A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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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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?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.