Dragon Ball Z needs no introduction as everybody and their mother already knew about what this show is, much to the chagrin of people who watched Dragon Ball first before going Z. Thing is though, not a lot of people knew, at least with fellow millennial and zoomer weebs, that DBZ was dubbed in English first before we got the Jeff Utanes Tagalog dub we have been seeing for many years now probably because GMA just won’t stop digging it’s grave and parade its corpse as kiddie timeslot filler.
Just this August, when things don’t seem to get any better, someone uploaded episodes of this version of Dragon Ball Z on archive.org. Although this isn’t as huge deal as finding tapes of recorded episodes from Japan (because of audio issues) but as for a weeaboo who witnessed the anime renaissance of the late 1990s, this is a big find for me.
The episode rips were of the Saiyan arc, basically from Goku going through Kaio’s world via the Serpentine Road (or Snake Way) up until Piccolo’s death in the hands of Nappa. We’ll get into the nitty gritty later on but depending on who your source is, these dubs either aired in 1993 (somewhere in the Cell arc) or 1996 (tail end of the Buu arc or the first year of Dragon Ball GT). Nobody has a copy of the any TV guide from either ’93 or ’96 so you decide on who to believe in.
Let’s start with the good, comparing it to the Funimation dub, it’s a breath of fresh air of hearing the proper pronunciation for the word saiyan outside of MistareFusion videos but more on that later. The other good thing here is they used the original soundtrack and based on what I’ve seen, there’s not much censorship on this dub, so none of that Tenshinhan exclaiming that his arm would grow soon in this one.
Speaking of Tenshinhan, Creative Productions went with the correct name. I don’t know why this is a big deal with me but maybe it’s because the dubbing studio didn’t screw around with the naming conventions of the show, so Tien isn’t a thing in this dub.
I like the voices on this dub too. I’m not talking about the voice actors but I’m talking about the voices said actors used, at least for some of them. Vegeta, at least in this arc, has retained this villainous feel in his voice and a little bit of Ryo Horikawa in it.
Goku doesn’t sound like a grandma and at the same time, doesn’t sound like a Texan hick. I’d say I like this version of Goku second best as he doesn’t sound that happy-go-lucky and at the same time not that Superman type of a heroic dude.
This is somewhere between the Peter Kelamis and TeamFourStar territory, something you can get into very easily. Kuririn does sound like Kuririn (aka Mayumi Tanaka) and not like your kargador na tito (your construction worker uncle for overseas people) nor a Fonzie ripoff (sorry Sonny Strait). The TFS people gave the best Kuririn voice though.
Kaio is a mix of Kaio-sama and King Kai in this one and I’m okay with that.
Now with the bad, first off is the narrator. I can’t believe that this is something that the 1999 Tagalog dub got right because in this dub, the narrator is a woman.
Hold your horses, before you guys call me a sexist pig and should be “cancelledt” I am fine with having female narrators on my dubbed anime and that worked on Yu Yu Hakusho and Flame of Recca but not here.
There’s a reason why Joji Yanami or whoever was the narrator on the Tagalized dub was worked and that’s because Dragon Ball is, supposedly, a pastiche of martial arts movies from the 1960s and 1970s and women narrators aren’t a thing in those movies.
That said, it just takes me out of the Dragon Ball experience that I am used to.
Some voices on this dub aren’t on the good side of things either with Piccolo being the prime example. This alien like voice should’ve been used for Piccolo Daimaoh, not this Piccolo. MaJunior, even in the original Japanese dub, doesn’t sound like a cackling mustache-twirling villain. Again, this Is something that the Tagalized dub and even Funimation got right.
One thing that bothers me in this dub the most is how they pronounce some nouns in the show. Let me demonstrate it to you via this table:
|孫 悟飯||Son Gohan||Son GouHAhn||Son Gouhun|
There’s too much emphasis on the “ah”s in this dub that it just sounds jarring to someone who got used to the Tagalog, Japanese and Funimation dubs. It seems like they’re trying their best to sound right when pronouncing these names but Creative Productions totally missed the boat on this one.
This is already a nitpick at this point but Creative also messed with the NEP music. I mean it’s not like Funimation where they had to hire multitudes of composers to replace the Shunsuke Kikuchi soundtrack and it’s not like the whole Kenji Yamamoto controversy has been out in the open yet.
Creative Productions kept the Kikuchi/Yamamoto score but did they really have to change one version of the CHA-LA HEAD CHA-LA instrumental score with another one? Are they already aware of Kenji Yamamoto’s way of producing music? We will never know will we?
To sum it up, it’s good that we were able to find whole episodes of this dub and at least it won’t be considered lost media anymore.
The dub isn’t that good in my opinion but it’s a serviceable one at least for Dragon Ball and I hope more episodes would appear soon because I want to see if RPN and Creative were even able to at least get up to the Majin Buu arc although that can be a pipe dream because this run of DBZ was said to be notorious for going through episodes only to go back to the beginning of the Saiyan arc again.
It’s no Tagalog dub, nor it is TeamFourStar but I would take this over the Funimation and that other Solar dub from 2000. The Funimation one is just not quite right while the Solar dub is a whole can of worms on it’s own.
If you want to see this for yourself, go to archive.org or get the torrent on nyaa.si.