Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball series is one of the pivotal anime titles in the history of the medium. And while the manga is also popular, the anime has helped expand the cultural influence of Japanese animation when the West did not know much about anime. Now, the overall structure of the series isn’t overly complex, but one iteration of Dragon Ball has been causing a lot of confusion among the fans. Namely, Dragon Ball GT is a series that has been confusing fans for years and in this article, we have decided to tell you whether Dragon Ball GT is canon or not.
In terms of the classical definition, Dragon Ball GT is not canon since it is not based on the manga, nor has it been written by Toriyama; the plot is anime-exclusive only. Still, the answer is not that simple because GT doesn’t contradict the main timeline in any way and could easily fit within the established timeframe, and it could also be part of an alternative timeline, like some other canon stories.
In the rest of this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the canon status of Dragon Ball GT. You’re going to find out the basic production information so that you know the idea behind the series, as well as how the plot of the series fits into the overall narrative. We’re going to help you resolve this issue swiftly.
Is Dragon Ball GT canon?
In 1995, Akira Toriyama decided to finish illustrating the manga, leaving Toei Animation without the original source to continue the series. Given the popularity of Dragon Ball and the author’s refusal to continue the series, Toei took the project into their own hands and created a sequel with its own original story.
The universe of Dragon Ball GT was fundamentally different from the previous series adapted from the Dragon Ball universe. This is mainly due to the original nature of the work: in fact, unlike Dragon Ball Z, which properly followed the storyline of the manga initiated by Akira Toriyama, this work aimed to be totally innovative in its development by introducing elements from outside the original manga.
These include the introduction of a new Super Saiyan 4 transformation, Super C-17, the improved version of C-17, or even the Black Star Dragon Balls. Furthermore, it is important to mention the shorter nature of this series: previously exceeding 100 episodes, this series ended after just 64 episodes.
Finally, it is necessary to note the series significantly expands the Dragon Ball universe through this series, which tells the quest for the crystal balls through space, and deepens several arcs left in suspense a little earlier. This is the case of the story of the Saiyans, the people of Son Goku and Vegeta, which will be developed through the character of Professor Myû (the latter being a descendant of the Tsufuls, a people annihilated by the Saiyans) or even the impact of the misuse of Dragon Balls.
Although Akira Toriyama did not write the history of the series, he still participated in its creation, drawing the new looks of Son Goku, Trunks and Pan, as well as several drawings, some of which were used to illustrate the first end credits (“Hitori ja Nai”). He also designed some new characters (and robots), such as Giru (whom he called Ojama, a name Toei refused) and Baby. He also chose the title, checked the Tōei script and gave some advice and, for the last episode, drew several animations of Son Goku himself saying his goodbyes.
In 2005, he took care of the editorial of the Dragon Ball GT DVD Box in Japan, as well as its design, drawing Son Goku in Super Saiyan 4 in several poses. Toriyama has rarely spoken about the series; however, in an interview with the Shenron Times #72, he described the work done by Toei Animation as good, and that Son Goku’s new youth pleased him to the point that he almost wanted to continue the manga, but admitted to being relieved of the deadlines. Toriyama himself referred to GT as a “side story of the original Dragon Ball“.
Now, as far as the production info is concerned, Dragon Ball GT doesn’t seem to be a canon series. In the literal sense of the term, GT is not canon. It is not based on the manga, nor has it been created by the manga’s original author. Toriyama did participate in the creation of the anime, but it was a very small role overall. In that aspect, we have to state that Dragon Ball GT is not canon. But, the situation is not that simple.
Namely, while most fans state that GT cannot be canon because Dragon Ball Super follows right after Dragon Ball Z and, thus, changes the events of GT, the situation is not that simple. We know that Super continues directly after the events of the Buu Saga, without addressing Dragon Ball Z’s epilogue at all. That, in turn, means Super takes place before the epilogue that ushers in the characters for Dragon Ball GT, which means that there is a space for GT being canon.
There’s also the possibility that Dragon Ball GT is simply a story from an alternative universe that we know exists, as the Dragon Ball universe expanded its worlds significantly during Dragon Ball Super. Be that as it may, there is no official confirmation of whether GT is canon or not and this is our two cents on the matter. We hope we’ve helped you.
What happens in Dragon Ball GT?
The story starts five years after the 28th Tenkaichi Budōkai. Thus, Dragon Ball GT begins when Pilaf and his minions manage to find the “Black Star Dragon Balls” that were hidden in a room of the Kamisama Temple, but just when they call the red Shenlong of the dragon balls, they are immediately discovered by Son Gokū, who recently finished his training with Oob.
During a small confrontation with Son Gokū, who had discovered his evil plans, Pilaf accidentally makes a wish to turn Son Gokū into a boy out loud; after making the wish to the red Shenlong, the latter withdraws. Shortly after, the dragon balls are scattered throughout the entire universe and they learn from Kaio-sama of the North that these balls must be collected within a period of no more than one year or else the planet where the wish was made , in this case, the Earth, will explode without remedy.
Son Gokū, Son Goten and Trunks decide to embark on the search for the “Black Star Dragon Balls” to find them as soon as possible. However, at the last moment before leaving, Pan, the granddaughter of Son Gokū and daughter of Son Gohan and Videl, enters the ship and manages to start it, leaving Son Goten out of the mission and thus undertaking the great travel with his grandfather and Trunks.
During their journey, they must pass through various planets. Finally, after defeating each of their opponents and gathering the dragon balls, they return to Earth, which is dominated by a resentful being called Baby, a character who wants to exterminate the Saiyans and rebuild his old home, the planet Tsufuru, along with its extinct inhabitants.
A new challenge arises for Goku, because during his journey the human population has been possessed to serve and help Baby to fulfill his main objective. One of the strategies that Baby uses to dominate the planet consists of possessing the strongest Saiyan after Goku, in this case, Vegeta, incarnating himself in a more useful way to face whoever tries to prevent him from doing so.
After a cruel, difficult, and strategic battle, for which Goku had to resort to a new level of transformation that exceeds any other level reached, Super Saiyan 4, a transformation during which he regains his adult form, and finally manages to eliminate Baby. Unfortunately and despite the enormous effort, the Earth is condemned to its inevitable destruction, because the Black Star Dragon Balls were used again by Baby, who had made the wish to create the planet Tfuru again.
Faced with such an unfortunate situation and with only two weeks to go before the time limit expires since they went out to find them, Goku and the others suggest, with the help of Mr. Satan, to move all the inhabitants of the planet Earth to the planet Tsufuru. During that period of time and with the help of the spaceships of the Capsule Corporation of Bulma, Goku and Kibitoshin, who use their teleportation technique, manage to evacuate each of the inhabitants and animals of the planet Earth to the planet Tsufuru, before the imminent explosion.
Just when they think they have achieved their mission, Goku quickly notices that a child was left behind on the planet, because he had been distracted by his pet dog and had not boarded the ship, he immediately goes looking for him. Fortunately, the child is rescued.