Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール Doragon Bōru) is the first anime adaptation of Akira Toriyama's manga series of the same name. Produced by Toei Animation, the anime series premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on February 26, 1986, and ran until April 12, 1989.
The Dragon Ball anime franchise is known for the multiplicity of its dubs, but the original series itself has the most dubs, with 5 different dubs and 3 done to completion.
Dragon Ball was first licensed and dubbed by Harmony Gold USA in the late 1980's, after Carl Macek departed from the company, and would be one of their last attempts at marketing anime in the United States.
The dub was unique in that, unlike later adaptations, most of the characters were renamed. For instance Goku became "Zero", Bulma became "Lena", Oolong became "Mao-Mao" (in reference to his Chinese soldier attire) and Yamcha became "Zedaki" among others. Some of their romanizations however would remain a constant in all other dubs, such as Kame-Sennin being referred to as "Master Roshi". In comparison to the BLT dub and the broadcast version of the FUNimation dub, it was a little less censored and more faithful to the original.
The Harmony Gold dub was recorded in Los Angeles, California at Intersound Recording Studios. The Harmony Gold dub covered at least the first 5 episodes, along with Movies 1 and 3 merged into one double feature. The dub aired on various test markets through the United States, though as no TV station would pick the series up, it appears that Harmony Gold did not produce any episodes beyond the fifth.
Harmony Gold had scripted up to 60 episodes of their adaptation, which would be utilized for an early Spanish dub titled Zero y el Dragon Magico (Zero & the Magic Dragon) that used their naming convention and episode edits. Both this title and The Magical World of Gigi were two Harmony Gold licenses that Carl Macek had passed on acquiring for his Streamline Pictures company, leaving their rights to eventually lapse.
In 1995, the newly-founded FUNimation Entertainment acquired the license for the distribution of Dragon Ball in the United States. They partnered with Seagull Entertainment and contracted BLT Productions to create an English version for the anime in Vancouver, Canada. The dub was recorded at Dick & Roger's Sound Studio in Vancouver. This dub is often incorrectly referred to as the "Ocean Dub", in reference to Ocean Productions, the studio that first dubbed Dragon Ball Z, as most of the cast of the BLT dub would reprise their roles for that dub.
The dub was edited significantly for mature content, though not as heavily as Z would be under Saban (for instance, Grandpa Gohan's death isn't sidestepped or written away like it would have been under Saban). The dub featured a new music score composed by Peter Berring. The first thirteen episodes of the series along with the first movie were completed, and the series was shown in first-run-syndication. The network ratings for Dragon Ball were very poor due to Seagull Entertainment being unable to get the show a good time slot, so Funimation cancelled work on Dragon Ball and opted to focus on the more action-oriented Dragon Ball Z instead in hope of better ratings. They concluded that Dragon Ball was "not a good fit for the US market."
Trimark Pictures purchased the home video distribution rights for these dubbed episodes and would later be acquired by Lionsgate; which would cause troubles for the home video release of Funimation's later in-house dub of Episodes 1-13, being delayed until Lionsgate's license expired in 2009.
With the success of Dragon Ball Z in the States and on Cartoon Network's Toonami block, Funimation announced in March 2001 that they would return to Dragon Ball with a new English version produced in-house with their Texas-based voice cast. This re-dub of the complete original series aired on Toonami from August 20, 2001 to December 1, 2003.
Their new dub featured slightly less editing for broadcast than their BLT dub, and they notably left the original background music intact, which was met with delight from fans. Even with that said, much editing had to be done to the series in order for it to air on TV. Most of the edits were digital cosmetic changes, which were done to remove nudity and blood, and dialogue edits. Sometimes, some scenes were deleted altogether, either to save time or cut out strong violence or obscenity. Unlike the BLT dub however, these edits were only done for broadcast and they would later appear completely uncut on DVD releases.
In Canada and Europe, an alternative dubbed version was produced by AB Groupe, dubbed at Blue Water Studios in Calgary, Alberta. The Blue Water dub of DB was similar to their previous dub of Dragon Ball GT in that it was edited for content and used many of Funimation's character names. However unlike GT, Funimation's English script for the original Dragon Ball was in fact reused, albeit heavily reworked. The dub also made use of AB Groupe's opening title sequence for the French dub of the series (but with an English singer) and a translation of the lyrics (though the UK broadcast featured a completely different opening). This dub was broadcast in Canada and the UK after the Blue Water dub of GT completed its run.
The last known dub produced of the series was done by Animax Asia and aired in English-speaking Asian territories. Not much is known about the dub other than that it was dubbed in Hong Kong, like most Animax dubs. This dub is highly rare, and no clips of it are available online. Its existence only became known outside of Asia via Animax voice actor resumes.
|Bear Thief||Masaharu Satō||Michael Donovan||Dameon Clarke||Steve Olson||3|
|Pocawatha||Chieko Honda||Lalainia Lindbjerg||Kara Edwards||Caitlynne Medrek||4|
|Sherman Priest||Tesshō Genda||Ian James Corlett||John Burgmeier||Byron Close||4|
|Grandma Paozu||Reiko Suzuki||Kathy Morse||Stephanie Nadolny||Mariette Sluyter||4|
|Monster Carrot||Hiroshi Ōtake||Ian James Corlett||Duncan Brannan||Byron Close||9|
- David Bridges - Teen Goku / Master Roshi / Tien Shinhan / Puar / Shu
- Scott Evans - Yamcha (2nd voice)
- Andrea Kwan - Child Goku / Child Chi-Chi
- Darren Pleavin - Yamcha (1st voice)
- Claudia Thompson - Bulma
- Russell Wait - General Blue
- Opening: "Makafushigi Adventure!" ("The Mystical Adventure!")
- Produced by: Carl Finch
- Vocals: Jimi Tunnell
- Ending: "Romantic Ageru Yo" ("I'll Give You Romance")
- Produced by: Carl Finch
- Vocals: Daphne Gere
- Whereas Harmony Gold's opening theme uses an actual instrumental of the Japanese theme, the FUNimation dub of the opening and end theme are a stereo re-composition rather than the originals.
- Most of the Harmony Gold cast all go under pseudonyms, indicating that the dub was a non-union production.
- Prior to FUNimation's complete dub, they held online polls with audio clips for fans to choose who they'd like to hear as the voice actors. For instance, for Emperor Pilaf, fans were given the choice between Chris Cason, Dameon Clarke, Mike McFarland and the eventual choice, Chuck Huber.
|2001-2003||Cartoon Network (Toonami)|
Note that no dub without FUNimation's involvement have been released on home video.
|Vidmark Entertainment||1996-1998||Episodes 1-13||BLT||NTSC||United States|
|Trimark Pictures||2000||Episodes 1-13||1|
|FUNimation Entertainment||2001-2002||Episodes 14-86||FUNimation||NTSC|
|2009-2010||The Complete Series|
- Funimation Dragon Ball website
- Dragon Ball at the Internet Movie Database
- Dragon Ball (anime) at the Anime News Network