I'll readily admit that the anime that holds the number 1 spot in my heart is "Sailor Moon" (though not the crappy American dub), but I have come to love DragonBall Z, too (for some reason, they didn't broadcast just plain DragonBall in my area). And in case anybody's curious, I've only ever seen the dub (plus 2.5/3 of the dubbed movies on Cartoon Network). It's my shame; it's my Scarlet Letter. But that's not important.

Anyway, here's my little anecdote about how I started to watch the series; I was a fan of the series "Biker Mice from Mars" (a suprisingly well-done American cartoon that never got the ratings it deserved--don't get me started about television nitwits who would replace a cool series with, say, "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures" or "Action Man"), and during the last season, the weirdos at Channel 7 decided to broadcast it at 6:30 am on Saturday mornings. Being a dedicated fan, I not only DID wake up at 6:30 to watch it; I would wake up at 5:30 AM to make sure I didn't miss it, and I taped it (starting two minutes early and ending two minutes late).

This gets to DragonBall Z; just be patient.

Anyway, they cancelled the series, but part of me still hoped (and still does) that some genius programmer would get his head out of his ass and run "Biker Mice" reruns early on Saturday morning as opposed to "Sky Dancers" or "DragonFlyz" or "Night Rider" or whatever they put on. So I would get up really early and watch these abysmally horrific cartoons, just in case they suddenly started to run the show again. They never did, even after I expanded my search to Sunday mornings. Still, I was persistent. Then, one morning....


"Hmmm," I said to myself. "That is a really sucky opening theme, even by American standards. "

Fortunately, what was between the opening and ending theme was much better, and even though I wouldn't wake up at 6:30 AM to DBZ, I was more than willing to tape it. I mean, sure, I wasn't exactly hooked, but I was starting to get curious as to whether or not Goku would ever make it to Namek.

Thankfully, Cartoon Network picked the series up, and now I've seen most of the dubbed episodes. All things considered, it could be worse (I can hear you saying: "HOW?", but give me a minute), and I came to enjoy it. Even with some of its more notable problems, the dub still has great action, and some really humorous moments--like in one of the early episodes, when Yamcha is playing on a baseball team, and dances joyously into a fight. I get a kick out of the fight scenes, and now, I usually tune in to the series every day.

That said, now it's "bitch about the dub time." One of the things I really had a problem with was the digital painting. The one episode that stands out in my mind was after (I'm not quite sure if I've got this right) Vegita manages to reduce giant berzerker ape Gohan to cute little naked Gohan. Know which episode I mean? They paint what's apparently supposed to be a strip of fabric that gets torn off Vegita's pant leg across Gohan's little naked butt. Now, I don't know about you people, but I don't have a problem with butts. I happen to have one myself, and always have. Seeing a naked butt doesn't disturb me, and I don't think it would disturb any five or six year old to see one, either (they have asses as well, and have probably seen them, too). The lack of blood sucked, too. I think blood lends authenticity to a story, and actually helps to show that violence has consequenses. I think that's kind of where the effort to tone down DBZ's violence failed. When you "send characters to another dimension" and show someone being pummeled mercilessly for fifteen minutes straight and they don't have so much as a bruise, I think it shows kids that you CAN beat the crap out of someone and not hurt them. This kinda crap would instigate violence! A five year old might think, "Hey, I can bash little Janey's head in, and she'll just be unconcious!" If you show the blood, show the arms and heads and stuff being cut off, it has more of an impact.

I thought the "Another Dimension" stuff was kinda stupid, too. I mean, anyone with half a brain in their head is going to realize that these characters died. Any child with any grounding in Christian religion or who has ever seen a picture of an angel knows what a halo means. Let characters die. Kids know what death is, even if they've never experienced the death of a relative or anything like that. They know it from seeing roadkill, or from losing a pet, or whatnot. Death is a necessary component of life. Let a kid know about it early on, and I think they'll be able to cope with the notion better. (And, digital painting or no, I could see "HELL" on the shirts. Eat that, parental watchdog groups! ^-^).

As far as the voice acting goes......I haven't seen the original Japanese version, so I can't do a rundown and say, "So and so was nothing like so and so." I thought Piccolo's voice fit his character, and that Saffron Henderson sucked as Gohan. And yeah, I thought Freeza might be a girl at first, too. I mean, the voice, and the lips, the color scheme....makes ya wonder (look out, Freeza: here comes Jerry Fallwell!)

The American voices worked for me, worked well enough, anyway. Thing is, though, thanks to my favorite subtitled (VKLL) and a CD collection of songs from Sailor Moon (JAPANESE songs; the English ones suck sour frog's ass!), I've become addicted to Japanese voices. The actors tend to have a much better range, can express emotion better, and they scream really well! What more could you ask? I love the language, and its musical quallity. I'm certain the Japanese actors could whip the American ones in a voice-off (if there is such a thing), in any case, but in all reality, a subtitled anime series broadcast in the US probably wouldn't catch on (a pity and a sin, lemme tell ya, especially since it could improve reading rates AND encourage billingualism).

What I've never understood is why an anime series can be adapted nearly flawlessly, dubbed, and distributed direct-to-video in the US, but any attempt to prepare a broadcast series results in the series being hacked to pieces. For example, look at "Neon Genesis Evangelion." The storyline was unchanged, there were no cuts, the voice actors were terrific, and there was no attempt to cover up parts that weren't in the Japanese version. Result; the series gets a ton of new fans, ADV makes tons of money, and young men sit up in their computer room at the end of episode 25 and go, "What the Hell was THAT about?" for nights on end. Success! Of course, you can attribute this to the great story; Evangelion is extremely gripping and can be addictive (so says the guy with all 13 volumes in his video rack). But ADV did a great job adapting what was one of the most popular anime in modern times for an American audience. Other series have been very well, too. Ranma 1/2 has had four or so seasons and all its OAV's dubbed and is still selling well, for example.

But watch out when someone decides to prepare an anime for broadcast. There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you want to broadcast a Japanese cartoon in this country, you have to ruin it completely first. Look at what they did to DragonBallZ and Sailor Moon. Since I've got more experience with the latter, I do want to touch on it briefly. If you decided you didn't like Sailor Moon when you saw the dub, you can blame DIC. The original is much better. DICK--I mean, DIC--changed relationships, changed attack names, changed character names (Death Phantom became Doom Phantom, and Black Lady became Wicked Lady), came up with really sucky music, changed one character's gender (Zoisite), and picked the worst possible voice actress for Sailor Moon--Terry Hawkes, who, with the help of the talentless re-writers, transformed lovable, innocent ditz Usagi into idiotic valley girl mallbunny Serena. Somehow, DIC almost completely ruined what was one of the coolest animated series I've ever seen! Same with DragonBallZ (though DIC didn't have a hand in this).

What if the two series had been released direct to video? One can only guess, but I'm willing to bet both of them would have been 300000% better. That's a conservative estimate, I know.

I do want to touch on some of the good things about the dub, though. Remember, kiddies, it could have been worst. Much, much, much worse. They could've changed all the characters' names, "Americanized" them, if you will. Some exec at Funimation probably had the following thought at some point; If Usagi=Serena, then Goku=Steve. There could've been worse voice actors, too; ever see "Thundercats"? The performances are shockingly stilted, and the actors show no real emotion at any point. Even with the major cuts the show experienced, the storyline still remained essentially the same, and there weren't any crappy "transitional" scenes (Sailor Moon fans will know what I'm talking about; strictly DragonBallZ fans, fortunately, might not). As many others have pointed out, if not for the dub, many American fans would never have HEARD of DBZ. So you have to give them that much credit. But the differenced between the Funimation version and the Japanese version is the difference between reading one of those "Classics Illustrated" books and the actual novel. You know the story, but you lose alot in the translation. Sorry for rambling like this! If I ever write another essay, it'll be much better. Thanks for listening!

- "Stoker1439"