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Dragon Ball Z
DBZ Title Card
Genre Action, Comedy, Adventure, Drama, Martial Arts
Format Anime Series
Created by Akira Toriyama
Country of Origin Japan
Language(s) Japanese
No. of Seasons 9
No. of Episodes 291 (List of Episodes)
Production Company(s) Toei Animation
Original Channel Fuji TV (Japan)
Cartoon Network (U.S.)
First Shown April 26, 1989 – January 31, 1996 (Japan)
Original Run August 31, 1998 – April 7, 2003 (U.S.)
Status Ended

Dragon Ball Z (commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is the long-running sequel to the Japanese anime series Dragon Ball. The series is a close adaptation of the second and far longer portion of the Dragon Ball manga written and drawn by Akira Toriyama. In the United States, the manga's second portion is also titled Dragon Ball Z to prevent confusion for younger readers.

After Dragon Ball Z, the story of Goku and friends continues in the anime-only series Dragon Ball GT, which is not based on a manga by Akira Toriyama.


Dragon Ball Z follows the adventures of the adult Goku who, along with his companions, defends the earth against an assortment of villains ranging from intergalactic space fighters and conquerors, unnaturally powerful androids and near indestructible magical creatures. While the original Dragon Ball anime followed Goku through childhood into adulthood, Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of his adulthood life, but at the same time parallels the maturation of his son, Gohan, as well as characters from Dragon Ball and more. The separation between the series is also significant as the latter series takes on a more dramatic and serious tone. The series also features characters, situations and back-stories not present in the original manga.

Censorship Issues[]

Dragon Ball Z was marketed to appeal to a wide range of viewers from all ages, and contains crude humor and an occasional excesses of violence which are commonly seen as inappropriate for younger audiences by American standards. When it was marketed in the US, the distribution company FUNimation Entertainment along with Saban decided to initially focus exclusively on the young children's market, because the anime market was still small compared to the much larger children's cartoon market. This censorship often had unintentionally humorous results, such as changing all references to death, so the dead characters were merely going to "another dimension", and digitally altering two ogres' shirts to read "HFIL" instead of "HELL".

Starting with the Captain Ginyu Saga on Cartoon Network, censorship was reduced due to fewer restrictions on cable programming. FUNimation did the dubbing on their own this time around with their own voice actors. In 2004, FUNimation began to redub the first two sagas of Dragon Ball Z, to remove the problems that were caused from their previous partnership with Saban. They also redubbed the first three movies.

However, the show still retained some level of censorship, not out of FCC laws, but out of choice by Funimation, so as to cater to the possible sensitivity of western audiences. For example, Mr. Satan was renamed Hercule to avoid any religious slurs; his daughter, Videl, was a play on the word Devil, but FUNimation felt that the connection was obscure enough to not worry about.

Filler and Differences from the Manga[]

Filler is used to pad out the franchise for many reasons; in the case of Dragon Ball Z, more often than not, it was because the anime was running alongside the manga, and there was no way for the anime to run ahead of the manga (since Toriyama was still writing it, at the same time).

The company behind the anime, Toei Animation, would occasionally make up their own side stories to either further explain things, or simply to extend the series. Filler doesn't come only in the form of side stories, though; sometimes it is as simple as adding some extra attacks into a fight. One of the more infamous examples of filler is the Frieza Saga. After Frieza had set the Planet Namek to blow up in five minutes, the final fight with Frieza still lasted well over five episodes, much less five minutes, although this can be attributed to the fact that Namek simply took longer to explode than Frieza expected. Also, there were many numerous filler scenes that took place while the battle with Frieza was in motion, which accounts for much of the footage during the planet's explosion.

As the anime series was forced to expand 12 pages of manga text into 25 minutes of animation footage, these changes were introduced to kill time or to allow the (anime) writers to explore some other aspect of the series' universe. The Other World Tournament between the Cell Games Saga and the Majin Buu Saga, and the Garlic Jr. Saga (Garlic Jr.'s return from the Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone movie) between the Frieza Saga and Trunks Saga are both good examples of this.

Besides having filler scenes and episodes, there are many changes from the original manga. Among them are the following:

  • When Tien Shinhan loses his arm while fighting Nappa, his arm becomes a stump with only a small amount of blood seen. In the manga, the scene is much more gory.
  • In the manga, Frieza kills Cargo, but in the anime Dodoria kills him.
  • In the original manga, Appule finds all the Namekians in the village attacked by Vegeta dead and tells Frieza, who just tells him to call the Ginyu Force. In the anime, the soldier is changed to another soldier referred to as "Orlen" (in the closed captioning for the Ocean Dub VHS tapes, it is unclear if this is canonical however) who is killed by Frieza when he tells that he killed the last survivor of the village without asking him where Vegeta was.
  • In the manga, after Frieza survives Goku's Spirit Bomb, he immediately strikes down Piccolo with his Death Beam technique, but in the anime, he fires his beam at Goku, only for Piccolo to jump in the way and get struck down by the beam anyway.
  • In the manga, Frieza's full power was still never a match for Goku's Super Saiyan form, but in the anime, Frieza appears to have the upper hand for a short time before he begins to tire.
  • In the anime, when Vegeta is brought back to life on Planet Namek, he manages to witness some of the battle between Goku and Frieza, as well as Goku's Super Saiyan form, before being teleported to earth by the Namekian Dragon Balls. In the manga, he is teleported to Earth almost immediately after being revived and does not get a chance to see Goku as a Super Saiyan for the first time until Goku returns to earth himself later on.
  • The anime has two significant filler portions: the Garlic Jr. Saga and the Other World Tournament segment of the Great Saiyaman Saga.
  • When Dr. Gero first appears in the series (as Android 20), he grabs a man by the neck and tears him through the roof of a car. In the original manga, he crushes the man's neck afterwards, tearing his head off.
  • In the manga, when Goku fully recovers from the Heart Virus, Chi-Chi finds him simply looking out the window of the bedroom he was resting in at Kame House. In the anime, however, Chi-Chi finds him outside the house, firing several Kamehameha blasts across the ocean.
  • During Gohan and Cell's Beam Struggle in the anime, Piccolo, Krillin, Tien, and Yamcha unsuccessfully try to distract Cell before Vegeta succeeds in doing so, whereas in the manga, they all simply observe the struggle and Vegeta is the only one to attack Cell from behind.
  • Though the flashback of Future Trunks and Future Gohan fighting Androids 17 and 18 is present in both the anime and the manga, there are notable discrepancies between the flashback and the scene depicted in the TV special Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks. In the special, Gohan had not lost his arm yet at beginning of the story, Trunks had not yet achieved his Super Saiyan form too, and there was rain in the scene in question.
  • When Vegito fights Super Buu (with Gohan absorbed) in the manga, Vegito immediately transforms into his Super Saiyan form. In the anime, Vegito fought in his base form for a while before becoming a Super Saiyan.
  • When Goku begins his battle against Kid Buu in the manga, he transforms immediately into his Super Saiyan 3 form. In the anime, however, Goku starts the battle as a Super Saiyan 2, and manages to hold his own against Kid Buu for a while before ascending to Super Saiyan 3.
  • In the manga, many characters have a different number of fingers on their hands; such as Piccolo (3 fingers and a thumb), Dodoria (3 thumb-like fingers), and Imperfect form Cell (two long fingers and a long thumb). In the anime, everybody has human-like hands with 4 fingers and a thumb.


Toei Sagas[]

1. Saiyan (Episodes 1~35); 1989–1990
2. Frieza (Episodes 36~107); 1990–1991
3. Cell (Episodes 108~194); 1991–1993
4. Buu (Episodes 195~291); 1993–1996

English Dub Sagas[]

1. Saiyan:

  • The Vegeta Saga (Episodes 1~35; originally The Saiyan Conflict)

2. Frieza:

  • The Namek Saga (Episodes 36~67)
  • The Captain Ginyu Saga (Episodes 68~74)
  • The Frieza Saga (Episodes 75~107)

3. Cell:

  • The Garlic Jr. Saga (Episodes 108~117)
  • The Trunks Saga (Episodes 118~125)
  • The Androids Saga (Episodes 126~139)
  • The Imperfect Cell Saga (Episodes 140~152)
  • The Perfect Cell Saga (Episodes 153~165)
  • The Cell Games Saga (Episodes 166~194)

4. Buu:

  • The Great Saiyaman Saga (Episodes 195~209)
  • The World Tournament Saga (Episodes 210~219)
  • The Babidi Saga (Episodes 220~231)
  • The Majin Buu Saga (Episodes 232~253)
  • The Fusion Saga (Episodes 254~275)
  • The Kid Buu Saga (Episodes 276~291)


Toei Titles[]

1. Return my Gohan!! (1989)
2. Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (1990)
3. Super Deciding Battle for the Entire Planet Earth (1990)
4. Super Saiyan Son Goku (1991)
5. The Incredible Mightiest vs. Mightiest (1991)
6. Clash!! 10,000,000,000 Powerful Warriors (1992)
7. Extreme Battle!! The Three Great Super Saiyans (1992)
8. Burn Up!! A Close, Intense, Super-Fierce Battle (1993)
9. The Galaxy at the Brink!! The Super Incredible Guy (1993)
10. The Dangerous Duo! Super-Warriors Can't Rest (1994)
11. Super-Warrior Defeat!! I'm the One who'll Win (1994)
12. Fusion Reborn!! Goku and Vegeta (1995)
13. Dragon Fist Explosion! If Goku Can't Do It, Who Will? (1995)
14. God and God (2013)

English Dub Titles[]

1. Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (1997) (Remastered/Re-released on May 27, 2008)
2. Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (1998) (Remastered/Re-released on May 27, 2008)
3. Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (1998) (Remastered/Re-released on September 16, 2008)
4. Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (2001) (Remastered/Re-released on September 16, 2008)
5. Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge (2001) (Remastered/Re-released on November 11, 2008)
6. Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (2002) (Remastered/Re-released on November 11, 2008)
7. Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (2003) (Remastered/Re-released on February 18, 2009)
8. Dragon Ball Z: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan (2003) (Remastered/Re-released on March 31, 2009)
9. Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (2004) (Remastered/Re-released on February 18, 2009)
10. Dragon Ball Z: Broly - Second Coming (2005) (Remastered/Re-released on March 31, 2009)
11. Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (2005) (Remastered/Re-released on March 31, 2009)
12. Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (2006) (Remastered/Re-released on May 19, 2009)
13. Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (2006) (Remastered/Re-released on May 19, 2009)
14. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013)

TV Specials[]

Toei Titles[]

1. A Lonesome, Final Battle: The Father of Z-Warrior Kakarrot, who Challenged Frieza (1990)
2. Movie Overview Special (1992)
3. Resistance to Despair!! The Remaining Super-Warriors, Gohan and Trunks (1993)
4. Looking Back at it All: The Dragon Ball Z Year-End Show! (1993)

English dub titles[]

1. Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku (2000) (Remastered/Re-released in February 19, 2008)
2. Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks (2000) (Remastered/Re-released in February 19, 2008)
3. The Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans (1993)
4. Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! (2008)


Dragon Ball Z has a total of 291 episodes spread over 9 seasons that were produced from April 1989 to January 1996.

Broadcast History[]

The anime first premiered in Japan on April 26, 1989 (on Fuji TV) at 7:30 p.m. and ended on January 31, 1996.

In the U.S., the series initially aired in first-run syndication from September 13, 1996 to May 23, 1998. On August 31, 1998 episodes began airing on Cartoon Network's weekday-afternoon programming block, Toonami, where the series received much more popularity. The first previously syndicated and heavily edited 53 (originally 67) episodes aired in 1998, in 1999 new less edited episodes began to air and the series finished its run in 2003, in the summer of 2005, the first 67 episodes were re-dubbed and shown uncut on Toonami.

It aired in the UK, albeit with the same dubbing problem, on Cartoon Network, premiering on March 6, 2000 and running on that channel until 2002. The Majin Buu Saga, Fusion Saga and Kid Buu Saga were later broadcast on CNX (which later changed its name to "Toonami"), with the show ending on February 28, 2003. After the finished run it was repeated daily, until Toonami merged with Cartoon Network Too.

In April 2009, a new 'refresh' of Dragon Ball Z began airing on Japanese television. This recut is titled Dragon Ball Z Kai.