Dragon Ball (Japanese: ドラゴンボール, Hepburn: Doragon Bōru) is a Japanese media franchise created by Akira Toriyama in 1984. The initial manga, written and illustrated by Toriyama, was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1984 to 1995, with the 519 individual chapters collected into 42 tankōbon volumes by its publisher Shueisha. Dragon Ball was initially inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. The series follows the adventures of the protagonist, Son Goku, from his childhood through adulthood as he trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven orbs known as the Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Along his journey, Goku makes several friends and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls.
The Dragon Ball manga has been adapted into two anime series produced by Toei Animation: Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, which together were broadcast in Japan from 1986 to 1996. Additionally, the studio has developed 19 animated feature films and three television specials, as well as two anime sequel series titled Dragon Ball GT (1996–1997) and Dragon Ball Super (2015–2018). From 2009 to 2015, a revised, faster-paced version of Dragon Ball Z aired in Japan under the title Dragon Ball Kai, in which most of the original version's "filler" material is removed. Several companies have developed various types of merchandising based on the series leading to a large media franchise that includes films, both animated and live-action, collectible trading card games, numerous action figures, along with several collections of soundtracks and a large number of video games. As of January 2012, the franchise generated $5 billion in merchandise, making Dragon Ball one of the most merchandisable anime based media franchises of all time.
Since its release, Dragon Ball has become one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time. The manga's 42 volumes have sold over 156 million copies in Japan and more than 240 million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling manga series in history. Reviewers have praised the art, characterization, and humor of the story. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest manga series ever made, with many manga artists citing Dragon Ball as a source of inspiration for their own now popular works. The anime, particularly Dragon Ball Z, is also highly popular in various countries and was arguably one of the most influential in boosting the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture.