When it comes to anime, it's hard to get more iconic than Dragon Ball Z: Akira Toriyama's high-flying sci-fi epic was one of the major reasons anime took off in the West back in the '90s, and it was somehow even more popular back in Japan. Since its syndication, it's become a worldwide phenomenon: save for Pokemon, there's no bigger anime in the world.
The manga (the Japanese equivalent of comic books), wasn't quite as popular with Western audiences, though it served a similar purpose as the anime: introducing an entire generation of fans to the format. On top of that, modern heavy-hitters like Bleach, Naruto and One-Piece owe most of their format to Dragon Ball Z — simply put, were it not for Toriyama's work, the industry would be a very different place today.
Comparing the two different formats usually comes down to arguing over which filler arc is the worst (it's the Fake Namek Saga). For the most part, the show and the manga line up extremely closely — and as one fan demonstrated, they can be nearly identical at some point.
A Reddit user by the name of jumpshot22 put together some amazing comparison GIFs showcasing an iconic moment from the episode "Final Atonement" — and it looks like the animators knew when to stick as close to the original art as they could:
It may sound obvious that an anime would follow its manga counterpart closely, but that's not always the case: the original Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater anime deviated from their mangas, to the point where both versions of both series had entirely different endings. Not only that, but some anime end up changing the visual style of the source material — just look at The Flowers of Evil.
In the case of Dragon Ball Z, the anime largely adapted to Toriyama's art style — and in some ways, surpasses it. Manga artists typically follow an extremely tight schedule, and don't always have time to fully shade their art. The result is a flatter, more simplistic style — and while the original manga still looks great today, the level of detail present in the anime is hard to beat. Even something as simple as a shaded background makes a huge difference in terms of tone and atmosphere:
With any luck, this set of comparison GIFs won't be the last: watching the jump from manga page to animated frames is fascinating, and there are plenty of other series that deserve the GIF treatment. If anything, Dragon Ball Z has more than its fair share of iconic moments worth comparing!
For more of jumpshot22's work, make sure to head on over to the Dragon Ball Z subreddit.