Dragon Ball is one of the best-known anime and media franchises in the world. Created by Akira Toriyama, the series started life as a manga heavily inspired by Journey To The West, but quickly grew into a massive franchise in its own right, spawning loads of manga, movies, and anime. Here's what the series is all about, where to watch and read every iteration online, and all you need to know about the latest upcoming film in the franchise.
What Is Dragon Ball?
The Dragon Ball series has had several discrete installments. It began with the original Dragon Ball manga and anime, the story of a young but abnormally strong boy named Goku. He meets a fiery teenage girl named Bulma, who is on a planet-wide search for the mystical Dragon Balls that will grant any wish to their user.
As Goku becomes an adult and starts a family of his own, the franchise moved on to Dragon Ball's extremely popular successor, Dragon Ball Z. Once that ended, Toei Animation attempted to make a sequel to DBZ called Dragon Ball GT. However, the latter series flopped hard as it wasn't based on Toriyama's official manga. After this came Dragon Ball Kai, a recut of the Dragon Ball Z anime. Kai tried to bring the anime closer to Akira Toriyama's original manga by cutting out the filler and redubbing several episodes.
Finally, the newest official anime and manga series is Dragon Ball Super, which is set during the ten-year time skip after the defeat of Majin Buu in Dragon Ball Z.
Why Should I Watch Dragon Ball?
There are many reasons to watch and read Dragon Ball. The series is packed full of fun characters, intriguing plotlines, and intense action. Once you start, it is hard to not be sucked into its world of mighty warriors, aliens, and their various history-spanning conflicts. In fact, the universe of Dragon Ball is one of the most detailed and well-defined in the history of media.
It is also a fascinating curiosity as not only is Dragon Ball the template that most shonen titles build from, but its length makes it an engaging way to see how the manga and anime industries have evolved and changed over the decades. Really Dragon Ball, -- especially Dragon Ball Z -- has ascended beyond the level of a show. It is a rite of passage for every anime fan and worth watching once just to say you have. While many anime have tried to copy its formula, no other series has pulled it off as effortlessly as Toriyama's original.
Where Can I Watch Dragon Ball Online?
Finding the Dragon Ball franchise online is easier than ever as many different services carry the legendary show. Funimation currently hosts all 153 episodes of the original Dragon Ball, offering both a subtitled and dubbed version. However, only the subtitled version is available without a subscription. So if you want to watch the dub, you'll need to subscribe. The sub is also on Hulu for those who are subscribed to that service.
Dragon Ball Z is also available on Funimation. However, while Episodes 1-74 are free to watch in both subbed and dubbed formats, Episode 75 onward will require a paid subscription. Dragon Ball GT is also carried by Funimation. Alas, the whole series, dubbed and subbed, is behind a paywall.
Dragon Ball Kai, while popular with fans, is more difficult to find online. While Funimation lists it on its service, it doesn't have any episodes and instead offers a series of clips and behind-the-scenes featurettes. You can buy the show via Amazon Prime Video, but that ends after episode 98, preventing you from fully finishing the series. The only way to see the complete Kai series is via the show's various DVD or Blu-ray boxsets, but be warned, even those can be hard to come by.
Dragon Ball Super is available on Funimation, with both the sub and dub free to watch up until Episode 26. After this, you'll need to subscribe to watch the rest. The series is also available on Crunchyroll, and unlike Funimation, it actually has the entire series for free. However, it only has the subtitled version, with no option for a dub.
Where Can I Find Dragon Ball Movies Online?
The Dragon Ball franchise has had a ton of movies, and some are easier to find than others. Four of the original series' movies -- Curse of the Blood Rubies, The Path to Power, Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle, and Mystical Adventure -- are available in both subbed and dubbed formats on Funimation for those with a premium account.
Funimation also has many Dragon Ball Z films, including: The Dead Zone, The World's Strongest, The Tree of Might, Lord Slug, Return of Cooler, Super Android 13, and the popular Wrath of the Dragon. However, all of these movies require a premium account as well.
The other films, including recent ones like Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F, and Dragon Ball Super: Broly, are available to rent through services like Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and Youtube. You can also get them on physical media from most major retail outlets.
Where Can I Find Dragon Ball Manga?
Alongside the anime, Dragon Ball has many manga installments. The Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z manga are available in collected physical editions from all good comic and book shops courtesy of Viz Media. If you prefer digital, you can buy volumes via Kindle and Comixology. If you're looking for free samples, Viz Media allows newcomers to read the first three as well as the three most recent Dragon Ball Super chapters for free. They also allow you to read the first three Dragon Ball Z chapters for free. However, you can read the rest if you sign up for their premium service.
When Is the New Dragon Ball Super Series Available?
The next Dragon Ball Super movie, entitled Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, released a new trailer at New York Comic-Con. Currently the official release date is 2022, but there is no confirmed month or day at this time. However, now that the first trailer has been released, we can likely expect more information in the coming weeks.