This won’t be an in depth review because everyone knows about Dragon Ball and its influence and there are already numerous reviews written about it. This will just give you an idea of whether you should watch it or not, for those who haven’t yet.
Dragon Ball undeservedly doesn’t receive the same attention as its more popular sequel. The Dragon Ball series does receive a lot of flack for being really repetitive and for its unnecessarily long fight sequences but it’s really unfair to compare the franchise to what the shonen genre has become today. Because of this people tend to overlook Dragon Ball.
Dragon Ball is divided into multiple story arcs, some longer than others, which are hilariously funny and manage to entertain with fantastic battles. Dragon Ball is gut bustingly hilarious, and it might surprise people how sexual the jokes are and how comfortable Goku is naked but the gags never got stale. The fights were always entertaining and well thought out. It was never just a case of running in, attacking and (if a foe was just too great) tapping into a hidden power. Although the first two thirds of the show are quite funny, the tone grows a lot more serious starting with the last third, a lot like the tone throughout Dragon Ball Z.
Goku might come off as one dimensional since he was one of the first traditional shonen hero archetypes, but the more you watch the show, you’ll realise he isn’t just some stupid and strong fighter. The rest of the cast move the plot along pretty well with some of them playing major roles, which is a shame really because in the sequels they basically serve no meaningful purpose, not in the story or with the fighting.
The animation is dated, but one does get used to it rather quickly. Sometimes the same animated shots are reused but this doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. Characters designs are also exaggerated for comedic slapstick purposes that manage to gain quite a few chuckles.
I saw the dubbed version and all the voice actors fit their roles well, especially Barbara Goodson as Goku and Mike McFarland as Master Roshi. The English OP was really catchy (some may disagree) but the ED was forgettable. The Japanese songs scattered throughout the series were not too shabby but were usually drowned out by the chatter of the characters.
A classic that will forever be in the shadow of its sequel that manages to be fun from start to finish. Despite a few hiccups in the animation, Dragon Ball is truly a remarkable and fun show to watch. It’s long, but it never stops being entertaining. If for some unexplainable reason you have yet to watch the Dragon Ball franchise, this is the perfect place to start.