YMMV / Dragon Ball

  • Americans Hate Tingle: Well, "hate" is probably too strong of a word, but in the US, while Z is a cultural icon, the original series is far more obscure and mostly known only by fans of the franchise. In Asia and parts of Europe, it's Dragon Ball that's the better known of the two.
  • Angst? What Angst?: At the start of the series Goku is alone in the mountains, never seeing another person until Bulma ran him over. His grandfather, the only family he has ever known, died years before the main story, crushed to death by a giant monster. And as far as Goku knows his biological parents abandoned him in the woods. Yet, Goku shows no distress about any of this, even smiling when explaining being found in the mountains. Even saying his grandpa is dead provoke little emotional response, except when talking about how he died. Bulma even ask how can he be so cheerful.
  • Badass Decay: While many of these characters don't complete their Badass Decay until DBZ, they do have a noticeable decline in effectiveness in this series:
    • Master Roshi: At the start of the series, he is stronger than Goku. He even beats Goku during the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. By the Piccolo Jr. Saga, he is Demoted to Extra, and he stays that way through Z.
    • These days, Yamcha's mostly known for getting his ass kicked a lot. Most people forget that when he was first introduced in the series he gave Goku his first real fight, although most of that was because Goku was hungry when they fought. note  The only thing that preventing him from finishing the fight was that Bulma happened to wake up and Yamcha ran away because of his crippling fear of pretty girls. He was also the first person to use a KI technique and ended up saving everyone from Goku's Great Ape form at the end of the story arc.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The Penguin Village episodes. The segment is actually a crossover with one of Toriyama's other works, Dr. Slump, but to fans who don't get the reference it comes off as simply bizarre.
  • Broken Base: Dragon Ball vs. Dragon Ball Z is a not as commonly debated over but it happens.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Goku, when he wasn't defeating armies on his own armed with only a magic pole and a flying cloud, he was transforming into a giant Ape and destroying anything in his path, using air to one shot his opponents, kicking peoples asses with rock-paper-scissors, using his tail to fly like a helicopter, flying into the air and punching holes through demon aliens with only one arm and using his power pole to sodomize a ninja. And this stuff happened when he was a child. As an adult he reeked of Crazy Awesome, so much so that him just powering up nearly destroyed the planet.
    • Tao Pai Pai killed a man with his tongue and he did this during his debut in the show. His crazy awesomenes then goes to a whole new level when he taps a pillar and breaks it out, while leaving the building completely intact then throws the pillar and jumps onto it while it's moving. Tao Pai Pai's only comment on that matter is, "Who needs a jet when when we've got a perfectly good pillar."
  • Creator Worship: Fans love to make fun of Toriyama's lack of planning, forgetfulness, and his tendencies to leave behind his human characters, but make no mistake that the fanbase loves him and are skeptical of any work that doesn't have his involvement. This love extend to other manga authors like Eiichirō Oda who practically worships him.
  • Cult Classic: The series gets this treatment in the USA due to being ignored for the anime that only adapted the second half of the story, Dragon Ball Z.
  • Evil Is Cool: Piccolo and his father, King Piccolo. They're just both completely Badass. King Piccolo is one of the first villains to be competent, as he's a Hero Killer and Piccolo Jr. almost defeated Goku.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • The announcer for the World Martial Arts Tournament, so much so that when he didn't appear in the Cell Games saga some fans got quite irate. Fortunately, he makes his return in the Buu Saga.
    • General Blue, for being pretty much the only competent member of the Red Ribbon Army - starting at the point where he strangles an electric eel to death while it's still electrocuting him. There is also the fact that he is the first villain to almost kill Goku in a straight fight.
    • Akkuman/Devilman for having what could be considered the most powerful attack in all of Dragon Ball/Z. Hell he was even a playable character in Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (where he even gets his own what-if story), Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure and Dragon Ball: The Revenge of King Piccolo.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Saint Seiya fans in Latin America, particularly Brazil.
    • With the One-Punch Man fandom, mostly with arguments in who would win between Saitama and Goku.
  • Freud Was Right: As a child, Goku thinks girls don't have tails and guys do. Then he sees Bulma naked and thinks she's been castrated.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Special mention to Europe (especially France, Spain and Italy) and several countries in Latin America, where the Dragon Ball franchise is not only probably THE most popular anime in history, but also a full-blown pop culture classic. The fact that it became popular in those territories way earlier than in the US, definitely helped.note 
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Given what Dr. Gero did to avenge the fall of the Red Ribbon Army it makes Commander Red's real goal even more disturbing.
    • Oolong's off-comment about Bulma not having a pretty death does happen later on as she ends up one of the victims of Super Buu, being turned into chocolate and eaten alive.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When Yamcha first gets a glimpse of the titular Dragon Balls, he confesses that he thought they'd be as big as dodgeballs. Come the Namek arc in Z, we get introduced to a second set of Dragon Balls that happen to be roughly around that size.
    • Commander Red is voiced by Kenji Utsumi in the Japanese version, and desires to become taller. Utsumi later voices a Stalinist rogue GRU Colonel, yet later ends up defeated by someone who looks a heck of a lot like a tall version of Commander Red in Metal Gear Solid 3.
    • The scene where Pilaf blows a kiss to Bulma in the Pilaf Saga becomes hilarious when his Japanese voice actor, Shigeru Chiba, ends up (another silly villain who has a huge amount of Foe Yay/somewhat Yandere-esque traits towards his nemesis. And the villain's nemesis, Terra Branford, has an alternate costume that gives her a slightly similar appearance to Bulma.note 
    • In the second episode of the anime, Bulma has this prophetic line:
    "I don't know what planet [Goku's] from, but it's not Earth."
    • In the 13th episode Oolong says this line:
    "So what's the deal, is Goku some kind of alien?"
    • During the King Piccolo Saga, the titular villain declares May 9th as Piccolo Day.note  Then May 9th gets recognised as Goku Day instead.
    • In the Red Ribbon Army saga, Goku gets antagonised by a ninja named Murasaki.
    • In the beginning where Goku met Bulma, after she told him about the Dragon Balls, she wants to wish for a prince. Guess who ended up in her life in Z?
    • Bulma said that when Goku was older, he was going to find her breasts impressive. 25 years later, he tells Old Kaioshin about Bulma's impressive breasts.
  • Ho Yay: Has its own page.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Mai and Shu, especially when they're being verbally and/or physically abused by Pilaf. Their status as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains also helps.
    • The Crane Hermit, Master Shen. He is an evil and bitter old man, but he's like that thanks to King Piccolo's cruelty. He watched his fellow students and friends be slaughtered by Piccolo's children and was then forced to watch his master humiliated by Piccolo himself. After witnessing the futility of being good and the failure of justice, he turned aways from his master's teachings.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Demon King Piccolo qualifies, considering that he knew that Shen Long would have been called again with another potential reunion of the Dragon Balls (so he kills him before having any chance to depart).
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Mercenary Tao crossed it for many when he killed Upa's father, Bora, for no particular reason. He then threatened Upa, saying he should be thankful that he's still alive. There is also the underline fact that he had no problem taking a contract to kill a twelve years old boy, super-strong or not.
    • Commander Red, when he fully admits using his army to gain the Dragon Balls so he can wish to be taller. The fact that his pettiness led to the deaths of not only his men, but countless of innocents who were just caught in the crossfire had many people cheering when Officer Black put a bullet in his head. There is also the extra bitterness of knowing that his actions are what leads to Dr. Gero actions in Dragon Ball Z.
    • Officer Black goes too far after he decides to destroy the entire Red Ribbon Army base just so he can kill Goku. There were still many soldiers left on the base and this comes after he gets on Red for needlessly throwing away lives.
    • The Crane Hermit becomes completely irredeemable after he tries to murder his own students because they refused to kill an opponent who couldn't fight back.
    • For some, the Pilaf gang freeing Demon King Piccolo from the rice cooker he was imprisoned in just show they can share in his conquest. Before that they had never done anything especially bad (except try to kill Goku and friends and they were laughably incompetent at doing so anyway).
    • King Piccolo, it's impossible to know exactly when he crossed the line. His first rampaged led to the deaths of millions of humans including Master Roshi's teacher and corrupted the Crane Hermit. As soon as he is released, he sends Tambourine to murder all the martial artists in the world so no one can used the Evil Containment Wave on him again. He directly murders Chiaotzu and destroys Shenron so the Dragon Balls can't be used against him. He then takes over the world, frees all the prisoners, and abolished all laws so he can watch humanity tears itself apart. Even with all of that, he plans to have a lottery for the thirty-six years where he will destroy one section of Earth.
    • King Piccolo's son, Tambourine, crosses it when he kills Krillin and brags about it to Goku. He then goes on to murder at least fifty martial artists, including a scene in the anime where he murders King Chappa and all his students in cold-blood.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Any time Shenron, the Eternal Dragon, is summoned
    • Goku catching a giant fish.
    • Bulma and Goku meeting for the first time.
    • The infamous scene where Bulma (unknowingly) flashes Master Roshi in exchange for a Dragon Ball.
    • Before that, Goku removing Bulma's underwear and screaming that her balls are gone.
    • Master Roshi using a Kamehameha to blow away the fire on Frying Pan Mountain.
    • Goku's first Kamehameha, which destroys the group's car.
    • Goku's transformations into a gigantic ape in the first two arcs.
    • Goku vs. Jackie Chun (aka Master Roshi in disguise), especially the last part that ended with a double KO.
    • Goku flying straight through Demon King Piccolo's torso.
    • Goku's battle with Piccolo Jr, and Goku winning despite having all of his limbs disabled.
  • So Cool It's Awesome: The manga is considered as such by many fans as well as professional mangaka (such as Eichiiro Oda), many citing it as not only a great influence but also the reason they got into manga in the first place and a milestone.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Several of the jokes in the early parts of the manga when it was still largely a comedy have not aged well. One very early chapter features Oolong drugging Bulma and trying to molest her in her sleep, which is Played for Laughs, and General Blue is a Depraved Homosexual played absolutely straight. The anime makes Blue even worse by implying him to be a pedophile on top of being gay.
    • The manga's explicit depictions of nudity & sexuality also fail to resonate well with Western audiences, particularly in America, due to the fact that most of the characters who are shown naked or involved in sexual activities are below the legal age of consent.Note  The fact that Goku's genitals are shown more than anyone else's doesn't help, nor does the fact that Bulma once attempted to seduce him in exchange for his Dragon Ball.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Upa was initially believed to be a girl, even by other characters of the show.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Seems to creep up in the motivation behind a lot of the franchise's offerings ever since the dreaded Dragonball Evolution.
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