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Why does Dragon Ball still stand as the most popular anime ever?

The 35th anniversary of Dragon Ball on TV makes us rethink about this popular phenomenon, which managed to have a great impact on the entire planet, including Latin America .

Dragon Ball Z

Even 35 years later, the saga continues more alive than ever. Photo: YT-Best Movies

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Por qué Dragon Ball todavía se mantiene como el animé más popular de la historia?

When talking about anime is inevitably referring to one of the most popular in all of history: Dragon Ball. It is 35 years since its first broadcast in Japan , as this television adaptation of the manga was a milestone in the history of animations.

The truth is that, even 35 years later, the saga continues more alive than ever. This phenomenon seems to be inexplicable, especially if we consider that, unlike other anime that tend to be much more niche or that are never consumed outside of Japan, the Dragon Ball saga allowed us to break the stigma of Japanese animation .

There are people who do not even watch anime, but they know and even like the saga of Goku and his friends. This can be seen, particularly, in the wide reception it had in Latin America, since it was the story that formed a whole generation of young people and that shows no signs of exhaustion, since a continuation of the saga is expected in the future. Let's see the keys to the success of Dragon Ball.

The success of Dragon Ball

The first thing to say is that we are not measuring the quality of the product itself, but its reception outside the Japanese territory, which is much more used to this type of series. In this sense, just mention the word "anime" and see what is the first name that comes to mind of any person, almost inevitably, the Dragon Ball saga will be the first to come out of most people's mouths.

Precisely, an investigation carried out by the NRC reveals that, although it is very popular in Japan, it does not have the same reception as in other territories , such as Latin America, where it still remains the main exponent of Japanese animation culture. Therefore, you have to understand the reasons for its success.

One of the first questions has to do with its own narrative structure, which is friendly for everyone, even those who do not love anime. From the first moment, we are introduced to a very charismatic character, who had abilities that were not from that planet. That is to say, a whole mysticism was formed around Goku's own history and everything that could arise around him.

In other words, a "classic tale" was told, with the typical hero's journey, to which comic and supernatural elements were added (such as the famous dragon balls), where the fights became essential to reflect the spirit of the series. This makes, at first, the rivals of Goku and his friends quite simple, but, often as the adventure extends, new heroes and increasingly powerful villains arrive.

It is inevitable to feel identified with Goku, but also the cast of secondary characters is completely essential, regardless of the saga in which we find ourselves. That is precisely another of its key points: the possibility of expanding the adventures, not only without losing quality, but also improving it.

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Despite at first the initial adventure of Dragon Ball could be a bit childish, a much more serious and better step is taken for Dragon Ball Z, where we will meet Goku as an adult. That is, unlike what happens with other animation series, where the first periods are the best , here the passage from one period to another generated an advance in the plots and enriched the narrative universe of the series, with themes and much more serious motivations.

For this reason, little by little we are growing with these characters and the component of nostalgia emerges. Thus, we discover that the innocent little Goku has a son and a wife . Even the dramatic moments also become more and more serious. We cannot fail to mention the first death of Krillin , one of the most iconic events of the saga, which also allowed Goku to transform into a super-saiyan.

At the same time, these changes of power that allowed the characters to advance and not remain stagnant, meant the expansion of the franchise itself. As the transformations existed, more and more powerful enemies would appear, which would mean that the danger would be greater and greater and, over time, Dragon Ball Z would acquire an increasingly serious tone .

For example, from HobbyConsolas they mention that the 3 sagas of Dragon Ball Z are "almost perfect" and generated the attention of all viewers. That is, although at first Dragon Ball was already interesting, with the passage of time it was perfecting itself, to the point of leaving the bar extremely high for the products that follow.

Therefore, even today, everyone awaits the continuation of Dragon Ball Super, the official saga that continues the story of Z (after the story of the controversial Dragon Ball GT was erased from the official story), which, according to mentions CinemasComics, it could happen by 2022 . What is clear is that, even 35 years later, Dragon Ball is still the most loved anime, even for those who are not fans of this cartoon style.