Before Dragon Ball was adapted into an anime, it was a manga. The story was written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama between November 1984 and May 1995. Titled Dragon Ball, the series was published entirely by Weekly Shōnen Jump before Sheisha bound them into tankōbon trades for readers.
Akira wrote the series shortly after he gained success with the manga Dr. Slump in 1980. The comedy gave him the clout to pursue Dragon Ball, and the artist jumped at the chance to publish his new story. While Dragon Ball is known for its over-the-top action, the series did not always focus on that. The manga was less about Super Saiyans and more about mythical hijinks when it debuted. Loosely inspired by the Chinese tale Journey to the West, Dragon Ball began as a playful mix between comedy and slapstick action before later chapters delved into more intense action sequences.