Gen Fukunaga is the CEO of FUNimation Productions, the company responsible for the dubbing of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Here I ask him questions regarding the dubbing process, DVD and movie releases, and personal questions that were asked just for relief from the seriousness of the interview. Enjoy.

Gen: I am happy to have the opportunity to provide this interview.  Dragon Ball Z has been a pleasure to work on and we plan to nuture it as a classic.  We are also very excited about a new series we acquired called Yu Yu Hakusho.  In the '90's, it was often compared to Dragon Ball Z in Japan and it was the only action adventure show that ran head-to-head
with Dragon Ball Z in television ratings (ratings in the 20's!!).  We will begin a home video launch this Fall. Also, we picked up a "cult" hit called "Blue Gender" which our entire staff at FUNimation feel is one of the best sci-fi epics they have ever seen.

Eric: What led to the decision to use the original musical score for Dragon Ball and will this apply to GT as well?

Gen: It was a combination of factors including fan input, schedule and rights issues.  The main driving factor is to make a show which the most number of people will enjoy.    As for GT, the music decision is unknown.

Eric: How does FUNimation plan to handle the sexual and potty scenes/humor of the original series?

Gen: We want to censor as little as possible. If we can convert those scenes with creative adjustments, we will do it.  Otherwise, they must be cut for the edited/broadcast version.

Eric: What is the history of FUNimation? Meaning, how did the company get started and why DBZ?

Gen: I loved anime when living in Japan in 8th grade.  I was hooked on Uchuusenkan Yamato. This background, an entrepreneurial spirit, and great luck that my uncle is a producer at Toei led to meetings which led to my conclusion that DBZ was the best series Toei had which led to starting FUNimation through acquiring DBZ rights.

Eric: It seems that despite all the changes and improvements made to the DVDs, people still seem upset with their quality. How do you feel about this and will more changes take place?

Gen: We are continually trying to improve the DVD.  Many fans wish us to release DVDs at the same time as the VHS’s.  Our problem has been that we have been in major “catch up” mode on DVD so we can synchronize releases with the VHS.

Eric: Who is your favorite character from the series so far?

Gen: From DBZ, I like Vegeta.  I think he can be hilarious just by his attitude and how he says his lines.  But over the entire series, I really like little Goku from DB.  His view of life is funny and heart warming and I personally feel that Akira Toriyama really shows his brilliance in story telling in Dragon Ball.

Eric: How have the voice polls on the DBZ site been? Have they been the success FUNimation anticipated?

Gen: They have been very successful and we thank the many people who have provided their input.  We plan to continue this as long as we have the bandwidth to handle it.

Eric: Are there any plans on having a theatrical release of movies 5 and 6?

Gen: No.  They will go direct to home video.  Some discussions are under way regarding theatrical release of movies beyond 6 but that is out of our hands since Toei holds theatrical rights.

Eric: How do you feel about the DBAF controversy?

Gen: There are always rumors.  I spoke to someone from Toei who claims there are no plans for new Dragon Ball sequels.

Eric: Will the other DBZ movies beyond six be dubbed or does FUNimation want to wait and see how movies 4-6 do before buying the rights to the remaining seven?

Gen: If Toei is unable to obtain a theatrical deal, we will try to acquire the rights for home video.

Eric: What are your thoughts on the rumor that Toonami may be doing an Adult Block for unedited anime?  Would you be a little less strict with the production?

Gen:  It depends on many factors such as time slot, but what I have heard is that Cartoon Network will never do fully unedited even if they do such a block.

Eric: With the high ratings that DBZ receives and since there are a lot of teens watching Z, do you feel influenced to edit less?

Gen: We edit the least amount possible to pass censorship standards.  It costs us a lot of extra money to edit the shows but we are forced to do it to meet broadcast standards.

Eric: Do you have any funny stories about FUNimation that you could tell the public without insulting anyone or revealing private matters?

Gen: Not really.

Eric: What makes you cry?

Gen: Lower profits  (just kidding).

Eric: Do you still consider Dragon Ball a fad or do you see plenty of staying power for the 500 episode series?

Gen: I think it has already proven world wide that it is not a fad but a classic.  I see no indication that it is any different here.

Eric: What led to the decision of airing so many episodes in season 3 and 4? Wouldn’t the series had more staying power had the episodes been more spread out?

Gen:  That is primarily a Cartoon Network decision but I would be afraid that the fans would get mad if we release too few episodes at a time.

Eric: If given the opportunity, would you be interested in a career in rap?

Gen: No.

Eric: Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

Gen: Both ……at the same time.
Eric: What is the strangest question someone has asked you?

Gen: Probably your Q24. (Which is the next question)

Eric: How many times do you floss daily? 

Gen: No comment.

Eric: How is FUNimation planning on handling fusion? Will the characters use the word “fusion” and have dual voices like in the original series?

Gen: At this moment, yes.

Eric: Do you prefer the Japanese names for the attacks or the English ones?

Gen: The Japanese.

Eric: What are your impressions on the DBZ Community online? Is FUNimation still trying to shut down full episode sites or is this not an issue anymore?

Gen: We go after people who are trying to illegally profit from DBZ but try not to harm fans.

Eric: Do you have any favorite DBZ web sites? And don’t feel obligated to say Pojo’s just because I’m the one interviewing you ;-)

Gen: www.dragonballz.com

From what I can see, FUNimation has some great plans for the future of Dragon Ball. I want to thank Gen Fukunaga once again for taking time out of his busy day to do this interview with me. Later minna!

2001©  Eric.

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