86 "Munen...!! Hokoritakai Saiyajin - Vegeta Shisu"
(Chagrin...!! The Proud Saiya-jin - Vegeta Dies)
71 "The End of Vegeta" 99-10-5

Goku arrives at the scene just as Freeza is about to finish Vegeta off. Freeza recognizes Goku as the son of Bardok, a rebellious Saiya-jin who was the final catalyst in Freeza's destruction of their race. Freeza then blasts Vegeta through the heart, and with his dying breath, Vegeta begs that Goku avenge the Saiya-jin by destroying Freeza once and for all.

And now we come to one of the most important episodes in the entire series, episode 86. The death of Vegeta. This is one of my personal favorites (of course), and I was looking forward to seeing how exactly FUNimation would screw it up. Many people who had bought the video (available before the episode aired) raved about it, and said that the whole thing came off without a hitch, better than they could have hoped.

I was less than enthused when I finally saw it.

What they did here was completely change both Vegeta and Goku's parting words to each other, and in so doing, much of the fundamental basis of their characters. A pretty big hitch if you ask me.

Boy, have I got a lot to say about this episode.

2 minor cuts, both about 3 seconds. In the first, Vegeta coughs up blood while Freeza is going to work on his back (which seems to suddenly be OK now in this crazy world of editing standards that change from episode to episode). Some of this blood ends up on Freeza's face, who then licks it off. Freeza likes the taste of blood.

The second cut happens a few seconds later, which is just another blood cough up. No licking this time, though.

Freeza: "Good night, sweet prince"

And flights of angels sing thee to thy HFIL, FUNimation. It would have been bad enough for one of the Earthlings to quote Shakespeare, but Freeza? That's an ugly, ugly thing to do.

Freeza: "On and on like a broken record"

Freeza does not know what a "record" is. No really, he doesn't.

Bardok: "Don't be afraid of him, men!"

Once again, FUNimation proves that they don't truly know this series, and I am again proven correct in saying that their seemingly innocent dialogue mistranslations completely screw things up. I've said it before and I'll say it again: FUNimation, unless you know EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING, you MUST leave the dialogue as is. This scene is a perfect example. But first, a little background explanation.

For those of you who don't know (and obviously the FUNimation writers are among you) the "Freeza destroys planet Vegeta" footage is actually taken from a one hour TV special. This special aired in Japan in October of 1990, between episodes 63 and 64. FUNimation (obviously) had no plans of translating the special at the time they had their geniuses go to work on this episode, because there's a rather large continuity problem presented by Bardok calling everyone surrounding Freeza's ship his "men."

They are Freeza's men! In fact, Bardok has just fought his way THROUGH them to GET to Freeza! If you don't see the scenes immediately preceding this (from the special), I suppose I could understand the mistake, since it does appear like these men are somehow allied with Bardok. But FUNimation has a responsibility to know what the HFIL they are doing, and they totally fumbled the ball here. Within the next couple of months (oh the pleasure), the Bardok special is going to be released in the States, and on that day, their idiocy will be exposed to all.

You know how this could have been prevented, FUNimation? To have simply translated the dialogue correctly, like I've been TELLING you for the past two years. What a concept, eh? The fact is, there IS no dialogue here in the original. You see the mouths moving but you hear only music (it's a flashback, you can do that). But FUNimation's bloodlust for incessant talking has just destroyed the continuity, and made a fool of them, once again.

Freeza: "Your shoe came untied" (music: BOM BOM!)
Goku: "I don't even have shoelaces!" (music: BOM!)

Thank god for the drumshots. Without them, there would be no way for the EXQUISITE COMEDY to come alive. (Once again, there's not a word of dialogue here in the original.)

Vegeta: "If there is a god, he must be good for letting me live long enough to see this day!"

Nothing really terrible about this line, but it's pretty damned bold for a character to be expressing his agnosticism. FUNimation has shied away from much, MUCH less than this in the past, and that includes Season 3.

It seems that it's only necessary to avoid anything potentially controversial if it's something that's actually in the original scripts. But if it's a potentially controversial line that they pulled out of their ass (like this one), then I guess it's OK.

3 more blood cough-ups from Vegeta. The most notable and drawn out being just after he hits the ground after getting his heart pierced by Freeza's beam.

The translation has been pretty much as loose as it ever is up to this point, but things really start taking a turn for the worse at this line:

Vegeta: "He took me from my father when I was just a little boy!"

And now, it begins. The total and absolute REWRITE of Vegeta's death. He and Goku spend the rest of the episode talking about how everything bad about Vegeta is ultimately Freeza's fault, and how Freeza "made him what he is."

That's a bunch of CRAP. Nothing like this is even HINTED at in the original script.

From what I could gather, here's what's REALLY said:

Vegeta tells Goku about how the Saiya-jin eventually did everything for Freeza, who began to fear their power, and ultimately exterminated them because of it. He also warns Goku not to be so soft and forgiving, and that this characteristic will ultimately be his downfall. This is all in the dub, but there's all sorts of "extra" nonsense, with Vegeta whining about Freeza's threats to kill his father unless he did his bidding, and how Freeza turned him into the cold-blooded killer that he is. Vegeta's final plea to Goku (in the dub) is to destrory Freeza so that he won't be able to "do it to anyone else." In the Japanese version, Vegeta instead begs that Freeza be destroyed "Saiya-jin no te de" (by the hand of a Saiya-jin). This is, no doubt, part of why the camera lingers so much on Vegeta's hand, first as he raises it toward Goku while he's making the final plea, and then as it falls lifelessly to the ground.

Dub Goku then buries him while belching forth some INCORRECT dialogue about how he forgives and pities Vegeta, since after all, he was just led astray by Freeza's influence.

The real Goku says nothing of the sort. In fact, what he actually says here is incredibly important to his character. While he doesn't put it in exactly these terms, he finally understands Vegeta's pride in his racial heritage. Not only that, but Goku is at last comfortable with his origin as a member of a race of planet pirates, something he has been struggling with ever since he found out the truth from Raditz. I personally think that he is able to make peace with that truth because he realizes now that the Saiya-jin may not be intrinsically bad after all, but were instead corrupted by Freeza. He is ultimately the one to blame for soiling their honor. Goku's final declaration is that he is now ready to share in a little bit of the pride that Vegeta felt for his race (Ora mo...sukoshi wakete morau zo...sono hokori o).

I may be reading a bit too much into this based on what's there, but my point remains the same:

The problem with the dub is that while it basically touches upon the same theme of the power of negative influence, it severely limits the scope by focusing on Vegeta himself. In other words, FUNimation emphasizes how Freeza affected just one individual, whereas the Japanese version takes a completely different approach and emphasizes how Freeza affected the Saiya-jin as a race.

That actually reflects some very key differences between Japanese and American culture. With us, it is always more about the individual and less about the collective, while the Japanese are the opposite.

Ultimately, the negative effect this has on the the dub is to make it so that we never see Goku make the revelation that allows him to embrace his Saiya-jin heritage, which is an important step in the growth of his character. This, and the racial component in general, is almost completely swept aside in the dub.

And it's also QUITE out of character for Vegeta to even suggest that anyone but himself "made him what he is." He would NEVER admit that, let alone be capable of realizing and accepting it. The dub makes Vegeta far more apologetic, self-pitying and self-aware than he could ever be, and judging by his actions after being brought back to life later on in the series, it is clear that he is nowhere near the level of maturity that the dub places him at here. His death does noticeably change him in a positive way, but it's a change that slowly and subtly develops over time.

(10 sec.) Vegeta's burial is (just a teeny bit) longer in the Japanese version, and I have no idea why FUNi decided to snip such a small bit of it out. It's still almost precisely the same overall, so I can't imagine what difference is made by removing these ten seconds (which aren't bloody or graphic in the least).