at another World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku meets Buu's human reincarnation, Uub. Leaving the match between the two of them unfinished, Goku takes Uub away on a journey to train him as the Earth's next defender.