Dragon Ball – A Global Phenomenon


by Lagosian

It was only a few days back whilst perusing the web, that I stumbled upon an article stating that the latest Dragon Ball movie would be shown in U.S. movie theaters in the fall. This is no easy feat, especially for a show that stems from Japan. To have such a draw in the United States to warrant theater showings, one year after its original premiere date is definitely worthy of applause.

It got me to thinking, why has this show stayed relevant for so long and why does it have such a broad appeal?

For those who might be unfamiliar with Dragon Ball. Its a Japanese animation created by Akira Toriyama. It first started off as a manga, which is pretty much a Japanese term for serialized comics. Unlike American comics, Mangas are predominantly printed in black and white, and are mostly written by Japanese Authors. In Japan, Manga and Anime are very popular. According to this article, Manga accounts for roughly 25 percent of all printed materials in Japan. This one, written by the Guardian, goes further stating that as of 2007, Manga’s market value in Japan was about 400 Billion Yen (About 4 billion dollars).

Manga and Anime (Japanese form of animation) have a unique relationship. Whilst its not unheard of to see many stand alone animated stories, a lot of them usually begin as manga, and through a strong following, pave the way for more life on screen as anime. Which leads me back to my original point about Dragon Ball.

Dragon ball started off as a manga in 1984, and ran in that format until 1995. Because of the popularity it enjoyed in manga format, the animated property followed suit and ran originally from 1986 to 1996. Whilst Dragon Ball Z episodes stopped in 1996, the show has successfully remained in syndication till this present moment. A truly incredible feat if I have ever seen one. Off the top of my head, the only other show with that much staying power that I can think of is Seinfeld, which is still going strong in syndication, despite the show ending in 1998.

There have been numerous dragon ball iterations over time. Its not just a manga, its a business empire. Everything from video games to movies are taken care of with this franchise. It is definitely one of the biggest names in entertainment, especially in Asia.

So why has this show stayed so relevant, and why does it still remain viable in a world where there are so many options and choices particularly on television? Well perhaps it has something to do with the story.

Dragon ball is centered on Goku, who is somewhat of Japan’s Superman/Clark Kent. He is an alien from a planet that was destroyed and has been raised as a human on earth. Unlike Superman though, dragon ball doesn’t take itself seriously. Its more of a comedy with action elements, that boils down to the dragon balls, magical orbs that when collected and put together, grant the users one wish. Because of said power of the dragon balls, many factions all over the universe come looking for this, some with very nasty intentions. Goku’s rise from lovable kid to Galactic champion is chronicled through the manga and anime, and its what has led to and spawned so many different iterations of this property.

As an aspiring story teller, Dragon ball is fascinating to me. I believe it has stayed so relevant, because the story is one many people can relate to. Its a formula that has become so popular in Japanese Anime and Manga, and can be found in current hits like Naruto and One Piece.

Its the story of an underdog constantly facing insurmountable odds, but through sheer will and determination, and through the aid of others, he rises up to the occasion and saves the day. Its a story that makes you believe in others, and the humanity that defines us.

In a country like Japan where Manga and Anime means so much to their economy, Dragon Ball has done what a lot of properties before and after it have not been able to, and that’s create a legacy. One which will keep it going on for many more years to come.



Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods Gets Limited Release in US and Canada – IGN. (n.d.). IGN. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/06/02/dragon-ball-z-battle-of-gods-gets-limited-release-in-us-and-canada

McCurry, J. (2009, April 10). Japan looks to manga comics to rescue ailing economy. theguardian.com. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/10/japan-manga-anime-recession

World Intellectual Property Organization. (n.d.). The Manga phenomenon. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2011/05/article_0003.html

Funimation to release a potential Ocean redub of Dragon Ball Z on DVD?. (n.d.). I Miss Bionix. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://imissbionix.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/funimation-to-release-a-potential-ocean-redub-of-dragon-ball-z-on-dvd/


Japan Faces Extinction (Because Nobody Is Having Sex)

Is Japan tired of sex? Due to drastically falling birthrates, researchers predict that within the next 1,000 years Japan will be a nation with no children. This isn’t Children of Men, this is really happening. Not because of infertility or a disease, but because people just aren’t having sex.


            Let’s look at a few facts before we jump to conclusions as to why Japan’s birthrate is shrinking. Japan’s youth population has been gradually shrinking in the past 20 years. It’s been shrinking so much, in fact, that schools have been closed due to a lack of children to teach. Also a factor is the growing elderly population. Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world by far. Currently, the average age of death is 86.39 but Japanese officials expect that number to rise to 90.93 by 2060. The growing number of senior citizens means that the amount of workers contributing to the economy will decline which in turn affects the amount of people who can pay for those on pensions.

            To put Japan’s shrinking birthrate in perspective: there are 16.6 million children under the age of 14 in Japan, but that number shrinks by one every 100 seconds. In 50 years, Japan’s birthrate will fall to 1.35 children per woman, well below the replacement rate. Last year, adult diapers outsold diapers for babies. One in four unmarried men and women in their thirties have never had sex, and most young women prefer the single life. Over 60% of unmarried men and 50% of unmarried women were not dating, nor did they have any interest in dating. Most shockingly, 36% of males aged 16-19 had no interest in sex.


            Why is this happening? Well, most obviously is the cost of living in Japan. It’s extremely expensive to have a child in Japan even though the state gives plenty of benefits to parents. With a little digging, it’s evident that the issue goes far deeper than money. One argument is the fact that Japan’s youth prefers virtual friendships and relationships to real ones. Japan’s virtual worlds are incredibly sophisticated and it’s smart phone apps are the most created. The country is so physically overcrowded; it’s easy to get lost in a fantasy where anything is possible.

However, the real impact on the sex drive in Japan appears to be linked to both celibacy ads and women’s rights issues. Celibacy has become the norm in Japanese youth due to promotions by celebrities. For example, 20-year-old pop star Minami Minegishi, shaved her head in shame for spending the night at her boyfriend’s apartment. Apparently her band, AKB48, had a strict no-dating policy and forced her to make a video apology to their fans. The video was aired on the evening news. Advertisements in Japan are also increasingly attempting to appeal to the “single life.” Disposable underwear is sold in individually wrapped packages. “Meals-for-one” and Internet cafés have encouraged people to stay single for the sake of affordability. On top of everything else, the Japanese youth seem to be happy with their sexless state.


As odd as this new trend appears to us, birthrates in developed countries worldwide have been dropping. Though Japan’s celibacy is far more pronounced and accelerated, the rest of the world is not far behind.




Alter, C. (2013, October 22). Japan’s hottest new sex trend is not having sex. Retrieved from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/10/22/japans-hottest-new-sex-trend-is-not-having-sex/


Piper, D. (2012, May 11). Lack of babies could mean the extinction of the japanese people. Retrieved from http://www.amren.com/news/2012/05/lack-of-babies-could-mean-the-extinction-of-the-japanese-people/


Urbanski, D. (2013, October 2013). Will this nation’s ‘celibacy syndrome’ cause it to ‘perish into extinction’?. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/23/will-this-nations-celibacy-syndrome-cause-it-to-perish-into-extinction/


Waters, P. (2013, May 18). Japan’s population on pace to become extinct by 3011. Retrieved from http://elitedaily.com/news/world/japans-population-extinct-3011/





Before reading what the blog post wrote about this ad, I saw it and was really confused and shocked that Pepsi would place this ad so largely for the public to see. The photo was publicized on Monday and is an Ad for Pepsi’s partnership with the popular clothing company from Japan, Bathing Ape. The line is called AAPE, but as seen on the ad it reads as “rape.”

When asked the Huffington Post reached out to Pepsi to ask about their interesting font choice, the spokesperson verified that the advertisement ran in Hong Kong. He wrote, “we regret any misunderstanding caused by the font used and we apologize to anyone who was offended. We will not use this design in the future.”

Although the banner was only placed in Japan, it still portrays Pepsi in a very negative light, because people traveling can understand English and misinterpret the four-letter word. I am familiar with the Bathing Ape brand and have always respected the quality and detail to their products. Whether it was Pepsi or Bathing Ape’s idea for the font style, I think that it was extremely poor taste in whoever decided that the font was the best option.

This is a great example of how bad the outcomes can be if you are careless with advertising. Anything as simple as font choice can change a good ad into a horrible misinterpretation. I think that other than the font, the ad is a great image: it has a simple color combination and clearly shows the icon for Pepsi, as well as the monkey icon for Bathing Ape. Also, the can is clearly portrayed in the image with the design of the iconic AAPE pattern. However, no one will remember these little details when they pass by, because they will all be too distracted with the big and bold word that looks like “rape.” Since the ad is running in Japan and everyone in the country is familiar with the brand Bathing Ape, maybe they will be able to decipher the true meaning of the word. However, I know that many Americans have never heard of the brand. Because of this, they will see what word they do know that pops up into their head, which is rape.

Not only does this make Pepsi look bad, it also gives people a bad first impression of the Japanese clothing brand. A Bathing Ape has always been a trendsetter in the hottest and best quality fashion, but when people see that they are a part of this horrible advertisement, they might be forever traumatized and never shop there again.