What is the first dragon ball series ? This article will cover the main Dragon Ball viewing orders and where you can watch it all online. Many Dragon Ball movies and series are on streaming platforms like Funimation or Crunchyroll, but others are only available for purchase through platforms like the Microsoft Store or iTunes.
How Should I Watch Dragon Ball?
Based on Akira Toriyama’s manga series of the same name, Dragon Ball is one of the most popular and influential anime franchises in the world. Numerous sequels, spinoffs, and feature films have been released since Toei Animation’s Dragon Ball premiered in Japan in 1986, which makes watching it all an enormous undertaking.
Fortunately, there are a few different ways to watch Dragon Ball. While you can go the completionist route, a large portion of the franchise isn’t considered canon so you can save a lot of time if you cut out non-canon content. However, you’ll also miss some of Dragon Ball’s most creative and epic moments if you go this route so you might be better off doing a chronological viewing and deciding for yourself how much you’d like to watch.
How to Watch Dragon Ball in Canonical Order
If you’re just looking for the “core” Dragon Ball experience, a canonical viewing is the way to go. This viewing order cuts out the movies, as well as a few series like Dragon Ball GT. Consider this Goku and the Z Fighters’ main story.
One important consideration you’ll need to make is whether to watch Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Z Kai. The former is the original anime that ran from 1989 – 1996, while the latter is an updated version of the same series with remastered picture and sound, as well as a more streamlined story that cuts out much of the filler material found in Dragon Ball Z.
It’s debatable which is better—Kai is higher-quality in a number of ways, but lacks some of the charm of Dragon Ball Z’s wackier excursions. You could always hop back and forth to decide which you prefer but it’s arguably worth sticking to one since there’s so much overlap.
How to Watch Dragon Ball in Chronological Order
If you want to expand beyond the canonical texts, you might prefer watching Dragon Ball in chronological order. This viewing incorporates all of the movies and inserts them roughly where they would take place in the main series canon. It also means stopping and re-starting Dragon Ball Z at numerous points, so keep this in mind if you want to stick to the suggested viewing order.
Where to watch Dragon Ball
You’re in luck – there are multiple places you can watch Dragon Ball. The series is available on streaming services such as Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu. If you’d like to own it, you can buy the episodes or the home video releases on Amazon.
How to watch Dragon Ball in chronological order
While most of the episodes are largely contained within a specific timeline, there are a few deviations, particularly when it comes to later arcs in the manga. The most confusing aspect of the Dragon Ball chronology is the somewhat nebulous relationship most of the films have with the series’ canon.
In fact, the first 17 Dragon Ball films aren’t considered canon at all, though we’re including them in this list because many of them are fun and they have an important place in the fandom. We’ve put these films in the timeline as they best fit, but there is plenty of confusion as to their proper place in a chronological watch order.
Dragon Ball Overview
Dragon Ball was initially a manga series created by Akira Toriyama and released in 1984. Two adaptive series of the manga were produced by Toei Animation: Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, followed by 21 animated movies and 3 TV specials. In 1997 the studio also produced Dragon Ball GT, a sequel series then Dragon Ball Super in 2015.
Dragon Ball narrates the story of protagonist Son Goku from his childhood to adulthood as he strengthens and trains in martial arts. Son Goku starts a young warrior from a strong alien race called Saiyan, who will decide to join the quest of a teen girl, named Bulma, to explore the world searching for the seven orbs known as the Dragon Balls. Once all seven Dragon Balls are acquired, a dragon will grant any wish of choice.
Son Goku will learn about his alien heritage through his journey. Along the way, he forges new friendships that will support him on his quest as he will fight different villains who are also searching to find the 7 Dragon Balls.
How to Watch Dragon Ball in Chronological Order
The chronological order is one way to avoid confusion and follow events in any long franchise, and Dragon Ball is not an exception.
Here is the guide to how to watch Dragon Ball in order.
1. Dragon Ball (1986-1989)
The original Dragon Ball series aired in 1986 and consisted of 156 episodes in total. This was the on-screen debut of Goku. Son Goku and his friend Bulma start their adventure touring the world to collect the 7 Dragon Balls. If the 7 Dragon Balls were summons, the collector of the 7 Dragon Balls will be granted their greatest desire by a dragon called Shenron. Goku undergoes a training in martial arts, by Master Roshi, to fight in the World’s Martial Arts Tournament.
During this series, Son Goku will meet new characters, who will become his allies like Yamcha & Pu’ar and he will marry Chi Chi. We will also see Son Goku fighting with different evil villains.
Three Dragon Ball movies are also part of this series. They are:
- Curse of the Blood Rubies (1986)
- Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle (1987)
- Mystical Adventure (1988)
- We recommend watching Curse of the Blood Rubies after episodes 1-13 and watching the next two movies after finishing the series.
2. Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996) & Dragon Ball Z Kai (2009-2015)
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z consists of 291 episodes in total covering 325 chapters of the original Dragon Ball manga series. In addition to the episodes, there are 14 movies included in this series as well.
Dragon Ball Z is the most known series in the Dragon Ball show. This series follows grown-up Son Goku who is learning about his identity and powers. Son Goku and his friends will defend the planet against villains, magical creatures & aliens such as Majin Buu, Cell, Vegeta, and Frieza. We will also unfold the story of Goku’s son, Gohan.
Here’s how to watch Dragon Ball Z in order:
- Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 1- 86)
- Dragon Ball Z Special 1: Bardock, The Father of Goku (1990)
- Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 87-123)
- Dragon Ball Z Special 2: The History of Trunks (1993)
- Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 124-194)
- Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (1993)
- Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 194-288)
- Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (1995)
- Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 288-291)
- Dragon Ball Z Kai (2009-2015)
Dragon Ball Z Kai isn’t a sequel, unlike other series on this list. It is basically a remastered version of Dragon Ball Z. This is usually confusing for people who want to know how to watch Dragon Ball in order.
Dragon Ball Kai includes some remastered scenes and cuts most of the filler content. So, you can either watch Dragon Ball Z or DBZ Kai; it is mostly the same thing. In short, it is the HD version of Dragon Ball Z, catered towards a newer audience.
We suggest that you watch Z Kai instead of the original Z as Z Kai is a refined and enhanced version of the original show, it is also superior in terms of storytelling. Most of the filler episodes have been removed that plagued the original show.
Hence, you will get a much more coherent watching experience if you decide to watch DBZ Kai instead of DBZ.
3. Dragon Ball GT (1996-2003)
Dragon Ball GT is a sequel of the Dragon Ball Z series, but unlike it, it does not adapt the Dragon Ball manga series. This anime series consists of 64 episodes with an original story.
In Dragon Ball GT, Son Goku is turned back into a child by Ultimate Shenron, a more powerful dragon than Shenron, who can grant any wish without any restrictions to the collector of the Black Star Dragon Balls. Son Goku and his granddaughter Pan with the company of different characters, will be forced to travel the universe to try and collect the Black Star Dragon Balls; if not retrieved within a year, planet Earth would explode.
4. Dragon Ball Super (2015-2018)
Dragon Ball Super is the latest entry in the Dragon Ball series & consists of 131 episodes. it became an instant hit after its premiere in 2015. In addition to the episodes, Dragon Ball Super also consists of various movies.
The story of this series takes place seven years after the events of Dragon Ball Z, where Goku is now working as farmer peacefully, but the God of destructions had other plans! This series has also established Broly Canon as a character, a favorite among DBZ fans.
Here’s how to watch Dragon Ball Super in order:
Dragon Ball Super (Episodes 1-3)
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013)
Dragon Ball Super (Episodes 4-18)
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (2015)
Dragon Ball Super (Episodes 19-131)
Dragon Ball Super Movie: Broly (2018)
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022)
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