Thursday, May 23, 2024

Dragon Ball Z Was Almost 300 Episodes But Took Over Five Years to Finish.

September 12, 2022 by  
Filed under Anime, News, TV/Film/Movies

( In the fall of 1995, I was a 10-year-old youngster when Dragon Ball first aired on the our then staticky, unreliable UPN affiliate station. Anime as a whole was about to see a major boom in the next few years but I’m guessing UPN was the best option for a cartoon that wasn’t proven in the U.S yet.

The Debut Run of Dragon Ball in the U.S

Dragon Ball ran the first arc—the Pilaf Saga—in full before going back to reruns and eventually disappearing. I remember watching it and expecting to see new adventures next week. Again, I was ten and had no idea of how dubbing, show rights, and cancellations worked.

All I knew was that I enjoyed DB, Samurai Pizza Cats, and Ronin Warriors then they all started showing reruns one day before disappearing in either November or December. They were something to look forward to on Saturdays before holding down the weekday blocks for UPN.

It was amazing because the Emperor Pilaf Saga was just thirteen episodes but it seemed to be on much longer. Fortunately, there was no shortage of cartoons on the air at the time but Dragon Ball was the series that inspired me to write and draw my own comics regularly and share them with classmates.

It was also the series that really piqued my interest in anime—or Japanimation as it was called back then.


Dragon Ball Z Out of Nowhere!

A year later, Dragon Ball Z was being advertised for Saturday mornings. It eventually aired right between a mediocre Zorro cartoon and reruns of Battle of the Planets. Honestly, I did not care for Zorro—it seemed like they gave it a full hour but it was only a 30-minute block—and Battle of the Planets just did nothing for me at the time.

However, DBZ was a different beast. The fight scenes in that first blew me away, folks. I’d say the only thing that topped it or came close in 1996 was Street Fighter II: The Animation. While the story took a long time to move along—more on that in a bit—everyone who watched DBZ in middle school anticipated every fight.

The Broadcast History Was a Mess Until Cartoon Network

Now, the Raditz story—part of the larger Saiyan Saga/Vegeta Saga—really set the pace for what you should expect. Not only that but it was actually much shorter than it seemed. Then we got the Vegeta and Namek/Frieza Sagas. This is where the airing of those episodes got ugly.

First off, the Vegeta Saga took forever to finish. It’s not like there was a ton of episodes in it. The Raditz portion made up five episodes of the whole 39-episode saga but episode availability was an issue and you’d see the season either restarted from episode one or the Tree of Might film would be aired in the middle of the story’s progression—before the season was reset.

It was wild, people. I was in the sixth grade when DBZ aired the Saiyan Saga. When Vegeta was finally defeated, I had gotten my first report card in the seventh grade. After that was the Namek Saga where Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma left Earth to search for the Namekian Dragon Balls to revive their friends.

I had already started high school when Goku finally fought the Ginyu Force! This is how bad the broadcast of Dragon Ball Z on regular TV was at the time! The first season and half of the second season had restarted so many times that we didn’t get to see Super Saiyan until the early 2000s.

Saban was the reason why the dubbing and production was such a mess. However, Cartoon Network picking up the U.S broadcast rights is what actually moved it along. It also allowed CN to air Dragon Ball in full from the first episode to the last.

Now, I found this odd because at any time, the second season of Dragon Ball could’ve been aired on syndication instead of resetting a show that was 40 to 50 episodes in!

It was so bad that it was only by a chance meeting with a classmate in the tenth grade that I was able to watch the Cell Saga of DBZ on fansub tapes in Cantonese. It wasn’t that Cartoon Network hadn’t aired it already but I was extremely far behind on the episodes.

While I caught up thanks to the manga, I didn’t finish the entire anime from start to finish until 2009. Part of that is because I didn’t have time to sit and binge a whole anime and the library took a while to get the DVDs back in circulation.

Streaming Is a Blessing for Anime

Today, there’s no actual excuse for not finishing Dragon Ball or any anime thanks to a service like Crunchy Roll. I can understand not finishing One Piece as it’s a ton of episodes and people have lives and other interests. However, for most anime series stuff like Netflix and Hulu also come in clutch.

In my case, the Toonami Aftermath streams that used to be on Justin.TV and other smaller streaming services really helped me finish up DBZ when I couldn’t get the DVDs. I mean, a VHS can have a runtime of four or six hours meaning you could have eight to twelve episodes on a tape. DVDs could have four episodes a disc.

However, you often got less episodes a tape—two or four episodes—and four per DVD for $30 and $20 respectively! Audacious! Also, torrents weren’t for everyone. Dragon Ball and anime fans as a whole really got blessed when streaming became a thing.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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