Oddly enough not alot of people know of the anime that started it all. Yet most of them have probably watched the sequel. Why is this? I catch myself in this thought all the time, because the prequel is strikingly good when compared it to it's Z counterpart.
This anime succeeds despite it's shortcomings in my book. This is simply because it know's it's a goofy fighting anime and thus dosen't try to be anything else. The focus is therefore put on fighting, cracking jokes and gags, and last but certainly not least: The journey that Goku goes on in itself.
The story in here is very simple; finding the Dragonballs. At least that's what the gang spends a large bulk of the series doing. Due to the length of this series it's obvious that there will be fillers. However the fillers do more than just fill in the time where we aren't fed the canon story. The fillers generally retain the quality of the canon episodes, and there aren't that many of them either. his is largely due to the fact that the humour in Dragonball is fantastic and feels naturally woven in with all the characters and the story. This also applies to the fillers.
Some viewers may criticize Dragonball for the reptitive nature of the story, saying that it's the exact same thing over and over again. And to a certain extent they're correct. But this leads back to what i was previously talking about; a "proper" story would do more bad than good here. It would leave less freedom to make this anime as goofy and hilarious as it is. And you shouldn't be watching a fighting shounen for the story.
The characters in Dragonball are all lovable. No matter the size of their role in the story. They are all fleshed out over time and you will either love or hate them. Goku in particular is very fun to watch, because the majority of Dragonball viewers saw Z first, which may have left you wanting to see what Goku was like during his early years. He is truly a treat to watch, and is quite clearly the staple for all other shounen protagonists.
The fights are the main driving points of this anime along with the comedy aspects. Thankfully they don't make the fights ludicrously long in an attempt to make them exciting. The pacing of the fights is well done the fights well thought out. Strategy plays an integral role in the majority of the fights earlier on the series, and as the series progresses it slowly reaches the point Z is at.
The anime is old and you can easily tell by the art and the visuals. (hehe penises.) No, but seriously. The animation and art are average for their time, which means that it obivously pales in comparison to modern standards. But if you look at it through a more objective scope it has suprisingly aged quite well. Remaking this series with updated visuals would be mistake because I feel there is a charm in the old art style. The magic of the show would certainly go lost along with the old feel of it.
Dragonball is an anime that cannot be missed. Do not let the length or the visuals of this anime discourage you. It's truly worth your time.
Join Goku in his mystical adventure for the Dragonballs!