For this review, I’m focusing on the Funimation dubbed version of Dragon Ball Super, since they just finished airing the first arc on Adult Swim.
As an aspiring voice talent, I really appreciate the work that goes into dubbing over Japanese animation for a western audience. Dragon Ball Super is well into it’s airing, and although I was beyond excited when I found out that Dragon Ball was coming back, I knew I still had to wait for the Funimation dub, which wasn’t even confirmed yet. I had grown too accustomed to the classic voices I remember and appreciate from Dragon Ball Z. That, plus Sean Schemmel as Goku is far more preferable to the shrill screams of Masako Nozawa in the original Japanese audio.
You can skim over this video for the voice comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz39GUm12WY
And, as far as Dragon Ball Super goes, the dub is great. Funimation really does a good job. I feel like they’ve been at it for so long that they’ve mastered it, especially for the Dragon Ball franchise. Sean Schemmel has only gotten better as Goku, Chris Sabat has always done well in all his roles, and Jason Douglas as the villain Beerus continues to do a great job, although the writing isn’t as strong for Beerus than in the movie. They almost treated us like we already knew who Beerus is and how he’s supposed to act.
And that’s what gets me. Spoilers ahead, but the plot of the first arc of DBS is exactly the same as the movie, DBZ: Battle of Gods. The only thing that’s different is the setting, from what I can see. I get that they wanted to bring Beerus back into Super, but did they really need to rehash the same story we’ve already seen? Couldn’t they have done something different? I get that the movies aren’t usually canon, but all they did was recycle a villain and basic plot and paste it over into the TV show format. I knew exactly what was going to happen for the rest of the plot once stuff from the movie kept showing up in the show. It just wasn’t a good choice and they could have handled it better.
And now, the animation. I know that this got a bit of controversy when the original version began to air in Japan, but I thought I’d offer my fresh perspective having forgotten most of the specific examples. The thing is, the animation is pretty good, but you can definitely see where the animators cut corners if you ever pause during a highly-animated scene like the fights. Goku’s face just looks off sometimes, and the details are often dismissed in favor of easier-to-draw shapes. The animation has always been good, but the animators seem to be under a lot of stress for deadlines. I’d like to say that the animation blew me away, and it did during some scenes, especially the iconic blasts, but everything else came off as average, and far less impressive than Dragon Ball Z.
The screenshot below is a still from one of the first fight scenes, and you can see how people had a problem with how Goku was being drawn: weird face, blocky hands, ect.
Unfortunatley, there isn’t much I can say about this first arc. It’s simply more Dragon Ball for those fans who want more Dragon Ball. It didn’t impress me, it simply satisfied me. I’m hoping as the series goes on, they ramp up the creativity, and hopefully they increased the budget a bit for the animation. I want Super to be the Z of this generation, and so far it hasn’t lived up to that. I’ll continue to watch and I’ll remain hopeful.
I’ll give the first arc of Dragon Ball Super a 6/10. Slightly above average.
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