Discover the history behind Japanese Anime favourite Dragon Ball Z, thanks to exciting acquisitions to our World Cultures collection. 

A woman is bending down looking at lots of anime objects on a table in a museum.

Anawara and the anime display

I am a big fan of Japanese anime and Dragon Ball Z in particular. After discussion with the world cultures curator Antonia we took a proposal to the Collections Development Committee that Leeds acquire a Dragon Ball Z Cell Saga poster, along with a Goku action figure and a Frieza Pop Vinyl. They agreed and today we finalised a display arrangement in a corridor case here at Leeds Discovery Centre to showcase these new purchases.

A batman mask

Batman mask

To give more historical depth to the display we picked a Batman mask and a tiny Robin figure as an American contrast to the Pokémon Pikachu toy that is already in the collection. Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, and this franchise began as a video game. 

If you walk into Forbidden Planet in Leeds this month the Pop Vinyl figures occupy a whole wall. They are the big craze of the toy world at the moment. They include Marvel characters, as well as Japanese anime figures and even Harry Potter versions.

Dragon Ball Z figurines

What is Dragon Ball Z?
Dragon Ball Z is currently the most famous and popular Japanese anime watched by millions worldwide. It was created by Akira Toriyama as a manga (graphic novel) in 1988 and the anime (animation) came out the following year. The warrior hero Goku defends Planet Earth with his friends from evil villains such as Frieza. Goku’s nemesis the villain Frieza fears a rival who may surpass his own might so he blows up planet Vageta to prevent this from happening. During their battle Goku eventually beats Frieza, but never kills him. 

In Dragon Ball Z there are many storylines which take place over hundreds of episodes, drawing you in to a world of action and fantasy.

A comic book with lots of anime figures drawn on the front.

Dragon Ball Z comic book

This Dragon Ball Z poster (pictured above) was acquired a few weeks ago and it shows a large number of characters alongside Goku. 


A comic book with the title Naruto 2 figures in anime cartoon style.

Naruto comic book

Naruto Manga on display
As well as the Dragon Ball Z items the current display includes a Naruto manga by Masashi Kishimoto, chosen by Becky Stone. This was purchased to complement five manga already in the Leeds collections, bought for the 2001 ‘Tales from  Japan’ exhibition. The manga was first published in 1997, and the anime first aired in Japan in 2002. Naruto is a slightly more contemporary manga and anime than Dragon Ball Z and also has a large fan base. 

Having this manga on display in the same case will be a great way for some direct comparisons with the Dragon Ball Z Goku and Frieza figures. It is interesting that these anime have similar storylines; the main character usually fights the strongest enemy and always tries to protect their friends from harm. Both Naruto and Goku have similar traits when they are not fighting; they just love eating and somehow get themselves into trouble. Batman and Ash from Pokémon also train to get stronger but they have different goals. They still believe in doing the right thing.

Who is Naruto?
Naruto is about a young adolescent boy who dreams of becoming the Hokage (village leader) so that he can win the respect of the whole village, as he is seen as an outcast. He always used to get into trouble in order to get noticed in a village that despised him and he never truly understood why he was seen as a pest. Through his ninja training Naruto starts to get stronger and gained the respect of his comrades. Naruto believes that by getting stronger he will be able to protect his friends. Because of his strong will eventually everyone wants to help him.

We hope that anime fans and visitors who grew  up with the cartoons will get a frisson of recognition when they see the Dragon Ball Z and Naruto Manga display on show in the Voices of Asia gallery in Leeds City Museum later this year.


By Anawara Begum, Voices of Asia Project Placement Student.