Dragon Ball is a Japanese manga series of forty-two books written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. These manga were written as a fictional story, with inspiration from the Chinese novel Journey to the West and the tenets of martial arts. Volumes of Dragon Ball were published from 1984 to 1995. The original manga series has been adapted into two separate Anime television series, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z as well as numerous animated films. The original series was expanded into Dragon Ball GT by the television network, a faster paced adaption known as Dragon Ball Z Kai, and an anime series expansion by Akira Toriyama called Dragon Ball Super, with a corresponding manga adaptation. The original story had some anti-totalitarian messages, such as the character Oolong, back when he was depicted as the villain, wearing a Chinese communist uniform, and the Red Ribbon Army was likewise depicted with various traits resembling various totalitarian dictatorships such as the Nazis and the Soviets (with one of the higher-ranking members in particular, General Blue, resembling a member of the Sturmabteilung in terms of uniform as well as being implied in the manga to be of German descent, and also being implied to be homosexual similar to the majority of its membership and the SA leader Ernst Rohm.), and it also to some degree had a negative depiction of homosexuality as General Blue, one of the main villains, was implied to be such and was depicted in a largely unsympathetic light. A notable element of the franchise was the Super Saiyan forms, which would share similarities with the Super Transformations from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
In 1995, Haim Saban, along with Funimation productions, attempted to bring Dragon Ball to the west, dubbing the first 13 episodes. However, the show did not do well in ratings. A year later, he tried again with Dragon Ball Z. Although the show did better, it remained in syndication. Because of pay issues, the Ocean Group, who provided the voice talent for the dub, quit the series. It was around this time that Dragon Ball Z was picked up by Cartoon Network, who aired it on their Toonami block. Because of the new time it was in, the show started to do better in ratings. However, the Ocean Group only dubbed the first 53 episodes of the series. In response, Funimation would produce their own in-house dub of the show, hiring new talent. Dragon Ball Z would continue to be one of Toonami's flagship shows. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT would also receive their own dubs and aired on Toonami. Funimation would go on to become one of the biggest anime distributors in the west.
Most of the characters are recurring characters, especially the main character Goku. His friends include his mentor Grandpa Gohan, super-genius Bulma, best-friend Krillin, and his martial-arts sensei Master Roshi; Goku's wife Chi-Chi, their two sons Gohan and Goten, their granddaughter Pan, and their descendant Goku, Jr; eventually friendly rivals such as Tien Shinhan, Piccolo and Vegeta. And enemies such as the Red Ribbon Army, Frieza, Cell and Majin Buu.