Dragon Ball is a well-known Japanese anime production, originally a manga series serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump starting in 1984. The anime was produced from the mid to late 1980s.
Dragon Ball's English dub is well known for being produced by Texas studio FUNimation Entertainment (now known as simply FUNimation), which first released the series through BLT Studios in 1995. After that version flopped, FUNimation would later redub the series in 2001 with their Texas voice cast. This dub managed to adapt all the episodes. AB Groupe and Blue Water studios also made an alternate English dub for the UK/Canada around this time.
However, before these dubs, there was another company that attempted to dub the series into English. A California-based television distribution company known as Harmony Gold USA licensed Dragon Ball in 1989, in an attempt to bring it to America. They had previously had success in 1985, via the release of Robotech (adapted from the three series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada). Harmony Gold's attempt at Dragon Ball was produced after Carl Macek departed from the company, and would be one of their last attempts at marketing anime in the United States.
Two different types of test dubs were produced. The first one involved a merger of the first and third Dragon Ball anime movies into a hour long feature. The dub was censored however, with the words "blood rubies" changed to "earth rubies." A scene involving one of the female characters firing her pistol was edited out, although other weapons were not edited out in the film. This dub aired on Philadelphia television station WGBS in the early '90s, and a copy does exist on the internet on a Russian video website. Another notable feature of the dub included the fact that nearly all of the character names were localized (see "Name Changes"). It appears that Harmony Gold had not licensed the second film, or if they had the rights to it, opted to not utilize it for making this TV feature.
The other attempt at the dub consisted of at least the first five episodes of the series, that aired in test markets. Both these episodes and the special feature were dubbed at Intersound, Inc. in Los Angeles, California. As no TV station would pick the series up, it appears that Harmony Gold did not produce any episodes beyond the fifth.
There are people on the internet that claim to have seen the short-lived dub of the TV series, claiming many controversial scenes to be unedited from this dub. Unfortunately, no clips from it appear to exist, and the episodes have never seen the light of day since at least February 1990. It is thought that FUNimation may have the episodes in their library, as the materials may have been passed on to them when they acquired the license in 1995. However, FUNimation has only released their in-house 2001 dub of the series, and nothing of the 1989 Harmony Gold dub. Both this title and The Magical World of Gigi were two Harmony Gold licenses that Carl Macek had passed on acquiring for his Streamline Pictures company, leaving their rights to eventually lapse.
Harmony Gold's TV movie and episodes were utilized as the source for an early Mexican-produced dub titled Zero y el Dragon Magico, which covered approximately 60 episodes. In an interview with a translator for the dub, he claims that Harmony Gold had translated the scripts that far, and that there was difficulty with handling further adaptation. Due to budget issues, they left Harmony Gold's opening theme in English. The first five episodes of this dub also did not have the original audio masters, leaving the production team to have to insert original music into some moments in an attempt to try to cover up the English voice acting (although some of Barbara Goodson's yells as "Zero" can still be heard). However, in 2007, a Facebook page named "Zero y el Dragon (Dragon Ball)" was created, and by 2012, extremely low quality VHS rips from three to five of the Harmony Gold-produced Spanish dubs were being uploaded. The Spanish dub leaves in the name changes, cuts, and eyecatch changes from the Harmony Gold English dub, which is still lost, but as of now, the Spanish dub is as close as we can get to an English dub at the moment.
For the longest time one part was missing from English uploads, but could be seen in the Mexican dub: Emperor Pilaf, Shu, and Mai present a Dragon Radar to the Crane Hermit, but are dispatched of by Tao Pai Pai. The dub dialogue in the Mexican Harmony Gold version suggests that the characters were rewritten to have known King Gurumes (the villain from the first film), in order to tie both films' footage together. The initial English upload of the film lacked this part, as the person who had recorded it had initially stopped the tape while the film was being broadcast, unaware that it was a double-feature. It was later found in 2015.
A possibly apocryphal account and review on Usenet that appeared in 1995 claimed of seeing a test dub by FUNimation that used the Harmony Gold names (yet with some alterations, such as Oolong being named "Chester" and Pu'ar being named "Prudence"). A clip from this test dub can be seen here.
A member of the Kanzenshuu DBZ forum named takarajima is reported to have found a copy of the first episode by Harmony Gold, though it remains to be seen if it will be uploaded, as well as if it's complete footage. On March 1st, 2020, longtime anime fan Ryan Gavigan digitized his tapes of the first five episodes of the Harmony Gold dub recorded off of WGPR-TV. They were sent to Lost Media Wiki user bun39 and uploaded to the Internet Archive for permanent preservation, which has resulted in all known material of this dub being found and made publicly available.
On June 23, 2015, the YouTube user MultimediaMak uploaded a rip of the opening from a VHS that Harmony Gold had released through Family Home Entertainment, titled "Dragon Ball: The Journey Begins", which contains the first three episodes of the test dub for the TV anime.
The dub had one lasting impact in the fan community: in TeamFourStar's Dragon Ball Z Abridged, KaiserNeko directly based his Oolong voice on David Mallow's voice for Mao Mao (Oolong's name in the Harmony Gold dub).
Found footage of the dub of the cut movies
Nearly the whole film has been found. uploaded in two parts on a Russian video site. It has since been taken down, however the full movie has been uploaded onto youtube (thanks to Super Feimacom)
Another copy of the movie, recorded from WGBS in 1989, has been found and uploaded into five parts, however Toei Animation has blocked the first part due to copyright issues (possibly the usage of Makafushigi Adventure). The second part contains the missing footage of the Emperor Pilaf scene, plus other footage not available in the other upload.
The opening from the TV series has also been found from a VHS of episodes 1-3.
Character Name Changes
- Son Goku -> Zero
- Bulma -> Lena
- Oolong -> Mao Mao
- Pu'ar -> Squeaker
- Yamcha -> Zedaki
- Lunch -> Marilynn
- Kuririn -> Bongo
- Tenshinhan -> Shinto
- Korin -> Whiskers the Wonder Cat
- Turtle Hermit (Kamesennin/Muten Roshi) -> Master Roshi
- Crane Hermit (Tsurusennin) -> Lord Wu Zu
- Tao Pai Pai -> General Tao Pei
- Sergeant Metallic -> Major Fist
- Bora -> Haymaker
- Upa -> Littlefoot
- Pansy -> Penny
- Pasta -> Aldevia
- Bongo -> Major Domo
Some of these name changes would also crop up in the FUNimation dub, such as "Master Roshi". The "Major Domo" and "Penny" names were also retained in their first redub of movie 1, although Pasta's name was localized as "Raven" in that adaptation. The later redub reverts to using the original Japanese names for the mentioned characters.
This dub also literally translated Shenlong as "The Dragon God". Pilaf, Shu, and Mai did not have their names mentioned.
The setting of Penguin Village in the movie 3 portion had its name changed to "Happy Valley", although the production team for Harmony Gold's Dr. Slump pitch pilot had retained the original name.
The Mexican adaptation of this version also used the "Zero" and "Zedaki" name changes for Goku and Yamcha, but kept Bulma and Lunch's original Japanese names. Kuririn became "Cachito".
Production Crew (TV Movie)
- Director: Ahmed Agrama
- Producer: Yukio Hayashi
- Executive Producer: Frank Agrama
- Writer: Ardwight Chamberlain
- Theme Song Lyrics: Kathryn Nelligan
- ADR Director: Eduardo T. Torres
- Zero - Betty Gustafson
- Lena - Wendee Swan
- Master Roshi - Clif Wells
- General Tao Pei, Major Domo, Narrator - Jeffrey Platt
- Lord Wu Zu - Myron Mensah
- Mao Mao, General Blue, Emperor Pilaf, Shu - Colin Philips
- Chaotzu, Penny - Reba West
- Squeaker - Carole Wilder
- Zedaki - Ryan O'Flannigan
- Marilynn, Aldevia - Penny Sweet
- King Gurumes - Ray Michaels
- Shinto - Christy Mathewson
- Haymaker - Bob Papenbrook
- Whiskers the Wonder Cat - Ted Lehman
- Mao Mao (transformed state) - Barry Stigler
- Major Fist - A. Gregory
There are other actors believed to have been uncredited for the work in this dub, such as Arlene Banas (voice of Arale—the "Happy Valley Girl" and Upa, a.k.a. Littlefoot) and Steve Kramer, who voiced the Dragon God. The character of Mai would seem to have been voiced by an uncredited Melodee Spevack.
Spanish Voice Cast
- Zero - Elsa Covián
- Bulma - Laura Ayala, Dulce María Romay (some episodes)
- Cachito - Ana María Grey
- Master Roshi - Ernesto Casillas
- General Tao Pei - Jorge Santos
- Narrator - Guillermo Romo (R.i.P.)
- Lord Wu Zu - José Luis Castañeda
- Mao Mao - Ricardo Tejedo
- Emperor Pilaf - Gerardo del Valle
- Zedaki - Rafael Rivera (1st voice), Andrés Gutiérrez Coto (2nd voice)
- Mai - Olga Donna-Dío
- King Gurumes, Dragon God - Eduardo Borja (R.I.P.)
- Shinto - Armando Coria
- Pocawampa´s father - Marcos Patiño
- Whiskers the Wonder Cat, Coronel Silver, Fight Announcer, Bongo - Rafael Rivera
- Arale Norimaki - Rossy Aguirre
- Red Patrol Commander - Alejandro Villeli
- Additional voices:
- Alejandro Illescas (R.I.P.)
- Alejandro Meza
- Adriana Calzada
- Arturo Fernández (R.I.P.)
- Carmen Donna-Dío (R.I.P.)
- Eduardo Borja (R.I.P.)
- Gabriel Berther
- Gerardo Reyero
- Guillermo Romo (R.I.P.)
- Irma Carmona
- José Alfredo Camacho
- Ricardo Mendoza
- Yolanda Vidal
- Dubbing Studio: Video Doblajes S.A. de C.V.
- Dubbing Director: Rafael Rivera
- Usenet posting from 1990, archived on Google Groups. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Translation of Interview, Kanzenshuu forum. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Usenet posting in 1995, Googlegroups archive. Retrieved November 25, 2013.