There’s always a fiery debate over which is better: the adaptation, or the source material. Dragon Ball Z is a great example of that. It was adapted from the manga that was simply entitled Dragon Ball, and many people have their own opinion about which one is better. Instead of simply arguing about the pros and cons of each, it’s interesting to note the differences and similarities.
All in all, the anime and the manga are pretty faithful to one another. There are relatively few examples of major differences between the two, and the anime captured the overall atmosphere of the manga. However, there were a few elements of the manga that the anime could never get quite right…
10 Got It Right: Dragon Ball Z Kai
Most fans agree that Dragon Ball Z Kai was an improvement on the original broadcast of the Dragon Ball Z series. One of the biggest complaints people had about the original series is that many episodes seemed to drag on for too long and that there seemed to be a lot of filler.
Dragon Ball Z Kai shortened the series and cut out a lot of this filler. They also made other adjustments to the series that made it more faithful to the manga overall. Eventually, they did “get it right” with Dragon Ball Z Kai.
9 Never Got It Right: The Manga Was Much More Violent
No matter what, the manga will always be considerably more violent compared to the anime. The manga is actually quite gory and shocking at times, which is surprising given the fact that it was marketed towards 12-year-olds. It’s not uncommon to see lots of blood in the manga. Fighters often suffer horrific injuries.
The level of gore you see in the anime really depends on the version you’re watching. Certain versions have been censored and “toned down,” and this is especially true in regards to the North American releases. That being said, all versions of the anime are notably less violent and gory compared to the manga.
8 Got It Right: Majin Vegeta Vs. Goku
One moment that the anime definitely got right was the fight between Majin Vegeta and Goku. The anime did a great job of capturing the awesomeness of Vegeta going back to his evil, villainous state, and we really started to understand the intricacies and complexities of this antihero’s character.
The actual fight itself also played out like the manga. Vegeta actually overpowers Goku on more than one occasion. The pure ferocity of his anger is almost too much for Goku to handle, and in the end, the fight ends up as a draw. This is pretty much exactly how it played out in the manga.
7 Never Got It Right: The Anime Generally Has Tons Of Filler
Even the most casual Dragon Ball Z fans can see that there’s a lot of filler in this series. Whether that makes it good or bad is up to you. A lot of people actually enjoyed the little side-stories that weren’t purely focused on fighting.
What’s more interesting is the reason for these fillers. While Dragon Ball Z was being broadcast, Akira Toriyama was still writing the manga. This meant that the animated series couldn’t move too quickly, or the producers would risk overtaking the manga that they were using as a guideline.
6 Got It Right: Dragon Ball Super
Although everyone has their own opinion about which Dragon Ball series is the best, it’s generally accepted that Dragon Ball Super is the most faithful to its manga counterpart. In terms of the earlier seasons, you might experience a notably different storytelling experience if you read the manga.
In Dragon Ball Super, it doesn’t really matter whether you read the manga or watch the anime – you’ll still get a near-identical story. This is also a series that Akira Toriyama was very involved with from start to finish.
5 Never Got It Right: The Funimation Dub
For a lot of fans out there, the Funimation dub is the one they remember from their childhoods. It definitely had tons of character, and the nostalgia value is seriously high when people look back. That being said, the original Funimation dub had some problems in terms of being faithful to the manga.
Considering accuracy alone, the Funimation dub was inferior to Kai. This series is also one that suffers the most from filler and drawn out scenes – unless you like that. Kai also had newer voice actors, which some people saw as an improvement. For a lot of people, however, the imperfections of Funimation’s dub was what made it so likable.
4 Got It Right: Cell Being The Most Unsettling Villain
One thing that the anime definitely “got right” was just how creepy and horrifying Cell was. You really got the sense that you were dealing with something more than just a villain… Cell was a monster. He was even more unsettling due to how intelligent he was.
In the manga, Cell is always referred to as “it” and never “he” or “him.” It’s not a person – it’s a thing. While they didn’t quite do this in the anime, they definitely portrayed him in the same general light.
3 Never Got It Right: Some Fights Went On For Far Too Long
This was more of a problem in certain versions of the anime, but generally speaking, the manga has much better pacing. If you read quickly, you can get through the entire fight between Goku and Frieza in just a few minutes.
Compare that to the epic, drawn-out fights of the anime. At times, it seems like Goku is spending entire episodes charging his attacks or gathering energy for a spirit bomb.
2 Got It Right: The Detail
One of the best things about the anime is the incredible attention to detail. For the most part, each frame is visually breathtaking, and you can tell that the animators really put a lot of time and effort into their creations.
It might not be perfect, but it definitely stands head and shoulders above many other animes – especially when you look at the time period when Dragon Ball Z first came out. That same amazing detail can be found in the manga, and it’s clear that the producers wanted to replicate the stunning artwork in the anime.
1 Never Got It Right: The Manga Was Actually Pretty Naughty
There are some moments in the manga that really make you wonder how it could have possibly been geared towards children. Aside from the gore that we’ve already mentioned, the manga does touch on somewhat adult themes from time to time.
There are also instances where certain characters expose themselves – most notably Bulma and Goku. Obviously, the anime censored a lot of these moments or deleted them from the story altogether.
How did the Dragon Ball anime series match up to the manga? Let's take a look at the difference and similarities between the anime & manga series!