I am in no way condoning the DBZ US dub, however I can not say I'm surprised too much by it. While I'm not intimately familiar with the series as some of my friends are, I am aware that the series was much more mature in its orginal form. Thankfully I do recieve the International Channel so slowly I am experiencing the majesty that is Dragon Ball. I don't think the problem lies strictly within the executives of Funimation but rather the mindset this country has regarding any "cartoon."

I grew up watching Voltron and Inspector Gadget and, when I was older, Batman and Animaniacs. I first experienced DBZ when one of my brothers friends brought over that one movie (remeber, I'm not intimately familiar) where Gohan fights Bojack. Being young and naive, I was surprised by the violence contained within it, yet somehow I was strangely captivated. And this was even though I couldn't understand one word they were saying. My brother's friend related the story of DBZ to me and I was awe-inspired by the depth of those words alone. And so I saw a few more of the movies over the years and was overjoyed to find out that DBZ would air on American television. The first episode didn't offend me the way that it would obvioulsy offend a longtime fan. But I certainly did smell something fishy right from the start.

Digital blurbs became painfully obvious to me, bad lines of dialogue made me question my own pursuit of watching this program, but that didn't matter to me. This was Dragon Ball! On my TV! The following summer, the International Channel began to air the original series and by that point I had stopped taping every episode and stopped watching the program altogether. It came to the point where I was ashamed to be watching it. I would quickly change the channel if someone else came in the room as if I were watching Barney. But it was Dragon Ball!

Ok, there is a point. And while this is by no means a defense of the DB dub there is a justification.

1.) English dubs, by definition, are made for English audiences. Say what you want about casting decisions, we have a whole new audience here who has never seen the show. Any lines of dialogue that would be contrary to Japanese culture or the orginal motivations of the characters have only opposition in those who have tasted the original product. And besides, perhaps there are some aspects of the story and to the motivations of the orginal series that are a bit odd to a fresh new American audience. What show on American television before DBZ even remotely resembled DBZ in format and execution, and for God's sake don't say Power Rangers. Put it this way, how would a show so inherently American as let's say 'The Simpsons' fare in Japan if every line of dialogue was directly translated? Some might find humor in it, but overall, it is an American show aimed at American tastes, making fun of American pop culture. Not to say that DBZ is inherently unwatchable by an American audience, it certainly is not. But it is Japanese, and not everyone is so open minded as to accept facets of another culture. The original show does portray graphic violence and occasional nudity that would be taboo on any show in this country save those on premium cable.

2.) Look on the bright side.
I think that what is forgotten in slamming the DBZ dub, is that the most important element of the story has been retained for its new audience. The relationships of the characters. So the US audience doesn't have the full background of what went down in the first Dragon Ball series. The characters, more or less, act like they do in the orginal. And that is the true charm of the series. Any series can do mindless big pyrotechnic fights (which DBZ certainly does very well) but few series make you care about the characters the way DBZ can. And while Funimation has decided to omit filler that would better illustrate these relationships, they have managed to preserve a show that has appeal beyond the inevitable Megazord fight. And when they say "The other diminsion" WE know what they're talking about, right?

3.)Remember, South Park is TV MA.
Dragon Ball was a prime time show in Japan, not a Sunday morning brunch like it is where I live. The only way you could possibly get less cuts would be if DBZ were in prime time. If they were to show Dragon Ball uncensored that early in the morning, than very appropriately there would be protest against it. Parents are protesting South Park, a cable show aired at 10 PM at night with a TV MA rating. Despite all those precautions parents want it off the air. Imagine the response parents would have in seeing Piccolo blowing a hole through Goku's stomach without having someone say "Oh my god! They Killed Goku!" (or in the case of the dub "Oh my god! They sent Goku to the other dimension!") as they read their morning papers. Dragon Ball goes over death like no other American cartoon. In other cartoons, robots blow up, people fall over cliffs, and the audience isn't sad because the good guys always win and it's only evil that is vanquished. Dragon Ball Z, despite all the edits, does kill its good guys giving them lengthy death scenes (for US TV) while killing more background characters and bad guys. Frequently. It's not just Kenny, here. And besides, Kenny is just a cardboard cutout, that's what makes it funny despite the portrayed brutality.

4.)Prime Time Cartoon Drama in this country is like saying Spice Girls special.
In America, there are no animated series, only "cartoons." When animation does air in primetime it's The Flinstones or The Simpsons, or King of the Hill. Comedies, psuedo family fare. The Simpsons has family appeal through the mischief of Bart and the slapstick of Homer for the kids while having innuendos and pop culture references for the adults. When we do get a prime time animated drama it's a pisspoor "Inavasion America" on the WB, which clearly has its influences in anime. In theatres we get Mulans and Lion Kings not Akiras or Ghost in the Shells. Those are for the art houses. Animation is this country is family fare and nothing more. Though through animation any and everything is possible and cheaper. Perhaps when Disney releases "Mononoke Hime" in this country that might change.
Or not.

5.)Dubs can grow on people.
While I generally aim for the sub versions, I can have much respect for a good dub. Manga Entertainment's dub of The Wings of Honneamise stands as one of the greatest dubs ever. The pace, the acting the lines themselves are superb in this work. Ranma's dub has always been commended. And as much as I hate to admit the dub of the Tenchi Muyo TV series has grown an appeal in me. Dubs can be good. Dragon Ball can be good at parts. Goku has gotten much better at being the naive noble guy we all love, and yes we can get used to Piccolo, Gohan and (shudder) Vejita. Of course, the show has to throw an occasional Freeza at us every now and then, but it has gotten better. People say the movies have great dubs. I have not seen one of these, but I'll believe it. And Dragon Ball is a long series, it's not like they have enough time to perfect it. Nielsen ratings are a different matter of course...

In conclusion, I want to state again, that I do not condone or defend the Dragon Ball dub in any way for its faults. But I do understand why it exists as it is, and overall I'm gald that a whole new generation that otherwise would have no exposure to the incredible work of Akira Toriyama now have the chance to do so.

- Andrew Hosking