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The Funimation dub (also known as the Funi dub, Z dub or Funimation in-house dub) is the second English dub track produced for Dragon Ball Z. Funimation later produced in-house English dubs of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Z Kai and most recently Dragon Ball Super as well. In addition to the various Dragon Ball anime series and movies, Funimation has also produced in-house English dubs for most of the Dragon Ball video games released since the first Dragon Ball Z: Budokai game.
Funimation's collaboration with Ocean, Saban and Pioneer (1996-1998)
Main articles: Ocean Group dubs and Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Edition When the decision to produce Dragon Ball Z in North America was made, Funimation collaborated with Saban Entertainment to finance and distribute the series to television; they sub-licensed home video distribution to Pioneer Entertainment (later known as Geneon Universal Entertainment) and contracted Ocean Studios to dub the anime in English, with Funimation overseeing the dub's production. The role of music was outsourced to Saban musicians Shuki Levy and Ron Wasserman, whose darker guitar-driven synth score replaced the original orchestral score by Shunsuke Kikuchi. This dub of Dragon Ball Z, often referred to as the Ocean dub or Saban dub, was heavily edited for content as well as length, reducing the first 67 episodes into 53. Due to pressure from Saban, Funimation were forced to edit out all mentions of death (usually replacing it with the term 'the next dimension') and any overly violent moments (via the use of digital paint). It premiered in the fall of 1996 in first-run syndication, but was canceled in 1998 after two seasons. That same year Funimation and Pioneer released unaltered dubs of the first three Dragon Ball Z movies (Dead Zone, The World's Strongest and The Tree of Might), with the Ocean cast reprising their roles.
In-house continuation (1999-2004)
In late 1998, reruns of the canceled Dragon Ball Z dub found a new and consistent audience on Cartoon Network's Toonami block, and the decision was made to continue dubbing the series. However, Funimation had stopped working with Saban and without the latter's financial support, the former could no longer afford the services of the cast at Ocean Studios nor could they afford the original musical score produced by Saban. Therefore, from episode 54 onward (the beginning of season 3), Funimation began using their own in-house talent, based in Ft. Worth, Texas, to dub the rest of the series. Bruce Faulconer and his team of musicians were hired as the new composers, with their soundtrack continuing the synth/rock style of music heard in the Saban score. All the episodes from 54 (68 uncut) to 276 (291 uncut) were dubbed by FUNimation, and were broadcasted with that dub on Toonami from 1999 to 2003. Unlike the Ocean dub, the Funimation dub was far less censored due to Saban's absence from the production and retained most of the mature content featured in the Japanese version.
Though fans reacted warmly to the series' English dub continuing, it received some harsh criticism regarding the sudden change of voices and background music, as well as for the dialogue, which contained some awkward or immature-sounding lines which would be changed when the series was remastered. In order to maintain continuity between the two dubs, several Funimation voice actors made an effort to imitate the previous Ocean Studios voice actors, such as Sean Schemmel's originally high-pitched voice as Goku similar to Peter Kelamis, and Christopher Sabat's imitation of Brian Drummond as Vegeta, though they slowly developed their performances into their own independent voices as the series progressed. One notable difference was Sabat's initial Drummond-like voice progressing into his much deeper and more gruff voice for Vegeta by the time of the Majin Buu Saga.
Funimation released their dub of the series on Individual Discs, each one containing three or four episodes. These episodes were completely uncut, with none of the edits made for the television broadcasts (such as Frieza coughing blood twice and Krillin swelling up before exploding).
Re-dubbed episodes and movies (2005-2009)
Originally, Pioneer Entertainment, later Geneon, had initial rights to distribute the first two seasons of Dragon Ball Z and released them on VHS and DVD. Funimation only had rights to distribute season three onwards. In 2004, after Pioneer had become Geneon, the company lost distribution rights to the first two seasons. Funimation acquired the rights shortly thereafter and began dubbing the uncut 67 episodes of the first two seasons with their own in-house talent. These 67 episodes featured a new musical score by Nathan Johnson, and were referred to as the Ultimate Uncut episodes.
In April 2005, Funimation released the first DVD of the "Ultimate Uncut Special Edition" line which would have contained all 67 episodes of the Saiyan and Namek sagas upon completion. However, this DVD line would later be canceled in favor of the Funimation Remastered Box Sets which would feature all 291 uncut episodes of the series. The uncut 67 episodes aired for the first time on Cartoon Network, beginning in June 2005, and aired new episodes on weeknights until episode 67 in October. However, for the Saiyan and Namek sagas, Funimation opted to base their new dub on their original 1996-1998 scripts, save for the scenes or lines which they had originally cut, such as Gohan's encounter with a robot and Krillin mourning Yamcha's death, which for the most part were faithful to the original Japanese dub and later re-used in Dragon Ball Z Kai (minus the cut-out filler like Gohan's robot friend). They did, however, make a few corrections to some of the errors in the scripts, such as Vegeta's claim that Goku's father Bardock was a scientist who invented the Moon Blast technique, and made unrestricted references to death throughout their uncut script instead of referring to the Other World as the "next dimension".
The first three Dragon Ball Z movies had also been dubbed by Ocean Studios and released to VHS/DVD by Pioneer. The remaining ten movies had been dubbed by Funimation's in-house cast. When Funimation acquired the rights for the DVD distribution of the first three movies from Pioneer/Geneon in 2004, they redubbed them as well using their in-house cast. The three movies were released alongside the Ultimate Uncut Special Edition in the 2006 "First Strike" DVD boxset. By this point, Funimation had all the episodes and movies from Dragon Ball Z dubbed by its in-house talent. Select voice actors continued to re-dub Dragon Ball Z for Funimation's Remastered Box Sets released to DVD between 2007 and 2009 to maintain better continuity between the initial dub gap of episodes 67 and 68 (as most of Funimation's in-house cast had either improved their character voices or been replaced as well since they first replaced the Ocean cast).
Changes from the original version
As with the Ocean dub before it, Funimation's in-house dub of Dragon Ball Z does differ significantly from the Japanese dialogue; notably having characters occasionally speak during scenes that was intended to be silent. The original Ocean and Funimation dubs, along with Funimation's initial redubs, also shared in common a script written by Funimation which made numerous changes to the dialogue, resulting in many errors. As Funimation continued to dub later adaptations and installments of the DBZ story, these changes began to be corrected to match the original intent; this was largely first seen with the Budokai Tenkaichi games before becoming solidified as of Dragon Ball Z Kai.
- One notable change in the earliest dubs is just before Goku and Vegeta's battle: in the Japanese version, Vegeta mocks Goku for his low power level and the reason he was sent away from Planet Vegeta, and Goku counters that even a low-class soldier can surpass an elite Saiyan with enough training, while in the Ocean dub and Funimation re-dub, Vegeta offers Goku a chance to join him, which Goku refuses citing how he just killed his previous comrade Nappa.
- In the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball Z episode 123 (episode 108 of the edited dub), Goku explains that his Instant Transmission allows him to move at the speed of light (specifically 186,282.397 miles per second). This, however, was not present in the original version. The Daizenshuu even states that Instant Transmission is not a speed but merely a technique that brings the user to their destination instantly as long as they can sense it. Light, however, is not instant speed. Funimation, not knowing the true meaning behind the technique Instant Transmission, decided to go for a more literal approach when explaining it.
- In the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball Z episode 100 (episode 85 of the edited dub) for instance, the dialogues of Gohan and Frieza lead viewers to believe that Goku has been killed, and then revived by Earth's Dragon Balls (which makes no sense since by that time Goku had already been revived once by Shenron), rather than just knocked out, as in all other versions. Though the incident is never specifically spoken of again, later dialogue seems to correct the earlier error. Kai plays with the idea, having Gohan and Frieza both mistakenly believe that Goku had been killed although this is clearly noted not to be the case when he resurfaces.
- Also, the origins of Android 17 and Android 18 are made so that they were based on human counterparts, whereas in the Japanese version they were kidnapped by Dr. Gero and turned half-android by his experiments. Again, later dialogue would correct this mistake, particularly when Krillin explains to Goku that 18 was originally human when Goku questions how the two were able to get together and have Marron.
- In the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball, the character of General Blue is altered to have a long lost brother, Samuel, in order to mask his attraction to Obotchaman.
- As aforementioned, Funimation's dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai has been much more faithful to the Japanese dialogue. Although most of the characters have retained their English dub names, several special techniques have regained their original Japanese names in the Saiyan and Frieza sagas of the uncut version. Other notable changes in the dub include the usage of the original Japanese music (similar to Funimation's dub of Dragon Ball, the "remastered" versions of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Super, and the Blue Water dub of Dragon Ball GT), more faithful/complete translations of the episode titles, Guru being referred to only as the "Grand Elder" (as in the Japanese version), the proper pronunciation of the Kaio-ken technique and the Kamehameha, and Goku addressing himself as "Son Goku" in one episode. This trend also continued in the three newest movies (Battle of Gods, Resurrection ‘F’, and Broly), as well as their dub of Dragon Ball Super.