Following the popularity of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga series, and the success adapting his previous Dr. Slump series, Toei Animation began to produce an animated adaptation of Dragon Ball. On Wednesday, 26 February 1986, the first episode of the Dragon Ball TV series premiered in prime time on the Fuji Television network. Due to the manga still being in serialization as the show was airing, Toei Animation would occasionally create original “anime-only” side-stories, or 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 as “filler,” as it “fills” the space between events that occur in the manga.
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, presumably 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, but was later revived on 06 April 2014 to complete the Majin Boo arc.
The following Dragon Ball series have been divided up and organized by the franchise’s various production eras. You can select either a detailed or list view for information on each series. The detailed view will provide a quick synopsis of the series’ respective story arcs and the episodes that comprise them. An episode by episode break-down is also included, along with detailed pages for each individual episode, including screen shots, a quick synopsis or summary, production notes, next episode information, complete opening and ending credits, and more. The list view will provide you with a quick glance at all of the episodes from that specific series, along with the associated air dates and ratings.
Original Broadcast Era
The original broadcast era covers the franchise’s initial run that aired on Fuji TV in Japan from the 1980s through the 1990s. This original broadcast run consisted of three TV series, with the first two series produced simultaneously alongside, and based on, the serialized Dragon Ball manga series.
Series Director: Okazaki Minoru & Nishio Daisuke
291 Episodes, 2 TV Specials
Series Director: Nishio Daisuke
64 Episodes, 1 TV Special
Series Director: Kasai Osamu
Refreshed Broadcast Era
This section provides a thorough look at the era of “refreshed” episodes as broadcast in Japan from 2009 to 2011, and later from 2014 to 2015. This era includes the high-definition remastering and condensed version of the original Dragon Ball Z TV series, known internationally as Dragon Ball Z Kai.
159 Episodes (1 Unaired Episode)
Series Director: Yasuhiro Nowatari (Phase 1) & Terazaki Naohiro (Phase 2)
Revival Broadcast Era
With the success of several Dragon Ball Z movies written and supervised by original author Akira Toriyama, an original-story TV series revival began in Japan with the debut of Dragon Ball Super in 2015. Likewise, the series’ overall story and characters were developed by Akira Toriyama.
Series Director: Kimitoshi Chioka (1-46), Morio Hatano (33-76), Kōhei Hatano (68-76), Tatsuya Nagamine (77-131), & Ryōta Nakamura (77-131)
Following the completion of the Dragon Ball Super TV series, this online streaming “promotional anime” series is produced by Bandai Namco, Shueisha, and Toei Animation to promote the various mission updates to the Super Dragon Ball Heroes card-based arcade game.
Ongoing Promotional Series (Online Streaming Only)