Originally, FUNimation and Saban Entertainment contracted Ocean Studios to dub the first 53 episodes of the Dragon Ball Z series for North American release. However, when FUNimation stopped working with Saban, the former could no longer afford the services of the cast at Ocean Studios nor could they afford the original musical score produced by Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahehi. Therefore, from episode 54 onward (the beginning of season 3), FUNimation began using their own in-house talent, based in Ft. Worth, Texas, to dub the rest of the series. All the episodes from 54 to 276 (291 uncut) were dubbed by FUNimation, and were broadcasted with that dub in the United States.
Pioneer (later Geneon) had initial rights to distribute the first two seasons in DVD, and released them with the Ocean dub. FUNimation later released DVDs for episodes 54 (season three) onwards, which contained FUNimation's dub. When FUNimation acquired the rights for the first two seasons from Geneon, it created the Ultimate Uncut Special Edition line to release its own version of the first two seasons in DVD. FUNimation then re-dubbed the first 53 (67 uncut) episodes (the first two seasons) with its in-house talent for consistency with the rest of its dub.
The first three movies had also been dubbed by the Ocean Group, and released in DVD by Geneon. The rest of the movies (4-13) had been dubbed by FUNimation's cast. When FUNimation acquired the rights for the DVD distribution of the first three movies from Pioneer in 2004, it re-dubbed those three movies using FUNimation's cast. They were released in the Ultimate Uncut Special Edition line, in the "First Strike" boxset. At this point, FUNimation had all the episodes and movies from Dragon Ball Z dubbed or re-dubbed by its in-house talent.
The Remastered Box Sets use the FUNimation dub for all the episodes and movies.
Changes from Japanese dub
- As with the Ocean dub before it, FUNimation's dub of Dragon Ball Z does differ significantly from the Japanese dialogue, notably having characters speak during a scene that was intended to be silent. The FUNimation script also made numerous changes to the dialogue, which resulted in many errors.
- In the FUNimation dub of Dragon Ball Z episode 100 (episode 85 of the edited dub) for instance, the dialogues of Gohan and Frieza lead viewers to believe that Goku has been killed, and then revived by Earth's Dragon Balls (which makes no sense since by that time Goku had already been revived once by Shenron), rather than just knocked out, as in all other versions. Though the incident is never specifically spoken of again, later dialogue seems to correct the earlier error.
- Also, the origins of Android 17 and Android 18 are made so that they were based on human counterparts, whereas in the Japanese version they were kidnapped by Dr. Gero and turned half-android by his experiments. Again, later dialogue would correct this mistake, particularly using the fact that 18 and Krillin were able to get together and have Marron.
- In the FUNimation dub of Dragon Ball, the character of General Blue is altered to have a long lost brother, Samuel, in order to mask his attraction to Obotchaman.
- FUNimation's dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai has been much more faithful to the Japanese dialogue. Although most of the characters have retained their English dub names, several special techniques have regained their original Japanese names in the uncut version. Other notable changes in the dub include the usage of the Japanese music (similar to FUNimation's dub of Dragon Ball), more faithful translations of the episode titles, Guru being referred to only as the "Grand Elder" (as in the Japanese version), and Goku addressing himself as "Son Goku" in episode 48.