Retro Review: DragonBall Z ’96 Episodes 1- 7

Back in the day when DragonBall Z was on TV it was edited and that was the only version available. That was it. To find out what was edited from each episode there was a great site, run by a guy named Chris Psaros. It was a site full of information that a lot of people didn’t know back then. What I’m trying to do here is kind of in the same vain. This time though it’s my own little spin…

The Arrival DVD…

“Arrival” was the first DragonBall Z home release in North America. It actually took the first 5 episodes, cut them into 4 episodes then made those 4 episodes one long movie type feature. On TV though, they played out as episodes. It’s odd though on the DVD menu it has the names of the episodes from the TV version but they only show up on the menu, the actual feature is just called “Arrival”

I don’t see the need to change the name from “The Arrival Of Raditz” to just “Arrival”. They used the same title card graphic as the Japanese version but hey, why would you take out the DragonBalls? Just seems like more work for no reason. But, I think I know what happened here. In the Japanese version there is a split second where the title card graphic appears, then the episode title fades in with the DragonBalls and the announcer reads the title. I think FUNimaion took that split second screen capture and just slapped their title on it.

Now, we all know most of the first episode was cut out. I’m thinking this was due to time. FUNimation only had a limited number of episodes to try and sell this so, a lot of early episodes were completely cut out in order to get to the story going. Pioneer later released the some of the deleted scenes from the TV version on their “Dead Zone” DVD release…

Again, because all the stuff cut out, the first episode starts off in a completely different spot. Originally the narrator talks about how the world is at peace now that Goku had defeated Piccolo. The English version starts as Raditz is looking for someone named Kakarot. The original pacing of this episode is rather slow, especially if you’ve never watched DragonBall. Because of this edit all the episodes after this are now a combination of multiple episodes. Here is how each version starts… I should also mention the English version screen shots will always be on the left.

The first scene with digital paint. The smoking farmer. I mean, I guess I can understand editing smoking from cool characters like say, Logan from X-Men or Sanji from One Piece. These characters are bad ass and kids wanna be like them. I don’t think any kid wants to be the farmer from DragonBall Z but, I guess I get it. Smoking is bad no matter how you look at it…

The next case of censorship came from, what is assumed to be a glass of beer. Back then, the digital paint isn’t what it is today. This thing would coastally shake onscreen. I think it brings more attention to it. It must have been a real bitch to edit, I mean they even edited the splashes.

I do not envy the guy who had to do this. Speaking of “the guy who had to do this”, he has a name it was Byron Watson. He was one of FUNimations first digital painter. Apparly he would spend about 80 hours a week editing this show, according to TV.com…

“He spends as many as 80 hours a week editing animation cels — during Goku’s epic battles, more than a few characters get bloody noses or cuts, something Americans aren’t receptive to in cartoons…. (he) started the job working through the night, sleeping on the office couch and attending UNT art classes during the day. The workload was so heavy that he soon asked fellow classmate Carly Hunter to help out.”

Hmm, wonder if he’s related to Barry Watson…

Moving on… as Raditz lands on Roshi’s Island, Master Roshi says something kind of odd…

This line “This isn’t good, I smell death in the air”, apparently was only in the first run of the TV version. Few people heard this or even know it was said. Meri actually has a tape she recorded off of TV where this line is said. I remember it came up in one of the podcast topics, I searched but couldn’t find it. I remember hearing it and didn’t even notice it wasn’t in the home release until it came up a few years ago. When this was brought up I remember this feature, “Arrival” was released with two different covers…

I thought perhaps, maybe, the two covers indicate the two different versions? But no. It’s actually the same on both videos. I actually went on eBay and searched for the Goku\Gohan cover just to spot check that scene. Funny story though, on the Season 1 set and DragonBox set, Roshi says this in the English version. I should mention, it wasn’t just this one line that was a one shot only deal, a few other lines were only heard once.

As Raditz lands on Roshi’s island, Goku gives Raditz this stare that was cut from the English version. Don’t know why though, it was like 3 seconds long. The screen pans from Goku to Raditz, here is what the full frame looked like…

As Raditz tells Goku that he had come from space Roshi is just like oh yea… THAT. In the flashback scnes Goku’s Saiyan weiner is edited out. This edit also popped up later in DragonBall Kai. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing most of these edits again when DBZ Kai comes to Nicktoons…

As time goes on Raditz takes Gohan hostage. During this scene Gohan is crying, but it’s edited out, poor, poor Byron Watson…

As Goku and Piccolo team up they follow the Dragon Ball on Gohans hat with the Dragon Radar. They confront Raditz and the battle begins. During this fight, any hits to the face are cut out. You can show the reaction to getting hit in the face, but you can’t actually show the fist and the face connecting. So for example, this is how this scene played out in the two versions…

Blood was also removed, in the case of Piccolo’s blood though was that it was changed to green. Later on in Kai it was changed to purple wich, actually became the default color of the Nameks…

As the battle goes on, Goku eventually comes up with the idea to hold Raditz while Piccolo charges up and blast both of them, killing them both. In the English version, the blast just hits them but dosen’t penetrate them.

As Goku is laying there dying, there is a hole on the bottom right of the screen. You can actually still see it in the English version, it’s a bit less but you can definitely see it. If you watch this scene the digital paint is all over the place, the still image doesn’t do it justice.

Goku dies, fades away and the “next dimension” excuse for death is born. Any blood left on the ground is censored out.

Next, there was a few scenes of the after world that were cut. It was probley cut for time, I don’t think this was a censorship issue. Another thing that was cut was after Goku runs off to Snake Way, Kami has a few thoughts to himself about Goku and what’s going to happen when the Saiyans show up. This probley would have benefited the English dub. It was a good opportunity to catch up on some of Goku’s past and show what kind of person Goku is to American audiences who have never seen or heard of this series…

While Goku is in the Other World, Piccolo takes Gohan to train for the Saiyans arrival in one year. In the Japanese version Piccolo tells Gohan his dad is dead, Gohan cries a bit, Piccolo screams at him… it’s pretty harsh for someone like Gohan and you kind of feel that in the Japanese version. In the English version Piccolo tells him, Gohan’s crying is cut out and Piccolo goes on to tell Gohan about training for the Saiyans. It was pretty emotionless here.

The episode ends soon after. Now what most people don’t know is that the English version actually did have next episode title cards. They were only shown on the home release though.

The Saiyans DVD…

Episodes 5, 6 and 7 of the ’96 dub are on a DVD called “The Saiyans” which is odd because the main focus is Gohans wilderness training. The episodes on this disc surprisingly retain their title card art. It seems the earlier episodes did this while the later episodes… not so much…

You can see what episodes the DBZ ’96 episodes are made out of here, I took this from DragonBall Z Uncensored and edited it a bit. I’m gonna do this with the all of these reviews from now on. The episode where Gohan finds a robot never aired but they did borrow some scenes from that episode in “Gohan Makes A Friend”…

“Gohan’s Metamorphosis”

Shortly into “Gohan’s Metamorphosis” there is a scene about 4 minutes long that was cut. It explainers why Piccolo and Kami are one and why, if one dies the other will die as well. This should have been in the dub because without it, during the fight with Nappa, people watching this for the first time probley had no idea what the frig was going on. This scene explained it pretty well to. It’s a shame…

A few moments later we hear the first “next dimension\another dimension” death cover up for the first time. I know in the last episode Goku faded out after he died, but they never said anything about it. This was the first time anyone said anything about another dimension. I think it’s funny that the first time it’s uttered was when Krillin was thinking up how to lighten the blow of Goku dying, it’s like exactly what the censors are doing. Art imitating life? :lol:

Then we come to a scene were Gohan was originally peeing on a rock. In this version though the scene starts just as Gohan is turning around. You can still see the piss on the rock and Gohan fixing his belt.

Later on in the episode we come to a point where Bulma fixes the scouter she stole from Raditz’s dead body. She wakes up Krillin and Roshi by shooting them with a machine gun. I guess they figured kids might do the same to their parents or friends. Of course this was cut…

This scene has some very strange re-dubs, let me explain. The original ’96 dub line had Bulma telling everyone to “hop to” to which Roshi replies “hop who”? Now, years later when FUNimation re-dubbed these episodes for the Ultimate Uncut Editions they retained a huge chunk of the original ’96 lines. So, for shits and giggles I checked it out to see if it was still there and what I found was a little odd. In the UUC version Bulma says “Let’s try this again, let’s go guys!” to which Roshi replies “Hop where”? WHAT? It’s like they kept the original line but then just messed it up! How is that possible… well I know how it’s possible… but wow, it just comes off as funny and a little confusing. So then I go and check and see if it was on the DragonBox dub and guess what? The line was changed again! Bulma still says “Let’s go guys” but now Roshi replies with “go where”? Craziness indeed. I made a video so everyone can hear the audio, I had to re-make a Youtube account just for this one video, but here ya go, check this out… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLJzJJFuLo8

Moving on Chi-Chi eventually takes matters into her own hands and heads over to Kame House with her Dad. A cigarette that Ox King is smoking was edited out…

When she gets there Roshi explains what happened to Goku. In this version though, Roshi, in typical cartoon fashion says “Here’s what happened” the scene is then edited with a circle transition for a time laps effect, and we have Roshi saying “…and that’s what happened”.

Later on Gohan is stuck up on a little mountain. Piccolo secretly throws him some apples, Gohan has no idea where they came from and thinks there is no apple tree’s around here. For some crazy ass reason, Gohan thinking of an apple tree was edited out.

Now, I know everyone and their Mother thinks they digitally edited out the thought bubble but, that’s not what happened. Originally Gohan looks around confused, thinks of an apple tree and looks around some more. In the English version I think they were trying to speed it up so, they just edited out those few seconds of him thinking of an apple tree. They didn’t actually go in and erase it, the few seconds it was on screen was cut.

Next Gohan transforms, when he de-transforms Gohans shame is covered by the smallest tree ever and a mysterious rock. Why is the rock there you ask?…

…see they had a plan for the rock the whole time….

At the end of the episode, Piccolo gives Gohan some new clothes. In the ’96 version the beam is much brighter, hiding Gohan’s ass and his clothes are partially already faded onto him from the beginning of the scene…

“Gohan Makes A Friend”

One of the first scenes in this episode is of Gohan peeing. This kid loves peeing.

Soon after Gohan finds himself in a world of trouble. He gets chased by an alligator, then a saber tooth tiger then a hawk picks him up and the hawk in turn gets into a fight with a pterodactyl. Two Power Ranger animals in one scene! During the Hawk and Pterodactyl fight there is a tiny bit of blood that was edited out…

The hawk ends up dropping Gohan. This is where his fate is different depending on which version you watch. In the Japanese version he falls right into a sand trap where he befriends a robot. In the ’96 version a scene is added that shows a hole in the Earth with a zoom in\zoom out effect making it look like Gohan is falling into it.

The ’96 version now shows Gohan waking up that was originally in the beginning of this episode but now is moved to look like he is passed out…

He wakes up, cuts to commercial and Japanese episode 7 begins when we come back from the commercial break. For Yamcha’s first appearance in DBZ we see he now plays professional baseball. A few minutes into this scene a fight breaks out and Yamcha joins in with glee! A few shots where cut out…

I think the original spirit of the robot episode is actually transferred pretty well in this version. I mean basically instead of befriending a robot, Gohan befriends a dinosaur. Also when Gohan first meets the robot it is damaged, same with the Dinosaur, it has a stick stuck in it’s side. Oddly enough most of the blood is intact in the English version, sure the pool of blood is gone but hey, there’s blood there. On DragonBall Z Uncensored, Chris mentions this might be because the censors don’t really have a problem showing animals\non humans getting hurt or having blood on them. That just might be the case.

During some food gathering outing for Gohans dinosaur, he thinks of how cool it would be to have a dinosaur. This scene is cut, it’s a shame too its so cute…

Sometime after Gohan comes back to find his dinosaur friend in trouble, Gohan tries to help his new friend but gets knocked out. When Gohan wakes up he finds his friend is gone, he had lost the fight and is now a bunch of bones. They then inserted Gohan walking away sadly from the whole robot situation and played it off as he was walking away from his dead dinosaur. It’s done pretty well.

“Trouble On Arlia”

This episode pretty much stayed in tact from the original Japanese episode with just some censoring going on. I mentioned before how the censors might not have a problem with non human violence and that trend continues here. Again, there is blood but most of it is cut out.

Other then that, there was a scene where Lunch was being chased by cops. This was cut along with every other Lunch scene during the DBZ ’96 run.

And that’s about it for these 2 DVD’s.

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