Dragon Ball is one of the most influential anime & manga series of all time. The creators of One Piece, Bleach, and Fairy Tail have all cited Akira Toriyama and Dragon Ball as their biggest inspiration. This is also true of Naruto, which can be seen by all of the Dragon Ball references that appeared throughout the series.
Naruto is the third best-selling manga of all time, with Dragon Ball in second place. They were both published in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine and they have crossed over in various video games.
However, Naruto had the benefit of learning from Dragon Ball's mistakes, which allowed it to become even better. Dragon Ball had numerous problems across its run, which Naruto improved upon and turned into positives.
We are here today to make our argument for why Naruto is better than Dragon Ball Z. From the quality of the combat, to the comparison between the main characters, here are the 15 Reasons Naruto Is Better Than Dragon Ball Z.
15 The Fights Are Smarter
One of the aspects of Naruto that helped the series to become popular (at least at the beginning) was the tactical nature of its fights. The series didn't rely on power levels. Instead, when it came to a fight, intelligence could win over brute strength.
A character with weaker skills than his opponent could still be victorious with smart planning and quick thinking. This is why Shikamaru placed so highly on character popularity polls, despite the fact that he had a boring technique in battle. He used his intelligence to win battles and fans loved to see him outthink his enemies.
The fight scenes in Dragon Ball Z were often visually exciting to watch, but the conclusion often boiled down to a level of strength that was determined long before the battle even began. Dragon Ball Z battles boiled down to a specific formula of pointless punches & kicks, transformation sequences, and massive beam attacks.
A lot of the Dragon Ball Z fights were often one-sided, which also made things less interesting. This is why the few evenly matched battles (like Piccolo versus Android 17) are still so well remembered.
14 Naruto Made The Effort To Attract Female Fans
One of the main advantages that manga has over Western comics is that they know how to appeal to women. Marvel and DC still haven't been able to use the advertising power of their movies to drag their comics divisions into relevance. Manga has managed to accrue a massive female audience, whose size is close to that of the male contingent of fans.
Dragon Ball certainly has its share of female fans, but it came from a time when Weekly Shonen Jump was focused on attracting male readers. This changed by the time Naruto came around, as many of the big Weekly Shonen Jump series went out of their way to include elements that would be appealing to women.
It seems that this plan worked. In Naruto's case, they went about it by including a lot more romance and relationship teasing than you would see in your average battle manga. This is why Naruto is the second biggest series on Fanfiction.net (after Harry Potter), as it inspires a new level of creative input from its fans.
13 Naruto Never Abandoned Any Of Its Characters
One could argue that Akira Toriyama is a notoriously forgetful person, since this was true throughout his career, as many characters and concepts from Dragon Ball stopped being relevant after the very first arc they appeared in.
One of the most notable characters to vanish was Launch, who never appeared in the Dragon Ball manga after the arrival of the Saiyans. This was because Toriyama literally forgot that she existed. The anime staff did manage to give her a few more cameos, so she wasn't totally forgotten in the anime.
Naruto not only kept all of its main cast around until the ending, but it managed to keep them relevant in combat. They were all given moments to shine during the World War arc. Naruto and Sasuke eventually managed to outstrip the other characters, but that didn't make the others useless.
In Dragon Ball Z's case, everyone who wasn't a Saiyan got left in the dust and stopped being relevant as anything other than a brief distraction.
12 Hollywood Hasn't Ruined Naruto (Yet)
Dragon Ball is another anime and manga franchise that has a terrible Hollywood adaptation. Dragonball Evolution turned Goku into a high school student, who had to battle against the evil Piccolo in a contemporary setting. The movie was panned by pretty much everyone upon release. Dragonball Evolution has almost nothing to do with the series it was adapting and is just an awful movie all around.
Akira Toriyama is a private person, who hasn't interacted with the fans much since Dragon Ball ended. It seems that even he couldn't hold his tongue, as he has bashed Dragonball Evolution in several interviews.
Naruto has yet to receive a live-action movie... but that will be changing soon. Lionsgate is making a Naruto movie, with Masashi Kishimoto on board as a producer. We can only hope that the failure of Ghost in the Shell has derailed these plans.
11 Naruto Never Had A Toddler As A Main Character
Goku was 13 years old at the start of Dragon Ball. The series followed him into his adult years, to the point where he became a grandfather.
One of the most disturbing aspects of Dragon Ball Z was the fact that Gohan was thrust into the protagonist position at the age of 4. Piccolo took a toddler into the mountains in order to train him for combat. Gohan was then brought to fight the Saiyans when he was still too young to know his letters and numbers. What makes this worse is the fact that Gohan is clearly traumatized by these experiences and spends most of these fights in tears.
The main cast of Naruto started out around the same age as Goku was at the beginning of Dragon Ball. They have all spent years in training and those who aren't suited for the life of a ninja are weeded out and given regular jobs. Gohan was little more than a baby when he was forced to fight Vegeta and Nappa.
10 Naruto Never Needed To Rely On Time Manipulation
The Android Saga introduced time travel to Dragon Ball Z. This came in two forms-- via Trunks' time machine and the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Trunks was able to go back to the past in order to warn the Z-Fighters about the arrival of the Androids and Goku's death by heart disease.
As the story continued, Goku revealed the existence of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber on Kami's Lookout. This is a room where a year passes outside for every day spent inside. The Z-Fighters were able to use this room to become stronger.
Introducing time travel to a series is always a tricky proposition. It usually brings up the question of "why don't they use time travel to solve all of their problems". This was something that the Harry Potter franchise learned the hard way. Naruto never needed to resort to time travel, so it managed to avoid these issues.
9 No Obnoxious Screaming While Powering Up
The importance of Dragon Ball Z cannot be understated when it comes to series that helped popularize anime and manga in the West. It stands alongside Pokémon and Sailor Moon in helping to bring what was once a niche genre into the mainstream. The flipside of this is that the negative aspects of Dragon Ball Z became associated with anime and manga as a whole.
Dragon Ball Z featured a lot of obnoxious screaming and grunting, which was done while the characters charged up for battle. This culminated in Goku's voice actor, Sean Schemmel, passing out during a recording of Dragon Ball GT. This was due to the amount of noise that was needed during Goku's transformation into a Super Saiyan 4.
The "character screaming while powering up" became a stereotype that was associated with anime as a whole. Naruto never had anything nearly as obnoxious within its story that reflected as poorly on the industry.
8 Naruto Kept A Consistent Tone & Genre
Dragon Ball was a weird series in that it seemed to totally change tone and genre from each story arc to the next. The story started out as a fantasy adventure that parodied certain aspects of Journey to the West, but, by the end of Dragon Ball, you had the alien Super Saiyans battling a genie that had existed for millennia.
The reason for these shifts was due to the fact that Akira Toriyama made everything up as he went along, with no long-term plans for where the story was going to go. What makes this so jarring is how easily the series jumped between light-hearted adventure and brutal murder fests. This is especially true of Dragon Ball Z, where almost every main character from the original series is killed fighting the Saiyans in the space of a few issues.
Naruto always managed to link together light-hearted moments and serious storylines throughout its run. This meant that those who started the series from the beginning wouldn't be shocked by the content in later issues, as it was smoothly woven into the story from at an early start.
7 The Naruto Cast Actually Made A Difference And Received Recognition For Their Deeds
Naruto ended with the world at peace. The ninja villages declared a ceasefire which seemed to have remained in place for over a decade. Technology had advanced forward, as skyscrapers and personal computers were brought to Konoha. The former Kages had also now retired and had left the world in the capable hands of the younger generation.
The world of Dragon Ball Z never seemed to have been altered by the events of the story. Goku and his friends mainly dealt with world-ending threats and were never proactive in stopping them.
They were willing to allow Dr. Gero to finish building his Androids, as they wanted a good fight. Additionally, the Z-Fighters never received any recognition for their deeds, which allowed Hercule to swoop in and claim all of the credit for stopping Cell. Goku and his friends might not exist, as far as the larger world is concerned.
6 The Battles Felt Deadlier
It's hard to deny that Naruto was a much bloodier series than Dragon Ball. The characters were constantly being cut by blades and avoiding poisonous attacks. There were numerous characters who specialized in medical ninjutsu, which they used alongside (or in tandem with) their combat abilities. Only the most skillful of ninjas could use their chakra to heal the wounds of others, which is what kept many of them alive as prisoners of war.
Dragon Ball Z made it a lot harder to care about wounds inflicted during battle. This was because the characters never seemed too fazed by serious injuries. Tien had his arm punched off by Nappa, yet he was fine to keep on fighting.
It also had characters with powerful healing abilities (like Dende) and the Senzu beans, which can heal someone from the brink of death in seconds. The resurrection abilities of the Dragon Balls made it hard to care about death and its long lasting implications.
5 Women Were More Important
Dragon Ball featured several important women in its cast. The series never would have gone anywhere without Bulma and her inventions. However, there were almost no female fighters in all of Dragon Ball, with the exception of the filler arcs and movies, which weren't created by Akira Toriyama. Dragon Ball Super recently featured its first canon female Super Saiyans, which took over twenty-five years to debut.
Naruto featured lots of important female characters, who appeared in positions of power and were the equal to men in combat. Tsunade, Mei Terumi, and Kurotsuchi were some of the most important political figures in the ninja world and each was a deadly warrior in their own right.
Dragon Ball Super recently allowed women to become more important in terms of physical power in the franchise, though it took a long time to get to this point. Thankfully, Naruto always allowed female characters to take part in battles and to be important from the start.
4 Naruto Never Fought Adolf Hitler
Dragon Ball and Naruto are both set in fictional worlds that weren't meant to reflect our version of Earth. Despite this, a version of Adolf Hitler appeared in one of the Dragon Ball Z movies.
The villain of Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn was a demon named Janemba, who broke down the barrier between the real world and the afterlife. This allowed all of the evil souls trapped within the Home For Infinite Losers to return to the real world.
Goten and Trunks encountered the reincarnation of the Third Reich, which was being led into battle by a copy of Adolf Hitler, called the Dictator. Both Goten and Trunks then fused into Gotenks and sent the Nazis straight back to the afterlife where they belong.
The scenes with the Dictator have censored Fusion Reborn across the world. Most of the international versions of Fusion Reborn had to remove the Dictator, due to laws concerning the depiction of Nazi imagery. There were a lot of bad Naruto movies, but none of them ever invoked Godwin's Law.
3 Naruto Had A Goal And An Ending That Made Sense
One of the longest running urban legends concerning Dragon Ball is that Toriyama wanted to end the series at an earlier point in the story, but was forced to continue by his editors. This isn't true, though the series might have benefited from ending earlier than it did.
Dragon Ball ended with Goku encountering Uub for the first time and taking him off for training. The series tried to make a comparison between Uub and the younger version of Goku, which never made much sense. This was likely one of the reasons why Dragon Ball has had several different sequels over the years.
Naruto's goal was to become the Hokage. He accomplished this goal in the end, which was a natural point on which to finish the story. We then got to see his son pulling the same pranks that he did in the first issue, which bookended the series in a satisfying way.
2 Naruto Never Had Any Underage Nudity
There are probably a lot of people who will disagree with the things said in this article. Naruto certainly has its detractors and the series had its flaws, which only became exacerbated over time. For all of Naruto's faults, there is one awful aspect of Dragon Ball that it managed to avoid doing. You might hate Uzumaki Naruto, but at least you never saw his penis.
Akira Toriyama made sure to include full frontal nudity for both Goku and Bulma in the Dragon Ball manga, at a point when they were both 13 and 16 respectively. You could argue that Dragon Ball was a product of its time and that there are different sensibilities at play-- young boy nudity in Japanese culture is occasionally regarded as a sign that someone has an innocent nature.
It is harder to defend the scene where Yamcha is spying on a naked Bulma as she gets out of the shower. These scenes actually led to the Dragon Ball manga being pulled from Toys R Us stores until they had been sufficiently censored.
1 The Main Character Is Relatable
Naruto is defined by his relationships with other people. As an orphan, he cherished the bonds that he made with the others in his village. He also had to endure feelings of abandonment and being isolated from others.
These are relatable parts of life that all humans go through at some point or another. Kishimoto managed to weave the human drama alongside the fantasy ninja action, which was one of the factors that helped the Naruto franchise become popular.
Goku is a great fighter, but he is a terrible father, husband, and friend. The only thing that Goku ever cared about was fighting, which meant that he had no problem with ditching his family. Goku's entire plan for defeating Cell involved putting his son in mortal danger, which led to Piccolo calling him out for being a horrible dad.
It is possible to love Goku as a hero, but it is hard to associate with him on a personal level. Naruto endures the same trials and tribulations that a lot of kids and teenagers go through, which draws fans in, as they want to find out if things worked out for him in the end.
Can you think of any other reasons why Naruto is better than Dragon Ball Z? Or do you think Dragon Ball Z is better? Let us know in the comments!