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Dragon Ball Z

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Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ, DoragonbōruZetto?, commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is a Japanese animated television series produced by Toei Doga (now Toei Animation). Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to the Dragon Ball anime, which covers the first 16 volumes of a 42 volume Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama, while Dragon Ball Z adapts the last 26 volumes of the original manga.[1]

The Dragon Ball Z anime first aired in Japan from April 26, 1989, to January 31, 1996,[2] and was dubbed in several countries around the world, including Latin America and in the United States. The American themes and soundtracks were composed and produced in part by Bruce Faulconer.


The series continues the adventures of Son Goku who, along with his companions, defend the Earth and other fictional planets against various supervillains. While the original Dragon Ball anime followed Goku through childhood into adulthood, Dragon Ball Z parallels his adult life with the maturation of his first child, Son Gohan. The series also gives focus to the evolution of his rivals, Piccolo and Vegeta, from evil to good, with the former's evolution occurring early in the series and latter's spanning across the entire series. The separation between the series is also significant as the later series takes on a more dramatic and serious tone, with a number of villains either threatening or committing acts of mass murder or outright genocide.

Akira Toriyama's self-parody manga series Neko Majin satirizes many concepts introduced in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.

American Releases

After two unsuccessful attempts to release Dragon Ball in the US, FUNimation Productions Inc. (now FUNimation Entertainment) decided to create a dub of Dragon Ball Z, but was too poor a company then to distribute a series alone, so they teamed up with Saban (most likely due to the company's success in distributing another Japanese import, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and hired voice actors of the Ocean Group to handle the dialogue. This dub started airing in September 1996 on the WB. However, the US had more emphasis on censorship than Japan did, thus resulting in extensive editing of the series (cutting out the equivalent of 14 of the first 67 episodes-- almost 21%), including the complete removal of blood, nudity, language and references to character death ("sent to another dimension"). To many fans of the series, these edits actually made the series worse as violence was always shown without consequence. Eventually it was canceled in May 1998, due to low ratings.[3]

In August 1998, the canceled dub was brought to Cartoon Network's new action-animated block, Toonami and it found new life through a wider audience. By 1999, FUNimation had earned enough money to distribute alone, so they continued dubbing the show with their own in-house voice actors and a newly commissioned musical score, starting directly where the canceled dub left off. They also cut some of their previous restrictions, such as the inclusion of blood (to a small degree), though still edited some of the violence, in order to continue making it appealing to viewers of all ages, thus leading to the show receiving a TV-Y7-FV rating for fantasy violence.[4]

The new dub of DBZ finally achieved the popularity FUNimation had been attempting for years to attain. It was such a success that it also greatly helped expand the anime market in the US. In September 2002, Dragon Ball Z was Number One on all cable TV (#1 program of the week on all cable television with boys 9-14) and the series ended its first run in April 2003. Currently the show still airs on Cartoon Network's Toonami Saturday night block.

Creative Changes

The English dubs of Dragon Ball Z are noted for featuring dialogue not found in the original script, dubbing that results in minor changes to the original story, the replacement of the entire original musical score written by Shunsuke Kikuchi, and renaming many characters, terminology, and locations (i.e. Kuririn to Krillin, the Tenkaichi Budokai to the World Martial Arts Tournament, etc.). FUNimation selected composer Bruce Faulconer to create this original music score for episodes #54 (68) through the end of the series (episode #291), and this music is commonly referred to as the American Soundtrack for the series, which aired on the Cartoon Network, having aired since 1999 to the present.

Uncut Version

In 2003, FUNimation began to redub the first 53 episodes that were dubbed by the Ocean Group voice cast, restoring them to the original 67. The distribution of the redubs on DVD, under the Ultimate Uncut Special Edition title, began in April 2005.[5]

In the summer of 2005, Cartoon Network aired the uncut version of the first 67 episodes. This version used the original Japanese footage, with the exception of the Japanese opening and closing themes, and has an entirely new score of music. The uncut version also featured many scenes with blood that had been toned down or cut out entirely in the edits before, as well as mild language, profanity, sexual humor, and nudity. Generally, while some lines were maintained from the original dub, several mistranslations were also corrected. The uncut dub was given a TV-PG rating in contrast to the original dub's TV-Y7 rating.

International English Version

Until 2001, other English speaking countries including the UK, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland received FUNimation's English version of DBZ, both the Ocean Group and FUNimation dubs. This changed when Episode 108 aired in the UK (also in The Netherlands); the English Dub switched to a version produced by the Blue Water studios. This version regained the original voice actors from the Ocean Group instead of the FUNimation voice cast. This version began airing in Canada in the autumn of 2001 from Episode 168, and ran through to the end of the series. It used FUNimation's own videotracks and its scripts, albeit with some changes. This version used music recycled from the Mega Man and Monster Rancher cartoons, as well as a few original pieces for the series by Jon Mitchell, Tom Keenlyside and David Iris. This version suffered from low production values and a rushed schedule. Many voices did not stay consistent through the series, and by the end few remained from the original 1996 cast. See below for a complete cast listing.


In the original Japanese version, Dragon Ball Z consists of four main sagas. In the English dub however, they are divided into 16 sub-sagas:

  • Japanese
    • Saiyan Saga
    • Freeza Saga
    • Cell Saga
    • Majin Buu Saga
  • English
    • Saiyan/Vegeta Saga
    • Namek Saga
    • Captain Ginyu Saga
    • Frieza Saga
    • Garlic Junior Saga
    • Trunks Saga
    • Android Saga
    • Imperfect Cell Saga
    • Perfect Cell Saga
    • Cell Games Saga
    • Great Saiyaman Saga
    • World Tournament Saga
    • Babidi Saga
    • Majin Buu Saga
    • Fusion Saga
    • Kid Buu Saga


Filler is used to pad out the series for many reasons; in the case of Dragon Ball Z, more often than not, it was because the anime was running alongside the manga, and there was no way for the anime to run ahead of the manga since Toriyama was still writing it.

The company behind the anime, Toei Animation, would occasionally create side stories to either further explain things, or simply to extend the series. Filler does not come only in the form of side stories though; sometimes it is as simple as adding some extra attacks into a fight. For instance, many scenes in the anime appear quite protracted, featuring long shots of the characters faces and stand-offs lasting an entire episode and even spanning multiple episodes for a single fight. As the anime series was forced to expand 12-14 pages of manga image and text into 20-22 minutes of animation footage, these changes were introduced to fill the complete television time slot or to allow the anime writers to explore some other aspects of the series' universe. The Garlic Junior arc, between the Freeza Saga and the Cell Saga, and the Afterlife Tenkaichi Budokai arc, between the Cell Saga and the Majin Buu Saga, are examples of this.

VHS/DVD releases

Japanese Releases

Originally, only the Dragon Ball Z movies, and the Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans OVA were available for home viewing in Japan. The movies were released on both VHS, and Laserdisc format. The Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans OVA was released both on VHS, and on the Playdia, as two interactive FMVs.

Dragonbox Releases

In 2003, all of the DBZ anime were finally released for home viewing in Japan, on two large DVD boxed sets. Each DBZ Dragonbox had a large amount of DVD extras, as well as an action figure and a book.

The video and audio transfers of the show used on these DVD's came off of the Fuji TV master tapes of the show, as this allowed Toei to put out a far superior and completely accurate version of the show on DVD. This allowed all episodes to have their original openings, endings, eyecatches, next episode previews, etc., compared to what was available in the US.

In late 2005 the DBZ Dragonbox DVD's were re-released in single volumes with six episodes per disc. While the packaging and DVD menus are different from the 2003 release, and so far no plans have been announced for the two TV specials and the Playdia footage released with the 2003 versions, the audio and video quality is the exact same as those discs found in the 2003 Dragonbox release.

At the end of March, 2006, a Dragon Box: The Movies DVD box was released. This release contained all 19 Dragon Ball and DBZ theatrical features, along with a book, and two scouters in the form of walkie-talkies. The video and audio are remastered, however, the video is cropped and contains less picture than the full-screen versions, a common occurrence for films from Toei, based on long-running and popular TV series (See Saint Seiya, Fist of the North Star, and One Piece).

All Dragonbox releases contain Japanese language audio only (with exceptions to foreign-language bonus clips), and no subtitles.

English Releases

Pioneer/ECW DVD's

During the late 90's/early 00's, The first 53 (Ocean Group dub, originally uncut as 67) TV episodes were released on to DVD by Pioneer Entertainment (now Geneon Entertainment and formerly ECW Home Video). These contained only the edited, US-TV broadcast versions, and totaled 17 volumes. At a later date, the first 8 DVD's were released as the Saiyan Saga, while the final 9 were released as the Namek Saga. As of August the 31st, 2004, Geneon's license for video distribution of these episodes ended, allowing FUNimation to re-release these episodes.

Along with these episodes, Pioneer also produced bilingual, uncut DVD's of the first three DBZ theatrical features. These DVD's retained the original Ocean Group voice cast for the English track, as well as being one of the first uncut and bilingual releases in the U.S. The English versions of these films were also subject to a different treatment, rather than replacing the original music, the original OP and ED themes, as well as background music, were retained. The only noticeable differences besides languages are the inclusion of a few different sound effects which are not present on the original Japanese version.[6]

These films were released as a three-disc boxset by Pioneer, however, much like the 53 TV episodes Pioneer had license to, the first three DBZ films' home video rights now belong to FUNimation.

FUNimation DVD's

As of 2000, FUNimation has released uncut versions of their Texas-based English dub on to DVD, uncut and with Japanese language track, and English-translation subtitles. Beginning with the Captain Ginyu Saga, which took place directly after the Ocean Group dub, FUNimation has released bilingual, uncut DVD's for every episode covering (Japanese numbers) 68 till 291, with the FUNimation commissioned American Soundtrack of Bruce Faulconer being using on its English version. Boxsets for the sagas have also been released. However, in order to maximize profits, the DVD's were released out of continuity (certain amounts of one section of the series were released, and then FUNimation would go back and release others).[7]

After acquiring the video rights to the first 53 (67) episodes from Pioneer, FUNimation announced that they would release these episodes uncut, with a new 5.1 English language track and uncut footage. The Ultimate Uncut Special Edition line was born. The release would be 22 volumes, Bilingual, and with extras. The Saiyan Saga was renamed the Vegeta Saga (Parts I and II, covering 12 DVD's), probably to avoid confusion with the Pioneer volumes. This was the same version shown on Cartoon Network. After DVD volume 9 however, FUNimation cancelled these box sets and chose to re-re-release them in the new DVD sets they are currently working on.[8]

From 2001-2006, DBZ movies 4-13, were dubbed by the FUNimation voice cast and released in the US. These are all bilingual and subtitled, but do not follow the trend set by the Ocean Group dub's first three movies. Music has been changed and altered, including the insertion of songs from rock bands such as Pantera and Deftones. The movies utilize the FUNimation voice cast, though they also include the original Japanese version with subtitling by Steve Simmons.[9]

The OVA Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans remains unreleased in America. An American release is unlikely, as the Famicom game on which the OVA was based never had an American release.

The FUNimation voice cast also re-dubbed movies 1-3, but only movie 1 was released under the Ultimate Uncut line; movies 2 and 3 were not named Ultimate Uncut even though they had the same cover style as movie 1. All of these movies had a 5.1 English track, new subtitles, different DVD extras and were released in a boxset titled Dragon Ball Z: First Strike on November 16, 2006. This version contains different music to the original dub or Japanese version and dialogue not as accurate to the original script as the Ocean Group dub was.[10]

FUNimation has officially dropped the Ultimate Uncut line and are working on their season boxsets.

On November 11, 2007, FUNimation released two DBZ movies on Blu-ray High Definition format. These two movies included Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan and Broly Second Coming, and both featured full HD 1080p resolution with digitally remastered animation, and an enhanced 5.1 surround mix.

FUNimation Season Box Sets

In November 2006, FUNimation announced they would release a remastered form of Dragon Ball Z on DVD beginning in 2007. It was later announced that "Season One" (the entire Vegeta Saga) would be re-released on February 6, 2007. The first 39 episodes of Season One are spread across six discs, and cost $30 USD (the original intention was for 5 discs, but there was a risk of quality reduction). The series has been re-transferred at 1080p resolution with digital restoration technology removing all grain and scratches from FUNimation's original prints of the series. The quality is a far greater than the original, but one flaw is with the digital restoration. It is important to note that like many late 80's-early 90's Toei productions (for example, Saint Seiya, Sailor Moon, Marmalade Boy, Ghost Sweeper Mikami and Slam Dunk), the series was produced on 16 millimeter film which tends to be fairly grainy and soft. The new restoration was supervised by colorist Steve Franko. It was reported from FUNimation's online trailer that the series would be presented in widescreen format (1.78:1, cropped from the original full frame) for the first time. This was highly controversial among fans, as this is not how the TV episodes were intended to be seen and this substantially alters them. Many fans launched a letter-writing campaign against the release. The box set contains a revised English track in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (it contains the original Japanese score by Shunsuke Kikuchi, one such "revision" to the English dialogue is FUNimation voice actor Christopher Sabat re-dubbing all of his lines as Vegeta throughout the Captain Ginyu Saga and the Frieza Saga, using his current, gruffer voice for the characters instead of the higher pitched nasally voice he used to imitate Vegeta's Ocean Group voice actor, Brian Drummond, and also changing some of his lines). For the first time ever, there is a choice between having the English dialogue with Toei's original Japanese music in 5.1 Surround Sound, English dialogue with the FUNimation dub's music in 2.0 Stereo or Japanese dialogue with Toei's original Japanese music. Special features that are included are a featurette on the remastering of the original Japanese print and a 24-Page booklet with episode summaries, character descriptions and a timeline of DBZ in the US. FUNimation releases a new trailer on the DBZ official website with each release to promote the new product.[11]

Comparison images from the new set show that while there is missing footage on the top and bottom (20%), there is at least additional footage on the right and left (5%) that has not appeared in any prior release, having been taken straight from the original Japanese film master recording. In response to negative fan outcry regarding the release's apparent cropping of the source video, a FUNimation representative has released a document from the team remastering the video, which explains the logistics of the new release.[12] This document details how certain areas of the original film are damaged, and admit that though the video is cropped, this release will eliminate the grain that would be present on prior 4:3 releases. They do not address obtaining clean uncropped 4:3 DVD masters available from other overseas sources without grain, most notably European distributors.

Season Two, containing the Namek Saga and Captain Ginyu Saga (35 episodes), was released on May 22, 2007.[13] Season Three, containing the Frieza Saga (33 episodes), was released on September 18, 2007.[14] Season Four, containing the Garlic Junior Saga, the Trunks Saga, and the Android Saga (32 episodes), was released on February 19, 2008.[15] Season Five, containing the Imperfect Cell Saga and the Perfect Cell Saga (26 episodes) has been slated for May 27, 2008 in the USA.[16]

Also on February 19, 2008, FUNimation re-released the two DBZ TV specials as a double feature, Bardock - The Father of Goku and The History of Trunks. Like the Season Box sets it is digitally remastered with similar features. The next double feature to be released is the remastered version of the first two Dragon Ball Z films, The Dead Zone and The World's Strongest (although it will also be released on Blu-Ray), on May 27, 2008, the same date as the Season 5 boxset.[17]

Australia saw the release of Season One in PAL on July 18, 2007, for $60 AUD. Releases after that are roughly four months apart with Season Two distributed on October 10, 2007 and Season Three in February 2008.[18]

Theme songs

Japanese Themes

  • Openings
    • "CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA" (チャラヘッチャラ, Chara Hecchara?)
      • Lyrics: Yukinojo Mori, Music: Chiho Kiyooka, Arrangement: Kenji Yamamoto, Vocals: Hironobu Kageyama +
        • Episodes 1~199 +
        • Movies 1-9
    • "WE GOTTA POWER" (ウィ・ガッタ・パワー, Wi Gatta Pawā?)
      • Lyrics: Yukinojo Mori, Music: Keiju Ishikawa, Arrangement: Keiju Ishikawa, Vocals: Hironobu Kageyama +
        • Episodes 200~291 +
        • Movies 10-12
  • Closings
    • "Come Out, Incredible Full Power!" (でてこいとびきりZENKAIパワー!, Detekoi Tobikiri ZENKAI Pawā!?)
      • Lyrics: Naruhisa Arakawa, Music: Takeshi Ike, Arrangement: Kenji Yamamoto, Vocals: MANNA +
        • Episodes 1~194
    • "We Use to be Angels" (僕達は天使だった, Boku-tachi wa Tenshi Datta?)
      • Lyrics: Yukinojo Mori, Music: Takeshi Ike, Arrangement: Osamu Totsuka, Vocals: Hironobu Kageyama +
        • Episodes 195~291

Cast List

Character Name Voice Actor (Japanese) V.A. (Ocean Group) V.A. (FUNimation) V.A. (Blue Water)
Son Goku Masako Nozawa Ian Corlett (1-26)
Peter Kelamis (27-53)
Sean Schemmel Peter Kelamis
Kirby Morrow
Son Gohan Masako Nozawa Saffron Henderson Stephanie Nadolny (child)
Kyle Hebert (teen)
Saffron Henderson
Jillian Michaels
Brad Swaile
Son Goten Masako Nozawa N/A Kara Edwards
Jillian Michaels
Piccolo Toshio Furukawa Scott McNeil Christopher Sabat Scott McNeil
Vegeta Ryō Horikawa Brian Drummond
Christopher Sabat Brian Drummond
Bulma Hiromi Tsuru Lalainia Lindbjerg
Tiffany Vollmer
Maggie Blue O'Hara
Trunks Takeshi Kusao N/A Laura Bailey Cathy Weseluck
Future Trunks Takeshi Kusao N/A Eric Vale Alistair Abell
Kuririn Mayumi Tanaka Terry Klassen
Sonny Strait Terry Klassen
Yajirobe Mayumi Tanaka Brian Drummond
Mike McFarland Brian Drummond
Yamucha Toru Furuya Ted Cole
Christopher Sabat Ted Cole
Tenshinhan Hirotaka Suzuoki Matt Smith
Chris Cason (54-92, original dub)
John Burgmeier (onwards)
Matt Smith
Chaozu Hiroko Emori Cathy Weseluck
Monika Antonelli Cathy Weseluck
Chichi Mayumi Sho (1-66)
Naoko Watanabe (88-291)
Laara Sadiq
Cynthia Cranz Laara Sadiq
Muten Roshi Kōhei Miyauchi (2-260)
Hiroshi Masuoka (288-291)
Ian Corlett (1-26)
Don Brown(27-53)
Mike McFarland Terry Klassen
Oolong Naoki Tatsuta Doug Parker
Mark Britten (54-180, original dub)
Bradford Jackson (onwards)
Doug Parker
Pu'ar Naoko Watanabe Cathy Weseluck
Monika Antonelli Cathy Weseluck
Mr. Satan Daisuke Gōri N/A Chris Rager
Don Brown
Videl Yuko Minaguchi N/A Kara Edwards
Moneca Stori
Uranai Baba Junpei Takiguchi (9-34)
Mayumi Tanaka (207-271)
Ellen Kennedy
Linda Young
Brian Drummond
Dende Tomiko Suzuki (49-288)
Hiro YÅ«ki (290-291)
Paulina Gillis
Ceyil Dellgadillo (child, original dub)
Laura Bailey (child, uncut dub)
Justin Cook (adult)
Andrew Francis
Gyumao Daisuke Gōri Dave Ward
Mark Britten (54-180, original dub)
Kyle Hebert (onwards)
Dave Ward
Mr. Popo Toku Nishio French Tickner
Chris Cason (54-92, original dub)
Christopher Sabat (onwards)
French Tickner
Karin Ichirō Nagai (26-192)
Naoki Tatsuta (238-285)
Doug Parker
Mark Britten (54-180, original dub)
Christopher Sabat (onwards)
Ted Cole
Kami Takeshi Aono Michael Dobson
Christopher Sabat
Dale Wilson
North Kaio Jōji Yanami Don Brown
Sean Schemmel Don Brown
Nappa Shōzō Iizuka Michael Dobson
Christopher Sabat (88, original dub)
Phil Parsons (onwards)
Raditz Shigeru Chiba Jason Gray-Stanford
Justin Cook
No. 17 Shigeru Nakahara N/A Chuck Huber Ted Cole
No. 18 Miki Itō N/A Meredith McCoy Enuka Okuma
Freeza Ryūsei Nakao Pauline Newstone
Linda Young Pauline Newstone
Cell Norio Wakamoto N/A Dameon Clarke
Dale Wilson
Majin Buu Kōzō Shioya N/A Josh Martin (Fat Buu and Kid Buu)
Justin Cook (Super Buu)
Scott McNeil
Brian Dobson
Shenlong Kenji Utsumi
Masaharu Satō (193)
Don Brown
Christopher Sabat Don Brown
Narrator Jōji Yanami Doc Harris
Dale Kelly (54-180, original dub)
Kyle Hebert (onwards)
Doc Harris

Japanese Staff

  • Original author: Akira Toriyama
  • Planning: Kōzō Morishita, Kenji Shimizu (Fuji TV)
  • Series composition: Takao Koyama
  • Script writers: Takao Koyama, Aya Matsui, Katsuyuki Sumizawa, Toshiki Inoue, and others
  • Production managers: Matsuji Kishimoto -> Takeshi Torimoto -> Akihiko Yamaguchi -> YÅ«ichi Suenaga
  • Chief animator (Character design): Minoru Maeda -> Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru
  • Chief designer: YÅ«ji Ikeda
  • Music: Shunsuke Kikuchi
  • Music Production: Columbia Music Entertainment
  • Editing: Shinichi Fukumitsu (TAVAC)
  • Recording: Kenji Ninomiya (TAVAC)
  • Sound effects: Hidenori Arai (Fizz Sound Creation)
  • Music selection: Shigeru Miyashita (TAVAC)
  • Recording Studio: TAVAC
  • Series director: Daisuke Nishio
  • Production: Fuji TV, Toei Animation


  1. Dragon Ball Z manga, volumes 1-26
  2. Anime News Network Dragon Ball Z episode list. Anime News Network. Retrieved on 2007-11-08.
  3. Dragon Ball Z Ocean Group dub, episodes 1-53
  4. Dragon Ball Z FUNimation dub, episodes 54-276
  5. Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Uncut Special Edition, episodes 1-67
  6. Dragon Ball Z, Pioneer Entertainment releases
  7. Dragon Ball Z, FUNimation releases
  8. Dragon Ball Z, Ultimate Uncut releases
  9. Dragon Ball Z, movies 4-13
  10. Dragon Ball Z, movies 1-3
  11. {The Official Dragon Ball Z Website}
  12. FunHack. FunHack post. FunHack. Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
  13. {Suncoast Video Season 2}
  14. {Suncoast Video Season 3}
  15. {Suncoast Video Season 4}
  16. {Suncoast Video Season 5}
  17. RightStuf.com Dead Zone/World's Strongest Blu-ray
  18. Dragon Ball Z Remastered Uncut Season 2 (Eps 40-74)


Dragon Ball Z® and related names, characters and images are ©2000, Bird Studio/Shueisha, Toei Animation. Licensed by FUNimation Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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