Dragon Ball started in 1984 (the franchise).
Dragon Ball lead the way before the world was introduced to Dragon Ball Z in 1989.
Ever since this anime has led the way in Shounen for:
And everything you see in the Shounen genre in 2019.
It’s all thanks to Dragon Ball Z’s insane growth, popularity, and stunning achievements in the anime industry.
Naruto on the other hand started back in 1997-1999+. And gained major traction in the early 2000’s of the anime industry.
It’s now become one of the top-selling anime and manga of all time.
But Dragon Ball’s franchise will always be bigger than Naruto
Notice how I said bigger, NOT better.
There is a difference.
I’m not here to debate the quality of each series.
But I will speak on why Dragon Ball Z is bigger than Naruto
1. Dragon Ball Z is the Godfather of Shounen
“Do it first, or do it different.” – Unknown
Dragon Ball Z was the first Shounen anime to gain traction on a global level.
There isn’t an anime in history that did it like DBZ, especially not during the time that it happened.
You could argue that DBZ had good timing. And I’d agree.
The 1980’s and 90’s was a time of explosive growth for the anime industry.
It’s the era that changed the entire anime industry.
Because the Dragon Ball franchise inspired modern-day Shounen, plus other Shounen in the 1990’s and 2000’s, it’s only natural it’s more popular.
Or in this case – more popular than Naruto.
Dragon Ball Z had a head start and the timing was perfect.
Had Naruto started within the same era and time frame, I doubt it would have taken off the way it did for reasons not worth mentioning here.
This has given Dragon Ball Z and the franchise an unfair advantage when it comes to popularity.
That comes with being an OG in the game.
2. Dragon Ball Super BROKE anime streaming services
Dragon Ball Z with its endless amount of movies, and the series itself was successful as it is.
In fact – the franchise took a long break and was STILL killing it in mainstream media.
But with the introduction of Dragon Ball Super, and the legendary fight that BROKE services like Crunchyroll, Funimation, and many more, it’s no wonder its popularity has risen again.
This was a big deal.
This fight between Goku and Jiren single-handedly punished tons of streaming services, making their servers “struggle” to keep up with demand.
Naruto’s new “Boruto” by itself hasn’t done anything comparable. And never will.
I’ll get into that a little later.
3. Goku has his own day called “Goku Day” on May 9th in Japan
This might seem small or worthless, but we’re talking about popularity so it’s 100% relevant.
In 2015 Japan recognized “Goku Day” as an official anniversary in Japan. Dedicated to Goku and the love Japan has for Goku’s legendary status.
This is the equivalent of “Google” in the 2000’s being added to the Oxford Dictionary as a verb.
Good luck waiting for Naruto or Boruto to receive the same treatment.
It’ll likely never happen within our lifetimes. And that only adds to DBZ’s popularity over Naruto.
4. Dragon Ball Super is a better “upgrade” than Boruto
If you wanna use MAL ratings to make a point, that becomes clear when you look at Boruto and DB Super.
- Dragon Ball Super = 7.62/10.
- Boruto = 6.44/10.
6.44 is a horrible rating for any anime. In fact – not even anime shows a lot of people consider “bad” are anywhere near a 6/10.
And by Naruto or even DBZ standards – this is a poor rating that speaks volumes (as bad as MAL ratings can be).
And even if we ignore MAL stats when talking about popularity, the anime community has spoken.
I’ve followed both anime shows in the community and overwhelmingly – people are disappointed by Boruto’s performance.
Most Naruto fans understand why it exists, but they’d rather an extension of the Naruto series than endorse Boruto.
My point is: Boruto’s performance isn’t helping the Naruto franchise that much.
At least compared to the Dragon Ball Franchise. That’s why DB is bigger.
DB Super is performing better.
Plus the new movies like Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan (an extension of DB Super) has been so successful that the franchise’s growth is unstoppable.
Naruto is a little brother at this point and always has been.
5. Dragon Ball Z created a movement like no other
It’s mad what Dragon Ball Z has done. Especially in the WEST, though I know its influence is bigger than just the west.
One aspect we can thank DB for is the influence its had on gym enthusiasts and fitness trainers.
People literally look to Dragon Ball Z for fitness motivation, inspiration, and life lessons to take from the series.
There are personal trainers like JaxBlade who take a lot from the DBZ series as the anime has created a movement in the fitness space.
Some personal trainers even base the names of their works outs (or gyms) on names taken from Dragon Ball itself.
This movement stretches far outside of Japan and the amount of people it affects is endless.
And then there’s Dragon Ball’s influence on Hip Hop and music.
I can name rappers all day who love Dragon Ball Z and reference it in their music.
And rappers who are inspired by it in their lyrics, or their lives in general.
That’s not to say Naruto hasn’t done the same thing, just not at the level Dragon Ball’s franchise has.
That’s why DB is still the bigger, more popular franchise.
And let’s not forget – DBZ is bigger regardless of Naruto having more episodes in total.
Dragon Ball outsells Naruto in total sales as well.