You might ask what the point of all this is, since Funi’s Bardock dub came out years and years ago. What’s it matter today? Ultimately I’m just doing this because I really like the Bardock special; it’s debatably the anime’s best contribution to the DB franchise. Bardock remains a very popular character among fans, and even Toriyama liked the special so much that he inserted Bardock into the manga, the only time such a thing happened. And while Funi went on to improve the overall quality of their dubbing and has redubbed several of the movies for various reasons, they still haven’t retouched their Bardock dub, despite putting out several different DVD editions of it. So in that sense, Funi’s dub of the special continues to be an important piece of their dub, so why not analyze the living shit out of it? At least, that's what I started thinking after that fifth Red Bull.
I’m ultimately going to be posting the entire scripts of the Japanese and English versions up here, piece by piece, and for that I’m simply copying the subtitles for the Japanese version and dub (my DVD is an old one from back when Funi still included a “dubtitle” track). I’m marking who says each line, and for that I’m using whatever name or spelling they have in that particular version (so “Burdock” in Japanese and “Bardock” in English, for instance), but outside of that I’ll use my own personal naming preferences. Also, I’m too lazy to get around the forum name filter, so I’ll just use “Freeza” even for the dub dialogue. But for Selypa's dub name I'll use "Fa'sha", since talking about it is pretty central to the point of this topic.
Anyway, without further ado let’s look at the first few scenes:
The special starts off showing the newly-born Goku on Planet Vegeta, with some doctors attending him:
OK, first up: in the dub, Goku is born “unattended by [his] father or mother”. He was born without his mother in attendance? How does that work, exactly?Japanese
Narrator: On Planet Vegeta, a baby boy lets out his first cry.
Doctor A: Kakarot? So this is Burdock’s son, then?
Doctor B: Yeah. He sure is the kid of a lower class warrior. He’s barely got any potential abilities at all. I guess all we can do with him is send him off to one of the frontier planets.
Doctor A: I suppose so.
Narrator: Planet Vegeta. Many years ago, a small child was born. Unheralded, and unattended by its father or mother, the baby cried out, making its lonely plea to the Universe! The Saiyans were a people of war, and like all Saiyan babies, the child was destined to fight!
Planthor: My goodness, that’s one loud kid! Yes, he’ll be great, watch!
Melakka: That’s a bold prediction for the son of a low-class soldier! Let’s see, Bardock’s son, huh? Planthor, I wouldn’t stake my reputation on that prediction if I were you!
Planthor: Hmm…you just wait. Come here, Melakka! Do you hear that? That’s the cry of a great warrior! Let’s see…Kakarot! Remember that name!
Next, some cosmetic differences: originally when Planet Vegeta is shown, the planet’s name is written on the screen in Japanese, but this was understandably taken out for the English dub, and instead the narrator starts off announcing “Planet Vegeta” (which is said in the Japanese narration too, but in the middle of a longer sentence). They do the same thing later with Planet Kanassa. In Japanese the narrator is Jouji Yanami, who narrates the entire DB/Z/GT anime, and also plays Doctor A here, the first character who speaks after the opening narration. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but this made it sort of seem like the opening narration was just the doctor thinking to himself or something, like JD from Scrubs. In English the narrator and doctor have completely different voices, so you don’t get the same effect (which like I said probably wasn’t intentional anyway). I should say though that the dub narrator here is horrible. Funi’s later Z narrator was OK, and the one they got for DB was pretty good, and the Kai one is great, but this guy here is pure crap. Although for all I know these could all just be the same guy, and he’s gotten way better over the years. But I doubt it.
Anyway, this brief opening scene is a conveniently typical example of the sort of differences between the Japanese version and the Funi dub. First off, notice how much more is said in the dub. The dub writers liked to put in more dialogue at every opportunity, so whenever characters have their backs turned to the camera or a talking off screen, it’s a safe bet that the dub will be adding in extra lines. Here, I guess Funi wanted to add in some…conflict, I guess you could call it. In Japanese, both doctors agree that Goku is pretty much garbage and will never amount to anything. In the dub though, the first doctor insists despite all evidence that Goku will actually grow up to be something special, whereas his partner just thinks he’s low-class trash. And of course we the audience know that dub!doctor guy is absolutely right, so it’s supposed to be amusing in that way, like in movies set in the past where one guy is all “I’m telling you, this new-fangled TV/internet/dry-cleaning/indoor plumbing thing is really gonna take off!” and everyone else just thinks he’s crazy. Which is actually kinda something we get with Bardock later on, only in a less humorous light. We also see later on in the dub that this doctor here who thinks Goku is going to amount to something is also particularly concerned about Bardock, so I guess they were trying to characterize him a little.
The next thing that jumps out is that the doctors are nameless in Japanese, but are given names in the dub: “Planthor” and “Melakka”. It’s no secret that most of the character names throughout DB are playfully derived from food, musical instruments, and things like that, so to have two names like this that are just generic sci-fi alien names consisting of apparently random syllables is really jarring. Unless there is some word play here that I’m just missing (“Planthor”…Planter Nuts? Nah). Granted, many of the name puns in DB come from Japanese words unfamiliar to English-speakers. The most prominent example is probably the Saiyans (from yasai, “vegetable”), but in this TV special we’ve also got Planet Kanassa, a pun on the Japanese word for fish, sakana. If you don’t know Japanese then names like this probably do seem like just random gibberish, so I guess the dub writers thought they were simply playing along. There are also a few names in Japanese DB that really were just randomly created without any pun in mind, such as Popo or Polunga (for some reason they always seem to start with ‘p’), so it’s not like the dub writers are doing something totally unprecedented here. But even so, to me at least “Planthor” and “Melakka” just don’t sound like DB names (though one of them starts with ‘p’!), but your mileage may vary.
At any rate, the main point is that the dub writers just took it upon themselves to name two characters who didn’t even have names before. This has happened with more than a few characters in the dub, such as the girl Oolong tries to kidnap, the Cell Games TV announcer, or the guy who shoots Boo’s puppy. Admittedly this is something DB really leaves itself open to. Throughout the series there are many characters who aren’t named despite being around a long time or otherwise being somewhat prominent, like the Tenkaichi Budoukai announcer or Bulma’s mom. So what’s the harm in Funi giving names to these people, if only for convenience’s sake? Well, in the case of people like the TB announcer I’d probably be more included to view it charitably, since he is around an awfully long time. Or the guy who shoots Boo’s dog: he’s only around briefly, but has a big influence on the plot. It is rather odd that they don’t have names in the original. But these doctor guys? These are the sort of one-shot characters who generally don’t get named. They only appear in this TV special (though the scaly guy is based on the doctor who takes care of Vegeta in the main series), and while they are around for a few scenes, they never do anything but deliver a few bits of exposition. “Doctor A” and “Doctor B” sums them up perfectly.
After we get our first good look at baby Goku, the title screen appears and the main story begins.
[2. Drunken Oozarus vs the Kanassa Planning Committee]
At this point I should probably bring up the music. This is one of the ways in which this is a rather unfair comparison, because the use of music in the Japanese Bardock special is some of the best in the entire series. Meanwhile, the dub music is…OK. In fact, all in all the dub music is a whole lot better here than the dub voice acting. For the most part it’s simply there, and while it never really adds much to the scenes, it also doesn’t really detract either, with some rather notable exceptions. It’s average background music in other words, and if I were comparing it to something from an average Japanese DBZ episode maybe this would be a halfway legitimate contest, with the dub music coming out on top at a few points. But unfortunately this is the Bardock special, and the dub music just can’t hold a candle.
Take the title card sequence, with that great dramatic pause between notes and perfect transition into the scene on Kanassa. Meanwhile in the dub we’ve got…I don’t know, something. I can’t remember it as I’m writing this, despite having just watched this stuff just the other day. I’m sure it was perfectly decent, but it’s quite literally unmemorable compared to the Japanese music here. Actually, maybe it’s not the music itself that’s so great here (although it is a good piece), it’s just the way it’s used that really makes it stand out. But it’s hard to describe and I’ve got no audio clips, so maybe I should move on to stuff I can at least transcribe.
On that note though, the main reason the dub music feels lacking here compared to the Japanese side of things is that the dub dialogue is allowed to step all over it. As the scene switches to Planet Kanassa, in Japanese the music takes center stage and builds up the drama, but the dub inserts a tremendous amount of dialogue here where originally there was just music or silence, and so to go along with that they just come up with some competent piece that can play in the background as people talk. And just what are they talking about? Well, behold:
No, I didn’t accidentally leave out the Japanese dialogue for this part: that’s all the dialogue there is! To get back to music for a bit, basically what happens during this scene in the Japanese version is that the dramatic music from the title card keeps playing as the scene changes to Kanassa and continues on for a bit, setting the mood. Then that piece stops and a new more fast-paced bit of music starts up as the Oozaru Saiyans appear and start wrecking the place. Then that piece goes away as the battle winds down, and the scene transitions to the morning after the battle. The scene surveys all the dead bodies, wrecked buildings, and other wreckage left in the wake of the Saiyans’ rampage, all in silence. Slowly our view zooms in on the Saiyan group, and Pumbukin complains about his scar. The dub inserts two entire conversations between the start of the Kanassa scene and Pumbukin’s complaint. There’s so much to talk about here that I’m going to break it down into sub-sections.Japanese
*Saiyans attack Kanassaians. One cuts Pumbukin, but they all get wiped out anyway*
Pumbukin: *touches scar* That bastard.
Narrator: Planet Kanassa
Dimitreous: Sir, it’s the full moon…just like in the vision!
Commander: Yes Dimitreous. Indeed, it is about to begin. This is the hour for which we have prepared!
Dimitreous: Yes, Commander!
*Saiyans attack Kanassaians*
Commander: Don’t lose heart my faithful Kanass. This is our duty! We must see it through until the end.
*A Kanassaian cuts Shugesh, but they all get wiped out anyway*
Torah: That was a heck of a party, wasn’t it.
Fa’sha: If you say so, I don’t remember any of it!
Torah: You’re a typical ape Fa’sha.
Fa’sha: Aaah, shut up! I don’t see how you guys remember, anyway! It’s elephants that aren’t supposed to forget, not apes!
Borgos: I’m with you Fa’sha! To me it’s like waking up from a dream! You kind of remember it all but then it just slips away!
Shugesh: I don’t remember much either, but I remember the crusty, little devil that game me this! *touches scar*
The Kanassain Resistance
The first thing we hear in the dub is a conversation between two people of Kanassa, discussing how it is now the night of the full moon “just like in the vision” and that the thing they have been preparing for has finally come. As we see later in both versions, the people of Planet Kanassa have psychic powers, and the idea here is that they knew the Saiyans were coming ahead of time and prepared to fight them, kind of like the Z Warriors did for the androids over in the main series. As far as expanding on the original goes, this isn’t a bad idea. After all, the entire plot of the special is that Bardock gains the ability to see the future from the Kanassaians and tries to prevent the things he sees from happening, so why wouldn’t the Kanassaians have done something similar? However, since Funi obviously can’t add in new scenes of their own, they can only add in stuff like this by either altering the original dialogue or, as they do here, by putting it in where there was originally silence. And while it’s not that bad an idea, I don’t think that it’s good enough to justify wrecking the dramatic scene-setting music of the original. I also don’t think that it’s the place of dubbing companies to try and improve the original by making drastic changes like this, even when the ideas behind the changes are OK.
There are also obvious problems with trying to expand the story by adding in new dialogue like this, because no matter what they have the characters say, it can’t be reflected in the visuals. So in the dub the Kanassaians talk about having prepared for this attack, but as in the Japanese version all we see is them standing around shooting at the Saiyans. This doesn’t really seem like the well-honed strategy of a precognitive race. We also never get to actually see these two guys having this conversation (one of them kinda shows up later, but I’ll get to that), making it seem odd and disconnected. And it leads to some confusing moments: we hear these two disembodied voices talking about the full moon and how they’ve prepared for this, then suddenly an Oozaru Saiyan looms into view. If you didn’t know better you might think that it was the Saiyans we heard talking. Then later on when the commander guy is telling his fellow “Kanass” not to loose heart, the actual visuals are of dead Kanassaians everywhere with an Oozaru Saiyan standing above them, his mouth wide open. It seems kind of like he’s the one talking, since he’s the only living person is sight and his mouth is open.
Which brings us to the two Kanassains in this conversation. One of them is named “Dimitreous” (as the dub subtitles spell it), another dub-only name for a character not named in the original version. In fact, not only is this character not named in the original, he’s not even in the original at all, since this whole conversation is only in the dub. So here we have a named, speaking role that did not exist in the original version in any capacity. That’s actually sort of impressive, in a perverse way. Like the other dub-only names, “Dimitreous” is a very un-DB sort of name, and seems like it was just chosen at random. Demetrius is a real name, so I don’t know if the dub subtitle guy spelled it “Dimitreous” to make it seem more alien, or just as a mistake. Either way, it really doesn’t fit the fish theme of Kanassa, but I guess it’s understandable that the dub writers wouldn’t pick up on that theme, since it involves puns on Japanese words.
And then there’s the commander. I think the idea is that the commander who talks here is the same guy who later gives Bardock psychic powers, since in the dub that later guy talks about “his troops”. If that’s the case then this guy actually does have a name in the Japanese version, whereas in the dub he’s not given one. How’s that for a switcheroo? This Kanassaian who gives Bardock psychic powers is named Tooro, a pun on toro, fatty tuna meat used in sushi. However, like several names in the Japanese version of the special, this name is only given in the Japanese credits and not spoken in dialogue. And even then, you kind of have to go to the guidebooks to determine that this name refers to this character, unless you’re just intimately familiar with voice actor Banjou Ginga and can effortlessly remember which character he voiced. So it’s not strange that the dub writers wouldn’t know this guy even had a name, but it’s (pleasantly) surprising that they didn’t make up a name of their own for him like they did half the other characters. Though they did make up a background for him. In the Japanese version there’s nothing said about who Tooro is, other than just being a Kanassaian, but in the dub he’s some sort of military commander.
Getting back to more “in-universe” stuff, the dub dialogue implies that the Saiyans just suddenly show up with the full moon and wipe out all the Kanassaians in the course of a single night, but later on in the Japanese version Zarbon tells Freeza that Kanassa has been conquered a month earlier than expected, which would seem to indicate that Bardock and the gang spent a good deal of time there and the attack we see in the special was just the climax to a long struggle between them and the Kanassaians.
Meet the Crew
After the Kanassaians are wiped out, the dub then inserts a conversation between Bardock’s crew (whether or not “Bardock’s crew” is an accurate way to describe them is kinda up to debate, but I’ll get to that later). Before I get to the conversation though, I should probably go over the issue of the crew’s names. As you can tell from the dialogue quoted above, all of the Saiyans here except for Bardock have a different name in the dub. Bardock himself is named after burdock. His name is spelled exactly the same way the English word “burdock” is written in Japanese (as バーダック/Baadakku), so that’s why the Japanese subtitles spell his name that way, whereas the dub spells it “Bardock”, another possible way of Romanizing his name (which is what I like to use too). It’s a little different, but still just alternate ways of spelling the same name, as opposed to what we get with the rest of the crew.
First off is Toma, the guy who later on tells Bardock about Freeza’s betrayal, and provides Bardock’s trademark red bandanna (dyed in his own blood). His name is a pun on “tomato”. The dub though calls him “Torah”. Why, I dunno. The Torah refers to the 5 Books of Moses, the first books of the Bible, but I really doubt that’s what the dub writers were going for. It’s notable that Toma’s dub name is so close to his original name, unlike the rest of Bardock’s crew as we’ll see below. And Toma is the only one of the crew besides Bardock whose name is spoken in dialogue, as opposed to only being revealed in the credits. So did the dub writers just mishear his name as “Torah”? Or did they change it on purpose, and if so why, since Toma’s name pun is easily understandable to an English-speaking audience?
The rest of the crews’ names are completely different in the dub. Like I said, all these characters’ names are revealed only in the credits, so more than likely the dub writers didn’t even know about them and just made up ones of their own. First there’s the only female member of the crew, Selypa, whose name is a pun on “parsley” (parsely: パセリ/paseri; Selypa: セリパ/Seripa). In the dub she is called “Fa’sha”. Again, I have no clue what if anything “Fa’sha” is supposed to be a pun on. If the dub writers are going to make up their own names for these guy, I wish they’d at least stick to the whole Saiyan vegetable theme. I can understand them not picking up on Kanassa’s fish theme, but surely after dubbing the show for so long they should have noticed the theme to the Saiyans’ names, what with “Vegeta”, “Kakarrot”, and “Raditz”.
Next up is the short fat guy who gets his cheek cut by a Kanassaian. His name is Pumbukin, a pun on, well, “pumpkin”. In the dub he is “Shugesh”. Then there’s the tall partially bald guy with scars on his forehead, named Totapo after the potato. His dub name is “Borgos”. Once again I don’t know what if anything these names are based on, so if I’m missing something please let me know.
With that out of the way, let’s finally move on to the conversation itself. Toma/Torah says that it was “a heck of a party” wiping out the Kanassaians, and this leads into a discussion on which of them can or can’t remember what they do as Oozaru. We see in the main series that Goku can’t remember his actions as an Oozaru and is even unaware that he transforms at all, whereas Vegeta clearly remembers, since he knows it was Yajirobe who cuts off his tail. So delving into this issue isn’t that bad an idea if you want to expand on the story, but it’s a poor replacement for the eerie silence in the original as we see the carnage the Saiyans have left behind. And as I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s the place of dub writers to expand on the story; the purpose of an English dub should be to reproduce the original dialogue in English, warts and all. Not that I think the silence here is a “wart”: silence can often add a lot to a scene and convey far more than words, something the dub writers don’t seem to realize. But even if the original scene had been crap I don’t think they should have tried fixing it, if only because they don’t seem competent enough to write decent dialogue.
Take this dub scene: not a bad idea at heart, but they way its executed is middling at best. Toma/Torah starts off says that was a “heck of a party” and Selypa/Fa’sha says she doesn’t remember it. The makes it sound like it’s the morning after some drunken kegger party, which is the sort of mental association that might work in a fan parody but is distracting in what is supposed to be a rather serious story by DB standards. Selypa/Fa’sha’s line about elephants rather apes never forgetting is pretty dumb. Totapo/Borgos’ line comparing his memories of being an Oozaru to memories of a dream is interesting, but ruined by bad delivery. For whatever reason, they saw fit to give him a voice like Barney the Dinosaur. Or if you don’t know who that is, let’s just say he has this cartoony stuffed animal type of voice. It’s worth noting that in the original, Totapo never speaks. He’s described as “silent” in most of his guidebook profiles, so this was probably an intentional choice rather than an oversight. Meanwhile, Selypa/Fa’sha’s dub voice sounds like a bee. So two of the four characters in this dub-only conversation have distractingly bad voices (Toma/Torah and Pumbukin/Shugesh’s voices are OK).
Besides giving more details of the Oozaru transformation, I’d assume the reason they added this conversation in the dub is so that we can get to know the crew a little better, since they’re not really around for all that long. Bardock’s reaction to their deaths is supposed to be one of the special’s key scenes, so the dub writers probably wanted to flesh out their personalities and relationship with Bardock. Which is again maybe a noble idea, but isn’t pulled of so great. I can’t say that we get to know much more about them from this conversation, at least nothing much worth knowing. And the conversation distracts from the images of the destruction they caused, which I think really tells you all you need to know about these people and their way of life. One last point is that while Selypa, Pumbukin, and Totapo’s names are only given in the credits, their dub names are all mentioned repeatedly in dub dialogue, as we see here with “Fa’sha” being called by name whereas Selypa never is.
Well, I’ve probably gone on long enough for now. I know I’ve written a whole lot about relatively little dialogue on both the Japanese and English sides, but there’s a lot of stuff to note at the beginning here, and I should have a much smaller dialogue to comments ratio from here on out.