Steve Simmons DVD Reflections
Published by 28 July 2000, 12:00 PM EDT

Steven J. “Daimao” Simmons of has been under contract with FUNimation to provide the translations used for the Japanese version in the DVDs of DragonBall Z episodes, and has posted up his own opinions about how the DVDs are turning out.

EDITOR NOTE: is no longer available, so the text of the article has been retrieved from and pasted below.

Concerning the DVDs (07/26/00)

Well, now that the first two DVDs are out in circulation, I figure it’s safe to give my own two cents about how things turned out, as well as address a few things that have come up.

Concerning the Names

The names on the Ginyu discs are spelled the way they are in FUNimation’s English version. Thus you get “Krillin” instead of “Kuririn,” “Guru” instead of “The Grand Elder,” “Goku” instead of “Son-kun” (as Bulma calls him), and so on. This also meant that Japanese name suffixes, such as “-san” and “-chan,” were taken out as well. These were changes from the script that I provided that I had not been warned about until I saw them in the subtitles for myself. I am assured that after the Ginyu discs, name spellings will remain as scripted.

Concerning the Subtitles Themselves

I urged FUNimation on several occasions to use a yellow-on-black color scheme for the subs. Apparently, they tried it first, but it didn’t work out for them. They told me “the yellow on black was way too hot and blurred beyond the border. A mute orange was pretty good, but kind of overkill. The [light] gray was the best color for not blurring.”

I wasn’t very satisfied with the typesetting for the subtitles either. One line would stretch out the entire length of the page, then wrap around to finish a sentence with a single word, without any regard for keeping the lines looking balanced (examples). I brought this up after seeing the discs for myself, and my boss agrees that it should be addressed. I’m anxious to see how that turns out.

Concerning Translations

Right from the start, Gen Fukunaga made it clear that he did not want any swearing on these discs. When the time came to finally translate, however, there was no list of taboo words in place for me to reference. There are two words frequently used as mild curses in the original language, and for the more severe of the two, I left it up to the producer’s discretion how strong a word they wanted in English. The other curse I translated variously as “crap,” “crud,” “shoot,” and so forth, depending on which I felt fit the situation best. As far as that goes, crud was the strongest among that list in the neighborhood I grew up in, but I’ve heard otherwise from many of you, and the point has been taken.

After three or four episodes had gone by with these holes in the script as to how strong a curse I was allowed to use, someone within the production suggested that curse-substitutes be used, such that the subtitles would read like “Get out of here, you @$#! scum!” Of course, that idea went over like a lead balloon with me, so after reminding the powers that be that DVDs had some parental lockout functionality if it were that big a problem, I started scripting appropriately strong words and submitted them, thinking that if some producer somewhere disapproved, he could very well change it himself. But, nobody seems to have had any problems so far, and you can see the changes start for yourself part-way through the “Ide yo Shen Long” episode (the second one on the Double Cross disc).

Concerning Typos

There are a few of them. For some reason, dashes (—) and double-quotes (“) from the script did not appear in the subtitles where they belong. Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be any way to create italicized characters. If you can get past the fact that not all the sentences ended with periods, here are the more confusing typos and their corrections.

Then my transmitter gets all
broken—nothing is going right.

I know, even if it is Vegeta, I’ll just say, “Send
me back to Earth” first, and I’ll be fine!

It appears you cannot regenerate your energy as
well—your battle power has dropped.

Goofing-off, she says.
“Gouge, gouge.”

Concerning Timing

I didn’t find out until seeing the discs what kind of line width and character spacing was going to be used. As you might expect, some of my longer lines were too long to fit on the screen, and had to be split up into two lines, or otherwise spread out. In other places, two short scripted lines were joined together into one line, for whatever reason. Since I time the scripts as I translate, and those times correspond to the lines I submit, breaking up those lines naturally affects the timing involved. There are a few places where this happens, and you might notice the subtitle comes in really late, or doesn’t stay on the screen as long as it should. It doesn’t happen too often, but we are working together on coordinating the lines better in these cases.

Concerning Anything Else

The theme songs will be subtitled after the Ginyu discs. I’m not even sure why they weren’t subtitled this time around. Also, starting with the Trunks discs, expect animated menus and extras of some form or another, including the episode recaps that appear before each episode. The previews that appear after each episode are a bit more problematic, as I’ll explain. The episode masters that were provided by Toei apparently include the video footage for each preview, but not the accompanying voice-over soundtrack. The sounds that are present are those that accompany the video being used in the preview (sample in rm format). I don’t know why this is exactly, but I suspect they were left this way so that Fuji TV could arrange to have the voice-overs recorded so as to reflect whatever programming changes may arise. At any rate, without the voice-over soundtrack, there’s nothing for me to translate, and thus we probably won’t be seeing them (except with an English voice-over) on any upcoming discs.

Overall, things turned out generally well, I thought. The small glitches are being worked out, and certain precedents have been set, so hopefully it will be a smoother ride from here on out.

—Steven “Daimao” Simmons

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