Parents need to know that Dragon Ball contains tons of animated martial arts violence, but is much tamer than its successor, Dragon Ball Z. Expect both slapstick humor and life-or-death struggles, including scenes where characters are beaten to death, stabbed, or vaporized by a supernatural attack. Younger children may find some of the shows imagery too scary, such as when Goku transforms into a giant ape. Dragon Ball also contains a bit of sexual humor such as characters looking up girls’ shirts or close ups of large breasts. Such humor is acceptable for young Japanese audiences, but some sexual elements have been censored for an American audience. A few adult characters drink and smoke in a comic manner.
Nevertheless the Dragon Ball series serves as a platform to audiences that have watched the critically acclaimed Z series showing the story of the early formation of the Z fighters and tells the story of the beloved Son Goku.
The anime adaptations have also been very well-received and are better known in the Western world than the manga. Few anime series have mainstreamed it the way Dragon Ball Z has. To a certain generation of television consumers its characters are as well known as any in the animated realm, and for many it was the first step into the wilderness of anime fandom.
Based on the manga by Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball is known for its blend of action and comedy, its unique character design, and its ongoing story arcs which started being based loosely on Journey to the West, but got more original (such as competing in martial arts tournaments and defeating criminal military organizations) as time went on.
It tells of a young martial artist named Son Goku and of seven magical orbs called Dragon Balls. When all seven Dragon Balls are gathered together, the eternal dragon Shen Long (or Shenron) appears and will grant any wish. Now, Goku must race to collect the Dragon Balls before various villains get to them first.
Dragon Ball ran in Japan from 1986 – 1989. Since then it recieved several English dubs, including a decent dub from FUNimation from 2001-2004. Right now, the only way to watch it would be on DVD, which can run you from $25-$35 a season. For an almost perfect balance of action, adventure and humor; it’s worth the price tag. The only nit-picky thing I have found is that some of the episodes can drag out for a while, although it is not as bad as it is in Dragon Ball Z.