The Ocean Group dubs (usually referred to by fans as the Saban dub, Westwood dub, Pioneer dub, Blue Water dub, BLT dub or simply the Ocean dub) were a series of English dubs for the Dragon Ball anime series by Canadian dubbing studio Ocean Group and it's sister studio Blue Water, made in association with various companies and covering various parts of the franchise.
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.
The BLT dub (1995)
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 dub had slight censorship, although not to the extent of the later Saban/Funimation produced Ocean dub. It featured the Ocean Group actors, who would later dub Dragon Ball Z. Peter Berring's replacement score was used. BLT productions handled distribution for the show. The network ratings for Dragon Ball were very poor due to BLT productions being unable to get the show a good time slot, so FUNimation cancelled work on Dragon Ball and opted to focus on the more action-oriented Dragon Ball Z instead in hope of better ratings. They concluded that Dragon Ball was "not a good fit for the US market."
The Saban dub (1996-1998)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 the first episode airing on September 13, 1996. Ocean dubbed 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 dub is often referred to by fans as the Ocean dub or Saban dub. It featured an original musical score by famed television composer Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahehi (an alias for Haim Saban, founder of Saban Entertainment). The score also featured uncredited work by Ron Wasserman. He described the score as "the darkest, heaviest [thing], like drones and building sounds." FUNimation were the ones who decided to replace the original Japanese score, so they could earn royalties every time the music was used. Another reason was because the Japanese score had many silent moments, which is not common in Western animation.
Saban managed to secure the show somewhat better, but still not ideal, morning time slots. This meant that the first season of 26 episodes was a moderate success, so the Ocean Group went ahead and dubbed another season of episodes. During it's second season the show was aired twice every week, despite the fact only 30 new episodes had been produced. Later on this meant reruns of the same episodes had to be constantly aired, which led to backlash from viewers and worsening ratings. The show's disappointing ratings (in part due to it's awkward time slot) and poor marketing were the main reasons it failed to become a US hit initially. The show's relative failure resulted in financing for the series worsening to the point where Saban Entertainment (distributor of the series and its major financier) and FUNimation (the series' producer) parted ways in 1998, effectively ending this incarnation of Dragon Ball Z. Saban at the time were leaving the syndication business to instead focus on other projects, thus leaving Dragon Ball Z surplus to requirements. After 56 episodes and two seasons worth of dubbed episodes Dragon Ball Z was abruptly cancelled, with the last Ocean/Saban dubbed episode Goku... Super Saiyan?, airing on May 23, 1998.
The Pioneer dub (1998)
FUNimation then teamed up with Pioneer (now known as Geneon) to produce 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 and were critically acclaimed by older fans due to being uncut, staying closer to the Japanese scripts and keeping the original Japanese score. The performances of Peter Kelamis in particular were praised due to his likeness to Goku's female Japanese voice actor Masako Nozawa. FUNimation eventually phased out or replaced these releases with their own in-house dubs of the first three movies during the mid-2000s.
The Westwood dub (2000-2002)
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. Bruce Faulconer and his team's new score replaced the Saban score due to FUNimation not liking the music and not having the money needed for The Saban team to continue producing new music for the series. Initially many fans accustomed to the Saban dub criticized the FUNimation dub of the third season due to the voice acting and music being of a noticeably lower quality level, which was because of FUNimation's shoe-string budget. The most common complaint was the new voice actors, who were originally asked to imitate the former Ocean group actors. The third season FUNimation dub did however manage to receive some praise due to the phasing out of most censorship (which was due to Saban no longer being involved with the show).
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 108 (equivalent to the uncut 123), and ended in 2002, finishing at episode 276 (equivalent to 291 uncut); thus, completing the second half of the series. Episodes 108-276 (123-291 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. Unlike the original 1996-1998 Ocean Group dub of Dragon Ball Z, this dub did not feature Shuki Levy's music. The soundtrack featured a new theme song and some original music pieces from Tom Keenlyside, though most of the background music was recycled material from other shows Ocean Studios had connections with, most notably, Mega-Man and Monster Rancher. 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 108 (equivalent of episode 123 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 54-107, and then the full Westwood/Ocean dub for episodes 108-276.
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 were out of print until 2013. 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 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 "Rock the Dragon Edition" 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.
The following Shuki Levy tracks were commercially released on the 1996 album Dragon Ball Z: Original USA Television Soundtrack:
- Main Title (Rock the Dragon)
- The Arrival of Raditz (soundtrack)
- The World's Strongest Team (soundtrack)
- Gohan's Hidden Powers (soundtrack)
- Goku's Unusual Journey (soundtrack)
- Gohan's Metamorphosis (soundtrack)
- Gohan Makes a Friend (soundtrack)
- Trouble on Arlia (soundtrack)
- Home for Infinite Losers (soundtrack)
- Princess Snake's Hospitality (soundtrack)
- Escape from Piccolo (soundtrack)
- End Title
Music from Peter Berring's score for the 1995 Dragon Ball dub was also commercially released on the 1995 album Dragon Ball: Original USA TV Soundtrack Recording.
None of the recycled Mega-Man/Monster Rancher music or Tom Keenlyside score from the Westwood dub has ever been commercially released under the Dragon Ball Z brand name.
Dragon Ball Z Kai
On Episode 26 of radio show and podcast "Voice Print with Trevor Devall", Kirby Morrow (Westwood Studios' Goku from episodes 145-276) 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, 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 108 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 #54-107.
- Ian James Corlett stopped voicing Goku after episode 37 "Secrets Revealed" (although his final recorded performance was in the edited Tree of Might three-part episode). This was because there was a dispute over how much money he was making (according to him 250 dollars per episode), and not, as some have said, because of non-professional conduct during and after some recordings.
- Peter Kelamis stopped voicing Goku during the Cell Saga (his final episode was #144 [159 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 #145 (160 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 replaced (sometimes ridiculously) 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.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 dbzu.3gkai.com/series/usinfo.html
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 https://marvel.com/news/movies/23721/marvel_75_ron_wasserman_composed_your_90s_childhood
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 http://www.animecauldron.com/dbzuncensored2/editorial/thereturnofthefalcunter.html
- ↑ https://dbzu.3gkai.com/editorial/editorial12.html
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_snEpBIjhx0
- ↑ toei-animation.com
- ↑ [http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2012-11-20/dragon-ball-z-kai-due-on-u.k-television-this-month animenewsnetwork.com (1)
- ↑ animenewsnetwork.com (2)
- ↑ http://dbzu.3gkai.com/opinions/icorlett.html