The history of Dragon Ball’s Big Green Dub

Dragon Ball is one of the most adapted and localised anime on the planet, with numerous dubs available in multiple languages. Whatever language you choose to consume, there are some excellent dub options to choose from. Today, I won’t be talking about any of them.

I’m going to talk about the infamous Big Green Dub, one of the most unintentionally hilarious dubs in anime history. So buckle in, space warriors, cause we’re going on a little history trip.

What is the Big Green Dub?

Big Green dub changed Piccolo's name

In English, Dragon Ball has the famous clash between the Ocean studios and Funimation dubs, with the US broadcast switching between the two abruptly, but those two aren’t the only English dubs of Dragon Ball Z. Several studios, such as Westwood and Blue Water, were also commissioned to bring this property to the West.

In the early 2000s, France-based AB Groupe went into their recording studios with a collection of actors and came out with what is referred to in the fandom as the Big Green Dub, a magical piece of broadcast history that is equally glorious and cursed. With numerous continuity errors, translation mistakes, and a line reads that sound like a drunken first take at times, the Big Green Dub feels and sounds like something a group of fans threw together in a convention hotel room.

How bad was it? Just take a look.

What Went Wrong?

We know precious little about how the Big Green Dub came into being. What we do know is that AB Groupe (now called Mediawan Thematics) were commissioned to create an English dub of several of the Dragon Ball Z films and much of the series, but were given remarkably little time or money to do so. As a result, they drew heavily from the S.O.F.I. studios French dub, which was already full of strange characterisations and heavy censorship.

Saiyans were suddenly called “Space Warriors” – or “Super Warriors” once they went Super Saiyan. Frieza became Freezer. And many of the show’s famous screams were not rerecorded in an effort to save money, meaning that a different voice suddenly kicked in on occasion.

Starting from such a strange and error-filled script, AB Studios went even further with their changes, changing all attack names to “Kamehameha” and giving Piccolo the moniker “Big Green”, hence the title fans have given it. Other character names were pulled directly from the French dub, such as Freezer and Vegeta being mispronounced the entire time. In their version of The History of Trunks, a voiceover confirms that all off Earth’s fighters, aside from Big Green, survived their encounters with the androids, despite very clearly showing those characters die on screen.

Most of the cast has never been officially confirmed, but it is likely that they were simply English-speaking actors who happened to be living in Paris at the time and got the call to head into the studio. The result is an uneven and often underwhelming dub that is unintentionally hilarious for fans of the show.

Where to find It

The Big Green Dub

If, like me, you enjoy watching chaos, then by now you’re dying to know where you can get your hands on the Big Green dub. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great answer. Despite being the first version of the show that aired in the UK – which has to be the worst thing the French have ever done to the British – only a handful of the movies were ever released on DVD and even those sold terribly for obvious reasons. This makes it tough to find copies of them, though there are some collections and compilations floating around on YouTube if you want a taste of the full experience.

We may never get a rerelease of the Big Green dub because the world is a terrible enough place, but that is kind of a shame. It is a part of Dragon Ball history and many of the jokes it inspired have made it into the fandom over the years. It was an objectively terrible dub and yet it remains one of the most fun dubs we have had.

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