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Though the company has just brought the digital serialization to a close, the “Full Color” version of the Dragon Ball manga will live on in the print edition from Viz.
With the official worldwide release of the new fighting game Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z on game consoles, many more fans are becoming familiar with the God of Destruction from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. It seems that Bandai Namco’s decision to go with a localization of “Beerus” for his name has confused more than a few fans out there. What exactly is the name of the God of Destruction…?
A basic understanding of how words (and in this case names) are written in Japanese is the first step to understanding. There are three types of “alphabets”, so to speak, in Japanese: katakana (very basic phonetic symbols used to represent sounds, and typically also used to represent sounds in foreign words), hiragana (slightly more complex phonetic symbols also used to represent sounds, usually ones native to Japanese), and kanji (more elaborate characters used to represent things or ideas, but also having one or more corresponding pronunciations).
Very few Dragon Ball character names are written with kanji. The small selection includes Son Goku (孫悟空) and his children Son Gohan (孫悟飯) and Son Goten (孫悟天). A few others include Tenshinhan (天津飯), Chiaotzu (餃子), and others with titles rather than names, such as Kaiōshin (界王神) and Kame-Sen’nin (亀仙人).
Most Dragon Ball character names, however, are written in katakana. With so many names being puns rather than the exact words themselves, it makes sense to represent them phonetically this way. Even when the names literally are the exact words, they may be exact words from other languages, and so katakana still makes the most sense (things like “Trunks” as トランクス and “Cell” as セル).
That is one of the most important first points: virtually every given character name in the franchise is a pun on something, rather than an actual “name” (things like “Mike” or “Akira”).
A somewhat soft policy we have adopted here at Kanzenshuu is that, until we know the source of the pun for a new character’s name, we will typically write it out as an exact romanization of the original kana (and perhaps even further write that out in quotes). As such, for quite some time, we wrote out ビルス as “Birusu” (ビ = bi, ル = ru, ス = su).
And this is where the investigation begins!
With ウイス (uisu) so closely looking as if it came from “whiskey” (ウイスキー or uisukī), we asked Battle of Gods scriptwriter Yūsuke Watanabe if both names may actually be a play on alcoholic beverages, and furthermore, if ビルス may actually be a play on “pilsner”. Watanabe responded that this was in fact not the source of the name puns, so it was back to square one for us!
It turned out there was more to this story, however. We have since learned (via an interview with Watanabe in DVD & Blu-ray Magazine) that in the original drafts for the film, Watanabe had written a scenario in which the God of Destruction was actually the one responsible for originally infecting the Saiyans with evil. This was the pun source Watanabe had intended (as explicitly stated in an interview with GetNavi): that “Birusu” was in fact a sort of “virus”.
This is where things start getting complicated… at least for a little bit.
Initially in Japan, the word “virus” was taken directly from Chinese, written as 病毒 (byōdoku), but this has since been phased out of use. In 1953, the “Japanese Society for Virology” established an alternative Japanese approximation of the word based on the original Latin pronunciation, which is written in katakana as ウイルス (uirusu). However there was much confusion, as the “Japanese Association of Medical Sciences” had begun using a different approximation based on the German pronunciation of the word, which is also written in katakana as ビールス (bīrusu). In general, the former katakana approximation (ウイルス) is the more common of the two these days. The latter of the two approximations is still used, although chiefly within the medical field. In addition, the horticultural field uses yet another approximation, バイラス (bairasu), which is (rather obviously) derived from the English pronunciation of the word.
When original manga author Akira Toriyama came on board and switched up a great deal of the film’s back-history, however, he — admittedly, in an interview with the Asahi Shimbun — mistook the pun source for “Birusu”, thinking it came from “beer”, and then followed suit naming Whis (ウイス or uisu) after “whiskey”, another alcoholic beverage.
With all that in mind, it is absolutely clear to see how the character’s name of ビルス was shortened from the Japanese-via-German ビールス. Shortening or elongating a sound is a common tactic for name puns in the series. The character we write as “Appule” is written in Japanese as アプール (apūru), whereas the English word for “apple” would be written as アップル (appuru). Another name pun tactic is to swap around the placement of syllables. The character we write as “Tullece” is written in Japanese as ターレス (tāresu) whereas “lettuce” would be レタス (retasu).
Tullece is a perfect example in comparison to “Birusu”. Such a spelling adapts it into our alphabet, preserves the pronunciation of the character’s name in Japanese, and preserves the name pun source. For the longest time, however, fansubbers had no clue what to call the character in their subtitle scripts. Many groups, particularly ones with multiple projects and a lack of deeper familiarity with a particular franchise, would simply make something up to suffice for getting the product out the door. For many years, fans referred to the character as “Taurus” based on these poorly-researched fansubs:
Simply being used in a fansub does not validate a spelling, however. In this case, a “Taurus” transliteration neither preserves the pronunciation nor preserves the pun.
With no “official” English adaptation of Battle of Gods available for quite some time (coming via theatrical screening subtitle tracks many months after its Japanese debut, itself many months after character name reveals), fans were left to their own devices to come up with a spelling for ビルス. Many fans, in an attempt to “Americanize” a spelling as much as possible, went with “Bills” rather than a straight-up romanization of “Birusu”. This somewhat preserves the pronunciation, but does little more. In fact, writing the name as “Bills” would be pretty equivalent to adapting トランクス as “Tolanks” instead of “Trunks”; sure, it is a legitimate transliteration of the spelling, but what does it accomplish? “Bills” was a guess, and a very poor one at that.
Knowing that ビルス came with an original pun source of “virus” and a supplementary pun source of “beers”, as a bit of inside-baseball, we at Kanzenshuu decided upon a spelling of “Beerus” which, again, preserved both the pronunciation and the name pun(s).
Meanwhile, there was one bit of Japanese merchandise that went with a spelling of “Bills”: a third-party DSi LL (XL) external case, which can pretty much be disregarded entirely.
Along with the movie’s theatrical debut in Japan came a program guide book. Inside, the character’s name was adapted into our alphabet — “more-officially”, so to speak, from the actual company that produced the film — as “Beers“:
Sadly, many international screenings of Battle of Gods are being sent around with a spelling of “Bills” in the subtitle track, despite this “official” spelling of “Beers” from Toei.
For the time being, we plan on continuing with our “Beerus” spelling, and it seems as if Bandai Namco (and, in turn, likely FUNimation) will follow suit. In fact, FUNimation voice actor / director / franchise-evangelist Chris Sabat personally fought for the “Beerus” name spelling to both preserve the intentions of the original Japanese staff as well as to provide a far more easily marketable/searchable/monetizable spelling.
So in a nutshell?
The original intent of pun source was “virus”, the pun source was changed to “beer”, bad fansubs exist, and the official “English language” adaptation/transliteration is either “Beers” or “Beerus”.
This was an awful lot to say that, more than anything else, we simply hope fans will drop the “Bills” spelling. Like “Taurus”, it never made any sense to use, and will likely be looked back upon in several years’ time with the same amount of amused-scorn, if not forgotten entirely.
This week’s upcoming March 2014 issue of Saikyō Jump in Japan contains a wealth of new and bonus Dragon Ball material, namely a “Super Kanzenban” reprint of Naho Ooishi’s Episode of Bardock manga (originally published in three chapters over the June, July, and August 2011 issues of V-Jump), itself containing the original three chapters and two bonus pages, a six-page spread of SD (“super deformed”)-related content, and a ten-question Q&A session with original Dragon Ball manga author Akira Toriyama.
While most recent Toriyama Q&As have been tied to the film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and went into detail with story bits in that film alone, this new Q&A naturally goes into Bardock’s family a little bit, which includes dropping the biggest naming-a-charcter bombshell since the reveal of Mr. Satan’s true name: in this case, Toriyama has finally given a name to Goku’s mother!
As for her appearance and such, you’ll find out if you read the bonus comic in the collected release of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Her name was Gine, and a long time ago, she fought on a four-person team together with Bardock.
Gine had a gentle personality and wasn’t cut out as a warrior, being repeatedly saved from danger by Bardock. At that time, a special emotion was born between them. Normally, Saiyans don’t have much of a notion of romance or marriage, and apart from the royal family of Vegeta, they aren’t particular about blood-relationships. Being in among all that, I suppose you could say that the pair of Bardock and Gine were those rare Saiyans who were joined by a bond other than for the purpose of reproduction. Incidentally, Gine, who was not cut out as a warrior, would go on to work at the meat distribution center on Planet Vegeta.
ギネ (gine with a hard “G” sound at the beginning and an “eh” sound at the end) is likely an anagram of ネギ (negi) or “green onion” (also known as “spring onion” or “scallions”) and, as noted, will be shown off in the bonus pages of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman in this coming April’s collected edition of said manga.
If nothing else, though it was already rather heavily implied, those willing to accept new information from the author in 2014 can put to rest any rumors about Selypa being Goku’s mother.
Toriyama also goes on to mention that, were there to be another movie in the future, he might like to let Vegeta have a little bit of the spotlight (an interesting turn of opinion from his original thoughts on the character):
As for Vegeta, in the event that there’s talk of another animated film, then next time, I’d like him to play the main role. (Of course, this is nothing more than intentions, and I haven’t decided anything at all.)
The full ten-question Q&A has been archived on a new page in our “Translations” section. Special thanks to @manganewsjapon for providing us with the full text as we wait for someone to actually sell us the darn magazine in Japan (silly release dates!), officially due out 04 February 2014.
Shortly after launching the combined Kanzenshuu megasite, we added a wealth of lyrics from the “newer” Dragon Ball video game songs. Raging Blast 2‘s “Battle of Omega” was otherwise the last true new addition to the ever-expanding world of these songs, but a few stragglers have come along since then. The following songs have all been added to our “Lyrics” section with their original Japanese, romanizations, and English-translated lyrics:
Dragon Ball Heroes: Galaxy Mission Theme
Takayoshi Tanimoto and “Dragon Soul” contributed the original main theme to Dragon Ball Heroes and continued onward into the arcade game’s next upgrade: the “Galaxy Mission” updates.
Dragon Ball Heroes: Evil Dragon Mission Theme
The latest update to Dragon Ball Heroes moves into the “Evil Dragon” arc of Dragon Ball GT and beyond, and includes a new variation on the theme song.
The upcoming Jump-franchise crossover fighting game extravaganza, J-Stars Victory Vs, will be receiving an all-new opening theme song performed by Hironobu Kageyama (Dragon Ball Z), Hiroshi Kitadani (One Piece), and Akira Kushida (Kinnikuman/Toriko). The opening, composed by Toshiyuki Kishi with lyrics by Yuriko Mori, is very much in the shōnen vein, with lines about rivals, training, fighting, and victory, all over a hard-rock beat.
“HERO ~Song of Hope~“
While not actually a video game song, FLOW’s insert song from the new film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was a surprise announcement after having been led to believe that the band would just be contributing a cover of “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA” to the film.
Enjoy singing along to some of your new favorite Dragon Ball-related tunes!
It all happened so quickly that it nearly passed us all by without even a second thought: we have hit the century mark! The translations archive now houses over 100 translated documents, interviews, Q&As, articles, and much more. Needless to say we are quite proud of all we have accomplished to date, but adding this to the résumé feels quite good. There truly is no other archive or resource quite like it for the Dragon Ball franchise.
However, while our archive has expanded, our organization of it has remained relatively untouched since the combined site’s launch in April 2012. To remedy this problem, the translations page has been entirely revamped, not only to better organize the translations, but to add tag filtering. This will help narrow down searches for specific types of subject matter, and in hopes of improving the user experience.
To celebrate, we are adding three new non-”Battle of Gods” translations to the archive, and diving back into recent guide books. The first two are some fun Q&As with the various staff and cast of Dragon Ball Z and author Akira Toriyama, respectively. The third and final translation of the day is the first in a two-part interview with author Akira Toriyama from the Super Exciting Guide: Story Volume.
That may be all the translations we have for you this time around, but worry not: we have plenty more sitting on our shelves just waiting to make their way into the Translations Archive. Here’s to the next 100 translations!
2012 was a significant year for us — the merged Kanzenshuu launched! — and it was also a significant year for Dragon Ball. It should be pretty safe to say that 2013 knocked it out of the park, however.
Much like last year, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the biggest stories of the year. Some of 2012′s biggest stories were teases of 2013 releases, while others (like “Project Versus J”, the original code name for “J-Stars Victory Vs”) still have not come out! How did this year shape up?
These were the top five stories of the year according to total website traffic, rate of traffic growth, social media conversations, etc. There should not be much of a surprise where all of these stories stem from…!
#5: June 1st – “Battle of Gods” Japanese Home Release Full Details
After the movie ran through its theatrical showings, the next thing for fans to turn their attention to was the impending home release of the new film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. The initial details really sweetened the deal for fans, including those thinking about importing, with a “Limited Edition” version coming with a full bonus disc, a “three-dimensional wall figure” of Super Saiyan God Son Goku, a booklet, and postcards featuring the cover art of all of the franchise’s theatrical films.
All this excitement was even before Toei announced the bonus disc would include the 2008 Jump Super Anime Tour Special…!
Look, it was great that Japan was getting the film and all, but we are selfish fans. We all wanted to see Battle of Gods, too! Even before the movie’s theatrical debut, Toei Animation producer Gyarmath Bogdan revealed that the film was being made with “a view toward screenings overseas.” It was no surprise how bonkers fans became.
Since then, the film has screened theatrically in various countries across the world, and has even started to receive international home releases (kicking things off with an English-subtitled release in Hong Kong). North America, however, is still left out in the cold, with absolutely no word on either a theatrical or home release.
#3: February 28th – Gohan Will Not Be A Super Saiyan in “Battle of Gods”
It would not be Dragon Ball fandom without massive disagreement and speculation over the color of someone’s hair. Oh, and how strong they are.
When the early teasers and trailers for Battle of Gods started trickling out, fans quickly noted how odd it was for Gohan to be transforming into a Super Saiyan. If the movie were to take place between the defeat of Majin Buu and the 28th Tenka’ichi Budōkai, Gohan would have received his power-up from the elder Kaiōshin and would no longer be transforming like this. While there were certainly conversations to be had about why Dragon Ball GT went with Gohan being able to / having to transform again, no-one really gave it a second thought for this point in the series.
When a fan asked scriptwriter Yūsuke Watanabe about it on Twitter, the answer was that Gohan would not be transforming into a Super Saiyan during the movie, and that trailers fall outside of his responsibilities.
Sure enough, while Gohan is seen as a Super Saiyan during one particular important scene of the film, his brief fight against Beerus is devoid of any Super Saiyan transformation. Was it a scene animated for the trailer before a final version was done for the film? Was the scene re-colored/re-animated from this “wrong” version in the trailer after fans brought it to the production staff’s attention?
We have no idea!
#2: March 12th – “Battle of Gods” First Preview Screening Complete: Spoilers!
By mid-March, we were unable to control our excitement over Battle of Gods. Prior to its formal release on the 30th, March saw a couple preview screenings across Japan. The first preview screening took place at Shinjuku Wald 9 with both Masako Nozawa and Shōko Nakagawa making special guest appearances.
Our Japanese super-friend-fan kei17 scored a lucky ticket to the preview screening and was able to supply us with some key details about the film and its story. It was our first confirmation for a lot of Super Saiyan God material, and we all sat there drooling over every single last tidbit.
#1: February 14th – “Super Saiyan God” Form Teased For “Battle of Gods”
The April 2013 issue of V-Jump dropped one of the biggest bombshells of the year: Goku would be receiving a new power-up in the upcoming film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, and it would be called “Super Saiyan God”.
Nothing else in 2013 even came close to this one — even the preview screening spoiler tidbits were at a somewhat distant second place. Dragon Ball + Goku + new transformation = instant pandemonium.
2013 was an incredible year for Dragon Ball, and from the looks of it, the year will go down as one of the biggest in the franchise’s entire history. Battle of Gods hitting theaters and home video was big enough as it was, but things like Jaco the Galactic Patrolman and new guide books also added a huge amount of excitement.
For what it is worth, the next most-popular news story coming — very closely — in the #6 spot was the reveal that FUNimation’s new Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray sets would be coming in widescreen. What would a year for Dragon Ball be without a few re-releases?
The new release, officially out today, is the company’s second attempt at releasing the original version of Dragon Ball Z on Blu-ray. During these on-and-off releases, the “refreshed” Dragon Ball Kai saw a release on Blu-ray as well, all in addition to complete and incomplete versions alike of the series on VHS and DVD.
For the Kanzenshuu community, it was a puzzling release in every way (timing, format, remastering process, etc.). FUNimation came to us and asked if we would be interested in soliciting questions for them to answer regarding the new Blu-ray “season” sets. We in turn asked you all, and you in turn delivered in spades.
Below are the questions that we sent, followed by FUNimation’s answers and any accompanying materials. When questions are listed as “via”, this means that they have been edited, combined, and re-written (generally from a group of people that asked similar questions). When listed with just a name, this means they have been presented basically verbatim from their original posting. We tried to select a range of questions about the packaging, the audio, the video, and the overall remastering process.
via GWOtaku, etc.:
Which artist or artists are responsible for the cover art for this new home release, and what have they done before with FUNimation?
When we started working on the Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray release, we knew we wanted to do something special with the packaging. We took a look back at all the past releases and knew that taking an entirely different approach would be an exciting treat for the fans. Dragon Ball Z is filled with so many memorable moments and characters that we wanted to find a way to celebrate them.
We worked very closely with the art team at Toei Animation in Japan to construct how we imagined each cover looking. From there, they handed it off to their team of artists, who provided us with these amazing pencil sketches. After reviewing the pencil sketches, and making minor tweaks to make sure everything would work when we translated it to packaging, they prepared the final, colored art files.
We wanted artwork that was diverse enough to use for more than just Blu-ray covers; something that we could use to provide awesome looking posters, merchandise, convention experiences, and much more.
The best part is, we get to do this two more times! We’re already in the early stages of working on covers 4 – 6 and can’t wait to share the finished product with the fans.
How did the Blu-ray survey factor into the decisions about re-launching a Blu-ray release and the processes used in the new remastering?
We took multiple factors into consideration when deciding how to approach the topics of restoration and remastering the Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray releases. The survey data was only one of those factors. Others included past performance of the Level Sets and Orange Bricks, as well as what experience we’re trying to deliver with this release, just to name a few.
The original press release mentioned that the audio (including the Japanese audio) was being adjusted/cleaned up for this Blu-ray release. How will the Japanese track compare to previous releases, including the Dragon Box?
The audio master tapes contain noise and tape-hiss that our audio department has been able to reduce, bringing additional clarity to the original Japanese audio while preserving the presentation of the original.
via Flamzeron, DragonBalllKaiHD, coola, etc.
Will anything about the existing English dub be altered/adjusted/edited/redone for this release?
The Blu-ray Season Sets will contain the same edits of the English 5.1 hybrid and English stereo broadcast. The audio mix is being re-evaluated to ensure the presentation meets the highest quality standards.
Will next-episode-previews be included?
Not in this release, no.
via majinboogc, Daimakku, etc.
The Latin American dub was included on the canceled “Ultimate Uncut Edition”. Does FUNimation still have the rights to this audio track? Could it be included on this and/or future releases?
We currently have no plans to release Dragon Ball Z with a Latin American audio track.
via Kanzenshuu staff, theawesomepossum777, etc.
Other than the second Dragon Box release from February 2010 – which now reaches $400 on the second-hand market – there is currently no legal option for North American fans to obtain DBZ TV episodes 35 up through approximately episode 68 in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. Is there the possibility of a limited-run Dragon Box reprint, or single-disc volumes thereof?
The Dragon Box releases of 2010 were a limited run focused on giving the hardest of core fans the opportunity to own something unique. While we won’t completely rule out the potential for these video files being released in the future, there is nothing planned for them at this time.
Do you believe that the sales – and continued success – of the orange bricks (and what you expect to see with sales of these new Blu-ray sets) are based more on the price point / episode count, or based on the “remastering” done with the footage? Could one be possible without the other?
It’s really difficult to pinpoint one, single factor that contributed to the success of the Orange Brick releases. Dragon Ball Z was at the height of its popularity in the U.S. at that time. It was on television five days a week right after school. Of course price point plays a big factor in everything. People want to know that they’re getting their money’s worth when they buy a product.
As for the remastering, that’s always going to be a touchy subject. Everyone who consumes entertainment, whether it be movies, video games, or a television series, will have their own opinion of what the optimal experience is when enjoying that medium. The best we can do is listen to everyone’s feedback, as well as use the large amount of consumer data that’s at our fingertips, and make decisions that we feel most comfortable with.
The approach we’re taking with the Blu-rays is very similar to that of the Orange Bricks. We’re providing a viewing experience that’s current with today’s tech, while keeping the same episode count and low price point approach that has worked so well in the past.
via BlazingFiddlesticks, kuwabara, etc.
Had you considered the timing of each subsequent re-release? The first “Level” Blu-ray set was released roughly one month after the final Dragon Box set had released, themselves announced just two months after the completion of the orange bricks. All the meanwhile, “Kai” was also being released and broadcast on TV. Could the “Level” sets have sold more effectively if there was a little breathing room?
Timing is always a critical factor when determining our release schedule. One of the biggest things we look at is to make sure we’re not overloading the same group, or demographic, for a particular genre with back-to-back releases. We get that fans only have so much money to spend on entertainment, and competing with ourselves is something we try not to do, when possible. That said, though, while the Level Sets, DBoxes, and Dragon Ball Z Kai series all fall under the Dragon Ball Z franchise, they were meant for very different audiences. DBZ and Kai, in particular, are treated as different IPs entirely – each with their own creative team.
As for the Level Sets’ going away, there were many factors that just weren’t working for us. It wasn’t just performance related either, we really had to take another look at how our restoration and remastering processes worked. All of these factors were taken into consideration when we made the decision to give Blu-rays another go, and we made necessary tweaks along the way.
For the “Level” sets, the Phoenix line of products from Image Systems were purchased by FUNimation to aid in the remastering. At the time, a heavy emphasis was made on preserving the integrity of the film and respecting the grain. Are these the same tools being used? What is being done differently that results in such a different kind of image, and why a seemingly complete reversal in policy?
We continue to use the Digital Vision Phoenix software as our primary toolset for restoration. Recent advancements have allowed us to go into more depth in the restoration process, including tools that better address warp and stabilization. For the Blu-ray Season Sets, we are going beyond the restoration process, further reducing noise and grain and reframing the presentation to the 16×9 aspect ratio. I wouldn’t really call this a “reversal in policy” as much as it is simply taking a different direction. It’s something that I know we’ve said a ton already, and we’re going to continue to do so, but the purpose of this release is to take an amazing, fan favorite show from 25 years ago and deliver that in a modern format that lives up to the experience many cartoon and anime watchers expect today.
(NOTE: The following two questions were answered together with one larger response.)
Other Blu-ray releases from FUNimation include Yu Yu Hakusho and FLCL; one was a traditional, cel-animated show, while the other was a digital production. Both aired on Cartoon Network, both were originally 4:3, and both were kept at their original aspect ratio on Blu-ray. What makes DBZ different?
In the modern film restoration world, the emphasis on restoring or remastering footage in need of ‘clean up’ is almost always on respecting the source, and being as accurate to the original presentation as possible. Think, for example, of the Criterion Collection and the restoration and release of classic, foreign, and significant films on home video. They are a successful and celebrated company, and yet they have never ‘modernized’ an older title; the emphasis is instead on making the image look (and audio sound) as good as possible within the specific aesthetic context of the work as it was originally created. On the flip side, we may consider the ‘colorization’ debate of the 1980s and 90s, in which films shot in black-and-white were ‘modernized’ by artificially adding color to the image. This is not a commonly used practice anymore, precisely because consumers – in addition to scholars and critics – rejected the practice on the grounds of aesthetic integrity.
Now, by your own admission in the press release – by using terms like “bolder, more vibrant color palette” and “converted from the native, full screen format” – the notion of ‘truth to the source’ is obviously not the philosophy being used on the Dragon Ball Z Blu-Ray releases. My question, then, is why? What specific benefits does FUNimation see from going against the modern film restoration consensus, and what about Dragon Ball Z demands a full-scale aesthetic overhaul even more extreme than what was done back in 2007 for the season sets? I am genuinely curious, especially because, in making such drastic changes (as seen in the trailer) to the image, color balance, grain structure, line-work, and more, can it be said you are actually presenting the show fans – of both the original Japanese version and the American dub – are used to seeing, or want to see going forward? If the show needs such drastic reworking, why did people love it (and buy it) in the first place? And what benefits will fans of the show as it has almost always (outside of the Season Sets) existed – in 4×3, with a rich and textured color palette and fine grain structure – see from this dramatic overhaul?
Dragon Ball Z is unlike any other anime brand FUNimation, or anyone for that matter, has rights to in America. It has been acclaimed as one of the greatest action cartoons of all time. Its influence has been seen in countless animated and live action productions. It has transcended the anime to main stream cartoon barrier, and there is no denying its place in American pop culture.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Dragon Ball Z anime. A lot has changed in twenty five years. Technology has flourished, and new generations of animated action lovers have grown up with entertainment created for the times we live in. The millions of people who have watched and enjoyed Dragon Ball Z over the past 25 years are as diverse as they come. Ranging from hardcore otaku to casual cartoon fans, Dragon Ball Z has a certain magic to it that has captivated so many. We’ve had many releases of Dragon Ball Z in the past, each of them finding a specific audience they speak to.
For this Blu-ray release of Dragon Ball Z, we are creating a version that is fit for the modern era. A release that takes advantage of the 1080p, widescreen televisions and powerful Blu-ray players most people own today. A bolder, more vibrant Dragon Ball that both old and new fans can appreciate. In order to accomplish this, we had to change the remastering and restoration approach that we took with the Level Sets in 2011.
First off, going with widescreen over standard definition was a must. We understand the concerns with what is lost during the 4:3 to 16:9 conversion. To offset this loss, as much as possible, our remaster team conducted a precise, shot-by-shot reframing of every scene, in every episode. Where a normal, 4:3 to 16:9 conversion would automatically crop everything to a predetermined template, these individuals manually place the camera to ensure the optimal picture when converting from its native, full screen format. It solves the problem of losing vital content while still being able to deliver an experience that utilizes your modern television. We knew that this would be one of most controversial decisions with the release, which is why we went the extra mile to make the end result something diehard fans can appreciate. We’re really pushing for fans to not pass judgment on the widescreen conversion until they’ve had a chance to actually sit down and watch an episode.
Secondly, we stepped up the level of detail in our remastering process. Along with the intensive process of fixing blemishes, tape marks, scratches, and foreign object, we’ve tweaked our color presentation to something vibrant and more exciting. The image is now sharper, by making it high definition and adjusting the noise (or grain) level. The textures of the Blu-ray version have been updated in a big way, putting them on par with animated shows being produced today. We look at each shot, and made sure everything is balanced, correct, cleaned up, and updated to mirror current visual aesthetics.
Lastly, another improvement on this Blu-ray release will be the audio. Minor noise reduction (less hiss) and some remixing to the English elements have occurred to bring things up to modern standards.
We had a pretty good idea as to what kinds of answers we could expect. FUNimation is a company – one with a very active and effective marketing department – and their job is to sell their product. That being said, acknowledging that there are aspects about the release that might not please every single last fan is definitely a step up from ye’ olden forgotten Barry Watson days.
If you have been with Kanzenshuu (and its previous incarnations) for any amount of time, you know that we love this series to an obscene degree. We want what is best for the series, we want what is best for the fans, and we do actually believe that FUNimation wants the same thing. That being said, we continue to believe that the various Dragon Ball TV series are best presented in their original 4:3 production aspect ratio. We continue to believe that grain is an inherent part of the production method, and while its negative effects – primarily due to multigenerational copies provided to licensees – can be mitigated, it is also something that must be respected with care. We continue to believe that Dragon Ball is a product of its time, and was / is / forever will be loved exactly as that.
Unfortunately, we do not have a reasonable recommendation for our fellow North American fans looking for a 4:3 product. The “Level” sets were discontinued in favor of these Blu-ray sets, and the Dragon Box releases were limited in their production and many now reach several hundreds of dollars on the second-hand market. Assuming that these new Blu-ray sets see their way to completion, the defacto versions of the Dragon Ball Z TV series on the market – these and the original orange bricks from 2007-2009 – will continue to be cropped, heavily DVNR-ed versions.
Kanzenshuu extends a huge thanks to FUNimation for the opportunity to conduct a Q&A regarding these new Blu-rays. It would have been easy for FUNimation to completely dismiss a resource like us, a site who already wrote off the entire concept of a cropped release back in 2007. Opportunities like this give us much better insight into the decisions that go into the new products.
Following up on our recent posting of a short Masako Nozawa interview from earlier in the year, we have yet another piece of translation work from the never-ending pile of Battle of Gods promotional material. This time around, it is a joint interview between Shōko Nakagawa and original manga author Akira Toriyama!
Originally posted on the official website for the movie, the interview consists of Nakagawa tossing out brief thoughts and questions to Toriyama regarding his work on the film. Toriyama mentions that, despite being so heavily involved with the film and even designing characters, he apparently did not provide enough guidance on the design of the Oracle Fish – Nakagawa’s minor role in the movie – compared to what he originally had in mind:
Incidentally, I didn’t imagine the Oracle Fish as being this size; I pictured it as being bigger than human height. Although, since I didn’t draw a chart for scale, it ended up this size. (laughs)
This is just a quick, little, relatively-insignificant addition to our “Translations” section, but in our never-ending journey to catalog virtually every bit of Battle of Gods promotional coverage, we present to you yet another Masako Nozawa interview translation! This one comes via the May 2013 issue of OtonaFami in Japan.
In the interview, Nozawa regurgitates most of the same points we have heard a few times before, but she does expand a little bit upon watching the movie for the first time alongside original manga author Akira Toriyama:
Right then and there, Toriyama-sensei gave it his seal of approval, saying, “It was incredibly good. It’s enjoyable, just like I thought.” The preview screening was mostly staff, and even though it was so unbelievably funny, none of them would so much as crack a smile. When I asked afterwards, they told me, “There’s no way we would laugh in front of you and Toriyama-sensei watching the film together, Nozawa-san“. (laughs) For the staff, it was also the day of Toriyama-sensei‘s check [of the movie], so they were probably nervous.
Despite us still getting around to digging into this month’s issue of V-Jump, we find ourselves still catching up with the wealth of information from last month’s issue! The December 2013 issue (which was officially released back on 21 October 2013) had a series of interviews with various authors and artists promoting all sorts of Dragon Ball material, including the latest updates coming to Dragon Ball Heroes… and we have English translations ready for your consumption!
Up first is a special interview with none other than Akira Toriyama himself! The lengthy Q&A session touches on Jaco the Galactic Patrolman now that its serialization has come to an end, along with a few one-off, random, fun questions. The interview also has three bonus illustrations courtesy of Naho Ooishi (Dragon Ball SD), Toyotarō (Dragon Ball Heroes: Victory Mission), and Yoshito-kun (Dragon Ball Heroes).
Also included was a lengthy Q&A with Toyotarō directly from V-Jump (and Saikyō Jump) Editor-in-Chief Akio Iyoku. They discuss how “Toyotarō” got involved with drawing, his Dragon Ball Heroes deck, and more!
A very short Q&A with Naho Ooishi was also included, which touches on her multiplayer gaming and includes a message for her readers.
Believe it or not, we are also still catching up on Battle of Gods-related interviews! Though the movie hit theaters last March and saw its Japanese home release in September, there is still so much to dig into and cover. The “Official Movie Guide” saw its release just before the theatrical debut and contains a wealth of new interviews and comments. We are kicking things off with the big one: “Akira Toriyama Special Interview“.
While there are not any significant new revelations in the interview, Toriyama does speak to how he first became involved with the movie with its original draft and seeing the final product come to fruition.
We will have more translations from the “Official Movie Guide” in the future, so stay tuned! If you are still aching for more Battle of Gods content, however, we did unceremoniously translate and post two other tidbits: Toriyama’s message from the “Limited Edition” version of the home video release, as well as the “Godly Interview” from the animanga version of the film.
Goku 6, Beerus 10, Whis 15. Knock yourselves out with that one.