Funimation to release a potential Ocean redub of Dragon Ball Z on DVD?
This is going to be a long post … Following an early leak via solicitations, AAA Anime, a distributor of official anime merchandise to independent retailers in North America has put up a rather interesting listing, titled “Dragon Ball Z: Season 1 Saiyan Saga (DVD Box Set) (Ocean Dub) (DVDs)“. Funimation is no stranger to re-releasing Dragon Ball Z, but this one in particular is almost baffling. AAA Anime’s description of the release:
From Funimation! The original 29 episodes of Dragonball Z have been redubbed by the fan-favorite Ocean team! Here’s where it all started! Goku learns of his alien heritage when his brother arrives on Earth and kidnaps Gohan! After a battle that costs Goku’s life, Piccolo takes Gohan into the wild country for special training and the rest of the Earth’s defenders gather to train for the arrival of two more Saiyans: Nappa and Vegeta!
Some background information is needed on this, the “Ocean Dub” is a fan term referring to the original 1996 English dub of Dragon Ball Z. This dub was written by Funimation, recorded by Ocean Studios in Vancouver, and edited for syndication by Saban Entertainment. The trio got through roughly 67 episodes of the Japanese version, with editing making them into 53 episodes all featuring a replacement score done by Shuki Levy. However, these three didn’t produce a success, and production quickly halted after those episodes aired. Home video releases of this version were handled by Pioneer (pre-Geneon name change), and sparked uncut dubs of the first three movies to be produced by this cast. Eventually, reruns of this dub found their way onto Cartoon Network’s Toonami in the US, which launched the franchise into super stardom. Funimation would then dub the rest of the franchise internally in Texas rather than outsource production to Vancouver like they did prior. The company has never released a shred of media with the non-Texas cast since.
Confusingly, the French licensor for Dragon Ball, AB Groupe funded a later dub (called the “Westwood Dub” by fans) with the old Canadian cast of Z reprising their roles. This version of the show picks up after the first batch of Funimation dubbed episodes end and goes through to the final story arch of Z. AB Groupe’s continuation aired only in a few select markets, like the UK, Netherlands, and Canada. This version of the show has never been released on home video anywhere in the world.
Touching briefly on the other series for a moment, Dragon Ball had a 1995 dub produced by Funimation in a similar manner to the 1996 DBZ dub. It was a 13 episode edited release with voice acting outsourced to Vancouver that also failed to gain traction in syndication. This was released on home video by Trimark. Once Dragon Ball Z stormed the US thanks to Toonami, Funimation had the platform to successfully launch the rest of the franchise, and that’s what they did. With their own Texas cast the company dubbed the entire series, ignoring the earlier dub ever existed. AB Groupe stepped in once again producing a TV-only alternate dub for the UK, Netherlands, and Canada but rather than calling upon the services of Vancouver, the company got the cheaper counterpart, Blue Water in Calgary to dub the series. Funimation did Dragon Ball GT internally from the start, with AB Groupe once again servicing those three regions with an alternate TV-only dub produced in Calgary. Both Funimation, and AB Groupe dubbed the movies in the franchise, but I won’t talk about those since AB Groupe didn’t employ any Canadian staff for those releases, but rather the people who brought us these gems:
No one knows exactly where these dubs were recorded. They were never released in Canada, but Europeans suffered through them on both TV, and home video.
All these years later and no one is entirely certain why those alternate dubs were made. There’s speculation they were made to fulfill Canadian content quotas, but that’s not an argument that holds much weight. Even more bizarre is how these dubs legally appeared in Canada, as Funimation’s rights to Dragon Ball certainly extend to Canada, as all of their home video releases are made available here.
Then there’s Dragon Ball Kai, the latest television series in the franchise. It’s a re-edit of the Dragon Ball Z anime that tries to adhere closer to the manga by removing anime exclusive filler material. Funimation has dubbed all current 98 episodes of the series, with the additional international oriented Boo story line likely coming eventually. It was way back in April 2010 that news regarding a potential Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Kai began to break. Funimation’s resident Goku, Sean Schemmel said on his Facebook page that a dub was going to be produced in Canada with a replacement score, and added sound effects. That next month Funimation’s Dragon Ball Kai dub would premiere on Nicktoons in the US, with credits revealing that Vancouver’s Ocean was involved with the editing of the TV version. Since then, various voice actors have acknowledged the existence of the project. Later rumors point to Kai being a co-operative production between Ocean’s Vancouver voice cast, and Blue Water’s Calgary cast.
Things started to make sense as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Canada were some of the few major markets that had yet to get Dragon Ball Kai, and coincidently they were the same regions that received the alternate dubs of the previous Dragon Ball anime series. However, it’s been nearly three years since word first broke out about this dub, and we’ve still yet to see it. Speculation had the dub’s delay at the hands of the music scandal that required Kai to have a music change globally (which does conflict with previous rumors stating Ocean’s Kai would have a Canadian made score) and later waiting to coincide with the international exclusive episodes of the series. It looked like the dub would finally premiere in the UK this past December, but that ended up being the Funimation dub.
So that finally brings us back to this release, where we can ask “What in the world is AAA Anime listing?”. Is it a re-release of the 1996 edited TV dub? The cover art for episodes 1-26 on the site calls it “The Original Broadcast” with the tagline “DRAGON, DRAGON, ROCK THE DRAGON, DRAGON BALL Z” from the 1996 dub’s opening theme, and features the orange gradient version of the DBZ logo that appeared on the releases associated with that version. But would Funimation really want to re-release that? The company hasn’t put out a dub-only edited release since the days when it was distributing stuff for 4Kids and other companies. Of course, the box art is in conflict with the item description on the site, as well as Funimation’s typical less busy approach to Dragon Ball art, so it may be a mock up. As shown earlier in this post, the item description says the release will contain episodes 1-29, and that the series will be “redubbed”. It would kind of have to be redubbed if Funimation plans to release the entire show with this cast, because as mentioned earlier, the “Westwood Dub” picked up after the first batch of Texas dubbed episodes ended, leaving a good chunk of the series not recorded by this cast. Was there some confusion with either the listing, or the voice actors and this is really the long fabled Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Kai? Why would Funimation even do a release featuring a voice cast they’ve abandoned for nearly 15 years? There’s some speculation that the listing is fake, but AAA Anime is a legitimate website, and the UPC in that listing matches other Funimation releases.
We’ll find out what this release is soon enough, as the set is listed for a July 17th release.