Dragon Ball is one of the biggest shounen mangas out there. Originally released all the way back in the ’80s, it was revolutionary thanks to its amazing action and memorable characters. It became so popular that it has influenced the greats like One Piece, My Hero Academia, Naruto, and so much more. However, with popularity comes controversy, enter Dragonball Evolution which was an Americanized film that changed a lot of things with the main series. Although it is universally hated by fans, there are still some similarities to the main series.
As such, here are the 5 things that it kept from the manga and 5 things that have radically changed.
10 Kept: The Dragon Balls
The main journey of Dragon Ball is still intact for the most part. Not necessarily the specifics but the general journey that was outlined during the beginning of Dragon Ball is still the same, with the crew traveling around the world in order to get the Dragon Balls.
All of this in order to grant any wish that they desire. The Dragon Balls as an object are also still the same, with the same color and general hue that the balls from the manga offer. They are also still palm-shaped and are still sought after by the main villains.
9 Changed: Goku
One of the most notorious changes in Dragon Ball Evolution is the main character of Goku. In the manga and anime, the character was a naive person who simply wished to be stronger. He had a tail and was a Saiyan. But in this film, a lot of things about the character changed dramatically. His personality, for example, is a brooding and misunderstood teenager who simply wants to fit in. Often he questioned where he comes from and the abilities he has. This is in sharp contrast to the Goku most fans know who generally didn’t care about where he came from and happily fits in.
8 Kept: Core Team
While there are radical changes, the core Dragon team, for the most part, is still the same one as the manga. Specifically Goku, Bulma and Yamcha. The roles of Bulma and Yamcha are somewhat the same with Bulma still owning Capsule Corp and Yamcha still being a Bandit. What’s more, each character still wants the Dragon Balls for selfish purposes. Although the reasoning they want the Dragon Balls are for completely different reasons.
7 Changed: Master Roshi
The old perverted Turtle hermit, Master Roshi, in the original manga was a wise master who hid his teachings with seemingly meaningless chores. He was also bald, had a long flowing white beard and wore sunglasses. But here in the movie, he has none of those qualities. What’s more, he is not even called the Turtle hermit and is incredibly skeptical about Lord Piccolo. Yet within the original manga, he witnessed first hand the power of what Piccolo is actually capable of.
6 Kept: King Piccolo
Aside from the name change of “Lord” rather than “King”, Piccolo is still the main antagonist in the overall Dragon Ball mythos. Still considered an immense threat to the human world, he is still considered evil incarnate. Some events relating to him have also been retained such as almost being sealed by the Mufuba and is also seeking the Dragon Balls in order to take over the entire planet. He also has a ship that looks similar to the one in the manga.
5 Changed: Oozaru
The transformation that all Saiyans share, whenever they look at a full moon or a Power Ball full of Blutz waves, they transform into a giant great ape. However, in the film, the transformation is completely revamped. Instead, Oozaru is an actual character who once worked alongside King Piccolo in the takeover of planet Earth. What’s more, he doesn’t have a tail, and compared to the manga version, he is incredibly tiny.
4 Kept: Color Gi
When Goku was an adult, and for the majority of his appearances as a kid, Goku wore a gi of orange and blue. Pretty much-becoming standard in every arc following, it would be incredibly weird if Goku never had the outfit design. Thankfully the Dragonball Evolution film maintains this design for the most part. What’s more, while it keeps some original elements exclusive to the film, it is still overall faithful to the general design.
3 Changed: The Entire Setting
The setting in the manga is drastically different compared to what is shown in the manga. While they both take place on Earth, the setting of Dragonball Evolution is far more contemporary compared to Dragon Ball’s world. Of course, this isn’t too surprising, as showing the distinctive intricacies of the Dragon Ball world would be a hard thing to pull off in the film. But it results in the world of Dragonball Evolution being fairly bland and boring.
2 Kept: The Confrontation Between Goku And Piccolo
The overall climax of the original Dragon Ball, the fight against Goku and Piccolo is an obvious similarity that’s been kept in the adaptation. Since the original manga, the fight against Goku and King Piccolo was one of the most memorable fights in the series. Partly because it was one of the first times that Goku was put at his limits.
That is maintained here with the film, after all, King Piccolo is the main bad guy of the entire film. That being said, the encounter itself is within differing circumstances and the final fight seems to end as quickly as it started.
1 Changed: The Heart Of Dragon Ball
At the end of the day, Dragonball Evolution is a hard pill to swallow for a few reasons. It changed so many things about the Dragon Ball mythos from the characters to the setting of the series. It left such a bad taste in fans mouths that they pretend it doesn’t exist.
Of course, without the existence of Dragonball Evolution, Dragon Ball fans wouldn’t have such a huge rebound in the form of Dragon Ball Super. Toriyama himself was dissatisfied with the film as he claimed that Hollywood didn’t capture what was true to the manga according to an interview with Asahi Shimbun.
Dragonball Evolution is a hated film, though it did keep a few things from the manga the same when adapting it into a movie.