O, Canada!: Dragon Ball (Z) Kai Swims In The Ocean

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In the frosty North, near Yunzabit Heights, lies a mystical, magical land called Vancouver, where exists a studio called Ocean Productions where they localize foreign cartoons. Once upon a time, these wooly Canucks lumbered into the studio to produce an English-language dub for a show called Dragon Ball Z.  The dub was contracted to them by licensor Funimation in the big American state called Texas, where the steaks are so big, they block out the sun. They dubbed the first two "seasons" of the show under Funimation's guidance, and miscelleneous later episodes on their own.

The Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z was... varied. Due to television distribution company Saban, there were a lot of cuts and changes, and the scripts and performances could be very different than the Japanese original. Scott McNeil and Brian Drummond were excellent as Piccolo and Vegeta, respectively, and the dubs for the first three movies (licensed by Pioneer) were of high quality. However, the Ocean dub of this material is often considered terrible, and for good reason. Casting and delivery were inconsistent and the original musical score had been replaced in the TV series.

Funimation later began doing things in house, which meant Terry Klassen had to look for work, and Shuki Levy had to go back to scoring for cut-and-paste versions of sentai shows. (Actually, Ocean has been used for years by Bandai Entertainment and Viz.) Sure, Ocean had dubbed some of DBZ for TV broadcast in Canada and the UK, but it's better to forget that. That dub made their previous efforts look like Animaze-quality work. Years passed with Funimation as the group who handled Dragon Ball-related English dubs. And they still weren't good, mind you, but that was their thing.

Then Dragon Ball Kai, a new version of Z came along, and Funimation finally started getting it right. Accurate scripts, the absence of replacement music, better performances, and recasting in some places. This was a Dragon Ball Z dub worth listening to, a dub for it the company could actually be proud of. There was no reason for any other English dubs. This was what many fans had been waiting for, for over a decade.

Recently, Kirby Morrow, a Canadian voice actor working for Ocean. known for playing Van Flanel in Vision of Escaflowne and Miroku in Inu Yasha, was on a podcast called Voiceprint with Trevor Devall and Guests. On the episode in question (ep 26), Morrow revealed that Ocean was working on their own dub of Dragon Ball (Z) Kai for Yunzabitians and Wookies eating their Tim Horton doughnuts. Oh, also for the tea-swilling God Save the Queen blood and kidney pie this parrot is no more grow up 007 don't panic pip pip cheerio and all that rot British folks. Furthermore, Morrow stated that, while he had played the role of Goku for several episodes of the Ocean dub (of the later seasons), his audition didn't go so well, as Ocean stated he sounded "too cool" to play the role. No word yet on when this dub will air or if a video release is in the works.

This was not entire unpredicted. The voice of Goku in the Funimation dub, the legendary pillar of mediocrity (aside from Vic Mignogna) called Sean Schemmel, with whom I have had unkind words, had also made a reference to a Canadian version of the show with "Canadian music" and "added sound effects" which made everyone's skin crawl. But these comments, along with his crybaby whining about me, were deleted off of Facebook. How convenient. Well, I assure you they existed. Just ask the folks at the DaizenshuuEX forums. Go on, I'll wait. I have Kai reviews to work on, I'll keep myself busy.

You checked? Good. No, I wasn't really working on new Kai reviews. I can't even tell you what I was doing. It will have to wait for my trial.

Ah, another Dragon Ball Z Ocean dub. This could be either really bad or really... really, really, really bad. No, it could actually be pretty good, if Scott McNeil, Brian Drummond, and some of the others return to the roles. Especially if the scripts are going to be more accurate this time around and they take their time working on it. I have a preference for several of the Ocean voices over the Funimation voices for these characters and Ocean has done some very solid dubs, like Death Note and Black Lagoon, and there's no reason why one should expect a hurried and flawed product like their later DBZ work.

However, isn't this all a bit unnecessary? Is their something prohibiting Canada and the UK from simply airing the Funimation-dubbed version of the program in their countries? I know Canada has rules about only having so much foreign media on their television, but isn't Dragon Ball already foreign as it is? Why go out of their way to dub it in Canada and add their own music for it, too? DBZ is Japanese, not Canadian, no matter how you dress it up in a cap with the ear flaps and a Canadiens jersey.  Are they really going to ignore Funimation's version for petty reasons like that?

And this talk of replacement music from Sean Schemmel. He may be a douchebag, but I don't consider him a liar. Maybe he's not as in the know as he thinks, but I don't think he's going out of his way to smear Ocean. Could he still be wrong? Or will we be hearing more recyled Monster Rancher or Mega Man cartoon music? Replacement music is a primitive practice. It wouldn't matter how solid the voice performances are in this new dub, replacement music would pretty much invalidate it as a good dub.

The only bright point I've heard/read about this is that Kirby Morrow may not be returning to play Goku. Honestly, he seemed to me to be the worst of the English dub adult Gokus, even trailing behind Sean Schemmel's over-gruffness. Morrow had a different problem, as he (or Ocean) said, he was "too cool". He was too collected. He sounded too subdued. Goku is a big kid who's really excited a lot. There are moments he's very laid back, but it's a child's laid back attitude, one of anticipating more exciting fun later. Morrow is very smooth and the best he can do about Goku's angrier moments is the sound of mild irritation. That Ocean has identified this can only be good news for the casting of Goku.

There's really next to no information other than these comments by Kirby Morrow and the previous comments by Sean Schemmel. None of the other regular VAs from the Ocean dub or even the Funimation dub has said anything about it. Perhaps Kirby Morrow and Sean Schemmel have formed some sort of League of Goku and only they are allowed to speak on the matter. If you hit up Ian Corlett and Peter Kelamis on the matter, they might have information, too. Meanwhile, in the Latin American dub, the regular Goku, Mario Castañeda, isn't returning for that version of Kai. So maybe Morrow can go have a drink with him over it.

Stay tuned (er, bookmarked) for more commentary on this from yours truly. Hockey season's starting soon, so I'll have more than enough reasons to shake my fist at Canada.