FUNimation To Release Original Broadcast DBZ English Dub
Published by 01 June 2013, 9:37 AM EDT

Put away your smartphones, lock up your Blu-ray players, and bust out the Game Boys, kids: we are heading back to the 1990s with this one.

Back in February, anime listing ninja WTK found a curious entry in the “PREVIEWS MARCH VOL. 23 #3” text:

DBZ SAIYAN SAGA OCEAN DUB DVD (C: 0-1-2) 07/17/13 SRP: $39.98

Soon after, a fleshed-out listing popped up on the AAA Distribution website:


Street Date: 7/17/2013
Manufacturer: FUNimation
Item Code: FN01204
UPC: 704400012044
S.R.P.: $39.98

From Funimation! The original 29 episodes of Dragonball Z have been redubbed by the fan-favorite Ocean team! Here’s where it all started! Goku learns of his alien heritage when his brother arrives on Earth and kidnaps Gohan! After a battle that costs Goku’s life, Piccolo takes Gohan into the wild country for special training and the rest of the Earth’s defenders gather to train for the arrival of two more Saiyans: Nappa and Vegeta!

It appeared that a re-release of the original TV broadcast of the English dub of Dragon Ball Z was heading back to DVD this summer from FUNimation.

With the on-going release of Dragon Ball Kai (and apparent return of the “refreshed” version relatively soon?) and the canceled release of the “Level” Blu-ray sets, it seemed to be as confusing a strategy as any for FUNimation.

Things get even more confusing when newer fans refer to this original 1996-1998 broadcast version (appropriately enough) as “the Ocean version” (and even more mistakenly as “the Pioneer version”; see below). While Ocean Studios actors were indeed outsourced to provide the English voiceovers, the entire production was always handled by FUNimation from the very start — the company began in 1994, tested the waters with the first movie and 13 episodes of Dragon Ball in 1995, and moved on to Dragon Ball Z in 1996.

The circumstances surrounding this production were convoluted from the start. FUNimation was in charge of the production, outsourced voice and music talent, and brought Saban on-board to handle distribution to local TV networks. The home release — something FUNimation was not in any position to handle as a company back in the mid-90s — was instead handled in conjunction with Pioneer (later Geneon). This later prevented FUNimation from providing a “proper” home release of the early episodes on their own (uncut, bilingual, etc.) until the sub-license with Pioneer/Geneon expired in late 2003.

This sub-license expiration allowed FUNimation to go back and produce the “Ultimate Uncut Edition” of the first two “seasons” of Dragon Ball Z back in 2005, which included an uncut English dub with their then-current local voice talent. The marketing campaign for the “re-dub” of these episodes included phrases like “the voices you know and love” and “the way it was meant to be seen”, an attempt to essentially re-write and erase the history of the prior production and gets things as streamlined as possible into one coherent production, episode 1 to 291, all in a row.

So you can see why going back to the “original” broadcast English dub would be a confusing decision. Add in the “alternate” English dub of Dragon Ball Z that was produced primarily for the UK market post-2000 (which occasionally leaked over to Canada’s YTV) and the apparent upcoming “alternate” English dub of Dragon Ball Kai — both using Ocean voice actors! — and the mind starts struggling to keep up.

Listings for this “DBZ SAIYAN SAGA OCEAN DUB DVD” came and went as it dropped off subsequent listings of upcoming releases. At the time, we had been able to confirm with FUNimation that it was indeed a real product, but it was still in some of the early planning stages. The plan at the time was to combine it into one larger “collector’s box” with “very high-end” packaging, as opposed to a “Season 1” and “Season 2” style of release that the AAA Distribution listing implied. That was it, though; while still planned, it was in quasi-limbo while the company worked things out.

And so here we are today, with multiple sites officially listing the Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon DVD Box Set Collector’s Edition, now with an apparent MSRP of $99.98 spanning nine DVDs and due out 20 August 2013:


The updated description now states:

The original broadcast version of DBZ!

The last survivors of a cruel, warrior race, the Saiyans have carved a path of destruction across the galaxy, and now they have set their sights on Earth! They will stop at nothing until they have the wish-granting powers of the seven magic Dragon Balls for their very own.

With the fate of his family, friends, and the entire human race hanging in the balance, Goku, the Earths greatest hero, must rise to meet the approaching threat. As he prepares for the fight of his life, Goku embarks on an epic journey that will take him to other worlds, pit him against new and old enemies alike, and force him to confront the dark secrets of his own past. At the end of this path, the most powerful opponent he has ever faced awaits: the evil Saiyan Prince Vegeta!

This collector’s edition features the original Canadian voice cast and opening theme song, “Rock the Dragon”!

Contains episodes 1-53 plus movies 1-3 (Dead Zone, The World’s Strongest, and Tree of Might) and a hardbound, full-color 48-page book which showcases the characters, history, and tropes that helped elevate Dragon Ball Z to the pop culture phenomenon it is today.

Is the inclusion of a new book enough to push you over the edge? How about the inclusion of the first three movies, something fans of our generation always pointed to as an example of “that’s how it should have been done”? There are still plenty of questions, and we have reached out to FUNimation again for clarification. What kind of video masters can we expect? Will the three movies, which were released in 1997-1998 uncut in the first place on VHS/LD/DVD, contain the original Japanese audio track on them, as well? Will edited versions of the movies, particularly the three-episode TV adaptation of DBZ Movie 3, be included in any way?

We look forward to seeing how this whole thing turns out. At the very least, this is the kind of announcement that makes us scratch our heads and wonder how on Earth we are going to list it in the “Home Video Guide“. Keep us on our toes, guys ‘n gals.

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  • Saiyan Prince Vegeta says:

    I gotta pick this up. 😀

  • sylentecho says:

    Frickin’ sweet! Always had a soft corner for this dub! Will surely pick this up. 😀

  • sangofe says:

    Does this mean that they’re re-released the old, censored dub?

  • batistabus says:

    Well this is certainly interesting. Is there still really enough of a market for this to justify this kind of release? I would’ve expected digital distribution if anything.

  • DaemonCorps says:

    When the AAA listing was first announced, I wondered: “There’s clearly a market for uncut Japanese and people that prefer a version in their own language… but this just seems so oddly specific.” Still, throwing in the uncut movies does make this pretty tempting.

    On the other hand, since this will be the old, edited version, I have to think that the video quality won’t be anywhere near top-notch. If anything, maybe we’d be able to get nicer video quality for the movies since the English dub was made for the uncut version, but I wouldn’t put it past them if they didn’t.

    This is just such an odd release to make. The box art and booklet remind me of the complete series release for Batman TAS and Batman Beyond, but the actual content episode-wise reminds me of the Digimon dub-only releases, which just makes for a weird mix of high end and low end. So confusing @_@

  • Fri1991 says:

    I pre-ordered my copy on Rightstuf yesterday. I can’t wait to re-experience watching the Ocean dub as it was originally broadcasted back in the mid-90s. 😀

  • milton says:

    Initial reaction:
    “Wow, that’s pretty neat! I may just have to-”
    *spots the $99.99 price tag*
    “-wait for a sizeable discount before purchasing…”

    If there’s ever been a time to ask, “Who are they going for with this release,” this would be it. As neat as it would be to get the original Ocean dub again, has anyone been banging down Funimation’s door THAT much for it? And that price point is…yeesh…

  • supersayianprime says:

    Call me paranoid, but has no one else found it interesting that the product description never mentions Shuki Levy’s replacement score? I’m not sure Funimation owns that music. Could we be getting a replacement for the replacement score?

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