Sunday, August 29, 2010
With the ending of Dragon Ball, Toei Animation quickly released a second anime television series, Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ(ゼット), Doragon Bōru Zetto , commonly abbreviated as 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 291 episodes until its conclusion on January 31, 1996.
Following the short-lived dub of Dragon Ball in 1995, Funimation Entertainment began production on an English-language release of Dragon Ball Z in North America. They teamed with Saban Entertainment to finance the project, sub-licensed home video distribution to Geneon Universal Entertainment, and once again hired Ocean Productions to dub the series. This dub of Dragon Ball Z was heavily edited for content, as well as length, reducing the first 67 episodes into 53. The series premiered in the United States on September 13, 1996 in first-run syndication, but also suffered from poor ratings during its run, and was eventually cancelled after two seasons. On August 31, 1998, however, the Ocean dubbed episodes began airing on Cartoon Network as part of the channel's new Toonami programming block, where the series received much more popularity. With new success, Funimation continued production on the series by themselves, only now using their own in-house voice cast, as well as less editing due to fewer restrictions on cable programming. Dragon Ball Z was now in full production in the United States and the new dub of the series aired on Cartoon Network from September 13, 1999 to April 7, 2003.
The Funimation dubbed episodes also aired in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Beginning with episode 108, however, an alternate dub, produced again by Ocean Productions, was broadcast in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, while Funimation's in-house dub continued to air in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. In August 2004, Geneon lost its licensing rights to the old Ocean dubbed episodes of Dragon Ball Z, allowing Funimation to re-dub the first 67 episodes with their in-house voice cast and restore the removed content. These re-dubbed episodes aired in the United States on Cartoon Network during the summer of 2005. In 2006, Funimation remastered the episodes then began re-releasing the series in nine individual season box sets. The first set was released on February 6, 2007; the final set on May 19, 2009. These sets were noticeable for including the option of hearing the English dub alongside the original Japanese music, an option that had previously not been available. Other options included hearing the English dub with the American soundtrack composed by Bruce Faulconer, and a third option included watching the original Japanese version, with the original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles. Beyond that, however, it was also noticeable for causing a degree of controversey among fans regarding the remastering process for the footage, which some fans deemed to be sub-par, particularly the 'video cropping' controversy.
In June 2009, Funimation announced that they would be re-releasing Dragon Ball Z in a new seven-volume set called the "Dragon Boxes," which were previously released in Japan as a five-volume set containing the entire anime franchise. Based on the original series masters with frame-by-frame restoration, the first set was released on November 10, 2009.