Dragon Ball Z

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Dragon Ball Z
DB z.png
Dragon Ball Z logo
ドラゴンボールゼット
(Doragon Bōru Zetto)
GenreAction, comedy, adventure, drama, martial arts, science fantasy
Anime television series
Directed byDaisuke Nishio
Music byShunsuke Kikuchi
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
NetworkFuji TV (1989-1996), Animax, Tokyo MX
English network
Original runApril 26, 1989January 31, 1996
Episodes291 (List of episodes)
Anime film series
StudioToei Animation
ReleasedJuly 15, 1989March 30, 2013
Films16 (14 released in theaters, 2 direct to TV) (List of films)
Original video animation
Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans
Directed byShigeyasu Yamauchi
Produced byKozo Morishita
Written byTakao Koyama
Music byKeiju Ishikawa
StudioBird Studio
ReleasedSeptember 6, 1993
Runtime26 minutes (each)
Episodes2
Original video animation
Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans
Directed byYoshihiro Ueda
Produced byTomoaki Imanishi
Hiroyuki Kinoshita
Written byHitoshi Tanaka
Music byHiroshi Takaki
StudioBird Studio
ReleasedNovember 11, 2010
Runtime30 minutes
Anime television series
Dragon Ball Z Kai
Directed byYasuhiro Nowatari
Music byKenji Yamamoto (1–95), Shunsuke Kikuchi (96–98)
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
NetworkFuji TV (2009-2011)
English network
Nicktoons, The CW (Toonzai (2010-2012), Vortexx (2012-present))
Original runApril 5, 2009March 27, 2011
Episodes98 (List of episodes)
Dragon Ball franchise
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Dragon Ball Z
DB z.png
Dragon Ball Z logo
ドラゴンボールゼット
(Doragon Bōru Zetto)
GenreAction, comedy, adventure, drama, martial arts, science fantasy
Anime television series
Directed byDaisuke Nishio
Music byShunsuke Kikuchi
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
NetworkFuji TV (1989-1996), Animax, Tokyo MX
English network
Original runApril 26, 1989January 31, 1996
Episodes291 (List of episodes)
Anime film series
StudioToei Animation
ReleasedJuly 15, 1989March 30, 2013
Films16 (14 released in theaters, 2 direct to TV) (List of films)
Original video animation
Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans
Directed byShigeyasu Yamauchi
Produced byKozo Morishita
Written byTakao Koyama
Music byKeiju Ishikawa
StudioBird Studio
ReleasedSeptember 6, 1993
Runtime26 minutes (each)
Episodes2
Original video animation
Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans
Directed byYoshihiro Ueda
Produced byTomoaki Imanishi
Hiroyuki Kinoshita
Written byHitoshi Tanaka
Music byHiroshi Takaki
StudioBird Studio
ReleasedNovember 11, 2010
Runtime30 minutes
Anime television series
Dragon Ball Z Kai
Directed byYasuhiro Nowatari
Music byKenji Yamamoto (1–95), Shunsuke Kikuchi (96–98)
StudioToei Animation
Licensed by
NetworkFuji TV (2009-2011)
English network
Nicktoons, The CW (Toonzai (2010-2012), Vortexx (2012-present))
Original runApril 5, 2009March 27, 2011
Episodes98 (List of episodes)
Dragon Ball franchise
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールゼット Doragon Bōru Zetto?, commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is an anime television series produced by Toei Animation. Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to the Dragon Ball anime and adapts the last 26 volumes of the original 42 volume Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. The anime series debuted in 1988-1995 on Weekly Shounen Jump. It first aired in Japan from April 25, 1989, to January 31, 1996,[1] and was dubbed in several territories around the world, including the United States, Australia, Europe, and in Latin America.

Dragon Ball Z details the continuing adventure of Goku as a young adult and father to his son Gohan. After learning he is a Saiyan, Goku dies and is revived after training in the afterlife under the god North Kaiō. Goku defends Earth from the Saiyans under Vegeta, and leaves Earth to ultimately defeat them again and the galactic tyrant Frieza. Three years later an evil life form called Cell holds a fighting tournament to decide the fate of the Earth. Goku sacrifices his own life and Gohan avenges his father by defeating Cell. Seven years later, Goku is revived and quickly drawn into a fight against a magical being named Majin Buu. After numerous battles, destruction and recreation of the Earth, Goku destroys Buu with the energy of everyone on Earth.

Due to the success of the anime in America, the manga comprising Dragon Ball Z was released by Viz Media under the title Dragon Ball Z. Additional manga works, called animanga, were released which adapt the animation to manga form. Dragon Ball Z's popularity has spawned numerous releases which have come to represent the majority of content in the Dragon Ball universe; including 14 movies and 57 video games and a host of soundtracks stemming from this material. Dragon Ball Z remains a cultural icon through numerous adaptations including the latest re-release as Dragon Ball Kai.

Plot[edit]

In the original goku sucks Japanese manga release, the Dragon Ball manga includes the story of Dragon Ball Z. For the anime, the story picks up after the events of the manga which detailed a young monkey-tailed boy named Goku befriending a teenage girl named Bulma. Together they go on a quest to find the seven Dragon Balls (ドラゴンボール Doragon Bōru?), which summons the dragon Shenlong to grant the user one wish. The journey lead to a confrontation with the desert bandit Yamcha, who later becomes an ally; Chi-Chi, whom Goku marries. Goku then undergoes rigorous training regimes under the martial arts master Kame-Sen'nin in order to fight in the Tenkaichi Budōkai (天下一武道会?, "Strongest Under the Heavens Martial Arts Tournament") and befriends a monk named Kuririn. After the tournament, Goku recovers the four star Dragon Ball his Grandfather left him and encounters and defeats the Red Ribbon Army and defeats the hired assassin Taopaipai. Goku reunites with his friends to defeat the fortuneteller Baba Uranai's fighters and have her locate the last Dragon Ball in order to revive a friend killed by Taopaipai. During the Tenkaichi Budōkai three years later Goku meets Kame-Sen'nin's rival and Taopaipai's brother, Tsuru-Sen'nin, and his students Tenshinhan and Chaozu, who vow to exact revenge. Kuririn is killed after the tournament and Goku tracks and defeats his killer, Piccolo Daimao (Demon King). Goku fights Piccolo Daimao, who just before dying, spawns his son/reincarnation Piccolo. Goku trains under Kami (God), the original creator of the Dragon Balls, and after Kami restores Shenlong, Goku wishes his friends back to life. Reuniting with his friends three years later at the Tenkaichi Budōkai World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku defeats Piccolo Jr. and marries Chi Chi.

Dragon Ball Z continues the story with Goku as a young adult and father to his son Gohan. Raditz arrives on Earth in a spacecraft, finds his younger brother Goku and reveals to him that they are members of a nearly extinct extraterrestrial race called the Saiyans (サイヤ人 Saiya-jin?). The Saiyans had sent Goku to Earth as an infant to conquer the planet for them, but he suffered a severe head injury soon after his arrival and lost all memory of his mission, as well as his blood-thirsty Saiyan nature. Goku refuses to help Raditz continue the mission and decides to team up with Piccolo in order to defeat Raditz, while sacrificing his own life in the process. In the afterlife Goku trains under the North Kaiō until he is revived by the Dragon Balls in order to save the Earth from Nappa and the Saiyan prince Vegeta. In the battle Yamcha, Chaozu, Tenshinhan and Piccolo are killed, and the Dragon Balls cease to exist. Kuririn and the galactic tyrant Freeza learn of another set of more powerful Dragon Balls by overhearing Vegeta and Nappa talk about the Dragon Balls on planet Namek (ナメック星 Namekku-sei?). Bulma, Gohan, and Kuririn depart for Namek in order to use them to revive their friends. However, Freeza is already there, seeking the dragon balls to ask the dragon for eternal life, which leads to several battles with his henchmen and Vegeta. Realizing he's overpowered, Vegeta teams up with the heroes to fight the Ginyu Force, a team of mercenaries thought to be some of the strongest in the universe. After Goku arrives, the final battle with Freeza himself comes to a close when Goku transforms into a legendary Super Saiyan (超サイヤ人 Sūpā Saiya-jin?) and defeats him.

A group of Androids (人造人間 Jinzōningen?, "Artificial Humans") created by a member of the former Red Ribbon Army, Doctor Gero, appear three years later, seeking revenge against Goku. These androids were programmed by Doctor Gero to kill Goku. During this time, an evil life form also created by Doctor Gero, called Cell emerges and after absorbing two of the Androids to achieve his "perfect form," holds his own fighting tournament to decide the fate of the Earth. After Goku sacrifices his own life to no avail, Gohan avenges his father by defeating Cell after ascending to the second level of the legendary Super Saiyan. Seven years later Goku, who has been briefly revived for one day, and his allies are drawn into a fight against a magical being named Majin Buu, created by the evil wizard Bibidi and resurrected by his son, called Babidi. After numerous battles resulting in the destruction and recreation of the Earth, Goku destroys Buu with a Genki-Dama attack containing the energy of everyone on Earth. Goku makes a wish for Majin Buu to be reincarnated as a good person and ten years later, at another Tenkaichi Budōkai, Goku meets Buu's human reincarnation, Oob. Leaving the match between them unfinished, Goku departs with Oob to train him to become Earth's new guardian.

Cast list[edit]

Dragon Ball Z[edit]

Character nameVoice actor (Japanese)Voice actor (Ocean Group)Voice actor (Funimation)Voice actor (Blue Water)
Son GokuMasako NozawaIan Corlett (1-37)
Peter Kelamis (38-53)
Sean SchemmelPeter Kelamis
Kirby Morrow
Son GohanMasako NozawaSaffron HendersonStephanie Nadolny (child)
Kyle Hebert (teen)
Saffron Henderson
Jillian Michaels
Brad Swaile
Son GotenMasako NozawaN/AKara EdwardsJillian Michaels
PiccoloToshio FurukawaScott McNeilChristopher SabatScott McNeil
VegetaRyō HorikawaBrian DrummondChristopher SabatBrian Drummond
NappaShōzō IizukaMichael DobsonPhil ParsonsN/A
BulmaHiromi TsuruLalainia LindbjergTiffany VollmerMaggie Blue O'Hara
TrunksTakeshi KusaoN/ALaura BaileyCathy Weseluck
Future TrunksTakeshi KusaoN/AEric ValeAlistair Abell
KrillinMayumi TanakaTerry KlassenSonny StraitTerry Klassen
YajirobeMayumi TanakaBrian DrummondMike McFarlandBrian Drummond
YamchaToru FuruyaTed ColeChristopher SabatTed Cole
Pu'arNaoko WatanabeCathy WeseluckMonika AntonelliCathy Weseluck
Tien ShinhanHirotaka SuzuokiMatt SmithChris Cason (54-92, original dub)
John Burgmeier (onwards)
Matt Smith
ChiaotzuHiroko EmoriCathy WeseluckMonika AntonelliCathy Weseluck
Chi-ChiMayumi Sho (1-66)
Naoko Watanabe (88-291)
Laara SadiqCynthia CranzLaara Sadiq
Master RoshiKōhei Miyauchi (2-260)
Hiroshi Masuoka (288-291)
Ian Corlett (1-37)
Peter Kelamis (38-53)
Mike McFarlandTerry Klassen
LaunchMami KoyamaTeryl RotheryMeredith McCoyCathy Weseluck
OolongNaoki TatsutaDoug ParkerMark Britten (54-92, original dub)
Bradford Jackson (onwards)
Doug Parker
Mr. Satan/HerculeDaisuke GōriN/AChris RagerDon Brown
VidelYuko MinaguchiN/AKara EdwardsMoneca Stori
Mr. PopoYasuhiko KawazuAlvin SandersChris Cason (54-92, original dub)
Christopher Sabat (onwards)
Alvin Sanders
KorinIchirō Nagai (26-192)
Naoki Tatsuta (238-285)
Doug ParkerChristopher Sabat
Ted Cole
FriezaRyūsei NakaoPauline NewstoneLinda YoungPauline Newstone
No. 19Yukitoshi HoriN/APhillip WilburnPatricia Drake
Dr. Gero/No. 20Kōji YadaN/AKent WilliamsBrian Dobson
No. 16Hikaru MidorikawaN/AJeremy InmanScott McNeil
No. 17Shigeru NakaharaN/AChuck HuberTed Cole
No. 18Miki ItōN/AMeredith McCoyEnuka Okuma
CellNorio WakamotoN/ADameon ClarkeDale Wilson
NarratorJōji YanamiDoc HarrisDale Kelly (54-180, original dub)
Kyle Hebert (onwards)
Doc Harris

Dragon Ball (Z) Kai[edit]

Character nameVoice actor (Japanese)Voice actor (Funimation)
Son GokuMasako NozawaSean Schemmel
Son GohanMasako NozawaColleen Clinkenbeard
PiccoloToshio FurukawaChristopher Sabat
VegetaRyō HorikawaChristopher Sabat
BulmaHiromi TsuruMonica Rial
Future TrunksTakeshi KusaoEric Vale
KrillinMayumi TanakaSonny Strait
YajirobeMayumi TanakaMike McFarland
YamchaToru FuruyaChristopher Sabat
Tien ShinhanHikaru MidorikawaJohn Burgmeier
ChiaotzuHiroko EmoriBrina Palencia
Chi-ChiNaoko WatanabeCynthia Cranz
Master RoshiMasaharu SatōMike McFarland
OolongNaoki TatsutaBryan Massey
Mr. SatanUnshō IshizukaChris Rager
Mr. PopoYasuhiko KawazuChris Cason
KorinIchirō NagaiChristopher Sabat
No. 16Hikaru MidorikawaJeremy Inman
No. 17Shigeru NakaharaChuck Huber
No. 18Miki ItōColleen Clinkenbeard
FreezaRyūsei NakaoLinda Young (1)
Christopher Ayres (19 onward)
CellNorio WakamotoDameon Clarke
NarratorJōji YanamiDoc Morgan

Production[edit]

The title "Dragon Ball Z" was chosen by Akira Toriyama because Z was the last letter of the alphabet and he wanted to finish the series because he was running out of ideas for Dragon Ball.[2] Conventional knowledge in Japan used the "Z" only for the anime to separate Goku's childhood and adult life. Dragon Ball Z is adapted from the final 26 volumes of the manga series which was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1988–1995, 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.[3]

Because Toriyama was writing the manga during the production of the anime, Dragon Ball Z was subject to lengthy "filler": material which is original and not adapted from the original manga source. An example of filler episodes is the run from the ninth episode "The Strangest Robot" through episode 17 "Pendulum Room Peril". Additional filler material included lengthening scenes or adding new ones, including new attacks and characters not present in the manga. This was occasionally necessary since Toriyama was writing the manga concurrently with production of the anime.[4]

Throughout the production, the voice actors were tasked with playing different characters and performing their lines on cue, switching between roles as necessary.[5] 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 was difficult, Masako Nozawa disagreed, saying she was able to switch roles upon seeing the character's picture.[5]

English production[edit]

In 1995, Funimation licensed Dragon Ball Z for an English-language release in the United States. They contracted Saban Entertainment to help finance and distribute the series to television, Pioneer Entertainment to handle home video distribution on VHS and DVD, Ocean Productions to dub the anime, and Shuki Levy (Saban's in-house musician) to compose an alternate musical score. This dub of Dragon Ball Z had mandated cuts to content and length, which reduced the first 67 episodes to 53.[6][7] Pioneer ceased its release at Volume 17 (the end of this dub), but retained the rights to produce an uncut subtitled version.[6] After Funimation concluded their partnership with Saban and Pioneer, it continued to dub and distribute the series by themselves. Funimation used their own in-house voice cast and included a new musical score composed by Bruce Faulconer. This dub was produced with no cuts, but edits were later made for the broadcast on Cartoon Network. In 2004, Pioneer lost its distribution rights to the first 53/67 episodes of Dragon Ball Z, allowing Funimation to re-dub them with their in-house voice cast and restore the removed content.[8] Funimation would take the original 67 episodes and reproduce them with the first releases of the uncut material appearing in 2005.[9] These episodes' American soundtrack was produced by Nathan Johnson. FUNimation's later remastered DVDs saw minor changes made to their in-house dub for quality and consistency, mostly after the episode 67 gap, and had the option to play the entire series' dub with both the American and Japanese background music.

The series premiered in the U.S. on September 13, 1996 in first-run syndication, but was cancelled after two seasons due to a lack of interest from syndication companies.[6] On August 31, 1998, re-runs of the cancelled dub began airing on Cartoon Network as part of the channel's Toonami programming block. Due to the success of these re-runs on Toonami, production on the series' English dub was resumed in the U.S. (with less censoring, due to fewer restrictions on cable programming) and Funimation's new in-house dub premiered on Toonami from September 13, 1999 to April 7, 2003, and continued to be broadcast on the network in reruns into 2008. KidsWB ran Dragon Ball Z in 2001.[10] After Funimation got back the rights to the first 67 episodes, they would air their own uncut dub of these episodes on Cartoon Network during the summer of 2005 (in late night, due to the unedited content).[11][12]

In January 2011, Funimation and Toei announced that they would stream Dragon Ball Z within 30 minutes before their simulcast of One Piece.[13] As of 2013, Dragon Ball Z is being streamed on Hulu, containing the English dub with the Japanese music and uncut footage, as well as subtitled Japanese episodes.

International releases[edit]

The 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 cut and uncut versions released simultaneously (with two VHS editions and one uncut DVD edition). Due to the popularity of the work both versions of the cut 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.[8] 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.[14]

In 2006, Funimation remastered and cut the episodes into 16:9 widescreen format and then began re-releasing the series to Region 1 DVD in nine individual season box sets. The first set was released on February 6, 2007; the final set on May 19, 2009. In July 2009, Funimation announced that they would again be re-releasing Dragon Ball Z in a new limited edition seven-volume DVD set called "Dragon Box Z", which was previously released in Japan as a two-volume set. Based on the original series masters with frame-by-frame restoration, the episodes are uncut and, unlike the previous season box sets, are presented in their original 4:3 fullscreen format. The first set was released on November 10, 2009; the final set on October 11, 2011.[15]

In July 2011, Funimation announced plans to release Dragon Ball Z in Blu-ray Disc format. Dragon Ball Z Level 1.1, containing the first 17 episodes, was released on November 8, 2011.[16][17][18] However, after the release of the second volume, Funimation suspended production of the rest of the Blu-ray releases, citing concerns over restoring the original film material frame by frame.[19]

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), AB Groupe and Westwood Media (in association with Ocean Productions) produced an alternate English dub to comply with Canadian broadcasting standards. The alternate dub was broadcast in the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland and Canada, while Funimation's dub continued to air in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Dragon Ball Z originally aired on the British Comedy Network in Fall 1998.[20] This production used some of the same voices from the original short lived dub syndicated in the U.S. (that was later on Toonami), was edited for content, featured an alternate musical score, and used much of the same script from Funimation's in-house dub.

Dragon Ball Z Kai[edit]

In February 2009, Toei Animation announced that it would begin broadcasting a revised version of Dragon Ball Z as part of the series' 20th anniversary celebrations. The series premiered on Fuji TV in Japan on April 5, 2009, under the name Dragon Ball Kai (ドラゴンボール改(カイ) Doragon Bōru Kai?, lit. "Dragon Ball Revised"). The ending suffix Kai (改「かい」?) in the name means "updated" or "altered" and reflects the improvements and corrections of the original work.[21] The original footage was remastered for HDTV, featuring updated opening and ending sequences, and a rerecording of the vocal tracks.[21][22] The footage was also re-edited to more closely follow the manga, resulting in a faster-moving story, and damaged frames were removed.[23]

On March 9, 2011, Toei announced that due to Kenji Yamamoto's score for Dragon Ball Kai infringing on the rights of an unknown third party, the score for remaining episodes and replays of previous episodes would be replaced.[24] Later reports from Toei claimed that with the exception of the series' opening and closing songs, as well as eyecatch music, Yamamoto's score was replaced with Shunsuke Kikuchi's original score from Dragon Ball Z. This change in background music would eventually affect all episodes of the series' English dub in the U.S. The series concluded with the finale of the Cell arc as opposed to including the Majin Buu arc. It was originally planned to run 98 episodes, however due to the Tōhoku offshore earthquake and tsunami, the final episode of Dragon Ball Kai was not aired and the series ended on its 97th episode in Japan on March 27, 2011.

On November 5, 2012, Mayumi Tanaka, the Japanese voice of Kuririn, announced that she and the rest of the cast are recording more episodes of Dragon Ball Z Kai.[25] She noted that the show will not be aired in Japan, but will be continuing overseas.[25] More recently, Sean Schemmel and Kyle Hebert, the Funimation dub voice actors for Goku and Gohan, announced that they've started recording for the English dub of these episodes.[26]

International release[edit]

Funimation licensed Dragon Ball Kai for an English-language release in the U.S., under the title Dragon Ball Z Kai. The series was broadcast on Nicktoons from May 24, 2010 to February 8, 2013.[27][28] In addition to Nicktoons, the series also began airing on The CW's Saturday-morning programming block, Toonzai, on August 14, 2010,[29] and continued to air on Toonzai's successor, Vortexx, which began on August 25, 2012. Both the Nicktoons and Toonzai/Vortexx airings have been edited for content, though the Toonzai/Vortexx version is censored even more so than Nicktoons' (for example, Mr. Popo was recolored from black to blue to avoid perceived blackface accusations), most likely due to The CW being a broadcast network. In addition to the TV airings, Funimation has also released bilingual Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray box sets of Dragon Ball Z Kai. These box sets contain the original Japanese audio track with English subtitles, as well as the uncut version of the English dub, which does not contain any of the edits made for the TV airings.[30]

CSC Media Group acquired the broadcast rights to Dragon Ball Z Kai in the United Kingdom and began airing it on Kix! in early 2013.[31][32][33]

Theme songs[edit]

The opening theme for the first 199 episodes, as well as the first 9 movies, is "Cha-La Head-Cha-La", as performed by Hironobu Kageyama. The opening theme used for the series up until its finale at episode 291, and films 10 through 12, is "We Gotta Power", also performed by Kageyama. The ending theme used for the first 194 episodes is "Detekoi Tobikiri Zenkai Power!" (でてこいとびきりZENKAIパワー! Detekoi Tobikiri ZENKAI Pawā!?, "Come Out, Incredible Full Power!") performed by MANNA. The ending theme used for the remaining episodes is "Boku-tachi wa Tenshi datta" (僕達は天使だった?, "We Used to be Angels"), performed by Kageyama.

Related media[edit]

Manga[edit]

While the manga was all titled Dragon Ball in Japan, due to the popularity of the Dragon Ball Z anime in the west, Viz Media changed the title of the last 26 volumes of the manga to "Dragon Ball Z" to avoid confusion. The volumes were originally published in Japan between 1989 and 1995. It began serialization in the American Shonen Jump, beginning in the middle of the series with the Cyborg Saga; the tankōbon volumes of both Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball were released simultaneously by Viz Media in the United States.[34][35] In March 2001, Viz continued this separation by re-shipping the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z titles starting with the first volumes of each work.[36] Viz's marketing for the manga made distinct the differences between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z tone. Viz billed Dragon Ball Z: "More action-packed than the stories of Goku's youth, Dragon Ball Z is pure adrenaline, with battles of truly Earth-shaking proportions!"[37]

Films[edit]

The Dragon Ball Z films comprise a total of 14 entries as of 2013. The films were typically released in March and July 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. The Dragon Ball Z films consist of stories that are stand alone entries, not canon with the anime, with the exception of Battle of Gods. The films themselves offer contradictions in both chronology and design that make them incompatible with a single continuity. Examples include Gohan having a tail when he should not, or characters able to undergo Super Saiyan transformations when they were unable to in the continuity of the series. The first 13 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 production, being split into three episodes, and the first three films received uncut English dubs in 1998 produced by Pioneer and Ocean Studios. Several of the films have been broadcast on both Cartoon Network and Nicktoons in the United States, Toonami UK in the United Kingdom (some featuring alternate English dubs produced with an unknown cast by AB Groupe), and Cartoon Network in Australia. The most recent film, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, has not been licensed in English-speaking countries.

Television specials and original video animations[edit]

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 later 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[edit]

There are over 57 video game releases bearing the name Dragon Ball Z 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.[38] A 2007 dispute would end with Atari paying Funimation $3.5 million.[39] In July 2009, Namco Bandai was reported to have obtained exclusive rights to release the games for a period of five years.[40] This presumably would have taken effect after Atari's licensing rights expired at the end of January 2010.[39]

Soundtracks[edit]

Dragon Ball Z has been host to numerous soundtrack releases with works like "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" and a series of 20 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[edit]

Censorship[edit]

Dragon Ball Z's original American release was the subject of heavy censorship which resulted in a large amounts of removed content and alterations that greatly changed the original work. Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga is often criticized for his role in the censorship; but it was the distributor Saban which required such changes or they would not air the work, as was the case with the episode "Orphans".[41][Note 1] Much of these changes included altering every aspect of the show from character names, clothing, scenes and dialogue of the show. The character Mr. Satan was renamed Hercule and this change has been retained in other English media such as Viz's Dragon Ball Z manga and video games, which includes referring to his name, erroneously, as "Hercule Satan" in Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22.[42] The dialogue changes would sometimes contradict the scenes itself; after the apparent fatal explosion of a helicopter the character said, "It's okay, I can see their parachutes!"[41] Funimation's redub for the 2005 release would address many of the censorship issues that were required by Saban, with the uncut releases preserving the integrity of the original Japanese release.

During the original Japanese TV airing of Dragon Ball Kai, scenes involving blood and brief nudity were censored. A rumor that Cartoon Network would be airing Kai uncut was met with an official statement to debunk the rumor in June 2010.[43] Nicktoons would also censor Kai; it released a preview showcasing these changes which included removing blood and cheek scar from Bardock and altering the color of Roshi's alcohol.[44] The show was further edited for its broadcast on Toonzai and Vortexx, but the show's DVD and Blu-ray releases only contained the edits present in the original Japanese version.

Steven Simmons, who did the subtitling for Funimation's home video releases, offered commentary on the subtitling from a project and technical stand point, addressing several concerns.[45][Note 2] Simmons noted that Gen Fukunaga did not want any swearing on the discs, but because there was no taboo word list Simmons would substitute a variation in the strength of the words by situation with the changes starting in episode 21.[46] The typographical errors in the script were caused by dashes (—) and double-quotes (") failing to appear, which resulted in confusing dialogue.[46]

Cultural impact and legacy[edit]

Dragon Ball Z was listed as the 78th best animated show in IGN's "Top 100 Animated Series",[47] and was also listed as the 50th greatest cartoon in Wizard magazine's "Top 100 Greatest Cartoons" list.[48]

Dragon Ball Z's popularity is reflected through a variety of data through online interactions which show the popularity of the media. In 2001, Children's Business reported that the official website of Dragon Ball Z records 4.7 million hits per day and included 500,000+ registered fans.[49] The term "Dragonball Z", ranked 4th in 1999 and 2nd in 2000 by Lycos' web search engine.[50][51] For 2001, "Dragonball" was the most popular search on Lycos and "Dragonball Z" was fifth on Yahoo!.[52]

Ratings[edit]

Dragon Ball Z's Japanese run was very popular with an average viewer ratings of 20.5% across the series. The first episode of Dragon Ball Kai earned a viewer ratings percentage of 11.3, ahead of One Piece and behind Crayon Shin-chan.[53] Although following episodes had lower ratings, Kai was among the top 10 anime in viewer ratings every week in Japan for most of its run.[54][55] Towards the end of the original run the ratings hovered around 9%-10%.[56][57]

In 2001, Cartoon Network obtained licensing to run 96 more episodes and air the original Dragon Ball anime and was the top rated show in the Toonami block of Cartoon network.[58] Beginning March 26, 2001, Cartoon Network ran a 12-week special promotion "Toonami Reactor" which included a focus on Dragon Ball Z, which would stream episodes online to high-speed internet users.[59] Many home video releases were met with both the edited and unedited versions placing on in the top 10 video charts of Billboard. For example, "The Dark Prince Returns" (containing episodes 226-228) and "Rivals" (containing episodes 229-231) edited and unedited, made the Billboard magazine top video list for October 20, 2001.[60][Note 3] Dragon Ball Z Kai premiered on Nicktoons in May 2010 and set the record for the highest-rated premiere in total viewers, and in tweens and boys ages 9–14.[61]

Nielsen Mega Manila viewer ratings ranked Dragon Ball Kai with a viewer ratings with a high of 18.4% for October 30 – November 4 in 2012.[62] At the end of April 2013, Dragon Ball Kai would trail just behind One Piece at 14.2%.[63]

Merchandising[edit]

Dragon Ball Z merchandise was a success prior to its peak American interest, with more than $3 billion in sales from 1986-2000.[64] Though the merchandising of Dragon Ball Z would be a hit even into the holiday season.[65]

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.[66] The original sale was forecasted for late 1998, but were pushed back to January 12, 1999.[67]

In 2000, MGA Entertainment released more than twenty toys, consisting of table-top games and walkie-talkies.[68] Irwin Toy released more than 72 figures consisting of 2-inch and 5 inch action figures, which became top-selling toys in a market dominated by the Pokémon Trading Card Game.[69] Irwin Toys would release other unique Dragon Ball Z toys including a battery powered Flying Nimbus Cloud which hovered without touching the ground and a die-cast line of vehicles with collector capsules.[70] In June 2000, Burger King had a toy promotion which would see 20 million figurines; Burger King bore the cost of the promotion which provided free marketing for Funimation.[64] The Halloween Association found Dragon Ball Z costumes to be the fourth most popular costumes in their nationwide survey.[71]

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.[72] JAKKS Pacific's Dragon Ball Z 5-inch figures were cited as impressive for their painting and articulation.[73]

In 2010, Toei closed deals in Central and South American countries which included Algazarra, Richtex, Pil Andina, DTM, Doobalo and Bondy Fiesta.[74] In 2012, Brazil's Abr-Art Bag Rio Comercio Importacao e Exportacao closed a deal with Toei.[75]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The original interview was conducted by Steve Harmon with Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga in 1999 and was hosted on Harmon's personal website "The Vault". A record of the website exists on Archive.org, but the original interview itself was lost. The record was kept by Chris Psaros who provided a copy for the website "The Dragon Ball Z Otaku Alliance" which republished the original interview for this source.
  2. ^ Steven Simmons, who uses the nickname "Daimao" in websites like Toriyama.org, wrote the original scripts for the Funimation subtitles and was involved in the localization process. His comments are included as a primary source, but also definitively illustrate concerns with the subtitles, from its creator. This connection and background is noted at the accompanying Anime News Network reference.
  3. ^ The releases for both The Dark Prince Returns and Babidi: Showdown were released on September 25, 2001. The title "Showdown" was replaced with "Rivals" and contains episodes 229–231, titled "Vegeta's Pride", "The Long Awaited Flight", and "Magic Ball of Buu". Prior to the release, Billboard and news outlets including the Anime News Network and Anime Nation were using the title "Showdown"; but the UPC code match, indicating a re-titling for this release, "Rivals", also has a September 25, 2001, release date for the uncut material.

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External links[edit]