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Category: DragonBall (page 1 of 3)

Some Extra Funny Images

So late last month I wrote something called “The Great Canonical Debate” (it was pretty good; you should go read it). I wanted to include some type of moderately-snarky image of some type of god handing down a daizenshuu to go along with the section about how there is no officially-declared canon to the franchise, so I had requested on Twitter a great Photoshopped-image to include.

I ended up going with one by our good buddy Tekkaman-James — you might remember him as the great artist who brought Appuragas to life. As seen in my original article, here is James’ image (now available in full-size when you click! Whoa!):

I wanted to share some of the other ones that came in, though. Our One Piece-lovin’ buddy Alex tossed this together, which I almost used:

Our artistically-awesometacular buddy Karan gave us this one. I liked it a lot (‘cuz… it’s God. Get it?), but if you didn’t “get it”, it wouldn’t have really worked.

And that’s all I’s gots for ya’ today.

The Great Canonical Debate

It’s that time of year — there is a new Dragon Ball production (the animated adaptation of Episode of Bardock), and all the fans across the Internet want to know:

“Is it canon?”

Actually, they all ask if it’s “cannon”, and these people should all be promptly shot out of a cannon.

Back in August 2008 on Episode #0145 of our podcast over at Daizenshuu EX, we talked with our buddy Desire Campbell about the idea of “canonicity” with the Dragon Ball franchise. I’m pretty sure I remember a good deal of what we talked about, but if you’re looking for more (and someone else’s perspective, which is always important), definitely check out the episode.

It might be important to actually define what “canon” means. Let’s ask our good friends over at Merriam-Webster (yes, I just did the total-hack dictionary definition thing):

1
a : a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council
b
: a provision of canon law
2
[Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin, from Latin, model] : the most solemn and unvarying part of the Mass including the consecration of the bread and wine
3
[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard]
a
: an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture
b
: the authentic works of a writer
c
: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works <the canon of great literature>
4
a
: an accepted principle or rule
b
: a criterion or standard of judgment
c
: a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
5
[Late Greek kanōn, from Greek, model] : a contrapuntal musical composition in which each successively entering voice presents the initial theme usually transformed in a strictly consistent way

More often than not, you’ll see “canon” tossed out there with regard to religion. Lo-and-behold, most of the definitions you’ll see will thusly head in that direction. You’ve got things like the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were not “canonized” into the Bible. In other words, some dudes decided that those particular words written by some other dudes weren’t what they wanted to bank on and teach to more other dudes.

And that’s really the big difference between the Bible and Dragon Ball (among… uhh… a gazillion other things, I guess). Whereas the Bible has THE CHURCH™ to define which particular collection of stories into one book (and even which translation) they abide by, there is nothing like that with Dragon Ball. Sure, there are the ultimate rights holders and production companies, but none of them have ever come out and said, “Look upon ye’ official canonicalness!” and pointed over to a very specific number and type of books. No-one has ever blatantly said, for example, “movies don’t count” or “GT never happened”.

There are a couple things you might toss out there, though. “Hey dumbass!” you may say, “Toriyama said DBGT was just a side-story!” You would be correct, Mr. Rude Fan! In his introduction to the DBGT Dragon Box, Toriyama wrote, “DragonBall GT is a grand side-story of the original DragonBall, and it’ll make me happy for us to watch and enjoy it together.” What does that mean, though? Is he saying he personally does not consider it part of the story (and whether he does or does not, what does it matter to you?), or is he just making a general, sweeping statement?

You may go on to say, “Hey jerkface! Those diaz books put the movies on the same timeline as the manga, so it thinks they count!” You would be somewhat correct there, as well! At points, the daizenshuu will note how, if it had to fit, a particular DBZ movie would possibly fit in at Story-Point-X… but then go on to say that it would be impossible for it to work out that way. They acknowledge them, though, so are they considering anything they talk about part of the canon?

Which brings me right back to my main point: no-one’s ever sat down and said, “Mmm, yes… we consider the official story to be the original 519 chapters as written by Akira Toriyama, plus these other things, and absolutely nothing else what-so-ever!”

They just haven’t. No-one in any official capacity, that is.

image courtesy of our buddy Tekkaman James

I’m always curious what folks really mean when they ask: “is it canon?” How are they defining what “canon” is for themselves? I would assume what they’re asking boils down to something like, “Did someone say this is supposed to fit in with the original manga, and are we expected to accept it as always having been this way, despite it being shoehorned in so many years later?”

But it just circles back around at that point, since no-one’s ever said anything like that. Whenever a new animated special comes out (Jump Super Anime Tour Special), whenever a new spin-off manga comes out (Dragon Ball SD)… no-one from the production side ever makes any claim like that. They’re just making stuff for the sake of making stuff (well, they’re making stuff in an attempt to make money off you at some point down the line). They may make an attempt for whatever new story they write to fit in in the loosest sense, and maybe even give it a broader description, like was the case with Episode of Bardock, which was promoted as a “sequel” to the original TV special from 1990.

Well, of course it was a “sequel” — it picked up where Bardock’s story left off. You don’t have to like it, and it can be tons of fun to point out some of the inconsistencies which causes it to not actually work out flawlessly in conjunction with its inspiration… but no-one’s making any claim about “canon” in there. It just… kinda… “is”.

So are they inside or outside the ship…?

Lots of fans like to create their own canon. A pretty common one is: “if Akira Toriyama wrote it in the original manga between 1984 and 1995, I consider it — and nothing else — to be canonical”. That makes sense; it’s from the original author and written during the time frame of the franchise’s original publication and production.

They may go on to create different “levels” of canonicity, too. The manga may be the base level, and then the TV adaptation below it (basically “less seriously”). In cases like this, it’s usually for the purposes of ironing out contradictions (generally created by filler material or expanded conversations) and deciding which “truth” to go with.

Going even deeper, you have things like the movies and TV specials, and how they are placed into a canon, if at all. One traditional viewpoint is that movies 9 (Bojack) and 13 (Hildegarn) can pretty easily fit in with even the original manga, so hey, let’s consider them part of the canon just to flesh it out and have extra material. What about the TV specials? Bardock gets all the spotlight these days, but what about Trunks? The TV special adaptation took huge liberties from Toriyama’s original “TRUNKS THE STORY” (such as Trunks already being Super Saiyan versus transforming due to Gohan’s death), but most fans seem to “go with” the TV version, and usually because they simply like it more. Is liking something reason enough to consider it part of the canon, though?

Which is her natural hair color…?!

Whatever you “decide” to “go with”, it’s all fine and dandy. It’s a great way to get further involved with the franchise that you love so much, and even just to keep track of things in your ever-increasing head of knowledge.

But that’s really the extent that you can take it. You have examples like Dragon Ball GT, which was an officially-produced sequel (as in one of the rights holders, Toei Animation, had permission and the capacity to produce it). Is it part of the “canon”, though? Well, you can’t really answer that. Some fans will accept it since it continues where the story left off, and the producers were the ones who made it (as opposed to Joe Schmoe on the Internet writing another AF fan-manga). Other fans won’t accept it since Toriyama’s involvement was limited and only at the beginning of production. Other fans will accept it but also try to work in Dragon Ball Online, despite the two crossing paths.

No-one’s “right” or “wrong” here. There is no, to bring it back to the definition, “authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture”.

Maybe there is, though. I don’t see anyone debating that what Toriyama originally wrote for the pages of Jump shouldn’t be taken as “canon”. That’s pretty “accepted” as the “authentic works of a writer”, correct?

It gets tricky the instant you step outside of that, though. How about things that Toriyama wrote or decided later on after the series’ completion? There are things like Mr. Satan’s real name being “Mark”, the Kaioshin coming from the Shin-jin and apples and Makaioshin and all that jazz… the original author declared all this, so is it “canon”?

While we’re at it, what about the revised ending that Toriyama drew for the kanzenban? It’s from Toriyama. It’s manga. Is it “canon”…? What about the prior version? Should it be disregarded, as if it never happened?

That brings us to a fun little thought exercise. Let’s say that Toriyama decides he doesn’t just want to keep slapping his name onto things with a “supervisor”-esque credit anymore, and writes a true continuation of the series. It could be right after the original manga, or after GT — it really doesn’t matter in this example. What would you consider this new story? Would it be part of the canon for you? It could go one of two ways. One school of thought places anything that the original author writes for the series (in this case, let’s say just in manga form to keep it simple) in the canon. The other school of thought believes that unless it was part of the original series and was always intended to be a part of the series, it doesn’t matter if even the original author comes back to it — it’s still a new addition, separate from the original canon.

And that’s why I think you can’t (and perhaps shouldn’t) even attempt to ask: “is it canon?” No-one who produced the series seems to care enough to make a declaration of canonicity, and it continues to expand with new productions every single year. I’m not pulling the, “it’s a fun series from a poop-joke author” card here like I usually do, either (well, maybe just a little bit). It really does continue to build with so many different bits of lore every single year, and so much so that if you’re asking what the “canon” is, you’re already so far down the rabbit hole that you’ll never decide on a proper answer.

(Next time on “Mike Rants About Insignificant DBZ Stuff”, perhaps something like “Why you’re missing the point about battle powers”… along with some of the other great “God hands down ye’ golden daizenshuu” images folks slapped together for us!)

Why “Episode Of Bardock” Makes So Much Sense

You heard the hesitancy as we started discussing it on Episode #0262 of our podcast over at Daizenshuu EX — there is yet another transformation on the horizon for a character that never received it during the course of the series.

Say it with me: “Who the mother eff-in’ eff cares…?!

As more and more news trickled out though, and especially up through this week with reading about the first “Episode of Bardock” chapter, I have really come around on this.

Think to a couple years back when this “new transformation” revival all began (acknowledging that we had a few prior examples such as Yamhan in DragonBall Z / Budokai 2):

We were introduced to Super Saiyan 3 Broli via Dragon Battlers and Raging Blast. Even in the home console game, he had absolutely no story — you spent the twenty stars to unlock a new stage to fight the character, and that was that. There was nothing special about it at all. The form simply existed, as-is, with no context. He was hyped up in promotional videos for the game, so that’s something… I guess?

The same thing happened the same year with Super Saiyan 3 Vegeta — we got an introduction via Dragon Battlers, followed by inclusion in Raging Blast with no contextual story to even frame the darn thing, once again obtaining the character by purchasing a stage with twenty stars (and completing said stage). SSJ3 Vegeta was just another slot on the character select screen. I mean, the stage essentially starts with Vegeta saying, “OK, here I am with Super Saiyan 3! Let’s fight!” and ends with the narrator saying, “Yep, all the Super Saiyan 3 characters just fought, and people like to get stronger!” Could there possibly be any less to it…?

Even if you did care about another couple characters getting such a powerful transformation (one whose point was, arguably, the fact that not everyone could do it), I can’t fathom how anyone could possibly get “Super Excited” about it without that key word there: context. Why did they transform? How did it happen? Was it an accident, or did they work toward it? When in the time line would this transformation happen? Is it just assumed that their target was Goku?

Toss this year’s Super Saiyan 3 (Future) Trunks from DragonBall Heroes into the mix, and you have one giant, steaming, smelly pile of apathy coming from this jaded, old fan.

Like I said earlier though, things are a little different with Super Saiyan Bardock. While he was first revealed as a new card and character for DragonBall Heroes in Japanese arcades (something so far removed that most English-speaking fans will never have the opportunity to experience it), it kept building from there. Next up was word that there would be a special manga presentation in V-Jump. Then Naho Ooishi (of DragonBall SD and the Jump Super Anime Tour manga adaptation) was going to be involved with it. Then it was going to be a three-part short story involving Bardock that ties in the new form from the arcade game. Then the Bardock TV special, along with the Trunks TV special, from DragonBall Z were finally going to be released as individual DVDs in Japan, previously only ever being available as extras within the two DBZ Dragon Box sets released back in 2003.

It was suddenly all Bardock all the time. He had his opportunities to shine here and there (for example, as one of the extra unlockable characters in Burst Limit alongside Broli), but it was never in a leading role like this.

This was an all-out assault crossing over to different media, providing opportunities for different types of fans to finally get engaged on a deeper level. Card collectors could pick up the card. Arcade dwellers could add him to their arsenal. Manga fans had a new story to read. Re-releasing the TV special lets the anime fans get caught up with the back-history (or in the case of younger fans, see it for the first time!).

This is a fantastic step toward extending the franchise and getting fans excited again. Up until now, everything has been developed and sectioned off into its own little silo with little-to-no cross over. Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans was included in Raging Blast 2, sure, but its assets were all still just within the one game (such as including Hatchihyack as a playable character). All of the new story bits have been introduced in DragonBall Online, sure, but they are again all within the one game. The closest may have been the Jump Super Anime Tour special, which was legally streamed (in various subtitle languages!) online, received a two-part manga adaptation (albeit released only just the one time, so if you missed it you lost your one and only chance), and had Tarble included as a playable character two years later in Raging Blast 2. Maybe the closest example of true merchandise extension so far were the two SSJ3 figures released under the DragonBall Kai Banpresto HSCF label:

(images courtesy our buddy Raithos)

Those examples have all felt like afterthoughts, though. The fact that “Episode of Bardock” is being treated as a “sequel” to the original anime story and has elements being spat out to so many other areas is a great sign. There is a clear amount of effort being put into this: new characters, new names (complete with puns!), research on proper locations that these events might take place in, etc. It is all being done right from the start, too, as opposed to tossing something out (such as a figure) later on down the road. Assuming they start off this way and continue with new items to enhance this story (a scenario in Game Project Age 2011 perhaps? a SSJ Bardock figure, of course? a re-release of all Ooishi-drawn manga in compilation form a year from now, maybe?), then we know they are on to something!

These companies (specifically Toei / Shueisha / Namco-Bandai) are finally realizing that their tactics need to change. With merchandise sales for the franchise decreasing year-over-year since 2007 (7.9 billion yen in fiscal 2007 to 2.7 billion yen in fiscal 2011), something had to give.

They are on the right track — Bardock and some back-history is a great place to start. Keep in mind that this is not about using something as minor as “Episode of Bardock” (and its associated releases) to bring the franchise back to the sales levels of 2007 (never mind the 90s), but rather about keeping it alive at all instead of fading into complete obscurity again until a third wave comes along a few years from now. It will be fun to see if they have a plan to sustain the franchise, or just got lucky with this one.

Daizenshuu EX Plagiarism Redux

(I initially wrote much of this article back in March 2010, but held off on publishing it due to never receiving permission to re-publish an e-mail. I have decided to just go ahead with it. It helps set things in context, and is a great lead-in to some extra commentary based on some recent forum posts.)

We have shared stories like this before, where another website simply lifted the entire content of a major Daizenshuu EX feature (including hot-linked images and all). It is the Internet — we expect this on a daily basis. In fact, the darn thing even works in the first place because content is re-purposed and shared. Information wants to be free, right?

This was an interesting one, though. It is not as black-and-white as the example linked above. In fact, one could argue that Daizenshuu EX is the one at fault for not taking advantage of the different mediums and outlets. All of these different ways to communicate and get the message out are right there, so why not use them?

Let me explain.

Back in February I received an e-mail from a regular visitor who was concerned. I have removed some identifying information about the visitor from the e-mail below, as well as named-references to the source he is referring to (though I will ultimately “out” them later in the article):

I am one of your many fans who uses your website Daizenshuu EX (along with Kanzentai) to get news on what is occurring in the Dragon World. I am also a podcast listener. Since I support your work, I feel the need to at least inform you of a certain individual who is plagiarizing your work on YouTube and becoming popular for it (and of course, no credit is given to Daizex). You may already know and not care, but just in case you do care about someone stealing your information almost word-for-word and being credited and praised for it, I’ll give you the info.

It is a YouTuber named “(name redacted)“. I believe he is a member of your forums going under the guise of another username, but I cannot say anything in this regard because I have no proof. He is known for his DBZ news and has rapidly grown to have almost 2,000 subscribers, which is a lot of people who use him for DBZ news, and a lot of people who should be getting it from your site. (URL redacted)

Now, if you watch a lot of his videos you will notice that they are complete rip-offs of your website updates. Take for example, (URL redacted) . If you watch this, you will notice that it’s just an almost copy & paste of all the info from your website that you posted a few days ago.

Unfortunately, MY BEST PROOF he has deleted because I actually posted a comment on the video talking about it and he removed the video before I could write this email. It was a video copying your “Additional FUNimation Cast Changes” post, BUT, one thing that I noticed is that he misinterpreted the words YOU wrote: “As a minor aside, it is fascinating to be simultaneous talking about voice recastings for both the Japanese and English side of the franchise. It feels like conversations from ten years ago (the shift from Ocean Studios to an in-house FUNimation cast) have resurfaced in a tiny way!”

He thought you were talking about a possible UK release for the DBZKai series and made a video saying that, copying the text I have displayed to you in this email and talking about it. Then, when I told him he was ripping-off Daizex and also that he got the info you wrote wrong, he deleted it. His latest video (as of 3:40 PM EST Feb 16th) (URL redacted) is the only proof I have that I am telling the truth. If you watch this video, he even admits his misinterpretation and that he did make a video.

I wouldn’t even report this to you if he was a nobody, but he is very popular; his videos have thousands of views and as mentioned earlier he almost has 2000 subscribers. And you will find no credit to Daizex ANYWHERE on his channel. I personally do not believe it is fair for you to put a lot of effort in informing and entertaining the Dragon Ball fanbase for “(name redacted)” to take advantage of it and become popular.

The first thing I did as I watched some of the videos was chuckle and take cheap shots at all of the mis-spellings. I suppose admitting I did such right here in the blog post is an extension of that cheap shot, but hey… did you expect anything less from me?

It is quite the interesting situation. Sure enough, if you watch the videos, they are essentially date-for-date and word-for-word reprises of the news updates over on Daizenshuu EX.

The big question to ask is — what’s wrong with that?

Earlier in the post I noted it may be our own damn fault for not taking advantage of the medium — if the audience is on YouTube, why are we not there to take advantage of them and provide them with valuable content in their home territory? Shame on us. People expect the news to be pushed to them wherever they are most comfortable.

(The answer is that I can barely find the time these days to do all it is that I already do, never mind produce video features of each news post!)

In the prior post about the website feature, I noted how you could spin it in a positive way — people were discovering content (and in this case, news) that they otherwise would never have encountered (OK, maybe they eventually would have…). They were reading my words and my feelings. More people than before were doing so. In at least an indirect way, Daizenshuu EX was being imprinted upon the masses! How is that not a plus…?!

You can look at it from the protective side, though, as our e-mail author clearly did… and they’re not even the ones making the darn website updates that are being “stolen” (that our visitors feel so protective and full of honor for the site gives me a feeling resembling joy I think). There is a somewhat “creepy” feeling having your words regurgitated back at you with no attribution. It is pretty disingenuous of this YouTube user to go making update after update, video after video, and never citing their source. That’s just lazy, if not completely amateurish. Don’t they think something is a little weird about that? Lifting so much content and not saying where they first learned about it?

It got more interesting just this week when a completely separate fan posted up a thread on our message board about it. Apparently this content-lifting-individual (or is it a group?) is no longer happy to just copy-and-paste updates into YouTube videos, and instead are running a larger, more traditional website. This is when I start scratching my head a little more. I am not sure how I feel about it.

It is at this point that I do not particularly care sharing the identity of these folks. It is definitely worth it to really showcase the extent they are going to.

You have an update of theirs like this one announcing the inclusion of Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans in Raging Blast 2. The translation of the scan is verbatim copied-and-pasted from Kanzentai, while the image the bottom (with our standard blue border and drop shadow) is ours from Daizenshuu EX — they could have clicked through to the source link (which I provided) and grabbed the original, full-sized image instead of using my tiny, formatted one. Only the former object is credited… and to be honest, I did not even see that credit at first. The news is not our own, but certainly the translation of it is, and to a much lesser extent, the formatting on the image is… well, that’s something.

Head on over to this update of theirs with a gallery of ten animation shots from Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans. To be fair, these ten shots were released by Namco-Bandai to their press partners (of which Daizenshuu EX is one) for free distribution and promotion. Take a look at the file names this group used, though: assets_20100821_animation_10.jpg, and so on. Head on over to the respective “Tidbit” page on Daizenshuu EX, and without looking, take a wild guess at what file naming standard I re-named them all with before posting.

I will let you in on one of our big, dark, pompous, egotistical, hilarious secrets — we absolutely love it when people, especially begrudgingly, have to visit Daizenshuu EX and Kanzentai for news. OK, it is not actually as mean in my head as it sounds when it gets written out like that. The truth of the matter is, both Heath and I (as well as our cohorts!) work incredibly hard to keep up-to-date with the news. We have our regular sources. We have our regular searches. We have worked our way into a position where sometimes news finds us. Honestly, unless you are another DragonBall fansite that has been around at least as long as Kanzentai (never mind Daizenshuu EX) and have the clout to leverage your position, you are ultimately stuck in a endless game of catch-up with us. That is not to say that someone could not come along in a couple years and upset the balance of “power” (for lack of a better phrase), but for the time being… we are it. If you want to know (in English) what is going on with the franchise, you either come to us, or indirectly find out from us via some other source.

Another source like this “Saiyan Team”.

(There is something to be said for news of a different “type”, though. There are other awesome sites out there like DragonNews who cover more fandom-related things than we do, and with an international twist. At the end of the day, though, with the franchise being of Japanese origin, any significant “news” comes out of Japan — and since we focus on the Japanese version of the franchise, well, guess where the majority of the news is being broken…?)

So what is the deal here? Are we just too protective of our own second-hand-generated content? I mean, it’s not like we were the ones who announced such-and-such product. We have broken some exclusive news before, but we certainly do not do it on a daily basis.

Maybe they are just some punk 16-year-old kid first getting into this whole “content creation” thing online. I know I sure had no idea what the accepted rules of society were when I first got into this back in 1998.

What I find most fascinating about the whole ordeal is that example where they removed a video after being called out on completely misinterpreting (some pretty clearly written) words in a news post. They back-peddled on the whole situation. They admitted fault in doing so. Any normal person, at that point, would probably sit back and re-evaluate what the heck they are doing. Yet here we are half a year later, and now their website updates are simply being copied word-for-word.

So I am opening up the discussion. What do you all think about this? Is there anything wrong with what this YouTube user is doing, taking advantage of an open space that we do not have the time to jump into? Quite clearly this is a very self-selected audience that is almost guaranteed to support me, but I definitely would not be opposed to some differing thoughts… because, honestly, I am not entirely sure how I even feel about it.

Hell, for all I know, the person responsible for the videos and site is reading this blog. It is not so far-fetched. All I ask is that, when you run to the comments, you keep it civil and intelligent. I wouldn’t expect anything less of you all, but I suppose I just feel the need to say that, anyway!

The Joke Lives On: VegettoEX is Appule

Many of you predicted it. With the release of Episode 17 of DBZ Abridged, the cat is completely out of the bag:

I voiced Appule.

I don’t even remember when it was that KaiserNeko and I first started talking about it — it was that long ago. It was something I was looking forward to for the longest time, and I got such an amazing kick out of doing it.

Despite my incessant commentary on the voice acting of various languages, I have very little personal experience (hey, few film critics have ever made a film!). I recorded a couple quick lines for This is Otakudom back in 2001, and stepped up to play a somewhat major character (“Chow Down Fast”) for S.T.E.A.M. in 2005. Both were directed by Scott Melzer, and everything was in-person at his house. It was very similar to how professional voice acting seems to be done in the US, with a director and single actor doing their lines at a time (though we typically had at least one other person in the room). We would do multiple takes, occasionally play the scene in real time while acting it out, etc. I did another couple quick lines for Scott’s next parody, but I will not be involved with it in any other way.

It was a bit different for Abridged. As we have discussed via interviews with TeamFourStar over on the Daizenshuu EX podcast, most (if not all) of their acting sessions these days are done live over Skype (with the actor locally recording their lines). This is exactly how I went about recording with my lovely director, KaiserNeko. I received the script ahead of time and picked out one line to do several different test “voices” with. I recorded the same line over a few times in these different voices, sent them off for review, and came back together again to finalize the tone of the character with a complete script. It was difficult to get a read on the man in terms of my performances — I couldn’t really tell if he was simply accepting mediocre work just to get it done, or if I actually pulled what he wanted out of my rear-end. That’s why he’s the “pro”, though… he just goes with it and keeps on truckin’ until he gets what he wants!

Interesting tidbit, though: I had to re-record two lines because of a wrong name in the script. In the TeamFourStar dub of the Bardock TV special, the Appule-esque minion killed by Bardock is named “Eachpe” (a play on “Peach”). Written in the script for my episode was “Pierre” (another minion from the Bardock TV special, a play on “Pear”). It was not until the final mixing stage that the error was realized! During the retakes, we kept going on and on trying to get an appropriate performance out of me for Appule’s final line, “Here I come, Eachpe…” For whatever reason, I simply could not hit that range with the character’s voice. KaiserNeko ended up taking a different approach with advice on other lines and attitudes to take to reach the point of emotion where Appule might end up saying that line — we ended up with some pretty ridiculous stuff spouting out of my mouth, but I ended out muttering out the take that was used in the final episode, so it was very much worth it!

I thought I did a pretty decent job. In particular, I think my delivery on Appule’s response to Zarbon asking why Vegeta was not nude in the tank was pretty dead-on. Overall, though? It’s up to you to decide. Hopefully it was a fun little cameo that you enjoyed. If you didn’t like it, though, don’t tell me. My poor ego couldn’t deal with it. Just go post about it anonymously on some other message board, preferably with a link back to Daizenshuu EX so I will end up finding it and ultimately drown my sorrow in alcohol.

By the way, one of my favorite gags in the episode is this:

Ooooooooh yeah!

Internet Persona (And Personal) Growth

I recently archived some of my earliest online endeavors. Some of them are filed away under lock so none of you will ever have a chance to see them. Some, like what I am about to share, are too cute to hold back. It is occasionally a good thing to look back at where you came from, figure out how much you have grown, and where to go from there.

When FUNimation (in conjunction with Pioneer) was releasing the first three DragonBall Z movies state-side back in 1997-1998, I was just beginning my website and writing quick reviews of the releases. Here is what my 15/16-year-old self wrote about “The Tree of Might” (DBZ movie 3), and specifically the uncut home release of its dub, back in 1998:

DragonBall Z Movie # 3:  The Tree Of Might

Was I ever surprised with this one!!  This IS NOT, I repeat, IS NOT the same “Tree of Might” that was shown on television.  It has been completely re-dubbed, and it is SOOO much better.  No more of that, “jerk” crap.  Instead of Taurus (yeah, it’s still “Turles” in the dub,  folks) saying to Piccolo, “And just who are you?” he now says, in a tone that suggests he is quite unimpressed with Piccolo, “Who the Hell are you?”  Just great!!  While the signature move names (for the most part) have still been changed (“Kienzan” – “Destructo Disc”…. “Taiyo-Ken” – “Solar Flare”….. “Genki-Dama” – “Spirit Bomb”… etc.), I must say, it was nice to hear Gokou (uh… whoops… it’s “Goku” in the dub, still) say “Kaio-Ken” the correct way!!  No longer is it being pronounced “Kayo-Ken”… we now get the true, wonderful, “Kaio-Ken!!!”…. I love it.  The new voice actors actually didn’t get on my nerves!!  Goku kept it pretty good, Oolong’s new one sucks like Hell, Roshi seems to have about three different people doing his voice, and….. uh….. Higher Dragon (yes, no more of that “Icarus” crap!! We get an actual translation of “Heiya Dragon”) must have had his Japanese “voice,” because it wasn’t half as annoying as it was as the TV version.  The gay-ass one liners have all been taken out, and I’m pretty sure they’ve stuck to the original Japanese script (from what I’ve read of the translated Movie # 3 script, so far).  I’m still in shock at the new queer names for some of the moves, though… no more “Kamayamaya” for “Masenko,” but now it’s called “Power Beam!”  “Souki-Dan” was “Here’s a power shot!”  Oh well… can’t have everything you want (actually, you can…. buy the sub-titled version!)  This movie is a whole hour long (15 minutes longer than # 1).  It’s a great hour, though.  There’s a ton of scenes in the Movie here that weren’t shown on TV, which made it all the more enjoyable.  The original Japanese soundtrack was also left intact in this movie, from “Cha La Head Cha La” to the ending song (who’s name I can’t remember… I’ll put it in when I watch the movie again).  This is just another example that says the guys behind the dub CAN pull something off that is somewhat worthy of Toriyama’s name.  Once again, I commend them.  Now, if we could only get this “Masenko,” Taiyo-Ken,” “Kienzan,” “Souki-Dan,” and “Genki-Dama” stuff right…..

Contrary to earlier reoprts, “The Tree of Might” is already available, on Dubbed VHS, sub-titled VHS, sub/dub Laser Disc, as well as sub/dub DVD.  Pick up a copy!!

SCORE —- 5.5 out of 7 DragonBalls

It is horribly embarrassing. To be fair, I was 16 years old — random cursing and slurs was awesome, and knowing any amount of Japanese (never mind character name pun origins) at that time was equivalent to being King of the Moon. I insisted upon spelling the main character’s name as “Gokou” (something I have done a complete 180 on) simply because it was “different” from what “THE MAN” told me it was. I used a numerical grading scale, something I would never imagine doing these days. I somehow managed to use more ellipses than I even do today. I used the wrong “whose”.

You can probably imagine me bashing my head against the wall right now.

At the same time, it is interesting to see some of the things I have not compromised on. I still have a huge problem with mispronunciations. I still have a huge problem with replacement musical scores. I still have a huge problem with revised scripts. Amusingly, these things all affect me far less due to the widespread availability of the shows in their original Japanese format — as you have come to hear me explain time and time again, an English dub these days is irrelevant to me (up through the point of it affecting greater conversations and information accuracy widespread-ness).

I think this is why I have more patience for kids on our forum over on Daizenshuu EX than a lot of you wish I had. I know that some of them just need a path and a guide. VegettoEX of 1998 was just a punk-kid with delusions of grandeur. He kept working at it, though, until those delusions were at least halfway real…!

Now you have to suffer with me whether you like it or not… which is just the way I like it.

Otakon 2010’s Yûji Mitsuya Panel of Awesomeness

There are plenty of stories to share about this year’s Otakon, and rest assured that many more will make their way to either this blog or our podcast over on Daizenshuu EX. One story in particular is a combination of news and hilarity (and has pictures to go along with it!) so you can imagine that I could not wait to share it with everyone.

Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm, veteran voice actor and director Yûji Mitsuya was holding a second Q&A panel. We had missed out on his panel Friday afternoon due to conflicting events, but made sure to be open for Saturday’s panel. Mitsuya is perhaps best known to DragonBall fans as the voice of Kaiôshin in DragonBall Z, so while he is not necessarily in the same “importance” league as, say, someone like Toshio Furukawa or Mayumi Tanaka (both of whom are somehow tied to him in one way or another…!), he is no stranger to our extended anime fandom.

While it could be the subject of an entire blog post in-and-of-itself, and while it certainly is never a surprise to me, it continues to be an extreme disappointment to see how few people turn out for Japanese guests at anime conventions these days. Whether it is a lead animator, the creator of a series, a notable voice actor… it does not seem to matter. If they are not the hot English voice actor of the moment (hey, remember when Richard Ian Cox was the big shit for, like, a year?)… no-one comes to see them. It is incredibly sad when you take a step back and realize that we are all coming together to celebrate Japanese animation and culture (debatably, anyway; there is an argument for it all just being general nerd-culture-celebration loosely focused around anime).

But I digress.

Despite the ridiculously low attendance to the panel, Mitsuya charged forward like a champion with all sorts of stories. We heard about drunken sempai lessons and advice, learned how he formed a quasi-male-idol band with Toshio Furukawa (Piccolo) in the past, forming a theater group with Mayumi Tanaka (Kuririn, Yajirobe), and much later on after moving around so many times (keep reading!), ghost-directing the cast of Rurouni Kenshin for three months before deciding to allow himself to be credited and specifically choosing and mentoring Mayo Suzukaze for the lead character’s role based on her own theater performance. The man was just full of astonishing stories and genuine humility.

Then the fire alarm got pulled.

Translator Toshiyumi Yoshida first asked if we should all just stick around and continue, but Otakon staff insisted that we all must leave as the entire building had to be evacuated. In an amazing showcase of professionalism, Mitsuya suggested we all come along with him to the outside plaza there on the third floor and he would gladly continue telling stories and taking questions. So… the dozen or so of us followed him along and continued listening!

As we got going into the next story, Otakon staff insisted that we had to evacuate all convention center-related areas, including this outside area. Mitsuya was far from done, and insisted we all continue on with him! We traveled down an escalator, down some flights of stairs, and ended up alongside a wall outside of the convention center. Just as we started up again, Otakon staff yet again insisted that we continue onward away from the convention center.

Mitsuya was unphased. Much to the surprise of Yoshida, the entire group plugged onward with him and Mitsuya inside the nearby Sheraton hotel. We plopped in a corner and continued onward with the stories and questions! Mitsuya explained how he ran into Nathan Lane (the voice of “Timon” in Disney’s The Lion King) in New York and screamed “I am Japanese Timon! I am Japanese Timon!” into the frightened actor’s face. Unprovoked, he would burst into his characters’ voices and lines to describe his excitement over the roles and love of his fellow actors.

I managed to get in the last question he had time for. It was still quite a ways off, but did he know if he would be returning to voice Kaiôshin in DragonBall Kai…? The answer that we received confirmed quite a bit about the show’s production.

Mitsuya knew exactly what we were talking about, and admitted that he was not yet sure, himself. Being a director more than a voice actor, he is friends with the director of DragonBall Kai and has already expressed his desire to return to the role. What he told us next spoke volumes in very few words — he was unsure if they would be able to afford him, and if the series would even make it that far. He even slyly mumbled that he would be willing to take the job at a reduced rate!

With the entirety of Ginyu-Tokusentai being replaced with new voice actors (including Kenji Utsumi as Recoom, despite him returning to the show to voice Shenlong), along with plenty of other voice actors that have become much bigger in the industry since their roles in DragonBall, it has really made us wonder just how expensive DragonBall Kai actually is to produce, despite us always describing it as “cheap” and “a money-grab” and “half-assed” in almost every way. Hujio and I later discussed how it seems that these days we get confirmations of actors returning either very close to their first appearance in the series… or not at all. Many times it will not even come from the official site for the series, and instead from the actors themselves or their fan communities (such as the case with #17).

Branching off of that, we could not help but speculate further. Was the licensing of Kai to FUNimation for American distribution a way to raise quick capital to fund the further production of the series? When it was first announced, it was clear that the series would go through at least the Freeza arc, since the villain was clearly shown on all production materials. The fact that it would be moving onward into the next story arc with Cell was a very casual “announcement”.

At the end of the day, this set of rambling paragraphs is less about DragonBall and more about how great of a time we had with Mitsuya. His courtesy and enthusiasm is unparalleled, showcased by his desire for a group photo with everyone at the end of the “panel”:

What a freakin’ great time…!

(Thanks to Hujio and… oh hey, myself!… for the photos :P)

Say It This Way ‘Cuz I Said So

I won’t lie. I sometimes lurk around other forums. There are only a couple I regularly keep up with (my own, the FUNimation DB forum section)… but there are a couple others I have bookmarked that I check in on every couple of weeks. I feel somewhat of a responsibility to keep up with what the general zeitgeist seems to feel, think, and discuss. Even if they are discussions I have zero interest in participating in, if I am going to call myself an authority figure, I should at least be aware of what the current trends are.

This thread on the GameFAQs “DragonBall – General Message Board” area piqued my interest. I have a morbid curiosity in seeing how people explain Japanese pronunciations to other people in textual form. Someone wanted to know how to pronounce “Kuririn” — a valid question, especially considering that I have been working on my own pronunciation of the name for years. I know how to pronounce it, obviously, but my linguistic lack of skills have always slurred my “r” into “d” sounds! I think I have gotten it down pretty well these days… though I am certainly no Julian ^_~.

Anyway, this response made me chuckle:

Krillin. You’re not Japanese.

We have done whole podcast topics about “today’s fans with regards to the series and the way they view it (both the Japanese version and the English version, in relation to their [dis]placement)“. It is totally fine if you want to be that way — as Julian has humorously quoted (and I paraphrase), “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!”

Why bother with the “Japanese names”…? You speak English! It makes so much sense! We won’t even bother with examples like “Cell” and “Trunks” which Japanese-ify “English” words with their inherent extra syllables, but:

  • What about some of the other character names, though? Don’t you say “Kami“…? OK, fine — maybe you try to be self-consistent and translate/speak it as “God”. I will give you an “out” on that one.
  • Don’t you say “Goku“, which is a Japanese reading of the Chinese name for the Monkey King…? OK, fine — maybe you drop the “Son” surname to feel better about it and yourself.
  • Don’t you say “Tien“, which is a reference to something Chinese, never mind that it is not even how his name is spelled/pronounced in the original Japanese version of the show? I suppose this is pretty similar to the “Kuririn/Krillin” adaptation…
  • The name “Kuririn” is every bit of a pun-based name as “Ginyu“, which American fans typically write out and pronounce near-phonetically-equivalent to its original Japanese pronunciation — why is that one OK? Don’t you see the hypocrisy?
  • Don’t you say “Kamehameha“, which is a combination of actual Japanese and gibberish?
  • I am seeing hilarious conversations these days where dub fans are now trying to figure out which sounds “more cool” to keep, since the dub of (Z) Kai has changed things like “Destructo Disc” to “Kienzan” — their own overlords (the FUNimation English dub) won’t stay consistent for them, so they are left to flap about in confusion.
  • Worst of all… the Viz manga (you know, the English version) spells it as “Kuririn“. This has nothing to do with pronunciation, of course, though… but it somehow seems relevant, ya’ know?

I mean, shit… what about other shows where a character’s name is a Japanese name…? Do you “translate” it for fear of being seen as anti-American? Do you call the author of the series “Bird Mountain“, and if so, how do you reconcile the fact that his studio is literally called “Bird Mountain“…?

Why is it OK to keep some names with their Japanese pronunciations, and then disregard all others while scoffing at anyone who doesn’t choose to use your preferred dub’s spelling? Much like folks who have only read Viz’s translation (which has exclusively used the spelling “Kuririn”), I would wager that if the name was never changed to “Krillin” in the first place, these folks wouldn’t even blink at “Kuririn” all these decades later. I hate to play this card, since I am so sick of talking about it (and you are so sick of hearing about it)… but is it not simply because FUNimation just happened to have decided to change that name?

It is entirely inconsistent. It is ignorant. It is fearful. It is arrogant. It is hypocritical.

The mentality of “STFU your not jap spell/pronounce it dis way” is laughably moronic when you are using other Japanese-based (if not un-changed, entirely Japanese) character names in the same breath.

Yes, I am right and they are wrong. I dare you to argue otherwise ^_~.

(P.S. – Oh, and to answer the question… Japanese is pronounced very phonetically and with few exceptions. クリリン breaks down to “ku – ri – ri – n“. The ku is a short syllable that sounds close to the beginning of our word “cool”, the ri is a short syllable that sounds close to the beginning of our word “reed”, and there are two of those in a row, and then the last syllabic-“N” sound is pretty obvious in that it sounds just like it does at the end of our words like “pen”. It all slurs together pretty quickly so that it sounds like what I talked about here [MP3 example included]. “Krillin” is something that I feel is a totally legitimate transliteration of the name, but let’s not pretend that “Kuririn” is absurd.)

(P.P.S. – To semi-quote myself being sarcastic recently… “Shit’s serious, yo.” No, this is not a big deal. At all. It does not affect anyone’s day-to-day life. Just felt like writing about it.)

Prized Possessions: Nakao’s Autograph

We somehow lost our digital camera’s battery charger a while back. Since we buckled down and purchased a replacement one, I have been looking around for random things to take photos of. It is one of those cases where you do not know what you have until you have lost it… then you get it back and go nuts…

I am sure I will get bored with taking photos of random things again very soon. Until then, I will populate a new blog category: Prized Possessions. I can be incredibly materialistic at times, and get a kick out of showing off the random crap I have accumulated over the years. Hey, some may call that a “character flaw”… I call it “great blog fodder”.

It is no secret that I moderately worship at the feet of a one Mr. Ryûsei Nakao. It is not as creepy and overboard as I might lead you to believe — I mostly just play it up for amusement. At the same time, I really do think he is pretty amazing at what he does, and is worthy of the respect he receives. While Freeza is one of his best-known and well-loved roles, Nakao has brought his voice to tons of other engaging characters. I have recently learned about his role as Mayuri Kurotsuchi in Bleach (which makes so much sense…!), but one of my personal favorites is that of Iizuka from the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs (you know… the one OVA series… perhaps if I say that enough times, it will become true?). As a stark contrast to Freeza and Kurotsuchi, Iizuka is just a regular guy. OK, fine… he is a a mole within an organization and not really just “a regular guy”, but compared to some of the other notable characters Nakao has played, that is the best description possible.

I think the guy is incredibly talented. Can you guess which of the items on this shelf is one of my most favorite things ever in the whole world like totally radical man?

Meghan grabbed this for me at Animazement 2009 when Nakao was a guest of honor (alongside Trunks’ voice actor, Takeshi Kusao). Notice the autograph on there? Here is a close up:

What did I tell you?! Nakao wrote my freakin’ name. Radical.

I have been looking for something along the lines of a see-through (maybe glass?) cube that I can put the figure inside of to keep dust off the base. Any suggestions on what I could get?

Behind The Joke: Appule

Regular fans of Daizenshuu EX no doubt have heard us drop Appule’s name in semi-sarcastic and humorous ways. It has grown into something of an “in-joke” over the years — it is funny enough on its own (“lolz random character”), but the way in which the joke continued to build upon itself adds a little bit to its mystique and hilarity, and may be worthy of discussion.

So, hey. Here you go.

Many years ago, I started working on a “Character Guide” for the website. It ultimately never turned into anything because I constantly bite off more than I can chew. Whenever I finished a page for a character, I realized I wanted to include even more information, and constantly found myself going back to do additional research. It was a never-ending cycle, so I eventually just gave up. Other areas of the website were far more important and useful.

In 2004, while still working on the section, I decided to develop a page for a character that appeared for a very limited amount of time. I had already done characters like Nappa and Raditz who, while they were only around for a short period of time, could still be considered “major” characters. My stipulation for myself was the character that I did a page for next had to at least have a name — no random characters like “Jingle Village Filler Man #2”. One of the first characters that came to mind was Appule. He was one of the most minor of henchmen, yet the fact that he not only had a name, but had a name that was actually spoken aloud during the anime, is what solidified the choice for me.

The character profile was slightly more interesting than others to write because Appule gained a palette-swap named Oran in the anime who occasionally replaced what might have been Appule in the manga — it was difficult to tell in black-and-white with so many henchman looking so similar to one another. I even enlisted the help of our forum to scan through some of the scenes and figure out exactly which character was absolutely Appule in which scenes.

After writing the character biography page, I quickly adopted him as my scapegoat character for random jokes. What really solidified the joke for me was the Sparking! series of video games on the PlayStation 2 (and eventually the Wii) — so many new characters were being tossed into the game, I joked often (on and off the podcast) that when they announced that Appule was a playable character, we would know that they had finally begun scraping the bottom of the barrel. With the first Sparking! game featuring 90 playable characters and its sequel featuring 129, it didn’t seem like there would be many other notable characters to toss in.

In December 2006, Namco-Bandai announced a port of Sparking! NEO (released outside Japan as Budokai Tenkaichi 2) for the Nintendo Wii. We received the game first in North America as a near-launch game for the console, but it took a little bit of time for the game to be released in Japan and Europe. As a fun extra for the delayed port, these versions received a couple new characters to the roster. Guess who was announced?

Appule would go on to be a regular roster choice in Sparking! METEOR (released outside Japan as Budokai Tenkaichi 3), fulfilling his destiny according to my jokes.

In 2008, TeamFourStar debuted their DBZ Abridged fan parody series. In the very first episode, Raditz makes an off-hand joke (after killing “The Farmer”):


On Episode #0135 of our podcast, KaiserNeko confirmed for us that it was a reference to our recurring joke with the character, launching Appule to even further in-joke stardom.

MIKE: And I have to say, I guess I’ll interrupt you, ya’ know, how you’re describing the process, there are certain jokes that almost seem directly aimed at Meri and myself.

MERI: Hah, what?!

KAISER: You know, that might actually have to do with the fact that I am a hardcore listener of your show!

(a little later in the show)

MIKE: I have to ask, was there an Appule joke early in that episode?

LANI & KAISER: Yes there was!

MERI: I thought so!

MIKE: I didn’t hear it the first time. Meri was like, oh my god, they just made an Appule joke. I was like, really?

LANI: “So this was why Dad said I couldn’t keep Appule…”

MIKE: Yes! Ah, Appule, these guys are right up my alley!

KAISER: Actually, ya’ know, when we wrote that joke I was thinking of you.

MIKE: Aww!

MERI: That’s so sweet!

KAISER: That’s mostly because, I thought he’s the ONLY person who’s going to get the joke!

That same year, I decided to pay tribute to my favorite, ridiculous, minor character in the series. I collected every single last bit of footage from the anime in which Appule appeared (including an episode during the Garlic Jr. filler arc where it seems like Vegeta kills an entire planet of Appule-esque characters), and tossed together a funny little trailer called “Dead In Two Episodes” in a couple hours. I did not end up using every last second of footage, but only because many of the scenes are just redundant shots of the exact same thing. For all intents and purposes, every scene of Appule appears in the trailer. I happened to finish the trailer in time for Anime Weekend Atlanta‘s “Professional” anime music video contest that year. It was nominated for “Best Trailer”, but I have to imagine it was only because there were so few trailers submitted to the contest.

In November 2008 on Episode #0152 of our podcast, our buddy Jeff asked us about character name puns that had not been “completed”. For example, the Jump Super Anime Tour special completed “Vegeta” with “Table” (using the entire word “vegetable” now to form two distinct name puns). For whatever reason, Appule’s name was brought up:

JEFF: Well, that kinda leads to the question, are there any other characters that haven’t filled out their pun yet?

MIKE: Aahh… yeah!

MERI: “Paragas” — “a”…!

MIKE: “Broli” — “co”…!

JEFF: No, no, wait. I could say Appule… Appu… Paragas…

MIKE: He’s neither Saiya-jin nor vegetable.

JEFF: True. But, like, “Appule” and “Paragas”, you could say “Appu… ra… gas…”… never mind.

MIKE: So Jeff, you want Appule and Paragas to fuse!

MERI: SOMEONE DRAW THIS!

MIKE: Into what?

JULIAN: Oh noooo!

MIKE: What is the resulting fusion name?

JEFF: “Appuragas”.

Within a week, that drawing existed. Our listener Tekkaman-James created “Appuragas” for all the world to see:

Just this year (2010), a new line of figures call “Freeza’s Force” has been seeing a release in Japan. While the first line contained the expected characters like Freeza himself and all of Ginyu-Tokusentai, the third line was set to contain Appule (along with plenty of other extremely minor henchmen). I was more than happy to place my order when he became available for purchase on Play-Asia!

So that brings us all the way up through today. It may not seem it (especially after an action figure and even an appearance as a playable video game character), but there are plenty more places to take Appule. Hopefully we will see some more of him in the near future.

Long story short, The Farmer has nothing on Appule. We also certainly would not some kind of short manga explaining “Appuragas” and his origin story…

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