What starts off as a bizarre re-telling of the Chinese legend "Journey to the West" quickly transforms into pure madness. On a twisted version of Earth, the ridiculously strong child-fighter Son Gokû is joined by several companions in the quest for the seven "dragon balls", which, when assembled, will summon the Grand Dragon, who will grant the bearer of the balls one single wish. The problem is, the Grand Dragon can only be invoked once a year, and villains battle Goku and friends constantly for possession of the Dragon Balls
Goku is 12 years old at the beginning of Dragon Ball. He tells Bulma he is 14 but later confesses he didn't know how to count properly at first.
When Master Roshi is introduced he knows nothing about the Dragon Balls. Yet later in the series, he tells Goku and company an extremely detailed story about their origin.
[Japanese opening song] Singer: Grab them in the hands! Dragon Ball! / One of the world's most thrilling secrets / Hunt those down! Dragon Ball! / One of the world's most pleasant miracles / This world is a huge treasure island / That's right, right now, Adventure! / The chest is tightened excitedly in love, dreaming lots of various colors / Somewhere in this world it's glowing / Let's go and find those, boy, striking out the ghosts and goblins / We'll also fly on the cloud machine today / Let's try, try, try, mystical adventure / Across the sky and over the mountains / Let's fly, fly, fly, great adventure / The wonderful trip has begun! / Grasp them in your hands! Dragon Ball! / One of the world's most tough chances / Chase those down! Dragon Ball! / One of the world's most enjoyable dramas / This world is a huge treasure island / That's right, right now, Adventure!
The closing credits are a montage of images based on covers from the "Dragon Ball" manga.
The French version, distributed across most of Europe during the 90s, reinterpreted or outright deleted several scenes in an effort to make the series suitable for their intended audience, young kids. Most famously, much of the perverted antics of Master Roshi and a great deal of crass jokes were rewritten, but the animation was often left intact. This has lead to the animation at times clearly showing that the characters were thinking "dirty" thoughts, even though the dialogue itself was more kid-friendly. For example, Yamcha's fear of seeing naked women was twisted into him being afraid of shampoo. However, several similar gags were actually kept and only slightly toned down.