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Of all products from the Dragon Ball franchise, the Dragon Ball Z TV series has one of the most convoluted and confusing releases in North America. So far the series has gone through four distinct releases (including one canceled one) with two different home-format distributors and varying audio contents, such as musical scores and voice casts. The page is broken down chronologically by release, and further by release date (with the exception of the individual discs, which were released out of proper story order).
“The Saiyan Conflict” and “The Namek Saga” are the first and second season, respectively, of Dragon Ball Z for the North American syndication television market as produced by FUNimation. The episodes released on those discs are as-is from their original syndication run on American television beginning in 1996 (although in the original run episode 026 was considered part of season one, it is included on the season two box set). These releases are edited, English-dubbed ONLY (with the Ocean Studios cast, as opposed to FUNimation’s in-house cast, which did not yet exist), and were distributed by Pioneer Home Entertainment (later renamed to Geneon). The Japanese episodes listed with these discs in this guide indicate which original Japanese episodes these dubbed episodes correspond to based on their visual content due to edits and episode splicing. FUNimation’s sub-licensing agreement with Pioneer expired on 31 August 2003, resulting in a complete return to FUNimation’s control. For more information on the Pioneer/FUNimation licensing agreement, please refer to the “Newbie Guide“.
In the meantime, FUNimation had struck a deal with Cartoon Network in 1999 (based on airing existing episodes beginning in 1998) to continue production of the Dragon Ball Z TV series with a broadcast in their “Toonami” timeslot. The “Captain Ginyu” discs mark the end of home distribution by Pioneer, with the remaining releases coming straight from FUNimation, themselves. These discs also mark the beginning of the bilingual releases of Dragon Ball Z (both English and Japanese audio tracks), with translations provided by Steven J. Simmons. The first disc (“Assault“) contained two video tracks because the English and Japanese audio could not be properly lined up due to FUNimation’s censoring of seasons one and off-setting so many episodes. From volume #19 to the end of the series, however, all discs are perfectly synched and can have their audio switched at will.
Released:13 April 1999 – 07 August 1999
Discs:01-08 (8 individual volumes)
Episodes:001-025 English / 001-034 Japanese
Released:10 August 1999 – 07 December 1999
Discs:09-17 (9 individual volumes)
Episodes:026-053 English / 034-067 Japanese
Released:20 June 2000
Discs:18-19 (2 individual volumes)
Episodes:054-060 English / 068-074 Japanese
Released:08 May 2001 – 11 December 2001
Discs:20-29 (10 individual volumes)
Episodes:061-092 English / 075-107 Japanese
Released:08 January 2002 – 26 February 2002
Discs:30-32 (3 individual volumes)
Episodes:093-102 English / 108-117 Japanese
Released:26 September 2000
Discs:33-34/35 (2 individual volumes)
Episodes:103-110 English / 118-125 Japanese
Released:13 March 2001 – 08 May 2001
Discs:36-39 (4 individual volumes)
Episodes:111-124 English / 126-139 Japanese
Released:29 January 2002 – 14 May 2002
Discs:40-43 (4 individual volumes)
Episodes:125-137 English / 140-152 Japanese
Released:18 June 2002 – 08 October 2002
Discs:44-47 (4 individual volumes)
Episodes:138-150 English / 153-165 Japanese
Released:08 October 2002 – 08 February 2005
Discs:48-56 (9 individual volumes)
Episodes:151-179 English / 166-194 Japanese
Released:15 March 2005 – 15 November 2005
Discs:57-61 (5 individual volumes)
Episodes:180-194 English / 195-209 Japanese
Released:26 June 2001 – 31 July 2001
Discs:62-64 (3 individual volumes)
Episodes:195-204 English / 210-219 Japanese
Released:02 October 2001 – 30 October 2001
Discs:65-68 (4 individual volumes)
Episodes:205-216 English / 220-231 Japanese
Released:29 January 2002 – 11 June 2002
Discs:69-75 (7 individual volumes)
Episodes:217-238 English / 232-253 Japanese
Released:11 June 2002 – 22 October 2002
Discs:76-82 (7 individual volumes)
Episodes:239-260 English / 254-275 Japanese
Released:26 November 2002 – 11 March 2003
Discs:83-87 (5 individual volumes)
Episodes:261-276 English / 276-291 Japanese
FUNimation had previously announced plans to go back and re-dub the first two seasons with their own in-house actors (which had already done the rest of the series), and release this re-dub uncut on DVD with the Japanese version (and amazingly, the Spanish version), as well. These discs had been in-process of release under the “Ultimate Uncut Edition” line. The English-dubbed version of these episodes were aired “uncut” (in visual content only; FUNimation’s English dub of the series runs the gamut in terms of accuracy to the original Japanese script) on Cartoon Network beginning in fall 2005.
In mid-2006, FUNimation abruptly (and silently) halted the release of the “Ultimate Uncut Edition” line after the ninth volume, which left the remainder of the second season up in the air. Shortly thereafter, images and SKUs of an additional “Complete Vegeta Saga” had leaked online, with the official word from FUNimation being that more information on the set (supposedly consisting of five DVDs and becoming available in February 2007) would be available soon, and that other “major announcements” concerning the release of the entire series would follow.
Released:12 April 2005 – 16 May 2006
Discs:01-09 (9 individual volumes released of the 12 planned)
Episodes:001-027 English / 001-027 Japanese
In February 2007, FUNimation’s “remastered” Season One box set saw its release on DVD. Touted as a complete remastering, this release was produced in a (cropped) widescreen presentation with a “remastering” process by Video Post & Transfer in Dallas, Texas. Despite FUNimation’s claims, the set is indeed cropped (missing approximately 20% of its vertical resolution while only gaining approximately 5% of its horizontal resolution), it is not remastered frame-by-frame from its original film, and the color has been adjusted. Of note is the inclusion of a new audio track, featuring FUNimation’s traditional voice track (with minor line alterations where appropriate) played alongside the original Japanese musical score. This release also marked the last inclusion of FUNimation’s replacement musical score for their English dub (previously heard on North American broadcast television), with subsequent home releases and online streaming reverting back to its proper, original Japanese musical score. FUNimation continued with this “season box set” release style for the entirety of the Dragon Ball Z TV series, marking the first time it had ever received a “consistent” release from beginning to end in North America.
Released:06 February 2007 – 19 May 2009
Box Sets:01-09 (9 box sets; 6 discs per box set)
Episodes:001-291 English / 001-291 Japanese
In July 2009 at their industry panel at the “Otakon” anime convention in Baltimore, FUNimation announced their licensing and forthcoming release of the “Dragon Box” sets based on the genuinely-remastered release of the same name from Japan several years prior. The release would begin in November 2009 and span across seven sets. Clearly aimed at “hardcore” fans (and specifically those of the original Japanese version of the show), the packaging would closely mirror the Japanese packaging, would include a hardcover book with each box, and even default to the original Japanese language track. This set would be the fourth official release of some earlier episodes of the Dragon Ball Z TV series in North America, would be the second “consistent” release of the entire series, and for many fans, was set to be the definitive release, finally coming to them a full fifteen years after FUNimation first acquired the license to the franchise.
Released:17 November 2009 – 13 September 2011
Box Sets:01-07 (7 box sets; 6 discs per box set)
Episodes:001-291 English / 001-291 Japanese
In July 2011 at their industry panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, FUNimation announced a new Blu-ray release of the standard Dragon Ball Z TV series (non-Kai) for release later that year. It was later clarified to be an entirely new remaster, separate from the “season box set” DVD releases produced from 2007-2009, despite the prior releases being originally scanned in 1080p. The new remaster was also confirmed to be in its original and proper 4:3 aspect ratio.
Almost exactly six months to the date from their original announcement, FUNimation suspended all further work on this new remaster of the series in January 2012. The company put out a survey in June 2013 hinting that they were reconsidering starting a Blu-ray release of the series again.
Released:08 November 2011 – 13 December 2011
Sets:01-02 (18 sets planned pre-cancellation; 2 discs per set)
Episodes:001-034 English / 001-034 Japanese
After the cancellation of the “Level” sets, FUNimation revamped their Blu-ray strategy to more closely mirror the more-financially-successful DVD season sets. The latest Blu-ray season sets have the same episode counts and a similar cropped/widescreen presentation with a slightly different remastering process, along with the occasional pan-and-scan technique due to the otherwise center-cropped video.
Released:31 December 2013 – 09 December 2014
Sets:01-02 (9 sets; 4 discs per set)
Episodes:001-291 English / 001-291 Japanese