FUNimation had a fantastic history of writing in extra dialog into their English “reversioning” of the franchise make it seem all the more “cool” to the children; they also did this to appease the censors (more in the mid-90s than any other time), or simply when they have no idea what they are talking about. Sometimes, this returned to bite them in the rear-end. Some of the examples listed below are just silly, and we as fans were able to figure them out right away (“next dimension,” “HFIL,” etc). Others are… well… they can really confuse people!
Bardock was a ‘brilliant scientist’…? Wait a sec… I saw that TV special… Tao Pai-pai was a General in the Red Ribbon Army? WHAT…?!
Our idea here is to point out the major mix-ups and bizarre rewrites that have occurred throughout not only the history of FUNimation’s English dub, but other international adaptations, as well. Of course, there are a great number of minor changes (intentional or unintentional) that we could take up page after page detailing, but here we will concentrate on the important, the weird, and the just plain stupid.
This page is more concerned with factual errors relating to names, censoring, blatant lies, etc. due to the writing inconsistencies. Things such as a character’s particular “power” or “strength” compared to another are not especially relevant.
We will include a “Redub Status” notation for any instance (mostly from the first two “seasons” of FUNimation’s English dub of Dragon Ball Z) that were addressed in the “Ultimate Uncut Edition” re-releases (and also in the season box sets that came after that line of releases was canceled).
FUNimation: Characters Go To “The Next Dimension”
STATUS: False (but with just a hint of truth to it).
The concept of the “next dimension” was created by early FUNimation dub writers to cleverly dance around the concept of death (as they were being held up to pretty strict and ridiculous standards by Saban, their syndication distributor, at the time). However, it is not all that far from the truth — in the original Japanese dialog, characters do die… but dying is considered moving on to “the next world”. Unlike our portrayal, however, “death” and “the next world” are considered the same thing in the Japanese version, rather than attempting to be two completely different realms.
The next time you see Yamcha, Tenshinhan, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo all get “trapped in the next dimension” during the fight against Nappa, just remember that they have actually kicked the bucket / passed on / bought the farm / etc… and gone into the Next World.
FUNimation: “Home For Infinite Losers” Below the Road
STATUS: Completely False (and humorously so, at that).
This is yet another one of the unusual uses of digital paint and script rewrites employed by the writers for the early Dragon Ball Z English dub. Due to Saban’s strict censorship standards (so that the show could be syndicated under their regime), they obviously could not show that Goku was in Hell, nor could they have Oni running around with the word “HELL” emblazoned on their shirts. So… they covered up the bottom of the letters “E” and “L,” and a legend was born.
The censorship was immediately obvious to most fans who saw it; in fact, it seems to have been designed as a joke, so that anybody with half a brain could figure out what it was supposed to be. Nevertheless, a lot of fans had mixed feelings about it, partly because they felt their intelligence was being insulted. Soon after these episodes aired in syndication, the phrase “what the HFIL?” became quite popular among fans who were in on the joke (possibly coined by “The Evil Professor Chronos” on 29 October 1996 in a topic title change on rec.arts.anime.misc).
Despite the obviousness of the censorship, it is still necessary to clear this up with many people who either have not caught on yet or are unwilling to accept it. FUNimation did not help the case any, continuing to refer to it as the “Home For Infinite Losers” in their edited dub (which most American fans would see on television), and even referring to it as such in several video games (though Boo’s Fury for the GameBoy Advance would poke fun at the name).
If the visual gag is not enough evidence for you, however, rest assured that the presence of a Pool of Blood and Mountain of Spikes (both prominent features of the Buddhist Hell), as well as its location beneath the main plane of the Afterworld, more than tip the scales in favor of this rather un-Hellish place being…
If you still do not believe us… what the HFIL is wrong with you?!
FUNimation: Tenshinhan Can Grow Back Lost Limbs
STATUS: False (that would come in “handy,” though…).
Tenshinhan’s dis-arming at the hands of Nappa is one of the most gruesome parts of the fight against the Saiyans, but at the same time, it was pretty much impossible for FUNimation to avoid. So, what were they, with their strictly-imposed censorship standards, to do? Why… pretend that it was no big deal, of course! The unintentionally comical “You just wait ’till it grows back!” was what the dub writers finally settled on, making it look like his arm (which was just removed without anesthesia and with much loss of blood) was going to pull through.
(We suppose having him say “It’s only a flesh wound!” or making Kuririn shout “Give that man a hand!” was just too corny, even for them.)
Tenshinhan most assuredly can NOT grow his limbs back. Though he can perform the Shiyo-Ken (“Fist of Four Arms”), where two additional arms sprout from his back, these arms exist only as a fighting advantage, and are not permanent. Only Namekians (and Cell, who had Piccolo’s DNA) are able to fully regenerate lost body parts. Besides, if Tenshinhan really could have regrown an arm when he needed it, why didn’t he? Here, once again, common sense prevails.
This distinctively Pythonesque line is nowhere to be found in the “Ultimate Uncut Edition” redub and beyond. And there was much rejoicing.
FUNimation: Bardock Was a “Brilliant Scientist”
This one is simply misinformation from the early FUNimation English dub. When Vegeta creates the false moon, he states that the technique was developed by Goku’s father, saying he was a “brilliant scientist”. FUNimation (specifically, its writers at the time) probably had no intention of ever getting far enough into the series to actually have to deal with Bardock (or, more likely, did not even know, themselves). As clearly seen in the Bardock TV special, he is far from being a “brilliant scientist”; he was a low-level warrior (albeit one given a “gift” of foresight, but a warrior, nonetheless).
Furthermore, Vegeta explains that only a few Saiyans are able to perform the technique necessary to create a false moon; it is highly unlikely that Bardock, nothing more than a low-level Saiyan fighter, would be able to do so. Here is Vegeta’s exact dialog from chapter 232 of the manga (tankōbon 20 / DBZ vol. 4 / kanzenban 16). First, the romanization:
Tsuki no hikari wa taiyōkō ga tsuki ni hanekaetta mono da to iu koto wa shitte iyō… Da ga tsuki ni terikaesareta toki no mi sono taiyōkō ni wa Burūtsu-ha ga fukumareru…
Sono Burūtsu-ha ga mangetsu ni naru to 1700-man Zeno to iu sūchi o koeru no da… 1700-man Zeno ijō no Burūtsu-ha o me kara kyūshū suru to o ni han’nō shite henshin ga hajimaru…!
Uchū-jū no wakusei ni tsuki wa kazuōku aru ga sono ōkisa ni kakawarazu nazeka kanarazu mangetsu ni naranai to 1700-man Zeno o koeru Burūtsu-ha wa denai no da…
Shikashi… Kagirareta Saiya-jin ni dake jinkō-teki ni 1700-man Zeno o koeru chiisa na mangetsu o tsukuridasu koto ga dekiru no da!!!! Hoshi no sanso to kono Pawābōru o mazeawaseru koto de na!!!!
Next, our translation:
You should be aware of the fact that moonlight is a product of sunlight, reflected by the Moon…but it’s not until that sunlight is reflected off the Moon, that it contains ‘Bruits Waves.’ [note: this is a double-pun on both “brutes” and “fruits.”]
When the Moon is full, these Bruits Waves exceed 17,000,000 units, called ‘Zeno’… When 17,000,000 Zeno of Bruits Waves, and no less, is absorbed through the eyes, it sets off a reaction in our tails, and the transformation begins…!
Throughout the cosmos, it doesn’t matter how numerous or large a planet’s moons are. Somehow, without fail, Bruits Waves surpassing 17,000,000 Zeno will not be given off unless the moon is full.
However… A select few Saiyans are capable of producing a small, artificial moon, that exceeds 17,000,000 Zeno!!!! We do this by mixing the planet’s oxygen with this Power Ball!!!!
While that somewhat strays off the main topic, it does explain that there is some [pseudo-]science involved with the creation of the false moon (especially by Vegeta’s shouting “Burst and mix!” to set it off), and that not every Saiyan would be able to perform the technique. It seems that, rather than having to translate all of this scientifical jargon for themselves, FUNimation’s dub writers simply passed it off to another (seemingly-safe) character who was not present at the time. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the person they picked to be that “brilliant scientist” was not a very good choice after all.
FUNimation’s redub edition has finally done away with this bit of nonsense; Vegeta actually (more-or-less) gives an explanation of Bruits Waves to Goku, and said nothing about his father. This correction was needed, and welcome.
FUNimation: Bulma Has Known Goku Since He Was 5 Years Old
This was a line inserted into the English Dragon Ball Z dub during the “Trunks” arc. It simply appears that FUNimation’s writers (not having dialog for reference, since this line was not in the Japanese version) did not actually know how old Goku was when Bulma met him, figured he looked about five, and left it at that. Why they did not just scrap this extraneous bit of dialogue altogether is beyond us.
Goku was actually twelve (and Bulma sixteen) when the two first met, though because he could not count, Goku thought he was fourteen. Goku clearly admits being twelve during the 21st Tenka’ichi Budōkai, even in the English version. The surprise of the situation actually works fairly well; it is almost as if the writers only just then realized their previous mistake, but were only too well aware that they could not do anything about it once the accurate information came along.
FUNimation: Gohan is 5½ When DBZ Begins
You will notice that Gohan is holding up four fingers; that is because he is actually four years old. This was yet another instance of silly dub writing in the early FUNimation / Saban days. Supposedly the reasoning was that it was improper on television to directly hit children of such a young age (and Gohan would be getting hit REAL soon); aging him a year and a half was one way they tried to write themselves out of it. Unfortunately, they had to stick with this logic throughout the course of the series, which results in Gohan always being at least a year older than he should be in the dub. This leads to strange naming conventions like “Teen Gohan” referring to Gohan during the Cell Game era, when he is in fact barely ten or eleven years old (depending on anime filler), and “Teen Gohan” would best describe the Gohan that we see after the seven year time skip into the Majin Boo story arc.
FUNimation has corrected this error in their redub, so that Gohan gives his age as four instead of five. This makes his age somewhat inconsistent in the remainder of the dub, but whatever. It is always nice to see when mistakes are admitted to.
FUNimation: Goku Uses Own Spaceship to Reach Planet Namek
STATUS: True (but there is good reason to be confused!).
Many fans are extremely confused by this, and it is not hard to imagine why! In episode 12 of the original English dub (episode 18 in the original Japanese numbering) of Dragon Ball Z, a Saiyan spaceship emits a hologram of the moon into the sky, and eventually causes Gohan to turn into a Great Ape. Utter insanity of holograms not emitting Zeno aside (see the section about Bardock, above), Piccolo destroys this ship… after revealing that it is Goku’s ship, all the way back from when he was a baby sent to Earth!
So… if Piccolo blew up Goku’s ship… how could Goku use that ship (after being modified by Dr. Brief) to travel to Planet Namek?! Simple. Episode 18’s “ship” was complete filler; it never appeared in the manga. Therefore, Piccolo never blew up Goku’s spaceship in the manga, and it was always there to use. That has not stopped fans from trying to reconcile the cognitive dissonance caused by this apparent impossibility. The most prominent example of this “adjusting-the-logic-of-events-so-my-head-doesn’t-explode” mentality was done by Chris Psaros of the fan website DBZ Uncensored back in late 1998 / early 1999. In his review of English-dubbed Episode 34 (corresponding to Japanese Episode 46), he wrote under a “Stupid Dialogue Alert” tag:
In the English version Goku says “The ship I came here in is still in perfect working order.” Uhhh… no it’s not… Piccolo blasted through it with a Makkanpossapo [sic] in episode 18, remember??
In the Japanese version, there isn’t a continuity problem here since he is talking about the spaceship Raditz, “Ora no Ani” (my older BROTHER), came in.
Chris Psaros was pretty well-respected, back in the day when every fanboy around blamed FUNimation for all the world’s evils. Why, he even cited the Japanese dialog! If he thinks that Goku took Raditz’s spaceship, it must be right! Right?! …Well, not quite. (Although even we thought so at first.) Even though Goku does say “ora no aniki” in reference to his brother, he does not mean that he used Raditz’s spaceship. Here is the dialog, taken from manga Chapter 255 (tankōbon 21 / kanzenban 17):
(Note: While we realize that taking the dialog directly from the anime would be better, we wanted to make the transcription and translation as accurate as possible. There are subtle differences in wording in the anime (and Yajirobe is given one of Kame-Sen’nin’s lines), but nothing that changes the meaning.)
[Goku:] Yoshi’!! Ora, Namekku-sei ni itte kuru!! [to Yajirobei] Sumanei, nokori no Senzu moratte ‘ku zo!
[Kame-Sen’nin:] Na-… Namekku-sei ni… tte do- dō yatte iku tsumori ja!?
[Goku:] Hehe~~ Ora, Buruma no tō-chan ga mimai ni kite kureta toki tanonde oita n’ da! Nen no tame ni uchûsen o tsukutt’ oite kure tte!
[Kame-Sen’nin (Yajirobe in the anime):] Naruhodo! Kami-sama no to onaji yatsu o ka!
[Goku:] Iya, are wa chikyū ni wa nei mono o tsukatte aru kara ikura Buruma no tō-chan de mo muri da tte yo!
[Kame-Sen’nin:] Ja-… Jaa…
[Goku:] Ora, yo~~ku kangaete mitara Saiya-jin no uchūsen ga mada futatsu nokotte ‘ru koto ni ki ga tsuita n’ da! Ora no aniki ga notte kita yatsu to… ora jishin ga gaki no koro ni notte kita yatsu!
[Kame-Sen’nin:] So-… Sō ka!!
[Goku:] Buruma no tō-chan ni sagashi ni itte morattara sa — Aniki no yatsu wa issho ni bakuhatsu shichatte ‘ta kedo, ora no wa mukashi no yatsu da kara kaette buji datta n’ da! Soitsu o naoshite kaizō shite moratta!
Which translates to the following:
[Goku:] All right!! I’m headin’ off to Namek!! [to Yajirobe] Sorry, but I’m gonna take the rest o’ your Senzu!
[Kame-Sen’nin:] To N- Namek, you say… B- but how do you plan to get there?!
[Goku:] Hehe~~ When Bulma’s dad came by on a get-well visit, I asked ‘im a favor! I told ‘im to build a spaceship for me, just in case!
[Kame-Sen’nin (Yajirobe in the anime):] Of course! So, one of the same type as God’s!
[Goku:] Naw, that used stuff that don’t exist on earth, so that’d be impossible, even for Bulma’s dad!
[Kame-Sen’nin:] Well-… In that case…
[Goku:] After I’d thought long and hard about it, I realized that there were still two Saiyan spaceships left! The one my big brother got here on… and the one I came on, back when I was a little kid!
[Kame-Sen’nin:] I-… I see!!
[Goku:] So I had Bulma’s dad go look for ’em. My brother’s was blown to bits, but mine was an old model, so he got it back just fine! I had ‘im fix it up and remodel it for me!
As you can clearly see, Goku explicitly states that the one he took as a kid was the one Dr. Brief salvaged and remodeled. So yes, Goku took his own ship… and no… being a DBZ webmaster does not make you automatically right.
Advice we should have followed, ourselves.
Goku’s line remains essentially the same, saying that his own ship is still intact and that Dr. Brief would be putting it together in such a way for him to travel in it. In a nutshell, the line was always adapted correctly in FUNimation’s English dub.
FUNimation: Tao Pai-pai Was a General in the Red Ribbon Army
STATUS: False (unless, of course, the meaning of “koroshiya” has suddenly shifted).
The idea in the English version that this character was a “General” is present during the Androids / Cell arc of Dragon Ball Z. Unfortunately for the dub’s writers, Tao Pai-pai was actually a professional killer, a hitman originally hired by Commander Red to kill “that damned kid,” Son Goku. When FUNimation finally got around to completing the dub for DragonBall, they noticed this mistake and rechristened him “Mercenary Tao”… but the damage was done.
FUNimation: Doctor Gero Was the Leader of the Red Ribbon Army
This little example of dub “brilliance” shows up during the “Trunks” arc of FUNimation’s English dub of Dragon Ball Z, as Trunks explains the future’s plight to Goku. However, as it is clearly shown in Dragon Ball, the leader of the Red Ribbon Army is Commander Red, who is replaced by Adjutant Black after his untimely assassination. In fact, Dr. Gero is not so much as mentioned during Dragon Ball; the very first reference to him is when Trunks explains to Goku why he came back from the future. Even then, the original Japanese version simply says that he was a mad scientist who worked for them. FUNimation’s writers, in expanding Gero’s role (and pronouncing his name strangely), got themselves into a hole from which there was no digging out.