“Dragon Ball Z Kai” Also Coming To “TheCW4Kids” Lineup
Published by 26 April 2010, 10:17 AM EDT

In a press release from this morning, FUNimation and 4Kids have announced an agreement to have their (presumably edited) English dubbed version of Dragon Ball Z Kai air as a part of “TheCW4Kids” scheduling block in the 2010-2011 broadcast season.

4Kids Entertainment Signs Dragon Ball Z Kai for U.S. Broadcast Premiere on TheCW4Kids Saturday Morning

NEW YORK, Apr 26, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — 4Kids Entertainment (KDE 1.08, -0.02, -1.82%) has reached agreement with FUNimation Entertainment and Toei Animation Co., Ltd., to license the U.S. broadcast television rights to the new animated television series “Dragon Ball Z Kai”.

Sneak peeks of “Dragon Ball Z Kai” will be seen this summer before the series premieres as a regularly scheduled program on TheCW4Kids Saturday morning block during the 2010-2011 broadcast season. 4Kids will also have “Dragon Ball Z Kai” episodes available for streaming on its popular and websites.

Dragon Ball is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama, originally serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump published by Shueisha Inc. from 1984 through 1995. Inspired by the Chinese folk novel Journey to the West, it follows the adventures of Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood as he trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven mystical objects — known as the Dragon Balls — which can summon a wish-granting dragon.

As part of the series’ 20th anniversary celebration in 2009, in a project overseen by its creator, Akira Toriyama, Shueisha and Toei Animation remastered the “Dragon Ball Z” series for HDTV, re-edited the series, updated its opening and ending sequences, rerecorded the vocal tracks by most of the original cast, and launched the newly named “Dragon Ball Kai” on Japanese television in April 2009. The series currently rates among the top five animated programs on Japanese television.

“‘Dragon Ball’ is one of the most popular manga series of the past 20 years, with more than 150 million copies of the book series sold in Japan and North America,” said Alfred R. Kahn, Chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment. “We are looking forward to including ‘Dragon Ball Z Kai’ as a mainstay in our TheCW4Kids 2010 — 2011 Saturday morning programming lineup and making this great series available on American broadcast television.”

“We are excited about working with 4Kids to expose this major title to a new generation with a completely updated version,” said Gen Fukunaga, President and CEO of FUNimation Entertainment.

Fans had noted how strange it was for Kai to go direct to Nicktoons (a premium cable channel and Internet portal owned by Nickelodeon) when the franchise has such a rich history in North America, previously being broadcast both in standard syndication as well as on the near-universal cable station Cartoon Network. This agreement seems to address those questions with The CW’s block, an extension of prior programming blocks such as Kids’ WB and 4Kids TV.

As we have been hinting at, 4Kids will also have episodes available for streaming via their websites. It remains to be seen whether FUNimation themselves (having such a successful empire of Internet-broadcasting partner agreements) will stream the series on their own in any way. Current examples of this empire include One Piece, which FUNimation streams uncut versions of entirely on their own both in Japanese and English.

Information is still a little vague at this point, but it appears that Kai will be broadcast on both stations, albeit not necessarily premiering at the same time. Today’s press release notes “sneak peaks” will occur “this summer” on TheCW4Kids before it debuts “as a regularly scheduled program on TheCW4Kids Saturday morning block during the 2010-2011 broadcast season”.

This is not the first time that the series has been broadcast on separate (even competing) stations at the same time. After Dragon Ball Z took off in the ratings on Cartoon Network starting in 1999, local syndication channels (which were the first to debut the series from 1996-1998) would occasionally air blocks of the first two “seasons” to capitalize on its success, apparently still having the rights to do so. At the same time, the International Channel (later AZN Television) broadcast the entirety of the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT TV series in raw Japanese through the turn of the millennium, while the Spanish channel Telemundo ran through the Dragon Ball Z TV series with its acclaimed Mexican/Spanish dub.

The edited dub of Kai from FUNimation is set to debut on Nicktoons on May 24th at 8:00 pm. The unedited home release on DVD and Blu-ray from FUNimation (which includes the original Japanese audio track) is set for release on May 18th. Dragon Ball Kai premiered on Fuji TV in Japan 05 April 2009 at 9:00 am and airs each Sunday morning immediately prior to One Piece as a part of the special “Dream 9” programming block.

Needless to say, 2010 is going to be an interesting year for fandom discussions. For the type of fandom that we serve, let us remind everyone once again that the home release is going to be unedited and will contain the original Japanese audio track. Hurray!

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