Dragon Ball Z (commonly abbreviated as DBZ) is the long-running sequel to the anime Dragon Ball. The series is a close adaptation of the second (and far longer) portion of the Dragon Ball manga written and drawn by Akira Toriyama. In the United States, the manga's second portion is also titled Dragon Ball Z to prevent confusion for younger readers.
Dragon Ball Z follows the adventures of the adult Goku who, along with his companions, defends the earth against an assortment of villains ranging from intergalactic space fighters and conquerors, unnaturally powerful androids and near indestructible magical creatures. While the original Dragon Ball anime followed Goku through childhood into adulthood, Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of his adulthood life, but at the same time parallels the maturation of his son, Gohan, as well as characters from Dragon Ball and more. The separation between the series is also significant as the latter series takes on a more dramatic and serious tone. The anime also features characters, situations and back-stories not present in the original manga.
The anime first premiered in Japan on April 26, 1989 (on Fuji TV) at 7:30 p.m. and ended on January 31, 1996. The other names the production was considering for this second series before they settled on Dragon Ball Z were Dragon Ball: Gohan's Big Adventure, New Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball 2, Dragon Ball Wonder Boy, and Dragon Ball 90.
Toriyama's humor/parody manga Nekomajin, released after Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, features several concepts introduced in the series, and several Dragon Ball Z characters make various appearances in this manga. After Dragon Ball Z, the story of Goku and friends continues in the anime-only series Dragon Ball GT, which is not based on a manga by Akira Toriyama.
In the U.S., the series initially aired in first-run syndication from September 13, 1996 to May 23, 1998. On August 31, 1998 episodes began airing on Cartoon Network's weekday-afternoon programming block, Toonami, where the series received much more popularity. The first previously syndicated and heavily edited 53 (originally 67) episodes aired in 1998, in 1999 new less edited episodes began to air and finished its run in 2003, in the summer of 2005, the first 67 episodes were re-dubbed and shown uncut on Toonami.
It aired in the UK, albeit with the same dubbing problem, on Cartoon Network, premiering on March 6, 2000 and running on that channel until 2002. The Majin Buu Saga, Fusion Saga and Kid Buu Saga were later broadcast on CNX (which later changed its name to "Toonami"), with the show ending on February 28, 2003. After the finished run it was repeated daily, until the Toonami merged with Cartoon Network Too.
In April 2009, a new 'refresh' of Dragon Ball Z began airing on Japanese television. This recut is titled Dragon Ball Z Kai.
Dragon Ball Z was marketed to appeal to a wide range of viewers from all ages, and contains crude humor and occasional excesses of violence which are commonly seen as inappropriate for younger audiences by American standards. When it was marketed in the US, the distribution company FUNimation Entertainment alongside with Saban decided to initially focus exclusively on the young children's market, because the anime market was still small compared to the much larger children's cartoon market. This censorship often had unintentionally humorous results, such as changing all references to death so the dead characters were merely going to "another dimension", and digitally altering two ogres' shirts to read "HFIL" instead of "HELL".
Starting with the Captain Ginyu Saga on Cartoon Network, censorship was reduced due to fewer restrictions on cable programming. FUNimation did the dubbing on their own this time around with their own voice actors. In 2004, FUNimation began to redub the first two sagas of Dragon Ball Z, to remove the problems that were caused from their previous partnership with Saban. They also redubbed the first three movies.
However, the show still retained some level of censorship, not out of FCC laws, but out of choice by Funimation, so as to cater to the possible sensitivity of western audiences. For example, Mr. Satan was renamed Hercule to avoid any religious slurs; his daughter, Videl, was a play on the word Devil, but FUNimation felt that the connection was obscure enough to not worry about.
Filler & Differences from the Manga
Filler is used to pad out the series for many reasons; in the case of Dragon Ball Z, more often than not, it was because the anime was running alongside the manga, and there was no way for the anime to run ahead of the manga (since Toriyama was still writing it, at the same time).
The company behind the anime, Toei Animation, would occasionally make up their own side stories to either further explain things, or simply to extend the series. Filler doesn't come only in the form of side stories, though; sometimes it is as simple as adding some extra attacks into a fight. One of the more infamous examples of filler is the Frieza Saga. After Frieza had set the Planet Namek to blow up in five minutes, the final fight with Frieza still lasted well over five episodes, much less five minutes, although this can be attributed to the fact that Namek simply took longer to explode than Frieza expected. Also, there were many numerous filler scenes that took place while the battle with Frieza was in motion, which accounts for much of the footage during the planet's explosion.
As the anime series was forced to expand 12 pages of manga text into 25 minutes of animation footage, these changes were introduced to kill time or to allow the (anime) writers to explore some other aspect of the series' universe. The Other World Tournament between the Cell Games Saga and the Majin Buu Saga, and the Garlic Jr. Saga (Garlic Jr.'s return from the Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone movie) between the Frieza Saga and Trunks Saga are both good examples of this.
Besides having filler scenes and episodes, there are many changes from the original manga. Among them are the following:
- When Tien Shinhan loses his arm while fighting Nappa, his arm becomes a stump with only a small amount of blood seen. In the manga, the scene is much more gory.
- In the manga, Frieza kills Cargo, but in the anime Dodoria kills him.
- In the original manga, Appule finds all the Namekians in the village attacked by Vegeta dead and tells Frieza, who just tells him to call the Ginyu Force. In the anime, the soldier is changed to another soldier referred to as "Orlen" (in the closed captioning for the Ocean Dub VHS tapes; it is unclear if this is canonical however) who is killed by Frieza when he tells that he killed the last survivor of the village without asking him where Vegeta was.
- In the manga, after Frieza survives Goku's Spirit Bomb, he immediately strikes down Piccolo with his Death Beam technique, but in the anime, he fires his beam at Goku, only for Piccolo to jump in the way and get struck down by the beam anyway.
- In the manga, Frieza's full power was still never a match for Goku's Super Saiyan form, but in the anime, Frieza appears to have the upper hand for a short time before he begins to tire.
- In the anime, when Vegeta is brought back to life on Planet Namek, he manages to witness some of the battle between Goku and Frieza, as well as Goku's Super Saiyan form, before being teleported to Earth by the Namekian Dragon Balls. In the manga, he is teleported to Earth almost immediately after being revived and does not get a chance to see Goku as a Super Saiyan for the first time until Goku returns to Earth himself later on.
- The anime has two significant filler portions: the Garlic Jr. Saga and the Other World Tournament segment of the Great Saiyaman Saga.
- When Dr. Gero first appears in the series (as Android 20), he grabs a man by the neck and tears him through the roof of a car. In the original manga, he crushes the man's neck afterwards, tearing his head off.
- In the manga, when Goku fully recovers from the Heart Virus, Chi-Chi finds him simply looking out the window of the bedroom he was resting in at Kame House. In the anime, however, Chi-Chi finds him outside the house, firing several Kamehameha blasts across the ocean.
- During Gohan and Cell's Beam Struggle in the anime, Piccolo, Krillin, Tien, and Yamcha unsuccessfully try to distract Cell before Vegeta succeeds in doing so, whereas in the manga, they all simply observe the struggle and Vegeta is the only one to attack Cell from behind.
- Though the flashback of Future Trunks and Future Gohan fighting Androids 17 and 18 is present in both the anime and the manga, there are notable discrepancies between the flashback and the scene depicted in the TV special Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks. In the special, Gohan had not lost his arm yet at beginning of the story, Trunks had not yet achieved his Super Saiyan form too, and there was rain in the scene in question.
- When Vegito fights Super Buu (with Gohan absorbed) in the manga, Vegito immediately transforms into his Super Saiyan form. In the anime, Vegito fought in his base form for a while before becoming a Super Saiyan.
- When Goku begins his battle against Kid Buu in the manga, he transforms immediately into his Super Saiyan 3 form. In the anime, however, Goku starts the battle as a Super Saiyan 2, and manages to hold his own against Kid Buu for a while before ascending to Super Saiyan 3.
- In the manga, many characters have a different number of fingers on their hands; such as Piccolo (3 fingers and a thumb), Dodoria (3 thumb-like fingers), and Imperfect form Cell (two long fingers and a long thumb). In the anime, everybody has human-like hands with 4 fingers and a thumb.
1.Saiyan (Episodes 1~35); 1989–1990
2.Frieza (Episodes 36~107); 1990–1991
3.Cell (Episodes 108~194); 1991–1993
4.Buu (Episodes 195~291); 1993–1996
English Dub Sagas
- The Vegeta Saga (Episodes 1~35; originally The Saiyan Conflict); 1996-1997
- The Namek Saga (Episodes 36~67); 1997-1998
- The Captain Ginyu Saga (Episodes 68~74); 1999
- The Frieza Saga (Episodes 75~107); 1999
- The Garlic Jr. Saga (Episodes 108~117); 1999-2000
- The Trunks Saga (Episodes 118~125); 2000
- The Androids Saga (Episodes 126~139); 2000
- The Imperfect Cell Saga (Episodes 140~152); 2000
- The Perfect Cell Saga (Episodes 153~165); 2000
- The Cell Games Saga (Episodes 166~194); 2000
- The Great Saiyaman Saga (Episodes 195~209); 2001
- The World Tournament Saga (Episodes 210~219); 2001
- The Babidi Saga (Episodes 220~231); 2001
- The Majin Buu Saga (Episodes 232~253); 2001-2002
- The Fusion Saga (Episodes 254~275); 2002
- The Kid Buu Saga (Episodes 276~291); 2002-2003
1.Return my Gohan!! (1989)
2.Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (1990)
3.Super Deciding Battle for the Entire Planet Earth (1990)
4.Super Saiyan Son Goku (1991)
5.The Incredible Mightiest vs. Mightiest (1991)
6.Clash!! 10,000,000,000 Powerful Warriors (1992)
7.Extreme Battle!! The Three Great Super Saiyans (:1992)
8.Burn Up!! A Close, Intense, Super-Fierce Battle (1993)
9.The Galaxy at the Brink!! The Super Incredible Guy (1993)
10.The Dangerous Duo! Super-Warriors Can't Rest (1994)
11.Super-Warrior Defeat!! I'm the One who'll Win (1994)
12.Fusion Reborn!! Goku and Vegeta (1995)
13.Dragon Fist Explosion! If Goku Can't Do It, Who Will?(1995)
14.God and God (2013)
English Dub Titles
1.Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (1997) (Remastered/Re-released on May 27, 2008)
2.Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (1998) (Remastered/Re-released on May 27, 2008)
3.Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (1998) (Remastered/Re-released on September 16, 2008)
4.Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (2001) (Remastered/Re-released on September 16, 2008)
5.Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge (2002) (Remastered/Re-released on November 11, 2008)
6.Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (2002) (Remastered/Re-released on November 11, 2008)
7.Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (2003) (Remastered/Re-released on February 18, 2009)
8.Dragon Ball Z: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan (2003) (Remastered/Re-released on March 31, 2009)
9.Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (2004) (Remastered/Re-released on February 18, 2009)
10.Dragon Ball Z: Broly - Second Coming (2005) (Remastered/Re-released on March 31, 2009)
11.Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (2005) (Remastered/Re-released on March 31, 2009)
12.Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (2006) (Remastered/Re-released on May 19, 2009)
13.Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (2006) (Remastered/Re-released on May 19, 2009)
14.Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013)
1.A Lonesome, Final Battle: The Father of Z-Warrior Kakarrot, who Challenged Frieza (1990)
2.Movie Overview Special (1992)
3.Resistance to Despair!! The Remaining Super-Warriors, Gohan and Trunks (1993)
4.Looking Back at it All: The Dragon Ball Z Year-End Show! (1993)
English dub titles
1.Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku (2000) (Remastered/Re-released in February 19, 2008)
2.Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks (2000) (Remastered/Re-released in February 19, 2008) OVA
3. The Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans (1993)
4. Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! (2008)
Originally, only the Dragon Ball Z movies, and the Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans OVA were available for home viewing in Japan. The movies were released on both VHS and Laserdisc format. The Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans OVA was released both on VHS and on the PlayDia, as an interactive FMV. Dragon Box releases
Dragon Box Releases
In 2003, all of the Dragon Ball Z TV series was finally released under the "Dragon Box" label for home viewing in Japan, on two large DVD boxed sets, following the release of a similar set for Dragon Ball. Each Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box had a large amount of DVD extras, as well as an action figure and a book.
The video and audio transfers of the show used on these DVDs came off of the Fuji TV master tapes of the show, as this allowed Toei to put out a far superior and completely accurate version of the show on DVD, which was helpful since the entire plot of a season could be summed up in about ten minutes. This allowed all episodes to have their original openings, endings, eyecatches, next episode previews, etc., compared to what was available in the US.
In late 2005 the Dragon Box Z DVDs were re-released in single volumes with six episodes per disc. While the packaging and DVD menus are different from the 2003 release, and so far no plans have been announced for the two TV specials and the Playdia footage released with the 2003 versions, the Audio and Visual quality is exactly the same as those discs found in the 2003 Dragon Box release.
In April 14, 2006, a "Dragon Box: The Movies" DVD box was released. This release contained all 17 Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z theatrical features, containing 8 DVDs in total, along with a book, and two scouters in the form of walkie-talkies. The video and audio are remastered; however, the video is cropped to 16:9 (widescreen) and contains less picture than the full-screen versions. This is a common occurrence for films from Toei based on long-running and popular TV series (See Saint Seiya, Fist of the North Star, and One Piece).
All Dragon Box releases contain Japanese language audio only (with exceptions to foreign-language bonus clips), and no subtitles.
During the late 90's/early 00's, the first 53 (Saban/FUNimation version numbers, originally uncut as 67) TV episodes were released on to DVD by Pioneer Entertainment (now Geneon Entertainment USA). These contained only the edited, US-TV broadcast versions (dubbed by the Ocean Group), and totalled 17 volumes, comprising the 'Saiyan Saga' and the 'Namek Saga'.
Along with these episodes, Pioneer also produced bilingual, uncut DVDs of the first three Dragon Ball Z theatrical features. These DVDs retained the original Ocean cast for the English track, as well as being one of the first uncut and bilingual releases in the U.S. The English versions of these films were also subject to a different treatment than the series; rather than replacing the original music, the original OP and ED themes, as well as background music, were retained. The only noticeable differences besides languages are the inclusion of a few different sound effects which are not present on the original Japanese version. These films were released as a three-disc boxset by Pioneer.
As of August the 31st, 2004, Pioneer's license for video distribution of the first 53 episodes ended, allowing FUNimation to re-release them. At the moment, the rights for these episodes and for the first three Dragon Ball Z movies belong to FUNimation.
As of 2000, FUNimation had released uncut versions of their Texas-based English dub on to DVD, with Japanese language track, and English-translation subtitles. This release doesn't include the first two sagas, as the rights for the distribution of that episodes were still held by Pioneer Entertainment. These DVDs begin with the Captain Ginyu saga, and contain every episode covering (Japanese numbers) 68 till 291. Boxsets were release for the Garlic Jr., Androids, Imperfect Cell, Perfect Cell, World Tournament, Majin Buu, Fusion, and Kid Buu U.S. sagas. However, in order to maximize profits, the DVDs were released out of continuity (certain amounts of one section of the series were released, and then FUNimation would go back and release others). With no noticeable numbering visible, this caused frustration to those trying to follow the series from start to finish.
FUNimation also released Dragon Ball Z movies 4-13, finishing the release of the movies with 'Wrath of the Dragon', the 13th movie. These are all bilingual and subtitled, but do not follow the trend set by Ocean's first three movies. Music has been changed and altered, including the insertion of songs from rock bands such as Deftones, Disturbed, Breaking Point, and American Pearl. The movies utilize FUNimation's TV series Texas cast, though they also include the original Japanese version with subtitling by Steve Simmons.
After acquiring the video rights to the first 53 (67 uncut) episodes from Pioneer in 2004, FUNimation announced that they would release these episodes uncut, with a new 5.1 English language track and uncut footage. The Ultimate Uncut Special Edition line was born. The release would be 22 volumes, bilingual, and with extras. The Saiyan Saga was renamed the 'Vegeta' Saga (Parts I and II, covering 12 DVDs), probably to avoid confusion with the Pioneer volumes. However, after DVD volume 9, FUNimation canceled these box sets and planned to re-re-release them in the DVD season boxsets. This upset fans who had purchased the expensive Ultimate Uncut DVDs, as the Vegeta Saga Part II will never be completed, and the Ultimate Uncut Namek Saga DVDs will not be created.
FUNimation had also acquired the rights for the first three movies from Pioneer in 2004, and re-released them. Even though the three had same cover style, only the first movie was released under the Ultimate Uncut line. All of these movies had a 5.1 English track, new subtitles, different DVD extras and come in a boxset titled 'First Strike'. However, they do not retain the original Ocean dub, and contain a new English dub produced by FUNimation's Texas cast. This version contains different music than the original dub and than the Japanese version.
In November 2005, FUNimation announced they would release a remastered form of Dragon Ball Z on DVD beginning in 2007. All DBZ episodes were to be digitally remastered and released in boxset form.
The first season set (the entire Vegeta Saga) was re-released on February 6, 2007. The first 39 episodes of this season are spread across 6 discs, and cost $30–$50 USD (the original intention was for 5 discs, but there was a risk of quality reduction). FUNimation released a trailer for the new set on the Dragon Ball Z official website.
FUNimation released the second season set, containing both the Namek and Captain Ginyu sagas, on May 22, 2007. Beginning with this release, several of the in-house voice actors re-dubbed their characters' lines to keep consistency with the remainder of the dub. The third season set, containing the Frieza Saga, was released on September 18, 2007. The fourth season, containing both the Garlic Jr., Trunks and Android sagas, was released on February 11, 2008. Season five, containing both the Imperfect and Perfect Cell sagas, was released May 27, 2008. Season six, containing the Cell Games Saga, was released September 16, 2008. Season seven, containing both the Great Saiyaman and World Tournament sagas, was released November 11, 2008. Season eight, containing both the Babidi and Majin Buu sagas, was released February 10, 2009. Season nine, containing both the Fusion and Kid Buu sagas, was released May 19, 2009.
The series has been re-transferred at 1080p resolution with digital restoration technology removing all grain and scratches from FUNimation's original prints of the series. It is important to note however, that like many late 80's-early 90's Toei productions (for example, Saint Seiya, Sailor Moon, Marmalade Boy, Ghost Sweeper Mikami and Slam Dunk), the series was produced on 16 millimeter film which tends to be fairly grainy and soft. The new restoration was supervised by colorist Steve Franko.
The series is presented in widescreen format (1.78:1, cropped from the original full frame) for the first time. Comparison images from the new set show that while there is missing footage on the top and bottom, there is at least additional footage on the right and left that has not appeared in any prior release, having been taken straight from the original Japanese film master recording.
This format change was highly controversial among fans, as this is not how the T.V. episodes were intended to be seen and this substantially alters them. Many fans launched a letter-writing campaign against the release. In response to the negative fan outcry regarding the release's apparent cropping of the source video, a FUNimation representative has released a document from the team remastering the video, which explains the logistics of the new release. This document details how certain areas of the original film are damaged, and admits that though the video is cropped, this release will eliminate the grain that would be present on prior 4:3 releases. It has also been theorized that it is ultimately more inexpensive to transfer the series in 16:9 and thereby remove the damaged portions of the frame than to repair 291 episodes' worth of damaged film.
The boxset contains a revised English track in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (it contains the original Japanese score by Shunsuke Kikuchi, although it is unknown just how the English dialogue is revised). For the first time ever, there is a choice between having the Japanese dialogue with Toei's original Japanese music, or English dialogue with either FUNimation's dub music or Toei's original Japanese music.
Special features include a featurette on the remastering of the original Japanese print and a 24-page booklet with episode summaries, character descriptions and a DBZ timeline.
FUNimation Dragon Box sets were confirmed for release by FUNimation Entertainment on July 19, 2009. The Dragon Box will be produced from the original Dragon Box masters after a frame by frame restoration and will span the entire 291 episode television series and all 13 of its movies.
This definitive DVD box release begins with Dragon Box One which includes the first 42 episodes, uncut, on 6 discs. The Dragon Box releases will feature an aspect ratio of 4:3, the original Japanese audio (with options for an English track or English subtitles), the original episode previews, complete opening and closing credits and a collector’s booklet. Dragon Box One was released on November 10, 2009 with an SRP of $79.98, while Dragon Box Two was released on February 16, 2010, Dragon Box Three was released on May 4, 2010, Dragon Box Four was released on September 21, 2010, and Dragon Box Five was released on April 26, 2011.