- Dragon Ball Z fans looking for similar shows have several options, from Yu Yu Hakusho with its epic battles and stronger character development, to G Gundam’s over-the-top fights and hilarious stereotypes.
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure offers a darker battle shonen experience with unique powers and eccentric poses, similar to DBZ’s brief protagonist changes.
- Zatch Bell! provides an enticing tournament arc with epic battles and a Goku-like protagonist, while Fist of the North Star offers a darker, bloodier, and action-driven post-apocalyptic anime.
From older franchises to newer anime, there are several great shonen perfect for Dragon Ball Z fans. Some are firmly in the same genre, while others diverge and even include the mecha genre. Thus, anyone who enjoyed the anime adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s classic manga have plenty new anime to check out.
11Yu Yu Hakusho
Based on Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga, Yu Yu Hakusho features a former delinquent who – after dying – is returned to the land of the living to investigate paranormal happenings. This sees him fighting various demonic foes, resulting in numerous epic battles. He even competes with some of these villains in the Dark Tournament during one of the series’ key story arcs.
Yu Yu Hakusho has a tournament arc and a general action-based tone in common with Dragon Ball Z. Many consider it superior due to its stronger character development and storytelling. Likewise, the combination of action/adventure with horror and supernatural concepts paved the way for modern franchises such as Demon Slayer.
The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is usually a somewhat grounded “Real Robot” anime series, but that wasn’t the case with Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Seemingly inspired by both Dragon Ball Z and Street Fighter II, it featured Gundam pilots from across the globe engaging in the martial arts-based “Gundam Fight.” This gave it a tone far closer to Super Robot anime.
For fans who loved the over the top attacks and fights from Dragon Ball Z, there’s plenty of that in G Gundam. It’s full of hot-blooded battles and epic screaming that’s sure to pump up any viewer. It’s also known for cartoonish national stereotypes, resulting in the franchise’s most hilarious Mobile Suits.
9JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Known for its memes and eccentric poses, the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series is a darker “battle shonen” that’s now considered a seinen series. The story follows the Joestar family and its descendants as they face various supernatural threats, namely a vampiric rival named Dio.
Many fans liked how Dragon Ball Z (at least briefly) changed protagonists, and that’s central to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Each arc follows a different generation, and they all possess different powers, attacks and “Stands.” This will entice those who loved seeing each Z-Fighter dish out unique abilities in battle.
Whereas Dragon Ball Z has tournaments in between its major storylines, Zatch Bell! is a giant tournament arc. Centered around the battle to decide the king of the Mamodo World, it follows a high school student named Kyo and his partner Mamodo, Zatch Bell. Each of these sometimes doll-like beings have unique powers which are activated when their human partners read from their spell book.
Those searching for an enticing tournament arc will be entertained by the series. Zatch also shares some of Goku’s traits, namely his voracious appetite. These elements make the battles epic and the downtime chill and hilarious.
7Fist of the North Star
For fans of Dragon Ball Z‘s action who want something even darker, Fist of the North Star is perfect. A post-apocalyptic anime that’s been described as “Mad Max starring Bruce Lee,” it showcases protagonist Kenshiro’s dealings with the tumult of his brutal and callous future. It also has attacks with far bloodier results than a Kamehameha Wave.
Fist of the North Star is a classic gritty 1980s anime – known for their gore and brutality. It works well as a retro blast from the past and a dark venture for those who’ve had their feet wet by Dragon Ball Z. In fact, it’s arguably an even purer example of hyper-violent, action-driven excess.
More so than Yu Yu Hakusho, Saint Seiya has a perfected version of the template also seen in Dragon Ball Z. The series is based around titular “Saints” who defend the reincarnation of the goddess Athena, all while unleashing divine power of their own. The series has numerous sequels, spinoffs and adaptations, with the franchise as a whole massively popular in Latin America.
For those who disliked how Goku took center stage in DBZ, Saint Seiya ensures that every member of the cast is prominent in some way. Likewise, there’s a strong focus on the characters and plot, which is furthered by the mythological concepts. Some fans even see the direction of Dragon Ball Super as an attempt to crib elements from Saint Seiya.
Much as Dragon Ball Z defined anime during the ’90s, Naruto did the same in the 2000s and 2010s. Focused on a luckless young ninja seeking to lead his village one day, the series is known for its unique character designs, attacks, and interpersonal drama. The series’ second “half,” Naruto: Shippuden, is to the first series what Dragon Ball Z is to Dragon Ball.
Naruto has many of the same strengths as DBZ such as exciting fight scenes and jaw-dropping attacks. It also has its fair share of “friendship” oriented plot developments, and these should be familiar to those who sat through Vegeta’s egotistic emotionalism during fights. While not exactly the same, it’s definitely the Dragon Ball Z equivalent for a generation of anime fans.
4Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter was definitely inspired by Dragon Ball andDragon Ball Z, albeit following more of the first series’ adventurous tone. It follows Gon on his quest to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a globe-trotting “hunter.” Gon looks a lot like Goku, but a lot of elements from the series actually feel like reversals of Dragon Ball Z.
For instance, the battles are more tactical and don’t devolve into a series of silhouetted punches or blasts of light. The character Meruem is similar to both Frieza and Cell, making it easy to jump into for someone familiar with DBZ. Add in the lack of nearly as much filler and stronger writing, and Hunter x Hunter is the logical next watch for those who’ve seen Dragon Ball Z.
3My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is one of the biggest modern anime franchises, riding the wave of popularity in superhero fiction. Protagonist Deku lives in a world where people possess superhuman “quirks.” Inspired by his favorite hero All Might, Deku enrolls in U.A. High School to become a hero himself.
My Hero Academia is definitely a bit more school and character driven than Dragon Ball Z. Still, it definitely focuses on over the top attacks to an even greater degree. Due to how the world is fleshed out, this actually gives its fight scenes more weight than the ones in DBZ.