The manga was adapted into an anime television series by Toei Animation that ran on Fuji TV from 1981 to 1986 consisting of 243 episodes. A remake series was created thirteen years after the manga ended, consisting of 74 episodes that were broadcast from 1997 to 1999. The series has also spawned several novels, video games and eleven animated films.
Dr. Slump launched Toriyama's career. It was awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen and shōjo manga in 1981 and has sold over 35 million copies in Japan. The manga was released in North America by Viz Media from 2004 to 2009. Discotek Media released the first five films in North America in 2014.
Dr. Slump is set in Penguin Village (ペンギン村 Pengin Mura), a place where humans co-exist with all sorts of anthropomorphic animals and other objects. In this village lives Senbei Norimaki, an inventor. In the first chapter, he builds what he hopes will be the world's most perfect little girl robot, named Arale Norimaki. However, she turns out to be in severe need of eyeglasses. She is also very naïve, and in later issues she has adventures such as bringing a huge bear home, having mistaken it for a pet. To Senbei's credit, she does have super-strength. In general, the manga focuses on Arale's misunderstandings of humanity and Senbei's inventions, rivalries, and romantic misadventures. In the middle of the series, a recurring villain named Dr. Mashirito appears as a rival to Senbei.
Dr. Slump is filled with puns and toilet humor, and parodies of both Japanese and American culture. For example, one of the recurring characters is Suppaman, a short, fat, pompous buffoon who changes into a Superman-like alter-ego by eating a sour-tasting ("suppai" in Japanese) umeboshi. Unlike Superman, Suppaman cannot fly, and instead pretends to fly by lying belly down on a skateboard and scooting through the streets. Also, one of the village's policemen wears a Star Wars-style stormtrooper helmet, just as in the American movies. Toriyama himself has been portrayed as a bird (the "tori" in his last name means "bird", hence the name of his production studio Bird Studio), although it has been suggested (by himself even) that he actually based the design of Senbei on himself. In addition, other real-life people make appearances as well, such as Toriyama's editor (Kazuhiko Torishima), assistants, wife, his colleague friends (such as Masakazu Katsura) and others.
With Toriyama a newcomer to manga and his editor Kazuhiko Torishima still relatively new at his job as well, the two worked for 18 months with Torishima rejecting all the author's ideas until the first draft of Dr. Slump. One of these rejected works, Ageha-chō Kansatsu Nikki (アゲハ町観察日記), served as a basis for Dr. Slump. Toriyama drew several short omake included in the Dr. Slump tankōbon volumes that supposedly depict actual events on the production of the series, although, as they are often humorous, the level of truthfulness to them is uncertain. In one, he claimed that when he told Torishima that he wanted to make a manga about a doctor, the editor told him to add a robot. Toriyama originally wanted a very large robot, but as it would not fit in the panels, he instead made it small. When Torishima rejected that idea, he made the robot a girl, knowing Torishima would find her "cute". He also stated that Senbei was supposed to be the main character, but his editor told him to make it Arale instead, which Toriyama agrees turned out better. The act of having Senbei and Midori get married came from having nothing else to draw that week, and it happened quickly because he does not like romance. He went on to state that Torishima does enjoy romance, and that the relationships of Arale and Obotchaman, Akane and Tsukutsun, and Taro and Tsururin were all Torishima's ideas.