Anime wasn’t handled well in west for years. They were treated as cartoons for the children’s market. With this mentality, many changes were made to the few shows that made their way over. None more so than Dragon Ball Z. The edits made here were numerous, and legendary. Eventually FUNimation stepped in, taking over the series, leaving us with the uncut version that many fans know today.
The version I grew up with (of the opening episodes) was known as the Ocean Group Dub (as it was recored at Ocean Studios in Vancouver). To be clear, the edits had nothing to do with the Ocean Group. FUNimation, a fledgling company at the time, purchased the rights to Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Unable to afford distribution and editing costs, FUNimation turned to Saban (Power Rangers). The first 67 episodes (two seasons) were put into production. Saban took these 67, and whittled them down to 53, along with cutting the third movie into three episodes. This is where the craziness started to happen. There mindset at the time was understandable, though the outcome ranged from odd to hilarious.
The first two episodes of the show were so heavily cut that they were combined into one. This happened many times with episodes 7 & 8, 9 & 10, 12 & 13, and more. After cutting episodes 40 & 41 into 29, the rest of the run remained intact episode count wise. What was removed? Well a lot. All blood and cigarettes were gone. When Raditz kidnapped Gohan, a fountain of tears can be seen flowing from his eyes, originally. Thousands were spent to remove these tears. While the former two make sense, the latter doesn’t. Regardless, this still doesn’t account for the removed run time.
Most of the cut time comes from either violence, or references to hell. Raditz and Goku fall in battle, and are sent to another dimension! People die children, deal with it. In this series, no one dies. They’re all sent to another dimension while characters are careful to point out that no one dies. Krillin remarks how the pilots of the planes Nappa takes out parachuted away. Freeza points out that Dende’s brother (who he obviously just killed), escaped.
After he dies, Kami (god in English) takes Goku to heaven. Allowed to keep his body in death, Goku mets the devil, and is given the opportunity to travel Snake Way to meet King Kai. He falls off, landing in Hell (which looks like an amusement park). The two ogres in charge have HELL written on their shirts. As you can imagine, much of this had to go. Most notably, HELL was changed to HFIL, Home for Infinite Losers.
Remember the popular character Launch (Lunch in Japan)? Nope? To be fair, not many in Japan do either. She was a DB character, living with Master Roshi. Shortly after Tien died fighting the Saiyans, she was shown morning in a bar, then never again. As such, Saban removed her from the show.
Thankfully, the show aired on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, and the rest is history. I know the series continued in Canada, but I couldn’t even begin to catalogue the changes there. There is plenty of arguments about which dub was better, Ocean vs. FUNimation. I prefer the latter, though I can see the merits in the first one. Besides, the Ocean Dub gave us this:
What other edits did I miss (I know there are a lot)? Which dub do you prefer? Comment below!
I love this show but can’t stand to watch it.