Rumor Guide

Movies, TV Specials, & Features

There have been many rumors regarding theatrical Dragon Ball presentations over the years; many of these rumors do actually have a bit of truth to them! Like most rumors, however, the truth is twisted and contorted to the point that by the time fans actually discuss the subject matter with each other it has turned into an abomination of misinformation.

The DBZ Movies Were Originally Widescreen / Are Cropped!

STATUS: Technically speaking? Yes and no.

The 1980s/1990s Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z movies were, indeed, originally screened and released in widescreen format in theaters and on home video. Mostly. Little bit of an asterisk on that statement there.

Many fans are unaware that these movies were originally animated in a fullscreen, traditional 4:3 format. Some of the earliest films did actually debut in this fullscreen format (depending on the local theater’s equipment), and were only later cropped/covered to widescreen. All of the later Z-era films, however, debuted exclusively in a widescreen presentation. While nothing important was lost due to the movies being animated with this potential cropping in mind, some of the image — the top and bottom — was indeed obscured.

This widescreen home video release carried over to the run of early VHS fansubs. Along comes FUNimation (and Pioneer) beginning in 1997 releasing all of the movies straight through in a 4:3 format, and suddenly you have a confusing situation on your hands! In this case, we were the ones getting the full picture, not the Japanese fans! FUNimation used the original 4:3 prints as-is, rather than using the same “cropping” technique used by the Japanese. Most foreign (read: non-Japanese) Dragon Ball movie home video releases were the same.

“Overscan” is one slightly-inconsequential excuse often lumped into this discussion. Due to the limitation of glass-technology in early televisions, it was impossible to produce a rectangular image. To compensate for this, a process called “overscan” was developed. In order for the image on the television to stretch across the entire viewable area — and not have black borders surrounding it — parts of the image are “off screen,” so to speak, outside of the “safe-zone.”

There are actually two areas in the safe-zone: action-safe and title-safe. The action-safe area is approximately 90% of the viewing area (576×432 on a 640×480 window). On most televisions, everything produced within this window should be seen. The title-safe area is defined as approximately 80% of the viewing area (512×384 on a 640×480 window). On even the most badly-adjusted television sets, you should be able to see anything within this window (which is most often titles and logos; companies definitely want those to be seen!). In a nutshell, if you are “not seeing” something you think you should be seeing but are on an older tube TV, chances are it is simply outside of the “safe zone”. Note that modern monitors and television sets do not inherently have overscan, but will often times simulate a tiny amount of overscan; this can be adjusted with the set’s viewing modes, sometimes called “pixel-by-pixel” or even simply “normal” mode.

That all being said, overscan — despite what FUNimation’s orange brick marketing in 2007 may have led you to believe — has nothing to do with the significant image cropping done with a widescreen transfer of the Dragon Ball Z television series or its movies. To achieve this “widescreen” effect, FUNimation literally did crop (fully remove) approximately 20% of the vertical resolution (despite only gaining approximately 5% of the horizontal resolution through their “remastering” process).

Beginning in 2008, FUNimation began a series of “double feature” movie releases in this same faux-“remastered” style, removing the top and bottom of the image to achieve a “widescreen” aspect ratio. The difference here is that cropping the movies is a bit different from cropping the standard television series, in that the movies were animated and intended to have this “cropped” viewable image space in the first place.

Incidentally, Toei Animation’s own “Dragon Box: The Movies” DVD release in 2006 also opted for a widescreen transfer (albeit a completely new, anamorphic transfer from the original film source and optical audio masters).

Hopefully now you see the full picture!

DBZ Movies Will Receive Theatrical Releases in North America

STATUS: Extremely unlikely until a limited run in 2006, followed by major theatrical films in 2013-15.

Early rumors cited DBZ movies 5 and 6 being shown as a double-feature. However, in early 2006, FUNimation announced that DBZ Movie 12 (entitled Fusion Reborn) would see a limited theatrical release in March alongside DBZ Movie 6 (entitled The Return of Cooler). The screening acted as a bit of promotional hype for the Movie 12 home video release 28 March 2006.

An American-produced live action movie was announced in 2007 by 20th Century Fox, with an initial release date set for August 2008. Dragon Ball Evolution eventually hit American theaters 10 April 2009.

In May 2014, a little over a year after the film’s original Japanese theatrical debut, FUNimation announced their own limited theatrical run for the feature film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. The company followed suit in 2015 with another limited theatrical run for the feature film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.

With Toei’s emphasis on the global market for their major theatrical features, it seems likely that any future releases would continue to receive these types of screenings.

Bardock Special Hints at Coola with a Spaceship Hidden By Sun

STATUS: False.

The Bardock television special originally aired 17 October 1990; the fifth DBZ movie (which would have been the first introduction of Coola) premiered 20 July 1991. Unless there was some major planning going on, there is no way there could have been such a hidden “easter egg”, as Coola was not even created yet, and would not be seen for nearly another full year! Talk about seeing the future…!

You can see how someone may have been led to believe this, however (or at the very least, how someone may have relied on existing visual cues in an attempt to fool someone). At the beginning of the fifth DBZ movie, we do see Coola watching the “event” (the destruction of Planet Vegeta at the hands of his brother Freeza) from his own spaceship, which logically cannot be all that far away. When Bardock looks up and sees two suns, fans put two and two together and assumed Coola’s spaceship was hidden in the other sun (the screen zooms in on the sun to the right, which Freeza’s ship is hidden within the shadows of).

There is a Dragon Ball GT Movie With Goku Jr. & Vegeta Jr.

STATUS: False.

There is certainly a fight between Goku Jr. and Vegeta Jr., but it does not take place in any sort of movie or special! First, let us clear up the whole “movie” mystery — there are no Dragon Ball GT movies, although there is a single TV special. The TV special takes place 100 years after the “end” of DBGT with an old Pan and her great-great-grandson, Goku Jr. It is a sort of “coming of age” story with this very fragile, very unsure Goku Jr. coming to learn of his potential.

Now, with that in mind…

The very last television episode of Dragon Ball GT (episode 64) has an “epilogue” before its end that takes place 100 years in the future (seeing a connection here?). This epilogue takes place after the TV special, with Goku Jr. already able to become a Super Saiyan and ready to battle at the Tenka’ichi Budōkai. Goku Jr. prepares himself for the match when his opponent walks onto the stage. The screen pans up someone with white boots, blue tights, & pointy hair…

It is Vegeta Jr.! The two begin their battle as Pan spots the original Goku out in the stands… and… well, we are probably spoiling a little too much if you have not gotten that far, so we will stop there.

What probably confused most fans was the length of time it took to get to the end of Dragon Ball GT (as well as its TV special) in North America, despite the fact that it had come out in Japan in 1997 (and therefore images and information had been online for years). To make a long story short, there is no DBGT movie (though there is a TV special); Goku Jr. and Vegeta Jr. cannot do battle in a movie that does not exist (though you can see a brief glimpse of their fight in the final DBGT episode).

There is a “Lost Movie” or a DBZ Movie 14.

STATUS: Nothing is “lost” per se, but as-of 2013, there actually is a new DBZ movie…!

There have been a variety of special presentations that could be mistaken as a mysterious “DBZ Movie 14” but none of them fall in the same chronology or marketing scheme as the rest of the movies. Let us break them down:

The most-often-cited example of a “lost movie” is Saiya-jin Zetsumetsu Keikaku (“Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans”), either the games and/or its associated home animation releases. Long story short, there was a Famicom (NES) game, a two-volume VHS release animating the “proper” path to play through the game (to be used as an “official visual guide”), and then finally a two-volume remake of the Famicom game for the Bandai Playdia using the same animation (as well as many new scenes) from the two-volume VHS release, which Toei itself considers an “OVA”.

An interactive game from the “Terebikko” line, Dragon Ball Z: Atsumare! Gokū Wārudo (“Dragon Ball Z: Gather Together! Goku World”) was released where the player would use a telephone peripheral to play along with a fully-animated story involving time travel. It ultimately ends with the battle with Cell, so while it was a new “feature” that could be “watched”, it directly involves the normal storyline and was not an actual “movie” that was released.

The 10th anniversary Dragon Ball (sans-“Z”) movie, Saikyō e no Michi (“The Path to Ultimate Strength”), is another special feature often represented as “Movie 14”. While this was indeed released in the time period when the Z TV series was ending, due to it retelling parts of the earlier story, it is not traditionally given the “Z” classification. It may be worth noting that as a part of the individual DVD releases after “Dragon Box: The Movies”, the first three Dragon Ball movies received chronological numberings of 14, 15, and 16 (since the Dragon Ball Z movies were released first), and the last release of this 10th anniversary movie was therefore emblazoned with the number 17.

2008 saw the release of Ossu! Kaette Kita Son Gokū to Nakama-tachi!! (“Heya! Son Goku and Friends Return!!”). This approximately-half-hour special premiered during the Jump Super Anime Tour in late 2008, a tour across ten Japanese cities with showcases of various new animated shorts. It was streamed online (in raw Japanese, subtitled in English, and subtitled in several other languages) directly by Toei themselves after concluding the tour. It received a limited DVD release in Japan in early 2009 (to the Japanese public, only, by sending in postcards that came with certain Jump magazines), as well as a bonus inclusion in the Battle of Gods (see below) “Limited Edition” home video release in Japan. While it was played in a “theatrical” setting, its short length, progressive-thinking release style, and story connectivity with the standard timeline also makes it hard to classify as a potential “DBZ Movie 14”.

2010 saw the release of Raging Blast 2 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. As a part of the game, a special re-made version of Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans was included, now called Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans. It told mostly the same story as before but at a quicker pace and by cutting out some of the superfluous scenes from the original “Visual Strategy Guide” and Playdia game versions’ animation, such as shutting down the various gas machines and minor monsters.

December 2011’s Jump Festa event saw the debut of the animated adaptation of Episode of Bardock, originally a three-chapter spin-off manga by Naho Ooishi. The feature was packed alongside Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans on a special bonus DVD that came with the March 2012 issue of Saikyō Jump, a special manga compilation magazine published by Shueisha.

Finally, 2013 brought us the only example of a true theatrical film that could truly be classified as “DBZ Movie 14” if one were so inclined. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was the first theatrical presentation for the franchise in 17 years, debuting in Japan 30 March 2013 and seeing a home release later that year in September. The film’s storyline takes place between the defeat of Majin Boo and the 28th Tenka’ichi Budōkai and is the first film in the franchise to feature extensive production work from original manga author Akira Toriyama.

It feels as if there are a never-ending slew of new productions ranging from minor to somewhat-more-substantial that fans either mistakenly or intentionally label as “DBZ Movie 14” or some other type of “new”, supposedly on-going series (see: “AF” in the early days, or “Hoshi” in the current era). While there is no denying that new productions are made every few years, none of them (so far!) have resulted in a new series, and fewer actually receive the “Z”-branding, usually stuck with just Dragon Ball without further classification. Furthermore, just because they have not received a release outside of Japan does not mean they are somehow “lost”, either!