Dragon Ball Z is one of the most iconic anime of all time. There's no shortage of reasons why fans all over the world have bonded over this classic series, and the protagonist, Son Goku, is practically the face of shonen anime. Its incredible fight scenes inspired an entire generation of anime lovers to attempt Kamehameha attacks, while the rich diverse cast of characters is both fun and compelling to watch.
As a franchise that's been around for decades, there are plenty of episodes to go around, but sadly, unless someone collects all seven Dragon Balls to wish more episodes into existence, there are only so many hours of Dragon BallZ one can watch before running out of material. The good news is that there are a number of other amazing anime which the show's fans will absolutely love.
Updated on September 8th, 2022 by Kennedy King: As more and more years pass following the conclusion of Dragon Ball Z, spiritual successors to the series continue to crop up. The iconic shonen's high-stakes battles and emphasis on power-scaling laid the groundwork for numerous tropes still commonly used in the genre, and as a result, there are plenty of shows released since its debut that should pique the interests of its long-time fans. Since the end of Goku's adventures in Dragon Ball Z, multiple series bearing distinct similarities have debuted, a few of which are exceptionally worthy of being mentioned.
20 Jujutsu Kaisen's Balance Of Comedy & Violence Makes It A Must-Watch
Released in 2020, Jujutsu Kaisen follows the adventures of its protagonist, Yuji Itadori, as he becomes entrenched in the never-ending war between Jujutsu Sorcerers and Curses. With its solid cast of characters, intense combat, and refreshing comedy scenes, this shonen title shares plenty of similarities with its predecessor, Dragon Ball Z.
Praise for Jujutsu Kaisen has been high. The series took home Crunchyroll's "Anime of the Year" award in 2020, and in 2021, the series even received a feature-length, prequel film. Given Dragon Ball's increased emphasis on canonical film releases, this is just one more similarity between the two titles that should incentivize fans of Dragon Ball Z to give this show a chance.
19 Tokyo Revengers & Dragon Ball Z Both Explore The Conventions Of Masculinity
At first glance, Tokyo Revengers might not seem to have that much in common with the adventures of Goku. Whereas Dragon Ball Z heavily leans into its fictional elements, Tokyo Revengers instead presents a much more believable setting, even after factoring in its frequent usage of time travel.
However, while the settings of these narratives might be significantly different, there is one overarching concept that unites them - their exploration, both direct and indirect, of masculinity. While all types of viewers can enjoy either show, the Dragon Ball franchise played a huge role in creating the shonen genre, which is specifically geared towards younger males. Since Tokyo Revengers heavily features Japanese boys' gangs, it naturally follows that there is significant overlap between their appeals.
18 Rurouni Kenshin Provides Context For The Mid-'90s Anime Landscape
Younger fans of the shonen genre may not be familiar with Rurouni Kenshin, but when Dragon Ball Z's original run came to an end in January 1996, this samurai-centric series was debuting just in time to carry its torch. As one of the more critically acclaimed shonen titles of the '90s, Rurouni Kenshin is a fantastic option for those who want to familiarize themselves with the anime landscape circa Dragon Ball Z's conclusion.
As alluded to, the series focuses on the adventures of a samurai named Kenshin Himura as he navigates the landscape of Meiji-era Japan. Its adventurous tone, unique aesthetic, and fantastic characters should entertain even the most skeptical of viewers.
17 Black Clover & Dragon Ball Z Both Stress The Need For Determination
Pushing past one's limits is a constant theme throughout Dragon Ball Z, but there is arguably another show that explores this topic to an even greater extent - Black Clover. Both shonen heavily emphasize the need for grit and determination in the face of great evil, creating a natural synergy for fans of the two series.
Black Clover asserted itself as one of the giants of shonen media in the late 2010s, and despite its current production hiatus, the hype around the series is at an all-time high. Asta and the Black Bulls have won over enough fans to earn their own film, which is set to release in 2023.
16 Demon Slayer Carried The Shonen Legacy Into The Modern-Era
In every sense, Demon Slayer is representative of the growth that has occurred in the shonen genre since the debut of Dragon Ball Z. Its nuanced storytelling devices, creative combat mechanics, and absolutely stellar animation are all improvements upon the formula developed by Dragon Ball Z, and as a result, it is an absolute must-watch for anyone who appreciates Goku and the Z Fighters.
While Demon Slayer may lean a bit more into horror-related tropes, it still juxtaposes levity and seriousness in a way similar to Akira Toriyama's beloved series. Its record-breaking film, Mugen Train, is all the evidence needed to justify checking this show out.
15 Fairy Tail & Dragon Ball Z Both Feature Dragons
The hunt for the mythic Dragon Balls is the catalyst that gave the Dragon Ball franchise its name. When all seven Dragon Balls are gathered together, the magical dragon Shenron is summoned and grants one wish.
In the fantasy series Fairy Tail, the characters travel through the realm of Earth Land, and, eventually, they search for the dragon Igneel. Beyond this similarity, the characters in this series demonstrate a lot of the classic shonen fighting styles and humor that can also be found in Dragon Ball Z. Fairy Tail also has a spectacular way of handling power-scaling as the characters get stronger.
14 My Hero Academia Fully Explores The Superhero Genre
Dragon Ball Z is all about heroes using their awesome martial arts and ki abilities to protect the world from villains. The Z Fighters have their own costumes, just as the villains do, with the Z Fighters' orange gi's and the armor worn by Frieza’s soldiers amounting to uniforms. With costumed heroes and villains using superpowers, Dragon Ball Z is basically just one big superhero drama.
By far the most popular superhero anime is My Hero Academia. The villains are perfectly over-the-top, the fight scenes are out of this world, and their haircuts have plenty of spiky tips. While it is quite distinctly its own thing and has a quirky approach to superpowers, My Hero Academia is something most Dragon Ball Z fans will love.
13 Sword Art Online's Main Cast Emulates The Teamwork Of The Z Fighters
The anime Sword Art Online is set in an online VR game world, so all the powers that characters would have in a fantasy action series instead belong to their avatars in the world of the game. However, since every player is trapped in the game’s world, they live every day as their empowered in-game avatars.
This series features a desperate struggle for survival and focuses on building teams of skilled fighters to deal with threats, both of which are integral elements of Dragon Ball Z. Many of Sword Art Online's stories will feel familiar to Dragon Ball fans.
12 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure & Dragon Ball Z Are Shonen Giants
Regardless of whatever else can be said about it, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has certainly earned the middle word in its name. Its strange nature is one reason that it has been received so well. Its characters, fight scenes, and art are all wonderful, and it remains thoroughly original.
No anime will ever do martial arts ki attacks quite like Dragon Ball Z, so JoJo’s goes in a different direction. Using psychic and spiritual manifestations called Stands to do the fighting, it creates the same sort of superpowered action that Dragon Ball Z fans will love but in an all-new way.
11 Hunter X Hunter's Protagonist Is Just As Fun As Goku
There are a lot of similarities between Hunter x Hunter and Dragon Ball Z, including the fact that its protagonist, Gon Freecss, has hair that looks suspiciously Saiyan. In reality, Gon’s father is a Hunter - someone who can track down wild beasts and hidden treasures and who possesses unbelievable abilities through the manipulation of their Nen, which is basically just ki.
Gon sets out to become a Hunter, training to pass the annual exam. Hunter x Hunter's individual episodes are incredibly enjoyable, but the real pleasure comes from sitting through its longer story arcs and watching Gon grow and meet new friends and overcome adversity along his journey.
10 Naruto's Own Shonen Tropes Rival That Of Dragon Ball Z
Naruto is the story of its titular ninja hero, who had the spirit of the legendary Nine-Tailed Fox sealed away within him as an infant. While it seems quite different from Dragon Ball Z on the surface, both anime have a number of elements in common, including epic action scenes, visually stunning energy attacks, and incredibly driven protagonists who dress in orange and never stop eating.
Beyond the martial arts fantasy, what makes Naruto such a great series is that its protagonist is earnest, a little naive, and determined to overcome great obstacles - all qualities he has in common with Son Goku.
9 Outlaw Star's '90s Roots Shine Through
Outlaw Star, a beloved space western from the late '90s, tells the story of the outlaw Gene Starwind as he travels through space with his crew while battling pirates, aliens, and murderous cyborgs. Its balance of side-splitting comedy and explosive action scenes is what makes this such a great series for Dragon Ball fans.
While Gene Starwind is nowhere near as powerful as any Saiyan, to the point that even Yamcha could take him in a fight, he is the ultimate underdog, relying on his wits and sheer grit to best his opponents. Throughout most of the series, the cast searches for the Galactic Leyline, a nexus of immense power and enough wealth to make wishes come true.
8 Tenchi Muyo! & Dragon Ball Z Feel Like Anime Classics Upon Rewatch
There have been several Tenchi Muyo! series, starting with the original OVA, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohko!, the series that introduced its main characters - the human boy, Tenchi Masaki, and the drunken demonic scientist space pirate, Ryoko Hakubi. With aliens, ancient mystical powers, and offbeat characters clashing with one another, there is a lot of classic anime goodness to love.
What separates this series from many others is its complex character dynamics. From Tenchi's relationship with his father to the various interactions between the women of the series, this drama is notable for its emotional complexity. Of course, it also has something every great anime needs - shiny energy effects lighting up the screen.
7 Magi: The Labyrinth Of Magic Also Draws Inspiration From Myth & Legend
Inspired by the Arabian tales of 1001 Nights, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic stars the young boy Aladdin and the runaway prince Alibaba. As a Magi, Aladdin is able to use magic by calling upon the powers of the Rukhs. Meanwhile, Alibaba returns home to his kingdom and begins to fight for the betterment of his people against his corrupt brother and a horde of predatory bandits.
By taking inspiration from Middle Eastern folktales, the series reinterprets various classic anime motifs with breathtaking visual effects and unique cultural perspectives, similar to Akira Toriyama's flagship series. The good-natured optimism of the main characters and high-stakes action scenes will also delight Dragon Ball fans.
6 Bleach Took Over As One Of Shonen's "Big Three"
Bleach follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki, a boy who gains the powers of a Soul Reaper from a Shinigami woman known as Rukia Kuchiki. Throughout the show, the two hunt malevolent spirits called Hollows. It soon joined both Naruto and One Piece to become one of the "Big Three" of shonen anime.
Despite its supernatural monsters and the characters who gain the fantastic powers necessary to defeat them, Bleach doesn't feel the need to dwell in misery, allowing it to simultaneously be fun and serious in its narrative. There is also a reverence for the dead, which is rare among anime with plots centered on fighting spirits with magic weapons.
5 Inuyasha's Mysticism Harks Back To The Original Dragon Ball
It is rare that a series can simultaneously balance contemporary perspectives with stories set in the distant past, but this shonen anime does it masterfully. Set in Japan's Warring States Period, the series follows high school girl Kagome Higurashi after she travels back in time and encounters the titular half-demon, Inuyasha.
Most of the series follows the two traversing the demon-filled lands of feudal Japan as they hunt shards of a shattered mystic gemstone. The show's mix of action, fantasy, horror, and romance offers something for everyone. However, it is the hunt for shards of a mystic artifact that will feel most familiar to anime fans whose favorite show involves the search for the seven Dragon Balls.
4 Sailor Moon Mirrors Dragon Ball Z's Atmosphere Despite Being Shojo
There were two major anime that dominated the '90s - Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. Some fans have trivialized these shows by suggesting that one is for boys and the other is for girls. On a superficial level, there is some truth to this, but upon a deeper examination, it's clear that both are excellent series with universal appeal.
As the most famous magical shojo anime of all time and one of the first animated shows to feature a cast of LGBTQ+ characters, Sailor Moon is historically significant. More importantly, the show's story, action, and humor all will resonate with fans of Dragon Ball Z.
3 One Piece & Dragon Ball Z Might Be The Most Legendary Shonen Ever
One Piece is a fantasy series about a group of pirates hunting the show's titular treasure. It stars iconic protagonist Monkey D. Luffy, a man capable of stretching his body using the powers of his Devil Fruit. This high-seas fantasy adventure is just plain fun and has some of the most imaginative characters in anime.
Sailing with his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy is determined to become the Pirate King. Similar to Dragon Ball Z, One Piece centers around a classic quest plot, its larger-than-life action, and a fun fantasy setting that will keep fans coming back, invoking the creativity of older shows that did not feel so compelled to limit the magic of their stories by imposing realism onto them.
2 One Punch Man Parodies The Tropes Created By Dragon Ball Z
One Punch Man is both the spiritual successor and antithesis of Dragon Ball Z. The protagonist of this show, Saitama, is the strongest person on Earth. As such, he is bored out of his mind due to a lack of worthy opponents. The series takes as much inspiration from American superhero stories as it does from classic anime.
In a couple of noteworthy scenes, One Punch Man parodies Dragon Ball Z, giving a nod to its spiritual successor. There is no shortage of action here, but the greatest battles of the series are the characters' complicated psychological struggles.
1 Yu Yu Hakusho Shares Much Of Its Fanbase With Dragon Ball Z
Similar to Bleach in many respects, the '90s classic Yu Yu Hakusho features protagonist Yusuke Urameshi, a high school delinquent who is killed when he saves a child from oncoming traffic, only to be given a second shot at life by a woman claiming to be a Grim Reaper.
Yusuke becomes an underworld detective, fighting demons and other evil spirits. With martial arts tournaments, mystical power attacks, and former enemies growing to become close allies, this anime has a lot for Dragon Ball Z fans to love. In fact, Yu Yu Hakusho hits every story beat needed to make a great shonen series.
NEXT: All Of Goku's Forms In Dragon Ball, Ranked By Impact