Following the popularity of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga series, and Toei’s success with his previously adapted Dr. Slump series, Toei Animation began to produce an animated adaptation based on the original manga. On Wednesday, 26 February 1986, the first episode of the Dragon Ball TV series premiered directly into a prime time spot on the Fuji Television network. Due to the manga still being written as the show was airing, Toei Animation would occasionally create original anime-only side-stories, or sometimes even entire story arcs, to ensure that the development of the television show was kept behind that of the manga. This anime-only material is often referred to by fans “filler,” as it “fills” the space between events that do occur in the manga. For more information about the series’ filler, check out the relevant “mini-guides” listed below.
- The Filler Collection
A complete list of all the filler material created for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.
- Filler Plotholes & Contradictions
A list of plotholes and contradictions created in the anime storyline by filler material.
As the story progressed, Dragon Ball had become much more action-oriented. To denote this change, along with a considerable plot twist, the title of the anime was changed to Dragon Ball Z while the manga’s title remained the same. Dragon Ball Z would follow up and expand upon Dragon Ball’s 153 episodes and three theatrical movies, with 291 episodes, 2 feature-length TV specials, and 13 theatrical movies of its own. Following the conclusion of both the anime and manga series, Toei Animation picked up the rights to create an additional anime-only series, Dragon Ball GT (according to Toriyama, “GT” is short for “Grand Touring”).
The Dragon Ball GT storyline picked up right where Dragon Ball Z had left off, but brought back the comedic aspect of the original series that had been so sparse throughout Dragon Ball Z. The series had almost reached two years, when it was brought to an abrupt end on 19 November 1997, due to low ratings. For the first time in nearly twelve years, the Fuji TV line-up did not include a Dragon Ball series.
In early 2009, Toei Animation announced (in “Weekly Shōnen Jump” issue #11) that a “refreshed” version of the Dragon Ball Z TV series, re-titled Dragon Ball Kai, was being produced for a high-definition (HD) widescreen presentation in honor of its 20th anniversary. The first “refreshed” episode aired on 05 April 2009 (Toriyama’s birthday) with re-recorded dialogue, new music, updated sound effects, and new digital effects. Toei’s announcement stressed that the series would have a higher “sense of excitement”, indicating that the majority, if not all, of the “filler” would be cut, consequently shortening the series from its original 291 episodes. However, due to financial reasons the series abruptly ended following the conclusion of the Cell arc of the series.
In this section we will take a look at everything there is to know about the original broadcast runs that aired in Japan from the 1980s up through the 1990s. The original broadcast run consisted of three series, each divided up into multiple story arcs. You can select either a detailed or list view for each series. The detailed view will provide a quick synopsis of the series’ respective story arcs and the episodes that they comprise. You’ll also be provided with an episode by episode break-down, along with detailed pages for each individual episode, which includes screen shots, episode summaries, next episode information, complete opening and ending credits, and much more. The list view will provide you with a quick glance at all of the episodes from that specific series, along with their air dates and ratings.
26 February 1986 – 19 April 1989
Series Director(s): Minoru Okazaki & Daisuke Nishio
291 Episodes, 2 TV Specials
26 April 1989 – 31 January 1996
Series Director: Daisuke Nishio
64 Episodes, 1 TV Special
07 February 1996 – 19 November 1997
Series Director: Osamu Kasai
This section provides a thorough look at the “refreshed” episodes as broadcast in Japan from 2009 to 2011. detailed view will provide a quick synopsis of the series’ respective story arcs and the episodes that they comprise. You’ll also be provided with an episode by episode break-down, along with detailed pages for each individual episode, including screen shots, a quick synopsis, comparisons to the original broadcast, staff credits, and much more.
97 Episodes, 1 Unaired Episode
05 April 2009 – 27 March 2011
Series Director: Yasuhiro Nowatari