Cast & Crew of ‘Dragonball’ Explain Differences Between Cartoon and Movie

Published 6 years ago by

dragonball header Cast & Crew of Dragonball Explain Differences Between Cartoon and Movie


No matter the source material – be it a novel, comic book, graphic novel, TV show or cartoon – there is always going to be some complaints about the movie adaptation. Even if the changes are critical to making the adapted story work on-screen, fans of the source material get up in arms about simple, unimportant things like changed hair colors or age differences.

One such movie catching that flack right now is Dragonball, which is based on the ultra-popular anime series. In an interview with MTV News, the cast and crew of Dragonball have gone out of their way to try and justify any changes they may have been made from the original cartoon to the movie.

James Marsters (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), who plays Lord Piccolo in Dragonball, is a huge fan of the original cartoon but was adamant to remind fans that the letter “Z” that most people associate with coming after the word “Dragonball,” wasn’t introduced until about 150 episodes into the series. He also says that just because he isn’t the same Piccolo fans know and love for much of this first film, that doesn’t mean that in potential sequels (one of which is in the works already) he won’t become more reminiscent of the Piccolo fans expect.

Director James Wong explains many of the changes made by attributting them as “superficial necessities in pulling characters into the “real” world.” He also compares the project to the X-Men movies. For example, just because the character of Goku wears a bright orange costume in the cartoon, doesn’t mean it will work on-screen (I think he’s referring to Wolverine’s original yellow and black outfit compared to how he looked in the movies). Wong said that they, “shot so many test with so many different versions [of the costume], a hint to fans that the original costume(s) may make a brief appearance.

Justin Chatwin, who portrays Goku, has said that the biggest point of issue (for him, anyway) was to get  the character’s trademark spikey hairstyle right. According to Chatwin, it took forty cans of hairspray to get the right combination between the cartoon and the “real” world hairstyle. Co-star Emmy Rossum, who plays Bulma, also went through a few attempts using blue wigs before the filmmakers settled for using blue dye.

goku Cast & Crew of Dragonball Explain Differences Between Cartoon and Movie

In an overall sense, Wong has said that the major changes come from trying to capture the spirit and tone of the cartoon series. Wong said it was quite early on that they changed to a more family-friendly tone, forcing them to drop some of the more risque elements that were present in the cartoon.

However, the cast maintains that the most important elements of the characters are still very much in the movie, even if they appear to be completely different. For example, when it comes to Chow Yun-Fat’s Master Roshi:

“He kind of embodies the essence of Master Roshi,” explained Jaime Chung (Chi Chi), “Minus being perverted.”

Now, I am a firm believer in the fact that adaptation means that certain things absolutely have to be changed. Not just hair or eye color, but even something crucial like an accent or an attitude should be changed if it needs to be, in order for it to work better on the big-screen.

A prime example is Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I am not going to say I liked what they did with Galactus – turning him into a storm cloud was a titanically dumb idea that was jaw-droppingly lame to witness in the movie theater. But at the same time, I can see why they changed it from what he originally is in the comic (again,  I’m not saying I like what they changed it to, just that I understand why they did it).

galactus1 Cast & Crew of Dragonball Explain Differences Between Cartoon and Movie

If they had faithfully translated Galactus from comic book page to the big-screen it would have looked bloody ridiculous. A giant man with a purple helmet, floating through the universe devouring planets? No one, not even the most experienced and skilled filmmakers in the world, could have made that look anything other than preposterous.

The same need for re-interpretation goes for any other movie adaptation, including Dragonball. The filmmakers hopefully had good reason for changing the things they did, otherwise why would they have changed them? Clearly there were certain things that just didn’t work, and they made the right decision to change them.

Whether Goku has an orange suit or a green suit; whether Piccolo has green skin or brown skin; whether this character has this hair color or that hair color… It doesn’t matter. Adaptation means exactly that: things need to be adapted, if the original concept doesn’t work on-screen, even if that adaptation means being “unfaithful” to the source material.

What are your thoughts on the changes the filmmakers have made to Dragonball? Do you agree that in any adaptation things have to be changed if they don’t work on-screen? Or are you one of the die-hard purists who believes that the source material is sacred and should never be mucked with?

Dragonball is scheduled to be released this Friday the 10th of April, 2009.

Source: MTV Splash Page

TAGS: Dragonball
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  1. I hope that none of the upset retorts about this film weren’t caused by my extensive comment about how I liked it. To clear things up I have this to say:
    I do in fact think that the movie was good. Not many would agree and that’s probably because they expected the Dragonball movie to be this amazingly set up production but you see, I wasn’t. I knew as soon as I saw the poster that it wasn’t going to be at all like I had imagined it. So I went in with super low expectations, so low in fact that the film seemed good to me because it wasn’t as bad as I had previously thought. I like the film although there were obvious plot holes and the story didn’t follow the anime or manga in the least. But I like the beginning of Goku sort of stories, and I like how they had him grown up when his grandfather died that way he can seem more confused. Because quite frankly the manga made him seem like this super naive and emotionally callous boy. I wanted a character who was willing to cry and have a good emo moment when his only guardian is murdered.

    Though I thought that the film could have been more drawn out and less rushed at the end, and perhaps closer to the actual plot-line of the anime. And I like that they made Roshi less completely perverted (I think someone with that much power should be a bit more serious), and that Chi-Chi was less mean and snappy to Goku and more kind and sweet. But I didn’t like how they changed Piccolo’s outfit and how they added Mai (Piccolo is evil, so he should do his own dirty work and kill the people he needs to kill, instead of sending her. I kind of makes him look snobby instead of evil.)

    Well anyway, I like this film, and although others may not, its not their job to convince people that they’re stupid or any less of a fan if they do like it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I think that we can all agree that…ok they did a pretty schmucky partial job, let’s just hope for an insanely better sequel

  2. @ Emily

    My comment is based off of seeing the film, and knowing a crappy movie when one is produced. I think every one who saw the trailer/posters knew it was not going to be related to the Anime except in name and some events. If some one does want to say that some one else is not a fan because of whatever it is their opinion. Also Vic and the other guys police the site pretty well to deter/remove bashing. If they do a sequel it needs to be a reboot and everyone except Chow Yun Fat needs to be booted. I’ll give u the Roshi pervert part to a certain extent, but everything else is fail. And its true that some fans will turn a blind eye to certain things about movies or artists that they dont want to accept, like some have yet to admit this film is an UBER FAIL. But for me to and many others to say this film is decent on any level is unacceptable. If you and others like it then is all fine, just means means u like FAIL movies. Don’t worry I like the new Day the earth Stood Still and many people that was a fail, just not as much as DB Evolution FAILS.

  3. @ Vic: ever seen/played Marvel: Ultimate Alliance? Galactus looked beautiful in the game. That is how I would have liked to see him depicted as.

  4. @ SIN187UM

    Alrighty then. I guess I understand what you mean. And I do give you the fact the I like FAIL movies. My film tastes are odd lol XP I like movies that people have never heard of or hate, and I hate certain films that other love…go figure lol XD
    I just really hope that the sequel to DBE is completely redone. I hope they make it allot better because if not, then I think that they’ll be turning off allot of potential fans-to-be. I’d NEVER want that happen, because we must ALL admit that the Dragonball anime and manga were friggin’ AWESOME!!! :)

  5. Some adaptations are fantastic: Lord of the rings, Marvel …

    the problem comes from the control by the producer and Franchise.
    For instance after the very bad Hulk 1. Marvel decided to control a lot the Marvel franchises.
    No control + bad movie maker that is not a fan = Dragonball, Hulk 1, street fighter …

    Bugger, Dragonball Evolution is big s**** … that’s it. No one can save it. even Justin Chatwin and James Master with there ridiculous interviews. They try to explain that DBE is closer to dragonball than dragonball z …. LOL … did you watched dragonball.
    DBE is a pure mixture of all the bad movies. bad dialogues, bad scenario, bad actors, more questions than answers … a big mess

    don’t watch it. save your money for financial crisis or for other movies: Anna Montana Evolution

  6. See what a lot of people fail to realize is that you can’t compare DBE’s adaptions to X-Men and Fantastic for because those adaptions aren’t as bad as DBE’s half ass attempt of making a legit film. This film honestly does not need to come out on the big screen. This films release makes me feel embarrassed to be a fan of the series dragonball. Throw this terrible movie on cartoon network for a week and let it be done. Don’t even give it a DVD release.

  7. Guys and Gals I understand your intentions – but I’m telling you if you blindly accept this movie 20th Century Fox will make the sequels the same. This movie is BS. If you think they botched this first one wait until Vegeta comes to earth with no Nappa, heck maybe they won’t even bring Krillin in and Kame – wait that already happened. Who will they pick next to play King Kai?? Do you see my point the movie graphics suck! What in the world is up with the fight scenes. We are talking about the greatest fighters in the universe folks. At the very least these people need to be acrobatic, aggressive and intelligent!

  8. Vegeta, Nappa, Krillin, Kame, King Kai…

    Man, this sounds worse than Trekkies learning Klingon… 😀

  9. I have not seen the movie yet. I probably would consider myself as one of the shows greatest fans. I have all the shows on video and I have also waited for the movie to come to the screen. If the film is as bad as these reviews I am totally upset. To just make a quick buck and destroy the faithfulness of the fans is trully upsetting. A movie of this magnitude if done right would blow away the box office proceeds and set a path towards future epic sequals but it seems it’s a poorly partrayed failure – acording to the responses. I don’t understand the reasons for not being able to keep to the original concept, I dont understand with millions of dollors to produce these movies there has to be changes. I dont understand why Galactus had to be a cloud. Dont make the movie under the name of the original material if you have to make these stupid changes. No other anime has captured the imagination and fan base as Dragonball has but to butcher the film rather than to keep to what the audience expects is an ultimate waste. I will still go to see this film but if I am dissapointed I will demand my money back when it’s over.

  10. @Ken J
    Hab SoSlI’ Quch!!

    Translator online: Your mother has a smooth forehead


    Well, i’ve read a couple of people said they liked it, versus 1 billion saying it’s crap. So that means I’ll go see it. :-)

  11. I understand the whole adaptation issue but really Piccolo couldnt be green? Why is Goku a white boy? theres plenty of good martial artist out there that can do a better job, sure they cant act but who needs acting for a cartoon not much dialect going there. As for Goku’s uniform, it should have been in the movie for sure and I dont mean for a few minutes, that costume makes him no reason to have changed it. To me this Goku looks like any random kid I have seen in Flushing NY thats a DBZ fan its cool looking but not right. I just hope that they get Vegeta right or Im really gonna be Ticked, lol.

  12. I still think using Galactus from the comic book could have been used with him destroying the planets and absorbing all the energy released. I am sure they could have made a great looking character especialy with all the FX they have at their disposal. I thought it was a lame way of going about it.. I really loved comic character.

  13. No Profanity…now who’s the purist again? Anyway, I don’t know how long you’ve been a fan of DB or if you ever were, but you spitting pure garbage. Wong and the rest of the money grubbing crew have screwed this up and you know it. From the details of the characters(personnality, life styles, ages,orgins, and nutrition info), storylines, places key characters, etc. the list goes on. I mean goku never went to school, the z-warriors where never exchange students. And come the —- on you did notice the suicide move piccolo did when he evaporated his source of nutrients…H2O. Oh, and don’t let me start on the Goku training with chi-chi. I mean holly crap! No, I mean it…total crap. X-men and Spiderman movies wasn’t this warped from the original story. I can see minor changes for example, with Spiderman and the organic webbing from his wrest. That is a change I could except. I could even understand if the changes were to draw in a new fresher audience. But are you willing to explain when they eventually read or look at the original DB anime why the it didn’t reflect to some degree to what they saw in the movie? This goes to the rest of you as well. And don’t come with…”they’ll come with it in the next Movie” CRUD!

  14. @Ken J

    Piccolo actually does somewhat resemble an Albino Klingon in this abomination of a movie.

  15. @A REAL DB FAN

    I don’t get your “profanity” comment.


  16. SIN, really? lol

  17. @ Ken J

    Surely does in some scenes/angles of the film. At some points I was waiting for him to say “Perhaps it is a good day to die” (Worf). LOL.

  18. People please do me a favor and shut up! Everywhere I go (on the web) people are always saying how this movie sucks. Well thats great if you don’t want to see it then don’t simple as that, if you do wanna watch it then go and see it and judge the movie for yourself. And don’t listen to other peoples opinions cause you just may start critizing something that you very well may enjoy.

  19. Yah, coco has a point. Why take the advice from people warning you to not waste your money? Just waste it THEN complain about it afterward, I mean, it’s not like we read movie reviews to see if a movie is worth our money or not or anything. We read movie reviews hoping to read nothing but positive stuff, we don’t need to read the negative. Pssshhhh…

  20. @ Coco

    I doubt the web is that small, but on the other hand maybe its not such a conspiracy that the film does actually suck if enough websites are in agreement the film sucks, and you should really adhere to the favor you are requesting for silence. Most people on this thread have seen it and confirmed it’s suckness even though they knew it would be a failure to begin with, and its not like we are brainwashing people, because many end up going to see it anyway after they read how bad the film is. SO your point layered with rudeness fails here. Have you even seen the flick?