The best watch order for the entire Dragon Ball animated series
Ordering watches for a massive series like Dragon Ball is always tricky, but the movies are the only tricky part this time around.
Dragon Ball is easily one of the most recognizable franchises in all of anime. People all over the world can recognize Goku and Vegeta. and villains like Frieza and Cell are icons in their own right. If you want to join the Dragon Ball fandom, the best way to do so is to watch the anime, but which series should you watch and in what order?
Before we begin the anime, it’s important to note that Dragon Ball is actually multiple series under the umbrella of a single brand. Dragon Ball Z bears almost no relation to the original Dragon Ball series other than the characters. Super is more like Z, but reintroduces each character and adds a ton of new faces. The movies themselves are completely optional, although a few are considered canon.
The best watch order for the Dragon Ball animated series
There are three major Dragon Ball sagas, each with their own heroes, villains, transformations, and story arcs. There are also many Dragon Ball movies that cross sagas, but the majority of them are not part of the official canon. There is also a fourth series which is generally considered non-canon.
The first anime series is a martial arts-themed comic manga about a strange tailed boy named Goku and his quest to collect the Dragon Balls. Putting them all together grants a wish from a magical dragon. Several prominent names and faces like Master Roshi, Krillin, Bulma, Tienshinhan, Yamcha, and many more appear for the first time in the original story.
Although the first Dragon Ball anime is entertaining and features the main cast, it has very little impact on Dragon Ball Z. Time-strapped viewers can skip the original, read some character details, and jump back into the game. order of the watch with Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z is where the series moved away from comedy and leaned more towards action. The martial arts of the previous saga now take center stage as Earth is repeatedly threatened by aliens, mad scientists and strange chewing gum monsters.
Dragon Ball Z is what most Western fans think of when it comes to the Dragon Ball franchise. The Z anime series has 291 episodes, but the exact length may vary depending on region and language. That said, there is a faster and better way to get through Dragon Ball Z.
Dragon Ball GT
Dragon Ball GT is the lesser known saga of the Dragon Ball series. It was an anime-only sequel to Dragon Ball after Z. Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama didn’t write or help develop GT.
In the series, Goku returns to his childlike body and explores the universe for a new set of Dragon Balls. GT isn’t remembered as well as the other sagas on this list, but it’s still worth considering for a full order of Dragon Ball watches.
Dragon Ball Super
Dragon Ball Super is the third and final chapter in the Dragon Ball franchise. Designed as a continuation of Z, Super features a bunch of new characters as well as new transformations for Goku and Vegeta. Dragon Ball Super is currently underway, with parts of the manga not yet made into the anime. Once they complete Super, new Dragon Ball fans will officially be caught up in the 38-year-old story.
If you’re always hungry for more Dragon Ball, there’s always the movies. Some of the Dragon Ball movies are canonical, some are not. The main series occasionally references some of them, but some standouts like Broly’s original movie and Cooler’s Revenge are officially non-canon.
The new Dragon Ball Super movies are canon and even help explain what’s happening in the anime. The Dragon Ball movies aren’t mandatory in watch order, but they can be entertaining on their own.
Kai offers a faster way to watch Dragon Ball Z
The Dragon Ball Z series is infamous among anime fans for taking a long time to figure out anything. There are a lot of people talking about the situation, which can get old quickly. Fortunately, there is a much faster alternative.
Kai is basically the director’s cut of the Dragon Ball Z anime. The truncated version cuts over 100 runtime episodes from the original Z anime. It still hits all the major story beats and fights with far less exposition. There are a few details left out, but Kai is meant to follow the original Dragon Ball Z manga as closely as possible. The result is a show that’s much faster and easier to swallow.
There are also “abridged” versions created by Dragon Ball fans that vary in quality. The one from TeamFourStar is the most popular. While entertaining, it cuts a lot of plot lines and makes drastic character changes. Save it for when you’re already familiar with the franchise.