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Dragon Ball Reading Order, Akira Toriyama’s Classic Series

When it comes to manga, Dragon Ball is a classic. Written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama (1955-2024), Dragon Ball was first serialized in Shōnen Jump from 1984 to 1995. A long run due to the fact that it quickly became one of the most successful manga series of all time. A status cemented by the multiple adaptations into various anime series, movies, video games, and other media.

At first, the story of Dragon Ball tells the adventures of Goku, a pure-hearted, naive, and incredibly strong monkey-tailed boy martial artist, as he embarks on a quest for the mystical seven Dragon Balls, powerful artifacts that can summon Shenlong, a wish-granting dragon, when gathered together. Everything begins with Goku’s encounter with Bulma, a brilliant inventor who is searching for the Dragon Balls to fulfill her wish of obtaining a boyfriend. Together, they embark on a journey filled with battles against powerful foes, including the likes of Emperor Pilaf, the Red Ribbon Army, and the evil King Piccolo. Along the way, Goku trains under various martial arts masters, forms lifelong friendships, and faces increasingly formidable adversaries.

As the series progresses, Goku’s quest expands to include participation in various martial arts tournaments where he faces off against other skilled fighters from around the world. He also learns about his Saiyan heritage, a warrior race to which he belongs, and confronts powerful enemies like Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu, who threaten not only Earth but the entire universe.

Beyond the first long-running series, Dragon Ball continued with other series like Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball SD, Dragon Ball Super, and more! Hundreds and hundreds of chapters of the manga were collected in a fairly notable amount of volumes published in America by Viz Media.

Dragon Ball Manga in Order

The first series is simply called Dragon Ball and, in order to match the anime series, it was at one point–after 16 volumes–renamed Dragon Ball Z. But the two are really just one long series. They have been collected in different formats. Before looking beyond those series (a bit later in this article), here are the different ways to collect the 42 volumes (519 chapters!) of the original tale.

The Dragon Ball Boxsets

The two volumes of Dragon Ball are now famously sold in huge boxsets:

The Dragon Ball 3-in-1 Edition

Between June 2013 and September 2016, Viz Media released a new 3-in-1 edition of the series in 14 volumes.

The Dragon Ball Individual Volumes

Dragon Ball Vol. 1 to 16

  • Dragon Ball Vol. 1 – The Monkey King (Son Goku and Friends)
    Collects Chapters #1-11
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 2 – Wish Upon a Dragon (A Critical Moment for the Dragon Balls)
    Collects Chapters #12-24
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 3 – The Training of Kame-sen’nin (The Tenka’ichi Budōkai Begins!!)
    Collects Chapters #25-36
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 4 – Strongest Under the Heavens (The Grand Finals)
    Collects Chapters #37-48
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 5 – The Red Ribbon Army (The Terror of Muscle Tower)
    Collects Chapters #49-60
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 6 – Bulma Returns! (Bulma’s Big Mistake!!)
    Collects Chapters #61-72
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 7 – General Blue and the Pirate Treasure (Pursuit!! General Blue)
    Collects Chapters #73-84
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 8 – Taopaipai and Master Karin (Son Goku’s Assault)
    Collects Chapters #85-96
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 9 – Test of the All-Seeing Crone (When Worried, See Baba Uranai)
    Collects Chapters #97-108
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 10 – Return to the Tournament (The 22nd Tenka’ichi Budōkai)
    Collects Chapters #109-120
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 11 – The Eyes of Tenshinhan (The World’s Greatest Super Battle!!)
    Collects Chapters #121-132
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 12 – The Demon King Piccolo (The Terror of Piccolo Daimao!)
    Collects Chapters #133-144
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 13 – Piccolo Conquers the Earth (Son Goku’s Counterattack!?)
    Collects Chapters #145-156
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 14 – Heaven and Earth (Even More Action)
    Collects Chapters #157-168
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 15 – The Titanic Tournament (Rivals Standing Their Ground!)
    Collects Chapters #168-180
  • Dragon Ball Vol. 16 – Goku vs. Piccolo (The Dragon and Tiger Mutually Strike!)
    Collects Chapters #181-194

Dragon Ball Z Vol. 1 to 26

The Dragon Ball Sequel: Dragon Ball Super

Before focusing on Dragon Ball Super, let’s talk about Jaco, The Galactic Patrolman. This 2013 series by Akira Toriyama was revealed to be, in its last chapter, set before Dragon Ball. Its main character shows up in Super.

Dragon Ball Super is a direct sequel to the original Dragon Ball manga. Once again, tt follows the adventures of Goku and his friends as they encounter new powerful foes, participate in intense martial arts tournaments, and explore various otherworldly realms and dimensions. Key elements of “Dragon Ball Super” include the introduction of new characters such as Beerus, the God of Destruction, and Whis, his angelic attendant. The series also delves deeper into the lore of the Dragon Ball universe, exploring the concept of parallel universes and introducing the multiverse tournament arc, where fighters from different universes battle for survival.

Beyond Dragon Ball! More spin-off Series

What is Dragon Ball GT?

Dragon Ball GT is a Japanese anime series and the story takes place several years after the events of Dragon Ball Z. But unlike Dragon Ball Super, Dragon Ball GT was not based on Toriyama’s manga. It begins with an accidental wish made by Emperor Pilaf, which transforms Goku back into a child. Pilaf’s wish also inadvertently causes the Dragon Balls to scatter across the universe, setting off a new adventure for Goku, Pan (the granddaughter of Goku), and Trunks (the son of Vegeta and Bulma).

It was produced by Toei Animation and aired from 1996 to 1997.

What is Dragon Ball SD?

It is a comedic spin-off manga series based on the original “Dragon Ball” illustrated by Naho Ooishi. The “SD” in the title stands for “Super Deformed,” referring to the art style in which characters are drawn with exaggerated, chibi-like proportions.

The manga retells the story of the original “Dragon Ball” series but with a focus on humor and lightheartedness. It features iconic moments and characters from the main series, but with a comedic twist. The characters are often depicted in humorous situations, and the storylines may deviate from the original plot to create comedic scenarios.

What is Super Dragon Ball Heroes?

“Super Dragon Ball Heroes” is a Japanese card-based arcade game connected to a promotional anime series based on the “Dragon Ball” franchise. There are now multiple tie-in manga series: Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Ankoku Makai Mission!, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Universe Mission!!, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Big Bang Mission!!!, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultra God Mission!!!! written and illustrated by Yoshitaka Nagayama, but also Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Avatars!! written and illustrated by Yuuji Kasai.

What is Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha?

“Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha” is a comedic spin-off manga series written and illustrated by dragongarowLEE. The manga is based on the premise of a person being reincarnated into the body of Yamcha, a character from the “Dragon Ball” series obviously. The story follows a young fan of “Dragon Ball” who dies in a traffic accident and is reincarnated into the world of “Dragon Ball” as Yamcha. Armed with his knowledge of the original series, the protagonist finds himself in the body of Yamcha during the time of the original storyline.


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