The Big Three in Anime & Why Dragon Ball Isn’t Among Them

November 2, 2023 | by Zaid Mughal


Anime fans frequently debate the “Big Three” when discussing the most important and popular anime series of all time. During the 2000s, these three series, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, had a particular place in the hearts of fans. However, an important question arises: Why is Dragon Ball not included in this prestigious trio?

The Big Three:

1. Naruto:

Naruto Uzumaki’s journey from a lonely and mischievous ninja to the Hokage of his village captivated millions. It offered a compelling blend of action, character development, and meaningful themes such as friendship, perseverance, and the pursuit of dreams. Its relatable characters and intricate storytelling made it a hit worldwide.

2. Bleach:

   Bleach introduced us to Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager with the ability to see ghosts who becomes a Soul Reaper tasked with defending the living world from evil spirits. With its unique take on the supernatural and captivating battles, Bleach carved its niche in the anime world.

3. One Piece:

   Monkey D. Luffy’s quest for the ultimate treasure, the One Piece, remains one of the longest-running and beloved series in anime history. Its vast world-building, memorable characters, and an overarching story filled with adventure and humor are the keys to its monumental success.

Some reasons why Dragon Ball is Not Included:

While Dragon Ball is undoubtedly an iconic and influential series, it does not fit the “Big Three” classification due to several reasons.

1. Chronology: The Big Three primarily emerged during the 2000s, while Dragon Ball’s original run started in the late ’80s and concluded in the ’90s. These series resonated with a newer generation of anime fans.

2. Tone and Style: Dragon Ball is known for its action-packed battles, but it also incorporates elements of comedy and adventure. In contrast, the Big Three often feature more intricate plots and character development.

3. Longevity: Although Dragon Ball has been revived with series like Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, its consistent presence over the decades might make it seem like part of a different era of anime.

4. Different Appeals: Dragon Ball appeals to a broad demographic, from children to adults, while the Big Three, especially Naruto and Bleach, tend to target a slightly older audience with more complex themes.

In conclusion, the Big Three in anime, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, earned their status as iconic series through their unique qualities and cultural impact during the 2000s. Dragon Ball, while a legendary series in its right, doesn’t quite fit the criteria due to its chronological differences, tonal distinctions, and wide demographic appeal. Nevertheless, all four series have made indelible marks on the anime landscape and continue to be cherished by fans worldwide.


View all

view all
Translate »