The Search Begins
May 20, 2015
Longtime Dragon Ball fan Joe Yancone is flipping through interviews on FUNimation’s eighth Blu-ray set of the Dragon Ball Z television series, released the previous October. While watching Kara Edwards (English voice of Videl) talk about her time with the series, Joe spots something interesting — and confusing — in the background.
Whoa! I keep looking at the background if these interviews and find this! This wasn't released! Is it Harmony Gold?! pic.twitter.com/RY3hzTJzEz
— Tanooki Joe (@TanookiKuribo) May 21, 2015
Joe’s tweet is met with equal confusion from friends (including, embarrassingly enough, us at Kanzenshuu; I should know better by now and just trust Joe —Mike). After all, FUNimation had released “Curse of the Blood Rubies”, their “pilot” dub of the franchise’s original 1986 theatrical film, back in 1995 on VHS. It later came out on DVD. It even later came out once again on DVD in 2011, this time completely redubbed with the current voice cast alongside the uncut Japanese version. There was no mystery here.
But this wasn’t that same VHS tape. The logo was different. The entire spine was different. And there it was, just casually leaning against the side of a shelf at FUNimation HQ, alongside modern-era productions. A tape none of us had ever seen before, despite being here for the entire run that FUNimation has been a company.
Let’s step things back a little bit.
These days, Harmony Gold is perhaps best known as the “villains” keeping proper releases of the Macross series from reaching America, instead imposing their Robotech adaptation upon the fandom. Once upon a time, however, Harmony Gold were spreading their reach far and wide with a variety of projects, some successful, and some otherwise.
Dragon Ball was actually one of those projects.
In the late 1980s (perhaps as late as 1989, or even early in 1990 itself — a definitive date is not easy to come by), Harmony Gold began adapting the Dragon Ball franchise for a possible American debut. We know for sure that the company dubbed the first and third theatrical films, packaged together as a compilation film: fan recordings survived and were regularly passed around in tape-trading scenes, with the website Temple O’ Trunks hosting one of the first web-based archives of information regarding this dub in 2000.
The movie double-feature went on to see airings during various open network spots, acting as a sort of backdoor-pilot for the series, but never materialized into a true breakthrough.
The dubs received minor chatter at conventions as well as in the forums of the day: newsgroups based on Usenet, a standard of decentralized message threads that users could subscribe to with their internet service providers and special programs. In their Winter 1991 issue, Pacific Rim Publishing’s Markalite magazine even published a review of Harmony Gold’s dub, written by Mike Kure:
Fans found the voices and script relatively faithful, with the Hollywood-based cast consisting of well-known voice actors of the era, namely Barbara Goodson, Wendee Lee, and Ray Michaels. The original musical score was retained, and an English version of the series’ opening theme — “Mystical Adventure!” — was even adapted (much in the same way that, and even more faithfully, the Sailor Moon opening theme “Moonlight Densetsu” was adapted into an English theme song by DiC). The only real deviations in the product were the character names: Goku had become Zero, Bulma had become Leena (despite her shirt still having BULMA written out in our alphabet on it!), Oolong had become Mao-Mao, Yamcha had become Zedaki, and so on and so forth.
Despite some of these silly changes, many precedents set here in the Harmony Gold dub actually remain to this day, “Master Roshi” and “Flying Nimbus” key among them. (But more on this later!)
While we know for sure that Harmony Gold dubbed more than just the two movies, we didn’t always know exactly how much. “Five episodes” was the common figure tossed around, with little to concretely back it up. The first episode had been somewhat “widely” available, which alongside the film dubs, provided a wonderful glance into the adaptation trends of the day.
Dragon Ball fans tend to stick with their own, rarely venturing outside their own tribe; it seems only fitting it finally took someone just flat-out asking another older anime fan in the Year of our Dende 2020 if they happened to have their old tapes, helping confirm that Harmony Gold did in fact dub the first five episodes.
(Oh, also? Harmony Gold had Dr. Slump, too!)
And that’s that. It seems that Harmony Gold couldn’t get any pickup with Toriyama’s two masterpieces, and everything fell back into obscurity, never to be heard from ever again. Right?
A Brief Aside in Mexico
One peculiar piece of international Dragon Ball history is the Spanish-language “Zero y el Dragon Magico”… a dub not simply based on Harmony Gold’s release, but actually with the English audio underneath it! Those paying attention will occasionally hear Barbara Goodson’s “Zero” come through in some of the yells.
This release is a fascinating stepping-stone in our history lesson, and truly could be its own full story… but that’s for another day.
As the 1990s began, Dragon Ball was clearly one of the biggest franchises in Japan, and was quickly spreading its wings worldwide. Europe in particular was latching on, and several other companies in America were looking for a piece of the pie, especially as the franchise expanded with “Dragon Ball Z” — a new name given to television series adaptation of the back two-thirds of the original comic.
By 1995, it looked like things were set, with Nippon Shuppan Hanbai / U.S. Renditions widely accepted to be the one bringing it west next. Out of nowhere, however, fans learned that a new startup out of Texas called “FUNimation” would air the series in syndication that fall on American television.
And that is exactly what happened: fall of 1995 brought us the debut of Dragon Ball from FUNimation, with the company dishing out thirteen episodes via syndicated television broadcast, and their own dub of the first film on home video.
In a bit of a reversal from what came before, while the overall script was still somewhat faithful, and the new Vancouver voices were at times eerily reminiscent of Harmony Gold’s own cast, the character names were largely accurate to the original Japanese (Goku, Bulma, Oolong, Yamcha, etc.), but there were are a number of digital video edits, and the musical score was replaced entirely with a new one by Peter Berring. The opening theme was likewise replaced with a catchy new tune.
While the company had plans to continue into the next season with another 13 episodes (which, from their own episode descriptions would have taken them to the end of the series’ second major story arc), something changed.
Due to a “combination of factors”, the company instead jumped ahead 100+ episodes to the Dragon Ball Z television series.
Moving from BLT Productions and Dick and Roger’s Sound Studio to Ocean Studios-proper, and likewise moving from a syndication partner of SeaGull Entertainment to the Power Rangers powerhouse Saban, FUNimation’s English dub of the Dragon Ball Z television series began its syndicated television broadcast in fall of 1996. After a successful 26-episode first season, and with both the show’s growing success and Saban’s own weight to throw around, FUNimation secured an hour-long, two-episode, second season time block for fall 1997.
A full year before Pokémon made its American television debut, the Japanese cartoon Dragon Ball Z was airing in a prime weekend-morning spot for an entire hour on American broadcast television. It was a massive hit.
That success halted for a hot minute, however, as FUNimation and Saban parted ways after the second season came to an end in early 1998. Luckily, Cartoon Network picked those two seasons up for broadcast as part of their growing “Toonami” block that September, which carried the momentum forward for FUNimation to pull everything in-house down in Texas (new voice cast, new replacement music, with a bit of old and new on the script writing side) to dub the second Dragon Ball film there in 1998 and then a third season of Dragon Ball Z for 1999.
And the rest is history. More than two decades after their stumble with the original television series in 1995, FUNimation has dubbed and released the vast majority of content available for the Dragon Ball franchise. From DB to Z to GT to Super and back around again with multiple dub revisions and home video re-releases along the way, FUNimation is the house that Dragon Ball built.
The Other Companies
Along the way to success, FUNimation partnered with several other companies to actually put Dragon Ball in front of viewers’ eyes. We already know Saban: they threw their weight around to get Dragon Ball Z good time slots and on more networks. Other partners included KidMark (part of TriMark / Lion’s Gate Films), who were responsible for the actual VHS and DVD releases of FUNimation’s Dragon Ball dubs, as well as Pioneer, who did the same for FUNimation’s Dragon Ball Z dubs.
These partnerships were more than that: they were business arrangements, with all parties involved taking some share of the pie, and each of them having a very real effect on the production of the franchise.
In the case of both KidMark and Pioneer, their home video distribution rights meant that FUNimation could not, for example, redub uncut versions of the episodes with their now-current voice cast and then release the episodes in their original Japanese format. For a period of time, Dragon Ball episodes 1-13 (and its first movie), as well as Dragon Ball Z episodes 1-67, existed in America solely (in an official capacity, anyway) as edited, English-dubbed products.
Business arrangements can and do change, however, and these partnerships had finite timespans. FUNimation’s sub-license with Pioneer was the first to go, with its 31 August 2003 end-date marking the point that FUNimation could go back to their original work on the Dragon Ball Z series, eventually making way for the “Ultimate Uncut Edition” in 2005. KidMark’s was the next to go, with FUNimation completely redubbing the first 13 episodes of Dragon Ball (already airing on Cartoon Network; quite a fun technicality!).
The original Dragon Ball film, one of the last items left for FUNimation to release as an uncut, bilingual version, finally had its day in the sun in January 2011: an all-new cheap “Curse of the Blood Rubies” on DVD finally included an uncut English dub and its original Japanese version, officially, in America.
And that’s the end of the story.
(It’s not the end of the story.)
The Curse of the Tapes
May 19, 2019
Jamie Snowden goes about his daily business of scrolling through eBay, happening upon something labeled “Curse of the Blood Rubie – (PROMO COPY) VERY RARE OOP 1994 ANIME”. Remembering a tweet a few years back from Joe about a tape that looked just like this and how rare it must be, Jamie buys it immediately. For $30, even if it ends up being mislabeled or somehow different than what everyone imagined, it would still be worth it to find out.
Meanwhile, that same day…
Out of the blue, Joe lets us know that he found an eBay listing for the promo copy of Curse of the Blood Rubies… which sold for $30. It is already gone. Joe contacts the seller on eBay for more information.
The original eBay seller is inundated with various requests to purchase the tape outside of the already-completed auction, with at least one offer coming in at $500. The seller decides to honor the original eBay purchase, but passes the names along to Jamie as a heads-up in case he wants to work out a trade or sale, himself. Recognizing a “Tanooki” name among the list, Jamie reaches out to Joe. The two chat things out, and Jamie arranges for the seller to ship the item straight to Joe, feeling that the only reason any of us knew about the tape in the first place was because of him.
May 28, 2019
Joe receives the tape in the mail and begins sharing clips and commentary online. Over the course of the week, we arrange to borrow the tape from Joe to professionally photograph and capture its contents.
June 12, 2019
The tape leaves via FedEx. We don’t live all that far away. This should take two or three days at tops.
June 13, 2019
The tape departs the FedEx distribution center half an hour from its destination. It should arrive later that same day.
Spoilers: the tape never arrives.
Throughout June and July, various claims are filed with FedEx, jumping between online and phone support, in the desperate hope that someone can do… well, anything. We don’t care if it’s late; we just want the tape back.
Spoilers: they don’t do anything. The tape is seemingly lost forever.
The Second Auction
November 10, 2019
An alert from eBay comes in. A copy of the same tape just got listed. Starting bid is $9.99, with the auction ending in one week. We chat with Joe, but otherwise keep our lips sealed. (Can you blame us?)
November 16, 2019
Final day of the listing. At 12:11 a.m., the “@iwantmyvhs” Twitter account tweets a link to the auction, receiving a single “like”. By 4:00 p.m., we are sitting at just over $100 with 25 bids. By 9:00 p.m. we are over $200. The auction ends at 10:57 p.m. after 48 bids at a final cost of $511.00, jumping hundreds of dollars in the final 30 seconds alone.
We do not know who won the tape. It wasn’t us, it wasn’t Joe, and it wasn’t any of the other select people we thought may also be after it. At just over $500, the price lines up with one of the offers that came in back during the May eBay listing. Something is only as valuable as what someone is willing to pay for it; regardless of whether or not that $500 is from the same person as it was back in May, this tape is most certainly now worth at least $500.
(We reached out to the seller of this second auction to see if we could get any background info on where they might have obtained it. The only answer we received was that there was no particularly interesting story behind it. We have no reason to believe that another copy showing up so soon was in any way related to our missing tape, as the new one stated a location of Texas.)
What Was This Tape?
These kinds of tapes were regularly circulated to business partners, video stores, and distributors in an attempt to get some pick-up. In that respect, there is nothing particularly special about this tape at all. What is special about this tape, however, is its audio content.
We should have known about this specific tape and version all along (more on THIS subject later!), because there has been written documentation about it since at least August 1995, when “Matt” made the following post on rec.arts.anime:
Dragon Ball US TV… i’ve seen it! Ack!!
well, Afriend of mine works at capital city, and managed to get a preview copy of what i’m assuming is going to be the first two american TV episodes. I’ve got a lot to say, and i’m not sure what to make of it all…
1) Opening theme– Typical power rangers type music and lyrics… they tossed out the original japanese music as well as re-dubbing it into something pretty…. well, bland.
2) THIS IS NOT THE JAPANESE TV SHOW THEY’RE SHOWING
in a surprising move on funimations part, they chose to use the first Dragon Ball MOVIE instead of working with the TV episodes. This worked to their advantage in sopme respects, but i think harmed them in others.
o the movie is a lot les etchi, so the prob;lem with the naughty bits seen in the TV episodes is solved here. I suppose it would have been near impossible to use the original material without serious hacking.
o BUT, as anyone who’s seen the first db movie knows, it isnt the ‘real’ story, and is like a condensed version of the first 25 or so episodes into a 45 minute film… Goku meets bulma, oolong, kame, yamcha and puar in the first episode! YIKES! all the trade mags ive seen have constatly hyped how DB has so many episodes, it could be around forever! “this series has legs!” to quote a cap city article… Unfortunately, i belivee there are only 3 z-less DB movies, which basically gives them 6 half hour shows to work with. NOW, we know they’re going to have 13 episodes, so how is this going to work? Are they going to shoot right into the DBZ movies after that?? or have i somehow gotten a tape thatwill be like a video only release? I have no idea. All i know is that they are going to HAVE to use the TV show sooner or later if they want this to air more than the 13 weeks theyre talking about… After seeing this, I’m pretty sure that DB will never achieve the success here that it has in other european countries
. The europeans get to see the REAL tv show. I can see know why they made this a once a week show.
o NAME CHANGES NAME CHANGES NAME CHANGES!!!
goddammit… i KNEW they were going to do this, but it hurt just as much anyway when i heard all the character’s new improved “american” names i couldnt help but cringe. Here’s a list:
1) Goku becomes Zero
what the hell!? this AGAIN?? ever since harmony gold did their own version years ago, this has been the name they used. WHY? is Goku harder to say? do they LIKE having a character with a name that is so stupid? yes, please name me after a symbol that means nothing, nada, zippo. Hi, I’m zero.. why yes, you ARE basically worthless, arent you?
a) Kintoun becomes Flying Nimbus- ok, i can understand this one.
b) KAME HAME HA becomes KUH-MEH-HUH-MEH-HUH: yes, for some reason
known only to the goofballs in charge, they keep the same word but
pronounce it like the hawaiian king for crissake!!! WHAT are they
thinking here? deliberate attempt to cause fan spazzing <^_^>
2) Bulma/Bloomer becomes Leena
ok, ok.. i guess i can see this one… but since her name is a joke based on english anyway, why not keep it? wont kids american kids find it funny too? or do they figger no one knows what bloomers are anymore? Dont forget also that her name is CLEARLY on her shirt at the beginning of the whole movie… guess they figger kids are too dumb to wonder about that.
(here’s one of my personal faves)
3) OOlong becomes…… Chester! ROTFLMAO
yes, my favorite shape changing pig is now known as Chester to american audiences… Ok, the word is weird, but again, it is a word that exists in the english language, and gives a clue to his chinese influence (other wise why the whole communist outfit he wears?).. so why not keep it? Would it kill them to leave a few things alone, or give kids credit to having an ounce of intelligence? take robotech for example.. ok, they changed the pure japanese names, but kept them mostly unchanged where they could… in a fantasy world, poeple expect exotic names dont they?
(another real favorite of mine…)
4) They take the very exotic and strange name Yamcha and change it into:
NANI!? I can understand wanting to change names into dopey american ones… but why take a strange name, and change it into another equally strange name? Just for the sake of change I guess.
a) Puuar becomes Prudence- yamchas buddy switches genders as well as gains a british accent (?) go figgure. can understand the change I guess….
5) Mutenroshi/Kame-sennin becomes Master Roshi/Turtle Hermit
ok, finally they get a name as close to the original as possible.
Ok, calming down now… lets see… in non fan mode now, i can admit that the animation was sharp and was fast paced, and if i was a kid i guess i would like this show. The dubbing is typically poor, or should i say the same as most other saturday morning cartoons… lame jokes, some voices that dont ‘fit’… Goku loses all of his naivette, his sense of being continually baffled by new things.. he becomes almost too old and ‘hip’.. he just seems too aware of whats going on <^_^>.. more so than usual.
My friend who wathed it with me, a non fan who’d never seen DB before, told me that he enjoyed it. I guess that means im too sensitive to all of this stuff, and am nitpicking. sigh.. what else is new…
All in all, I guess non fans will enjoy it. i wonder what they are going to do after the first movies run out, and for some reason, i just DON’T think that this show will achieve the same popularity here as in other countries…. I almost expect to see a Dragon Ball Adventures comic from arcie or something come out of this show… redrawn by americans of course… I also dont have much hope for the toy line, but i’ll try not to be too negative before i see whats going to happnen…
Waiting with trepidation,
Hilariously, the conversation here back in 1995 mirrors many of the conversations two decades later, with various people trying to convince Matt that what he had was in fact Harmony Gold’s dub… which it was not.
That all being said, it is worth noting that there is in fact a completely separate screener VHS with the final 1995 version of the film; the only notable extra inclusion on the tape is a two-minute commercial for the franchise.
Uh, I don’t think so 🤔. I have the screener copy. I think they’re two separate things, they have two different covers. pic.twitter.com/hYOgJwrSfL
— Tanooki Joe (@TanookiKuribo) May 27, 2020
All is Not Lost
Our copy of the tape may be gone, but a record of it isn’t. Joe was smart enough to scan the box and even start tweeting out some clips.
The tape has a 1994 date on it, which concretely places it (as if its contents weren’t obvious enough) as being the first thing FUNimation would have produced; the consumer version of Curse of the Blood Rubies features a 1995 date.
It truly is a mind-bending experience watching this version: while the voice cast is exactly as we would come to know it a year later, many of the names are still their Harmony Gold incarnations, namely Zero, Leena, and Zedaki. A couple names are clearly still works-in-progress: while Mao-Mao and Squeakers are gone, we instead have Chester and Prudence.
Perhaps most jarring for longtime fans is the opening theme, which is indeed Peter Berring’s tune we heard the following year in 1995, with one key difference:
So I got my VCR up and running on my PC… pic.twitter.com/96RcKFZYLT
— Tanooki Joe (@TanookiKuribo) May 31, 2019
The overall sound of the music and vocal delivery in the rest of the song appears — to our ears, anyway — identical to what came out the next year. In 1994, did FUNimation record two different line recordings in the song, future-proofing themselves in case they decided to go with Goku’s name as-is later on?
Once the movie itself begins, it becomes more apparent that this is not truly a “separate” dub, and they were indeed hedging their bets. With the exception of anything involving names, literally every line of dialog and vocal intonation is an identical recording between the 1994 and 1995 versions.
— Tanooki Joe (@TanookiKuribo) May 31, 2019
There is only one scene removed (or, rather, re-added) between the 1994 and 1995 editions: following Bulma’s “crisis” (i.e., peeing herself), the 1994 versions skips over the entire capsule house scene; this gives the two versions about a four-minute runtime difference. Other than this scene, the only true difference can be found in the 1995 version’s penchant for using digital screen transitions such as wipes and expanding circles.
Both the 1994 and 1995 editions cut the extended scene with Oolong transforming into Bulma in order to get the Dragon Ball, and otherwise line up exactly with each other.
|1994 Dialog||1995 Dialog|
|Look out fishies; Zero’s coming!||Look out fishies; Goku’s coming!|
|By the way, I’m Leena. What’s your name? You have heard of names, haven’t you? / I’m Zero! / Hmm, that fits.||By the way, I’m Bulma. What’s your name? You have heard of names, haven’t you? / I’m Goku. / Well hang on, Goku!|
|I forgot to thank you for saving my life. You’re pretty darn tough for someone the size of a paperclip. / Yeah, and hungry, too.||Boy, you really do look hungry, Goku. I’m sorry you didn’t get to eat your six-foot fish. / I’ll eat anything.|
|Zero, where are you going?||Goku, where are you going?|
|It’s Zedaki!||It’s Yamcha!|
|Enough, Prudence. You two have landed on the wrong side of my wall. Prepare to find out why!||Enough, Puar. You two have landed on the wrong side of my wall. Prepare to find out why!|
|You never could get it right, could you, Chester?||You never could get it right, could you, Oolong?|
|Kid, think you could drop Zedaki?||Kid, think you could drop Yamcha?|
|Hey, Zedaki! You wanna get to me, you gotta go through him!||Hey, Yamcha! You wanna get to me, you gotta go through him!|
|Well, I’m no coward, Hibachi, or whatever your name is!||Well, I’m no coward, Lambchop, or whatever your name is!|
|Zedaki, remember the wolf!||Yamcha, remember the wolf!|
|Zedaki! Why did you do that?!||Yamcha! Why did you do that?!|
|Chester, if you’re going to stay here, we have a rule against transforming into 30 foot monsters in the house. Chester, are you listening to me?!||Oolong, if you’re going to stay here, we have a rule against transforming into 30 foot monsters in the house. Oolong, are you listening to me?!|
|Oh, please take me along! I’ll teach Zero some table manners.||Oh, please take me along! I’ll teach Goku some table manners.|
|Did you hear that, Prudence?||Did you hear that, Puar?|
|I feel just fine, Prudence. C’mon, let’s go!||I feel just fine, Puar. C’mon, let’s go!|
|Leena and Zero will help you. You have more than enough help to save your troubled land.||Bulma and Goku will help you. You have more than enough help to save your troubled land.|
|So, Leena, what’s your Dragon Ball wish gonna be?||So, Bulma, what’s your Dragon Ball wish gonna be?|
|None of your business, Chester!||None of your business, Oolong!|
|Stop standing around, Prudence. Grab a bunch and let’s go!||Stop standing around, Puar. Grab a bunch and let’s go!|
|Nice work, Chester! Hmm? Here comes some more. OK, Chester, let them have it!||Nice work, Oolong! Hmm? Here comes some more. Stand back! OK, let them have it!|
|Leena! Are you all right?!||Bulma! Are you all right?!|
What is so fascinating here is that we truly have a stepping-stone taking us from Harmony Gold to FUNimation. It is a great look into the materials and possible script recommendations each company may have received, or would have been referring to back and forth while working on their own respective version. Even then, while some of the names such as Zero and Leena were kept, it is interesting that Squeakers and Mao-Mao went to Prudence and Chester before finally making it to Puar and Oolong. Other names, such as Master Roshi and Flying Nimbus, are kept as-is from Harmony Gold and remain to this day.
That said, there is absolutely an alternate history where English speaking fans are not just saying Tien and Pikkon and Turles, but also Zero and Leena and Zedaki.
The Lost Vendar Dub?!
As noted earlier, following FUNimation’s syndication broadcast of the Dragon Ball Z television series in 1996, the company began working with Pioneer to release the episodes on home video. The first tape, Arrival, was a special one: the first four episodes were edited together as a kind of “feature” presentation, with one set of opening and ending themes, no eyecatches, and only one next-episode-preview at the very end. The very beginning of the tape features a short introductory recap for any fans that may have only see the original Dragon Ball, acknowledging Goku’s growth from a child to an adult:
The intro features a brief scene from the first Dragon Ball Z theatrical film, which FUNimation and Pioneer would jointly release on home video in November 1997. This brief scene features very low-volume voice effects from Masako Nozawa, but also clearly features Ian Corlett muttering in the final frames. By the time the full version of the movie would make its way out on home video as “Dead Zone”, Corlett would be replaced by Peter Kelamis. We had always assumed that this minor vocal utterance was recorded exclusively for this intro, or perhaps even just sourced from some other recording for the regular television series.
Or perhaps FUNimation actually has an entirely separate dub of “Dead Zone” sitting on another shelf somewhere.
April 7, 1996
Months before FUNimation’s English dub of Dragon Ball Z debuts on broadcast television, Matthew Sommer posts the following message on the rec.arts.anime newsgroup:
Well, here I am everyone, back from the brink to bring you the info on the NEW Funimation plan to bring Dragon Ball Z to the american airwaves. I got to see the promo video version of the first DBZ movie dubbed, as well as look at the marketing brochure that they are sending to TV stations in hopes to sell the show to the program buyers. Let’s start with this brochure–
First off, this thing is about 40 pages thick! They start off the first 10 or so pages showing charts and graphs, quotes telling how great a succedd DBZ is/has been in other countries. They mention how it was astronomically popular in Spain, especially. The sad thing is, this is the exact same stuff they said when they were trying to sell original DB! The thing they dont seem to realize is that DB/DBZ in these other countries aired DAILY, for one thing, and that there was already a huge fan base waiting for the show since the DB manga had been available in translation beforehand. But i get the feeling that once again they think they can just sit back and the show will be successful here in the US. Nope. Aint gunna happen. Look at DB… they gave it NO support, SO advertising, barely any merchandising support, had it on in syndication in all sorts of weird time slots and they are suprised it didnt succeed! Geezum crow. I get the feeling they think that DB was somehow just “not good enough” for the american audience, and that DBZ, with it’s non-stop action will be more appealing. Granted,. i can understand this… but like i already said before, DB/Z is SO COMPLICATED! Like starting to read _War&Peace_ from page 300 and trying to understand whats going on. I mean, it seems simple on the surface, but how do you explain who piccolo is in relation to goku? why does he hate him? thats a good 15 minute explanation, and they are going to ignore it. and thats just ONE character! DBZ is going to lose just about any depth it had if things are glossed over this way.
and they producers even seem to realize this. Included in the booklet is about 20 pages of character synopses, laying out their motivations and history <<I quipped to my friend that i wondered if they were planning to send one of these to every kid who watches the show…>>. In the center is also some simple black and white line art that i think they took from a DBZ coloring book– its a group shot, and they list the names of everyone in the picture… except they got FIVE OUT OF 8 OR 9 NAMES *WRONG!* and this is FROM the studio!!! The picture came from about the early “cell” era, and they called Vegeta “Goten” <?>, Trunks was listed as “Android #18”
, Yamcha was called “Gohan”, Tenshinhan was “tenshin” , Gohan was ALSO listed as “Goten”. After i read this, i just about lost all respect for this project right there. I mean if THEY cant get it straight…manoman.
But anyway, me personally, knowing the background and all, would probably watch the dubbed DBZ anyway… but i just dont see how they expect kids to pick this stuff up. By osmosis? Especially if they are going to start with DBZ, how lame is it going to be to have your main hero DEAD only a few weeks after the show starts!? ^_^;; but anyway…
THE MOVIE ITSELF:
ok, first off, there was no opening or ending credits on this one… i have never seen the original <<the only DBZ movie i havent seen before>>, so I can’t really comment on things like the credits anyway… though i’d assume we got “head cha-la” in the original.
It starts off right away with Piccolo facing off against the mystery thugs. Of course it sounds super weird when piccolo speaks in english for the first time… and the one line or so he has isnt really enough to critique. Then we see Kami-sama say piccolo is dead, and it can’t be true <<to which i said OF COURSE he cant be dead, cause YOU’RE still alive KAMI! but what kid is going to know that fact? or the link between piccolo and kami in general?? but i digress…>>
Switch to Gohan at home… his Voice Actor is unknown to me, although it has shades of being the same person who voiced Goku in the original DB dubs. The VA for Gyuumaou is the same as the original dubs, as is bulma and kame-sennin. The new Goku is, yes, speaking like a normal adult. Actually, i am pretty sure he is being voiced by the guy who did Yamcha in the original DB dubs… the voice isnt TOO bad, but they have him spouting corny phrases like “lets play hardball!” and “play times over pal!” and other american fighter cliches. we also get to see Kuririn for the first time! But sadly his name is pronounced Krill’n, which sounds lame to me <<who is arguably the hugest K. fan around…>> his voice also sounded kinda dorky.
Garlick Jr. has been renamed “Vendar” or something like it.. i guess they thought calling a villain “garlick” wasnt scary enough… his three goons have also been given goofy names <<like “Brawn” and “Razor”…>> The villain’s voice acting wasnt too bad, but who really carws, right? 🙂 we care about the heroes…to sum so far, Goku is “ok”, but loses all sense of his childishness. Piccolo also loses his detached arrogance, as he is voiced by someone who sounds like the guy who does Peter Parker on the Spider-Man cartoon. He still says things like he did, like how he’s going to kill goku, but it just doesnt sound “right”. Kuririn- dorky. Gohan– not too bad either. Oh… i forgot Kami. Kami is ok too.
speaking of kami, i was wondering what they were going to do with him. They obviously wont call him “god”, cause that would offend the religeous zealots in the country. So they refer to him by name, Kami <<which they pronounce like Kame>>.. and he says that he is “the protector of the universe”. Close enough of a compromise i guess. When kami talks to Garlick, he seems to talk about WHY G. wants revenge… but it’s kind of glossed over here… what is the real reason? they just say that “his father was powerhungry and got destroyed” or something generic like that… i assumed there was more i wasnt getting.
we still have the same names for things from the original dub… like “flying nimbus” for Kintoun and “power pole” for goku’s noibo. We also got the Kame Hame Ha here, including the deaths of the two thugs, and the VA pronounced it more like it is SUPPOSED to be, and less like the hawaiian king’s name they USED to pronounce it as. Only time will tell on that one i guess.
well, Gar… i mean Vendar summons up the “death zone vortex”, and gohan knocks him in, as we all know he does. As they fly home at the end, goku engages in some un’goku-like thoughts “i’m the luckiest guy in the world to have such a great kid!”, and a narrator who sounds like optimus prime tells us that there are many questions left! “will piccolo and goku have it out?? will goku tell chichi that her son saved them all!? <<why is that a big deal?>>” tune in next time.
well… i know most of you are going to be spewing venom at this… and i agree to an extent… but asside from everything, it is about the same quality level as the original dub, which i think is pretty decent considering what COULD have been hacked. Yes, some of the characterizations arent 100% correct, but i can live with that. My biggets beef is STILL the simple fact that they are doing it in the first place. DB is a very complex story, with rather intricate character relationships, and skipping 140 DB episodes to get to DBZ is going to leave a lot of kids out in the cold. Maybe it will cath on and kids wont CARE. I don’t know… I just think its a shame that because of Funimations lack of advertising and promotion for original DB, we’re all going to be cheated out of a hel of a lot of great episodes. Not that\, like i said before, it wont be fun for me to see DBZ, but… you just cant start reading a book on chapter 17 and expect it to make sense.
good luck to you guys… i hope you promote the show better this time.
who doesnt really care iuf it succeeds here or not since he can get the originals if he wants.. but would find it cool to be able to get more domestic toys and video games!!!!
Sommer was a regular poster in newsgroups of the day, and by all accounts, would have no reason to fabricate something like this. With FUNimation’s own “Zero” dub turning out to be a real thing, it is entirely possible this alternate “Vendar” dub exists somewhere, waiting to be found all over again.
The Importance of History, Reaching Out, and Official Releases
While it may be common knowledge to those who have been doing this a long time, younger fans are often baffled to learn that Mr. Popo is only blue in one network’s broadcast of Dragon Ball Z Kai; that what they hear on their Dragon Ball Z season sets is not what actually aired on Toonami; that the “Ocean/Saban/Pioneer dub” was actually produced by FUNimation all along. Anime is notorious for short, bright, and fast-burning fandoms; the revolving door of new fans tend not to have — and through no fault of their own — any centralized historical base to look back upon and learn from, particularly when it comes to specific franchises.
And yet, it is often left to those same ever-churning groups of fans to preserve this kind of material and its history. Doing so isn’t as easy as it sounds, though. Documenting information while sharing an adequate amount while navigating litigious corporations is… well, it takes a certain kind of crazy even if you’re in it long enough to figure out who to reach out to and how to get these things in the first place. Most recently notable with the five episodes of Harmony Gold’s Dragon Ball dub, we know and plainly see that fans tend to live in their own silos: first by franchise, then by sub-fandom, then by communication medium. If anyone had simply asked someone older than themselves outside their own circle, a concrete answer about how many episodes were dubbed could have been known, verified, and documented ages ago. And that’s a lesson we should take to heart right here! We should have searched sooner and wider than we did. Thankfully, it was a fun ride (even with the tragedy of the lost shipment!).
The 1994 “Curse of the Blood Rubies” tape is more of a historical curiosity than anything else. It helps put the pieces together, showing a company ramping up production and hedging their bets. That’s pretty neat, but not necessarily anything groundbreaking. It should not be so difficult to learn about this tape’s contents, though. History is important. These products are important. They tell the tale of Dragon Ball‘s success abroad.
It is reassuring to see companies such as Discotek actively seeking out and requesting alternate dubs and edits to include on their releases. Perhaps it is because they have nothing to lose and no face to save, whereas FUNimation seemingly goes out of their way to distance themselves from their own past Dragon Ball works… except where it is convenient to market some specific nostalgia. Three entirely separate dubs of “Curse of the Blood Rubies” exist from FUNimation alone, yet the company will only sell you one of them.
It’s been over 25 years now. It’s OK to share your history with us.
(Release the Vendar tape, you cowards.)
Special thanks to Joe Yancone, Jamie Snowden, Brady Hartel, and various other friends for their time and assistance!