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Manga Guide

Weekly Shōnen Jump Serialization


Before the Dragon Ball series was conveniently compiled into tankōbon and kanzenban formats, it was printed one chapter at a time on the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump, a weekly manga anthology magazine for young male readers established in 1968 by Shueisha. Dragon Ball was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 20 November 1984 to 23 May 1995, and in combination with other top series of the time and a record high circulation volume, it was a definitive era for the magazine that came to be known as the “Golden Age of Jump”. This era solidified Weekly Shōnen Jump as the flagship property of Shueisha’s ever-changing Jump line of magazines, and to date it is the longest-running and best-selling manga magazine of all time.

Issue Date vs Sale Date

Being a continually running weekly magazine, each issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump is categorized by its corresponding publication year and weekly issue number (i.e. 1984 #51). At the time Dragon Ball was in serialization, Shueisha also provided a single date along with this volume number, typically corresponding to the Monday of that week of the given year. However, this “issue date” printed on the cover of each issue (shown below) was merely for categorical purposes only and is not the actual date the issue was released. In fact, until the beginning of the 21st century, the only way to find the official release date of a given issue was to check the preview for it in the previous issue.

During the run of Dragon Ball, copies of Weekly Shōnen Jump were officially released on Tuesdays, usually (though not always) the Tuesday two weeks prior to the “issue date”. However, retailers commonly put copies on sale as soon as they received them, which meant that the magazine was generally available on Mondays in all but the remotest parts of Japan, even before its official switch to a Monday release in May 2003. Exceptions to this Tuesday rule were generally when the Monday of that week was a holiday (pushing it to the Saturday before), and the last issue of December and first issue of January, which were more variable. (Holidays falling on a Tuesday would push the actual release to Monday regardless of when retailers usually started selling copies, but this did not affect the advertised release date.) This is the “sale date”, which is advertised in the previous issue of the magazine. For example, the issue date listed on Weekly Shōnen Jump 1985 #10 is 18 February 1985 (left), but the issue officially went on sale to the public on 05 February 1985 (right) as advertised in the previous issue (and it would have been widely available the day before that).

WJ 1985 #10WJ 1985 #9

This type of cataloguing also carries over to Shueisha’s monthly anthology magazines as well: magazines released at the beginning of the month, such as Saikyō Jump, are released one month in advance of their issue date (so that the January issue is actually released in December of the previous year), while those released at the end of the month, such as V-Jump, are released two months ahead of the issue date (the January issue is released in November of the previous year).

Weekly Shōnen Jump Archive

Presented within this archive is the most complete documentation of Dragon Ball’s original serialized run in Weekly Shōnen Jump. It has been painstakingly put together through diligent research, as the vast majority of the information was not documented by the fandom at the time, nor is it readily available in any Dragon Ball databook. Included in this archive are accurate release dates, quality volume cover images, original author comments, exclusive Jump content and surveys, background information, and much more.

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1984Chapters 001–002
Just three short months after wrapping up the Dr. Slump manga, Akira Toriyama has returned with a brand new serial in the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump. And so, the grand adventures of an unlikely duo, Son Goku and Bulma, has begun! But how long will it last?

Release Information

Issues:1984 #51 – 1984 #52 (2 total)
Sale Dates:20 November 1984 – 27 November 1984
Retail:¥170 (not taxed)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1985Chapters 003–052
With a wish made to Shenlong and the initial adventure concluded, the series takes a more martial arts-oriented direction. Dragon Ball’s popularity steadily increases as Goku rises through the ranks at the 21st Tenka’ichi Budōkai, but can he overcome the mysterious Jackie Chun for the championship? Not even Toriyama himself knows!

Release Information

Issues:1985 #01/02 – 1985 #52 (50 total)
Sale Dates:04 December 1984 – 26 November 1985
Retail:¥170 – ¥190 (not taxed)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1986Chapters 053–102
Following the climax of the 21st Tenka’ichi Budōkai, Goku sets out on a new adventure, but he’s not the only one in search of the Dragon Balls. The ruthless Red Ribbon Army is using any means necessary to get their hands on them and killing anyone who gets in their way, such as Bora, protector of the Karin holy land. Goku vows to bring him back to life, but can he find the last Dragon Ball and keep his promise?

Release Information

Issues:1986 #01/02 – 1986 #52 (50 total)
Sale Dates:03 December 1985 – 22 November 1986
Retail:¥170 – ¥190 (not taxed)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1987Chapters 103–152
Following the fall of the Red Ribbon Army, this publication year begins with a brief reunion between Goku and his deceased grandfather, thanks to Uranai Baba. Our heroes continue their training and soon enough the 22nd Tenka’ichi Budōkai begins. Goku is pushed to his limits by Tsuru-Sen’nin’s pupil Tenshinhan, but suddenly the world’s most terrifying evil, Demon King Piccolo, steps forth from the shadows and is hellbent on world domination!

Release Information

Issues:1987 #01/02 – 1987 #52 (50 total)
Sale Dates:02 December 1986 – 21 November 1987
Retail:¥170 – ¥190 (not taxed)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1988Chapters 153–202
Son Goku sparingly manages to defeat Demon King Piccolo, but not before the demon spawns his successor, Ma Junior. Having grown up, the two meet in the 23rd Tenka’ichi Budōkai, with the fate of the Earth and its God on the line. However, their rivalry quickly becomes an alliance of necessity when the planet becomes the target of an alien invasion by Goku’s own race, the Saiyans! As Yū Kondō steps in as Akira Toriyama’s new editor, the series quickly ramps up and expands on a scale not yet seen up to this point. With Goku’s heritage becoming clearer, what other twists does Toriyama have up his sleeves?!

Release Information

Issues:1988 #01/02 – 1988 #53 (51 total)
Sale Dates:01 December 1987 – 29 November 1988
Retail:¥170 – ¥190 (not taxed)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1989Chapters 203–252
The publication year begins with a triple whammy in the deaths of Son Goku, Emperor Hirohito, and Osamu Tezuka. A nation mourns, while Goku trains in the afterlife under the not-so-watchful eye of Kaiō-sama. As the battle against the Saiyans rages and Earth’s heroes fall in the pages of Jump, the Heisei era begins in earnest with the start of the Z era on TV. The series’ popularity spirals so high that even Earth can no longer contain the action, as the heroes (and Vegeta) head to Planet Namek to seek the original Dragon Balls. But they are not the only visitors to Piccolo’s home world, and the cruel tyrant Freeza is a far greater evil than Vegeta ever was.

Release Information

Issues:1989 #01/02 – 1989 #52 (49 total)
Sale Dates:06 December 1988 – 28 November 1989
Retail:¥170 (not taxed) – ¥190 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1990Chapters 253–303
The new year opens with the first-ever Dragon Ball double-header in Weekly Jump. One foe after another rears its head on Planet Namek, with the inhabitants fighting for their lives and a three-way scramble for the Dragon Balls between Freeza, Vegeta, and Gohan and Kuririn. Just when all hope seems lost, Goku finally arrives, making short work of Ginyu & co. As he heals from the damage his allies dealt to Ginyu in his body, the others are left to face Freeza alone. But as it turns out, this isn’t even his final form…

Release Information

Issues:1990 #01/02 – 1990 #53 (50 total)
Sale Dates:05 December 1989 – 04 December 1990
Retail:¥180 – ¥200 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1991Chapters 304–352
Freeza reveals his final form and thrashes Vegeta. Goku finally returns to the stage just as Vegeta is killed, and begins his fateful battle with Freeza. Pushed to the limit with Kuririn’s death, he becomes a Super Saiyan and defeats Freeza. After Namek is destroyed and the heroes are returned to life, Freeza arrives on Earth, only to be defeated by a mysterious young man bearing dire news about the future. This time-travel plot begins straightforwardly enough, but as editors past and present begin to demand changes, Toriyama finds that the story is beginning to spiral out of his control…

Release Information

Issues:1991 #01/02 – 1991 #52 (48 total)
Sale Dates:11 December 1990 – 03 December 1991
Retail:¥190 – ¥200 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1992Chapters 353–401
Facing the grudge of the Red Ribbon Army’s Doctor Gero, the Z Warriors must find a way to defeat his nearly unstoppable artificial humans. But just as things seem to finally be turning in their favor, an even far more dangerous creature emerges from the past! Gero’s abandoned experiment, known as Cell, swiftly absorbs the energy of the artificial humans and threatens the entire galaxy’s existence. Can the Earth’s Saiyans master their most coveted transformation to put a stop to such a monster, and will Toriyama maintain his sanity long enough to survive this story arc?!

Release Information

Issues:1992 #01/02 – 1992 #52 (48 total)
Sale Dates:10 December 1991 – 01 December 1992
Retail:¥190 – ¥200 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1993Chapters 402–449
Son Gohan is brought into the limelight with Goku’s death and Cell’s final defeat. The story skips forward seven years to start Gohan in high school, giving him a secret identity, a younger brother, and a love interest, but Toriyama quickly backs away from this route, bringing back Goku and setting up the first Tenka’ichi Budōkai since 1988. A sinister new villain is revealed with the dark mage Bobbidi, but the greater danger may be the author’s own lack of enthusiasm, with sloppier art and reduced chapter page counts.

Release Information

Issues:1993 #01 – 1993 #52 (48 total)
Sale Dates:08 December 1992 – 30 November 1993
Retail:¥190 – ¥200 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1994Chapters 450–497
Vegeta allows himself to be taken over by Bobbidi, and the resulting battle allows Majin Boo to be released. After turning on his master, Boo halts his rampage after making friends with Mr. Satan, but the cruelty of men releases his evil side, plunging the world into greater peril. The number of gags and comic pratfalls greatly increases, but so too does the amount of gruesome violence and tragedy. As Goku returns to the afterlife and Earth’s population is exterminated, Goten and Trunks may be the planet’s only hope.

Release Information

Issues:1994 #01 – 1994 #52 (48 total)
Sale Dates:07 December 1993 – 29 November 1994
Retail:¥190 – ¥200 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha

Weekly Shōnen Jump 1995Chapters 498–519
The battle with Majin Boo heats up as Gohan, then Vegetto, arrive on the scene, while in the real world, the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake strikes Kobe, briefly halting distribution of the magazine west of Osaka. The series concludes with issue #25 in May, while the magazine continues on with a “History of Dragon Ball” column and advertisements for the Daizenshuu guidebooks. The publication year closes out with a first look at the then upcoming anime-only continuation

Release Information

Issues:1995 #01 – 1995 #25 (22 total)
Sale Dates:06 December 1994 – 23 May 1995
Retail:¥190 – ¥210 (tax included)
Book Size:JIS B5 (18.2 × 25.7 cm)
Publisher:Shueisha