Tonight, November 8, Toonami began its run of Dragon Ball Z Kai (Uncut). Many new fans were looking forward to watching this series unedited (unlike the Nicktoons and The CW versions), but not even long-time fans could have anticipated this!
It seems as if either FUNimation or Toonami have blundered greatly. The first episode of Kai aired tonight contained the musical score composed by Kenji Yamamoto!
For those unaware of the significance, Kenji Yamamoto was a musical composer that worked on the Dragon Ball video games (notably the American versions of the Budokai series). He was hired to compose the score for Kai back in 2009. For the two years of its run, his music was smoothly featured in every episode, until the 2011 Touhoku Earthquake and Tsunami had stricken Japan. In that time frame, Yamamoto’s musical scores for both the video games and Kai had been proven plagiarised, blatantly copying Hollywood films such as Terminator Salvation and Avatar, bands such as Pink Floyd, and even himself at one point! As a result, the music in Kai was entirely replaced with Shunsuke Kikuchi’s original musical score for Dragon Ball Z. Episodes 96-98 of the series were never aired with Yamamoto’s music and were exclusively released with the Kikuchi score, while the previous 95 episodes received a rushed replacement of the music. What resulted was a very improper and limited use of Kikuchi’s music due to the lack of stereo tracks to choose from. The Yamamoto scandal was also one of the main reasons Kai was a monetary failure in Japan and why it was forced to end early (although the Buu saga is now currently airing in Japan, Korea and France, with another new musical score by Norihito Sumitomo).
It is unthinkable that Toonami would air this. Toei Animation in 2011 forced the entire world to switch to Kai’s alternate Kikuchi mix after the scandal. More recent dubs such as the French dub never even received a mix using Yamamoto’s music! The musical scandal was global, and it was legally dangerous for Toei to continue allowing others around the world to air this. Toei did not want any lawsuits.
So how is it possible for Toonami to be airing the show with this score?
Simple. FUNimation probably accidentally gave Toonami the wrong masters.
UDATE: Jason Demarco made aware of situation.
@MaxKriegerVG I had no idea at all, thanks a bunch for passing this on. We’ll take care of it asap.
— LICH KING DEMARCO (@Clarknova1) November 9, 2014
Originally, FUNimation released Parts 1-4 of Kai on DVD/Blu-ray using the Yamamoto score, but were forced to switch to Kikuchi starting with Part 5 (causing a serious delay in its release), and to recall all DVDs/BDs of Parts 1-4 and re-release them using the Kikuchi mix. They may not have gotten rid of the Yamamoto masters, however. Using this information, we can infer that Toonami was given the Yamamoto masters rather than the Kikuchi masters, meaning FUNimation messed up. In the end, Toonami is merely airing what FUNimation provided for them, so it is more likely that this is the fault of FUNimation, not Toonami. Meaning FUNimation is potentially facing legal trouble if Hollywood or whoever the victims of the plagiarism are decide to take action against the company for using this music.
Whether this will happen or not is obviously yet to be seen, and whether FUNimation will catch onto their mistake or not and switch to Kikuchi remains to be seen as well.
Dragon Ball Kai made it’s return on April 6th, 2014 starting with episode 99, the beginning of the Majin Buu arc. Dragon Ball Kai airs each Sunday morning at 9:00am on Fuji TV in Japan. Europe was the first continent to announce its licensing, and the US recently aired Kai on November 8, 2014 at 12PM EST. The Ocean Group also confirmed that Dragon Ball Z Kai will be making its debut “soon”. (however, the Majin Buu arc was NOT specified).