FUNimation To Release Uncut, Bilingual DragonBall Z DVDs
Published by 03 October 1999, 12:00 PM EDT

FUNimation Productions, Inc. will be releasing DragonBall Z on DVD, with the future DVDs including their internally-produced English-dubbed version and its specific music track, as well as an accurately-English-subtitled original Japanese version with its music.

As a part of the new initiative, the third DragonBall movie and fourth DragonBall Z movie are also in the works for release. The announcement from has been included below:

10/01/99: FUNimation Announces Subtitled Dragonball Z DVDs

Over the last few weeks there has been speculation on FUNimation releasing Dragon Ball Z subtitled on DVD, mainly from the interview that a friend of this site, Steve Harmon, conducted with Gen Fukunaga. The staff of has known that FUNimation has been researching this possibility for a while and has actually been doing some research for them in this field. FUNimation had been dedicated to this concept since early last summer but has only recently begun to finalize the whole thing. We had been holding out on giving this information to the public for a while now at the request of our contact at FUNimation (who will be designing the actual discs) but with recent revelations the news is ready for the public.

The biggest news in regards to the DVDs is the fact that the original Japanese audio will be included along with English language subtitles! For anyone wondering how the entire staff has had so much faith in FUNimation this is why. We have known that they have been planning on this for a while now and that they plan to do things right. Some people may be afraid of the possibility of FUNimation using the dubbed scripts as the subtitled tracks but it does not look as if this will happen. Our contact at FUNimation has indicated that she is determined to do what is needed to make sure that this does not happen. In other words, it seems as if anyone who has insulted FUNimation by claiming that they do not really understand what the fans want is being forced to eat crow about now.

As for why FUNimation has decided to do the subtitled version on DVD without a VHS release, the reason is not what most people think. Many people have come under the impression that FUNimation will not do DBZ subbed on VHS because the series has not been released on home media in Japan and, therefore, Toei would not allow FUNimation to do the series on VHS here. Although this has been a very mild factor, the main reason has not been the Japanese market, but rather, problems with the US market. Dragon Ball Z is the most commonly fansubbed anime series in the US. This prompted fear within FUNimation that many fans would not buy subtitled VHS tapes of DBZ because they either had fansubs already or they could get fansubs for less. DVDs with dual language tracks, though, could sell to both fans of the dubbed and original versions of the series. For anyone who owns fansubs and is questioning why they should buy DVDs the answer is simple: Better quality, more accuracy, and extras. Most fansub tapes have very degraded picture and sound, while DVDs have incredibly crisp video quality. Although many people collect fansubs because they think that they tell the story right, most fansubs are very inaccurate and have things altered often (despite what Anime Labs would have most people believe, the Z senshi do not swear often.) The extras on the disc, which have not been fully decided on, should also make the discs worth buying.

The episodes are not the only thing coming to DVD. FUNimation is determined to bring out the rest of the DBZ movies in time. The contracts have already been written for the purchase of DBZ movie 4, “Super Saiyan Goku,” and all that is needed now is Toei of Japan’s signature. (Note: This may no longer be the case, as the contracts could have been handled by now.) The other movies should follow after the release of Z movie 4. Original Dragon Ball movie 3 has been scripted for dubbing, as well, but with how much time DBZ takes up this should not be expected soon.

Of all the things that people are wondering about the upcoming DVDs the biggest question is when will all of this happen. As of right now it looks as if the first bilingual DVD to be released will be the DBZ movie 4: “Super Saiyan Goku” in the spring of 2000. The episode discs should follow soon after. This may seem like a long time, but to quote another webmaster from when he was speaking about issues he had about DBZ censorship a few years ago with the censorship of DBZ, “We waited 10 years for this show.” Well, if we’ve waited that long we can handle half a year (Note: I know that I haven’t waited that long, and if the web master in question has then he’s been watching DBZ since he was two years old.) The reason for the six months wait is that FUNimation has just made the decision to do this and is currently research how to do things. At the current time they have not even purchased the DVD mastering equipment, and once they do they will need to take time to learn how to operate the software to program the menus and such. For the moment fans just need to be patient. There is no longer the question of whether or not FUNimation will give fans of the original series what they want, it’s just a matter of waiting. As of right now few things have been decided in terms of content for the discs, but as things develop we will be posting the most detailed and accurate information available.

There is one piece of disappointing news in all of this. Rather than starting DBZ from the start of the series FUNimation will be starting the episode discs at the beginning of “Season 3.” The reason for this is that FUNimation subcontracted the home media releases of the first two seasons of the series to Pioneer entertainment. That means that FUNimation owns the broadcast rights of first fifty-some (or sixty-some, if speaking of the original language versions) and the three movies, but only Pioneer can release videotapes, Laserdiscs, and DVDs of them. Does this mean that we will never see the early episodes of DBZ released subtitled? No, it does not. It just means that Pioneer would have to do the episodes subtitled or FUNimation would have to find a way to regain the episodes from Pioneer. In my personal opinion, though, I do not believe that fans should start pressuring Pioneer to do subbed DVDs yet. The reason for this is that if FUNimation manages to do a better job than Pioneer would with the episode DVDs, then Pioneer would feel the need to emulate them in order to live up to them, and with some of the things that FUNimation is considering I think that that would be a very good thing. If they were to start doing subtitled DVDs before FUNimation, though, they would not have anything to try to beat. Although FUNimation is a small company, I have more faith in them then I have in some of the larger anime companies. Despite what people have been led to believe, FUNimation does listen to what fans say, it’s just that it has taken time to process everything, work with Toei, get enough money together to invest in a project like this, and make a final decision to do it. Expect a lot from FUNimation on this, even more than you would expect from Pioneer or ADVision. This is all of the information I have for now, when I know more you’ll know more.

—Brian Real? Head of PR and Staff Writer

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