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How Dragon Ball Beat the Test of Time Posted May 25, 2021

With a recent announcement revealing a second Super movie in the works, Dragon Ball is riding high. Originally started as a manga in 1984, this new movie is the latest in a long line of media which, despite a hiatus, is still going strong. Even with the long timeframe of Dragon Ball's development, it remains one of the most popular manga and anime series of all time. So, how does this series succeed while so many others have drifted into eventual irrelevance?

The Ageless Theme

Perhaps the most fundamental component that keeps Dragon Ball popular is its reliance on the idea of self-improvement, viewed through the lens of intense action. As people, we all have a love for the underdog story, and that idea is what gives Dragon Ball a timeless appeal. Whether back when Goku was fighting Mercenary Tao, one of the earth's strongest villains, or in a modern context when he takes on Jiren, one of the strongest in the multiverse, we love to see effort overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.

How Dragon Ball Beat the Test of Time
"Dragon Ball Z" (CC BY 2.0) by Matthew Paul Argall

Funnily enough, this same idea is part of what keeps Journey to the West, the classic Chinese novel which inspired Dragon Ball, in the public consciousness. Stepping outside of Dragon Ball, a similar ageless appeal has been held by places and times like ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Even thousands of years since their peaks, these still capture the public's imagination and have never grown stale.

For a more direct example of this popularity in action, games like the Eye of Horus free play lean on ancient Egyptian trappings, placed within the context of modern online slots. This popularity is helped by more industry-specific benefits like bonuses and high RTPs, but the underlying idea of ageless appeal is the same. These slots give fans of classics a way to engage, and Dragon Ball achieves a similar thing with action.

Blending Comedy and Action

Despite how it’s often seen in the public eye, Dragon Ball was developed first and foremost as a comedy and adventure series. While the comedy elements took a bit of a backseat in the Z generation, Super has brought Dragon Ball’s comedy back in full force. This keeps the series more palatable for newcomers, while also going back to its roots for those of us who have stuck with the series since its inception.

Supporting Media

The final major component which has kept Dragon Ball popular has to be its success as a multimedia franchise. Figurines and clothes have helped a lot in this regard, but arguably the biggest thanks have to go to video games. Starting on the NES, the adventures of Goku and friends have received over a hundred video game tie-ins to date, covering many genres and systems.

Most recently this was demonstrated by Dragon Ball Fighterz, which quickly made a name for itself as one of the most popular and accessible fighting games of all time. Still played at the highest level competitively in events like Evo, DBFZ isn’t just great for fans, it also introduced many newcomers into the fandom.

Even if Dragon Ball isn’t your taste specifically, there can be no denying both its popularity and the effect that it had in popularising anime outside of Japan. Whether through captivating themes, the ability to make people laugh, pulling in fans through video games, or any other means, the popularity of Dragon Ball has easily stood the test of time. With a new movie coming and the manga still running a monthly release, the series has shown no signs of slowing down, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.

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