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10 anime Dragon Ball Z fans should watch

Son Goku, protagonist of Dragon Ball Z, as seen in the series' anime (Image via Toei Animation)
Son Goku, protagonist of Dragon Ball Z, as seen in the series' anime (Image via Toei Animation)
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Joseph Brogan

The Dragon Ball Z series is one of the most internationally popular and critically-acclaimed anime series in the history of the medium. One of Dragon Ball Z's key draws is its simplistic plot and story design, which lets casual viewers to hop in at any time while yet rewarding hardcore viewers with overarching plot-lines.

While Dragon Ball Z’s worldwide popularity, acclaim, and success will likely never be surpassed, the core tenets of the series can indeed be reproduced.

Here are 10 anime series every Dragon Ball Z fan should try if they liked the original, ranked in no particular order.


YuYu Hakusho and 9 other anime Dragon Ball Z fans should watch

1) Baki

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The Baki series follows the young Baki Hanma on his journey to become a strong fighter in his own right. His affluent mother, Emi Akezawa, funds his training in the hopes that her son will become as powerful a fighter as his father, Yujiro Hanma. However, he outgrows traditional training methods near the start of the series.

This prompts the young Baki to follow his father’s training path, fighting countless powerful fighters from all around the world. Much like Dragon Ball Z, the series’ main focus is on providing blood-pumping, high-octane action above all else. Baki does this to an exceptional degree, and is one of the most entertaining combat shonen out there.


2) Kengan Ashura

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Kengan Ashura takes a deep dive into the world of gladiator arenas and matches, where wealthy business owners and merchants put everything on the line. These high-profile individuals find gladiators of their own to fight in unarmed, winner-takes-all Kengan matches.

The series follows Yamashita Kazuo, a Japanese salaryman, and Tokita Ohma, who is the chosen fighter for Kazuo’s company as he enters the upcoming Kengan match. As with Baki and Dragon Ball Z, Kengan Ashura prioritizes delivering as much action-packed fights as they possibly can, pushing anything not integrally necessary to the story to the periphery.


3) Record of Ragnarok

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Record of Ragnarok focuses on the conflict of humanity versus gods, with the latter deciding that the former is irredeemable after 7 million years of existence, and should go extinct. At this juncture, a Valkyrie called Brunhilde proposes that a tournament be held to give humanity one last chance. If humanity earns seven wins in the battle of Ragnarok, they’re spared extinction.

The series only has one season thus far, but will more likely than not release a second in the near future. The series’ tournament-fighting essence is reminiscent of Dragon Ball Z, except with higher stakes and a different setting. With amazing results, Record of Ragnarok stresses action and combat over anything else.


4) Hajime no Ippo

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Hajime no Ippo follows the eponymous Ippo Makunouchi, who begins the series as a shy high-school student who is unable to make friends. He eventually makes his way into Kamogawa Gym, where a frustration-releasing sandbag exercise reveals Ippo's innate boxing talent. Thus begins Ippo's passion for the sport and aspiration to become a champion boxer.

The series is one of the longest-running shonen manga in history, focused on both character development and professional boxing action. It’s somewhat more plot-heavy than Dragon Ball Z, but the series nevertheless has enough action to be an instant recommendation for any fan of the combat series which started it all.


5) YuYu Hakusho

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YuYu Hakusho follows Yusuke Urameshi, who loses his life one day in an uncharacteristic act of selflessness, saving a young boy from a truck. As a reward for his good deeds, he is given a second chance at life, which he earns and embraces. He now works as a Spirit Detective, investigating paranormal matters in both the mortal and afterlife alongside new friends.

The series, like Hajime no Ippo, is slightly more plot-heavy than Dragon Ball Z while still including lots of action scenes. Many of the fights in the series take place in the setting of high-stakes tournament events, though not all of them do. Nonetheless, it's one of the most action-packed shonen of all time, making it an excellent choice for Dragon Ball fans.


6) Bleach

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Bleach is one of the 'Big Three' shonen anime which rose to popularity in the wake of Dragon Ball Z’s influence. The series follows protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki, who one day becomes a supernatural warrior called a Soul Reaper by pure chance. Eventually, he becomes embroiled in a conflict against former Soul Reaper Sosuke Aizen, and must stop the traitor for the sake of his world, as well as Soul Society.

Bleach eliminates as many extraneous components of its story as possible in order to focus as much on action and stakes as feasible. The series was highly influenced by Dragon Ball author Akira Toriyama's hit series, which can be seen throughout Ichigo's adventures. Bleach is a must-see for every fan of Goku's Super Saiyan adventures.


7) One-Punch Man

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Although a hit or miss for fans of the pop culture phenomenon, One-Punch Man is nevertheless a worthwhile recommendation for fans of Dragon Ball Z. The satirical series follows the protagonist Saitama, who is so powerful that he can defeat any opponent with a single punch. The series follows his and his friends' adventures as they work for the Hero Association in a hilarious and action-packed manner.

As a satirical series, One-Punch Man takes a jab at series like Z, where the protagonist seems to always somehow overpower anyone and everyone who fights him. For some Z fans, the series is a complete miss, with its short bursts of action not enough to hold their attention. For others with a special kind of love for the series, however, One-Punch Man is a fantastic watch which demonstrates a new take on an old favorite.


8) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure follows the multi-generational and, later on, multi-versal adventures of the Joestar family, whose members often endowed the eponymous nickname of JoJo. Their struggles are mainly against the evil Dio Brando and his followers, who seek revenge on the Joestar family by any means necessary.

It's a natural fit for Dragon Ball Z fans, with a comparable ratio of story and character development to action in terms of screen time. The series is aimed towards a specific demographic, but every Z lover should give it a shot.


9) Naruto

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Like Bleach, Naruto is also a part of the Big Three shonen anime series which rose to popularity and fame in the wake of Dragon Ball Z’s original run. The series follows its eponymous shinobi protagonist, who is ostracized by his village for reasons unknown to him. His goal is to become the village’s leader, called Hokage, which will force everyone to acknowledge him.

His journey to this lofty goal is immensely action-packed, striking a perfect balance between story and character development and high-octane action. While not as heavily influenced by Akira Toriyama’s story as Bleach was, the impact Z has on Naruto is still visible and apparent, making it a must-watch for any fan of Son Goku’s Super Saiyan adventures.


10) Dragon Ball Super

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Finally, Dragon Ball Super serves as a sequel to Z, and is undoubtedly a must-watch for fans of the original series. It continues Son Goku’s adventures, bridging the gap from Kid Buu’s defeat to Z’s epilogue episode, showcasing his godly adventures in between. It even features a brand new line of Super Saiyan transformations, as well as something even more powerful later on.

Supervised by Akira Toriyama, the anime contains almost the same amount of action as Dragon Ball Z but incorporates more comedy and character development. The TV anime series was highly praised during its release, and the films which have come out since have received incredible attention and hype. Any Z fan owes it to themselves, as well as Toriyama, to at least give Super a chance.


Edited by Babylona Bora
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