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Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール, Doragon Bōru) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1984 through 1995, and later the 519 individual chapters were published into 42 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. Inspired by the Chinese folk novel Journey to the West, it follows the adventures of Son Goku from his childhood through middle age as he trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven mystical objects known as the Dragon Balls, which can summon a wish-granting dragon named Shenron. Along his trip, Goku meets several friends such as Bulma and fights against several villains who also seek the Dragon Balls such as King Piccolo.
The 42 tankōbon have been adapted into two anime series produced by Toei Animation: Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z as well as an anime only series Dragon Ball GT. Additionally, Toei has developed seventeen animated feature films and three television specials. During 2009, Toei started rebroadcasting Dragon Ball Z under the name of Dragon Ball Kai which changes the footage from the original anime. Several companies have developed various types of merchandising such as a collectible trading card game, and a large number of video games. It has also on few occasions had an inuniverse crossovers with Dr. Slump, toriyama's previous series.
The series is licensed for an English language release in North America by Viz Media, in the United Kingdom by Gollancz Manga, and in Australia and New Zealand by Chuang Yi. Several companies have dubbed and aired the three anime series in North America. In China, it was produced a live-action film adaptation in 1989. In 2002, 20th Century Fox began production of the first American-made live-action film which was released on April 10, 2009.
Since its release, Dragon Ball has become one of the most popular manga series of its time in both Japan and North America. It enjoys a high readership, with over 150 million volumes of the series sold by 2007. Several manga artists have noted that the manga series was the inspiration for their own now popular works, including Naruto and One Piece. The anime is also highly popular, ranking number 12 among the best anime series of all time in 2006. Reviewers praise the art, characterization, and humor of the manga story. The anime series have had more mixed reviews, with the first also praised for its characterizations, but the second was criticized for its long, repetitive fights, and the third series considered repetitive with childish fights and "goofy" character designs.
A monkey-tailed boy named Goku is found by an old martial arts expert who raises him as his grandson. One day Goku meets a girl named Bulma and together they go on a quest to retrieve the seven Dragon Balls, mythical objects that can summon a dragon who will grant any wish. Along the way, they meet and befriend a plethora of martial artists. They also undergo rigorous training regimes and educational programs in order to fight in the World Martial Arts Tournament, a tournament in which the most powerful fighters in the world compete. Outside the tournaments, Goku faces diverse villains such as Emperor Pilaf, the Red Ribbon Army, a demon known as Piccolo Daimao and his offspring.
As a young adult, Goku meets his older brother, Raditz, who tells him that they come from a race of extraterrestrials called Saiyans. The Saiyans had sent Goku to Earth to destroy it, but his ship crashes upon arrival. Goku fell into a deep ravine and lost all memory of his mission. Goku refuses to help Raditz continue the mission, after which he begins to encounter others who want to battle him, such as the Saiyan prince Vegeta. He also encounters Frieza, who is considered to be one of the strongest beings in the universe, after which Goku begins training his first child, Son Gohan, to be his successor. Years later, a group of soldiers from the Red Ribbon army known as androids appear to kill Goku. Another android, Cell, absorbs Androids #17 and #18 from the Red Ribbon army to increase his power, then fights Goku and Gohan, resulting in the former's death. Goku decides to stay dead for seven years to train in the Other World. When he returns, he is drawn into a battle for the universe against an extraterrestrial named Majin Buu. Joined by Vegeta and Gohan, the evil half of Buu is destroyed and the Good Buu (Mr. Buu) settles down with them. Ten years later at a martial arts tournament, Goku meets evil Buu's human reincarnation, Uub. At the end of the series, Goku takes Uub away on a journey to train him as another successor.