As far as the world of (shōnen) anime is concerned, there is a group of anime known as the “Big Four”. Among them, Dragon Ball is considered to be the predecessor, while the remaining three – Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece – are considered to be the “Big Three”, since they all came out roughly at the same time, while Toriyama’s anime is a tad older. When it comes to two of those, Dragon Ball and Bleach, many fans are wondering which anime is better?
Dragon Ball’s overall legacy and cultural importance are what makes this anime so great and why probably Dragon Ball is the better anime in this scenario.
Saying that, there is still a lot more to be said about Dragon Ball vs. Bleach. In the rest of the article, we will take a deeper look into the comparison.
Bleach vs. Dragon Ball: Ultimate Comparison
The plots of Bleach and Dragon Ball are only relatively similar, in that they have a world-saving element to them. Everything else is different. Bleach focuses on Ichigo Korusaki’s quest to save his close ones from different supernatural threats in a very dark and macabre world. The adventure, a key element in Dragon Ball’s narrative is secondary here; of course, Bleach is one big adventure in general, but adventure as a narrative focus is not overly emphasized in Kubo’s story.
On the other hand, Dragon Ball’s focus on adventure is part of the show’s charm and the reason why a lot of people became attached to the show. This is a completely different focus and as both shows were executed in a brilliant manner, it is difficult to determine the winner based only on this. This category would’ve been a tie were it not for the fact that Toriyama’s story directly influenced Bleach’s author Tite Kubo, which is why we have to give this point to Dragon Ball.
Both shows also did a brilliant job when character development is concerned. Both protagonists, Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach) and Son Goku (Dragon Ball), are among the most iconic and most famous anime characters ever created, and they are both well-known around the globe, even if you’re not a die-hard anime fan. Both of their stories have been portrayed in an amazing way and this is why they are so good.
As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, we cannot really choose between these two shows. Whether it’s Rukia or Krilin, Inoue or Bulma, Kon or Master Roshi, Hitsugaya or Korin, all of these characters have been portrayed excellently and despite being supporting cast members, all of them have enough depth and individuality to be extremely likable. As for the villains, you can’t really go wrong with the likes of Aizen or Frieza. This is why this category has to be declared a tie.
When it comes to depth, this is where Bleach reigns when compared to all the other “Big Four” anime. Bleach touches upon a lot of complex topics, most of them concerning the issues of life and death, through which other questions are raised and analyzed. The show has a specific level of philosophical and existential depth that Dragon Ball never had, despite not avoiding these issues, especially in later seasons of the show. Still, Dragon Ball is far more focused on loyalty, friendship, determination, and the following of one’s goals to the very end, with the focus also shifting towards saving the world later on.
Bleach, on the other hand, tackles all of these topics as well, especially through the brilliantly portrayed friendship between Ichigo and Rukia, and Ichigo’s relationship to Soul Society, but it also has that additional depth that Dragon Ball doesn’t really have. This is why this point goes to Bleach.
Bleach was, initially at least and not counting the movies, quite lacking when it came to animation. This was the show’s biggest flaw. Bleach’s animation relied a lot on stock footage and was sometimes too static for the situations that it depicted. Bleach contained a lot of fighting scenes and a lot of scenes with characters fighting and performing complex movements. And although these scenes were by no means bad, they weren’t really that good in the beginning.
If you consider the fact that Dragon Ball is much older and was animated at a time when standards weren’t so high as now, the animation becomes even better. Dragon Ball has not only done an amazing job with its animation, it has also shown us how it can evolve, as the recent iterations of the franchise have absolutely amazing animation. A lot of dynamics was necessary to fully animate these two shows, since they focus a lot on fighting and complex movement, and since Dragon Ball did a better job in that aspect, we have to give this point to Dragon Ball.
The overall influence of these two is difficult to compare because of Dragon Ball’s cult status. Namely, however good and influential Bleach might be, it will never even come close to the cultural importance of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball is an anime that has influenced a whole generation of 1990s children and has become a synonym for anime for a whole group of people. Dragon Ball is, for a lot of people, the only anime they’ve ever seen, and even those who haven’t seen any anime know of Dragon Ball. Bleach is a global phenomenon, that cannot be denied, but it will never reach the level of popularity and influence of Dragon Ball.
The Bottom Line
Bleach, as you could’ve seen, did “win” in one category, while Dragon Ball won in three, with one tie. But even without this simple mathematics, it is quite evident that Dragon Ball is the more important work of the two. Bleach is a truly great anime – in fact, yours truly loves it more than the other three – it has influenced a generation of fans and it has an enormous fanbase around the world, but the overall influence of Dragon Ball and the almost divine status it has in the history of animation is something that explains our choice in this article.