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Press Archive

Internal Correspondence April 1995

Industry News

Dragonball Debuts in September

Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball, one of the most popular (and exportable) Japanese cartoons, will debut in the U.S. in September in an English language version prepared by Funimation Productions of Fort Worth. Dragonball and its successor Dragon Ball Z have become huge hits in Spain, Italy, and France. Spanish language Dragonball comics (based on Toriyama’s Japanese originals) have supplanted X-Men as Spain’s bestselling comic books. Dragonball trading cards have also become extremely popular in the countries where the cartoon has been shown.

Funimation estimates that they already have contracts with enough stations to cover about 70% of the U.S. market. Interested comic dealers should contact the stations in their market to make sure that Dragonball will be shown. Dragonball has demonstrated the potential to become a Turtles-like hit in every other market it has entered, and Dragonball has legs–there are an estimated 450 episodes of the Dragonball series available. Who says it can’t happen here?

Dragonball has to go the syndication route since it is far too violent for Saturday morning network showings. Funimation admits to toning down the violence slightly for the American market, but the results would never satisfy the self-appointed Saturday Morning Savonarolas who put the scissors to the classic Looney Tunes. Unexpurgated “collector’s editions” of Dragonball are a distinct possibility on video, given the size of the anime market in the U.S. Sell-through tapes could be out as early as the spring of 1996. Viz is currently negotiating with Shueisha, the publisher of Dragonball manga, for rights to produce an English language version. Look for details in forthcoming issues of Internal Correspondence.

Another Japanese cartoon import, Sailormoon, has gotten a lot more ink in the press than Dragonball. With is [sic] gaggle of girl superheroes, Sailormoon is far more politically correct than Dragonball (though Sailormoon‘s PC message is louced somewhat by the fact that the girls achieve their super powers by applying makeup and rubbing their compacts). Bandai, which has the toy rights to both Sailormoon and Dragonball (and of course those Morphin Power Rangers), has chosen to ignore Dragonball for now and concentrate on introducing a line of Sailormoon toys. So Dragonball toys and figures will be hard to get, at least at first, but don’t be surprised if public interest forces Bandai to switch its priorities.

–TOM FLINN

Transcription: VegettoEX
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