Westwood Dubs (usually referred to as the Ocean Group Dub or the Blue Water Dub) were the English dubs designed for the Dragon Ball anime series. It was voice recorded at various Vancouver studios in association with Cartoon Network UK, owned by Turner Broadcasting System Europe, YTV Canada, owned by Corus Entertainment, AB Group, the owner of AB1 and Ocean Sound Corp. The dubs were broadcast in Canada, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking markets in Europe instead of the more well-known FUNimation Dub.
The Ocean dub originated as an early English dub of Dragon Ball Z produced by Saban and FUNimation Productions for FoxKids and Kids WB 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.
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. The network ratings for Dragon Ball were poor, however, so FUNimation opted for 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. Therefore, they collaborated with other production and entertainment companies to meet their ends: namely BLT Productions and Trimark for Dragon Ball, and then Pioneer Entertainment (now Geneon Entertainment), 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. Therefore, the same voice actors appeared in both shows, albeit some in different roles. That aside, Dragon Ball was put on indefinite hold and work on the first English dub track of Dragon Ball Z commenced in 1996, with Ocean dubbing the first 53 episodes (first two seasons, covering roughly the first 67 uncut episodes).
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 financer) and FUNimation (the series' producer) parted ways. However, not long after, 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 positive and the series found new life, thus warranting its continued dubbing. 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 limit 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've 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 123 (108), and ended in 2002, finishing at episode 291 (276); thus, completing the series. Episodes 123-291 (108-276) 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 by the FUNimation dub was also used for this dub with some light revisions, as well as using 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 United States (CN:USA) and Canada (YTV) received the Ocean Dub from episodes 1-67 (1-53). From episode 68 onward, both received the FUNimation dub. Canada, however, began receiving the Ocean dub from episode 103 onward due to demands by the Canadian network for specific QC levels. The United Kingdom (CN:UK then CNX) and The Netherlands (CN:NL then Yorin) received the early Ocean/Saban dub from episodes 1-67 (1-53), the FUNimation dub for eps 68-103, and then the Ocean/Westwood dub for up to 276.
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. The Blue Water dub of 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 Ocean dub of DBZ.
With the success of the Blue Water dub of Dragon Ball GT, Westwood contaced them again to create a dub of the original Dragon Ball series despite the fact that the first 13 episodes and the first movie 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 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 the Philippines. These dubs are notorious for having bad voice acting and strange character nomenclature. 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 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 decided to discontinue their sub-license to distribute these episodes in August of 2003, therefore, 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 108-276 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 108-276 of the Ocean Dub, as they are instead owned by AB Groupe.
FUNimation/Pioneer's English dubs of the first three movies using the Ocean Group have all been released to VHS and DVD, however they are now out of print and have all been replaced in circulation by FUNimation's later redubbings of the movies.
Editing and Censoring
The Ocean/FUNimation collaboration of the first 53 episodes (the first two seasons of the series) was heavily censored and edited. In fact, the original Japanese airing of the first two seasons was comprised of 67 episodes, therefore, 14 episodes worth of content was cut from the (initial) English release. Any references to death, scenes of excessive violence, or other content deemed offensive by Cartoon US 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 another 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 infront 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 infront of Dende. Of course, this was by network demand, it had nothing to do with the Ocean dub like many fans believe.
Dragon Ball Z Kai
On Episode 26 of radio show and podcast "Voice Print with Trevor Devall", Kirby Morrow (Westwood Studios' Goku from episodes 144-276) 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 108-276). 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.
- Several actors from the episode 1-53 dub returned for the 108-276 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 108 and not where they initially left off, at episode 53. It is not known exactly why they skipped over episodes 54-107. However, it is likely they began at episode 108 as that is where FUNimation was with their dub in 2000. A fan petition, created in 2003, was made in an effort to get the Ocean cast to dub episodes #54-107. There are currently just over 1364 signatures in support of it.
- Ian James Corlett stopped voicing Goku after the Saiyan Saga (his final episode was #37). 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) 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 and stayed through to the end of the series (episode #276).
- Saffron Henderson, who voiced young Gohan from the very beginning, had to leave the series due to her wedding conflicting with her alotted work schedule for the series. Her final episode was #150.
- Production values for the 108-276 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.
- Interestingly enough, the 108-276 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 123-291 Ocean version (183-291 in Canada), 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 FUNimation with "hurt", "leave", "destroy", or "gone". However, in Episode 236, 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 has 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. However, the international version kept the original Japanese theme song but used English subtitles. An English version of the GT theme song was sung while this dub aired on Toonami in the UK, however these were different lyrics to the original song as produced by Chinook, and were not a direct translation.
- The title cards were used in the Westwood dub for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z using the ones the FUNimation used, GT uses their English Translation of the Japanese titles as opposed to the FUNimation ones. For the Westwood dub of DBZ, even the lettering from the FUNimation dub was kept. Dragon Ball's Westwood dub did not feature the original title card sequences for time constraints. The episode title cards were instead shown while the episode itself was playing.