Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

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Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by ABED » Sun Feb 05, 2023 10:49 am

Unlike the previous saga, this one actually qualifies as an arc. It's an arc within the larger Freeza arc, but still a complete story arc. It starts with the arrival of the Ginyu Force and ends with their defeat/deaths. It also happens to be one of the strongest stretches of episodes in DBZ.

I forgot to mention in the previous saga, but the trio of Gohan, Kuririn, and Bulma is a lot of fun. They all bounce off each other really well. What's most surprising is the dynamic between Gohan and Kuririn. It's probably due to their size, but they feel like contemporaries instead of a man's son and his best friend.

The Ginyu Tokusentai / Ginyu Force are probably my favorite group of secondary villains in the series. The arc does need a buffer between what's transpired up until that point and the final fight against Freeza. Without it, it would feel like rushing to the climax. I'm not talking power levels in case that's what you're thinking. In any event, all five members are memorable in their own way. First, we have Guldo who despite being the weakest physically has one of the most interesting and useful abilities. His fight only lasts an episode but it's one that you remember, especially how it ends. Decapitating Guldo is pretty hardcore.

Next up is Reacoom, who is my favorite member of the team. He's a dumb brute, but he's incredibly tough and is part of one of the best one-sided beat downs in DB. While Gohan, Vegeta, and Kuririn get a few good shots in, the damage they inflict is all cosmetic. None of it actually does anything real damage to Reacoom and despite that, it's still enjoyable because it's brutal and you see the wear and tear on Reacoom. Despite losing no discernable amount of power, Reacoom looks more and more disheveled as the battle goes on. I prefer that to tanking attacks. Instead of making the one taking the attack look strong, it makes the other fighter look weak. I was surprised by his original Japanese voice. I was used to and was expecting a deep dumb jock sounding voice, but I got a higher pitch, though definitely masculine, from Kenji Utsumi. I just looked him up because I knew he did other voices; I just couldn't remember which ones and one of them is the Tournament Announcer. He's a great actor. I loved his enthusiasm as the announcer and his mixture of menace and goofiness as Reacoom.

Then there's Bahta/Butta. He's the speedster of the team. There's only one time where his speed is demonstrated, when he catches the Dragon Ball that Vegeta tries to chuck behind him, but other than that, he's mostly all talk. He's mostly memorable for his dumb running commentary and design.

Next to last comes Jheese, who has a few signature attacks, but they aren't anything special. His design is simple but memorable, but where I find him to be the most interesting is how much of a sycophant he is. He's the guy who's part of the gang that thinks he's tough by virtue of being part of a powerful gang. It's so satisfying seeing both Goku and Vegeta shatter that illusion.

Last but not least is Captain Ginyu. He's just as goofy and dumb as his henchman. Okay, he's a little cleverer and more self-aware than his underlings, but that still doesn't stop him from placing too much emphasis on elaborate poses during battles. The body swap technique is interesting, and one wonders how often he's used it. I gotta give it to the guy, but it's impressive the lengths he'll go to in order to win. He's willing to inflict major injury as part of a strategy to hurt his enemy. Maybe one could consider it a deus ex machina that a frog happens to land next to Goku just as Ginyu's about to take over Vegeta, but it's a more interesting ending than yet again having Vegeta kill another member. The frog may be a lucky break, but Goku employing fast thinking and turning the tables on the villain was a very satisfying conclusion to this arc within an arc. I think the fundamental reason I love the Ginyu Force is their mix of goofiness and brutality makes for a potent mixture. Both qualities add to the other instead of subtracting.

The final minutes of episode 74 are the calm before the storm. There's something so simple and enjoyable about this episode. I like everything about it from Goku seeing that Vegeta wouldn't kill him even though he's in a vulnerable position because he needs him for the coming battle. I like the uneasy alliance. I like Gohan and Kuririn getting Saiyan battle armor and their enjoyment at seeing how flexible it is. Goku being able to take brutal attacks and suffer unimaginable pain, but the thought of a needle frightens him is super funny to me. I don't recall that ever coming up again except in GT. One of the moments that is so effective at building tension is Vegeta's anxiety attack. That was something I didn't expect at all. I figured he might show fear but the panic attack took me aback.

Filler:
This is where the filler starts to really get awful. Cutaways during a battle can be effective when used at strategic moments, but not in these cases. The cutaways to whatever dumb thing Bulma's up to or Chichi interrupt the flow and it only gets worse once we get into the battle against Freeza. This is the part of the series that the filler is mostly a distraction at the point when pacing needs to pick up.

Dub:
I have a lot of thoughts about this part of the series, but I'll try to keep this from getting too lengthy. I don't feel old, but when I think about this time in the series, it's crazy to think how much time has passed, and yet it all still feels like not that long ago. I'm thinking about how to discuss this because while I'm reviewing these episodes chronologically, the broadcast history is far from linear. As I've gotten older, time feels like it's moving faster. In my late 30s, a year feels like nothing, but in 1998-1999, it felt like an eternity. The internet wasn't what it was now and I didn't know my way around it as well so looking up release dates and news wasn't as simple. After season 2 ended, maybe I'm wrong about this, but it feels like the future of the franchise in the US was unknown for a bit. Would it continue? Even if that's not the case, it felt like it for me. But as it turns out the gap between the airdate of the last episode of season 2, and the VHS release of Captain Ginyu – Assault was just a year. It was interminable. Then they were released, and… the results were not good. I remember the review from the Ultimate DBZ Info Site was that he heard the first few minutes, ejected the tape and then threw it into his basement. I can see why, but I didn't care. Sure the dub was terrible, but it was more DBZ! I would finally get to see the fight against Freeza, Super Saiyan, Trunks, Cell, Super Saiyan 2, Super Saiyan 3, Kaioshin! Okay, maybe not that last one, but the rest I was looking forward to.

My opinion on the in house dub in season 3 hasn't changed. I still think it's a terrible and cheap dub with awful replacement music that took the issues with the Ocean dub and magnified them. Even the box art was cheap screenshots. And yet, I watched the hell out of those bad boys. It helps that those 7 episodes are really good. I'd imagine most know what my opinions are of the dub cast, though one that may surprise some of you is that even in season 3, I liked Schemmel way better than Kelamis. I do like Schemmel's Goku, but it's less about how much I like his performance and more about how little I cared for Kelamis. The in-house dub was Murphy's Law in action. My first impressions of the dub were that the music is awful, and the dub recording sounded low quality. I'm not an audiophile but even I could tell that it sounded like it was recorded on cheap/old equipment. With the exception of Goku's new voice every new actor felt like a significant drop in quality. The single biggest slap in the face was Freeza's voice. And yet, I watched these episodes over and over. Then there were the scripts. Seasons 1 and 2's scripts weren't great, but I'm rewatching the Ocean dub now and they aren't that bad. It starts right off the bat with the monster truck announcer, sorry, narrator saying, "It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Goku!" Not a good start at all. And it never got better as the season progressed.

What I wouldn't give to have turned on Ginyu – Assault and heard Brice Armstrong as the narrator say something like "Goku has finally arrived and without a second to spare." Instead we got what we got. I've watched these episodes a lot over the years and I sometimes imagine how much better they could've done things even if FUNi moved the dubbing to TX to reduce expenses. Here are a few ideas that would've been easy to implement even if cost cutting was the name of the game.
Kai level fidelity to the original should've been the baseline level of acceptable quality. If you have bad translated scripts, surely you can find a translator. I can't imagine some college kid majoring in Japanese couldn't have done a good job. Next, hire a good director. They don't need to know the series in and out but they should understand the characters and the story they are directing. If they weren't familiar, synopsis and Curtis Hoffmann's manga summaries were easy to find. Find actors with voices appropriate for the characters. A good actor can come from anywhere, but hiring amateurs to imitate someone else who may not have been appropriate to begin with was not a good idea. And for the love of god, leave the music alone.

Home Video:
VHS – I've talked a bit about them already, so I'll add that I didn't realize initially that they released an edited and an uncut version of the tapes. Boy, the home video market was really doing well that they could justify releasing two versions of the same episodes in brick and mortar stores.
When I watch Batman 89, I still think of the Diet Coke and Warner Bros. catalog commercials that played before the film on the original VHS. Sadly my first copy got worn out, but thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I can rewatch those commercials. Bringing this around to DBZ, when I watch it and especially when I get to these episodes, I think of the commercials at the beginning of these tapes. The one that comes to mind is Cyboars. Dunno why that stuck in my head but it did. I also remember seeing a few images in the advertisements for upcoming episodes that showed Super Saiyan Goku fighting Freeza and being super excited. I was finally gonna see Super Saiyan! Understandably, I got rid of my VHS's, but I wish I had kept my DVDs. I sold the singles to make room for the Season sets. The DVD's were the same episodes but it's interesting to see the learning curve. When the first DVD's were released, they got rid of the eye catches and even the recaps. The subtitles had a thicker black border, but on the plus side we got Steven J. Simmons subtitles. This was probably the first time I think I ever saw FUNi get universal praise. And on those early DVDs, they couldn't have cuss words. Still, this was more than I thought we would ever get. Even if we got a competent product, this still felt like a pipedream.
Season sets – my only new thoughts are concerning the material that got redubbed. I was wondering how they were going to deal with it since the Ocean dub ended in the oddest of places. It didn't even end at the end of an episode. The end of the last episode of season 2 was in the middle of DBZ episode 67. But once they got past those and the episodes lined up, they redubbed some more dialog. Their choices for who or what got rewritten and redubbed is bizarre. I can't make heads or tails out of any of it. They even felt the need to redub the line "Oh no, it's Vegeta… it can't… be!" that was remembered for being memorably awful, which is saying something.
It's also very odd to hear season 3 Goku talk to redubbed Vegeta. In the intervening years, FUNi clearly invested in better equipment so you have a badly recorded Schemmel as Goku interact with a more professionally produced and more seasoned Sabat as Piccolo and Vegeta. Even though it's terrible, I'd rather they wouldn't replace lines or performances. It happened. It is what it is. Part of this is nostalgia, but another part is that it's not fooling anyone.

Random Thoughts:
Episode 67 has an absurdly long recap
Not to make this about the math and battle power, but the number 530,000 is weird. Why not an even 500,000?
I can't remember if the Ginyu and Goku voice change is literal. Like, when Goku and Ginyu swap bodies, does Ginyu speak with his own voice or Goku's?
The dub episode titles around this time are often pretty good adaptations of the original, though much shorter. I prefer episode titles to be concise and less spoiler-y.
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Feb 05, 2023 12:32 pm

This begins one of Funimation's most diabolical and brilliant marketing strategies. Releasing episodes on vhs months before their tv debuts. "You want to be the coolest kid on your block and see what happens on Namek before everyone else? Buy our overpriced tapes $20 for 3 episodes!"

Pity about these cheap ass screengrab covers. Paying for a cover artist was too much I guess.

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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Sun Feb 05, 2023 2:37 pm

In Ireland we never had a break between what was seasons 2 and 3 in the US. Dragon Ball Z premiered with the Saiyan saga in March 2000, the Namek saga began in May or June of the same year and ran until just after Freeza's second transformation when it went on another break.

Oddly enough I didn't think much of the change in cast at the time. I don't know if it was because the moment Goku returns to challenge Ginyu was such an exciting point in the series, or because I loved Dragon Ball Z so much I just didn't care. Of course now that I'm older I can see the flaws with Season 3, and how Funimation cheaper out across the board, not just with the actors and music, but as you say the recording equipment. As much as I like Steve J Simmons his subs weren't perfect, they are fine, and are largely praised because of Simmon's super literal approach, which leaves nothing important out. By no means are Simmons subs terrible, but they don't lend themselves as well to naturally spoken dialogue, as Rika Takahashi, who provided the subs for the Pioneer movies, which are shorter but more concise.

The edited Funimation dub of episodes 1-53 undoubtedly holds up much better than season 3, not only were the Ocean Studios cast better performers, but Ron Wasserman's score blows Faulconer Productions out of the water, in my opinion. It was not an amazing dub by today's standards, but for the 90s it was as good as you could get in that sort of corny, edgy show aimed primarily at teens Funimation was trying to create.

And yes, despite all the dub's flaws, the single DVDs are worth owning for this portion of the story, even just as a historical footnote and curiosity over how far Funimation has come. There isn't, and likely never will be a Rock the Dragon-style Collector's edition for the inhouse dub, as aired on Toonami from 1999 to 2003. It may also be because I grew up seeing covers for all these DVDs online I wish were available in my country (we didn't get Z Season 3 on home video until Manga UK released it on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2013 and 2021 respectively, and it was only the remastered dub, as they imported Madman/Funimation's season sets) but I don't have much of a problem with the lazy screengrabbed covers. They are a step down from the unique and distinctive Pioneer box art, but I can still see them on my shelf, think of the time in the history of home video (as pointed out when 3 episodes cost $20-25 per tape/disc) they represent and feel proud to own them.
ABED wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 10:49 am Like, when Goku and Ginyu swap bodies, does Ginyu speak with his own voice or Goku's?
Ginyu speaks with Goku's voice. I remember Masako Nozawa's performance coming out of Ginyu's body. I'm pretty sure Sean Schemmel did the same in the dub too.
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by ABED » Sun Feb 05, 2023 3:47 pm

I mean was the show saying when Goku was in Ginyu's body, he spoke with Ginyu's voice but the show was using artistic license to make it clear who was in whose body?
but they don't lend themselves as well to naturally spoken dialogue
But that's not the job of a translation. They aren't scripts for actors to perform, they're a translation so the audience understands what's going on and when appropriate, clarify something cultural like a pun.
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by 8000 Saiyan » Sun Feb 05, 2023 4:10 pm

Ugh, Season 3.

Sure, it's nice that the Funimation guys have improved a great deal since 1999, but you look at this dub and think: "Maybe it was a bad idea to give the rights of our show to a company that couldn't afford to maintain professional voice actors and had to hire people from the street."
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:15 pm

8000 Saiyan wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 4:10 pm Ugh, Season 3.

Sure, it's nice that the Funimation guys have improved a great deal since 1999, but you look at this dub and think: "Maybe it was a bad idea to give the rights of our show to a company that couldn't afford to maintain professional voice actors and had to hire people from the street."
The worst part was it's not like they couldn't afford it. Gen Fukanaga stated the whole reason they outsourced to Canada in the first place was because it was cheaper, Ian Corlett has talked about how Ocean is able to get these jobs because they'll find ways to get things done at a fraction of the cost (like using a union contract only intended for looping in live action work not cartoons and not counting screams as lines).

It was just a matter of saving a few extra bucks doing it themselves and finding their own short cuts like putting Chris Sabat on a $20,000 annual salary and having him do half the male voices

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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:27 pm

ABED wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 3:47 pm
but they don't lend themselves as well to naturally spoken dialogue
But that's not the job of a translation. They aren't scripts for actors to perform, they're a translation so the audience understands what's going on and when appropriate, clarify something cultural like a pun.
No, but an argument could be made that less literal, but more English-equivalent lines, as you would hear in spoken dialogue is better. Both approaches are valid because they maintain faithfulness, but the latter makes for a more believable experience.

I've spoken to Robo4900 about this, and we both agreed shorter subs like Rika Takahashi wrote are more effective, as all fans regardless of their reading speed will be able to get through the lines and come to an understanding quicker.

To be clear I'm not knocking Steve J Simmons. I think he does great work, knows the series and its characters better than the vast majority of fans, and like the Texas cast he improved immensely by the time Kai came around and we saw him write better flowing subs. Of course its all personal preference at the end of the day, but when a line doesn't translate well into English I prefer a more natural sounding line. I can't recall examples off the top of my head between Simmons' subtitles for the Ginyu episodes in Z and Kai but if you compare the two you will see the latter is far superior to the former.
Do you have any info about international non-English broadcasts about the Dragon Ball anime or manga translations/editions? Please message me. Researching for a future book with Dragon Ball scholar Derek Padula :thumbup:

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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by MasenkoHA » Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:47 pm

Dragon Ball Ireland wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:27 pm
ABED wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 3:47 pm
but they don't lend themselves as well to naturally spoken dialogue
But that's not the job of a translation. They aren't scripts for actors to perform, they're a translation so the audience understands what's going on and when appropriate, clarify something cultural like a pun.
No, but an argument could be made that less literal, but more English-equivalent lines, as you would hear in spoken dialogue is better. Both approaches are valid because they maintain faithfulness, but the latter makes for a more believable experience.

I've spoken to Robo4900 about this, and we both agreed shorter subs like Rika Takahashi wrote are more effective, as all fans regardless of their reading speed will be able to get through the lines and come to an understanding quicker.

To be clear I'm not knocking Steve J Simmons. I think he does great work, knows the series and its characters better than the vast majority of fans, and like the Texas cast he improved immensely by the time Kai came around and we saw him write better flowing subs. Of course its all personal preference at the end of the day, but when a line doesn't translate well into English I prefer a more natural sounding line. I can't recall examples off the top of my head between Simmons' subtitles for the Ginyu episodes in Z and Kai but if you compare the two you will see the latter is far superior to the former.
They all have their strengths and weaknesses

Simmons might have been a bit too literal or whatever but the subtitles were perfectly readable and the fact that he was a fan meant he understood the characters and nuanced a lot better.

Personal preference but I like that Takahashi didn't leave Japanese honorifics as is. Gohan saying Piccolo-san gets rendered as Mr.Piccolo (which is what the dub ran with until Kai, I think) Turles minions calling him Turles-sama is rendered as Master Turles etc. But a few dubisms slipped through in her subtitles. Ki gets translated as "power", which even Funimation's eventual localization of energy was preferable, Freeza is spelled as Frieza, Battle Powers are called Power levels, the Tenkaichi Budokai is rendered as World Martial Arts tournament and Kuririn is rendered as Krillin

And Mandelin's translations were pretty solid but I think he could have stand to translate a few things. I didn't see a point in leaving "omae" as is when Bulma chastises Goku for referring to her that instead of just subtitling "Don't refer to me as YOU" and I feel like Mazoku could have been translated as Demon or demon clansman like Simmons did.

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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by SuperSaiyaManZ94 » Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:10 pm

The redubbing of the S3 episodes for the remastered release was very inconsistent and all over the map, because while you had Sabat redoing his Vegeta (yet at the same time not redoing Piccolo, so that terrible ogre like voice stayed) up to the point in the series where Future Trunks first appears, the same wasn't done by Schemmel for you have his horrid, amatuer hour 1999 Goku talking with Sabat's circa 2005 onward Vegeta and it's jarring as hell hearing the two performances separated by six years. They pretty much gave up redubbing after the Freeza arc, because by the time Trunks shows up Sonny Strait stopped redubbing Krillin, so it goes back to that nasally sounding voice he initially used, Nadolny's Gohan goes back to the chainsmoker voice she used initially then Vegeta effectively returns to the bad Brian Drummond impression up to the point where Sabat shifted his performance away from it into the deeper take he used for a while after that.
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:40 pm

Funimation also redubbed Gohan until he attacks second form Frieza, first form Freeza and a few lines in his second and third forms (third has a filter), Tenshinhan, Burter, Guido. Of course Ginyu's lines were redubbed by Brice Armstrong, and Dale Kelly's grunts were left in, which is the only remnant of his work on the series that can be heard in all the home releases since 2007.

I know it's been said here several times that Sean Schemmel didn't redub any of his lines because he wanted to show the progression of his performance as Goku over the years, but I can't find the quote. Was it said at a convention panel or on Twitter? I remember he was based in New York doing a lot of work for 4Kids when the partial redub was being recorded, so that could have been a factor too.
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by SuperSaiyaManZ94 » Sun Feb 05, 2023 7:50 pm

Dragon Ball Ireland wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:40 pm Funimation also redubbed Gohan until he attacks second form Frieza, first form Freeza and a few lines in his second and third forms (third has a filter), Tenshinhan, Burter, Guido. Of course Ginyu's lines were redubbed by Brice Armstrong, and Dale Kelly's grunts were left in, which is the only remnant of his work on the series that can be heard in all the home releases since 2007.

I know it's been said here several times that Sean Schemmel didn't redub any of his lines because he wanted to show the progression of his performance as Goku over the years, but I can't find the quote. Was it said at a convention panel or on Twitter? I remember he was based in New York doing a lot of work for 4Kids when the partial redub was being recorded, so that could have been a factor too.
I don't remember where if it was a convention or tweet, but i would't be surprised if his location at the time was a reason why he didn't redo Goku in the Ginyu and Freeze eps with his earlier work for the remastered/partial re dub along with the voice growth thing.

I heard the reason Kelly's grunts were apparently left intact was due to Armstrong's age at the time of the redub so that's why those weren't redubbed unlike Ginyu's voice itself.
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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by Super Sonic » Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:43 am

MasenkoHA wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 12:32 pm This begins one of Funimation's most diabolical and brilliant marketing strategies. Releasing episodes on vhs months before their tv debuts. "You want to be the coolest kid on your block and see what happens on Namek before everyone else? Buy our overpriced tapes $20 for 3 episodes!"

Pity about these cheap ass screengrab covers. Paying for a cover artist was too much I guess.
Better that than complete lies. When I was ten years old my dad picked up this tape for me:

Image

But when watching the video, one of the four on this cover was missing and not mentioned at all.

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Re: Deep Thoughts: The Ginyu Force Saga

Post by MasenkoHA » Mon Feb 06, 2023 10:13 am

Dragon Ball Ireland wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:40 pm

I know it's been said here several times that Sean Schemmel didn't redub any of his lines because he wanted to show the progression of his performance as Goku over the years, but I can't find the quote. Was it said at a convention panel or on Twitter? I remember he was based in New York doing a lot of work for 4Kids when the partial redub was being recorded, so that could have been a factor too.
I always kind of figured the New York thing was the biggest factor in him not redubbing any of his characters. Even if he was down would Funimation really pay for his airfare just to redub some old lines? It seemed Funimation was more concerned about consistency than quality and only to a point.

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