Three years ago, I caught whiff of a possible English dub for Dragon Ball Z Kai done in the frosty North, by the Sasquatch-breeding Canadians at Ocean Studios. For three years I have waited with bated breath, my eyes opening to the day with fresh hope that the dulcet tones of Doc Harris would course through my ears with "Stand by for Dragon Ball Z... Kai!", only to be struck each day with a sense of unrelenting defeat (moreso than usual). Eventually, I had no choice but to settle into a remarkably steady indifference, puncuated by the occasional glimmer of curiosity (and something somebody in the know told me).
Then, it finally happened. The news broke. The classic "Ocean cast" of Dragon Ball Z was returning. Ian Corlett, Saffron Henderson, Brian Drummond, Scott McNeil, Paul Dobson, Ted Cole, Matt Smith, Terry Klassen, Lalainia Lindbjerg (how do you even pronounce her name?), and a ton of people everybody's forgotten because they aren't in anything anymore! Well, I was excited to learn of this. Sure, the first two "seasons" of DBZ's dub had a lot of crappy scripting, terrible cuts, and insulting voice acting, but there were some solid performers that were just held back by the old ways, and surely with a more faithful script they could... oh wait. Wait.
No, this wasn't a new Kai dub with the Ocean cast. No, this was the classic DBZ run, the first two "seasons" of the English dub, produced by Funimation, voiced by the Ocean cast, distributed originally by Pioneer, featuring the Shuki Levy music, parachutes deploying offscreen, and entire cities emptying out on Sundays. Where Goku's father is a brilliant scienitist, Vegeta killed Goku's adoptive grandfather, and hits rarely connected without some sort of flash or sunburst. Funimation had decided to release the "first 53 episodes" (really 56 or so cut and pasted in various ways) as they were broadcast on American television more than a decade ago all on a convenient set, including the first three DBZ movies.
Well. A nostalgia product. Interesting. But, uh, who's really going to buy this?
By now, there has to be very few Ocean cast dub fans left. They've probably moved onto other (better) anime and disregard DBZ, like the Ocean cast but want a more accurate dub, or prefer the Funimation in-house cast and already have that. Even people who still feel the pull of nostalgia for the material on this set presented as it was on American TV originally aren't likely to shell out a lot of money to buy it on DVD after all this time. We're talking a fully cut, full censored, poorly constructed hack job. Who could want such a low quality product?
Well, then again, we're talking North American DBZ fans. I'm still surprised that so many miss Stephanie Naldony and still love "Ally to good, nightmare to you!". Nostalgia drives hard. DBZ might not have much of a fanbase at all if not for nostalgia. DBZ nostalgia, specifically nostalgia for "the way I grew up with it!" English dubs are practically Funimation's bread and butter, so who knows? Perhaps this might be a successful release after all. And hey, they have the dubs of the first three Z movies, which are pretty accurate and well-acted (though I think the third movie will be the TV broadcast version with Ian Corlett and the Levy score). Don Brown's Garlic Junior is excellent. You have to love Peter Kelamis' "Kaioken!" scream in the second movie.
Well, let's revise my statement on this release. Not "nobody's going to buy this shit". It's more of a "Yeah, I'm not buying this release." After all, I have the Dragon Boxes. I have all of DBZ. The Ocean cast isn't so preferrable that I'm going to put up with bad scripts and tons of edits. Both dubs are terrible overall. I have the first three DBZ movies on DVD with the Ocean cast, that's all I need. Do I prefer a few Ocean voices to the in-house Funi voices? Eh, a few. But with Funimation's dub of Kai the gap has mostly closed. Drummond's Vegeta isn't much better than Sabat's current Vegeta, for instance. Even Kelamis' Goku is only a bit better than Schemmel's current Goku. So really, unless there's a Kai dub, until there's a Kai dub, by the Ocean team, I don't really care about this release.
Or fuck, even a new Kai dub, at this point.
Both are still interesting as concepts, though.
Rock the dragon, cargo robots.