Memoirs of a DBZ Fan...
Let me first point out, that like most fans, FUNimations dub is the ONLY connection I currently have to the original Japanese series. I've seen the movies (subbed and dubbed) and own a few of the later TV episodes on tapes (a purchase from an internet friend who had gone to Japan a while ago; no trading, but thanks for the e-mail!) but until about the 4th US Season, I won't really have anything to compare it to. Then again, I don't need to. Chris is doing a fine job of showing nearly EVERY difference between the original show and the US Dub of it. I love his explanation, though, "...Japanese DBZ is like Orange Juice... English version is like Tang"..What an excellent comparison. If you've lived on Tang all your life, you can't possibly imagine how much better Orange Juice is, without tasting it for yourself. The voices are VERY emotional, the background music is ASTOUNDING, the show is just MUCH better in the original Japanese.. Both of the series _ARE_ very similar, but, as Chris also points out, they are QUITE different at some points. It's a shame that there are reasons to have webpages like Chris's and Wuken's, showing the series is much cooler than what FUNimation is spoonfeeding us.

Music (or "Why screeching fingernails on chalkboards sound better")
Something about Chris' post made me realize that I hate the music most about the US Dragon Ball Z dub. I'm not sure if it's because he lingers on the subject for so long, or if it's because he explains it the best out of all his excellent comments, or if it's because it was something I had already singled out in my mind... either way, I want to make my comment about Saban and its music.

In a single word, the Saban music is "moldy" compared to the original music... No, wait. "moldy" implies that it's an ugly product of the original. No, it's more like... hmm.. no.. FUNimations screeching doesn't even measure up to Chris' "Tang VS Orange Juice" comparison. Chris points out that the original music is (at times) EXTREMELY emotional and powerful. From what little I've seen, I can appreciate his comment - the endless droning of the Saban music compared to the original music is like a chipped plastic cup compared to a golden royal goblet.. and that's not a good example either... There is NOTHING to adequately describe _how much_ better the original music is as compared with the FUNimation dub. Watch the movies and you get a small sample of the diversity of the music.. fast moving battles, slow sad moments, moving pieces of art that cut through the dark plot like a ray of sunlight. The music is more than JUST background. It creates a sense of realism and emotion that even the charcters CANNOT bring out in their voice, Japanese or English. The background music isn't something that leans on the characters and smothers them. It isn't something that just continues endlessly without meaning or form. It is a POWERFUL tool that was used to build the series. You don't believe me? Do you know how many Dragon Ball Z Music CDs were produced? I can think of at least 15, excluding singles and "specials" and there were probably more than that. The music was something that INSPIRED MANY J-Pop groups to cover and create.

I don't even need to repeat Chris's music comparison... "Rock the Dragon" as an example, as compared to "Bokutachi wa Tenshi Datta" (We Used to be Angels). The titles ALONE are enough to show the difference in quality. I'll even venture as far as to say "Cha-La Head Cha-La" has a better title than "Rock the Dragon" does.

One thing that confuses me is WHY FUNimation altered the music. It was my understanding that the music was cut because the episode cuts would make the music sound bad. However, that doesn't explain why they didn't just remix the existing music. We, the fans, DO know that Saban was assisting FUNimation in the dubbing, and that Saban did the background music (if nothing else). Let's take a little break from Dragon Ball Z to see what else Saban has done. "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" (*ugh it's soo lame!*) Yeah, it _IS_.. but have you EVER seen the original? Do you know what the story is about? It's a Golion (Voltron) ripoff, but it's about a dead prince and princess attempting to defend Earth from an ancient foe, not teenagers who battle a bumbling sorceress. The original characters ACTUALLY had depth. but SABAN altered the series into mediocracy. The story had deep meaning, but you'd never know that if you hadn't seen the original series.

In fact, SABAN might be the REAL reason why Dragon Ball Z is as lame as it is. Notice: There is a BIG difference in the amount of censorship between Episodes 1-4 and #21-24. My theory is that Saban HADN'T had a chance to alter the first 4 episodes. By Episode 9, they had complete control over FUNimation (big company 'controls' the little company) and we can see its effects.. Watch the first 4 episodes if you haven't already - The music had been changed, but THE DIALOG is much better.. Goku even cries out that "his ribs are breaking", something that would NEVER have happened in the later episodes. However, it is my understanding that FUNimation and Saban broke off relations with each other in the middle of the 2nd season, which may explain something else: The later episodes are (again) more like their originals. Yes, scenes were cut, hits were censored, but notice that people are being HURT again. We actually see some hits again.

Of course, that's pure speculation, but might as well mention it (for what it's worth)... Anyways, back to the music and dialog: What are we going to get for the 3rd season? I look at Saban, FUNimation, and fandom in general, and shudder. At the very least, all fans should be able to GUESS correctly at what's going to happen in the story.

But what's FUNimation going to do? I'm not sure. I don't think anyone can be. FUNimation is on their own (I believe) since Saban doesn't cooperate with FUNimation anymore. Will the translation return to Ep 1-4 levels? Perhaps. Frankly, I want to see Vejita kill someone. I want to see Goku, compassionate, and honorable. I want to see the music returned to its original state, but these are all just wishes. There _ARE_ limits to what FUNimation can and cannot do on TV. *suprise suprise* I don't think blood will make a return to DBZ anytime soon. Neither will some scenes, but if FUNimation and Saban have truely split (like I said, I BELIEVE they broke formal relations, but it's been a while and I might have a bad memory) then the series may become acceptable for everyone, not just 2-3 year olds...

"Why doesn't FUNimation do..." or Classic Arguments for thought...
I hear arguments about DBZ similar to "... this show is about [topic].. while DBZ can't mention it?!" and "... this show has [topic] like DBZ. Why can't DBZ be like that?" and "[topic] isn't a problem - look at this show! It's loaded with it!"

I thought long and hard about these arguments. SOMETHING about them sounded wrong, but I couldn't ever place it, but then it dawned on me:

FUNimation chose a lousy timeslot for Dragon Ball Z.. 6am-9am for most stations, and this timeperiod is simply too early in the day to support DBZ uncensored.

First of all: Different timeslots bestow different amounts of censorship. If FUNimation wishes to broadcast at 8am in the morning, they have to comply with certain censors that a show at 4pm wouldn't have to. Even Batman (which showed on WPIX at 10am Saturdays) was later than DBZ. Notice that at about 9am, the shows switch from "preschool" shows to "kid" shows. Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rodgers go away, and are replaced with Batman/Superman and Goosebumps. At least in my local area, it's 9am. Look at your Cable Guide, especially FOX, ABC, and all those other networks that show cartoons. At about the same time (for all of them) the shows will become TV-Y7 instead of TV-Y or whatever.. Notice that late at night, all of the TV-14 sitcoms and shows are on, but it's ALWAYS TV-Y7 in the early-mid morning hours.

Also, since when did you see [topic] discussed at 6am-9am on a TV show? ... I've never, in all my years of watching TV, EVER seen ANY other network show (live or cartoon; syndicated or not.. EXCLUDING Playboy and Spice and PPV and things like that) that had blood in it during this time slot.. same applies for anything else. Yes, FUNimation made a mistake of putting the show in an early time slot, but THAT is why there's censorship, not because FUNimation is too conservative (btw, my Saban theory fits in with this as well; please e-mail me comments about it. I'd LOVE to hear others opinions of its feasability)

But is it FUNimation's fault they have to censor stupid stuff? Perhaps. But it's also the US Governments fault for imposing the restrictions. FUNimation COULD'VE tried for a later timeslot or on a weekday, which would've reduced censorship, might not have been a good move for FUNimation. After all, a weekday slot would require buying 5 slots (it is my understanding that FUNimation would've had to broadcast DBZ 5 times a week if they opted for a weekday time slot - once per day at a certain time) PLUS if ratings weren't popular, DBZ could've been pushed the same way Samurai Pizza Cats was.. (Did you know it was on WPIX? Probably not.) It was CONSTANTLY being moved between 1pm and 3pm while it aired, only once showing at 3:30 (at least, to my knowledge) and 3:30-4:00 is about the same time that school students get home, the most viewed timeslots are after 4:00 usually. By airing DBZ Saturday and Sunday mornings, it would be less likely to be pushed out of the way for some other event. So, IMO, in an attempt to save production costs (censoring is expensive) they only purchased weekend morning slots for DBZ.

FUNimation may be doing some wierd things with DBZ, but at least it's not as bad as it could be. I've seen enough shows that "look" cool, but only for the introduction.. And vice-versa. We're lucky enough to have the latter. The dub is poor, but better than some I've seen. At least Piccolo and Goku have decent voices.. I don't mind Vejita's voice too much. I cringed the first time I heard it, but it's gotten better since then... all of the voices (except maybe Kame-sennin and Kami) have improved. The voice actors are getting into acting their characters, and are making them sound realistic instead of comical... the story is picking up excitement, DBZs TV ratings are up... It's a pretty good thing, being a US DBZ fan!

- "Cookie"