Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z original broadcast audio (lost audio; 1986-1996)


Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z original broadcast audio
Title card for the 1986 series.
Title card for the 1986 series.
Status Partially Lost

Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール, "Doragon Boru") is a Japanese manga that ran from 1984 to 1995. Composed of 519 chapters in 41 volumes, the manga chronicled the adventures of the monkey-tailed boy Son Goku as he searched the world for seven mystical objects known as "Dragon Balls", which would summon a dragon when brought together to grant a single wish. The manga's popularity helped codify many tropes of the newly-emerged fighting genre, and would quickly gain two anime adaptations by Toei Animation: Dragon Ball (which covered the first 194 chapters of the manga and ran from 1986 to 1989) and Dragon Ball Z (which covered the remaining 325 chapters and ran from 1989 to 1996). While the shows proved to be immensely popular with audiences, Toei ran into considerable difficulties when it came to releasing them on home video: they had already junked the audio master tapes for the entire series.

Photograph of a Dragon Ball Z film reel; the optical audio is the area surrounded by the red rectangle.

After the initial broadcast of each episode, Toei would wipe its audio master. This procedure was considered standard for the first two decades of the TV anime industry's life, as optical audio was easier to broadcast and store. However, production studios eventually started to retain their master tapes in the late 1970's, when TV stations began broadcasting shows with the master audio. The rise of home media in the 1980's further compounded this, motivating more and more studios to hold on to their masters to ensure the highest quality releases for consumers. Toei, however, was very skeptical about home media, viewing the sale of TV shows to children in a negative light. Adding onto the fact that 16mm film reels and magnetic audiotape reels occupied the same amount of storage space, Toei decided to continue wiping master tapes under the impression that they would be useless and voluminous if they were simply left in storage untouched. However, this attitude changed around the 2000's, and Toei finally decided to unearth their reels for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z for international home media. Because Toei no longer possessed the audio they needed, however, all home media releases featuring the shows' Japanese audio utilized the optical audio taken from their film reels, which had undergone noticeable deterioration over the years. As a result, the optical audio is significantly lower in quality than before, featuring higher amounts of white noise & tin and sounding more muted than the master tapes.

Because anime studios usually didn't provide distribution copies of their audio masters for foreign regions at the time (as dubbing was the most popular choice back then), Toei has never made any efforts to recover the lost audiotapes. However, numerous individuals from the Kanto region were able to record each episode of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z on their VCRs and upload the audio of each recording online decades later. Because television broadcasts in Kanto were received directly from Tokyo Tower rather than NTT (which cut out high tones to block white noise), their audio was virtually untouched from the original masters, allowing them to be significantly clearer than the audio used for all other broadcasts & releases. Since this audio was taken directly from the original broadcast of the anime, it has appropriately been dubbed the "original broadcast audio." It is not known how much of the master audio has survived from this method, as all available recordings of it only utilize segments of each episode. It may also be quite some time before the master audio can be fully recovered, given how Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z ran for a combined total of 444 episodes (approximately 222 hours of runtime).

The iconic scene of Son Goku's first ascension to a Super Saiyan, utilizing the original broadcast audio; this is just one of many OBA clips that exist online.

External Links

Comments


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Anonymous user #1

7 months ago
Score 1++
Someone better networked into all this than me needs to find all available recordings of these online and send them to Toei or Funimation for future releases. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.
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Anonymous user #11

3 months ago
Score 0++
some has toei and funimation won't except them :(
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Anonymous user #2

7 months ago
Score 0++
Where can I find the original audio mentioned in this article?
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Game4brains

7 months ago
Score 0++
I just included one video in the article, and you can find more on YouTube by searching up "dragon ball z original broadcast audio" [sic].
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Game4brains

7 months ago
Score 0++
Just search up "dragon ball z original broadcast audio" on YouTube.
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Anonymous user #3

5 months ago
Score 0++
I'm SO confused right now! So while Toei was making the series, they ran into some problems with the master audio tapes. Did Toei basically throw the tapes in the trash? Did the voice actors had to re-record their lines again? My brain really hurts at this point...
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Anonymous user #4

5 months ago
Score 0++

Did you actually read the article?

"Adding onto the fact that 16mm film reels and magnetic audiotape reels occupied the same amount of storage space, Toei decided to continue wiping master tapes under the impression that they would be useless and voluminous if they were simply left in storage untouched."

The audio masters were recorded over.
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Anonymous user #3

5 months ago
Score 0++
For the first part, both this and the Kanzenshuu post. Anyway, I think I got it down. Thanks.
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Anonymous user #4

5 months ago
Score 0++
Bottom line: The original audio masters were recorded over and are long gone. The audio recordings used on home video releases, etc. are inferior copies derived from those masters. No one re-recorded anything, the audio itself is not lost, just the highest quality versions of the audio.
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Anonymous user #5

5 months ago
Score 0++

there will no release with broadcast audio because toei and funi don't care about master quality as long as they make money with what they have.

And the couple of person who have all the complete series audio broadcast on their computer will not share them with other
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Anonymous user #6

5 months ago
Score 0++
anon 5. are you stupid? they don't even have the original audio on tape
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Anonymous user #7

5 months ago
Score 1++
Anon 6 what the hell are you talking about? Toei nor Funimation have the original broadcasts but there are a few people online who do. One Kanzenshuu user named kei17 literally has the orignal broadcast audio for every Dragon Ball series(DB/Z/GT). Anon 5 was referring to how he has release very little of it, and refuses to release more. He wants to try and see if they can be released officially but Toei has ignored him and he's been talking with Funimation for years. At this point we can only hope...
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Anonymous user #6

5 months ago
Score -1++
human intelligence is getting lower by the fucking second
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Anonymous user #8

4 months ago
Score 1++
Anon 6 what are you even trying to say? If you're going to say something maybe contribute to the conversation instead of making baseless insults.
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Anonymous user #9

4 months ago
Score 0++
What's the diff between partially lost and partially found? Is it that in partially lost, it used to survive but now some of it is missing, and found is the other way around?
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SenaUW

4 months ago
Score 1++

51% or more lost = partially found

51% or more found = partially lost
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Anonymous user #9

4 months ago
Score 0++
Doesn't exactly help that the page says "partially lost" while at the same time being in the "partially found" category page.
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Anonymous user #10

4 months ago
Score 1++
Technically it isn't lost at all. We know that it is all out there. It's just that the people who have it refuse to share it.
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Anonymous user #11

3 months ago
Score 1++
i don't know why they won't share it's makes me so sad. it's like toei not releasing dragon ball/z dragon ball z's the two specials the 13 movies in 4x3 on blu ray properly done of course
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Anonymous user #12

3 months ago
Score 0++
Because this Kei17 is just trying to earn money from his recorded collection.
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