Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball franchise is about the adventures of Goku and his friends from his early childhood to his death and beyond. It begins with a young Saiyan boy named Goku after falling of a cliff and losing his memory, and leads on to an adventure of a lifetime!
- Dragon Ball
- Dragon Ball Z
- Dragon Ball GT
A unifying component of the plot accompanying Goku's progression as a martial artist is his search for the eponymous Dragon Balls. They are one component of the universe, but are not the focus of most of the plot lines of the title. The Dragon Balls themselves are seven magical orbs which are scattered across the world. When assembled, they can be used to summon Shenron, the dragon who will grant one wish within its limit. After the wish is granted, the Dragon Balls are scattered again across the world and become inert for one year. In times past, it would take generations to search the world and gather the Dragon Balls. At the beginning of the story, however, a 16 year old genius girl named Bulma invents a Dragon Radar to detect the Dragon Balls and makes the process far easier than it was originally intended to be.
The story of Dragon Ball unfolds gradually over 11 years of publication. The tone and the style of the stories gradually changes to reflect the tastes of the readers and the editors of Shōnen Jump in Japan. The early volumes of the manga (chapters 1-134) are primarily humorous fantasy stories, but they contain some minor sci-fi elements, much like Dr. Slump. Notable fantasy elements include not only the monkey boy Goku and the Dragon Balls themselves, but also many talking animal characters, unlikely martial art techniques, and identifying characters as gods and demons. Despite the fantasy elements, the world does contain highly advanced technology including hoi-poi capsules, space-saving capsules which are pocket sized but can store almost any object (including cars, planes and even houses) and other "near future" objects. The overall mood of the earlier volumes is light with few deaths and an emphasis on adventure and humor.
A subtle but significant change in mood begins after Goku's best friend Kuririn is killed (the first of many deaths in this arc). This begins the Piccolo Daimaou arc (chapters 135-194) in which the manga enters a darker tone compared to its earlier volumes.
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball fully transforms into an action based shōnen manga at the onset of the Saiyan arc (chapters 195-241). Starting with introduction of Goku's first child, things begin to take a much more serious and harder sci-fi approach. Many characters which previously had fantasy origins (including Goku and Piccolo) are recast as aliens from other planets. Advanced space travel, alien threats, and powerful cyborgs and androids take center stage instead of more fantastic villains.
After the defeat of Vegeta, and the conclusion of the Saiyan arc, the survivors of the vicious Saiyan attack head off to the Planet Namek to resurrect their friends. This begins the Frieza arc (chapters 242-329). The Frieza arc is noteworthy for introducing the first Super Saiyan, now a staple of the series. It also sets the tone for more awesomely powerful characters. For example, the antagonist Frieza is first said to have a "power level" (the series' futuristic measure of a fighter's speed and strength, i.e., one average human is listed as 5) of 530,000. He then transforms into a more powerful form, at which point his power level is over 1,000,000. After two subsequent transformations, he reveals that he is still only using a fraction of his full power.
The Android arc (chapters 330-420) introduces Future Trunks, a mysterious Half-Saiyan Half-Human from a destroyed future world where all of the Z-Fighters are killed by evil, seemingly unstoppable war machines called jinzōningen, and the enigmatic and villainous Cell who is made from the cells from most of the heroes as well as some of the villains. This arc is notable for being the only arc in which Goku does not defeat the main villain, but instead Son Gohan defeats Cell. In this arc, Gohan surpasses the level of Super Saiyan and reaches the stage of Super Saiyan 2 in order to defeat Cell.
After these arcs and Goku's death and decision to remain in heaven is the Majin Boo arc (chapters 421-519) which is the very last arc of the manga. The beginning of this final arc concentrates on a teen-aged Gohan. Goku makes his return after being dead for seven years. All the male Saiyans manage to reach the level of Super Saiyan at least (including fusions). Super Saiyan 2 is reached by Gohan, Goku and Vegeta. And the ultimate level of the Saiyans, Super Saiyan 3, is reached by Goku and Gotenks. A considerable number of fusions also take place to add to the series, allowing Son Goten and Kid Trunks to merge to form Gotenks, and Goku and Vegeta fuse to create the incredibly powerful, invincible Vegetto. During this series, Majin Boo manages to kill everyone on Earth including central characters like Vegeta and increases his own power by absorbing Gotenks, Piccolo and Gohan. Majin Boo also succeeds where the villains Vegeta, Frieza and Cell had previously failed and destroys Earth. Earth and everyone that was on it when it was destroyed are restored using the Dragon Balls, and Majin Buu's evil side is destroyed by Goku's Genki Dama.
Kid Boo is reincarnated into a being of pure good called Oob. Goku and Oob fight at the 28th Tenkaichi Budokai, Oob enters to get money (zeni) for his village. Goku decides to train Oob to become even stronger than himself, the strongest fighter in the entire universe. Oob's village will get money from Mr. Satan. To say goodbye every hero character to ever appear in the entire manga (except minors), all wave to the readers and a huge "THE END" sign floats above them.
After completing this series, Toriyama had a rest and then made a gag manga called Neko Majin. This story features many elements and characters from Dragon Ball, including Majin Boo, Vegeta, and Goku.
Recently, Toriyama and his studio have begun developing Dragon Ball Online, an MMORPG follow-up to the manga, with Bandai Namco Games and NTL for release in South Korea and Japan. The game will act as a direct sequel to the manga, and Toriyama will be supervising all aspects of the game, from storyline and setting to character and location designs. In a press conference in South Korea on February 14, 2008, Kazuhiko Torishima, the director of Shueisha (and Toriyama's original editor), stated that Toriyama had immersed himself in creating character designs and providing editorial supervision for the game for the past five years.
Son Goku (孫 悟空 Son Gokū) Voiced by: Masako Nozawa / Sean Schemmel (English), Gender: Male, Race: Saiyan. The main protagonist. He was sent on Earth when he was a baby to take over the planet but unfortunately he was found by and old man named Gohan and was raised in Earth. As a baby he was immensely powerful and was uncontrollable. One day he felt from a mountain and hurt bad in head, since then he became a happy loving boy. Fighting many bad guys and evils Goku became stronger and stronger and in one point he become the worlds mightiest hero. Having previously defeated Piccolo in the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku has grown into an adult with his wife Chi Chi, and the couple have a son together named Gohan, named after Goku's adoptive grandfather. After the Cell game he got a second son named Goten. Goku is generally considered the most powerful of the Z Fighters and saves the Earth many times. He is a genius martial artist with a pure heart, making him an ideal hero, though his lack of education and common sense arguably makes him less of an ideal role model. He is the first one who become the Super Saiyan and made a legend.
Piccolo (ピッコロ Pikkoro) Voiced by: Toshio Furukawa / Chris Sabat (English), Gender: Other, Race: Namekian. Piccolo is the spawn of King Piccolo (Kami's evil counterpart) technically making him both King Piccolo's son and reincarnation. Originally Goku's arch-nemesis, he puts his differences with him aside to team up and defeat a mutual threat, Raditz. While training Gohan to defend the Earth against following Saiyan threats, Piccolo forms a bond with him and begins to care for others, eventually joining the good side permanently. Piccolo is one of the most powerful Z Fighters, as well as one of the most intelligent.
Gohan(孫 悟飯 Son Gohan) Voiced by: Masako Nozawa / Stephanie Nadolny (English), Gender: Male, Race: Hybrid (½ Saiyan-½ Human). Gohan is the first son of Goku and Chi-Chi, making him half Saiyan and half Human. Though he lacks his father's passion for fighting, he becomes one of the most powerful Z Fighters in order to protect Earth and his loved ones. Gohan has shown and extraordinary amount of hidden power and potential since he was a child. Through many difficulties and battle, he always overcomes his opponents no matter how strong and powerful they are. He is the first one in the series who became Super Saiyan 2. Later in the series his full potential was unlocked by Elder Supreme Kai to fight Majin Buu.