Help Save U.S. Dragonball Z sign now

Dear Gen Fukunaga, CEO of FUNimation Productions, Inc.

We are writing as devoted fans of Dragonball Z. Most of us were first introduced to the anime by the English dub either when it was in syndication with Saban or from its broadcast on Cartoon Network. On our behalf, we would like to thank you for everything youve done to expose North America to the anime series that weve come to know and love. You have succeeded in creating a popular English dub that has gained many new fans. However, we feel that Dragonball Z has the potential to easily become even more successful than it is now, and perhaps as sensational as the original series was in Japan. To help make this a reality, we have organized this petition to inform you of strong enthusiasm among the fans for two things:

1) Alterations in several elements of your current English dub.
2) A re-dubbing of at least your third season of DBZ.

Before we begin, we would like to briefly discuss the understandable frustration your company may have been having with a minority of DBZ fans who criticize your work through angry emails and letters. First and foremost, we want to apologize for any unnecessarily harsh criticism you have received from unscrupulous fans. Some have formed negative opinions about your company because they believe you dont care about your product, but the majority of us are aware of the hard work you do to make Dragonball Z what it is, and we want the others to feel the same way. However, the truth is that over the last three seasons of DBZand especially the thirdthere has been a sense of disappointment in the dubbed episodes that is shared by many fans. Our aim with this petition is to help you make DBZ more popular and successful, and to end the majority of further complaints from fans.

Your recent creation of subtitled DVDs including the original background music is a step in the right direction, and we commend you for it. However, as nearly all fans are introduced to DBZ through the dub aired on television, and as television will remain the medium through which a majority of people will most often view DBZ, we believe that focusing on amending several elements of the dub is the most effective way to attract new fans and to create a renewed interest in the series.

GENERAL ISSUES CONCERNING DIALOGUE, MUSIC AND VOICES

When Akira Toriyama first created his work, in conjunction with TOEI, he introduced Japan to a unique show. More than an action cartoon, it was a powerful drama that endured for over 10 years. DBZs popularity developed because of its emotional impact on its viewers, which made it a show to experience, not just to watch. Viewers could bond with characters who are born, grow up, and sometimes even die. When a show reduces one to tears over the loss of a character, it signifies something unique and special. Unfortunately, we believe that some of the emotional power of the show may have been lost in its transition over to English. This disparity between the two series could easily be remedied by making American DBZ more like the original Japanese episodes. In order for DBZ in America to become as popular and successful as it was in Japan, we feel that the following concerns need to be addressed: The dialogue scripts, the background music, and the character voices.

The first issue wed like to discuss is the dialogue of the characters and its emotional impact on us. We understand that under Sabans restrictions, you were unable to keep the scripts as close to the originals as you would have liked. However, as Saban is no longer restricting you, there should be no reason why the scripts are not translated directly. Changing lines will eventually alter a characters personality, and adding dialogue in-between scenes can disrupt the original mood. Dragonball Z was originally meant to be an action/drama; if some comedic interludes spontaneously happen, then we will laugh as the Japanese audience did when they first saw it. We find it difficult to laugh constantly at jokes that sound forced and pop cultural references that were purposely inserted for the American audience. Dialogue should be appropriately based on the atmosphere of the story and the speaking pattern of the character, not on what sounds cool. It has been our experience that converting new fans (our friends) to DBZ is difficult when they hear the dubbed dialogue and attack grunting in the dub. Potential converts are often turned off to the series when they listen to an episode. Granted, the people we are referring to are mostly in the 10+ age range, but what age group has their own money to spend on your products? People in this age range usually get a sizeable allowance or have jobs, and are the most avid consumers of CDs and videos. Using literal translations from TOEI for the dialogue will save you money. You wont have to hire as many scriptwriters, and you will more easily gain new fans.

We also believe that a lot of the success of original Dragonball Z was due to its background and theme music (BGM), and the Japanese intro Cha-la-Head-cha-la. We know and understand that you intended to freshen up the series with new music, but we feel that the original music would better convey the distinct spirit of the show. We realize that you cannot release VHS videos retaining the original BGM without major negotiation with TOEI, but you can air dubbed episodes with the original BGM and sell them on DVD with the subtitled version. In addition, we have made a list of suggestions that we hope you may find helpful in bringing the original music to America. This list, along with suggestions for changes in character voices, is included with our petition. We strongly believe that including the original background score will tremendously boost your sales and ratings, and attract more people to the show.

Lastly, wed like to discuss the topic of voice actors in the series. For a dub of an anime to be effective, it requires actors with professional experience in the voice acting industry, especially in dubbing cartoons. Your original cast, the Ocean Group, not only fit this requirement, but went well beyond, despite the negative comments some overly fanatical viewers made against them. Like any dubbing cast, they had their flaws, but because they were a professional dubbing studio with experience in the area, these concerns were few and far between, and could be easily solved with little work. We believe that if you returned to having the characters voiced by the likes of excellent actors from the Ocean Group--such as Brian Drummond, Scott McNeil, Peter Kelamis, and Lisa Ann Beley-- the dub would have a more professional feel, and be much closer to what many fans believe Dragonball Z should sound like in English. For suggestions in voice changes, please see our attached sheet.

Please note that if you are already considering hiring back the Ocean Group for dub voice acting, then we applaud the decision. It would be one of the most effective changes you could make to the dub as it exists now. You may also want to relay some of our voice suggestions to them and see if they agree with us.

Gundam Wing, an anime also airing on Cartoon Network, illustrates our confidence that retaining the originality of an anime will bring success. Gundam Wing is currently a more popular show in the ratings than Dragonball Z. It is successful because it holds the record for the least altered anime series to be dubbed into English. Gundam Wing has retained the original music and dialogue of the Japanese series, and has even kept the episode titles, cut to commercials, and Next Time in the original Japanese lettering. Although fans may not understand written Japanese characters, the reason they watch it is because it looks unique. Elements of a foreign culture are new and exciting to fans of all ages, acting to hook them initially to an anime series.


GOAL 1: CHANGES IN CURRENT DBZ DUB

For the reasons explained above, we are confident that the use of literal translations, original music, and voice modifications in your current DBZ dub would raise the series to new heights of success. These changes would apply to the episodes yet to be dubbed into English, which we estimate to be the final season or two. The dialogue scripts would probably be the easiest element of the dubs to change, and would have a very substantial impact on DBZs success. Original music and voice modifications may require a bit of negotiation, but we are confident that your effort in these areas would be well worth it. Please note that at the present time, we have not yet viewed your fourth season and thus we are not aware if you have already made some of the changes we are suggesting. Our suggestions have been made on the basis of what we have seen in seasons so far, and if you have already made these alterations to your fourth season, then we are grateful for it and we commend you.


GOAL 2: RE-DUB OF EARLIER EPISODES

The second aim of this petition is to inform you of the immense potential for success that a re-dub of earlier seasons of English DBZ would offer. The re-dub would be a second, special edition version of your earlier episodes and would include the following elements:

1. Literal or very close to literal translations
2. Several alterations in voices and/or voice actors
3. The original Japanese music if possible
(Again, please see our attachment for further music and voice suggestions.)

We are aware that Pioneer Entertainment now holds the rights to DBZ seasons 1 and 2. However, if any possibility exists for FUNimation to re-dub those seasonsperhaps through negotiation with Pioneerthen we strongly encourage it. Otherwise, we support a re-dub of season 3, and possibly of season 4 if a majority of the issues weve mentioned have not been addressed in those episodes.

A re-dub would prove highly worthwhile for several reasons. Costs to create a re-dub would most likely be less than costs for your earlier dubbed episodes, causing profits to increase. Many fans who were unwilling to watch dubbed DBZ or to purchase your tapes in the past would find that all of their complaints have been resolved, resulting in a greatly increased audience for the anime and more new fans successfully hooked in. While retaining your original target audience of 6-11 year olds, the re-dubbed episodes would attract older viewers as wellthe original group appealed to by the Japanese episodes.

If these re-dubbed episodes were to be aired on Cartoon Network, we are confident that ratings for their initial showings would be high, more people would be willing to watch reruns, and the series would gain more fans. Furthermore, the possibility might arise to air truly uncut episodes on Cartoon Networks Midnight Run, causing late night ratings to soar among 13-20 year olds. Money could then be collected from commercials aimed at an older audience, in addition to the daytime commercials targeting younger children. If you find that the re-dubbed series would be unable to air on Cartoon Network, you could still sell them on video, and expect sales to drastically improve due to fans eager to see DBZ in a form more similar to its original Japanese.

Please consider our suggestions. Dragonball Z does not have to be Americanized to be successful. Making our proposed amendments to your current dub would greatly improve the shows popularity and ratings. A re-dub of the earlier seasons would permanently put to rest any further complaints from fans, and would bring increased profits and success to your company. We would very much like to hear from you soon after you get this letter. You can post something to your website, or put a reply in your newsletter. We have included a demographic breakdown of our ages and locations; we have also provided our email addresses so you can contact us individually in necessary. Please, Mr. Fukunaga, we should work together for the best interest of DBZ. We are the fans, and we have confidence in you.



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Annette PatrickBy:
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Gen Fukunaga, CEO of FUNimation Productions, Inc.

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