Westwood dubs (usually referred to as the Ocean Group dub, Saban dub or the Blue Water dub) were "alternate" English dubs for the Dragon Ball anime series, covering various parts of the franchise. The dubs were broadcast in Canada, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking markets in Europe instead of the American FUNimation dub.
The Ocean dub originated as an early English dub of Dragon Ball Z produced by Saban and FUNimation Productions for syndication and was later shown on Cartoon Network. The Ocean Group, a production/distribution company located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was contracted by FUNimation and Saban to provide the English voice recordings for "Saiyan" and "Namek" sagas. These episodes, which were recorded by InterPacific Productions Inc at Ocean Studios, were heavily edited for content by Saban, and covered the first 67 uncut episodes of the series, reducing them to 53. The third movie was also dubbed in this form as an episode of the series, while the first three movies were given uncut dubs using the same voice cast in association with Pioneer (including a redub of the third film).
Years later, Canadian broadcasting standards resulted in AB Group teaming up with Westwood Media Productions to produce an alternate English dub of the second half of the series with Ocean once again providing the voice track. This production was also shown in the UK, where AB Groupe also held broadcasting rights, while the FUNimation dub continued to be shown in the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
English dubs of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT were also created by AB Groupe. However, the voices were recorded at Blue Water Studios in Calgary, Alberta by Chinook Animation (Ocean's budget studio) as opposed to the Vancouver cast, and were also shown in Canada and the UK instead of the FUNimation dubs.
FUNimation Entertainment acquired certain rights to the wildly popular Japanese television series Dragon Ball and its sequel, Dragon Ball Z, in 1995. They immediately began work on an English dub for Dragon Ball and completed the first 13 episodes of the series in the same year, and the series was shown in syndication. The network ratings for Dragon Ball were poor however, so FUNimation opted to focus on the more action-oriented Dragon Ball Z instead. At the time, FUNimation was a relatively new company (founded in 1994) and did not have the financial wherewithal to produce a dub entirely on their own, and instead collaborated with other production companies: BLT Productions for Dragon Ball, and then Saban Entertainment and the Ocean Group for Dragon Ball Z. FUNimation drew from the same Vancouver voice over talent pool for both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, and the same voice actors appeared in both shows, albeit some in different roles. Dragon Ball was put on indefinite hold and work on Dragon Ball Z commenced in 1996, with Ocean dubbing the first 53 episodes (first two seasons, covering the first 67 uncut episodes), and the show was shown in syndication. The third movie was also split up into three episodes, and was dubbed and edited in the same way as the other episodes. This English dub also featured an original musical score by Shuki Levy.
During its formative years, the show had difficulty finding its target market/audience, principally due to poor marketing with the show airing in awkward timeslots. As a result, financing for the series worsened to the point where Saban Entertainment (distributor of the series and its major financier) and FUNimation (the series' producer) parted ways. FUNimation then teamed up with Pioneer to produce uncut English dubs of the first three movies with Ocean reprising their duties from the Saban co-production. These English dubs were released to VHS and DVD. The series' target audience was eventually found when the first two seasons aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block during the summer of 1998. Ratings were very positive and the series found new life, thus warranting the series' English dub to continue. By this point, FUNimation decided to continue dubbing the project in Texas with non-union actors, due to not being able to afford the Vancouver actors without Saban's financing. From episode 54 onward (the beginning of season 3, mid-way through uncut Episode 67), FUNimation began using their in-house talent, based in Ft. Worth, Texas, to dub the rest of the series. Until these new episodes were recorded and produced, re-runs of the Ocean dubbed Saiyan and Namek sagas ran indefinitely for months. Ocean Studios continued to assist FUNimation with scripting and editing.
However, Canadian broadcasting rules limited the use of non-Canadian programming, and the episodes of Dragon Ball Z dubbed by Ocean Studios were considered "Canadian content" due to the voice production being done in Canada. When the series switched to an American-based voice cast, Dragon Ball Z was no longer considered "Canadian content", and the Canadian and European distributor, AB Groupe, contacted Westwood Media to make an alternate English dub produced using mostly the same Vancouver actors to meet Canadian broadcast demands. This English dub was also distributed in English-speaking territories in Europe, and wherever AB Groupe owned the license to the Dragon Ball franchise, since continuing to distribute the FUNimation dub would have been the more expensive option. The FUNimation dub continued to be distributed in Australia and New Zealand since the license holder in those territories had no connection to AB Groupe.
Dubbing of this version commenced in 2000, starting at episode 93 (equivalent to the uncut 108), and ended in 2002, finishing at episode 276 (equivalent to 291 uncut); thus, completing the second half of the series. Episodes 93-276 (108-291 uncut) of the international dub were voice-recorded at various Vancouver studios with Ocean Studios providing the post production. The episodes used an alternate music soundtrack in an effort to make the dub provide as much "Canadian content" as possible. The soundtrack featured a new theme song and some original music pieces, though most of the background music was recycled from other shows Ocean Studios had connections with, most notably, Mega-Man. In addition, the episodes were lightly edited for content in order to meet broadcast standards. Because Ocean Studios was still helping with scripting and digital editing of the FUNimation dub, the same script used in the FUNimation dub was also used for this dub with some light revisions, and also used various graphics originally created for the FUNimation dub. The Westwood dub of DBZ is also notable for being very rushed in production, which resulted in many of the key voice actors leaving the show mid-way through the run, the voice director not being consistent, and the voiceover performances themselves showing a noticeable decline in quality from the original Saban/FUNimation co-production.
The United States (CN:USA) and Canada (YTV) received the Saban/Ocean dub from episodes 1-53 (1-67 uncut). From episode 54 onward, both received the FUNimation dub. Though the Westwood dub began at episode 93 (equivalent of episode 108 uncut) specifically due to demands of Canadian broadcasting laws, Canada began receiving the Westwood/Ocean dub from episode 166 (equivalent to uncut episode 181) onwards. The United Kingdom (CN:UK then CNX) and the Netherlands (CN:NL then Yorin) received the early Saban/Ocean dub from episodes 1-53, the FUNimation dub for episodes 54-92, and then the full Westwood/Ocean dub for episodes 93-276.
Reruns of the first 53 episodes with Saban's English dub, as well as the first three films, continued to be broadcast in the US until they were "replaced" with FUNimation's uncut redubs of this media in 2005.
Once production of Dragon Ball Z was complete, AB Groupe and Westwood began work on the series' sequel, Dragon Ball GT despite the fact that FUNimation had not begun production on their dub of the series. Like Dragon Ball Z, the Ocean Group was also contacted to provide a voice track for this dub using their Vancouver studios. However, Westwood revised their plans, with voice production moving to Ocean's budget studio, Blue Water Studios (AKA Chinook Animation), in Calgary, Albera, Canada instead to save money. The Blue Water dub of Dragon Ball GT, like the Ocean dub of DBZ, was edited for content. However, the script had no connection to the FUNimation dub (except for the character names). This dub was broadcast in the same territories as the Westwood dub of DBZ.
With the success of the Blue Water dub of Dragon Ball GT, Westwood contacted them again to create a dub of the original Dragon Ball series despite the fact that the first 13 episodes had already been dubbed in Vancouver in 1994. The Blue Water dub of DB was similar to that of DBGT in that it was edited for content and did not use FUNimation's English script (with the exception of character names). The dub also made use of AB Groupe's opening title sequence for the French dub of the series (but with an English singer) and a translation of the lyrics (though the UK broadcast featured a completely different opening). This dub was broadcast in Canada and the UK after the Blue Water dub of Dragon Ball GT completed its run.
Westwood Media and AB Groupe later began production on English dubs of the Dragon Ball/Z/GT movies and TV specials. However, YTV opted not to broadcast them, so without Canadian broadcast rules to take into consideration, Westwood and AB Groupe decided not to produce these dubs in Canada or license the rights to previous dubs of the movies; instead took a notoriously cheap route and had these dubs recorded in an unknown foreign country. These dubs are notorious for having bad voice acting and strange character nomenclature, for example Krillin is named Clearin, Bulma is named Blooma, and any instance of the word "Saiyan" is replaced with "warrior". The scripts were based upon AB Groupe's French dubs of the films. These dubs have been nicknamed the "Big Green" dub, because Piccolo's name in these dubs was in fact "Big Green." The AB Groupe and Westwood Media dubs of these films were broadcast on Cartoon Network UK's Toonami block, and were distributed on Television and on video around Europe. The "Big Green" dub of Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (changed to "The World's Strongest Guy"), Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (changed to "Super Battle in the World"), and Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (changed to "Super Saiya Son Goku") were released on VHS and DVD, but none of the other movies from this dub received a home release due to poor sales of the aforementioned movies.
The 53 episodes of the early Ocean/Saban dub were released on VHS and DVD (distributed by Pioneer Entertainment in the late 1990s & early 2000s). Pioneer's license lapsed in 2004, and VHS/DVD sets featuring the Ocean dub of episodes 1-53 are now out of print. These sets have since been replaced by FUNimation's "Uncut" re-dubbings of Seasons 1 and 2. These re-dubs feature FUNimation's in-house actors as well as the 14 episodes worth of content missing in the initial Ocean dubbing of the Saiyan and Namek sagas. The Ocean dub of episodes 93-276 have not, and will likely never be, released for English language DVD viewing. Its worth noting that FUNimation Entertainment does not own the North American rights to 93-276 of the Ocean Dub, as it is instead owned by AB Groupe. In addition, the FUNimation dub is on DVD in the UK and Canada in place of the Ocean dubs.
FUNimation/Pioneer's English dubs of the first three movies using the Ocean Group have all been released to VHS and DVD, which are now out of print and have all been replaced in circulation by FUNimation's later redubbings of the movies. However, FUNimation did release a collector's DVD set in August 2013 titled "The Rock the Dragon Collection" with the original 53 Saban edited episodes and the 3 movies for the nostalgia market. It should be noted that this marks Movie 3's original edited Ocean dub's debut on DVD, as Pioneer's later uncut dub was on Pioner's release.
In addition, the 13 episodes (and first movie) of Dragon Ball that FUNimation had originally dubbed with the Vancouver talent pool in 1995 was also released to VHS in 1996 by KidMark (a division of VidMark, a subsidiary of Trimark), and was later released in a DVD boxset in 2000. Just as Trimark's license was planned to expire in 2004, Lionsgate purchased the company, and the license for these episodes and feature of Dragon Ball were transferred to them, and extended further. As a result, FUNimation was unable to release their in-house English dub of the first 13 episodes of Dragon Ball until the first season box set release in 2009 (as Lionsgate's rights to those episodes had expired by that time). The first movie was also re-dubbed by FUNimation's in-house studio and released to DVD uncut in 2010.
Editing and censoring
The Saban/Ocean/FUNimation collaboration of the initial 53 episodes (the first 67 uncut episodes of the series) was heavily censored and edited. 14 episodes worth of content was cut from this English release. Any references to death, scenes of excessive violence, or other content deemed offensive by Saban was completely censored or edited out (though in the first four episodes, the word "kill" is used, and both "kill" and "die" are used by Bulma in episode 30, as well as Vegeta's usage of the word "perish" in episode 23. Also, characters like Raditz, Goku, Dodoria, etc. are still killed, though the term "sent to the next dimension" is used often to describe it). For instance, whenever Nappa destroys a building or city, he complains about it being evacuated, when Nappa destroys one of the planes, one of the drivers says "They blew up the cargo robot!", and another time, Tien says "Look! I can see their parachutes! They're okay..." Or during the scene when Frieza and his henchmen are interrogating one of the Namek elders, Dende and his younger Namekien brother attempt to run away, causing Dodoria to immediately jump in front of Dende and say "Your brother might have escaped, but not you!", when originally in the uncut version, Dodoria shot an energy blast at the younger Namekian killing him instantly right before jumping in front of Dende. Contrary to popular belief, Ocean had nothing to do with this censoring, which was instead insisted by Saban.
Dragon Ball Z Kai
On Episode 26 of radio show and podcast "Voice Print with Trevor Devall", Kirby Morrow (Westwood Studios' Goku from episodes 159-291) revealed that a Canadian dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai was in the works. He did not mention the name of the company behind the production, however, he stated that casting had already begun with him having already been ruled out for the role of Goku. In his words, he was deemed to sound "too cool" for the character indicating that, perhaps, a more conscious effort was being put forward in maintaining the authenticity of the series. According to Morrow, the television version of the FUNimation dub for Dragon Ball Z Kai was only slated to be distributed in America, therefore, the new dub being produced in Canada was being created to serve the Canadian and European markets (in a fashion similar to the Westwood dub of Dragon Ball Z episodes 108-291). On Episode 28 of the same show, Paul Dobson (Zarbon in the 1996 FUNimation/Ocean collaboration) confirmed that Ocean Studios was, in fact, the company behind the Canadian production of Dragon Ball Z Kai. Dobson also stated that "there's been word of re-casting [and] there's been word of holding onto members of the cast as the way that they were." FUNimation actor/director, Christopher Sabat, and actor, Sean Schemmel, had previously hinted at a Canadian re-versioning of the series.
Lee Tockar had confirmed that he will be voicing Frieza in the EuroCanadian English dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Scott McNeil confirmed at an anime convention that he would be returning to the series. Trevor Devall said in an interview with EverFree Radio that he would do voices for the series.
Dragon Ball Z Kai has been picked up for broadcast in the UK on Kix! in Early 2013, however, they are using their own edit of the FUNimation dub, rather than using than using actors from the Ocean Dub.
- Several actors from the episode Saban/Ocean dub returned for the Westwood/Ocean dub. However, by the end of the series, many had left. The most notable were Peter Kelamis, who played Goku, and Saffron Henderson, who played young Gohan.
- When the Ocean Group returned to dub the series, they began at episode 93 and not where they initially left off, at episode 53. This was for purposes of staying in step with FUNimation's dub which was also at episode 108 at the time. As a result, no Ocean dub exists for the Captain Ginyu, Frieza, or Garlic Jr. sagas, as well as the majority of the Trunks saga. A fan petition, created in 2003, was made in an effort to get the Ocean cast to dub episodes #54-92.
- Ian James Corlett stopped voicing Goku after the Saiyan Saga (his final episode was #37 [49 in uncut episode numbering]). This was because there was a dispute over non-professional conduct during and after some recordings, and not, as some have said, because he wasn't being compensated by Inter Pacific Productions Inc. for the character's several, now trademark, yells.
- Peter Kelamis stopped voicing Goku during the Cell Saga (his final episode was #143 [158 uncut]) in order to focus on his career as a comedian. Kirby Morrow was Kelamis' replacement and the final voice of Goku for the Ocean dub. He began work on episode #144 (159 uncut) and stayed through to the end of the series (episode #276 [291 uncut]).
- Saffron Henderson, who voiced young Gohan from the very beginning, had to leave the series due to her wedding conflicting with her allotted work schedule for the series. Her final episode was #150 (165 uncut).
- Production values for the Westwood dub seemed to increase significantly in the Fusion and Kid Buu sagas. Casting by Inter Pacific Productions Inc. was far better, the quality of voice work from the actors improved, audio effects to assist the actors were incorporated to a greater extent, and new musical tracks began to appear in greater numbers. It is assumed that a more relaxed production schedule for these sagas was responsible for this jump in quality, but in reality it was the increased hands-on creative of Ocean and its Network partners that made significant improvements. However, the original Saban and Pioneer productions are usually deemed the highlights of the Ocean dubs, voice acting-wise.
- Interestingly enough, the international Ocean version still has the closed captions for the FUNimation dub whenever dialogue is changed. For instance, in Kibito Kai's flashback where Buu nearly kills Bibidi, in the FUNimation version, Bibidi says "I'm the one who created you, you stupid idiot!" But in the Ocean version, he says "I'm the one who created you, you ungrateful fool!" However, the closed captions say "stupid idiot" instead of "ungrateful fool".
- In the Westwood/Ocean dub, the words "kill", "death", "die", or "dead" are never used at first (except for a time during the tournament when Krillin uses a figure of speech), being (sometimes ridiculously) replaced from their use in the FUNimation dub with "hurt", "leave", "destroy", or "gone". However, in Episode 236 (251 uncut), Gotenks is Born, Piccolo uses the word "kill" and Buu uses the word "die" and "dead" twice. From here, the fear of using these words permanently vanished, though admittedly this may be because the word "Kill" appears in an episode title two episodes later.
- Interestingly, the original background music for Dragon Ball GT by Akihito Tokunaga was kept, the episodes were aired in their proper order, and the scripts were kept much closer to the original Japanese version. The Canadian broadcast also kept the original Japanese theme song, and used English subtitles. An English version of the GT theme song was used instead for the UK broadcast, however the song itself (music and lyrics) had no connection to the original Japanese theme song.
- The episode titles used in the Westwood dub for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z were the same as the ones FUNimation used. Dragon Ball GT however, uses an English translation of the Japanese titles, since FUNimation had not yet created their English dub of the series. For the Westwood dub of DBZ, even the font and lettering from the FUNimation dub was kept for the title cards (since Ocean was assisting FUNimation with such editing). The Westwood dub of Dragon Ball did not feature the title card sequences at all for time constraints. The episode titles were instead shown while the beginning of episode itself was playing.