Dream Casting: Recasting The Dragon Ball Z English Dub

This is a first in a series of articles on how I would cast the English dubs for certain titles that either have not been licensed for North America or have dubs I would like to see recast. Enjoy! The English dub of Dragon Ball Z is horrible. To say that there has never been a good dub for the television series is probably not a controversial statement, even in the Dragon Ball fan community. First there was the one with the Ocean cast wherein there were tons of script problems and wooden acting, and then the in-house Funimation dub with it's painful voices and jokey rewrites. The both replaced the original musical score with either generic mood music that just sort of sat there or hacky electronica-rock mixes to fill up any possible moments of silence. In other words, they were bad. Really, really bad. Now, true, in a sense, DBZ's dubs can be seen as "so bad, they're good". It's entertaining to watch episodes of the dub and poke fun at how schlocky they are, and the show in general can be. But when you consider that most anime licensors attempt to faithfully adapt a show in their dub scripts, and it's never been so for this one, you realize that it's sort of insulting that they can't even get it right once. Even the re-dubs of the first two seasons were basically working from the same dub script as the first version of the dub. And it's not just the script. Many of the voice acting is just terrible, and many of the voices don't suit the characters at all. If any anime needed a recasting for its dub, it's probably DBZ. And so, that's what I'm about to do. Here's how I would re-cast the Dragon Ball Z dub. Note that I largely continue using the Funimation talent pool for my dub:

Brina Palencia (Tony Tony Chopper in One Piece) as Son Goku (formerly Sean Schemmel) Reasoning: I decided to be daring and try casting a woman as the Engish dub Goku, to mirror the fact that a woman plays him in the Japanese dub, and excellently. It's a bold step for a character who has since now been always voiced by a male (at least, his adult self), but I think Palencia has the right voice for Goku's cheery, child-like nature. If this didn't work out, I would hold auditions for Goku, but I wouldn't likely cast Schemmel in the role, unless he underwent some major changes in his approach to the role.

Brina Palencia as Son Gohan (formerly Stephanie Nadolny) Reasoning: Just as Masako Nozawa plays Goku in the Japanese, so does she play Son Gohan, and therefore I've taken the extra step to cast Palencia as Gohan, as well. I think she could also very well play him, too. Gwendolyn Lau as Kuririn Reasoning: Continuing the trend of casting females as adult males, I thought I'd give the Kuririn role (and I'd have his name pronounced "Kuririn" or "Kulilin", not "Krillin") to a woman, too, and one who could probably pull off his unassuming nature. Gwendolyn Lau is this actress. Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Piccolo(formerly Chris Sabat) Reasoning: This one's not too difficult to figure out. For one, Chris Sabat's Piccolo is awful. Otherwise, Willingham has proven himself fairly capable of handling very confident, somewhat smug characters, and Piccolo is intended to be one. Chris Sabat as Vegeta

Reasoning: Chris Sabat is no Brian Drummond, but to his credit, his Vegeta improved greatly over time. If I have to continue using the Funimation talent pool, there's no reason to replace him in the role. I suspect that with the proper coaching, he'll blossom into an excellent prince of all Saiyans. Cynthia Cranz (Chi-Chi in Dragon Ball Z) as Bulma (formerly Tiffany Vollmer) Reasoning: I always felt Chi-Chi's voice, if worked with, would produce a better Bulma than a Chi-Chi. However it turned out, it would be better than Tiffany Vollmer's ear-hurting Bulma. Colleen Clinkenbeard (Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Chi-Chi (formerly Cynthia Cranz) Reasoning: You have to remember, Chi-Chi is a tough broad. She even fought Goku in the 23rd Tenkaichi Budoukai. That she could even hold her own as long as she did is itself impressive. She trained with a student of Muten Roshi, after all. I bet with a very Riza-esque, stern, but nurturing approach, she could be a great Chi-Chi. John Burgmeier (Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho) as Freeza (formerly Linda Young, Genkai in Yu Yu Hakusho) Reasoning: Burgmeier played the well-mannered Kurama in the Yu Yu Hakusho dub, who was also capable of great brutality in battle. This is Freeza, at first appearance very well-mannered and eloquent, but also severely brutal. We need less Genkai and more Kurama in this role. John Swasey (Crocodile in One Piece; Gendo Ikari in Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0) as Cell (formerly Dameon Clarke, Scar in Fullmetal Alchemist) Reasoning: He has a good "evil" voice that isn't just grumbling or sounding like a tough guy. It's a bit smoother than the previous voice for Cell, and I think would work out better, especially in his Perfect Form. Brice Armstrong (Tim Marcoh in Fullmetal Alchemist) as King Kai (formerly Sean Schemmel) Reasoning: Easy. He has a deep, authorative voice, but it could also be fun using him to be silly, too, like King Kai is. Certainly better than the ridiculously bad voices he had previously.

Mike McFarland (Jean Havoc in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Tenshinhan (formerly Chris Cason) Reasoning: Well, for one, despite his lack of dub directing talent, McFarland is a good voice actor whose voice can be both subdued or powerful, depending, and so Tenshinhan will finally get a little respect, even if he doesn't in the grand scheme of things. Second, Chris Cason didn't really do it for me as Tenshinhan. This voice definitely needed replacing.

Kyle Hebert (formerly the Narrator) as Yamcha (formerly Chris Sabat) Reasoning: Chris Sabat's surfer Yamcha has to go, and who better to replace it than the previous voice of the adult Gohan and the narrator? Well, actually, those roles have little to do with why I cast Hebert in the role. He has a sort of rough, but determined sound to his voice when he plays a role. This is the voice Yamcha should have in the dub.

Avery Rice Williams (Fletcher Tringham in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Chaozu (formerly Monika Antonelli) Reasoning: Chaozu with a voice as adorable as Avery Rice Williams? Yes, please. (Do I sound creepy saying that?) Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Reasoning: Why mess with success? Kara Edwards as Videl

Reasoning: Why mess with success? Jason Liebrecht (Hei in Darker than Black) as 16 (formerly Jeremy Inman) Reasoning: Liebrecht is just a plain better VA than Inman, and has more acting chops in larger roles. Plus I think he can capture 16's gentle nature better. Chuck Huber as 17

Reasoning: Why mess with success? Merideth McCoy as 18

Reasoning: Why mess with success? Troy Baker (Action Bastard in Shin-chan) as Master Roshi (previously Mike McFarland) Reasoning: Troy Baker can bring a little more texture to a role that Mike McFarland just phoned in as "generic old man voice".

Ed Blaylock (Fuhrer King Bradley in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Kami (formerly Chris Sabat) Reasoning: Blaylock can add a little more depth and character to a role Chris Sabat just phoned in. Aaron Dismuke (Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Future Trunks (formerly Eric Johnson) Reasoning: Not that Eric Vale/Johnson was a terrible Trunks, but Aaron Dismuke is one of Funimation's best assets and I'd like to hear what he'd do with this particular role. Brina Palencia as Goten (formerly Kara Edwards) Reasoning: Continuing my daring tradition of casting Palencia in Nozawa's roles, I'm having her triple her load by voicing Son Goten as well. If this doesn't work out, I can get Kara Edwards to voice him again, since she wasn't too bad. Bob Carter (Sig Curtis in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Nappa (formerly Phil Parsons) Reasoning: Parsons' Nappa was a little dry and flat. I already know Carter can play tough guys, of course he'll have to talk more in this role. Justin Cook as Raditz

Reasoning: Justin Cook was the Raditz in the re-dub of the first season, and I thought he did very well, so I see no reason to replace him.
(Other Roles Subject To Change At Request) And there you have it, my custom Dragon Ball Z cast. There is one place where a dub of Dragon Ball Z has worked. That is, the Ocean cast dubs of the first three movies. Peter Kelamis was on top of his game as Goku and even the voices from the show that didn't really work out that well seemed to do a better job in them. If you ever get the opportunity to purchase the Pioneer release of these movies, do so. Nothing can ever replace the Japanese cast for the program, but we can at least try better, right? Funimation, consider a recasting if you license Dragon Ball Kai. NEXT TIME: Bubblegum Crisis! - Penguin Truth (2009)

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