By Rachael Ward,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Prequel is violent, too, but with more humor.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The main character demonstrates the importance of standing up to people who bully others. Reinforces the positives of practice and making mistakes, and makes moral disinctions between fighting defensively and in order to hurt someone. Violence is the primary way problems get resolved.
Positive Role Models
Goku looks at martial arts as something to enjoy, not as a tool to bully others. He always uses his unusual powers to protects those around him. He also tries to befriend everyone he meets, even the people who try to hurt him.
Violence & Scariness
This is a show about martial arts so there is tons of hand-to-hand fighting. Dragon Balls' violence varies from simple slapstick to life-or-death struggles. There are a few times characters are killed by being beaten to death, stabbed, or vaporized by a supernatural attack. A few scary images of the primary villain, or Goku transforming into a giant ape, for instance.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A good portion of the show's humor comes from sexual-based humor. Two of the supporting characters are lechers and their antics are used as a running gag. Goku is unfamiliar with girls, due to his upbringing, so he sometimes looks pointedly at girls' bodies to verify their gender. (This humor is acceptable on Japanese television but has been censored in English-language dubs).
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"Damn" and "crap" are occasionally audible.
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Products & Purchases
There a several DVD box sets, posters, T-shirts and toys associated with the Dragon Ball series.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the older characters are shown drinking or smoking, something that's either used as an identifying character trait or for humor. A few characters who drink display drunken behavior as a form of comedy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dragon Ball contains tons of animated martial arts violence, but is much tamer than its successor, Dragon Ball Z. Expect both slapstick humor and life-or-death struggles, including scenes where characters are beaten to death, stabbed, or vaporized by a supernatural attack. Younger children may find some of the shows imagery too scary, such as when Goku transforms into a giant ape. Dragon Ball also contains a bit of sexual humor such as characters looking up girls' shirts or close ups of large breasts. Such humor is acceptable for young Japanese audiences, but some sexual elements have been censored for an American audience. A few adult characters drink and smoke in a comic manner.
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Based on 21 parent reviews
Unhealthy messages about female sexuality
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What's the Story?
Goku, a strange tailed boy, has been living alone in the woods since his grandpa passed away. Through a chance encounter he meets a teenage girl named Bulma, who is searching the world for mysterious items called Dragon Balls. It is said when all seven balls are collected, you can have any wish granted. Eager to go out and see the world, Goku decides to join Bulma in her quest. However they are not the only ones going after the mysterious relics, and their competition will do anything to stop them. It's a race against time to find all seven Dragon Balls and keep them out of the wrong hands.
Is It Any Good?
Although DRAGON BALL never got a big reputation like its sequel series Dragon Ball Z, it is a fun little tale of Goku's many adventures as he grows into an adult. Since the secondary focus of the show is on martial arts, there are plenty of episodes where characters will fight hand to hand and include some fantasy elements such as energy blasts or flying in the air. However unlike Dragon Ball Z (which takes this kind of fighting to the extreme), Dragon Ball focuses more on choreography and a bit of the spiritual side of the martial arts discipline.
The plot of the story itself is focused around Goku's growth as a person after facing new challenges and making new friends. Simple enough for a younger child to follow, Dragon Ball also throws in a good plot twist every now and again. The emphasis on humor also gives the show a more lighthearted atmosphere though, depending on the villain, the show has its fair share of serious moments. The sexual humor can get a bit over the top at times and the shift between comedy and drama can get a bit jarring for people who are not expecting it.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about about the violence in this series. Can you tell the difference between the fighting that's defensive and that which is hostile? Does the show have a message about violence to deliver?
What makes anime appealing? How is it different from American-made cartoons?
Can you think of some positive messages that come out of this show? Who are the "good" characters? How can you tell?
- Premiere date: September 9, 1995
- Cast: Mike McFarland, Stephanie Nadolny, Tiffany Vollmer
- Network: Nickelodeon
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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