With the ending of Dragon Ball, Toei Animation quickly released a second anime series, Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ(ゼット) Doragon Bōru Zetto, commonly abbreviated as DBZ). Picking up a few years after the series first left off, Dragon Ball Z is adapted from the final twenty-six volumes of the manga series on Weekly Shounen Jump from 1989–1995, it premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on April 26, 1989, taking over its predecessor’s time slot, and ran for 291 episodes until its conclusion on January 31, 1996.
Following their short-lived dub of Dragon Ball in 1995, Funimation began production on an English-language release of Dragon Ball Z. They collaborated with Saban Entertainment to finance and distribute the series to television, sub-licensed home video distribution to Pioneer Entertainment (later known as Geneon Universal Entertainment), contracted Ocean Productions to dub the anime into English, and hired Shuki Levy to compose an alternate musical score. This dub of Dragon Ball Z was heavily edited for content, as well as length; reducing the first 67 episodes into 53. The series premiered in the U.S. on September 13, 1996 in first-run syndication, but also struggled to find a substantial audience during its run and was ultimately cancelled after two seasons. On August 31, 1998, however, these cancelled dubbed episodes began airing on Cartoon Network’s weekday-afternoon programming block, Toonami, where the series received much more popularity. With new success, Funimation continued production on the series by themselves, now with less editing due to fewer restrictions on cable programing. However, they could no longer afford the services of either the Ocean voice cast or Shuki Levy’s music without Saban’s financial assistance, resulting in the creation of their own in-house ADR studio and a new musical score composed by Bruce Faulconer. Dragon Ball Z was now in full production in the U.S. and the new dub of the series was broadcast on Cartoon Network from September 13, 1999 to April 7, 2003. In 2004, Geneon’s distribution rights to the first 53/67 episodes of Dragon Ball Z expired, allowing Funimation to re-dub them with their in-house ADR studio and restore the removed content. These re-dubbed episodes aired on Cartoon Network during the summer of 2005.
In 2006, Funimation remastered the episodes cropped to 16:9 widescreen format and then began re-releasing the series to Region 1 DVD in nine individual season box sets, with the first set released on February 6, 2007 and the final set released on May 19, 2009. These sets were notable for including the option of hearing Funimation’s in-house dub alongside the original Japanese music, an option that had previously not been available. Other options included hearing the in-house dub with the American soundtrack composed by Bruce Faulconer and Nathan Johnson, and a third option included watching the original Japanese version, with the original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles. In July 2009, Funimation announced that they would be re-releasing Dragon Ball Z in a new seven-volume DVD set called the “Dragon Boxes.” Based on the original series masters with frame-by-frame restoration, the first set was released on November 10, 2009 and the final set was released on October 11, 2011. Unlike the season box sets, Funimation’s “Dragon Box” release is presented in the original 4:3 fullscreen format.
Funimation and Toei released a statement in January 2011 confirming that they would stream Dragon Ball Z within 30 minutes before their simulcast of One Piece. Dragon Ball Z is now being streamed on Hulu, containing the English dub with the Japanese music and uncut footage, as well as subtitled Japanese episodes.
In July 2011, Funimation announced plans to release Dragon Ball Z in Blu-ray format. Dragon Ball Z Level 1.1, containing the first 17 episodes, was released on November 8, 2011. However, on January 26, 2012, Funimation suspended the release of the third Blu-ray volume of Dragon Ball Z, as well as production of the rest of the Blu-ray releases, citing concerns over restoring the original film material frame by frame.
As a young adult, Goku meets his older brother Raditz, who reveals to him that they are members of a nearly extinct extraterrestrial race called the Saiyans. The Saiyans had sent Goku (originally named “Kakarot”) to Earth as an infant to conquer the planet for them, but he suffered a severe head injury soon after his arrival and lost all memory of his mission, as well as his blood-thirsty Saiyan nature. Goku refuses to help Raditz continue the mission, and is soon killed along with Raditz in battle; however, he is revived a year later by the Dragon Balls. He then begins to encounter other enemies from space, most notably the Saiyan prince Vegeta, who becomes his rival and eventually another ally. Goku also encounters Frieza, the galactic tyrant responsible for the destruction of almost the entire Saiyan race, whose actions cause Goku to transform into a legendary Super Saiyan. After a protracted battle on the planet Namek, Goku defeats Frieza, avenging the lives of billions across the galaxy.
Some time later, a group of androids from the former Red Ribbon Army appear, seeking revenge against Goku. During this time, an evil life form called Cell emerges and, after absorbing two of the androids to achieve his “perfect form,” holds his own fighting tournament to decide the fate of the Earth entitled the Cell Games. However, Cell is eventually defeated by Goku’s son Gohan in a desperate Kamehameha wave struggle. Seven years later, Goku and his allies are drawn into yet another battle for the universe against a magical being named Majin Buu. After numerous battles, Goku destroys Buu with his ultimate attack; the Spirit Bomb. Ten years later, at another World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku meets Buu’s human reincarnation, Uub. Leaving the match between the two of them unfinished, Goku takes Uub away on a journey to train him.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: