How accurate are the Dragonball English dubs?

Discussion in 'The Anime Forum' started by VladDraculi, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. VladDraculi

    VladDraculi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    606
    I want to watch the Dragonball series and was wondering, how accurate are the English dubs for the different series? I've heard the original dub to Z is pretty awful while the dub to the Kai version is incredible. What about the dubs to the movies and the original Dragonball series? What about GT's dub? Is it just the music that people hated in the dubs (which has been changed as the DVDs and BDs allow you to watch the dub with the original music) or is it the voice acting? Are the scripts bad? What makes the original Z one bad while Kai is good?
     
  2. Vegard Aune

    Vegard Aune Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    Messages:
    848
    Location:
    Norway
    The original Dragon Ball dub was pretty bad at points too. Not as blatantly incorrect as the Z-dub perhaps, but it still had its fair share of rewrites that made absolutely no sense. (The absolute worst instance I've seen would be the scene where
    )

    As for what issues fans of the original have with the dubs... Music-changes, horribly unfitting voices, extremely frequent rewrites that mess up the story or characterization in various ways, and really bad acting in the early days. Kai fixes most of these. Some of the unfitting voices remain, but the script is accurate, the Japanese music is retained... though the Japanese score was itself replaced after it turned out the old Kai-score was filled with plagiarized music and I hear the replacement-score is very poorly utilized, and FUNi's actors and directors now have well over a decade of experience so the wooden acting is no longer an issue. The dub of the new movie Battle of Gods is supposedly also overall solid.

    No idea about GT. All I know is that the main issue people had with it (the replacement score) was indeed changed on the season-sets so one can watch the dub with the Japanese music.
     
  3. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA
    They're various degrees of inaccuracy and are overall tonally out of synch with one other. Watching Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT raw or subtitled straight through will provide you a smooth and consistent feel that evolves over the course of each episode.
     
  4. VladDraculi

    VladDraculi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    606
    What about the movies? Are they better? Or just as bad?

    As for voices not fitting right, any specific examples? I mean, it is kind of hard to make an English speaking voice sound just like a Japanese one.
     
  5. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA
    The movies are just as inconsistent.

    The characters are written so differently it's hard to say voices 'don't fit' when voices are not even performing the same dialogue or approximations. If you'd like to have an opinion on the Dragon Ball animated franchise (or any television and film franchise, for that matter) the best way to do that is to watch it with the original audio. If you don't like it that only means you don't like the Dragon Ball animated franchise. The 1986 animated series is up for free on Hulu. There is a gradual shift in tone and focus as the series continues along. While there is martial arts in the first thirteen episodes the main focus is stringing along the story with gags. Episode #14 begins the martial arts take over and by Episode #84 the story is a full-on martial arts-driven drama, although the shift is so gradual you probably won't notice it the first go around.
     
  6. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2004
    Messages:
    2,637
    I actually agree with Jacob on this one but I wanted to add a little bit as to why the dub shifts tonally. The Dragon Ball franchise wasn't dubbed in order and was done during a time where Funimation transitioned from being a DIC/ 4Kids-esque company merely making an anime presentable for American TV to a full-on anime company proper and throughout that change their actors had a huge learning curve to deal with. As a result their dub history was like this:

    Circa 1995- Dragonball Movie 1 and Eps. 1-13: Dubbed by Ocean Group (Canadian group who by this point had experience in dubbing Ranma, Ronin Warriors, various Viz animes, etc)
    Circa 1996- Dragonball Z Eps. 1-52 (Eps.1-67) Movies 1-3 Ocean Group (Pretty much the dub cast carried over from Dragonball with the exception of characters who needed adult voices)

    The movies that were dubbed were uncut and gave a taste of what the Ocean Group was capable of if not restrained by TV regulations but Funimation's initial TV contract expired and they could no longer outsource the dub to Ocean. After about maybe a year Funimation decided to continue marketing their VHS tapes (yep, DVD was still a new thing at the time) uncut and doing all the work in-house. Shortly after they started doing this Toonami got the rights to air DBZ and re-ran the Ocean Group run and then began to premiere the newly Funi-dubbed episodes around 1999

    Circa 1998-99 Dragonball Z Eps.67-107 (Ginyu and Frieza Sagas)- Funimation In-House Dub

    The problem with this dub is it suffered the same issues many long running dubs suffer when they change dubbing studios (Sailor Moon and Pokemon come to mind) where the new voice actors try to mimic the previous actors and acclaimed names like Chris Sabat and Sonny Strait were rookies in ADR dubbing at this point. As a result the dub has extremely convoluted dialogue, awkward or just flat out poor casting choices and is overall mediocre. But then something interesting happened...Funimation decided to full on become a proper anime company and stem out from beyond their Dragonball Z property. They started out with Blue Gender, then moved on to Yu Yu Hakusho, and then with Fruits Baskets everything clicked (if you watch these dubs in this order you do notice a dramatic shift in their dubbing and scripting quality). Around this time the dub proved a success for Toonami and they continued into the Garlic Jr. and Cell Saga with more diverse casting choices. I recall around this time I had a pro-Japanese dubbing friend who was actually impressed with the casting of the Cell Saga dub. The problem is that while the dub was more polished the script accuracy was still dubious and you still had a case of certain characters having altered personalities (ex: Goku has a Superman complex) that weren't present in the Japanese version.

    Circa 2000-2003 (?) Dragon Ball Z Eps.108-291 (Rest of the series) Funimation

    Around this time Funimation decided to give the original Dragon Ball another shot. They did a "pilot" dub for Movies 2-3 (it's possible Movie 2 was released before the Ginyu dub since Bulma isn't Tiffany Volmer in that dub) where the quality was on par with the early Funimation dubs. Then Funimation re-dubbed the first 13 episodes and aired them exclusively on Toonami and wouldn't be released on DVD until the DB Blue Boxsets. They continued to dub the rest of the series including the 10th Anniversary Movie. While the dub had script changes and couldn't dub all the insert songs it's usually held in high regard because it tended to keep the characterization and spirit more in line with the Japanese version.

    Circa 2001-2005 Dragon Ball Eps 1-13 (re-dub) Funimation
    Dragon Ball Eps. 14-153, 10th Anniversary Movie- Funimation

    Around 2003 Funimation dubbed Dragon Ball GT but from what I recall this was met with controversy because they went in the opposite direction of their Dragon Ball dub and skipped the first 17 episodes, added rap music to be more "modern" and the less said the better. Basically they took the mess that already was GT and made it worse. Their dub was, more or less, acceptable keeping in step with the same quality that it had during the Buu Saga. Eventually Funimation did dub the first 16 episodes of GT, released them as "Lost Episodes" sets before finally putting the episodes in proper order for their green box releases.

    I should mention that around this time Funimaiton was releasing the movies but much like how their doing with One Piece now they were cherry picking which movies to dub. The dub quality on the movies tend to be more consistent since they all came out around the Cell Saga/Buu Saga period where the dub was more or less settled in it's voice cast and they eventually released all of them.

    So now:
    Circa 2002-200? Dragon Ball Movies- Funimation
    Circa 2003-2005 Dragon Ball GT Eps.17-64 and TV Special
    Dragon Ball GT Eps. 1-16

    Oddly enough Funi is not out of the dubbing game. Due to Dragon Ball's popularity I believe Chris Sabat used his studio to dub the video games starting with the Budokai series for PS2. Also around this time Pioneer's original rights to the Ocean dubbed episodes expired so Funimation went back and dubbed the first 67 episodes in what was referred to the "Ultimate Uncuts" DVD release. This aired once on Toonami is completely uncut form once in 2005 (including curses like "Damn You" and "Bastard" and Gohan nads). While initially given a DVD release Funimation stopped short of the Namek Saga to release the same material in the infamous Orange Boxes.

    Circa 2005: Dragon Ball Z 1-67- Funimation (re-dub)
    Dragon Ball Z Movies 1-3 (re-dub)

    This dub while more natural, in places was more awkward due to instances of lifting from the original Ocean scripts but not giving the performances the same "spirit" as the Ocean actors. I should also mention that during this entire time in Canada the Ocean dub was continuing with it's own casting issues. Anyway, when the Orange Boxes continued past episode 67 Funimation decided to fix many of the dubbing flaws from the initial Ginyu and Frieza batch. Problem is they pick and choose what to re-dub and what to keep and did it seemingly on the fly so you have a mish mash of decent perfromances (Vegeta and Krillin) and the original stilted-ness (Goku, Piccolo, Gohan, etc.).

    Circa 2006-ish: Dragon Ball Z 68-107 (cherry picked re-dub of specific roles)

    Fast forward to 2010 where Dragon Ball Kai is licensed. This time around Funimation dubbed the series keeping it more in touch with the Japanese version (they dropped Goku's Superman complex, acknowledged Lunch existed in the dub). Many fans felt this was the definitive dub for the series. There were some cast changes the most significant being Monical Rial replaced Tiffany Volmer as Bulma and Colleen Clinkenbeard replaced Stephanie Nadolny as Gohan. Around this time Funimation also redubbed the first Dragon Ball movie and the cast changes carried over.

    Circa 2010: Dragon Ball Z Kai- Funimation
    Dragon Ball Movie 1- Funimation

    Which brings us to present day with Battle of the Gods which carried over the quality established in Dragon Ball Kai. As stated in another post I thought the dub was excellent.

    So there you have it, the very long and convoluted history of the DB/DBZ dub.
     
  7. MagicBox

    MagicBox xoBcigaM

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    949
    Location:
    On The Forums... Duh!
    It all depended on who was writing the script. There are some episodes of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT in which every line is dubbed faithfully and accurately by FUNimation. The problem is that this rarely, rarely happened. Most of the time, everything was changed to the point where all that remained were the broadest plot details. For example, if you're watching an episode/movie written by Christopher Neel or Sean Teague, then turn it off immediately. Heck, people are always praising Kai's dub and I still have a ton of problems with its scripts. I could list examples of the worst offenders in DB, Z, and GT, but the fact that I even have to do that shows that it probably isn't a dub you should be watching.

    Unless you're the kind of person who just cannot handle anything foreign and must watch everything in English, I truly feel you'd be better off just watching the entire franchise in its original Japanese with subtitles. The characters are perfectly cast with veteran actors; the characters will steal your heart so quickly you won't even notice. The dubs do indeed have their strong points, and nostalgic fans will defend them until the cows come home, but if you want to watch Dragon Ball for Dragon Ball, then you'll want to avoid the hassle and see the original.
     
  8. VladDraculi

    VladDraculi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    606
    So basically, Dragonball does not have anywhere near the consistency or care that One Piece does, is that correct?

    A shame to as I love their One Piece dub, but I guess if I am going to go all in, it is either watch it in Japanese from start to finish or just do Kai, dubbed.

    Now, I guess I should have mentioned that I have seen DBZ before, just never in full as I have only watched it from time to time when there was nothing better on. I actually really like Goku's voice in English and when I listened to it in Japanese, I just wasn't feeling it. On the other hand, I felt Cell and Vegeta were better in Japanese. Of course, then I listened to the Kai's Vegeta voice yesterday and it is obviously Chris Sabat still, but he sounds better. It doesn't sound like his Vegeta needs a lozenge anymore. Goku sounds the same in the Kai dub, but I have to say something feels even more off with the Kai's Japanese voice. Did they change Goku's voice? Last I heard, Kai was supposed to be using all of the same Japanese voice actors even though the dub changed some of them.

    Anyway, this is all very frustrating as I want to get an interest in the series, but I really would rather be able to just stick with one language track instead of flip flopping based on what movie or version of the series it is. Oh, one other thing I need to ask about the movies, which led me to ask how their quality is. From what I have read, the subtitles on the movies blend in with the background to the point that sometimes you cannot even read the lines. Is this true?
     
  9. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA
    Son Gokuu, Son Gohan, Son Goten, Bardock, and Tullece are still voiced by Nozawa Masako. She was born 25 October 1936, so obviously she no longer sounds as she did in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Just watch everything in Japanese. It's great, it's consistent, and it's the series and films as they are. The subtitles on FUNimation's DVDs and streams are relatively easy to read.
     
  10. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2004
    Messages:
    2,637
    Kind of funny you mention One Piece because based off of all the commentary tracks on DVDs Mike McFarland used the DBZ dub as a template for how to NOT dub One Piece (ex: multiple actors for the same roles, inconsistent script). Because of the 4Kids mess they did start their dub with Skypiea (around the 150s) but took a lot more care to keep performances consistent when they redubbed the early episodes and the dub ultimately stronger for it.

    If you're going to do the original DBZ run it's ultimately better in Japanese. If you're doing Kai it's better in English.

    You might of heard rumors from how the early Funimation DVDs were. In my experience all the newer releases have far superior quality in terms of subtitles and translations.
     
  11. VladDraculi

    VladDraculi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    606
    Sorry, I meant their subtitles on their Blu-Rays. Have they ever rereleased the movies on BD?
     
  12. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA
    They did one run on Blu-ray, but I believe those are out of print. The remaster was not very good, either.
     
  13. SigmasonicX

    SigmasonicX Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2003
    Messages:
    3,106
    Of course, while I like DBZ well enough, there really isn't enough to the characters or the story to make the accuracy of translations all that big of a deal. I say just go for whatever's more convenient for you.
     
  14. Vegard Aune

    Vegard Aune Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    Messages:
    848
    Location:
    Norway
    Eh, from what I can tell the movies looked decent enough. A bit oversaturated to the point where some of the darker details were lost, yeah, but can't the same be said for the old DVDs? I mean, at least their HD-remaster of the movies didn't completely butcher the look of the material the way they did for the show. Like, the movies to me seem to have better quality than the (actually passable) season-sets for the original Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT at least.
     
  15. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA
    Sure there is, especially given we are speaking about film and television, a medium that uses multiple elements to create the finished product. Removing the dialogue and voice performances from a television work vastly changes why it was so good in the first place. You might as well suggest he watch it on mute if the only thing that matters is the animation.
     
  16. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2004
    Messages:
    2,637
    Actually Jacob in this instance I side with Sigmasonic X on this one. It's not that Dragon Ball overall lacks substance or depth but we're talking about a series where even the author's investment in the characters was dubious at best. I even recall on another blog you pointing out that you felt Gohan's character development was mis-handled in the later half of the Cell arc and I know he wasn't the only one. My point is, despite it's legacy Dragon Ball is not the type of series where the quality of the voice acting is not imperative to enjoy the show. My draw to the show had to do with seeing the characters grow and change over generations and how the series had a wacky sense of style. We've been very fortunate with the getting the English version dubbed by Ocean the first go around as well as Funimation willing to constantly improve their dub. The worst I've ever experienced from the dub is the 67-107 batch during their initial release and that portion was "softened" in subsequent DVD releases.

    Ultimately I think there comes a point where everyone has given more than enough information of this topic. On Hulu there are tons of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z available in both dubbed and subtitled formats. I would suggest VladDraculi that you go on Hulu and check out a few episodes from various sagas in both languages and make your own conclusions. While we are all very passionate about the series our opinions are very subjective and based off of our own preferences and tastes so we can only give you so much advice. It's up to you to make a decision and with the prospect of multi-language channels on today's media it makes further discussion of this rather pointless.
     
  17. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA
    The comic is a different thing all together. This is a cartoon created by hundreds of individuals. You can't say "oh, that doesn't matter, it's still the same thing" based on whim. It's not all on Toriyama, especially given that the cartoon series do not necessarily have to reflect the comic as much as it does. If a actor's performance is bad, it's on that actor. If an animator's work is bad, it's on that animator and those related (a poorly scheduling producer, the poor judgment of the director, etc.)

    'The show' is a thing made up of a dozen little things. You're confusing 'the show' with 'the premise' or 'the story'. Those are the raisins in trail mix, not the entirety of the trail mix. You can't strip Amadeus of the performances of F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce and expect to be able to say "hey, they're not important to the movie! It's still the same thing!!"

    I have a lot of issues with the Cell arc, but that's completely irrelevant to what I think of Episode #184 of Dragon Ball Z. Studio Cockpit delivers another round of lively, emotionally-driven animation that gives the tortuous beating Gokuu and friends are receiving a great impact. In-house Toei Animation animator Miyahara Naoki's lush drawings for the final moments of the episode are bold and expressive with the care placed into them very evident. The performance of each of the actors shows them at the top of their games, Wakamoto Norio calculatingly smug, Midorikawa Hikaru warm and reassuring, and Nozawa Masako breakin' hearts as Gohan cries out in anguish. This is to say nothing of the well placed use of Unmei no Hi ~Tamashii VS Tamashii~. Our subjective opinions about the quality of these works aside, they are still very much just as important a part of a film or television episode's make-up. There's a reason the Emmy Awards have categories other than writing.

    This attitude of "respect the story, that's the only thing worth respecting about television" makes no sense, especially given we're a bunch of grown people so inspired by cartoons our hobby is hopping in the internet to learn and discuss them in passionate detail. Did the 1998 re-make of Psycho teach us nothing?
     
  18. VladDraculi

    VladDraculi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    606
    Thanks for the info guys. Of course, now I have a new question, what is the best version to buy? There seems to be like three different versions of the series out on BD and several on DVD.
     
  19. Vegard Aune

    Vegard Aune Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    Messages:
    848
    Location:
    Norway
    Well there's the problem; FUNi has only released one complete, consistent release of the show that wasn't somehow blatantly flawed. That being the Dragon Boxes, which were a limited release that are long since out of print and you'd have an easier time getting the Japanese DVD-sets than finding an affordable version of the US Dragon Box volume 2. So that basically leaves you with FUNi's season-sets, and while the sets for the original Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT seem passable, the sets for Z are absurdly overfiltered, oversaturated and cropped to widescreen... Since there really isn't any non-cropped versions of Z easily available though, I'll just say that the BluRay-sets seem less flawed than the DVDs. At least FUNi put some effort into the widescreen-cropping there rather than just automatically center-cropping everything, meaning that there isn't as much important detail cut off as you'd get on the DVDs.
     
  20. Sarada

    Sarada Reporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    51,252
    Location:
    Washington, USA

Share This Page