When discussing anime, one of the most well-known franchises in history is unavoidably mentioned: Dragon Ball. It has been 35 years since this television adaptation of the manga was first broadcast in Japan, and it was a watershed moment in the history of animation.
The truth is that, even after 35 years, the saga is more alive than ever. This phenomenon appears to be inexplicable, especially given that, unlike other anime that are much more niche or are never consumed outside of Japan, the Dragon Ball saga allowed us to break the stigma of Japanese animation.
Some people do not even watch anime, but they are familiar with and enjoy the story of Goku and his friends. This is evident, in particular, in the widespread acclaim it received in Latin America, as it was the story that shaped a generation of young people and that shows no signs of exhaustion, as a continuation of the saga is expected in the future. Let’s look at the keys to Dragon Ball’s success.
The Success of Dragon Ball
The first thing to mention is that we are not measuring the product’s quality, but rather its reception outside of Japan, which is much more accustomed to this type of series. In this sense, just say the word “anime” and see what name comes to mind; almost always, the Dragon Ball saga will be the first to come out of most people’s mouths.
Specifically, an NRC investigation reveals that, while it is very popular in Japan, it does not receive the same reception in other territories, such as Latin America, where it remains the main exponent of Japanese animation culture. As a result, you must comprehend the reasons for an unfathomable success
One of the first questions concerns its own narrative structure, which is accessible to all audiences, including those who do not enjoy anime. We are introduced to a very charismatic character who possesses abilities not found on that planet from the start. According to Shonen Road, a whole mysticism grew up around Goku’s own history and everything that could happen to him.In other words, a “classic tale” was told, complete with the typical hero’s journey, to which comic and supernatural elements (such as the famous dragon balls) were added, and where fights became necessary to reflect the spirit of the series. This makes Goku and his friends’ opponents appear simple at first, but as the adventure progresses, new heroes and increasingly powerful villains appear.
It is impossible not to identify with Goku, but the supporting cast is also crucial, regardless of the saga in which we find ourselves. That is one of its main selling points: the ability to expand the adventures not only without sacrificing quality, but also to improve it.
Despite the fact that the first adventure of Dragon Ball may have been a little childish, Dragon Ball Z takes a much more serious and better step, as we meet Goku as an adult. That is, unlike in other animation series, where the first periods are the best, the passage from one period to another generated an advancement in the plots and enriched the series’ narrative universe, with complex themes.
As a result, we gradually become acquainted with these characters, and a sense of nostalgia emerges. As a result, we learn that the innocent little Goku has a son and a wife. Even the dramatic moments become increasingly serious. We can’t forget about Krillin’s first death, one of the most iconic events in the saga, which also allowed Goku to transform into a super-saiyan.
At the same time, these shifts in power that allowed the characters to progress rather than stagnate meant the franchise’s expansion. As the transformations progressed, more and more powerful enemies appeared, increasing the danger and, over time, giving Dragon Ball Z a more serious tone.
For example, Shonen Road claims that the three Dragon Ball Z sagas are “almost perfect” and have captured the attention of all viewers. That is, while Dragon Ball was initially intriguing, it gradually improved, to the point where it set an extremely high standard for subsequent products.
As a result, even today, everyone is waiting for the continuation of Dragon Ball Super, the official saga that continues the story of Z (after the controversial Dragon Ball GT story was removed from the official story), which, according to Shonen Road, could happen by 2022. What is clear is that, even after 35 years, Dragon Ball is still the most popular anime, even among people not fans of the cartoonish style.