The Ocean vs. Funi 11 year war!
Before I start off, I’d like to say, that I’ve been a DBZ fan since the late 90’s and used to love both dubs, but that's worn off, now. Secondly Ocean and Funimation aren’t two separate dub groups. Ocean are a voice acting group that were hired by Funimation to dub Dragonball Z. They had their differences and parted ways for a short while. So there’s no such thing as a Funi dub. They would appropriately be called the Texas Cast. Here is my unbiased opinion.
Funimation hired the Ocean Group to dub Dragonball Z in for the U.S in 1996. “The dub that made Dragonball Z famous” as the saying goes. Anyway, somewhere down the line Funi hired some people who weren’t qualified or didn’t know a thing about Anime, supervise the dubbing, so people in higher positions who knew nothing about dubbing or Anime, were telling others how to do their jobs. The Ocean voice actors being uncomfortable with this parted ways with Funi in 1998.
Now, Funimation were left without a dubbing group for about a year. Funi at the time wasn’t as big a corporate machine as it is now. They were pretty small-time. They were out of voice actors and were getting bombarded by emails and letters by rabid Dragonball Z fans. If they did nothing, they would lose a big opportunity. They had no choice but to hire some actors off the road and a few others who starred in plays (Stephanie Nadolny, Sean Schemmel) and telephone operators (Chris Sabat) to dub Dragonball Z. These new voice actors were mostly amateurs back then, unlike Ocean’s professionals. Now for all the Funi fans, those same voice actors are pretty kickass now, so please don’t think I’m being biased and please don’t spam my mailbox saying, “Oh how could you say they were amateurs? Your mom’s an amateur etc etc”. Well, that was the truth. At the time, they were untrained amateurs. Anyway, with them Funi dubbed season 3, the Freeza saga. The original version of this dub that was released on single sets was literally laughed at and mocked everywhere, but fans were still buying the DVDs because they were so stoked that they were finally getting more DBZ and many others would just buy them to get their hands on the Japanese version. Several petitions were also made to bring back the old voice actors, but that didn’t happen for quite a while. Funimation finally wanted a U.K dub, but nobody outside the U.S liked Funi’s American accents in their voice acting and demanded the Ocean dub. So, Funimation had Ocean Group dub Dragonball Z outside the U.S. Funimation did things at their own pace, while Ocean had under a year to dub all the remaining episodes and weren’t getting paid well to do it either. They did it in a haste and moved on to dubbing Gundam.
The Ocean Group has an awesome voice cast and they’re very talented. However I do admit that from the Android saga onwards, their dub was a little weak. Maybe because they dubbed it in haste, I don’t really know. The first 53 episodes were nothing short of amazing, all the voices save Kaioh just fit the characters so well. They captured the feelings and moods perfectly. The characters didn’t seem one dimensional nor did they sound like people doing voices in a booth unlike Sean and Sabat’s early tries. They actually brought the chracters to life.
The present day Funimation dub on the other hand is really good. Their Kai dub is nothing short of amazing. Their Dragonball Z dub was pathetic till the Cell sagas. Their Season 3 and 4 dub was so bad, that they had to re-dub it thrice! One was the single sets which were laughed at and mocked like I mentioned before, one was for the uncut Orange Brick re-masters and one for the Dragon Boxes. Whoever heard of a dub group dubbing one thing 3 times?
Here are a few examples of their poor dubbing:
Krillin's in Da Houssssee:
Krillin's in Da Houssssee:
Goku's I AM Speech:
This was just cringe-inducing to say the least. Freeza "Wh Wh Why can't I hit you?" Goku, "You forgot to say please" That is just corny beyond belief. What's with his speech? Goku is supposed to be a happy-go-lucky hick who loves to fight, not Superman.
The dub also had bad music Check out this comparision. Feel the intensity of this fight in the original Japanese.
Voices I like from the Funi dub:
Chris Sabat’s Yamcha
Dameon Clarke as Cell
Chuck Huber as Garlic Jr.
Kyle Herbert as Adult/ Chou Gohan
Kara Edwards as Little Goten
Laura Bailey as Little Trunks
Voices I like from the Ocean dub:
Jason Gray-Stanford’s Raditz
Brian Drummond’s Vegeta (He portrays Vegeta perfectly I feel. He makes him sound intelligent, cunning, devious, very arrogant and a little disturbed. Drummond really shines as a voice actor during the Namek saga.)
Peter Kelamis’ Goku. (The perfect Goku second to only Masako Nowaza)
Scott McNeil’s Piccolo
Paul Dobson’s Zarbon
Here's an example of how perfect Peter Kelamis was for the role of Goku. His high pitched yells were so unique. He's the only one who was closest to sounding like the original Goku.
Chris Sabat Note:
I used to like Chris Sabat's Vegeta a lot, but then I realized that I only liked his voice so much because he voiced my favourite character, Vegeta and I was watching DBZ in it’s entirety for the first time. Later on, I realized that most of his voices overlap and don’t sound natural at all. Almost all of them save Yamcha sound forced. Many people said, Sabat just sounds like a guy screaming in a booth and I see why they’re right. Just watch Dragon Box footage or even the new Kai dub and spot the odd voice out .Just spot the voice that doesn’t fit in. It’s Sabat. His Vegeta voice sounds so forced, he sounds like an old man yelling at a tree. It’s just not natural sounding.
I prefer the Funimation dub for the Cell sagas till the end of DBZ, but I prefer the Ocean dub for the first 53 episodes and the Android sagas. You could say it’s kind of a tie but, it’s still unfair to say so because Ocean didn’t get to dub at their own pace, didn’t have the time, production values were low and didn’t have it’s full cast, so we will never know what their real dub would have sounded like. It would most probably be way better than the Funi version judging by how the first 53 were done. For the first 53 episodes, there’s no contest. Ocean wins. Personally, I’d say it’s a tie, although I feel Ocean were the more talented dub group.