The development of anime and manga in Spain in the late 70s and 80s and their boom in the early 90s mimics its progression in the two prominent European markets, Italy and France. Most of the mainstream anime series broadcasted in Spain were originally imported from Italian media conglomerate Fininvest as well as French licensing companies.
In February of 1990, Dragon Ball, a TV adaptation of the manga created by the renowned cartoonist Toriyama Akira, premiered in Spain. However, Dragon Ball was not an immediate phenomenon. The ‘when,’ ‘where’ and ‘how’ differ from any other broadly popular anime/manga series in Spain or any other major European market, due to the specificity of the Spanish «Autonomous Communities’» cultural, political and administrative division. Dragon Ball first premiered in Spain via several regional broadcasters — TVG, TV3 and ETB (Galicia, Catalonia and Basque Country) — with only a few weeks in between, dubbed not in Castilian Spanish but in the respective co-official languages (Galician, Catalonian, Basque), growing into an independent social phenomenon within these regions before it spread nationwide years later.
Thanks to Dragon Ball, anime as a cultural platform in Spain influenced many people by expanding fandom boundaries to a broader social spectrum, turning anime and manga into mainstream mediums and – while both publishers and merchandising companies failed to anticipate such a significant social impact – setting the foundations of the Spanish manga/anime industry. It is clear that no other anime series has ever triggered such a cultural phenomenon, in terms of general success, social dissemination and broadcast mechanics. Therefore, in this article I will try to examine Dragon Ball in Spain as a complex model, and analyse its unique model of intermedia growth
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