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Dragonball Evolution

2009 film

Dragonball Evolution is a 2009 American science fantasyaction film directed by James Wong, produced by Stephen Chow, and written by Ben Ramsey. It is based on the Japanese Dragon Ball manga and anime series created by Akira Toriyama, and stars Justin Chatwin, Emmy Rossum, James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Chow Yun-fat, Joon Park, and Eriko Tamura. In Dragonball: Evolution, the young Goku reveals his past and sets out to fight the evil alien warlord Lord Piccolo who wishes to gain the powerful Dragon Balls and use them to take over Earth.

The film began development in 2002 and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first official live-action adaptation of the Dragon Ball manga. Both Toei and Funimation have stated that they were not involved with the live action film adaptation of Dragon Ball.

Dragonball: Evolution was released in Japan and several other Asian countries on March 13, 2009, and in the United States on April 10, 2009. The film received negative reviews by both critics and Dragon Ball fans, particularly for its script, cast, and unfaithfulness to the source material. The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing only $9.4 million in North America and a worldwide total of $58.2 million against a budget of $30 million. The film was meant to be the first of a series, though all subsequent films were canceled.


Two thousand years ago, the demon Lord Piccolo came to Earth, wreaking havoc along with his minion Ōzaru the Great Ape. Seven mystics created a powerful enchantment called the Mafuba and used it to seal Piccolo away; however, he breaks free in the present day, and with his ninja henchwoman Mai, begins to search for the seven Dragonballs – each one marked with stars numbering between one and seven – killing anyone in his path. He finds the first Dragonball in the possession of a peasant woman named Seki in an impoverished village. She relinquishes the Dragonball to save her daughter’s life, and Mai seemingly kills her.

On his eighteenth birthday, martial artist and high school senior Son Goku is given the four-star Dragonball by his grandfather,[4]Gohan. Returning home from a party hosted by his crush Chi-Chi, Goku finds his home destroyed and his grandfather near death after Piccolo's failed attempt to acquire the Dragonball. Before he dies, Gohan tells Goku to seek out martial arts master Master Muten Roshi, who holds another one of the Dragonballs.

Goku then meets Bulma of the Capsule Corporation, who was studying the five-star Dragonball until it was stolen by Mai and has invented a locator for the Dragonballs. Goku offers Bulma his protection in exchange for her help in finding Roshi. They ultimately track him down in Paozu City, and he joins them in their search. Under Roshi's wing, Goku begins training his ki, knowing that they must get all the Dragonballs before the next solar eclipse when Ōzaru will return and join forces with Piccolo. In the midst of the group's search for the six-star Dragonball, they fall into a trap set by the desert bandit Yamcha, but Roshi convinces Yamcha to join by promising a portion of the royalties for Bulma's invention. Together, the group fight off an ambush by Mai and successfully acquire the next Dragonball.

As the group continues their quest, they visit The World Martial Arts Tournament where Chi-Chi is competing; she fights Mai in a match, and Mai uses the match to steal a sample of her blood. Chi-Chi briefly joins the group as they travel to a temple where Roshi consults his former teacher Sifu Norris and begins preparing the Mafuba enchantment so he can reseal Piccolo, while Chi-Chi helps Goku in his training to learn the most powerful of the ki-bending techniques: the Kamehameha Wave. During the night, Mai – having disguised herself as Chi-Chi using her shapeshifting abilities and the blood she stole earlier – steals the team's three Dragonballs, adding them to the ones that Piccolo already acquired. Chi-Chi is knocked unconscious in the fight, while Goku, Bulma, Yamcha, and Roshi go in pursuit of Mai and Piccolo.

With the Dragonballs successfully united, Piccolo arrives at the Dragon Temple and begins to summon Shenron the Eternal Dragon, but is stopped by the timely arrival of Goku's team. During the ensuing battle, Piccolo reveals to Goku that he himself is Ōzaru the Great Ape, having been sent to Earth as an infant to destroy it when he grew older. As the eclipse begins, Goku transforms into Ōzaru while Roshi attempts to use the Mafuba on Piccolo, but he doesn't have enough energy to finish the enchantment and Piccolo breaks free. Ōzaru chokes Roshi to death, but Roshi's dying words snap Goku back to his senses; he reverses his transformation and engages Piccolo in a final battle, seemingly defeating him with the power of the Kamehameha Wave. Goku then uses the Dragonballs to summon Shenron and requests that he restore Roshi back to life.

As the group celebrates, they realize the Dragonballs have now scattered, and Bulma declares that they must search for them again. Before they head out, Goku meets with Chi-Chi to apologize for knocking her unconscious and get to know her better, and they begin a sparring match to see which of them is stronger.


See also: List of Dragon Ball characters



In 1995, Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan, who was a fan of the series, had expressed some interest in adapting Dragon Ball into a live-action film. However, he said it would require "a lot of amazing special effects and an enormous budget."[5] When asked about the casting for Goku in 2013, Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama said that "nobody came to mind" for the role, but if "it were back when Jackie Chan was still young, I suppose I would have thought nobody could play Goku but him."[6]

In 2002, 20th Century Fox acquired the feature film rights to the Dragon Ball franchise. In the same year, Stephen Chow was approached to direct the film, and although he said he was deeply interested because he is a fan of Dragon Ball, Chow declined the chance to direct. He, however, accepted a role as a producer via his company Star Overseas. Robert Rodriguez, Mark A.Z. Dippé and Zack Snyder were offered to direct but passed. 20th Century Fox then went on to send the script to writer/director James Wong who accepted. In 2007, James Wong and RatPac-Dune Entertainment co-founder Brett Ratner were announced as director and producer respectively, and the project was retitled Dragonball. Ben Ramsey's first draft was deemed too expensive to shoot, and in the end, he wrote about five different drafts of the script following notes from the studio. James Wong wrote the last draft, again according to notes from the studio, but decided to remain uncredited as the co-screenwriter.[7] Chow was a Dragon Ball fan, citing its "airy and unstrained story [which] leaves much room for creation", but explained he would only serve as a producer because he believes that he should only direct stories he had created.[8]

Differing costs to produce the film have been reported. In January 2008, Marsters spoke to TV Guide that he was told the film had a budget of approximately $100 million.[9] In April 2009, the Spanish television station Telecinco reported that the budget was $50 million.[10] Marsters would later claim that the film in fact was produced for $30 million.[11]


Justin Chatwin was selected to play the film's central character Goku.[7]Ron Perlman was originally offered the role of the villain Lord Piccolo, but turned it down to work on Hellboy II: The Golden Army.[12]James Marsters, who accepted the role, noted he was a fan of the original anime series, describing it as "the coolest television cartoon in the last 50,000 years [because] it's got a Shakespearean sense of good and evil."[13] Summarizing the original concept of his Piccolo, he said the character was "thousands of years old and a very long time ago he used to be a force of good, but [he] got into a bad argument and was put into prison for 2000 years. It got him very angry, and he finds a way to escape and then tries to destroy the world."[13] Originally, Piccolo was going to be depicted as a handsome creature, but Marsters and the make-up artist chose to give him a decrepit complexion to reflect his having been trapped for thousands of years. The first time the make-up was applied, it took seventeen hours and left Marsters with difficulty breathing. In subsequent applications, it generally only took four hours.[14]

Stephen Chow originally wanted to cast Zhang Yuqi, with whom he worked on CJ7, for the part of Chi Chi, but the role eventually went to Jamie Chung.[8][15]


Principal photography began on December 3, 2007,[16] in Mexico City, Mexico. Locations included the Universidad Tecnológica de México.[17]

From January 2, 2008,[17] the crew shot at Sierra de Órganos National Park.[18][19][20][21] The crew moved to Estado de México in March of that year for some shots at Nevado de Toluca.[22] Shooting has also been scheduled at Los Angeles, California.[23] In adapting the Dragon Ball manga, the futuristic cities and flying vehicles were kept; however, the anthropomorphic creatures and talking animals (such as Turtle, Oolong, Puar, Shu, and Korin) were dropped.[24] Many of the locations are very Oriental,[25] and there was some Aztec influence too, particularly from their temples.[26] It was thought that Rossum would wear a blue wig to resemble her anime counterpart, but it was ultimately decided that such a look was too unrealistic. Instead she had her natural brown with blue streaks. Chatwin did not wear a wig as the director felt Chatwin's hair resembled Goku's.[25] A large amount of Dragonball Evolution was shot in an abandoned jeans factory, also located in Durango, Mexico.[27]

Dragonball: Evolution special effects were done by Amalgamated Dynamics, while the visual effects were done by Ollin Studios, Zoic Studios, and Imagine Engine.


Main article: Dragonball Evolution: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

On December 9, 2008, it was confirmed that the theme song would be "Rule" by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki. Also featured on the film's soundtrack is American pop artist Brian Anthony, whose remixed song "Worked Up" was released as a single in English territories,[28] and is included on the home video releases as a bonus feature.[29]

The film's soundtrack, Dragonball Evolution: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released in the United States on March 17, 2009 by Varèse Sarabande.

The score was composed by Brian Tyler, who recorded the score with an 82-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox.[30] The score was met with positive reviews from music critics, who drew comparisons to Tyler's previous works.[31][32][33][34][35]



A film novelization, Dragonball Evolution: The Junior Novel, was written by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon. Aimed at children ages 8–15, the novel was released by Viz Media on February 24, 2009.[36][37] The same day, a series of chapter books for readers 7–10 was released.[37]

The three volumes, subtitled The Discovery, The Search, and The Battle were also written by Deutsch and Cohan.[38][39][40]

A 16-paged sticker book, Dragonball: Evolution Sticker Book, followed on March 24, 2009.[41] Released a week later on March 31, 2009 by Viz was a 22-page Dragonball: Evolution Posterzine featuring eleven posters, cast interviews, and merchandise previews.[42]

Video game[edit]

On January 19, 2009, Namco Bandai Games and Fox announced a tie-in PSPvideo game, which was released in Japan on March 19 and North America on April 7. The game includes all of the major characters from the film and features various playing modes, including a local multi-player battle mode, production stills, and storyboards from the film.[43]


The Hong Kong-based company Enterbay produced a 1:6-scaled line for Dragonball Evolution. A 1:6 Goku figure was made along with Lord Piccolo. Bulma was planned to be the third figure of the series in addition to being the first female figure Enterbay has ever released. Prototypes of the Bulma figure were shown at Enterbay's blog but in November 2010, Enterbay confirmed that Bulma was canceled. Bandai America released a mass-market toy-line based on the movie in time for the theatrical release. The figures came in 4-inch, and 6-inch versions.[44] Lastly, Japanese toy company MediCom created stylized Goku and Piccolo [email protected] toys to coincide with the release of the film.[45]


The July 2008 issue of Jump Square published a manga inspired by the film by Daisuke Kadokuni.[46]



Though an American film, Dragonball: Evolution was released in Japan and Hong Kong on March 13, 2009, nearly a month before its American release.[47][48][49] It was released in Australia on April 2 and in the United Kingdom on April 8.[50][51]

Its release in its home country changed dates many times. Initially scheduled to be released in North America on August 15, 2008, it was later moved to April 2009 to allow time for additional filming and post-production work. The specific date then changed back and forth between April 10 and 8, with the final release date being April 10.[52][53]

The marketing of the theatrical release included a viral "personal expressions" campaign created by digital agency Red Box New Media[54] that ran on the Windows Live Messenger application. Alongside that campaign, Fox hired Picture Production Company to develop a PC/Wii flash game under the name Can you Ka-Me-Ha-Me-Ha?[55] This game was released just prior to the film in conjunction with another viral campaign that encouraged fans to send in their renditions of the fighting move.[56]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Region 1DVD and Blu-ray Disc in North America on July 28[29] and on Region 2 DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the United Kingdom on August 31.[57] The Region 4 DVD and Blu-ray Disc was released in Australia on November 18.[58]


Box office[edit]

The film had a gross earning in the United States and Canada of $9,362,785 and an international gross of $48,865,675 for a combined worldwide box office gross total of $58,228,460.[59]

The film opened with its competitors—Hannah Montana: The Movie and Fast & Furious (the latter in its second weekend). On its opening weekend in the United States, the film grossed $4,756,488 from 2,181 sites. Box Office Mojo described this a "paltry", and was comparable to Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and Speed Racer.[60][61][62] In its second weekend, it dropped to 11th place.[63][64][65]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 15% approval rating based on 62 reviews, with an average rating of 3.60/10. The site's consensus states, "Executed with little panache or invention, Dragonball Evolution lacks the magic that made the books on which it was based a cult sensation."[66] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[67] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade C+ on scale of A to F.[68]

Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network, who was initially annoyed at fans of the franchise who criticised the film via leaked set shots and trailers before the film's release, gave the film an overall failing grade and stated "the fans were right." He criticised the film's lack of explaining plot elements, its hackneyed storyline and lackluster effort by the actors.[69]Variety's Russell Edwards found the film "passable", "pleasing if paint-by-numbers", noting it "doesn't take itself too seriously, but avoids campiness", that "the climactic clash between Piccolo and Goku offers a faithful CGI representation of the ethereal powers as drawn in the original manga" and that the climax offers an "impressive character twist for Goku that will warm the cockles of every young Jungian's heart."[70] Luke Thompson of E! Online referred to the film as a "surreal mess" that would only make sense to fans of the original series. He questioned the use of a Caucasian in the main role and felt Chow Yun-Fat was "overacting like never before", but did consider it "fun in a train-wreck kind of way" and that while it was never boring it was also never "logical, coherent [or] rational".[71]

Christopher Monfette of IGN gave the film a positive review, stating that it captured "the flavor of anime without becoming overly cartoonish". He praised the main cast for "creating characters the audience can actually care about" and felt Chatwin was particularly likeable as Goku.[72]Slant Magazine's Rob Humanick considered the film "uninspired" and implausible with an "aimlessly hyperactive construction and complete lack of substance" and "cobbled-together FX fakery".[73] Reviewing the film for Australia's ABC Radio National, Jason Di Rosso stated the film was "lacking the visual panache of recent graphic novel adaptations". He agreed the film was uninspired and also felt it had dull "high school movie banter" dialog and was "cliché-ridden".[74]The Village Voice's Aaron Hillis called the film a "loony live-action adaptation", but felt it was "more entertaining than it deserves to be" and would likely appeal to ten-year-old boys.[75]Alonso Duralde of MSNBC found the film to be "both entertainingly ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining" and noted that "kids will have such a blast that you can turn this movie into the gateway kung-fu drug that makes them want to watch the earlier work of Stephen Chow and Chow Yun-Fat, that is if Stephen Chow and Chow Yun-fat had a Caucasian actor in the starring role."[76] Jeffrey K. Lyles of The Gazette found the film to be "a fairly entertaining martial arts adventure for the younger audiences" and tolerable to adults. He felt Chatwin was ill-cast as Goku, and that director Wong failed to capture the "frenetic sense of the anime" in the action scenes, leaving them an effort to understand.[77]

Creator response[edit]

Before the film's release, Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama initially felt surprised by Dragonball: Evolution and suggested to his fans to treat it as an alternate universe version of his work.[78] In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun on Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Toriyama revealed that he felt the Hollywood producers did not listen to him and his ideas and suggestions, and that the final version was not on par with the original Dragon Ball series, and felt the result was a movie he couldn't even call "Dragon Ball".[79][80] Discussing the film in the 2016 Dragon Ball 30th Anniversary "Super History Book", Toriyama wrote: "I had put Dragon Ball behind me, but seeing how much that live-action film ticked me off..."[81]

In 2016, writer Ben Ramsey apologized for the film, writing: "To have something with my name on it as the writer be so globally reviled is gut-wrenching. To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. [...] I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise but as a businessman taking on an assignment. I have learned that when you go into a creative endeavor without passion you come out with sub-optimal results, and sometimes flat out garbage. So I'm not blaming anyone for Dragonball [Evolution] but myself."[82][83][84]


The film was nominated for a 2009 Spike TVScream Award for "Best Comic Book Movie,"[85] but lost to Watchmen. nominated the film for its Golden Schmoes Awards in the category Worst Movie of the Year 2009.[86]

Canceled sequels[edit]

In an interview to IGN, Justin Chatwin revealed that he signed for three films, though he expressed interest in making seven films.[87] Chatwin also stated that Goku "only really gets interesting in the second film" and that the next films would feature elements from the Dragon Ball Z part of the franchise, likely delving further into his Saiyan origins, and incorporating his son Gohan and his arch-rival Vegeta, which he felt was "really exciting. It goes into the whole legend of Dragonball".[87] A script for a sequel was being written before the film's release.[88] Marsters said that he would have reprised his role in future films, having "every intention of fulfilling the arc of Piccolo in live-action", which he said it would feature Piccolo's reincarnation and redemption, which would merge Piccolo and his son Piccolo Jr. into one character.[88] The film's poor commercial and critical performance caused any planned sequels to be canceled.


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  85. ^"Spike TV Announces Nominees for 'Screams 2009' – 'Star Trek' Bashed "Watchmen" With 17 Nominations" (Press release). Reuters, Spike TV. August 31, 2009. Archived from the original on September 2, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  86. ^"Golden Schmoes Awards (2009)". IMDb.
  87. ^ abParfitt, Orlando (March 30, 2009). "Dragonball Sequels Exclusive". Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  88. ^ ab"Dragonball Sequel Already Has A Script". April 5, 2009. Retrieved January 14, 2018.

External links[edit]


A 'Dragon Ball Z' Family Member Is Running For Senate

The world may never know what it would be like for Goku to become the president, but Dragon Ball Z fans may see one familiar face take a turn in the U.S. Senate. After all, it appears that a former Dragon Ball Z crew member is making a run to become Texas' newest senator.

In a recent post by The Dao of Dragon Ball, Nathan Johnson sat down to talk about how Dragon Ball Z has influenced his on-going campaign. Fans will know Johnson best for composing music for Funimation's in-house dub of Dragon Ball Z. Originally a lawyer, Johnson began to pursue music and provided music for the anime's "Ultimate Uncut" releases as well as a few films. And, in his recent interview, the former lawyer admits Dragon Ball has helped shape his entire senatorial campaign.

When Johnson was asked if he felt connected to the principles of Dragon Ball, the politician said there was a definite connection.

"One of the things that is comparable to my political philosophy, is that in Dragon Ball you have episodes that deal with a set of very different kinds of people—sometimes different species and people from other planets—but they have to work together," Johnson said.

"Sometimes we find that a person who was formally your opposition is now your ally. Through show after show and various movies you see how unlikely combinations of personalities and abilities come together to fight a common threat."

As for whether Johnson thinks his Dragon Ball tenure can help his chances at a senate run, then the answer is yes. "One key to that is Dragon Ball Z fans. And I'm not kidding," the layer said when asked about Texas' low voter turnout. Johnson continued, saying he hoped he could inspire millennial Dragon Ball fans to Kamehameha the vote.

"Dragon Ball Z fans are concentrated in the millennial age group. And it forms close to a third of this electorate. Their turnout is historically poor. But they're getting older, starting to have mortgages, and starting to become more aware of politics. They're a passionate generation and care about certain topics," Johnson stressed.


"The fans are the kind of people who like to look at issues in a non-black-and-white way. A more nuanced approach to the world. More interested in different viewpoints. So I have no doubt that if they pay attention to this, they'll want to get [current senator] Don Huffines out and get me in there. I'm counting on it."

Dragon Ball Super airs on Crunchyroll Saturdays at 7:15 p.m. CST. Toonami also airs the English dub on Adult Swim Saturdays at 11:30 p.m.

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MMA: Marcus Brimage Credits Dragon Ball Z for His Career Choice

Marcus Brimage from MMA, and Goku from DBZ
Marcus Brimage from MMA, and Goku from DBZ

Marcus Brimage, a current contender on season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) on Spike TV, says that Dragon Ball Z is the reason he has an MMA career today.

Dragon Ball Z is a martial arts anime filled with action-packed fights that have inspired martial artists across the world.

I interviewed Marcus for The Dao of Dragon Ball book and asked how Dragon Ball Z motivated him to pursue martial arts and join the MMA.

“To be honest with you, when I saw Dragon Ball Z, I said, 'I want to learn how to fight,'” Marcus replied.

Why was that?

Just because of the power that the Saiyans emit. It was crazy. Goku is such a super-nice guy, but he’s super-powerful. Vegeta is a badass; you expect him to be powerful. But, I was always a nice guy and like making people laugh, and to see someone that was good-hearted and kind, and all of a sudden he’s this powerful fighter, it really made me think that, 'Man, I can do that.'

And then the way that they fought. Dragon Ball Z is action packed. There are no pauses in there. It’s like a dedicated ass-whupping from beginning to end. I can’t describe it, you know! And that’s how I like to fight because I push my conditioning so hard. I want to fight just like that, whup your ass from bell to bell.

Watch Marcus fight in this clip.

Marcus said that as a child, he didn’t have many outlets to express himself. Living in Birmingham, it was football or nothing. He became frustrated.

I was in Alabama, and I just basically had all these ambitions because of Dragon Ball Z. I mean, dude, c’mon, you’ve seen it. The fights are unreal…I was like, 'Oh my God!' I knew I had to watch this cartoon. It was off the chain. It motivated me. I felt that I really wanted to learn how to do that, how to fight like that.

Marcus also said that he was very inspired by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, another MMA fighter.

When he was younger, his brother showed him a highlight reel, and Marcus recalled the experience.

It gave me that same feeling I got when I watched Dragon Ball Z…That’s when I said, 'I want to (expletive) fight.'

Dragon Ball Z is like boom to the temple, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! You know what I’m saying? They’re everywhere. And that’s how I fight.

The thing is, right now I’ve got to learn how to be more controlled with it, but they’re just so in your face. And you know what, that’s what the crowd likes too. The crowd likes people slugging it out, going all out, balls to the wall, everywhere. That’s the (expletive) that gets people standing up on their feet. So that’s how Dragon Ball Z is, and that’s why I always push my cardio.

Many other fighters throughout the world have been inspired in a similar way.

In The Dao of Dragon Ball book, I reveal the full impact and meaning of the Dragon Ball series for both martial artists and casual fans.

Author Bio: Derek Padula is the author of The Dao of Dragon Ball, a book that reveals the ancient martial arts secrets of the world’s most financially successful anime and manga. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DerekPadula.

The Dao of Dragon Ball Book Trailer

The Dao of Dragon Ball

This article, The Dao of Dragon Ball, is the property of DerekPadula.

The Dao of Dragon Ball book is an upcoming book about the origins and history of the Dragon Ball series, and its impact across the world. It reveals the ancient historical connections and spirituality of Dragon Ball, while contributing philosophy and analysis of the main characters and story.

More information can be found at

The website has a blog with posts that features interviews with notable people in the Dragon Ball community and fans of the series. It also has articles that reveal the hidden information and sources of inspiration behind Akira Toriyama's masterpiece, Dragon Ball.


Dragon of the ball dao

The Thunder Child


Interview with Derek Padula, author of The Dao of Dragon Ball

About Derek Padula
Derek Padula is a website developer, private Shaolin Gong Fu martial arts instructor, video game designer and owner of Young Forest Games, where he creates "Games with Meaning" for PC and consoles, and is also a journalist for the Epoch Times Newspaper.

He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese from Western Michigan University.

He is also the author of the soon-to-be-published book, The Dao of Dragon Ball: The true history and connections between Dragon Ball and ancient cultures, divine beliefs and the martial arts of the spiritual warrior have never been unveiled. Until now..

Note: We asked Derek to be as detailed as possible in his answers to our questions. Thanks, Derek!

All illustrations retain their copyright and are shown here in low res versions for education, reference and review.

You fell in love with Dragon Ball around the age of 14.I don't remember the exact episode [that I first saw], but it was definitely from the first two seasons of Dragon Ball Z, as these were the only seasons to have been dubbed at the time. The first episode I saw was probably early in the Saiyan Saga when Goku was fighting against Raditz. There was a lot of action.

And the "fake Namek" episodes always come back as a strong memory because they weren't particularly good or important episodes, but they aired them all the time.

What was it about the show that intrigued you at such a young age?So many different aspects coming together, really. The action and intensity, the production quality, the martial arts combat, the characters and the story were all exciting. It was funny too!

I watched the show just about every day for at least 5 years from that point on, and spent a lot of time on the internet looking for more information about the series. Sounds kind of crazy when I say that now, but it was a very, very good show. Addictive, even. I always wanted to find out what happened next, and even when I had the episodes memorized I could still enjoy the intensity and find some new detail I hadn't seen before.

As a kid, what were you like before you saw Dragon Ball?I was in high school and absolutely hated it. Freshman year was the worst year of my life. Didn't really want to be alive at the time.

Luckily a friend of mine was also a big fan of Dragon Ball, and he had the idea of actually practicing a martial art, like in the show. At first I didn't think it was for me, but he convinced me to go to a free Shaolin Kung Fu class and try it out.

I absolutely loved the experience, and it was a life changing event. From that moment onward I became more involved in Chinese martial arts, culture, philosophy, history and life. I later decided to make East Asian Studies my major at Western Michigan University, and Chinese my minor.

Then in 2003 I studied abroad in Beijing to learn Chinese, and trained with a real Shaolin monk and his disciples, and also a TaiJi Straight Sword master. Around the same time I also began practicing the meditation practice known as Falun Dafa and began writing The Dao of Dragon Ball. Everything coincided.

During all of that time I was still enjoying watching the show, and my knowledge of eastern cultures showed me so many aspects of the series I would have otherwise missed. I started writing them down and now here I am with a book.

Did your friend with whom you started training continue on?He dropped out after two years. So did all of my other friends who joined in. But the martial arts are something that stays with you forever, so even if you only experienced it for a little bit, it still leaves an impression. The more you put into it, the deeper the impression.

Have you met other Dragon Ball enthusiasts who have been inspired to walk a similar path to yours?Yes, many! I receive emails and comments on my blog from people who were directly inspired by Dragon Ball to start in martial arts. And I’ve even met people on the street with the same story. I don't drink, but I went to a local bar to get a hamburger and started chatting with the bouncer. Turns out he was inspired by Dragon Ball to take Karate, then MMA, and wanted to get back into his training because it had been a while. There are so many stories out there, and they all started the same way...with Dragon Ball.

It's not the show – if that were the case everyone would be so affected – but something within the individual that is able to be inspired by the showI make an argument in The Dao of Dragon Ball that there is an element inherent to human beings that makes us want to believe in something greater than ourselves. Or the idea that we can be greater than who we currently are. Some people are more in tune with that than others.

A series like Dragon Ball has inspired millions of people across the world to believe in themselves, push past challenges, and go beyond their current self. It also provides a social community that people can belong to, with its own terminology and world to discuss.

Some people are casual fans while others are more hardcore, but the message of Dragon Ball can be received by anybody, regardless of race, gender, creed, or nationality.

It's the number one selling manga series of all time, and the anime and video games were enormously successful. There are a lot of people who have Dragon Ball in their hearts.

Other interests besides Dragon Ball? I'm a freelance web developer, and I used to be employed at a startup in Los Angeles after being a manager at a small web development firm. That requires a lot of time and effort. But I'd rather be a full time writer.

Hopefully The Dao of Dragon Ball sells well and I can keep doing this. I moved to LA from Michigan in order to work in the video games industry. I did that for a few years and then got into the web space, but there's still a part of me that loves games. I think I just love to create and play around. I'm still pretty young at heart.

In terms of manga and anime, the only one I really follow is Naruto, and that's because it's the spiritual successor to Dragon Ball. Its very similar, and I'm considering writing a book about that series next. Maybe I'll call it The Rotating Naruto.

You started studying Shaolin Gong Fu at age 16. The class size varied, but somewhere between 5 and 30 on a given day. I learned about patience, honor, discipline, hard work, and how to push through pain.

The lesson that sticks with me the most though is something that wasn't even taught to me. There was a poster on the wall that said "A Kung Fu man..." and then it went through a list of 10 things that a Kung Fu man was supposed to do or not do. One of them was, "A Kung Fu man does not lie." When I read that it really struck a chord. I swore a vow at that moment to never tell a lie again.

When I started following that vow it was very difficult. It had been so much easier in life to tell white lies or even outright lies. Really makes things go more smoothly, at least in the short term, definitely not the long. By having to be honest with others, I had to be honest with myself. This forced me to become responsible for my actions and words. Because if I did something wrong, I had to be honest about it, look within, and try to do better next time. That was basically the point where I started to cultivate my inner character. It wasn't just a martial art anymore.

The Kung Fu TV series (starring David Carradine]has a unique history, but overall it's great. It introduced Chinese philosophy and culture to a western mainstream audience. In the book I reference quotes from the series a few times.

You discovered Falun Dafa at age 19. Falun Dafa is a meditation and cultivation practice that asks its practitioners to be Honest, Compassionate, and Enduring. It was introduced to China in 1992 by teacher Li Hongzhi and quickly became the most popular meditation practice in modern Chinese history, with estimates of between 30 million and 100 million people practicing, depending on who you ask.

As a result, the Chinese Communist Party outlawed it in 1999, and since then all of the practitioners have been persecuted under a huge campaign of fear, imprisonment, torture, and forced labor. But it's free to practice everywhere else in the world, and is amazingly beneficial.

I've been practicing for 8 years, and honestly, this entire time I've tried to find faults with it, one after another, from many different angles. The bottom line is that I can't. For me its a perfect practice. I really enjoy practicing the exercises, and the teachings help me look within and be a better, more responsible person. When you really do what the teachings say, rather than just analyzing or criticizing them from an outside perspective, they work!

It's easy to judge or think you've got life all figured out, and that other people's faiths or perspectives are weird, but in reality, all of us are making it up as we go along, hoping for the best. We're all suffering together, right?

Falun Dafa gives me a way to ground myself, be tolerant of others, look within and be at peace as I go through life.

You spent a semester in Beijing, China. 4 months, from September to December in 2003. Yeah, I speak Mandarin.

Life in Beijing was very interesting. My study-abroad partners felt it was dirty, and they became homesick very early. And it was exceptionally dirty, especially with the sand flying in from the desert west of Beijing. The air was so thick with smog that during the day you could look directly at the sun and your eyes wouldn't hurt. The sun was just a smudgy orange disc hanging in the sky, and the air around it was brown. Of course not every day was like that. But regardless, I loved it! China is a great place with 5,000 years of culture and history.

The strangest thing I found about being a Caucasian in Beijing was the way they would just stare at me. They would stare for minutes at a time, unwaveringly. I would look directly at them, smile or wave, and there would be no response. It was like they were transfixed at the sight of a young, white man in China.

What was funny was that the Chinese word for America is "Mei Guo" and for American it's "Mei Guo Ren," which means Beautiful Country Person, in that order. So they naturally believe that all Americans are beautiful. I'm an okay looking guy, but I wouldn't call myself beautiful. However, on the days that I stayed up all night studying (or playing video games) and then spent the next day training in Kung Fu for 8 hours in a row, I didn't look so good afterward. Then when somebody new met me for the first time, they would ask if I was British. I'd say no, I'm American, and they would be really surprised. Kind of funny how the stereotypes worked.

Explain some of the tenets of the Dragon Ball TV series I've seen every episode, including all of the feature films and TV specials, and read every issue.

There aren't really any "tenets" per se. But there are some universal themes and messages. For one, the Young Boy (Shonen) spirit. This is about the will and drive of a youthful spirit to be the best it can be, to push past challenges no matter how difficult they may seem, and to endure through impossible odds.

And for me, the series is also about looking within and discovering how to unlock more of your own potential.

There are countless others, and I wrote an entire book about them!

How long have you been working on your book, The Dao of Dragon Ball? I've been working on it for 8 years. It's just such a broad and epic series. There's so much to discuss. And surprisingly, as I wrote the book I kept discovering new things. But just recently I realized that I think I've pretty much researched everything there is to research, and now I'm hunkering down to finish the project as quickly as possible.

The book reveals the complete history of the Dragon Ball series, from its original creation in Japan, to its second wind of success in America, and then abroad. It also uncovers the ancient Chinese and Japanese legends, historical cultures, and martial arts theories that Akira Toriyama used to create the series. I'll show the reader how the martial arts of Dragon Ball are, looking through the lens of eastern culture, entirely possible. In the 80s and early 90s there was an entire science in China dedicated to mind-body research studies, funded by the government.

There's also the social and financial impact, and how the series affected the world of pop culture. Plus a ton more. It's kind of hard to put the book into a specific box or category.

There are several Dragon Ball series In short, the story is about Son Goku, a young martial artist with the dream of becoming more powerful. He encounters different characters along his journey, starts a family, becomes a super powerful warrior who can fly and travel through dimensions, including the afterlife, and overall, becomes a savior of the earth.

As a viewer you get to watch Goku's entire life unfold, one issue or episode after another.

[Note: All of the TV series are synopsized at Wikipedia.]

You are the founder of Young Forest Games. The goal of the company is to create and sell video games with meaning. I had been working in the video game industry for a couple of years and encountered a moral dilemma. As a practitioner of Falun Dafa I am supposed to be compassionate and tolerant, but I was making a violent video game, The Sopranos, at the time. I realized that I didn't want to do that anymore. My dream had always been to start my own company anyway, so that's what I did.

Young Forest Games came from the translation of Shaolin. Shaolin in Chinese means "Young Forest". I thought about calling the company Shaolin Games, but I didn't want to be disrespectful, nor associate myself with the temple, since I wasn't officially part of it.

Young Forest also has a lot of symbolism to it, such as new growth, potential, and rising upward. It described me at the time I founded it, in 2006.

Right now I have a lot of Christian games, but I'd like to expand it, open it up to a larger variety of meaningful games. Ultimately I want it to be a platform and central hub for video games with meaning where you can rate games according to their inherent values and character, not just graphics and gameplay.

I was struck by one of your chapter headings: "Read about the striking similarities and differences between Goku and Superman, the manifestations and diapoles of cultural idealism and masculinity."Sure. Goku and Superman have a lot of similarities. They were both put into space pods as babies, they were both launched into outer space toward the earth as their home planet exploded, they were both adopted and raised as earthlings, and they were both super powerful, even messianic figures. In this sense they also share a lot in common with mythical, legendary or historical figures, such as Moses.

In that chapter I go into great detail about the similarities and differences between the two, show the reader the philosophy of a superhero and what makes Goku so unique.

I do not talk about which one of them would win in a fight! That's not what the book is about.

You write for the Epoch TimesThe Epoch Times is an independent daily newspaper in New York, with offices and weekly papers located around the world. They were founded as a result of the human rights tragedies in China against Falun Dafa practitioners, and then grew through volunteering and grass roots efforts.

There was no free press in China, so they created one. It's now a huge international paper with offices in over 30 countries.

I'm a freelance reporter for the Arts and Entertainment section. I cover films, theater and culture. I've been focused on completing the book recently and haven't had time to contribute, but I'll get back into it soon.

From left to right, seated behind the table: Chris Sabat, Sean Schemmel and Justin Cook,
voice actors on the animated TV series Dragonball Z, at the New York Comic Con, October 15, 2011.
© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons.

You've contributed to video games such as Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, From Russia with Love, and Puzzles of Life. On Pitfall and From Russia with Love I was a video game quality assurance analyst. In other words, a game tester. I played the same game for more than 9 hours a day, over and over again, trying to break it and reporting the problems. The first was at Activision and the second was at Electronic Arts. I also tested Tony Hawk Underground (THUG).

Puzzles of Life is a game I created from scratch. It's a very detailed jigsaw puzzle game that shows you the entirety of life as we know it, from stars and galaxies, to the earth, and down into the microcosm.

I created the entire concept from the ground up, hired some developers, received help from friends and family, original music from Jeffrey Michael at Fireheart Music, and artist interns from Westwood College. It's a pretty good game, and I have big plans for the IP in the future that are currently on the backburner until the book is done.

Anything about Dragon Ball you’d like to talk about that I haven’t asked you?If you're a fan of anime, manga, Japanese pop culture, martial arts, world history, philosophy, religion, sociology, or all of the above, then you'll have a great time reading it!

Thank you for the interview!

Click on the icons for new features in The Thunder Child.
Radiation Theater: 1950s Sci Fi Movies Discussion Boards
The Sand Rock Sentinel: Ripped From the Headlines of 1950s Sci Fi Films




Derek Padula is the world’s foremost professional Dragon Ball scholar. He illuminates the real-world historical, spiritual, and philosophical culture of Dragon Ball to enable readers to better understand the series and empower themselves on their own life journeys. He is:

  • The author of 9 non-fiction Dragon Ball books.
  • The creator of The Dao of Dragon Ball
  • The screenplay writer of the Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope live-action web series, which described as, “Finally, the live-action Dragon Ball Z we deserve!”

His books include the #1 best-selling Dragon Ball Z “It’s Over 9,000!” When Worldviews CollideDragon Soul: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Fandom, and the 7-volume Dragon Ball Culture series.

Reviewers praise the books as, “A true masterpiece. Highly recommended!” “Essential reading for Dragon Ball fans.” “The incredible insights will change the way you view the show forever.” And, “For Dragon Ball fans who think they know everything.”

Derek works with the official Dragon Ball voice actors to write his books, including the voices of Goku and Vegeta (Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat), as well as marketing and production professionals at FUNimation and Shonen Jump.

He has consistently discovered lost Dragon Ball lore and shaken up the Dragon Ball fandom. For example, in 2016 Derek received an apology from the screenplay writer of Dragonball Evolution, where he expressed regret for the way he wrote the script and promised to do better moving forward. This shocked fans and Hollywood alike.

He is a local Grand Rapids author, with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and Chinese language from Western Michigan University. He is a former Shaolin Kung Fu instructor and current Falun Dafa meditation practitioner. He has written about the culture and philosophy of Dragon Ball since 2003, and is an expert on Dragon Ball, martial arts, and Eastern philosophy.

Derek has been described by his fans as, “a 21st century J.R.R. Tolkien of DBZ, and a man of honor and integrity.”

Derek Padula’s books are available in paperback, hardback, and ebook. They can be purchased on his website,Amazon,Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo Reader, Bookmate, 24 Symbols, and in bookstores, libraries, K-12 schools and libraries throughout North America, and in Europe, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, China, and India.


You will also be interested:

REVIEWED BY:Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION:The true history and connections between Dragon Ball and ancient cultures, divine beliefs and the martial arts of the spiritual warrior have never been unveiled. Until now.

Finally, a blog that reveals the secrets of Dragon Ball.

MY REVIEW:If you like Dragon Ball, you'll love this blog. For those of you who have never heard of Dragon Ball:
Dragon Ball is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1984 to 1995; later the 519 individual chapters were published into 42 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. Dragon Ball was inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. It follows the adventures of Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood as he trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven mystical orbs known as the Dragon Balls, which can summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Along his journey, Goku makes several friends and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls for their own desires.

Since its release, Dragon Ball has become one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time. The manga's 42 volumes have sold over 152 million copies in Japan and more than 200 million copies worldwide. Reviewers have praised the art, characterization, and humor of the story. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest manga series ever made, with many manga artists citing Dragon Ball as a source of inspiration for their own now popular works. The anime, particularly Dragon Ball Z, is also highly popular in various countries and was arguably one of the most influential in greatly boosting the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture.

The author of this blog is something of an experton the subject, and indeed is working on a book on the subject, also called The Dao of Dragon Ball.

Here's a bit more of the author's bio:
Padula is a website developer, private Shaolin Gong Fu martial arts instructor, video game designer and owner of Young Forest Games, where he creates "Games with Meaning" for PC and consoles, and is also a journalist for the Epoch Times Newspaper.

Derek has been a fan of Dragon Ball since the first two seasons of Dragon Ball Z aired on television in America over a decade ago (1997), and has been watching the anime and reading the manga ever since. He majored in East Asian Studies and saw a lot of correlations between Buddhism, Daoism, and Japanese culture within Dragon Ball and his daily life. This led him to write The Dao of Dragon Ball.

Derek is also a Falun Dafa practitioner and believes strongly in it's Fa (Law).

He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese from Western Michigan University.

He has contributed to the following video games:
-"Tony Hawk Under Ground (T.H.U.G.)"
-"Pitfall: The Lost Expedition"
-"James Bond: 007: From Russia With Love"
-"The SIMS 2: Holiday Pack"
-"Puzzles of Life"
-"The Sopranos"
He is a board member of the Westwood College Student Advisory Board Game Design Curriculum of Los Angeles and is on standby at ITT Technical Institute Torrance campus as an Adjunct Professor of Multimedia.

Check out this blog!

Sample post:

Goku’s Simple Life
Goku lives a simple life.

Like a wandering pilgrim, Goku’s only possessions are a martial arts uniform and occasionally the nyoi bo staff.

Goku is almost single mindedly focused on his martial arts cultivation.

Chi-Chi handles all of the domestic affairs, including the caring of their house, the monetary concerns, and the raising of children.

This reminded me of my own life and how it is a bit too complicated.

By an average person’s standard my life may seem rather simple: An average guy with an apartment and some stuff. There are also career, family, social relationships, time, personal projects, and trying to achieve many things simultaneously. Perhaps too many.

In regard to physical stuff in particular, at times all of the external content can feel a little heavy, because each one of those items is connected to my emotions. Each material item, when picked up, transports my memory back 5, 10, in some cases even 15 years. They all carry emotional weight. An outsider cannot see or feel this.

I recently read a book called The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta, and it emphasized the importance of simplifying our lives.

I also read a blog post on Man vs. Debt that presented the idea of taking inventory of all the items in your possession, one by one, and the benefit of the process.

So that’s what I did.

Taking Stock and Letting Go
I counted every single item in my home and car: Every spoon, every pencil, every piece of clothing, and every game, miniature and cable.

They were recorded by hand and then entered into a spreadsheet (here). It was an exhausting process.

The end result was 1,706 items.

The number was surprising. How could I own so much?

When I looked at the spreadsheet of all the items from a zoomed out perspective, it seemed to almost amount to the culmination of my external worth. As if this was the entirety of my life.

But I knew this wasn’t true.

What would I be without all of these things? Would I still be me?

Yes. And perhaps even more so.

During the taking of inventory I threw some items away and designated others for donation. I donated three bags of clothes, electronics, and other items to Goodwill.

As time goes on, unwanted books and other items will be sold or donated. Why keep what has already been utilized?

There’s a story from Buddhism that states that once you’ve ridden your hand crafted boat to the other shore of nirvana, it is important to remember not to be attached to the boat. It was a beautiful boat and served you well. It was the vehicle that made your journey across the ocean possible. But now that you’ve made it this far, it’s time to let that vehicle go. Otherwise you cannot move forward.

Some items were easy to let go, while others were difficult. For example, my DBZ t-shirts, which I had worn since high school.

It was hard to look at each item practically, and ask if I really needed it or would use it in the future. Often I discovered that the item had been with me all these years for purely sentimental reasons.

Ultimately it is the attachment to the items that matter. Not the physical items themselves. Without attachments, anything can be let go if it’s no longer needed. Likewise, without attachments, the amount or value of material items isn’t important. Ideally, everything we own can be made of gold, yet we are not attached.

The entire process was liberating, as it allowed me to take stock of life, internally as well as externally. It was empowering to realize what I have available, and to control things, rather than have things control me.

To gain, one must lose. Because there is more empty space, I feel freed up and lighter in spirit.

Imagine how it must feel to be like Goku, as described in the final episode of Dragon Ball GT:

Full of joy and care free.

Gentle, with a good heart.

I recommend that you try this activity for yourself. Begin with a single section of a room and expand from there.

Tackle life with as much energy as Goku, and you’ll be sure to succeed.

--Gen Fukunaga Hints at More DBZ
--Dragon Ball Cosplay at Anime Expo 2011
--Dragonball Book Review – The Dragonball Z Legend: The Quest Continues
--Dragonball Book Review – Pojo’s Unofficial Dragonball Z Cards Simplified: A Player’s Guide
--Dragonball Book Review – Dragonball Z: An Unauthorized Guide
--Dragonball Book Review – Dragonball Z Extreme
--Dragonball Book Review – Pojo’s Unofficial Total Dragonball Z

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out my kindle BOOKS!:
Whose Body, by Dorothy Sayers (the Annotated Edition)The Coldest Equations (science fiction)
The Lady and the Tiger...Moth

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