Dragon Ball Z by Akira Toriyama

Title: Dragon Ball Z.
Writer(s): Akira Toriyama.
Artist(S): Akira Toriyama.
Publisher: VIZ Media: SHONEN JUMP.
Format: Digital.
Release Date: 1989-1996.
Number of Volumes: 26.
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Previously in the Dragon Ball series:
Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama.


Continuing my revisit of the Dragon Ball franchise, the journey now brought me to read Dragon Ball Z, a sequel series, especially through its anime adaptation, that exploded in popularity and created an unstoppable force of nature with its fandom throughout the years. From its pulse-pounding action to its epic character designs, it is its numerous iconic battles between good and evil that will forever fuel the collective fanbase’s joy and excitement around this franchise. It is not without merit that this series continuously engrossed millions of readers as it juggled its fantasy and science-fiction ideas while balancing it all out with humour and action. Collected in 26 tankōbon volumes with 325 chapters, this series contains seven story arcs (the Saiyan Saga, the Frieza Saga, the Androids Saga, the Cell Saga, the High School Saga, the 25th World Martial Arts Tournament Saga, and the Majin Buu Saga).

What is Dragon Ball Z about? Set five years after the events in Dragon Ball, Goku is now a father to a son, Gohan, as the heroes reunite together with their friends and loved ones. The reunion is then interrupted by the arrival of Raditz from outside of Earth who vows that Son Goku is his brother Kakarrot. As he reveals the existence of a nearly extinct extraterrestrial race known as Saiyans, Son Goku refuses to pursue Raditz’s mission and engages in a battle that will mark the beginning of his journey as a Saiyan, discovering new and stronger foes along the way, ceaselessly trying to keep the people of Earth, including his family and friends, safe from the dangers hidden away in space. Fortunately, Son Goku also meets new allies along the way, inspiring each other, and pushing each other to become stronger and wiser. But will it be enough against some of the toughest foes in the universe?

(c) Goku Shop.

Unlike Dragon Ball, the story matures, including way fewer sexual jokes, and darkens in tone and direction, further focusing on action sequences and the development of the Saiyan lore. At the heart of these battles is a strong belief in honour and perseverance, continuously showcasing numerous characters in their will and conviction to do everything in their power to protect those that they love and defeat those who seek destruction and mayhem. While each saga doesn’t particularly push the narrative boundaries anywhere, in particular, they lay out the foundation to keep the story intriguing, leaving the reader wondering what these heroes’ training will allow them to achieve. Along the way, side plots around family relationships and sacrifice for the greater good are also explored, allowing for some beautiful moments to unfold. However, this series remains focused on its core essence, offering an exciting, overwhelming, and unforgettable display of action, power, and determination in the face of evil.

There are numerous characters who come and go throughout this series, with some key deaths, inevitably teasing at their departure, with the Dragon Balls always there to help, if used strategically, to resurrect those they can. With Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan leading the pact with central roles, most of the character growth is especially noticeable in Gohan’s own transformation, trying to balance a conventional life to respect his mother’s wishes, while utilizing his powers in times of need. Meanwhile, Goku and Vegeta go through numerous phases, trying to become the strongest Saiyan and proving to each other who has the upper hand in combat expertise, as their Saiyan instinct forces them to always seek out new challenges and discover better versions of themselves. Although some side characters do become meaningless in this game of absolute power, their presence always adds a dimension of familiarity and quickly helps gauge and rank heroes. However, a lesson learned within Akira Toriyama’s universe is that nothing should be taken at face value and anyone can outdo limits if they put their hearts into it and is given a chance at redemption.

(c) IGN.

The cultural impact of this franchise is undeniable, with a myriad of mangaka drawing inspiration from Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z protagonist, his character design, his story-telling structure, and his world-building concepts. Throughout the series, he masters the ability to portray dynamic and expressive action sequences, he draws some of the most iconic and badass characters in all of their glory, and he shows his meticulous attention to detail when it comes to splash pages of saga-ending moments. Despite being all on paper, many moments play out like an anime adaptation, making it incredibly easy to be immersed in the action and grasp the stakes. Despite coming to an end in 1995, the franchise saw the return of Akira Toriyama onto the drawing board with the ongoing series Dragon Ball Super. Although it is written by himself, the artwork is now in the hands of Toyotarou and one now has to wonder if the series could ever live up to the manga’s prestigious reputation.

Dragon Ball Z is an iconic and action-packed sequel following Son Goku, his friends, and his family, in their eternal quest for peace and greatness while going up against numerous terrifying foes.

The anime adaptation is available on many streaming services.


17 thoughts on “Dragon Ball Z by Akira Toriyama

  1. The whole DB saga is one that someday I’d like to read. It just won’t be for quite some time though 😀

    With all of the action, does the manga-ka do a good job of making it clear what is happening? That is one thing I’ve really noticed in One Piece is just how messy some of the action scenes can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you have fun with it when you get around to it. I assume you never tried them out before since you don’t say “reread” here?

      Of all the manga series I’m currently reading or read recently, One Piece has the most choppy and difficult-to-follow action scenes. Dragon Ball is much, much easier to follow and enjoy hahah

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read the first Dragon Ball volume and it had enough ecchi humor that I didn’t read any more. Olga says it gets better so at some point I’ll give it another try.

        But with FMA being 30+ volumes and over 60 still to go with OP, well, it is going to be years, hahahaa.

        That is good to know that I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to follow. Sometimes I wondered if my brain was going, because I simply couldn’t parse what Oda-san was trying to convey…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This isn’t one I ever got into or had an interest in, either in manga or anime form, but you’re absolutely correct about how big an impact it’s had. You mentioned some of the changes in tone this series has over the previous, and you rated this one slightly higher, so do you think it went in a positive direction, strengthening the overall series, or set of series?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A lot of it is probably the character design and artwork. I’ve always had a difficult time getting into manga or anime with visuals of this style. But the story also never really pulled me in, at least in the anime, which I tried watching a couple episodes of before giving up because it just didn’t gel with me. Maybe it’s much like YA novels. Some I can really get into but others just don’t work. And I recall first seeing the anime when I was a bit older so it’s not something I grew up on and doesn’t have any of the nostalgia factor for me. I can certainly see the appeal, it just doesn’t work for me. I know I’m in the minority on this one. Same as with Harry Potter. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review, Lashaan! Even though I have obviously heard about the Dragon Ball franchise in general, can you believe that I actually had absolutely no idea about the story itself? I only knew about the prett “dragon balls” and a few names here and there ahahah 😂 it does seem like something I might enjoy (though I don’t particularly like the drawings) but let’s say I still have to finish Naruto before tackling another long manga series 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Juliette! It does shock me that some people never read or seen Dragon Ball in their life, especially among 90s babies. 😛 Then again, I can’t blame you either; there were so many classic manga series coming out during that period. Funnily, I don’t consider Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball Z as a “long manga series” when you got One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach out there hahahah

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s the one review I actually saved to visit when I had time 😉
    YAAAAY for Dragon Ball!!!! I will always love this series unreservedly, the martial arts ethics here is so freaking clean and pure it still astounds me. Also, I just love that art, Toriyama is truly a master. I still refuse to acknowledge the existence of DB Super, so for me DB ends on that last nostalgic Tournament of Power. Great to see you acknowledging your manga roots, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an honour, Ola! I would’ve been sure that my raving review for Batman Forever would’ve drawn your attention too, considering how much you MUST adore it!!! 😛 I agree. Dragon Ball ends with Dragon Ball Z… The rest is just cash-grab expansion of the universe. I’m trying to get through GT ever since I finished Z and I’m having such a rough time… I definitely wouldn’t recommend it hahahah Thanks for reading, Ola. I appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Lashaan!
        Yeah, I’ll certainly return to your self-flagellating experiences with Batman Forever – just need to build up my mental fortitude! 😛

        As for Dragon Ball, yeah – the less said about GT or Super the better. I guess it’s a curse of many popular mangas – just look at Boruto 😉 I just wish someone would turn these into “what if” non-canonical stuff and generally erased them from human memory… 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

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