I have never heard of a show receiving more post release edits than Dragon Ball Z. Honestly I’m astounded. Aside from the first third of the series dubbed by the Ocean Group, there have been a plethora of remasters, recuts, and rereleases. Considering the only production cost DBZ incurred for Funimation was licensing, I don’t blame them for milking the cash cow. Now, Toei Animation has decided to follow suit, rereleasing a new version of DBZ entitled Dragon Ball Z Kai. Only, this one is promising.
The conceit for Dragon Ball Z Kai, or Dragon Ball Kai (Kai meaning updated) in Japan, is that it’s edited to more closely follow the manga. The original DBZ series, though loved by many, is universally panned for its length at 291 episodes and overly drawn out pace. This was done because the animation was catching up to the manga, the source material. As filler episode hadn’t been invented yet, the animators choose to slow things down to an incredible crawl. A telltale sign of poor animation.
The final product was a more palatable 98 episodes, ending after the Cell Saga where creator Toriyama wanted to end the story. In actuality he wanted to stop after Frieza, but alas, money. While the animation for Kai is essentially the same, the show overall features a number of improvements. The animation cells have been cleaned and given a bump in quality, while the audio had been remastered and the voices rerecorded. Also, new opening and ending credits were created.
Again though, the main draw was a streamlined story. For example, the original series took 39 episodes before Vegeta was defeated and the crew headed for Namek. In Kai, only 18. Another example, there was 77 episodes between Trunks’ first appearance and him leaving after the defeat of Cell. In Kai, 43.
My biggest complaint about DBZ, One Piece, Naruto, and practically every popular anime running over 26 episodes is the drawn out pace that occurs. The only reason I suffered through DBZ the first time was because of my age, it being my first anime, and the pace of airing (one episode per day). I tried to watch it again. I don’t have the patience. Kai rectifies this, making it superior in a way.
After the popularity of Kai, Toei’s decided to continue finishing DBZ, going through the rest of the series with the Buu Saga. I’d love to see if they could make that better. I’d like them to go back and give the same treatment to the original DB, thought I hope they stay away from DBGT, there’s no salvaging that garbage.
My favorite element of the new DBZK dub is the new opening song, Dragon Soul. There’s multiple versions performed by the different voice actors. Sean Schemmel (Goku) does one, while Justin Cook (Raditz) does another. The best version comes from Vic Mignogna (Broly). Many know him as Edward Elric.
I’ve liked what they’ve done with Kai, but I find it a little unnecessary. Why didn’t they do it right the first time? Or just start from scratch a la Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood? Still, at least there’s a watchable version of DBZ now. Hopefully they won’t create anything new.
What do you think of Kai? Liked DBZ the way it was? Comment below!
No way I’ll ever watch Bleach, One Piece, or Naruto.