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Dragon Ball Z

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Dragon Ball Z
(Doragon Bōru Zetto)
Anime television series
Directed by
Produced by
  • Kenji Shimizu (#1–199)
  • Kōji Kaneda (#108–291)
Written byTakao Koyama
Music byShunsuke Kikuchi
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
Original networkFuji TV
English network
Original run April 26, 1989 January 31, 1996
Episodes291 (List of episodes)

Dragon Ball Z (Japanese: ドラゴンボールZ, Hepburn: Doragon Bōru Zetto, commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is a Japanese anime television series produced by Toei Animation. It is the sequel to Dragon Ball and adapts the latter 325 chapters of the original 519-chapter Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama which ran in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1984 to 1995. Dragon Ball Z aired in Japan on Fuji TV from April 1989 to January 1996, before getting subtitled or dubbed in territories including the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, Asia, India and Latin America. It was broadcast in at least 81 countries worldwide. It is part of the Dragon Ball media franchise.

Dragon Ball Z continues the adventures of Son Goku, who, along with his companions, defends the Earth against villains ranging from aliens (Vegeta, Frieza), androids (Cell) and magical creatures (Majin Buu). While the original Dragon Ball anime followed Goku from childhood to early adulthood, Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of his adult life, but at the same time parallels the life of his son, Gohan, as well as the development of his rivals, Piccolo and Vegeta.

Due to the success of the anime in the United States, the manga chapters making up its story were initially released by Viz Media under the Dragon Ball Z title.

Dragon Ball Z is adapted from the final 324 chapters of the manga series which were published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1988 to 1995. It premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on April 26, 1989, taking over its predecessor's time slot, and ran for 291 episodes until its conclusion on January 31, 1996.

Throughout the production, the voice actors were tasked with playing different characters and performing their lines on cue, switching between roles as necessary.

The voice actors were unable to record the lines separately because of the close dialogue timing. When asked if juggling the different voices of Goku, Gohan and Goten were difficult, Masako Nozawa said that it was not and that she was able to switch roles simply upon seeing the character's picture. She did admit that when they were producing two films a year and television specials in addition to the regular series, there were times when they had only line art to look at while recording, which made giving finer nuanced details in her performance difficult.

English dub production and broadcasting[change | change source]

In 1996, Funimation Productions licensed Dragon Ball Z for an English-language release in North America, after canceling their initial dub of Dragon Ball half-way through their originally-planned 26-episode first season. They worked with Saban Entertainment to syndicate the series on television, and Pioneer Entertainment to handle home video distribution. Pioneer also ceased its home video release of the series at volume 17 (the end of the dub) and retained the rights to produce an uncut subtitled version, but did not do so. They did, however, release uncut dubs of the first three Z movies on home video.

Christopher Sabat (left) and Sean Schemmel (right) have provided Funimation's English dub voices for Vegeta and Goku, respectively, since 1999.

In 2005, Funimation began to re-dub episodes 1-67 with their in-house voice cast, including content originally cut from their dub with Saban.[3] This dub's background score was composed by Nathan M. Johnson (Funimation had ceased working with Faulconer Productions after the final episode of Dragon Ball Z in 2003). Funimation's new uncut dub of these episodes aired on Cartoon Network as part of its Monday-Thursday late night time slot, beginning in June 2005. Funimation's later remastered DVDs of the series saw them redub portions of the dialogue, mostly after episode 67, and had the option to play the entire series' dub with both the American and Japanese background music.

In January 2011, Funimation and Toei announced that they would stream Dragon Ball Z within 30 minutes before their simulcast of One Piece. As of 2017, Dragon Ball Z is no longer being streamed on Hulu.

The Funimation dubbed episodes also aired in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand. However, beginning with episode 108 (123 uncut), Westwood Media (in association with Ocean Studios) produced an alternate English dub, distributed to Europe by AB Groupe. The alternate dub was created for broadcast in the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland, although it also aired in Canada beginning from episode 168 (183 uncut) to fulfill Canadian content requirements. Funimation's in-house dub continued to air in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. The Westwood Media production used the same voice cast from the original 53-episode dub produced by Funimation, it featured an alternate soundtrack by Tom Keenlyside and John Mitchell,[4] though most of this score was pieces Ocean reused from other productions Keenlyside and Mitchell had scored for them, and it used the same scripts and video master as the TV edit of Funimation's in-house dub. The Westwood Media dub never received a home video release. In Australia, Dragon Ball Z was broadcast by the free-to-air commercial network, Network Ten during morning children's programming, Cheez TV, originally using the censored Funimation/Saban dub before switching to Funimation's in-house dub. Dragon Ball Z originally aired on the British Comedy Network in Fall 1998. The Independent (London), March 5, 2000.

Editing[change | change source]

Dragon Ball Z's original North American release was the subject of heavy editing which resulted in a large amount of removed content and alterations that greatly changed the original work. Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga is often criticized for his role in the editing; but it was the initial distributor Saban which required such changes or they would not air the work, as was the case with the episode dealing with orphans.

Steven Simmons, who did the subtitling for Funimation's home video releases, offered commentary on the subtitling from a project and technical standpoint, addressing several concerns. The typographical errors in the script were caused by dashes (—) and double-quotes (") failing to appear, which resulted in confusing dialogue.

Music[change | change source]

Shunsuke Kikuchi composed the score for Dragon Ball Z. The opening theme for the first 199 episodes is "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" performed by Hironobu Kageyama. The second opening theme used up until the series finale at episode 291 is "We Gotta Power" also performed by Kageyama. The ending theme used for the first 199 episodes is "Detekoi Tobikiri Zenkai Power!" (でてこいとびきりZENKAIパワー!, "Come Out, Incredible Full Power!") performed by MANNA.

Home media[change | change source]

In Japan, Dragon Ball Z did not receive a home video release until 2003, seven years after its broadcast. This was a remastering of the series in two 26-disc DVD box sets, that were made-to-order only, released on March 19 and September 18 and referred to as "Dragon Boxes." The content of these sets began being released on mass-produced individual 6-episode DVDs on November 2, 2005, and finished with the 49th volume released on February 7, 2007.[5][6]

The international home release structure of Dragon Ball Z is complicated by the licensing and release of the companies involved in producing and distributing the work. Releases of the media occurred on both VHS and DVD with separate edited and uncut versions being released simultaneously. Both versions of the edited and uncut material are treated as different entries and would frequently make Billboard rankings as separate entries. Home release sales were featured prominently on the Nielsen VideoScan charts.[3] Further complicating the release of the material was Funimation itself; which was known to release "DVDs out of sequence in order to get them out as fast as possible"; as in the case of their third season.[7] Pioneer Entertainment distributed the Funimation/Saban edited-only dub of 53 episodes on seventeen VHS between 1997 and 1999,[8][9] and seventeen DVDs throughout 1999.[10][11] Two box sets separating them into the Saiyan and Namek arcs were also released on VHS in 1999,[12][13] and on DVD in 2001.[14][15] Funimation's own distribution of their initial onward dub, which began with episode 54, in edited or uncut VHS ran between 1999 and 2006.[16][17][18] A DVD version was produced alongside these, although they were only produced uncut and contained the option to watch the original Japanese with subtitles.[19][20]

In 2005, Funimation began releasing their onward dub of the beginning of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, marking the first time the episodes were seen uncut in North America.[21] However, only nine volumes were released, leaving it incomplete.[22] Instead, Funimation remastered and cropped the entire series into 16:9 widescreen format and began re-releasing it to DVD in nine individual "season" box sets; the first set released on February 6, 2007 and the final on May 19, 2009.[23][24] In July 2009, Funimation announced that they would be releasing the Japanese frame-by-frame "Dragon Box" restoration of Dragon Ball Z in North America. These seven limited edition collector's DVD box sets were released uncut in the show's original 4:3 fullscreen format between November 10, 2009 and October 11, 2011.[25]

In March 2019, Funimation announced plans to release a 30th anniversary Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z, with the box set being remastered in 4:3 aspect ratio, and containing an art book and a collectible figure. It would be crowdfunded, originally requiring a minimum of 2500 pre-orders in order to be manufactured, but was later increased to a minimum of 3,000 units. The release sparked controversy amongst fans due to the framing of the video, color saturation, and digital video noise reduction. Funimation responded by stating that they cropped the release by going in "scene-by-scene to make judgments based on the image available in each frame of how much to trim to get to a consistent 4:3 aspect ratio, while still attempting to cut a little out of the picture as possible," and that they felt the digital video noise reduction was "mandatory for this release based on the different levels of fan support from various past DBZ releases with different levels of noise reduction over the years.

The Dragon Ball Z films comprise a total of 15 entries as of 2015. The first 13 films were typically released every March and July during the series' original run in accordance with the spring and summer vacations of Japanese schools. They were typically double features paired up with other anime films, and were thus, usually an hour or less in length. These films themselves offer contradictions in both chronology and design that make them incompatible with a single continuity. All 15 films were licensed in North America by Funimation, and all have received in-house dubs by the company. Prior to Funimation, the third film was a part of the short-lived Saban syndication, being split into three episodes, and the first three films received uncut English dubs in 1998 produced by Funimation with Ocean Studios and released by Pioneer. Several of the films have been broadcast on Cartoon Network and Nicktoons in the United States, Toonami UK in the United Kingdom (these featured an alternate English dub produced by an unknown cast by AB Groupe), and Cartoon Network in Australia.

Television specials and original video animations[change | change source]

Three TV specials based on Dragon Ball Z were produced and broadcast on Fuji TV. The first two were Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku in 1990 and Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks in 1993, the latter being based on a special chapter of the original manga. Both were licensed by Funimation in North America and AB Groupe in Europe. In 2013, a two-part hour-long crossover with One Piece and Toriko, titled Dream 9 Toriko & One Piece & Dragon Ball Z Chō Collaboration Special!!, was created and aired.

Additionally, two original video animations (OVAs) bearing the Dragon Ball Z title have been made. The first is Dragon Ball Z Side Story: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans, which was originally released in 1993 in two parts as "Official Visual Guides" for the video game of the same title. Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans was a 2010 remake of this OVA. None of the OVAs have been dubbed into English, and the only one to see a release in North America is the 2010 remake, which was subtitled and included as a bonus feature in Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2.

Video games[change | change source]

There are over 57 video games bearing the Dragon Ball Z name across a range of platforms from the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom to the current generation consoles. Also included are arcade games like Super Dragon Ball Z, which would eventually be ported to consoles.

In North America, licensing rights had been given to both Namco Bandai and Atari. In 1999, Atari acquired exclusive rights to the video games through Funimation, a deal which was extended for five more years in 2005.[26] A 2007 dispute would end with Atari paying Funimation $3.5 million.[27] In July 2009, Namco Bandai was reported to have obtained exclusive rights to release the games for a period of five years.[28] This presumably would have taken effect after Atari's licensing rights expired at the end of January 2010.[27]

Soundtracks[change | change source]

Dragon Ball Z has been host to numerous soundtrack releases with works like "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" and a series of 21 soundtracks released as part of the Dragon Ball Z Hit Song Collection Series. In total, dozens of releases exist for Dragon Ball Z which includes Japanese and foreign adapted releases of the anime themes and video game soundtracks.

Reception[change | change source]

In Asia, the Dragon Ball Z franchise, including the anime and merchandising, earned a profit of $3 billion by 1999.[29] In the United States, the series sold over 25 million DVDs as of January 2012.[30] Dragon Ball fans set a Guinness World Record for Largest Kamehameha attack move at San Diego Comic con on July 17, 2019.[31]

Cultural impact and legacy[change | change source]

Dragon Ball Z was listed as the 78th best animated show in IGN's "Top 100 Animated Series",[32] and was also listed as the 50th greatest animated show in Wizard magazine's "Top 100 Greatest Animated shows" list.[33] The series ranked #6 on Wizard's Anime Magazine on their "Top 50 Anime released in North America".[34]

Dragon Ball Z's popularity is reflected through a variety of data through online interactions which show the popularity of the media. In 2001, it was reported that the official website of Dragon Ball Z recorded 4.7 million hits per day and included 500,000+ registered fans.[35] The term "Dragonball Z" ranked 4th in 1999 and 2nd in 2000 by Lycos' web search engine.[36][37] For 2001, "Dragonball" was the most popular search on Lycos and "Dragonball Z" was fifth on Yahoo!.[38]

In 2005, media historian Hal Erickson wrote that "Dragon Ball may be the closest thing on American television to an animated soap opera — though this particular genre is an old, established and venerated one in Japan, the series' country of origin.

Merchandising[change | change source]

Dragon Ball Z merchandise was a success prior to its peak American interest, with more than $3 billion in sales from 1996 to 2000.[39] In 1996, Dragon Ball Z grossed $2.95 billion in merchandise sales worldwide.[40] As of January 2012, Dragon Ball Z grossed $5 billion in merchandise sales worldwide.[30]

In 1998, Animage-ine Entertainment, a division of Simitar, announced the sale of Chroma-Cels, mock animation cels to capitalize on the popularity of Dragon Ball Z.[41] The original sale was forecasted for late 1998, but were pushed back to January 12, 1999.[42]

An acrylic replica of the Five-Star Dragon Ball.

In December 2002, Jakks Pacific signed a three-year deal for licensing Dragon Ball Z toys, which was possible because of the bankruptcy of Irwin Toy. Jakks Pacific's Dragon Ball Z 5-inch figures were cited as impressive for their painting and articulation.[43]

In 2010, Toei closed deals in Central and South American countries which included Algazarra, Richtex, Pil Andina, DTM, Doobalo and Bondy Fiesta.[44] In 2012, Brazil's Abr-Art Bag Rio Comercio Importacao e Exportacao closed a deal with Toei.[45]

Notes[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Dragon Ball Z". Funimation. Archived from the original on August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  2. "Dragon Ball Z, Vol. 1". Viz Media. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 De La Cruz, Edwin (November 23, 2003). "'Dragon Ball Z' keeps up the momentum". Video Store. Questex Media Group, Inc. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  4. Dragon Ball Z end credits (Westwood Media dub, c. 2001)
  5. "DRAGON BALL Z 第1巻 [DVD]". Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  6. "DRAGON BALL Z ♯49 [DVD]". February 7, 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  7. "Dragon Ball Z news". Anime News Network. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  8. Dragonball Z, Vol. 1: Arrival [VHS]. ASIN 630455818X.
  9. "Dragon Ball Z — Super Saiyan (Vol. 17)(Episodes 50-53) [VHS]". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  10. "Dragonball Z, Vol. 1 – Arrival (1999)". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  11. "Dragonball Z, Vol. 17 – Super Saiyan (1999)". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  12. "Dragon Ball Z — The Saiyan Conflict (Boxed Set I — Episodes 1-25) [VHS]". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  13. "Dragon Ball Z — The Namek Saga (Boxed Set II — Episodes 26-53) [VHS]". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  14. "Dragon Ball Z — The Saiyan Conflict (Boxed Set I — Episodes 1-25)". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  15. "Dragon Ball Z — The Namek Saga (Boxed Set II — Episodes 26-53)". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  16. Dragonball Z, Vol. 18 – Captain Ginyu: Assault [VHS]. ASIN 6305452725.
  17. Dragonball Z, Vol. 18 – Captain Ginyu: Assault (Uncut) [VHS]. ASIN 6305452733.
  18. "Dragon Ball Z: Kid Buu — New Beginning [VHS]". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  19. "Dragonball Z, Vol. 18 – Captain Ginyu: Assault". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  20. "Dragon Ball Z — Kid Buu — A New Beginning". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  21. "DragonBall Z: Vegeta Saga 1 – Saiyan Showdown ( Vol. 1 )". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  22. "DragonBall Z: Vegeta Saga 2 – Saiyan Invasion ( Vol. 1 )". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  23. "Dragon Ball Z: Season One (Vegeta Saga)". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  24. "Dragon Ball Z: Season Nine (Majin Buu Saga)". Amazon. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  25. "Funimation Entertainment Announces First U.S. Release of Dragon Box" (Press release). Funimation. July 20, 2009. Archived from the original on September 15, 2009. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  26. "Atari and FUNimation Extend Dragon Ball License". Wireless News. Close-Up Media, Inc. January 11, 2005. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Atari Settles 'Dragonball Z' (ALL) Dispute With FUNimation". Worthplaying. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  28. "Namco Bandai Locks Down Dragon Ball License For America". Kotaku. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  29. Erickson, Hal (2005). Television cartoon shows: an illustrated encyclopedia, 1949 through 2003. McFarland & Company. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-7864-2255-5. Introduced in Japan as Doragon boru Z in 1989, the property was successful enough in anime form, but the attendant merchandising of toys, action figures and video games went through the roof; within ten years, profits in Asia alone totaled $3 billion.
  30. 30.0 30.1 "Funimation January 2012 Catalog" (PDF). thecnl.com. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  31. Dhiman, Govind (July 30, 2019). "Watch Dragon Ball Super- #1 Anime Without Fillers". Hi Tech Gazette. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  32. "78. Dragon Ball Z". IGN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  33. "Wizard Magazine's Top 100 cartoons list". Listal. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  34. "Wizard lists Top 50 Anime". Anime News Network. July 6, 2001. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  35. Azoulay, Julia F (June 1, 2001). "Character study: CB offers a licensing show cheat sheet". Children's Business. Conde Nast Publications, Inc. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  36. Evers, Joris (December 20, 2000). "Britney Spears tops Lycos 2000 search terms list". Network World. Network World Inc./IDG. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  37. Phan, Monty (January 14, 2001). "Ugh, they did it again -- and again". Post-Tribune (IN). Sun-Times News Group. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  38. Schorow, Stephanie (January 8, 2002). "Predictably, Nostradamus tops searches on Internet". Boston Herald. Herald Media, LLC. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  39. "Burger King Uses Kids' Meals to Promote Japanese Cartoon Series.(Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News)". Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. June 5, 2000. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  40. "Manga, anime rooted in Japanese history". The Indianapolis Star. August 2, 1997.
  41. "Ani-Mag announces Chroma-Cels of Sailor Moon, DBZ". Anime News Network. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  42. "News Briefs (posted on December 12, 1998)". Anime News Network. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  43. Bump on Head Does Good for Warrior, Target Earth, Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 3, 2005.
  44. "Toei seals Latin America deals". Licensing.biz. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  45. "Toei lands licensing deal for Dragon Ball Z". Kidscreen. Retrieved May 28, 2013.

Further reading[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]