Dragon Ball Z is the anime that made anime popular in America. Many people (now in their 30s) probably remember coming home from school and watching Dragon Ball as it aired on Toonami in the late 1990s. But we weren’t getting the whole picture. The American versions of the show were highly edited to remove cussing, nudity, blood, and certain inappropriate jokes.
And believe us, if you do your research, you’ll see that there is a LOT of inappropriate things going on in Dragon Ball and DBZ. The Japanese versions don’t hold back any punches—there’s nudity, sexual innuendoes, crude comments, blood, death, and more.
Here are 16 inappropriate jokes and scenes from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z that were cut from the show, or never made it on the air.
Since Dragon Ball in America was intended for kids and young teens, the networks weren’t going to show Master Roshi’s obsession with girly magazines, so they instead changed them to “dating” magazines. But in the manga and Japanese versions, we see Roshi frequently perusing his dirty magazines, although in the censored versions he’d reading magazines to try and help his dating life.
In the manga and some dubs of the anime, General Blue is a character who is a gay man, but Funimation couldn’t let this go untouched. They made things much worse, actually, by changing the general who liked men into the “weird prude.” They call him that because he gets incredibly offended when Bulma flirts with him, but it almost makes the sentiment even worse.
Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are typically pretty casual when it comes to crude humor, beating people up, and sexual innuendoes. But one thing that Funimation couldn’t let happen is someone flipping the middle finger to another character. In the manga, there are tons of middle fingers, but in the anime and manga marketed to westerners, all of the funny middle finger incidents are removed.
One legendary character who uses the middle finger the most, almost as a catchphrase, is the Prince of Saiyans, Vegeta. After he steals the Dragon Balls from Krillin, he flips the bald fighter the bird. In the Japanese version of the anime, all of Vegeta’s one-finger salutes are included, but these crude jokes are removed from the American version of the show.
Mr. Satan was introduced in the Cell Games Saga of Dragon Ball Z, and the arrogant buffoon quickly became a fan favorite. In an attempt to exclude any religious symbolism whatsoever, Mister Satan’s name was changed in the American version to Hercule (from the French dub of the show). Recent merchandising has tried to combine the two names, saying that Hercule is his first name, and Satan is his surname, but the real reason for his name change was to not get in hot water with Christianity.
There was a lot more crude humor in Dragon Ball back in the day, probably because it was made in a different era when things weren’t so PC. Bulma seems to expose herself all the time (whenever it will benefit her agenda), but it doesn’t always work to her advantage. During the Emperor Pilaf Saga, Bulma offers to lift her skirt and let Goku touch her butt if he’ll give her the Dragon Ball. He denies her, saying he has better things to do. This scene was removed from the Toonami broadcast of the show.
In another Dragon Ball scene that was cut from the FUNimation and Toonami versions of the show, Goku joins Bulma in a bubble bath. In the Japanese version, he talks to her about her breasts, saying that they look like a butt. In the English versions, he simply tells her he wants to scrub her back. This actually happens in a chapter called “No Balls!” which brings us to…
This is from a legendary scene from Dragon Ball, that was originally in the manga and anime, but censored in later showings of it. In the scene, Goku wakes up from a nap and finds Bulma asleep, dressed in her nightgown. Goku, being the kid he is, sees Bulma’s crotch as a “pillow,” and lies between her legs. Then he realizes something is missing, so he checks the situation out and finds out she has no balls! A surprised Bulma wakes up, thinking her Dragon Balls are missing, but finds they’re still there…
Oolong gets quite a beating in the censorship department when he first appeared in Dragon Ball. First, Goku touches his crotch to figure out if he was male or female (cut from the dubbed version). There were also scenes of Oolong having diarrhea that were edited out. Finally, there’s a scene where Oolong turns into a pair of panties, but that was removed too (though it eventually aired on the 2004 Toonami UK version).
Mr. Popo is a character who everyone will probably remember from the original Toonami versions of the show, as a servant to Kami. Since it’s original showing, several animes have been accused of using “blackface” characters, and Mr. Popo was struck with this. In the newer versions of the show, Mr. Popo’s skin color has been changed from black to bright blue, which is quite odd-looking if you remember how he originally looks.
A running gag on the original Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z anime and manga was how often Goku lost his clothes (and Gohan, eventually). There were multiple times where Goku’s nakedness was completely shown, and those had to be censored for American audiences, by adding underwear to the characters, to cutting scenes, to even putting chairs and stuff in front of where their privates would be.
One odd usage of censorship that actually made the outcome funnier than it would’ve been, also has to do with the creators not wanting to anger the Christians or religious folks. In a filler episode on DBZ, Goku is sent to Hell. In the American version, Hell was replaced with HFIL, or the Home For Infinite Losers, which is a pretty comical name. Also, there is no “afterlife,” but rather another dimension. That’s why people wishing characters back with the Dragon Balls don’t bring them back from the afterlife, but from the dimension they’re trapped in.
Bulma has had to be censored more than any character, probably. Even though she’s the smartest character on the show, she’s still a pretty girl and Dragon Ball was made for guys, so she is constantly sexualized. For instance, in Dragon Ball she is regularly seen (or seen through the eyes of a third party like Master Roshi or Yamcha or Goku) exposing her upper body, or walking around naked, or getting out of the shower. Almost all of these funny scenes were edited out in recent versions of the show and manga.
In the original uncut Japanese version of Dragon Ball, there is a hilarious scene where Goku pat-kicks Chi-Chi’s crotch to find out if she’s a girl or boy (he has no other way of telling than by feeling people’s genitals, apparently). Chi-Chi pushes Goku off the Nimbus cloud for the pat, but then falls in love with him and THAT is how their relationship begins. In the edited version, Goku is shoved off the cloud for criticizing her revealing outfit.
Akira Toriyama’s manga is genius because he doesn’t overplay the jokes. He assumes his audience will understand what he’s trying to show. For instance, in one strip, Roshi has everyone gathered for a feast after the 21st Budokai. They’re all eating a roasted pig, and even Oolong is there, sweating and looking scared. That’s because he’s a pig, and therefore a cannibal, and no one even cares!
Also in the manga, there is a scene where Yamcha is fighting Invisible Man, and he can’t defeat him unless he can see him. In the anime, Krillin throws tomato soup onto Invisible Man and he gets beaten by Yamcha. But in the hilarious manga version, Krillin positions Bulma in front of Roshi, then Roshi in front of Invisible Man, and exposes Bulma’s chest. Roshi’s massive nosebleed splatters Invisible Man and now Yamcha can see him.
References: dragonball.fandom.com, reddit.com, wikipedia.com