Dragon Ball: An American Pop Culture Icon

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On August 31, 1998 America was introduced to Dragon Ball. It has been ingrained in millions of American children’s minds ever since. It has introduced many children into a completely new genre(Japanese animation or Anime). There are few people living in America who haven’t seen Goku’s signature orange gi and spiky black hair. Even some of the Dragon Ball’s catch phrases such as Kamehameha and It’s over 9000 could be their own pop culture icons.

How has a cartoon from Japan become a major part of a pop culture in a country with completely different customs and culture? Because Dragon ball is about humanity. Mostly because this series is a showcase for the universal principles of perseverance, determination, commitment, loyalty, sacrifice, purity, and just downright enjoying life (Padula 226). Any person from any culture, ethnicity, creed, religion or country can understand it and enjoy it. It’s about working hard and achieving your goals no matter how hard it may seem.

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Journey to the West inspired Akira Toriyama, Writer of Dragon Ball, to write Dragon Ball. Journey to the West was about a man who travels from China to India in order to recover ancient Buddhist texts to save Humanity(Padula 224). Toriyama took this story and modernized it. He infused it’s Chinese setting with Hong Kong Kung Fu films, Hollywood movies, silly jokes, and Japanese pop culture (Padula 248). He made it open for millions of others who otherwise would have never been interested in a completely foreign story about a hero wants to offer a way for humans to go beyond the 3 realms of reincarnation(Padula 240).

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