Dragon Ball InformationWith the high popularity of the Dragon Ball manga, three lengthy anime television series were produced by Toei Animation to adapt the manga chapters. The first, named simply Dragon Ball, premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on February 26, 1986 and ran until April 12, 1989. Spanning 153 episodes, it covers the first 16 volumes of the 42 volume manga series.
Harmony Gold USA licensed the series for an English language release in North America in the late 80s. In the their voice dub of the series, Harmony renamed almost all of the characters, with some names appearing very odd, such as the central character Son Goku being renamed to "Zero" and the character Karin's name changed to "Whiskers the Wonder Cat". This dub version was ill-received and was quickly canceled.
In 1995, Funimation Entertainment acquired the full license for the series for both broadcast and distribution in North America. Funimation initially had BLT Productions create the English voice track for the series and the series was edited for content. Twenty-six episodes aired in syndication before Funimation canceled it due to low ratings, switching to the sequel anime series Dragon Ball Z. In March 2001, Funimation announced the return of Dragon Ball to American television, featuring a new English audio track produced in house and less editing. The redubbed episodes began airing on Cartoon Network (United States) on August 20, 2001. Funimation also broadcast the series on Colours TV and their own Funimation Channel starting in 2006. Funimation began releasing the uncut episodes to Region 1 DVD box sets in March 18, 2003. Each box set, spanning an entire saga of the series, included the English dub track and the original Japanese audio track with optional English subtitles. The Emperor Pilaf Saga, however, has not been released to DVD, due to it still being licensed for distribution by Harmony Gold.
In 2003, a new dub, produced by Blue Water Studios, was created and began to air in the United Kingdom and Canada. It used different episode titles and voice actors versus the Funimation version.
Dragon Ball Z
With the ending of Dragon Ball, Toei Animation quickly released a sequel series, Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ(ぜっと), Doragon Bōru Zetto, commonly abbreviated DBZ). Picking up where the first left off, Dragon Ball Z is adapted from the final twenty-six volumes of the manga series. It premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on April 26, 1989, taking over its predecessor's time slot, and ran for 290 episodes until its conclusion on January 31, 1996.
Following its licensing of Dragon Ball, Funimation Entertainment licensed Dragon Ball Z for an English language release in North America. For Dragon Ball Z, Ocean Group was contracted to produce an English dub track. The dubbed episodes premiered in the United States on WB in September 1996. In May 1998, the broadcast was canceled and Funimation stopped production of the dubbed episodes. Three months later, the series began airing on Cartoon Network as part of the channel's new Toonami programming block. In 1999, Funimation started dubbing the series again, now using their own in-house voice actors and with a new musical score. The series completed its run in April 2003, with the editing having reduced the length of the series to 276 episodes. Later that year, Funimation redubbed the first 67 episodes of the series, restoring the removed content and replacing the Ocean Group dubbing with the same voice cast used in the later episodes. These redubbed episodes were released to Region 1 DVD in uncut box sets, starting in April 2005, and aired on Cartoon Network throughout the summer of the same year. The Funimation dubbed episodes also aired in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.
In the United Kingdom, the Funimation dubs of episodes 168 through the final episode were replaced with a new dubbed version. This version used a dub language track produced by Ocean Group studios, but continued using most of Funimation's English language scripts and titles.
Dragon Ball GT
Produced by Toei Animation, Dragon Ball GT (ドラゴンボールGT, Doragon Bōru Jī Tī?, G(rand) T(our) premiered on Fuji TV on February 2, 1996, and ran until November 19, 1997. Unlike the first two series, it was not based on the original Dragon Ball manga. Unable to retain the same "magic" as the first two series, it spanned only 64 episodes before ending.
Funimation Entertainment licensed the series for an English language Region 1 DVD release and broadcast in North America. Funimation's English dub of the series premiered on Cartoon Network (United States) on November 7, 2003. The television broadcast skipped the first 16 episodes of the series. Instead, Funimation created a composition episode entitled "A Grand Problem", which used scenes from the skipped episodes to summarize the story. The skipped episodes were later aired after the remaining episodes of the series had been broadcast. The dubbed episodes also aired in Canada on YTV, which divided the episodes into two seasons instead of sagas.