Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball has become one of the biggest anime series of all time thanks to its entertaining characters, epic battles, and a rich universe where it feels like anything is possible. Dragon Ball has established an impressive legacy over the course of nearly 40 years and more than 500 episodes of television.
Generalizations get made over any piece of media that’s been around for this long and Dragon Ball is no stranger to wild assumptions and rumors. There’s still lots of nuances to a series like Dragon Ball, but it’s plagued by common misconceptions that make it seem more basic than it really is.
10/10 It’s Not All About Transformations
It’s easy to reduce a popular property to its biggest stereotypes and many outsiders are quick to dismiss Dragon Ball as an action anime that’s purely about transformations. Granted, surprise transformations frequently punctuate the series’ biggest battles.
However, there are also plenty of clashes where a legitimate strategy and teamwork are essential to survival. Dragon Ball’s thrilling explosions of power regularly receive the most attention, but they mean nothing on their own and only resonate as much as they do because of the love for these characters.
9/10 Death Still Has Meaning
Death is a common occurrence in many shonen series, but Dragon Ball features it quite frequently and the series’ main character even passes away within the first few episodes of Dragon Ball Z. The titular Dragon Balls have the power to resurrect fallen fighters – albeit with certain restrictions, which means that most of the series’ strongest individuals have both perished in battle and returned for vengeance.
Many fans feel like death is irrelevant in Dragon Ball because of the Dragon Balls. That said, the series has slowly pulled back in this department and establishes the stakes behind the loss of life.
8/10 More Characters Than The Saiyans Are Important
Dragon Ball Z hits the ground running with its revelation that Goku is actually the member of an alien warrior race known as the Saiyans. Saiyans slowly begin to dominate the anime’s storytelling, despite their seemingly endangered status, and it’s rare that a major battle occurs without Saiyan intervention.
Fans have been disappointed to see their favorite characters from the original Dragon Ball become increasingly irrelevant. While it’s hard to argue with Saiyan strength, they’re hardly the only important characters in Dragon Ball. The Tournament of Power, for instance, includes copious help from Earth’s humans.
7/10 Entire Episodes Aren’t Spent Powering Up
Another major generalization that’s made about Dragon Ball is that it’s an anime where entire episodes consist of two characters who just focus exclusively on powering up for the entire runtime. Granted, Dragon Ball does face pacing issues and there is likely more powering up in the series than what’s needed.
However, it’s typically used to effectively create atmosphere. The length of these powering up sequences are blown out of proportion and the most substantial in the series, like Goku’s ascension to Super Saiyan 3, properly convey the new power that’s on display.
6/10 Its Timeline Isn’t Too Convoluted Or Out Of Control
It’s not unusual for long-running shonen series to feature time-jumps and other clever chronology tricks to help extend the story and increase dramatic tension. Dragon Ball occasionally resorts to time-jumps, but it’s a fairly linear series.
That being said, fans will still fixate on Future Trunks’ timeline, the events of Dragon Ball GT, and how the entirety of Dragon Ball Super is meant to fit into a condensed time period during the end of Dragon Ball Z. These events do slightly complicate the franchise’s timeline, but not in a way that should leave fans confused.
5/10 The Animation Isn’t Lazy
Ongoing anime series are often subjected to unreasonable production schedules and it’s common for certain concessions to get made so that episodes can still be released on schedule. Dragon Ball consistently delivers a high level of quality visuals from TOEI, but it’s hardly a perfect anime without any room for improvements.
There are certain moments during battles where reused assets undersell what Dragon Ball can truly accomplish. That being said, these sloppy sequences are few and far between and are hardly emblematic of Dragon Ball’s visuals as a whole.
4/10 Dragon Ball Still Finds Room For Romance
Romance isn’t guaranteed in all shonen series, but it’s a rogue element that can make or break a lot of shows. Some shonen material feels underdeveloped because romance is completely absent, while others shoehorn in love when it’s totally unnatural to the equation.
Dragon Ball carefully toes this line and while romance is certainly not its priority it’s still something that the franchise can appreciate. Tender relationships between Goku and Chi-Chi, Yamcha and Bulma, and Gohan and Videl offer enough tender love to keep the fans satisfied. Even in Dragon Ball Super’s current manga there’s a romantic pursuit between Trunks and Mai.
3/10 Every Problem Isn’t Solved By Fusion
Fusion is a controversial Dragon Ball technique that audiences have really rallied behind and it’s even become the focus of its own video game. Fusion is a powerful process that allows two, or sometimes more, individuals to combine their strength and skills into one combined combatant.
Fusion becomes incredibly popular during the battle against Buu and it briefly seems like it’s the only way that the heroes will win this encounter. Fusion remains a popular tactic for the heroes to turn to, especially Goten and Trunks, but it’s hardly the only battle strategy. It’s actually quite rare for fusion alone to be the deciding factor in a fight.
2/10 There’s Not An Egregious Amount Of Filler
Filler is a common hurdle that’s faced by most long-running shonen series and there’s a delicate balance involved when it comes to the adaptation of a manga that’s still currently in production. Some anime adaptations turn into untenable chores because there are hundreds of episodes of extraneous filler that’s merely there to bide time.
Dragon Ball is no stranger to filler, but it’s a component of the series that’s wildly blown out of proportion. For instance, in Dragon Ball Z’s 291 episodes there are only 38 filler installments. This is hardly unmanageable and some of the series’ most playful stories are in these filler episodes.
1/10 The Villains Don’t Always Get Rehabilitated Into Heroes
There is no shortage of evil in Dragon Ball and it always seems as if a fresh form of terror is right around the corner once the current antagonist is conquered. Dragon Ball’s Goku is incredibly powerful, but he’s a pacifist at heart and he’d prefer to rehabilitate enemies and give them another chance rather than permanently destroy them.
Tien, Piccolo, Vegeta, the Androids, and Buu all started as villains, so it’s fair to make assumptions over Dragon Ball’s approach to redemption. However, villains don’t always get a second chance and plenty of the franchise’s worst foes meet their dooms.
NEXT: The 10 Worst Dragon Ball Catchphrases, Ranked