HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY DRAGON BALL Z !!
Can you believe the legendary Dragon Ball Z’s turning 30 this April? I don’t want to show my age, but if anything goes above 9, you know I’m gonna be shouting “IT’S OVER 9000!!!” And I know I’m human, but if you show me a picture of Frieza with his smug grin, I’ll still try to go Super Saiyan to kick his ass.
To celebrate Dragon Ball Z in all its 30 year old glory, we’ve got 30 facts about the anime for ya!
… If you wanna skip most of em, don’t worry, we don’t blame ya. We even tell you the chunk we’d advise to bypass.
1: Pretty much every character name’s a pun.
This right here’s probably our all time favourite fun fact about Dragon Ball Z. Because, in case you haven’t been able to tell from our site and social media… We love a good pun.
And House of Infographics have made a cracking visual guide:
Mr. Popo isn’t a pun. But, being one of the strongest characters in the show, Mr. Popo can be named whatever he likes as far as we’re concerned.
As if this wasn’t enough… Toriyama Punned hard. Because he called Frieza, Frieza, all the members of the Ginyu force were named after items you’d put in a freezer. The man is a legend.
2: The original story of the Dragon Balls is reaaallllllly fucked up.
Nanso Satomi Hakkenden = The Eight Dog Chronicles. A Japanese epic novel in 106 volumes from the Edo-era (written: 1814 – 42) that follows the adventures of 8 half-brother samurais.
So where do the dragon balls come into it? Wellllll, a Princess has sex with the King’s dog (we know, where is this going…? It worried us too), creating the 8 crystal balls. These then go off into the sky and become human children, who grow into the 8 half-brother samurais.
Dragon Ball manga author, Akira Toriyama, was inspired by this tale, but didn’t want a direct link with the same number of balls (can you blame him!?), so chose to go with 7 dragon balls instead.
3: All power in Dragon Ball Z comes from Ki.
Ki is a philosophical thought that everything’s connected through spiritual energy which flows throughout all living beings and the universe. It dates back to 5th century BC.
AKA: Ch’i/Qi, Yōki (妖気), Prana, Chakra, Energy, Spirit, Life force.
Ki 気 is also the energy that Dragon Ball Z characters use when making moves and transforming into Great Apes and the first 2 Super Saiyan forms. The more Ki gathered, the more powerful a character becomes.
Toriyama stated that ki is made up of three parts:
Genki (元気 lit. “Vigor”)
Yūki / Yuuki (勇気 lit. “Courage”)
Shōki / Shouki (正気 lit. “Mind”)
4: IT’S OVER 8000!! …. ?!
So guys, turns out our childhood was a lie. The original was “8000”. But when the American actors came to voice the scene, “9000” in English suited the mouth movements better.
We’re just gonna ignore this fact and run on the fact that technically 9000 is over 8000. So in a way, it’s still kinda correct… Right?
5: Longest fight in anime history: Goku VS Frieza.
The infamous “5 minute” Goku VS Frieza fight holds the record for the longest fight in anime history. Lasting from episode 87 to 105, with the “5 minute fight” starting in episode 97. About 4 hours screen time in total.
… About as long as I’m imagining you guys thinking this post’s gonna take to read.
It’s no wonder we’re so connected to the characters, we invested a crazy amount of time into watching them grow.
6: Frieza’s actually a real estate broker.
This one’s another of our favourites – Toriyama warned us as kids of what he called the “worst person of all” … Real estate speculators.
Frieza was created during the time of the Japanese economic bubble and was genuinely inspired by “land sharks”. When you look back now, it’s so obvious. He literally took over planets by force, before selling them on. He was “the #1 land shark in the universe”.
7: But Toriyama played nice with Frieza’s voice.
Not wanting to upset viewers with a character completely lacking morals or conscience, Toriyama intentionally had Frieza speak politely, to contrast with his cruel actions.
8: Goku’s kinda the Japanese version of Superman.
Goku wasn’t based on Superman. He was based on Sun Wukong (The Monkey King) from Xiyou Ji (‘West-Wandering Chronicles’ / Journey to the West). One of the 4 great classic novels of Chinese literature. It follows a staff-wielding Buddhist monk who travels to the Western regions. He’s a joker with childish playfulness, but is brave, honourable and cunning, blah, blah, blah.
Sun Wukong’s China’s prototype of a superhero. Like Superman is for the Western world. Basing Goku on Sun Wukong kinda makes Goku Japan’s equivalent to Superman.
About the other characters, Toriyama once said: “Bulma was Tripitaka, Oolong was Zhu Bajie, and Yamcha was Sha Wujing”.
9: Don’t mess with the Z fighters.
They’re pretty fucking experienced. In Dragon Ball Z series alone, there’s between 187 – 200 fights! (depending on who you want to believe on the internet).
These next 7 facts are more about Dragon Ball Z’s creator, Toriyama. So if you wanna skip em, go ahead!
10: Toriyama didn’t seem to like Yamcha.
Yamcha was either killed, already dead, or badly wounded in every DBZ saga. Basically he got his ass handed to him repeatedly and couldn’t do anything about it.
11: And he wasn’t a fan of Vegeta!
In an interview he once said: “Vegeta, well, I don’t like him all that much, but he was extremely helpful to have around”
12: He also completely forgot about Launch.
Launch was a pretty common character in Dragon Ball, but she disappeared for over 150 episodes in Dragon Ball Z. Toriyama has been asked about this a load of times. His answer? … “I forgot”.
13: And forgot about Super Saiyan 2.
In an interview, Toriyama admitted that he thought the Super Saiyan 3 transformation (with the long hair) was the Super Saiyan 2.
14: But that was kinda his plan.
The man works in mysterious ways… Toriyama doesn’t bother writing notes or anything. He cooly stated in the same interview that if he didn’t forget things, new ideas would never come to him.
15: Jackie Chan had a hand in inspiring Toriyama to create Dragon Ball.
So, Toriyama explained that his previous manga, “Dr. Slump” (based in western scenery) had just ended. At the time, he was proper into Jackie Chan’s films and had seen “Drunken Master” about 12 times. So his editor, Torishima-San, advised him to try and make a kung-fu shōnen manga. He drew a one-shot called “Dragon Boy” that was so popular, he decided to follow that route for his next serialized work – Dragon Ball.
16: In another world … or universe, Goku might have had wings or been a monkey!
Toriyama was going to have Goku be a full on monkey at first. But he said “that wasn’t very innovative”. So he decided to have him be a human boy. But he wanted him to have a distinguishing characteristic.
The main boy in “Dragon Boy” had wings. But Toriyama wanted something a bit fresher. So he gave Goku a tail. That way “even if he was hidden behind a rock, if you could see his tail you’d know that it was Goku”.
We’re still tryna decide if he had a lucky escape, or if we’d have loved to have seen monkey-Goku. Moku, maybe?
This next fact’s probably the most boring, and longest of all. So I’d actually be pretty surprised if you didn’t skip it.
17: Ages of the characters at the start of Dragon Ball Z series:
According to DragonBall Wiki, at the beginning of the Dragon Ball Z series, in the Raditz Saga (Age 761) the characters were:
- Bulma – 28
- Chi-Chi – 24
- Chiaotzu – 23
- Gohan – 4
- Goku – 24
- Kami – 300
- Krillin – 25
- Oolong – 21
- Piccolo – 8
- Puar – 21
- Master Roshi – 331
- Turtle – 998
- Tien – 28
- Yajirobe – 26
- Yamcha – 28
- Vegeta – 29
- Nappa – Over 50
- Raditz – Over 26
18: Piccolo wasn’t “technically” a guy.
If you watched the first Dragon Ball series, or you’ve ever read anything about the Dragon Ball world, then you’ll probably already know that Piccolo was born from an egg that King Piccolo pretty grossly hocked up and spat out of his mouth. For most of the characters (and us) watching, it was griiiiiiiim. But, for his race, the Namekians, this is standard procedure.
(Without getting all science’y, Namekians aren’t male or female, they have no male or female “bits” at all).
19: There’s only been 1 voice actor throughout every Japanese Dragon Ball series and all and DB media.
And she’ll (yes it’s a woman) be 83 this year!
Toriyama (creator of Dragon Ball) chose Masako Nozawa after hearing her audition sample for the 1986 release of the original Dragon Ball series. And she’s voiced Goku and all of his male relatives (except Raditz) and Goku Black ever since.
Masako Nozawa was born in 1936; was a child actor from the age of 3; an anime voice actor since 1963; has voiced Goku since 1986; and has won at least 4 awards:
- 1997 – 2nd Animation Kobe – Special Award
- 2013 – 7th Seiyu Awards – Achievement Award
- 2017 – Guinness World Records – World Record (Longest time voicing a character in Video Games)
- 2017 – 26th Japanese Movie Critics Awards – Best Voice Actor.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that Masako Nozawa’s a legend!
20: The Spirit Bomb was only ever used 3 times in Dragon Ball Z.
Said to be one of the strongest techniques ever created, the spirit bomb was next level. But it was only ever used 3 times in the z series. The first time (when Krillin threw it for Goku because he was injured – Top wingman!) was against Vegeta, but it didn’t kill him. The second, the Large Spirit Bomb, formed from the energy of the whole universe, was against Frieza. Who also survived. The final time, the Super Spirit Bomb, the giant one, was thrown at Kid Buu. Who almost pushed it back! But Dende used the dragon balls to restore Goku’s energy. Goku went super saiyan and demolished Kid Buu with the Super Spirit Bomb.
21: Goku only won the Martial Arts Tournament once.
Even though he competed 6 times…. And saved the world a fair few times, it took until his third attempt before he won the tournament.
22: Vegeta’s scared of worms.
He might be the last prince of Vegeta, regal, one of the most skilled warriors and smartest characters in the series … But he’s also scared of worms! As shown when he almost pukes and hides behind Goku from talking ringworms when they’re inside Buu.
23: Bulma’s pretty covered up.
Really? Well, in comparison to the manga she is. The manga version of Dragon Ball Z has a lot more nudity and violence in. Maybe it’s time to visit your local library…
24: Not even Toiyama knew where he was going during the Cell saga.
When the Z fighters had proved themselves the strongest in the universe, Toriyama thought they had to surpass time next. But it turns out that animating a time paradox can get a bit confusing.
To keep his head straight, Toriyama only focused on the week’s work. Not even he knew what was going to happen the next week.
25: There were 291 episodes in the Z series.
And that’s without including any of the films, TV specials and games!
26: Only 44 of these were filler episodes.
According to Google, anyway. That’s because the manga was still being written as the anime was created, so they added in fillers to give the artists time to create the manga.
27: Gohan almost took over as the lead role.
You might have guessed this one when you were younger. At the end of the Cell arc, it definitely felt like Gohan was about to overshadow Goku and take the lead role of the anime. And that’s because that was what Tpriyama had initially intended to happen. But he said it just didn’t work out and he felt that Gohan just wasn’t suited to the role in comparison to Goku.
… I think most of yous will be with us when we say “Phew. Long live Goku! (or long resurrect Goku.. Or whatever. Gets a bit confusing, but you get me).
28: Toriyama prefers writing gags to fight scenes.
Dragon Ball Z’s fight scenes are epic. But DBZs humour’s always been a controversial talking point. And it turns out that Toriyama prefers to write gag scenes more than fight scenes.
When talking about Mr Satan, he said that initially he thought Mr Satan would be a one-shot character, but he had fun with him and that: “thinking up worthless gags is more enjoyable than doing the fight scenes […] I suppose I am a gag-manga artist after all”.
29: Goku only kills 2 characters in DBZ.
He might be the strongest and hardest trainer in the universe, and the other realm, but he’s a pretty forgiving and nice guy. Pretty weird considering kid Goku had a kill list in Dragon Ball series that even Hitman woulda been jealous of. And considering he was in a fight for what felt like every week of our youth, throughout the whole Z series, Goku only kills 2 characters. Both in the Majin Buu arc – Yakon and Kid Buu.
30: Dragon Ball Z almost never happened!
Toriyama had initially planned to end the manga after the “Dragon gang” had collected all the 7 dragon balls (for the first time). This would have meant that Dragon Ball Z would never have been created!
But, after Toriyama included the Tenka’ichi Budōkai – World Martial Arts Tournament, because he was told Goku was too plain and the series wasn’t popular, Dragon Ball became so popular, he just couldn’t walk away.
If you’re still here then fair play, you’re a true Dragon Ball Z super fan! Wish we could give you a medal. But this is the real world, so that ain’t gonna happen. You can either check out our Hip Hop <3 DBZ blog here. Or why not check out our anime inspired watch collection here for a super shiny fix instead.